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Structuring Offshore Salesforce Development at Twilio

October 2, 2023
Primary Topic
Offshore Development Best Practices
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Enterprise + Mid Market
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Adopting a global hiring strategy has massive benefits but success with this model hinges on your ability to structure the team properly.

For starters, it allows you to access a larger, lower cost pool of Salesforce talent. (The average hourly rate of a Salesforce Engineer Contractor in the U.S. is $120/hr-$145/hr, while a 7-10+ year Salesforce Engineer in India is $45/hr-$65/hr.)

While these benefits are significant, they pale in comparison to the largest benefit of all - team productivity.

A global Salesforce Engineer team allows for continuous development and releases - team members that work on opposite time zones mean you are getting 24 hours of productive working time, instead of 8-10 hours per day when everyone is on the same time zone.

To put it simply, global Salesforce teams can move faster.

But a resourcing model that stretches your team across multiple continents has it's challenges - you need to effectively bridge the communication gap between Salesforce team members as they gather requirements, create documentation, design solutions, build, test, and release.

Salesforce CoE Model at Twilio

Overall, the Salesforce team at Twilio is 46 people strong.

Succeeding with a global team starts at the top. You want to ensure that both Technical & Functional expertise is accounted for in your Leadership team, which Twilio does effectively:

  • Sr. Director, Sales Systems: comes from a background in Development
  • Sr. Manager, GTM Applications: comes from a background in Development
  • Manager, GTM Applications: comes from a background in Sales Ops & Strategy

This layer of Business Systems teams is most often based onshore - all 3 of these Leaders are in the United States, maintaining close relationships with key stakeholders and Executive sponsors.

Onshore Salesforce Team

The most important decision when standing up a Global Salesforce Team is the distribution of individual functions within the team.

A reasonable starting point is to skew the functions that are heavily user / stakeholder facing toward the region where those teams are based.

Typically, this will be your Business Analysts and Product Owners and 86% of Twilio's core user base in Sales sits in the U.S.

  • 4 out of 8 Salesforce Admins are in the U.S.
  • 5 out of 10 Business Analysts are in the U.S.
  • 5 out of 6 Product Owners are in the U.S.
  • 4 out of 4 Architects are in the U.S.
  • 2 out of 13 Salesforce Engineers are in the U.S.

Largely, the onshore structure at Twilio makes a ton of sense, though they could likely move several of those Salesforce Architects to India, creating a tighter communication loop with the Engineering team there.

Offshore Salesforce Team

This is where things get interesting.

It's relatively simple to offshore the team handling core build work - requirements have been gathered onshore, solutions are designed, and assuming documentation is done well, you can hand fully baked requirements over for the actual build work.

In reality, the requirements that Engineers receive will require some back-and-forth to gain additional context, collaboration on the best way to approach the solution, and plan timelines for the actual delivery. And this is the primary reason why having Business Analysts or Product Owners that sit locally with the Engineers are a critical layer - they are the intermediary between offshore Engineers and onshore team members leading the upfront scoping.

Twilio nails this part of the structure:

  • 11 out of 13 Salesforce Engineers are in India
  • 5 out of 10 Business Analysts are in India
  • 1 out of 6 Product Owners are in India
  • 4 out of 8 Salesforce Admins are in India

Building an Offshore Salesforce Development Team

It is becoming increasingly more common for companies of all sizes to scale their Salesforce teams globally.

Whether it's to the degree that Twilio has adopted this model or startups hiring a couple Salesforce Admins / Developers in India or South America, the model is proven to be an effective way to scale these capabilities cost-effectively without sacrificing on resource quality at all.

FoundHQ has been working with teams like ACV Auctions to structure and scale Global Salesforce Development teams from the ground up - contact us or schedule a discovery call to learn more.