10 Questions to Ask Yourself When Considering an App From the AppExchange

You’ve spent some time shopping the AppExchange for the perfect app to solve your business challenge, and lo, you’ve found one! Everything on the surface looks great and you are ready to play around with it in your Salesforce sandbox. But before you press the install button here are 10 things you should consider.

1. Is your Salesforce edition compatible?

Navigate to the Details tab on the package’s AppExchange listing. On the right hand side under the “Salesforce Editions” section you will see a list of the editions that are compatible with that app. If an app is leveraging a feature not available to an edition, that edition will not be included. Pay particular attention to this if you have Group or Professional Edition.

2. Is it managed or unmanaged? (And why does it matter?)

There are two main differences between the two options and one is not necessarily better than the other. It does have an impact on both your app and your platform so know which option will best suit your needs. Managed packages will push updates for the package from the vendor automatically – huge! No extra work for you. The unmanaged package will require manual updates. However, unmanaged packages are completely flexible and can be changed – it is part of your system now! The elements added by managed packages are fixed and much less customizable.

3. What are the packages Components?

Stay on the Details tab and look at the Components section on the right hand side. This will tell you how many Custom Objects, Tabs, and applications will be added to your org during the install. If the package is unmanaged or is not publicly listed on the AppExchange, these components will count against your limits. Also be sure to ask about the number of custom fields included in any kind of app, these will also count against your Salesforce limit.

4. What kind of support is included in the package?

Does the vendor offer support? If so, what kind? You can find this information on the Details page as well. If you are on the fence about an investment into a package, knowing what support you’d have (or not have) could be the deal decider.

5. Is there documentation available?

On the Details tab the vendor has the opportunity to upload PDF documents, videos and images to help sell the app and to assist you after installation. Check to be sure there are installation instructions and user guides at minimum. If you do not see these documents on the listing, I would suggest emailing the provided email address to obtain them.  Are there helpful videos and images? That is a good sign the vendor is dedicated to ensuring the app is high quality and worthy of display.

6. A vendor sent me a link to a private listing. Any concerns?

The biggest consideration with private listings is that they have not gone through the security review done by Salesforce. The security process is rather lengthy, so they may still be working their way through it. However, it is also an investment on the part of the vendor. If they decided against publicly listing their app due to budget constraints, I would be wary of how dedicated they were to the app and keeping it up to date.

7. What are the ratings and reviews?

Take a moment to peruse the Reviews tab. Pay close attention to the number of stars given to the app and read the comments. If there is a high number of views be sure to read a mix of high, middle, and low reviews. However, don’t be automatically turned off by negative reviews. Each business runs their organization and Salesforce differently, so each app will work better for some than others. The important thing to look for is the vendor’s responsiveness. A vendor dedicated to its app and customer service will use the reviews to get ideas for new releases, address user issues, or just respond apologetically to unsatisfied customers.

8. Is the app Salesforce1 or Lightening compatible?

If your organization has users using Salesforce heavily on mobile devices, it is a good idea to find apps that will work on Salesforce1. If your organization uses Lightening, or will be using Lightening in the near future, make sure your app is designated with the “Lightening ready” banner

9. Is it “native” or “non-native”?

Salesforce apps that are native run entirely within the walls of your Salesforce instance. This means your data doesn’t leave your platform. Hooray for security! Another consideration with non-native apps is that any interaction with the 3rd party vendor will count against your API usage.

10. Is it necessary?

The elevator pitch for Salesforce includes the ability to customize it to fit your business needs. Make sure that you are not installing (and paying for) apps that you can solve easily with basic configuration. That being said, if you don’t have the skills in-house, or if you want to utilize a product that already has tons of hours and labors of love poured into it, an app from the AppExchange can be just the thing to solve your business need and run your business better!