AppExchange vs Custom Development: Making a Conscious Choice in Salesforce

Salesforce is an evolving CRM. It rolls out new features and updates in its annual releases, for various Salesforce packages. Like Salesforce, business requirements and goals also change with time. To facilitate these changes, Salesforce users often debate on what should be the best approach to bring that change.

Should they go with AppExchange development and integrate a solution or functionality that matches their needs or prefer custom development that offers more app control but requires higher investment and resources. While AppExchange development can be done at a less investment, it also offers a fast route to app customization. All you need is an experienced team who can integrate or build the solution on it (if the app is from the same vendor from whom you are availing development support).

Custom development, on the other hand, offers you to build apps from scratch. This allows Salesforce users to fulfill their business needs in the same way as they want. Contrary to this, in AppExchange development, you rely on a third-party app for updates and changes.

While AppExchange and custom development have pros and cons, it is important to make a well-concerted choice by looking at various aspects (budget, timeline, future needs, app functionality, support services, etc.). As a Salesforce Development Services provider, we would like to simplify this decision-making for Salesforce users so that they can make a conscious choice.

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Let’s discuss various aspects one by one to see which circumstances favor AppExchange development and which favor custom development.


1. Requirement Analysis

List all key business requirements and figure out how many of them are achievable through the AppExchange application. If the answer is less than 70-75 percent, consider leaving this route and prefer going for custom development. Salesforce Development Companies use the best practices, tools, and methodologies to identify gaps and build business-centric custom solutions that can be scaled as per your future needs.

2. Budget

The initial investment required to build a custom application is much higher than the cost of installing an AppExchange app. Most AppExchange solutions require a subscription and are billed every month. The higher your user count is, the more you will need to pay for the subscription cost. Salesforce apps also require timely maintenance which further adds up to the app exchange development cost. The best way forward here would be to extrapolate cost for both methods for a 3-5 year timeline and do a cost-value analysis.

3. Implementation Time

Every business pursues a development project with a timeline in mind. While Appexchange apps can be implemented much faster (in weeks, if not days), custom app development may take 3-4 months at least. If you have a critical functionality missing in the current setup and you can’t wait 3-4 months for custom development, Salesforce Development Services of AppExchange partners are there for you. Custom development on the contrary requires a long timeframe to develop, test, and deploy and should be preferred keeping timeline considerations in check.

4. Futuristic View

The Salesforce solution you develop or customize should not only meet your existing needs, but also be compatible to scale, maintain, and extend in the future. Discussing your future roadmap with that of an AppExchange vendor is very crucial to realizing long-term goals, and hence must never be skipped. Since custom apps are developed in a business-centric manner, it gives more control and flexibility to address the future needs of your business.

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5. Support and SLA

Before making a final decision on the two development options, businesses should check the post-development support and service level agreements of Salesforce Development Companies. For custom development, the development partner must have an in-house workforce with a proven track record in developing and maintaining Salesforce apps.

Development partners with a strong Salesforce COE can offer the necessary support under flexible agreements. In absence of a strong development team, you can always go for the more affordable option i.e. AppExchange development. However, while proceeding with AppExchange app development, businesses must carefully review if the support and SLA offered to meet their business expectations or not.


The decision to choose either of the development methods should be done after careful consideration and discussion with all stakeholders. While AppExchange app development offers a fast-project completion at a low cost, you will need to be dependent on a third-party app for updates. Custom development on the other side allows more control and development scalability, however, it requires more expertise, timeline, and budget compared to AppExchange development.

Originally published on Damco Group.


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