A rant on (arguably) the American Dream

So today we went live with a Salesforce integration.

It was, and is, a GONG show.

Relatively simple code, an inadequate vision, and zero communication between stakeholders (safe harbour statement about the possibility of a delta between the author’s opinion and his employer’s official position on Many Things).

In my mind, it’s a combination of technical debt plus adopting a platform that just does the stuff we’re paying for in Epicor but never implemented. We - “we” - somehow came to believe in this project without a business case, and we - “we” - have a Salesforce contractor who is utterly and completely incompetent.

And that’s from me, an admittedly uneducated systems admin very aware of my high-school-only limitations.

Well, long story short and it is what it is… and maybe, our ability to pivot, adapt, adopt, change, recover, and move ahead is our biggest strength, and maybe I have a not inadequate piece of that puzzle.


In my mind, there’s a huge opportunity for small companies like ours to use technology as an accelerator. Fine.

Also fine, we have the brains on staff and the cash to do it right. So why do we keep doing projects like this, where we pursue something with no planning, no design, at the mercy of consultants who have no ability to really figure out what we need but a great ability to sell generic packages+extra hours to managers.

I don’t think I’m particularly bright and I acknowledge the fortunate advantage I have, where I can figure out the technical stuff AND adequately understand the business goals. Fine. My managers though, could and should be able to handle the flip side: figure out the business stuff and adequately understand the technical principles.

When I studied coaching, the number one takeaway was, dont let your client start planning or acting, until they have a well-defined vision. Why is that so hard? We start projects with no clear vision.

I suppose the problem is, we want results fast, faster than we’re willing to invest in planning time. Some of us have figured out that 30% front-loaded planning time is well worth it, and most of us have not.

But I’m not here to whinge about management. I believe as system administrators we have the unique ability to manipulate technology to meet the business needs of our employers better than any consultants or providers, and that’s my goal.

So, what’s missing?

I need a framework to both help managers see the opportunities and also stop them from harming themselves, able to be expressed in management terms. And usable in small companies, not just large employers who can hire a whole department of engineers and count on them to both define and execute the plan.

I’m just ranting, really; but I’m such a firm believer in genuine small business, especially privately-held family business, and I’m sure a platform like Epicor provides the opportunity to accelerate that kind of company. It’s painful to see people pursue the Shiny and the Flashy. I need some Good Words to help management do their job more betterer…

Yeh… just a rant after a 15-hour workday on the weekend. But I think there’s a fundamental small-business question here that would be worth dissecting, if only Eliyahu Goldratt were still alive.


Aren’t you Canadian? :slight_smile: Just kidding…

// To Do: insert some mumbo jumbo about learning and growing from mistakes here?

In the defense of consultants, or at least tech consultants/developers, a lot of the time what happens is we’re just given a dev spec with zero business context and expected to run with it.

When I began my career, one of my first projects was an integration between Epicor and some finance/AP software. I was handed a dev spec and tried to work through it, but for the life of me could not understand the purpose / big picture of what the integration was doing. I kept telling myself that it wasn’t my place to question the business / functional consultants who knew what they were doing when they designed this thing (especially because I knew literally nothing about accounting or business at the time). So, I put my head down and just wrote code exactly as prescribed by the dev spec.

I wish I had the confidence at the time to stand up and say NONE OF THIS MAKES ANY SENSE, WHAT ARE WE DOING HERE!?? But alas, I didn’t, and the project turned into a cluster f***. I’ve since learned that it’s okay to be the a**hole who stands up from time to time and tells the mob they’re crazy. BUT, it’s a balancing act. The customer is paying for your time, so you play ball. If you’re the guy who comes into every project saying “that’s dumb, you should do it MY way instead”, no one will want to work with you.

I think a lot of it comes from Fear of Missing Out. Most small businesses are grinding 24/7, they’re looking for any leg up they can find. Sometimes people just have to get burned to learn their lesson… I lost $500 on DogeCoin earlier this year and won’t be making that mistake again anytime soon…

wow. such bitter. many anger. sorrow.

Oh, don’t get me wrong - far from generalizing, we are currently at the mercy of a very specific company. Generally speaking, I’m aware that success or failure with consultants comes a lot from how equipped and organized the client is, except for those rare Jonahs who blend principles and psychology to induce you to just do the right thing.


To be fair, yes, corporate FOMO was the name of the game from the start. I believe we gave the marketing consultants a pretty good spec, and they were a bit more switched on. But the Salesforce side was a gong show from the very first “just open all the ports so my developer can make API calls from [country that most people blacklist] with an IP that changes daily…”, and we really didn’t give them much to go on from our side.

We did have much better success with a company called “Plan B” in Mexico, and I would recommend them to anyone. They insisted on clear scopes and generated clear test suites for us to sign off.

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Definitely need to perform an autopsy/lessons learned that’s visible to the project team and stakeholders.


That’s all awfully familiar. My previous employer also came to believe in Salesforce without a clear business case. Salesforce has some incredibly smooth sales people, and management swallowed their promises hook, line, and sinker. They didn’t want to buy a turnkey Epicor integration, so I estimated three months. Salesforce convinced them it should only take two weeks. This is basically how the entire business software industry works. It’s driven by sales pitches to clueless managers. And this is why everything sucks.

There’s so much wrong with Salesforce that I could rant for hours. Some of their documentation is actually written in childish pirate talk. But the clearest example of their incompetence may be their authenticator app. It offers the ability to automatically authenticate based on GPS location. Mercifully, this feature doesn’t actually work. I say mercifully because if an attacker tries to hack your account while you’re at work, your phone would automatically provide one of the authentication factors, totally defeating the purpose of two-factor authentication!

How to prevent small businesses from falling into this trap? Convince them to be more cynical. Convince them that all marketing is lies. They should run the instant they detect a sales pitch. Good products sell themselves. Legitimate companies put their prices on their website and offer free trial versions of all their products. Good managers run everything past their technical people before making a decision, and listen to their recommendations. The differences between competing products are sometimes night and day. A great many products, sometimes even market leaders like Salesforce, are sustained entirely by marketing hype.


After warning management for over a year that we didn’t need Salesforce we went ahead with it anyway. Now after 1-1/2 years, management is about to pull the plug on it. I felt so defeated when I was unable to get anyone to listen. Now I have to force myself not to say “I told you so”. I’m sure if my coworkers would read your post they would swear I was using your name. :rofl:


oh well @rnewell I believe you’re customer of ours so we’re obviously a great cultural fit!

oh we know! :rofl::stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: but I digress

It seems to me you guys fell for shiny object syndrome or the grass is greener on the other side. I’ve found in all my years as a consultant and as an employee of small , mid and large companies that it is very easy to fall into that trap. A good demo and a sleek salesman is all that is needed to sink the company into an expensive , time consuming nightmares of a project with very little or no ROI.

One thing that I have found essential is to have someone on staff (or a trusted consultant) that can take on the role of business analyst/pm. To bridge the gap between what IT/Software can do and what the business needs are. This is a tricky position to get right, it should be someone that has enough seniority and “heft” to throw their weight around, they need to also have confidence in their skills and be extremely well versed in the companies day to day business and future outlook but they shouldn’t be afraid to say I don’t know and to ask for help when they need it. Someone who has the ear of the C level suite is a bonus here.

They also need to be very well versed with the systems, staff and software available. I know it sounds like a unicorn but they do exist, we have a few on our staff and I know several consultants that can play this game very well.

The most important part is that they need to be trusted by the business; this position should be the go-to when anyone needs anything done that the system or systems can’t do today. They should take on the project, analyze requirements, figure out whether or not the system can already accomplish this (or something similar) and if the request is actually necessary and beneficial (ROI). They then should work hand in and hand with the business unit and the IT staff to figure out what the best most cost effective and efficient approach should be to solve the issue at hand.

We fall into the trap a lot of allowing the department heads or other business personnel to come to us in IT with a solution in search of a problem, or better yet a non problem they’ve solved. When this happens the first step is to identify the SME (Subject Matter Expert ) in your company for that particular business or business process and have them communicate directly with your BA(s) to figure out the issue and what the best solution should be.

IT isn’t really the right tool for every job, new software is not always the answer, neither is in house made built or implemented software that’s why someone trusted by the business and well respected /versed on the IT side of the house should be involved from the get-go.

Sales Force as an example is not a bad tool, it does one thing very well, however the implementation needs to be done in a way that compliments the existing ERP System (regardless of which one), the integration should be tight two way and fast and yes time needs to be taken to understand and process these requirements. There are turn key solutions for integrating Sales Force and Epicor out of the box (some better than others) those should be given a fair shake to understand if they do everything the business needs and if they do it well. I know a handful of customers who’ve done these and they are very happy with it, I also know several others that have chosen to do their own custom integration.

It all comes down to planning, taking the time to stop, think and figure out the business needs, requirements and fitness of the tool. This is really hard to do particularly if the person or persons doing it aren’t involved in the day to day of the business, you need to understand both sides of the house and work with them hand in hand throughout the project.

One big hinderance to a project is if exec level folks are involved at the beginning and particularly if they come with preconceived notions of how things should or shouldn’t be, sometimes they even come with their own solutions. This may not be a very popular opinion with execs but I believe that they should be involved later on, once the problem has been analyzed and a solution has been proposed, people on the floor doing the grind (generally) have much more direct grasp of how a company runs and really operates than the execs. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, one can’t expect them to be on the floor every day, they are focused on growth and big picture, but that is something that is hard for “bosses” types to grasp (in a lot of cases).

When I was doing consulting one exercise we did often was have discovery meetings where we kicked out management. Not allowed in the room at all, people on the floor only. Almost without exception, we got a completely different story in those meetings, than we got when management and execs were in the room.

This is not to say that management shouldn’t be involved and that execs don’t have value, the absolutely do. They should be involved to provide feedback on the solution and to speak to future outlook and potential conflicts with other areas or projects.

Anyways IDK it is a tough problem to solve and now I’m just ranting cause I am sitting at the airport and I’m bored, but it isn’t an impossible task. It just requires a little bit of planning and the right skillset in the team.

Cheers man,


interesting and many thanks to all who engage with the plaintive weeping of the newish guy…

I’m not even quite ready to throw out the baby with the bathwater here. While I suspect Data Discovery could do everything we’re trying to do with Salesforce, and while I’m against solutions in search of a problem in general, I also get it from the sales team’s point of view. They’re up against it this year, and the promise of a better, more effective process for non-process people must be like crack or peanut butter on a spoon.

But I’d like to find a consultant or contractor to spend 2-3 months helping us design a future state for a whole-system architecture, as of today I have a budget and I’d welcome proposals.

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@josecgomez this is an interesting comment. I have “the ear of the C-Suite” (not super hard with <200 employees) and I’ve been here since we had a staff of 20. I know or can find all possibly integrated systems, and built most of them. But despite reading everything people on here have generously taken the time to send me, the bigger picture of what the system should look like eludes me. I would be better suited to build from somebody else’s blueprint, especially if I got to debate with the architect while the blueprint was taking shape. They’d have to have all the attributes you list plus the ability to go all tom-and-jerry when needed. Most IT consultants I’ve worked with have been better at building from a plan.

It’s funny, in Lean Manufacturing you csn find a lot of help designing the system but not much building it. It seems to be the opposite here.

If you know anyone and can point them at me, I’d be glad to hear from them.