The business-critical nature of some Salesforce.com deployments also contributes to the need for partnering. A SaaS deployment may simply focus on the application, with little or no need for professional services. However, Salesforce.com deployments don't always exist in isolation. They are often embedded in broader projects to revamp sales or customer service in a department or across an organization.
K12, a company that provides online K-12 education, fits that model. The organization decided to replace its legacy customer system as part of an effort to provide a more personal and relevant customer experience, according to Dianne Conley, vice president of marketing systems at K12. The company selected Salesforce.com over Oracle as its software provider; Salesforce.com recommended Appirio, a San Francisco-based services provider specializing in the cloud, as an implementation partner.
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K12 planned to hire a partner for the project, whether the nod went to Salesforce.com or Oracle. "It wasn't even something we thought twice about for an undertaking on the scale we were doing," Conley says.
Partners That Understand Salesforce.com Get Company's Attention
CIOs hire partners for a number of reasons, but general expertise in things Salesforce.com ranks among the top draws.
Horan says Nuance was looking for a company that thoroughly understands the platform and could contribute its experience in implementing Salesforce.com across multiple companies. He said the outside-expert approach avoids the trials and tribulations the company might have encountered with inexperienced internal personnel.
"If you engage partners, you are more likely to remain current with both the technology and what other companies are doing, in interesting ways, to solve problems," Horan adds.
That experience translates into configuration expertise, an important factor in the Salesforce.com environment. Salesforce.com offers ample opportunity to tweak the technology to meet a customer needs without having to engage in extensive custom development, according to IT managers and partners.
K12 took advantage of Appirio's configuration skills. The partner's understanding of the Salesforce.com platform let K12 leverage the software's native functionality "minimal customization," Conley says. "That was the real value-add they brought to us."
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