How no-code helps Salesforce consultants deliver custom solutions to clients faster & cheaper

How no-code helps Salesforce consultants deliver custom solutions to clients faster & cheaper

Almost every Salesforce consultant has experienced one of the following situations with their clients: 

  • They need additional functionality that isn’t possible without custom development
  • They need to expose data to many stakeholders (customers, partners, employees) at once

In each case, the cost to the client can be huge. Custom development requires significant up-front effort to scope, code, and deploy. And adding additional users requires more licenses – substantially increasing Salesforce fees and user training costs

Unsurprisingly, these expensive solutions can hurt client satisfaction and their future investment in the Salesforce environment. 

In these cases where native Salesforce features are too rigid and custom code too expensive, no-code software development offers an attractive alternative solution. With no-code, clients can build the same custom interfaces and logic that traditional code would typically facilitate, but at a fraction of the time and cost. This means that you can now build a totally custom application for a client, often in just a few weeks, and use Salesforce as the backend. 

Below, we'll cover:

What is no-code?

No-code is a software development approach that lets anyone create software applications without writing lines of code. Users instead build with a visual editor to assemble all the components of a software product – including the user interface, data tables, integrations with other pieces of software or databases, and workflows. By reducing the need for coding or programming skills, no-code significantly speeds up the app development process and reduces costs.

As an interesting side note, Salesforce itself is a type of no-code tool. By configuring a client's instance with custom objects, fields, views, and workflows, you’re essentially creating a piece of custom software for a client team.

There are hundreds of no-code development platforms in the market today, and most (like Salesforce) are targeted at very specific use cases (e.g. CRM). This gives them certain strengths, but also some limitations as to what types of apps can be built. That’s why our platform of choice is Bubble takes a more general approach, offering a nearly limitless set of low-level controls for practically any use case. This makes it a bit harder to learn, but it means that we can build anything that can be done with custom code in 5-10x fewer developer hours. 

Examples of custom apps built on Salesforce with no-code 

Here are a few examples of custom apps that we’ve built for clients on top of Salesforce:

  • A mini-CRM for external channel partners, for a client providing financing for solar panels partnered with installers to source leads - We built a custom portal for the hundreds of providers to manage their customers and deal flow, where all data synced with our client's Salesforce instance.
  • A hiring platform for external employers, for an education non-profit helping to place teachers in low-income schools - We built a custom interface for hundreds of school and district hiring partners to view teacher profiles, set up interviews, and hire teachers – with all data syncing to Salesforce.
  • A gig management portal, for a tech startup client managing a network of expert translators available for gig hire by hedge funds and other companies - We built a portal for their thousands of contractors, where they could view offers, accept gigs, and manage payments – with everything syncing to Salesforce.
  • A custom CPQ (configure/price/quote), for a global tech OEM selling equipment through channel partners - We built a tool where channel sales reps could build custom orders and set pricing based on configurations and discounting, all connected to the OEM's central pricing sheets.
  • Custom middleware: We worked with a large US county office to create a tool for citizens to create work order requests for issues like potholes and broken equipment. Orders followed a complex logic sequencing involving Salesforce and several other county platforms.

Advantages of building custom apps on Salesforce without code

Building a Salesforce-connected application has a number of clear advantages over traditional code or native Salesforce features:

  • Speed and cost: Because no-code requires fewer developer hours for a given output, teams can build solutions faster and at lower cost than with custom code. This can also be used to make more iterations in a given time/budget to get the solution right.
  • Pixel-perfect design: Bubble isn’t limited to templated interfaces and components (like Salesforce views and portals). Similar to code, you can design and build any custom interface to fit the exact experience you want your users to have.
  • Easier to maintain: No-code platforms typically provide ongoing support and updates, including bug fixes, security patches, and new features. This means apps will remain up-to-date and secure without requiring additional maintenance efforts from the app creator.
  • No need for additional licenses: With custom no-code applications, data flows to and from Salesforce via the API, which usually requires just one Salesforce license. Instead, Bubble pricing is based on compute, not users.

Factors to consider before building custom

While no-code tools like Bubble make it significantly easier to develop custom apps built on top of Salesforce, there are still a few things to watch out for:  

  • May need to buy additional API calls: Most Salesforce contracts come with a specific number of monthly API calls (additional user licenses can sometimes top this number up, so it's important to consult your client's contract). Because custom no-code applications use the API to send and receive data, some will exceed their monthly allotment. In these cases, clients will need to purchase additional Salesforce licenses to increase their API call limits.
  • Additional training: External applications built in Bubble are outside the Salesforce platform. This means system administrators won’t be able to maintain and adjust them without training on the Bubble platform. We always try to incorporate self-service features for our client’s portals to handle the sorts of adjustments we anticipate. For everything else, some of our clients choose to train their admins in Bubble, while others hire our team on a monthly maintenance contract.

When looking at the big picture, we find that custom building apps with no-code can be a great approach for Salesforce consultants. Clients get exactly the functionality they need at a much lower total cost of ownership. And consultants will still be able to charge significant margins on top of these builds and remain highly competitive relative to other options. 

When does a custom solution make sense?

Consultants who can offer innovative paths to operate at lower costs without sacrificing strategic vision will be seen as invaluable partners to their clients. But it can be difficult to know what scenarios and decisions a no-code solution will be most helpful in.

To give some guidance, here are the types of situations you should look for when deciding whether a custom no-code app built on Salesforce might be a good option:

  • You need a custom web interface that's nicer than Salesforce (but still integrates with data)
  • You need to implement complex logic that isn’t possible natively, potentially using external data
  • You need to collect information externally and feed it into Salesforce (e.g. a survey, input form, or external integration)
  • You need to connect a big group of partner/external constituents to Salesforce (e.g. customers, donors, channel partners) through a custom portal
  • You need to connect Salesforce with other systems (e.g. ERPs, Google sheets/Airtable, Sharepoint DMS, or Microsoft Outlook) and include complex logic and workflows
  • You have other problems that can be solved by an external web application

Need a no-code developer to help build a custom Salesforce solution?

At Airdev, we work with Salesforce consultants to design and build custom no-code solutions for their clients. See how we helped one freelance expert network company create a custom Salesforce-integrated gig management platform in just weeks.

‍Contact us here to discuss your project.