The Salesforce Skills Gap is Real—Here’s How to Fix It
It’s hard to name software as ubiquitous as Salesforce. It’s no surprise, as this SaaS company continues to grow well over 25% YoY and is on track to hit $26.4 billion this fiscal year. In FY23, Salesforce expects to hit $31.8 billion in revenue.
That’s a lot of companies leveraging Salesforce software, and software requires the right people—people who know how to design, develop, architect, implement, test, manage, support and build to ensure success within a company.
Finding those “right people,” however, can be a huge challenge. This is true for a myriad of reasons, but one of the biggest roadblocks comes down to this: Salesforce is a complex, multi-faceted solution—spanning multiple business areas and serving multiple purposes. As a result, successfully managing Salesforce requires a variety of specialized skillsets—making it difficult to find talent that can successfully fill and execute these niche roles.
That’s why, today, the Salesforce skills gap is very real. In fact, according to the 2021 Salesforce Talent Ecosystem Report, demand for Salesforce talent is up by 364%, but supply has slowed. This supply and demand imbalance is colliding with the broader labor shortages of our post-pandemic world to create the perfect storm. In short, businesses are struggling to find the Salesforce talent they need.
In this blog post, we take a look at the widening Salesforce skills gap—and explain how meeting the demand for qualified experts can be addressed by experienced third-party partners.
The Case of the Lone Salesforce Administrator
While many enterprise technologies like ERP software are bought, implemented and managed with IT oversight, Salesforce is often an exception. As a SaaS solution, Salesforce is typically sold directly at the department level (e.g., sales, customer service, marketing and commerce teams).
Without a major on-premises installation, it’s easier and exponentially faster to deploy and start benefitting from. That’s a huge win for business users. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t an equal level of investment. Salesforce requires various types of experts to effectively manage and scale usage for a growing business—i.e., project managers, business analysts, developers and integration specialists, to name a few. However, this is often not something business teams think about, and why should they? It’s not their job. But it is something that quickly becomes apparent once Salesforce is deployed and needs to be managed.
Often, what happens is a business group hires a single Salesforce Administrator to manage and maintain the solution. And that’s it. While Salesforce Administrators have the knowledge and experience needed to maintain and customize the platform to the needs of the department, they don’t have other specialized skills that one would need to manage, scale and integrate mission-critical enterprise-wide software as the business evolves.
This is a common challenge we see among mid-market companies. Salesforce often began in one department and there isn’t a need for a full-time team of developers, analysts, project managers and other specialists to support the solution. In fact, it doesn’t make sense to hire these individuals when those skills are only needed some of the time, not all the time.
But inevitably, the demand for more sophisticated analytics, reporting, customizations and integrations are needed as Salesforce usage expands and other departments and leaders want to leverage the critical customer data needed to grow the business.
The one full-time Salesforce Administrator on staff gets stretched too thin and is not effective in meeting all the needs of the business. The result: Salesforce is underutilized or not set up to deliver the business results needed to drive revenue and business growth.
How Are Companies Filling the Salesforce Skills Gap?
You don’t want to burnout your Salesforce Administrator; it’s hard enough to find that talent (Salesforce notes a 400% annual growth rate for Salesforce Administrator jobs). You want to keep the talent you have, but you also need to tap into other expertise, when you need it.
Traditionally, companies have solved the problem in one of three ways, but each option brings its own set of challenges:
- Full-time Hire: You could hire a full-time business analyst or developer (or other role) in-house, but you’re paying for their skills even when they’re not being fully utilized.
- Project Hire: You could hire that expert on a contract/project basis, but again, you’ll need to clearly define their role, the project and requirements. This approach adds considerable management complexity as you’ll need to have to continuously recruit and oversee people as your projects and needs change, and it doesn’t offer the flexibility to provide expertise on demand.
- Traditional Outsource Model: You could work with a third-party partner to help you manage your Salesforce solution for a certain number of hours per month. But you get what you get. That person may have deep expertise in area, but not another—which brings you back to your original challenge: you’re paying for skills that aren’t being fully utilized, and not getting other skills you may need more of at the time.
As more companies move to the cloud and digitally transform, these options don’t provide the level of flexibility and access to expertise that Salesforce customers want and need. However, as they say, necessity is the mother of invention. In recent years, a new model has emerged, one that better aligns with how companies want to operate in today’s on-demand world.
A Modern (Fractional) Approach to Salesforce Expertise
Some providers are now offering a Fractional Expertise Model. This gives you access to a full team of Salesforce experts, but you are only paying for the resource(s) you need. Essentially, that resource is divided into multiple fractions or “pieces”—and each fraction could be a skill you’re looking for, like analytics experts, business analysts, developers, etc.
The fractional model enables you to swap out the expertise you need, when you need it, without having to add headcount or manage multiple different people. The result: you get on-demand access to the specialized skills you need, when you need them, while only paying for that resource when you’re actually using them—which is a much more cost-effective option than hiring full-time, in-house personnel.
The benefits are numerous: it simplifies management complexity, it’s fast, it’s exponentially more cost-effective and it gives you the flexibility to stop, change or add an expert without having to go through the process of trying to recruit and retain these individuals.
The fractional model is not new. It’s been used for years by growing companies to affordably access finance/C-level executives by paying for a fraction of a single C-level resource vs. fractions of multiple people (or experts) as described in our Salesforce fractional model.
The important factor to keep in mind is whether the provider offering fractional services has access to all the skilled experts you need. When evaluating the fractional model with a potential partner, make sure they have a deep bench of experts and global capabilities that can scale with your organization. While you may not need a particular skill today, as you grow and add more Salesforce Clouds, you’ll want a partner that can likewise scale with you and a team of experts available to you 24/7/365, anywhere your business operates.
To find out how Navisite Salesforce Services can help you overcome the talent gap with a team blended by skill need at a fractional FTE level, contact us today.