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michael_mcmahonmichael_mcmahon 

How to select professional developers to build out our platform

We have built a working prototype for our marketing integration platform on force.com and it's currently running as a partner portal (clients are using partner portal seats for access.) If you're really interested, you can see a YouTube video of the platform at http://bit.ly/16aCdnb, but it's not necessary to watch the video to understand our questions.

It's time for us to make the move towards figuring out how best to build out our franken-app into a real commercial application, but we have SO MANY questions about how to proceed. We are completely bootstrapped, and are not looking to take on money or investors at this point. We have paying clients and are profitable. We have over 25 years of very relevant marketing experience, and have been running ad agencies for most of that time, so we're very familiar with the agency model and it's associated markups, so we're trying to avoid just handing the entire thing over to a dev shop until we are at least better informed about how to make that decision. For background, I've been a Salesforce admin since 2007, and have been teaching myself APEX, Java, javascript and Visualforce in order to build out the platform over the past three years, so I've done my homework, but now need expert advice. And this is all above board, no scamming or screen-scraping so if we're doing something wrong I want to know. We would prefer to work with the discussion forum to get some general direction, including how to select the right CTO (and whether that's even who we need).

So to just get this started, here are some of our questions:

1. We need to access data from a wide variety of other platforms, via licensed or free APIs. When allowed, do we want to copy that data off to our own servers so that we don't have to call for it each time, or do we avoid the expense and hassle of copying it and rely instead real-time API calls? Sounds basic, but i haven't been able to find an answer I'm comfortable with yet.

2. I assume the data that we do house should be on an external server, like S3, rather than salesforce, but need to understand the implications of integrating yet another system.

3. We currently import most client data via .csv exports from the source and then manually upload to our platform. This has allowed us to test and improve our data model and our workflows. I've been trying for a year to teach myself how to do all the coding necessary to use APIs but it's not happening yet. There are a couple APIs, such as Google Analytics, that would be great to have NOW, but I dont' want to waste money paying to have them built for the prototype if that's unwise. How do I estimate how much it should cost to build out a straightforward API such as GA with limited fields? Can we use the cookbook or app exchange API code for things like GA and Facebook as starting points and save time and money on development, or should we expect developers to want to write their own code from scratch even if there are examples already published?

4. HOW can we get anyone at Salesforce to care??? Partner team and ISV couldn't care less about responding to us. We have a million more, but this is enough to give an idea of what we need and for people to weigh in with suggestions.

Thanks in advance for your support!

Michael
ReidCReidC
Michael -- lot of great questions here.  Are you currently working with an ISV AE and a TE?  My take -- and there are others --
1. Do API calls unless there is a strong reason not to.
2. Integrating another service means more API calls.  So if you decide to import data for #1, you might not be getting away from API calls as much as you think.
3. There's no right answer to this.  If I were you I'd start by talking to some partners and see what they think.  You'll get a wide varitety of responses.  You should go with the team that you can really communicate well with -- even if they cost more.  That communication will result in a better product.
4. I asked before about the AE and TE -- you definitely need to join the partner program and work with the team.
HTH.
divodivo
Hey Michael. I manage the tech evangelist team for salesforce.  Are you working with any of our ISV account teams?
michael_mcmahonmichael_mcmahon
Divo : no, and we would love to connect to someone. Can you help?
ArtemOArtemO
Hi Michael - I'm a Business Development rep for our ISV programs and would like to get you connected to the right team. Can you please email me directly so we can get a dialog going? aovsyannikov@salesforce.com