Cheap Salesforce.com Licenses and how to use them

As Salesforce.com grows and their licensing structure and offerings change, it can be hard to keep up with what licenses give you what features. (Note to Salesforce: Please don’t become like Microsoft with your licensing. Simpler is better.)

What often gets overlooked are the free or cheaper Salesforce.com licenses. I’ve used them for a couple things recently, so figured I’d share. Prices listed are based on prices listed at Salesforce.com today. They are subject to change and if you’re a nonprofit you can likely get a discount via the Salesforce.com Foundation.

Chatter Free (free)

Not much to say about this one. If you have people at your company that aren’t Salesforce.com Users, you can give them a Chatter Free license to allow them to participate in your social network. If you’re not yet on Salesforce.com, you can sign up for free at Chatter.com. I’ve not done much with these yet, but I know some people have set it up for their family domain.

Force.com Free (free)

Salesforce.com was shouting from the rooftops about these licenses at Dreamforce 2009, yet they remain somewhat of a secret. You can get 100 Force.com Free licenses either in a new org or added to your existing org by contacting your Account Rep. Here’s what you get.

  • Up to 100 users
  • 1 free application
  • Up to 10 database objects
  • 1GB of storage

So, what can you do with this? The best thing I’ve seen so far is a brewery app that tracks the brewing process from ingredients in the door through bottling, and even generates the regulatory documents in a VF page.
Right now, I’m building an app based on Coherence to track whether what an organization thinks they are is in line with what they say they are or what people are saying about them. The app can track data from many sources and then generates a score to show how Coherent an organization is.
You also get Chatter with these licenses so even if you don’t want to build an app, you could import and Chatter about some of your existing data as well as use Salesforce.com analytics.

Chatter Plus ($15/month/User)

I discovered these before Chatter Free was around, and there are a couple key things you get with Chatter Plus that make them actually pretty useful.

  • Accounts (read-only)
  • Contacts (read-only)
  • 10 custom objects
  • 1 custom app
  • Dashboards
  • Reports
  • Workflow
  • Calendar and events
  • Tasks and activities

As you can see, you start to get a nice set of features for a completely reasonable price (especially if you are a nonprofit). One of the biggest differences here, that you don’t get with Force.com Free, is access to the Calendar and Events.
We recently used this with a client to bring artists they contract to perform, into their Salesforce instance. Artist bookings are tracked in custom objects and the contracts are generated by Conga Composer. The contracts are then attached to the Artist’s Contact record via Chatter and approved/denied by the artist with a Chatter comment. (The security model ensures that artists only see their own contracts). The Salesforce Calendar is used by the org to track artists and resources needed at performances, and artists can see their upcoming schedule. Additionally, artists can now collaborate with the org and each other via Chatter groups.
We took a process that existed entirely outside of Salesforce and involved manually generating contracts, sending them via email, waiting for a response via email, not having a central place to track approved/rejected contracts, and managing event resources in a bad web app… and brought it all into Salesforce for a minimal license fee per artist. In addition, tons of value was added to that process by building a community within the organization that includes the artists they work with every day.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and if/how you’ve used these types of licenses.

Take care,
Nick

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2 Comments on “Cheap Salesforce.com Licenses and how to use them”

  1. david.cheng@idealistconsulting.com says:

    Hey Nick – what about Salesforce Platform licenses? That’s another license type that’s hard to get information and pricing on.

  2. Tom Scuoteguazza says:

    Platform licenses are force.com licenses, and they are no longer free. Still a good deal for NPO at 10/per person month.


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