The idea for Blueprint, a Salesforce-focused professional services firm that I co-founded, has been in the back of my mind for years.
Today, Blueprint is the product of many difficult but enlightening lessons learned from customers over the years. Our leadership team has implemented software solutions for hundreds of customers across the world with tens of thousands of development hours. But having seen what makes an excellent Salesforce product—and where development of a product can go awry—sets us up for success with every project we take on.
The most powerful lesson was realizing that developing a product and delivering a product, especially on a platform that allows the level of customization that Salesforce does, are two very different things. And it’s extremely difficult to do both well at the same company while scaling and with a limited budget.
At my prior company, Talent Rover, a customizable Salesforce-based staffing and recruiting software, we were great at developing our product, but not so great at delivering it to customers. Things like sending regular status updates, setting clear budgets, and guiding client expectations were a constant struggle. There had to be a better way.
Eventually, we realized that unless customer experience is the central focus of the company, we would always struggle to deliver successfully. Because when all your energy is devoted to developing a great product that has tremendous flexibility, it’s difficult to maintain the amount of open, detailed communication necessary to deliver that product in a seamless way.
This is an issue we saw over and over again at Talent Rover.
Whether we were dealing with boutique clients or some of the largest companies in the world, one problem seemed to plague all projects: a lack of transparency and understanding on both sides.
We realized we simply didn’t have the resources to deliver our product as intended. So, we decided to outsource product delivery. But as it turned out, the firms we outsourced work to grappled with the exact same issues we did.
We knew what full transparency looked like. We understood what it takes to nurture a fully open, honest client-vendor relationship. It just seemed like some relationships developed that way naturally while others didn’t.
A perfect case study of the power of trust and transparency was our partnership with Adecco.
If you aren’t familiar, Adecco is a $27B organization with 33,000 employees.
As we worked with Adecco to deploy the Talent Rover software across the organization, we always had open lines of communication with them. Of course, the partnership wasn’t perfect. But even in difficult situations, we were able to fix most problems quickly and without lasting frustration thanks to a transparent, honest relationship.
The successful account-turned-partnership with Adecco was Talent Rover’s crowning achievement. It completely changed how I viewed the company’s relationship with Salesforce and taught me incredible lessons in product, delivery and partnership management. And the lessons I learned working with them inspired many of the ideas that built Blueprint.
After we sold Talent Rover, many clients reached out to me asking for the exact thing we hadn’t been able to provide previously: business advice.
This was in addition to the former clients and partners who wanted more help with Salesforce. I realized there was a big demand for not just Salesforce software development, but consultation—help understanding how to use the powerful platform to build, scale, and leverage a business.
Thanks to the crash-course MBA that was my experience at Talent Rover, I felt well-equipped to provide the service they wanted. In addition to my hands-on experience building and scaling the company, I had learned so much from our accomplished advisory board—which included the former CFO of Sun Microsystems and several other prominent executives—that I understood exactly how to help those in the position I was once in.
So began Blueprint.
While developing a strategy, we decided we wanted to help people in three different ways:
- Business Advisory
- Salesforce Strategy and Consulting
- Application Development and Launch
The four partners of Blueprint are part of a small group that can say that we built a successful Salesforce-based global company from the ground up, with an eventual successful exit.
Kabe, our CTO, has 20-plus years of experience at Motorola and other large companies, doing everything from software engineering to software development to product development. Greg, our managing director for North America, led strategic partnerships, including the global Adecco relationship at Talent Rover (which was really 40-plus relationships in one), so he’s an asset when working with large organizations and nurturing partnerships. Then there’s David, our managing director for EMEA, who’s based in London. He has more than a decade of Salesforce strategy and implementation experience and a deep understanding of how to do business in the UK.
So we’re well-equipped to take on virtually any client—big or small, advanced or novice in terms of Salesforce experience. But that doesn’t mean we will.
We want to be selective about who our customers are and what projects we take on.
The ideal Blueprint Advisory customer has a need for all prongs of our business.
Our leadership team’s expertise uniquely positions us to understand how to execute on both the business and technical sides of a Salesforce-based company. With every project, our end goal is to create a product that will shift a business into a higher gear and show the client how to drive. In everything we do, from developing software to preparing a plan to bring it to market, we’re calculating what the ROI to the business will be.
Of course, we do single-focus projects for just Salesforce, business consulting, etc. But clients often sign on for one service then end up wanting more. For the right customer, we’re a one-stop shop.
The biggest aspiration we have for Blueprint is being the partner we wish we had at Talent Rover.
That means offering business, technical and emotional understanding—something few professional services firms can. We leave our egos at the door and want to leverage what we’ve learned over decades of hard work to deliver amazing results. We aim to be incredibly transparent, vulnerable and honest. Managing the emotional aspects of building a business is hugely important, but often ignored.
We’ve been in the same trenches as our clients. When a client is experiencing cash-flow issues and has to raise money, or is having trouble managing a global team, we can say we’ve been there and know of potential solutions. After all, at Talent Rover, we managed nearly 3000% growth across nine global offices while simultaneously servicing clients in 40 countries.
Additionally, we’re willing to have the difficult conversations: telling clients exactly what we feel they should do and why, how much it’s going to cost, when something simply isn’t possible, etc. Above all, that’s what influences a successful development project: transparency. Because when that element is present, the client can better communicate what they want the product to look like. And they can watch it coming together every step of the way.
When you’re on the same page, a consultant-client relationship becomes a single, powerful team effort. That’s the expectation we go into projects with at Blueprint. And it’s why we founded a company that knows what it takes—on both sides—for real success.