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20+ Offshore Salesforce Development Team Structures

March 21, 2024
Primary Topic
Gaining Productivity with Global Salesforce Teams
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If I were building a Salesforce team from scratch today, I would adopt a global hiring strategy from the start.

To put it simply, you are at a massive disadvantage if you’re building a team strictly in the U.S, while your direct competitor hires globally.

Sure, a small part of it comes down to cost savings. You will easily spend 2x per Engineer in the United States vs. Engineering rich talent pools like Argentina, Ukraine, and India.

But perhaps one of the biggest mistakes a company can make is viewing offshore Salesforce hiring as a strategy purely rooted in cost savings. It devalues the broader benefits of this model and forms a perception that lower cost likely means lower quality.

The inherent value of offshore Salesforce hiring is fairly simple:

  1. Access to a Wider Talent Pool
    I suspect we can all agree that assuming the best Salesforce talent is exclusively concentrated in the United States would be misguided.
    If that's the case, companies should be looking for the best person available for their position, regardless of geography, particularly if you already have the processes and systems in place to support remote work.
  2. Less Competition to Recruit
    The reality is that most companies don’t adopt a global hiring strategy. Many of those that do are legacy players with slow moving Salesforce orgs riddled in technical debt. You have a massive advantage if you’re Stripe, for example, and dip into a market with pent up demand for more interesting opportunities.
  3. Faster Release Cycles
    The math is pretty simple. If you have a team working US hours only, you get ~10 hours of productivity per day. If you have a team working on opposite time zones (United States and India, for example), you effectively double the number of productive hours in a day.

It's point 3 that should be the real emphasis when deciding how and where to build your Salesforce team - it comes down to productivity.

We analyzed 20+ Salesforce Teams to measure their global distribution. These are mostly Enterprise orgs - Airbnb, Procore, Atlassian, Twillio, and others - which provided enough data to see the intent behind the strategy.

In aggregate, 35% of the 750 people on these Salesforce teams are in India.

  • Over 50% of all Engineers
  • 65% of all Dev Ops & QA Testers

This is a highly intentional org design strategy meant to boost productivity.

A team like Procore has a total of 8 Salesforce Engineers + 3 QA Testers.
All but 1 located in the US

👉 8-10 productive hours per day

In contrast, a team like SentinelOne has 9 people across Salesforce Engineering + QA
3 in the US, 6 in India

👉 18-20 productive hours per day

Your US-based Salesforce Engineers write code all day and logoff at 6pm PST. The India team logs on just 2 hours later, either resuming development work on the sprint or having QA and Release Managers begin to test and push into production.

And the cycle repeats to effectively yield 2x the productivity of a US only team.

The Offshore Salesforce Team Structures

  • Airbnb
    • Salesforce Team = 31 people
    • US = 21
    • India = 5
    • Elsewhere = 5
  • Atlassian
    • Salesforce Team = 65 people
    • US = 49
    • India = 9
    • Elsewhere = 8
  • Autodesk
    • Salesforce Team = 105 people
    • US = 54
    • India = 39
    • Elsewhere = 12
  • Coursera
    • Salesforce Team = 15 people
    • US = 6
    • India = 8
    • Elsewhere = 1
  • Clari
    • Salesforce Team = 8 people
    • US = 5
    • India = 3
  • CrowdStrike
    • Salesforce Team = 69 people
    • US = 42
    • India = 29
    • Elsewhere = 1
  • Databricks
    • Salesforce Team = 34 people
    • US = 22
    • India = 11
    • Elsewhere = 1
  • JumpCloud
    • Salesforce Team = 11 people
    • US = 7
    • India = 4
  • Khoros
    • Salesforce Team = 7 people
    • US = 6
    • India = 1
  • LogicMonitor
    • Salesforce Team = 12 people
    • US = 6
    • India = 6
  • Mindtickle
    • Salesforce Team = 6 people
    • India = 6
  • MongoDB
    • Salesforce Team = 60 people
    • US = 24
    • India = 25
    • Elsewhere = 11
  • Precisely
    • Salesforce Team = 11 people
    • US = 7
    • India = 3
    • Elsewhere = 1
  • Procore
    • Salesforce Team = 33 people
    • US = 32
    • India = 1
  • Qualys
    • Salesforce Team = 17 people
    • US = 7
    • India = 10
  • SentinelOne
    • Salesforce Team = 18 people
    • US = 10
    • India = 8
  • Snowflake
    • Salesforce Team = 69 people
    • US = 39
    • India = 30
  • Sprinklr
    • Salesforce Team = 14 people
    • US = 9
    • India = 5
  • Thoughspot
    • Salesforce Team = 9 people
    • US = 7
    • India = 2
  • Twilio
    • Salesforce Team = 55 people
    • US = 24
    • India = 27
    • Elsewhere = 4
  • Zoominfo
    • Salesforce Team = 35 people
    • US = 20
    • India = 7
    • Elsewhere = 8

Headcount Distribution

Quick stats on the allocation of resources across regions within this cohort:

35% of total headcount on these Salesforce Teams sit in India

  • 61% of the India teams are Engineers
  • 10% are Dev Ops
  • 18% are Administrators
  • 10% are Business Analysts
  • 2.5% are Product Owners
  • 2.5% are Architects
  • 6% is Leadership

65% of the teams sit in the US

  • 28% are Engineers
  • 3% are Dev Ops
  • 15% are Administrators
  • 20% are Business Analysts
  • 15% are Product Owners
  • 6% are Architects
  • 20% is Leadership

80% of Business Systems Leadership is in the U.S.

Some interesting exceptions of key Leaders sitting in India include JumpCloud (Sr. Director of Enterprise Applications), LogicMonitor (Sr. Manager, Business Technology), Qualys (Sr. Director, Enterprise Applications), and several others.

82% of Business Analyst / Product Owners are in the U.S.

Typically, this is layer most often missing from successful offshore teams but is essential to creating connective tissue across regions.

Teams with the largest allocation of Business Analysts and Product Managers in India are Snowflake (6 Business Analysts, 2 Product Owners) and Twilio (6 Business Analysts).

It may seem like we are oversimplifying what it takes to make this model work but, in reality, the processes needed to succeed with a hybrid model are no different than what's required in any high performing Engineering org - clear requirements, documentation, technical specs, and collaboration amongst teams.
But these are still challenges to overcome.

Solving the Challenge of an Offshore Model

When set up properly, the productivity gains can be enormous; however, if you lack processes or necessary resources in certain regions, the entire structure falls down.

Communication Matters

In the ideal scenario, US-based Engineers build throughout their workday and handoff to India-based QA Testers & Release Managers to pick things up. But if the handoff to your India team is inaccurate or incomplete, they can be blocked by technical issues that can only be addressed when your US team gets back to work the following morning, resulting in an entire workday lost.

It’s why you can’t have any Regional team exist in complete isolation. Your team in India needs to have connective tissue with the requirements, design, and planning set by onshore Leadership, Architects, and Developers.

This is solved by ensuring the offshore has an Engineering Lead, Business Analyst, or Productt Manager that does work in close collaboration with the US team, ideally working overlapping hours for a portion (or all) of the US workday.

Planning is Critical

Unfortunately, these kind of technical roadblocks occur whether you have a global team or everyone sits in the same office. You need to plan properly, document thoroughly, and communicate effectively across all disciplines.

Daily standups can’t just be going through the motions. They need to be highly structured, efficient meetings to gain alignment and provide context between various teams.

Knowing Which Salesforce Positions to Offshore

There is clear consistency amongst this dataset about the positions they hire in the US vs. those they choose to build in other regions.

It comes down to where the pieces fit within the broader organizational context.

Key Advisors to Stakeholders are Onshore
This is primarily your Business Analysts and Product Owners.

User Facing Teams are Onshore
These will likely be your frontline Support Administrators, either handling time sensitive user issues or working on training, change management, and other activities with heavy user interfacing.

Executing Facing Leadership is Onshore
80% of all Business Systems Leaders in this dataset are in the US but companies like Qualys and LogicMonitor do have key leaders abroad. Individuals that are important champions of Salesforce and liaise heavily with key US Executives should be local but other roles can effectively sit in other regions.

Everything Else Can Be Offshore
Otherwise, the rest of your team can effectively sit outside the US - Engineers, Administrators working on projects or less time sensitive tickets, Architects mostly working on technical design etc.

Offshore Teams Need a Onshore-Facing Lead
But the most important point to highlight is the connective tissue needed between regions. It can be a Lead Engineer, Business Analyst, or Product Owner that works overlapping hours with the US team, ensuring there is clarity in the requirements and providing an unlock so offshore team don't hit roadblocks when the US is offline.

Structuring an Offshore Team for Success

We have outlined the key principals to keep in mind when adopting an offshore Salesforce Development model and highlighted a snapshot of how various teams are structured.

One of the best examples in action is taking a close look at Twilio’s Offshore Salesforce Development Structure. By the numbers the Salesforce team is incredibly balanced: 24 US-based, 27 India-based, 4 Elsewhere. But it's specifically how they hire within each region that serves as the real unlock to make everything work.