You may have heard the buzz about Lightning Bolts at Dreamforce or from a Salesforce Customer Success Manager. You may have seen these “Bolts” listed on the Salesforce AppExchange. And yet you might have a lot of questions about these solutions: What are they? How are they different from traditional third-party apps? How should you use them with the broader Salesforce platform?

Let’s run through the answers. We’ll discuss what Bolts are and what they can mean for your business.

What is a Salesforce Lightning Bolt?

Put simply, Lightning Bolts are industry-specific solution templates. Have you ever downloaded one of those Powerpoint or Excel templates that have Jeopardy boards or March-Madness-style brackets built right into them? Think of Lightning Bolts like that, but for Salesforce.

Salesforce Lightning Bolts are typically created by implementation partners to meet industry-specific needs that Salesforce’s core products currently don’t. For example, if your healthcare practice needs a better way to track patient referral data or your manufacturing firm wants to better manage warranties and claims with independent service providers, Lightning Bolts exist to solve these use cases. These solutions span countless industries: education, nonprofit, financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, you name it.

And they incorporate numerous pre-built Salesforce features to meet your business’ needs. For example, any Lightning Bolt will include at least one of these features:

  • Business process automations made on Lightning flow
  • A customer-facing Salesforce Lightning community, based on a custom-styled template
  • A custom Lightning App, to contain solution-specific functionality and pages

Though not every Bolt will involve all three (example: not all will contain a community template), any will allow you to automate complex business logic and/or offer engaging user experiences to your employees and customers.

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What’s the Difference Between Lightning Bolts and Other Third-Party Apps?

If you’ve been around the Salesforce ecosystem for a while, it may be difficult to tell the difference between these new Bolt solutions and traditional third-party apps. The distinction between the two has admittedly blurred — in fact, some apps even contain similar features to Bolts.

But many Bolts share multiple traits that help distinguish them from the traditional third-party app. First, they usually aren’t meant to serve as a stand-alone solution that accomplishes one specific function (like e-signature plug-ins or business card scanning apps). Instead, they’re accelerators intended to mesh with your other Salesforce functionality to achieve your desired solution.

For this reason, you don’t pay for recurring licensing fees for Bolts, which means no post-install upgrades. Instead, you typically pay a one-time install fee and then have more control over the intellectual property the solution becomes in your platform.

Bolts are also generally more customizable than other Salesforce apps; you’re given a starting arrangement of building blocks, but can rearrange them as you wish. Few parts of the solution are set in stone.

Finally, because Salesforce Lightning Bolts tend to be created by implementation partners (as opposed to app developers), you can purchase them as part of a broader service agreement, where the partner installs the solution and helps you customize it to your needs. You don’t need to do so if you have a skilled in-house admin team, but it makes sense, right? Who better to customize the solution than the very people who originally built it?

What Could a Salesforce Lightning Bolt Do for Your Business?

All right, now on to the important part: What does this all mean for you? Well, Salesforce Lightning Bolts offer two main benefits: They save you money and provide industry-vetted solutions.

Before Lightning Bolts, if you wanted an industry-specific solution that wasn’t covered by standard Salesforce products, you probably needed to build it from scratch. Either by yourself or with the help of an implementation partner. That takes a lot of time, effort and money.

And sure, that extra effort translates to a fully customized solution that should be higher quality than a canned product. When you build something from scratch, though, you’ll usually find the same question lurking in your mind: Are we implementing this the right way? As great as full customization is, you don’t want your company to be a guinea pig for a new solution. Instead, you want to know that your tech platform is based on industry-wide best practices.

That’s what you get with a Lightning Bolt. If you find one that fits your use case, it doesn’t just let you skip a lot of effort by leveraging preexisting functionality. It also provides you the peace of mind that the foundation of your solution was built on a wealth of industry knowledge. The implementation partner you’re working with has collaborated with countless organizations like yours and can help you navigate any possible wrinkle your specific use case will involve.

So save yourself time and money. Leverage industry-wide experience in a solution that’s still tailored to your needs. Dive into the world of Salesforce Lightning Bolts today to discover which solutions your company could benefit from.

Or drop us a line, and we can walk you through anything else on the topic that you’d like to know.

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Tech, Salesforce Implementation

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