How to Choose the Right Apps from the Salesforce AppExchange

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Salesforce is a highly flexible tool, designed to provide your organization with the ability to enhance your business processes every step of the way. Even once your implementation is in place, you may find additional ways to incorporate your existing processes into Salesforce.

Fortunately, the Salesforce AppExchange contains several thousand apps that are ready to be downloaded and configured to augment your Salesforce implementation. In order to be listed on the AppExchange, partners undergo a rigorous certification process and must maintain and test their applications to work consistently through every Salesforce release. So you can trust in the stability of any app acquired from the AppExchange.

While this enormous resource provides you with more opportunities, it can be overwhelming to sort through them and determine which app, or apps, are for you. Here’s a series of steps you can follow in order to choose the one that will work for your organization:

  1. Evaluate the current program usage in your ecosystem. What are the apps and programs, outside of Salesforce, that your team loves and uses religiously, and which have not been as effective? Where are the gaps in your order-to-cash process that could be more efficient? You know your team and how they work, so try to find apps that align with what your people are looking for. What are they doing now, and how can it improve? This goes for how they’re using Salesforce, too. What features of your implementation are the most popular? How can you make it better? And, which features don’t see as much activity, which may be helped by the addition of an app to make it easier? There’s even an app to help you figure all this out.
  2. Create a list of your priorities. Gather the information gleaned in the first step, combine it with your business strategy, and now you know the goals of your app search. While you’re doing your research, think about how each app applies to what you want to achieve, and when you need to achieve it. What should you have now? What would be nice to have after that? This will not only guide your search but provide you with the keywords and filters to help you find what you’re looking for.
  3. Take advantage of Trailhead. If you haven’t begun to navigate it already, Trailhead is a free online tool, known as the fun way to learn Salesforce, and there’s an entire module on how best to use the AppExchange. It will save you time in the long run. And be sure to connect with the Salesforce community. Learn from other customers and partners to optimize your Salesforce experience and facilitate your search.
  4. Do a deep dive on each AppExchange listing you’re considering. Check out reviews and see what is available as far as training and documentation. Watch product demos, and download free trials to use in your Salesforce sandbox to see how it works with your processes. Talk to community members to find out how long they have been using the app you’re considering and how their experience has been.
  5. Roll out changes in increments rather than one complete overhaul. Installing too many apps at once does more to hurt your workflow than it does to help. Use your prioritized list from step one to make gradual changes. Not only will this reduce the initial workload on your team and allow them to become familiar with each change before moving on to the next, but once you’re up and running with one app, you may find you no longer need one you’ve earmarked for purchase further down the road.

And before you begin, or at any step along the way, enlist the help of experts. The consultants at Spark.Orange have experience rolling out Salesforce to organizations across a number of industries. We can be of particular help in the analysis phase, to advise you on the best apps and best practices for a trouble-free integration and optimal Salesforce engagement.