Services Goliaths’ struggles with building Salesforce practices

Salesforce has become the poster child of sorts for modern enterprise software. This article is about the larger System Integrators (SIs) building Salesforce practices. Over the last few years, several relatively smaller services firms or the ‘born in the cloud era’ services firms which have Salesforce as a lynchpin of their portfolio have done remarkably well. While on the other hand, the larger more established SI’s have struggled developing profitable Salesforce practices. More so, if they don’t have the finesse in business consulting to complement their cloud technology practices.

The established, large software services firms learn the game-changing benefits of Salesforce products and platform first hand from their customers; they witness their marquee clients bet on the Salesforce platform for modernizing and re-envisioning their systems of engagement; alongside they see the Salesforce practices of boutique consulting companies take off.

Although traditional professional services around SAP, Oracle, Microsoft may still be larger than Cloud Professional services, they are growing at slower rates. The potential for a rapidly growing practice that outpaces the growth of legacy practices and prepares for the battleground in coming years, is both alluring and necessary for the services firm to master.

However, as they embark on their Salesforce practice journeys, what catches the services firms by surprise is that modern software demands unique shifts in mindset when it comes to building a consulting practice around them. Project durations are shorter, project team sizes are much smaller. Focused, iterative projects driven by business units, with rapid time-to-value, innovation cycles and minimal support and maintenance requirements replaces the traditional multi-year implementation projects at client organizations.

The delivery, pricing and resource models will need to be adapted by the SI for their cloud practices. They will need to focus on productizing solutions targeted to vertical industries and business processes as a natural progression of their implementation services. These nuances take time to learn. The ones who ‘get it’ still struggle with the painful journey of moving a large ship to a new direction.

They finally tell themselves they can buy themselves a Salesforce practice and short circuit their way to a thriving Salesforce business. Truth is, unlearning decades of what has made you successful and learning a new game takes patience, humility and hard work and there are no short cuts.

Ramana Metlapalli
Ramana Metlapalli
Ramana is a Managing Principal at Varasi. Ramana is a lifelong learner and eternally curious about what goes into making some individuals and organizations, high performance ones. He writes about Business Analysis, Salesforce best practices and the world of Consulting.