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Whilst there are various editions of Salesforce.com, the question I always hear is “can I get away with Professional Edition”? It is a fair question, given that an Enterprise edition licence is £480 (or $720) MORE per user! So, why the big price difference? Well, you get what you pay for…
Salesforce.com is an immensely powerful system. With workflows, you can create bespoke business logic to send emails, create tasks, update fields or send outbound system messages. However, Professional Edition does not have Workflows (automated processes which help you align Salesforce to your needs). The ‘good’ news is that you can purchase it separately… the bad news is that it costs ~£612 per user per year!
On this point, there is more good news and bad news. The good news is that you can customise Professional Edition’s look and feel using ‘Visualforce’ (Salesforce.com’s answer to HTML). For the techies out there, this means you can use Salesforce’s Standard Controllers to control interactions with your custom pages. The bad news is that you cannot create a ‘Custom Controller’, due to Apex not being supported. The only exception to this rule is to publish a Managed Package… which is the beginning of many hours/weeks of work.
Many studies and experiences have shown that organisations that integrate their CRM applications with their wider infrastructure generate higher value and ROI. A key selling point of Salesforce.com is that it is an OPEN technology and has almost unlimited integration capabilities through its API (Application Program Interface) and web services. In simpler English, this API allows you to connect your Salesforce.com application with other systems to help you:
For Enterprise Edition customers, API integration is enabled by default. Professional Edition customers will either need to purchase the ‘Integration via Web Services API’ add-on (which will set you back another £180 per user per year), or simply make do. However, a word for the wise – this feature should not be undervalued. Salesforce.com have invested heavily to provide this robust API infrastructure – my view is exploit it, don’t squander it!
The AppExchange is Salesforce.com’s answer to Google Play or iTunes. The AppExchange provides a rich market of powerful add-on solutions, tools and bolt-on applications that can help you extend and enhance your solution, at low cost and with incredible ease. Basically, it answers the ‘Build vs Buy’ question. The answer is “Buy” and don’t re-invent the wheel. With over 100,000 add-ons (and counting) to choose from, the question is ‘where to start’. For Professional Edition customers though, the journey can be short-lived. Many of these 3rd party applications require API access to run and if you don’t have this, they won’t work.
If you have a live Salesforce.com system, how do you develop modifications/enhancements whilst it is in use and avoid disruption to users? The answer is either a lot of coffee and working through the night/weekend, or you build changes in a separate environment, known as a ‘Sandbox’. But there is a catch… sandboxes are NOT bundled with Professional Edition! You can however, purchase a sandbox.
In Salesforce.com, Record Types enable you to run different business processes and display different fields/layouts to users. This is a fantastic feature and has many applications, such as:
Record Types are not supported in Professional Edition, but is available in Enterprise Edition! Although the lack of record type functionality won’t inhibit you from developing a perfectly good working system, it does impede your ability to create a flexible and maintainable system showing only relevant data.
Professional Edition allows you to use the Report Builder’s standard functionality (e.g. standard filters in a Drag and Drop User Interface). You can even create charts to display data. But there are several features in ‘Enterprise Analytics’ that are not available in Professional Edition, such as:
These features may not seem a big deal but, if you want to use your data without Excel, are immensely powerful. The ‘good’ news is that these features are readily available in Enterprise Edition!
Salesforce.com is known as a ‘multi-tenant’ system – which means all its 100,000+ customers, in effect, share the same core infrastructure. This means that you do not need to invest in servers or complex infrastructure to use the system – which saves you a ton of money and headaches; great news, but there is a catch. It also means that Salesforce.com must prioritise resources for those customers that purchase their higher level editions.
Some key limit differences between Professional and Enterprise Editions are:
|Custom Objects allowed||50||200|
|Custom (unmanaged) apps allowed||5||10|
|Custom Fields allowed (per object)||100||500|
|Visual Workflow Supported||No||Yes|
|Scheduled Reports (per day)||3||1 per hour|
This is by no means an exhaustive list.
So, by saving yourself £480 per user/year, you are costing yourself so much more in terms of lost opportunities and productivity! Don’t get me wrong, if you want a robust small-scale CRM, built on the world’s best platform, Professional Edition will do for you. But if you want to push boundaries and ensure that the solution delivers the best value for your business, don’t give into the tempting lower licensing cost. Enterprise Edition is a must.