This is a follow up to a previous blog post “Time = Money” and I will be talking about out integration with Salesforce and the mixed bag it has brought us. I also think it points out the challenges in the new business model of enterprise software providers and the 3rd party developer “app centers.”

We began using Salesforce approximately two years ago with a goal of collapsing business systems into one enterprise level application that could scale with our business.

Two years later I can say we are a bit more efficient, but the idea of a dream system that handles all of our business needs is just that – a dream. The reality is that we all have unique businesses and when you bring your unique business case to the system and it can’t handle it you either have to contract someone to build the integration or find a 3rd party application that works. This process is where you start losing all of the time you feel you are saving.

You spend days and weeks finding, demoing and getting quotes for the right application to serve your business need. I call this type of integration “stove pipe” because it communicates to just the part of the software that is required to make it work, but not the rest of the application. Through the time suck process you find it functions well, works as advertised, but there are a lot of issues when you get it into the real world. Let me just mention a few.

1. The enterprise software has forced us to go create new vendor relationships to get their “enterprise” solution to work for our business. Ok, so in our case we have three new vendor relationships that need to be managed, developed and cultivated. Fantastic, what a great savings in time…

2. User Interface. With three new companies comes three new ways to interface with the application, how lovely. In our case it is a phone system and live chat. Both interact differently and both have a distinctly different interface. Yes, we are even more excited about all the new training for our sales and support team…

3. Deep reporting. This is the real challenge as the data we collect won’t necessarily be available for reporting. In almost every case, integration includes adding new “custom” fields that won’t pull down to the core reporting that comes with the enterprise software. The answer? Export all data into a NEW database and extract.

I know this sounds like a rip session on Salesforce. Without a doubt, we have our challenges with their system but this isn’t unique to Salesforce. That is the real problem. The enterprise software industry sees a lot of value for their business through this model and therefore the customers come last. They can front a veiled effort to say “look what we have done for you – all of these developers and their applications.” But when you really start analyzing what it really “does for you,” you spend a lot of time drinking! What you really want is a one-stop solution for your business, managed with one relationship to save you time.

We are the solution.

It should be our goal to make software that gets out of your way so you can do what you do best. When you have needs, you come to us for the services you need and we go back to getting out of your way.

In our space Big Commerce and Shopify are two examples of companies that are building out “app centers” for mission critical features that will cost you more time and money. This takes me all the way back to the original argument about why we’re different and on a unique path. We are truly committed to our customers and just like our business, we are creating software that will save you time. But what does it mean?

It means our core features will be CORE to the software, not through a 3rd party developer halfway around the world. It also means that WE are offering the custom services that are unique to your business.

Need an example? Our integration with Quickbooks automatically syncs your orders, customers and product data. Our competitors will provide you with an affiliate link to a 3rd party application so you can pay more, add a new relationship to manage and you will get new software to learn. OR, you can keep paying us the same monthly fee, with no new relationship that sucks away more time. If you are a Quickbooks user, what would you do with your business if we gave you back two weeks a year simply by using Pinnacle Cart?

We are thoroughly committed to ensuring all core elements a small business needs to sell online will be in our application. We believe by giving you more time back you have a greater chance for success and therefore a customer of ours for a much longer time!

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