The Salesforce Experts!

Force by Design is a cloud computing consulting firm with expertise in Salesforce implementation and custom Force.com application development. Our Rockstar consultants help organizations large and small become successful in their use and adoption of cloud technologies. Having worked with clients in every industry ranging from non-profit to high tech, we view every project as a partnership and are ecstatic about the success we help our clients achieve.

 
Undisclosed
 
$150 - $199 / hr
 
10 - 49
 Founded
2008
Show all +
San Francisco, CA
headquarters
  • 50 Fremont Street, Suite 1650
    San Francisco, CA 94105
    United States

Reviews

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Force Integration For Bay Area Non-Profit

"They want to help our clients and our company."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
Project summary: 

Force by Design integrated multiple databases under a Salesforce CRM, which helps clients reach self-sufficiency. They handled data migration, provided reporting, and implemented custom software.

The Reviewer
 
1-10 Employees
 
San Francisco, California
Director of IT, Nonprofit
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

New platforms and dashboards have greatly improved efficiency, productivity, and ease of use. Force by Design excels at working within a tight nonprofit budget, stretching resources and devising creative solutions. Senior leadership is always available to offer solutions and suggestions.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Please provide a brief description of what your company does, for some background information.

Our company is a non-profit company in San Francisco,  we have about 70 people and we’ve been here for about 30 years.  Our mission is to help people to help themselves. We want people to become self-sufficient, we help people find jobs. We train people with workshops. We have classes on Microsoft Office. We have a technology access center and we have centers that help foreigners to find employment in the United States. We help anybody who’s unemployed find jobs.

Okay, great.  What is your position within the company?

Director of the IT Department.

And what’s are your primary responsibilities role?

My primary responsibilities were to oversee all functions of the IT Department. This includes network, computers, troubleshooting software, and hardware. I am a Salesforce administrator.  Also, I oversee data entry people and I supervise an IT system administration person.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

And what were your company’s business goals or reasons for undertaking a project with Force by Design?

We had a few databases in 2007 that did not talk with each other. We needed to have something better, so we did research and decided that Salesforce would work well for us. We looked at many companies and not Force by Design but a different one. It didn’t work well so we ended that relationship. We needed to finish implementation, so Force by Design was recommended to me by members of another non-profit Salesforce group in San Francisco. They did a great job, they helped us so much and they were able to do it on time and within the budget. We have a strong relationship with them so they also train me. We worked together and I learned a lot but I’m not a programmer. When we need programming, I still work with them.

SOLUTION

Can you tell me about the scope of the project that they worked on?

We have a non-profit version of Salesforce, it’s very customized because of what we do. It’s a customer relationship database that includes our clients, our employer contacts, and our volunteers. 

For clients, it has the whole process of involvement with our company. It includes their program enrollment, their finding, and job placement. Porting was the main challenge because that’s what the first company didn’t understand. Force by Design immediately understood that we cannot implement application without having reports ready.

Salesforce does not allow us to run some reports that we needed to run, so they helped us with that. We were able to implement reporting, and they found some workarounds for us, They found free software for us. The software allows copying information on demand from Salesforce. We can copy all data from Salesforce to Access, for creating very complex reports we can use Access. 

Also, they did data migration for us from many databases. They understood how and what would be the best way to work with us. They always chose the best and cheapest way to help us.

And could give me the size of the initiative, like in dollars that you used?

 Initially, it was in the range of 100,000 dollars. 

And how recently was the project finished?

The main part of the project was finished in 2008 but since then they’ve worked with us all the time and helped us.  They not only help us with projects that involve complex programming, but they also worked with me and trained me. Whenever I have questions, they are very responsive.  That’s the best part about them, they are extremely responsive. They respond immediately, they find solutions. When I just have general questions, they help with that as well.  They are great.  Mikhail, their President, really wants to help non-profits so he does pro-bono work. Every couple of months, he leads the class on Salesforce overview for our clients.

That is great.

Yes, and he trains others to provide the class if he is not available. Sometimes it’s one of his trainers alone. The trainers talk to our clients, and they even hired one or two of our clients. It has been great.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Great, so what were the results of the project?  If you have any statistics or metrics, I’d love to hear about that.

We created solutions with about 25 objects. Dashboards allow us to make business decisions faster. Also, we have schedule dashboards and our management is aware of our performance outcomes.  They can check every day so that’s mainly for them. It changed the whole way our business operates. Our business is more efficient because all information is available, it’s user-friendly. It was very difficult for people to use Microsoft Access. The new system is easy to use since reports are created. It’s easy for those who are interested to learn how to create reports. There’s information about the clients themselves, so it changed everything.

Okay, how would you rate their overall performance?

They understand the best way to deal with us. Sometimes it was face-to-face, sometimes it’s remote. The President of their company finds appropriate programmers and connects me to them. When I work with them directly, he is available immediately.

As you work with Force by Design, was there anything unique or special about them compared to other companies you worked with in the past? 

I think the fact that they helped us pro bono is very unique. They want to help our clients and our company.

And looking back on the project is there anything you think they could improve on or could have done differently?

No, I think they did a great job considering the situation. If they decided to redesign everything that the first company designed, we wouldn’t have enough money. Therefore, they found the best way to finish project within our budget. We’re a non-profit so cost is a big factor. They are very aware that we are a non-profit company. They know we don’t have resources. We find they’re very flexible working with us. They find ways to help us without spending tons of money that we don’t have.

5.0
Overall Score They’re really good.
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    They are not cheap but they always stuck with the original estimates.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    I do recommend them to others.

Community Based Nonprofit Transition Into Salesforce Technology

"They really developed a keen understanding of our business before they deployed any solutions."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
4.0
Cost: 
4.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$200,000 to $999,999
Project summary: 

Force by Design handled a nonprofit's transition onto the Salesforce platform. They wrote Visual Force and Apex code, customized features, trained staff, and provided administrative oversight.

The Reviewer
 
201-500 Employees
 
San Rafael, California
IT Director, Nonprofit
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Force by Design excelled at leveraging their talented team, utilizing each element of the platform, and making the development process enjoyable for all. Their enthusiasm for nonprofit projects and deep knowledge of Salesforce built an innovative, multifaceted product that met organizational needs.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Please provide a brief description of what your company does.

We are a school- and community-based nonprofit agency in Marin County. We have programs all across the San Francisco Bay area, primarily in the schools, communities, and criminal justice systems. We also have eight different large-scale locations, with hundreds of representatives stationed in local schools and communities, not to mention numerous mobile workers. This fact underpins the need for cloud based solutions.

What is your current position within the company and your primary responsibilities?

I'm the IT director. I'm responsible for our technology and that includes the applications that we develop in-house, and all of the hardware, networking, software, and user support that goes with it.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What were your company’s business goals or reasons for undertaking a project with Force by Design? What was lacking?

We were very much a paper-based business, and so we incidentally stumbled upon Salesforce.com when they were making it available to nonprofits for free. We took them up on that, went to their conferences, and realized they had this community within this foundation. They were supporting nonprofit agencies, and then we learned that they would offer many of their other products at a sizable discount. We saw this as an affordable way to build some applications, which we hadn’t done before, except maybe with accounting systems. The first major project we had was a modest, clinical recordkeeping project for our counselors, and Force by Design helped us implement that. It wasn’t too involved. Next was a way to take a paper-based AmeriCorps program, which includes all of the collaborative arrangements that we have with other nonprofit agencies and schools throughout the Bay Area. The idea was to move all of that mail, file cabinets, and paper sort of economy onto the Web using the Force.com platform. This required quite a lot of customizing, coding, and project management. Mikaya was the principal on the project that marshaled all of the resources of Force by Design to meet the need to build a killer application for our national service programs.

SOLUTION

What parts of the project were in-housed and what part was Force by Design primarily responsible for?

We had gone to some training and conferences, and got a lot of hands-on in the area of just basic Salesforce.com admin skills. This, all the click-to-configure types of development, you can do right out of the box without writing any code. There were some advanced features of the admin that we didn’t really know how to tackle without some consulting. We did most of the admin work in-house. We relied on Force by Design to write all of the visual Force and Apex codes for us. They spent significant time customizing the solutions to our business processes, which required their attendance at our meetings. They then helped us with the training and iterative development cycle, and were willing to include some skilled admins on our team. In some ways, we became members of their team, as well as being the customer. I appreciated their inclusiveness in the process.

What other technologies did you use, like programming languages, databases, or platforms? 

Primarily, all of the Javascript that goes with the platform. Visual Force and Apex – I’m sure they had a lot of tools that I didn’t even know about as developers. We also made really effective use of third-party applications that run on the App Exchange, like Kanga and Docusign. All of the Demand tools and Drupal Locker, too. Salesforce.com invited us to present at their conference on our use of those third-party tools, and I said no. If you can’t build a session that shows all the great work we did with Force by Design, and get them up on the stage with us, then what’s the use? Because that’s where all the magic happened. I mean certainly these third-party tools helped us as well, but they helped a lot of other customers, too. They went the distance with us on that, and that’s what we would want to feature.

Can you give a sense of the size of the initiative, in terms of dollars or in manpower, anything that would give a sense of metrics?

We are currently partnered with approximately 150 different organizations, which demands considerable management in terms of delegated workloads. There is also a multitude of people applying to be Americorp members. We were receiving upwards of 1,000 applications annually, so we used another tool called Form Assembly. That’s how we got the member applications in, with space for about 350 members. I suspect reams of wasted paper were avoided by making the transition. You could easily fit a file cabinet every year with all of the documentation. We were fortunate to have received a grant from a foundation for the work because it reduced significantly the overhead cost of the project.

I would say that overall the project was perhaps a quarter of a million dollars.

How recent was the project finished? 

They wrapped up with us two years ago in the fall. One year later we implemented a second phase, and we’re currently in phase three. Our project now involves add-on applications and I’ve sent one of my colleagues for formal instruction at Salesforce.com. He recently finished his first major coding spree. We kept using Force by Design just for the architecting and mentoring of this particular employee. This is a big step because we now have the skill set in-house. We probably won’t need to use Force by Design for nearly as much on the coding side as we did before.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

How do you feel about their performance overall?

They certainly delivered what they promised and I would say we had minimal misunderstandings. It was pretty well understood what they were doing for us, but they delivered late on a couple items. However, that was due to circumstances beyond their control. We remained quite flexible with them because of that. Ultimately, they were able to finish the project and redeploy their resources. I am under the impression that one of their team members moved away mid-project. But they always delivered and added value, and they’ve been flexible. They also managed expectations well.  Additionally, they’re good at finding the resources that are needed for a project and subsequently putting all the pieces together.

When you are working with Force by Design, is there anything unique or special about them compared to any other organization that you may have worked with in the past?

What’s special about them is that they really understand the product, and they’ve got a top-rate team of developers. They partner with their customers in a way that’s really unique. They make it fun, which is uncommon. I’m thinking in particular of all the parties they’ve had around the time of Dreamforce, and they take all the clients out. There was a portion of time for a few years there where they would take all of their customers to Lake Tahoe to go skiing, and pay for all the hotels and lift tickets. It was their way of thanking their customers. It was phenomenal. They’ve just grown by leaps and bounds. We were probably one of their biggest customers at one time, and now they’ve just gone into the stratosphere. They continue to work with us and fulfill whatever our needs are with Salesforce.com development, and I hope they will continue to be our partner for Salesforce.com.

In retrospect, are there any areas you feel like they could have improved on or done differently?

That’s a good question. I suppose that something they were struggling with, an issue that I’m aware of, was that their project went over budget. This is fairly common in the development world. I know that customers expect a solution to be delivered within a certain scope of work, but given changes or unforeseeable hurdles that require more time and energy, the billable hours can rapidly exceed what was originally projected. That’s always going to be a tough issue. You can almost expect it, so it never really caused a problem for us. We were always willing to meet them and compromise if the hours extended beyond the initial projection. That’s just a perennial problem for any software developer. I think they managed the problem pretty well, despite the fact that things sometimes went beyond the scope. 

There were some meetings where people got kind of bent out of shape a couple times for no reason. Perhaps it was due to stress. It was disconcerting, though. To some extent I suppose it goes with the territory.

We’re all still good friends.

Do you have any further comments you would like to add about your working experience with Force by Design?

It was always a pleasure to work with these Salesforce.com experts who had an understanding of our needs and mission. They really developed a keen understanding of our business before they deployed any solutions, had a kind of respect for and acknowledgement of the limits of nonprofit organizations, and a real sense of enthusiasm for innovation. They were using the Salesforce.com platform in really novel, creative ways that have benefited us, and continue to do so. We’re definitely getting our value for what they’ve built for us. As a return on the investment, it’ll go on – the volume we have with these programs.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 4.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    They missed a few.
  • 4.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    Yes. Absolutely.