What is the difference between Salesforce Customization and Configuration? Detailed Explanation

Salesforce Configuration and Customization
11 December, 2019 5 min to read

If a person decides to utilize a Salesforce solution for his/her business, then they can expect it to meet all business requirements in full. And truthfully, this is very possible. The Salesforce platform is something that can provide business the functionality one might expect because it is configurable as well as customizable at a very high level. Many people believe that when it comes to Salesforce configuration or Salesforce customization, these two are one in the same. However, these are actually quite different. And here, we will see what the differences are and how they are performed.

Configuration in Comparison to Customization: Main Differences

The statistics tell us that more than 90% of the businesses during the Salesforce CRM development and customization have to deal with both customization and configuration. And the platform itself is designed to handle these things perfectly. When it comes to configuration, you deal with the items already available on the platform; you select whatever you need.

However, if you need to perform customization, you have to handle the code to make the solution work as required. If you have to move to customization, it means that the available resources are not enough.

And here, you can see some things that belong to one category or another.

We speak about Salesforce configuration, if you need to:

  • Add more objects or fields
  • Add tabs
  • Add apps
  • Create new profiles
  • Create new permissions
  • Work with reports and workflows
  • Create email templates
  • Work with validation rules
  • Create page layouts or record types, as well as apps for AppExchange
  • Add some applications from AppExchange
  • Develop websites on the Customer 360 Platform

And you are dealing with Salesforce customization, if you need to:

  • Work with Apex classes or triggers
  • Work with Visualforce and its components
  • Use CSS to change how the pages look
  • Integrate the solution with the third-party solutions
  • Use JavaScript to add additional features and capabilities
  • Create Lightning components
  • Build low-code applications on Customer 360 Platform
  • Develop websites on Force.com

Salesforce Configuration VS Customization


What expertise is required for configuration and customization?

The Salesforce platform is vast and filled with absolutely different capabilities, tutorials, documents, and so on. There are plenty of guides and instructions on how to perform the customization and configuration.

The configuration is less complicated, due to the availability of all the features and functions in the ecosystem. So, there should be fewer issues during your team’s workflow. For that, you need to clearly understand what the features mean and how to handle them. Furthermore, you have to get acquainted with the expertise required to perform the Salesforce configuration. In particular, it may be performed by:

  • Salesforce Administrator
  • Community Cloud Consultant
  • Sales Cloud Consultant
  • Service Cloud Consultant

In contrast, Salesforce customization may be performed with a Salesforce Platform Developer and Salesforce App Builder.

There are plenty of functions and resources available in the Salesforce platform, but if you have the right admin or developer to handle all of them, will that be a profit for your business? If not, or if you are in doubt, consider the expenses and the possible losses if the configuration vs. customization of Salesforce goes wrong. If you are in doubt, look for a proper Salesforce implementation partner that will do it all for you.

Determining business needs

When you are implementing the Salesforce solution, you should be very clear on what exactly it is that you need. The risk of overpaying is extremely high when you don't have a plan of the processes automation required to your particular business model, type, or industry. There is no need to mention that the solution would work with the same efficiency, so that's why experienced Salesforce consultancy is a must.

A knowledgeable Salesforce implementation partner will help you determine what exactly you need. Yes, it looks like you need just about everything at the start, but one of the main tasks of your Salesforce implementation partner is to determine together what your current needs are and what can be ignored. To do so, a reliable implementation partner asks a few core questions:

  • Is it necessary or optional to change?
  • How are the business processes performing without the need for change?
  • What impact do you think it will have after the implementation has taken place?
  • Have you gotten the KPI to accomplish a successful implementation of the solution?
  • Will the team perform without this change?
  • How will it influence your company if this change is not implemented?

Of course, there will be many more things to ask besides these two questions, but these questions will help determine the direction in which it is possible to move to determine the real business needs.

Solution simplicity for end users

Before you start, you should understand one thing clearly: over-complicating the solution may lead to many complications in its customization, configuration, and, later on, application. It concerns not only to staff with their training but to the use and functioning of the entire solution.

There is also one point to consider when implementing the Salesforce solution. Whenever a user sends a request, he/she should be able to get the correct response without overthinking how to ask. So, make sure your Salesforce admin or developer clearly understands how to do it. There are many filters and your Salesforce implementation company should know how to use them properly. In contrast, your users don't understand how the Salesforce platform works, but they should enjoy the perfect experience.

Will the configuration satisfy your business requirements?

With customization, you get plenty of options. But to use them, you should clearly understand all the processes that exist in your business. Perform the in-depth analysis of all processes and check the options provided by the proper configuration. How can a process be transformed into something that you can handle much more simply?

After you define all the processes, you will see the gaps that need to be covered with Salesforce configuration or Salesforce customization.

The necessity of Customization

So, you have divided your business into processes that can be handled by configuration and those that can be controlled by customization. Please note that if you haven't done it before, customizing anything might lead to mistakes that will not be easily forgiven by your business. First, learn the configurations; this is the right way in dealing with the Salesforce solution.

And again, don't forget to ask yourself whether your business really needs it. Only after that should you move on to the next configuration or customization.

In the end, you will find your reasons for performing the customizations. Here, we will list just the most commons ones, but this list is neither exhaustive nor mandatory; it just depends on your business:

  • Business processes that cannot be performed with workflows, process builder or validation rules
  • Lack of built-in features to calculate a necessary formula in standard reports
  • Users reject using the platform and continue working in spreadsheets
  • The standard UI isn't suitable for your team to manage the data
  • Integration with third-party applications is required and AppExchange doesn't have a ready-made solution
  • A need to create a custom community template in Community Cloud
  • Default tools in Salesforce don't offer the required functionality to finish implementation

Of course, these are not all the things that make you want to configure or customize your solution. But whatever your reasons are, make sure you will be implementing everything with a knowledgeable and experienced Salesforce implementation partner. If you consider the creation of Apex code or Apex triggers, decide whether you can do it with your team or delegate it to a professional Salesforce implementation professional.

Wrap Up

Customization and configuration are the most essential and demanded factors if you want to cover all of your business’ needs. For proper implementation, you should evaluate the available resources accurately and hire Salesforce experts when needed.

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