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Choose an Implementation Partner

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Explain how Salesforce helps customers choose an implementation partner.
  • Identify how to manage uncertainty by working with an implementation partner.

Pick the Partner Who Speaks Your Language

You need to find a partner who speaks the same language you do. Are you in the Communications and Media industry where you have subscribers? Or maybe you’re in the Healthcare and Life Sciences Provider industry and you work with patients. Whatever your industry, your language and your culture are what makes you unique. You need a partner that gets you. 

Conducting an assessment is the best way to select the right partner. Here are some assessment categories to consider and questions to ask potential partners during the selection process.

Questions for Potential Partners
Track record
  • Can you describe a similar project and the results you achieved?
  • Can you provide case studies?
  • Can you provide customer references?
  • Can you describe a project that did not go well and how you realigned for success?
Technical skills
  • What technical skill set, including certifications, does your team offer for my project?
Industry and solution expertise
  • What is your experience in “X” industry?
  • How many similar deployments have you done?
Company knowledge
  • Have you worked with my company before?
Local presence, global presence, or both
  • Will partner resources be on-site, remote, or both?
Culture fit
  • How would you describe your company’s culture?
Business transformation
  • How have you helped other customers with similar goals?
  • What are the obstacles faced with this type of business transformation?
  • How did you help your customer overcome those obstacles?
Training capability
  • Can you deliver training to our admins?
  • Can you deliver training to our users?
Delivery model
  • What delivery methodology do you use?
Resource availability and competency
  • What is the lead time required for staffing the project?
  • Will certified resources be assigned for the duration of the project?
  • What is your confidence level that the same project members will see the project through to completion?
  • How many similar projects have the resources completed successfully?
Partner expectations of customer
  • What resources do you need from us?
  • What is the time commitment you will need from our team?
  • How much access from my subject matter experts (SMEs) do you need?

The assessment template in the Resources section can get you started. 

When you’re ready to select your implementation partner, choose one that’s in the Salesforce partner community. If you pick a company that's not in the partner ecosystem, Salesforce is limited in what we can do for you if something goes wrong.

After you go through this partner assessment, you’ll feel more confident in your selection knowing you used consistent criteria in your evaluation.  

And the Countdown Continues

In addition to the assessment categories, ask yourself:

  • Do you want an order-taker or an expert?
  • Do you have data to migrate?
  • Do you have a clear budget for the project?

Order-Taker or Expert?

An expert may be more expensive, while typically order-takers do exactly what they’re told to do. That might not be the level of service you need. If you hire an order-taker, you might end up with the same pain points, just on a new platform. Our expert partners bring a point of view on how you can improve processes on the Salesforce platform, based on what they know about the industry, the platform, and your current processes and culture.

Data Migration

Data migration is another important piece of a successful implementation. The cost of migrating data typically ranges between 5% and 40% of the project budget, based on the following:

  • Who is doing the work—you, the partner, or both
  • The quantity and quality of the data you need to migrate
  • The complexity and diversity of the source data


And speaking of budget—make sure there is one. Here are a few things to keep in mind regarding the budget:

  • Implementation costs are driven by project scope and complexity.
  • The number of licenses you need doesn’t equate to project complexity.

Remember our rocket launch analogy? The main driver of cost is the path the rocket takes, not the number of astronauts in the rocket. 

Two rockets leaving Earth on different paths. The red rocket is on a more complicated path. That side has a large pile of coins. The blue rocket is on a simpler path with fewer coins.

The main thing to remember when it comes to budget discussions is to make sure you let the partner know any constraints. A partner works with you to balance your business needs and your budget. When it comes to budgets, no surprises are the best kinds of surprises.

More Resources to Help You Find a Partner

Your account executive and solution engineer aren’t your only resources for finding the right partner. The Salesforce Partner Business Development team and Partner Account Managers know the partner ecosystem, which includes partners in all industries with various expertise and solutions—from simple to complex.

These teams work with your AE and narrow the field down for you. Generally they provide two to three partners to interview. 

Also, take a look at the Consulting Partner tab in the AppExchange to see partner details. View partner certifications and expertise, read reviews, and see which active partners are doing the kind of work you need done.

The Cone of Uncertainty

Have you ever heard of the Cone of Uncertainty? If not, you’ve probably experienced it but didn’t know it had a name. In project management, the Cone of Uncertainty describes the change in the amount of uncertainty during a project. 

At the beginning of a project, there are many unknowns—this creates uncertainty. As you get your questions answered and make some decisions, you build your confidence and the amount of uncertainty decreases. Let’s face it, uncertainty is unwelcome, but it’s a natural part of any project. 

A great partner can guide your decision-making and eliminate or reduce scope creep. This helps keep the Cone of Uncertainty under control.

Three astronauts representing the customer look at a blackboard, where the partner teaches them about the Cone of Uncertainty.

Managing this cone is another reason why you should engage a partner sooner rather than later. The more the partner knows about your goals and objectives, pain points, and current environment and culture, the better they can guide you to confidence in your decisions. 


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