Star Trek IT: Delivering Enterprise Solutions on a Shuttlecraft Budget

 In blog

At Dreamforce 2013, Torrey & Brian presented a session Data as an Asset with DemandTools & More.

One of the principles we mentioned is what we call “Star Trek IT.” Simply put, you have Start Trek IT when your company has Enterprise requirements, but shuttle craft budgets. You can see the video on this principle starting at 19 minutes 53 seconds. We have two demos using some great Start Trek IT tools.

Qualities of a Start Trek IT Tool

There are six key properties we are looking for when evaluating if a tool qualifies for Star Trek IT.

  • Feature Rich: Flexibility in how it’s configured
  • Cost/Benefit “Bang for the Buck”: Lot of features, not a lot of money
  • Look Before You Leap: Does it offer a trial?
  • Multi-User Capable: Spread the knowledge & wealth across multiple users
  • Strong Community of Value: Community knowledge & support
  • Responsive Customer Support: Human being I can talk with fast if I need help

Sometimes we just need to think outside of the box to find that wheel that has already been invented that is also economical.

Before you buy

Submit a customer support question: Do you get a real human response?

It’s important to identify early if a solution you’re looking at qualifies as a Star Trek IT tool. Find out now how fast their customer support responds. Do they respond with a human person or point you to some documentation? The way they treat you now is the way they’ll treat you as a customer.

Start with a trial: Ask for a trial if one isn’t offered.

Many solutions will offer a free version or a limited trail period. Remember, just because you don’t see one listed on their website, doesn’t mean they don’t – or won’t- offer you one. This is a great question to ask their customer support team.

Make sure you try it first – especially if it’s a paid solution. Find out before you invest your money if the tool will even solve your problem or add enough value to be worth the investment. If possible, always try it in a Sandbox first. It’s a great way to make sure you don’t disrupt people’s work day until you know a solution would work. When a Sandbox isn’t an option, try it with a special select group of people. You can use their feedback to determine if you should roll it out to the whole company.

Look at their forums or other groups

Let’s be honest, we don’t want to have to contact Customer Support if we don’t have to. This is why it’s important to have a vibrant community as a resource. Not only does it give you access to answers without Customer Support, you also gain insight to how well received a tool is. What do you see when you look at a community? Do you see lots of complaints and problems? Are there good answers coming from other users and not just the company? Does the company provide a community or is it a “user” community on LinkedIn or other site?

Recommendations

Examples of Start Trek IT Tools that we use and recommend.

  • DemandTools – A great tool for importing and duplicate data management. Also works with Professional Edition.
  • LinkPoint Connect – An alternative to Salesforce for Outlook. Includes options for creating customized configurations just for your company
  • DupeCatcher – A free tool for prevent duplicates in your org. This may be replaced with Salesforce new duplicate management system
  • Drag, Drop and Upload – A nifty tool that allows dragging and dropping files to create attachments in Salesforce
  • Cloud Swarm – A free chatter extended tool. Automatically have users follow Leads, Opportunities, and more.
  • HighFive! – 5 important fields around Opportunities: Date of Last Won Deal, Count of Opportunities, Count of Won Opportunities & more
  • inSitu Software – A whole series of tools from Customizable Account Hierarchy to Delegate Tasks Management.
  • Jitterbit Salesforce Dataloader – A great, basic, free data loading tool with a built-in process scheduler.

Star Trek IT solutions are available everywhere. Don’t limit yourself to the AppExchange. There are many third party tools you can use to power your Salesforce org at warp drive. One of our favorites is talend. Their Community Edition is a free, robust ETL environment. Combine this with a Windows box for with a task scheduler, running DemandTools and you can do some incredible process automation (even in Professional Edition!).

Like the galaxy, the possibilities are endless. The power of Salesforce is they won’t take a 5-year journey to realize. Take the first step by looking for Star Trek IT solutions to answer the business questions with your Salesforce data. And may your business continue to Live Long and Prosper!

 

Brian Kwong
Brian has been an Admin/Developer on the Salesforce platform since 2007. He was recognized as a Salesforce MVP in 2012 and has been renewed each year. Brian is a passionate supporter of the Salesforce community and is a co-leader for the Wisconsin Salesforce User Group. Brian specializes in business automation, business analyst, and best practices. He's the Vice President of Delivery and Operations at Better Partners.
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