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What Are The Differences Between Salesforce PDOs and SIs?

Feb 28 · 5 min read

There are two acronyms commonly used when describing Salesforce consultants: PDO partners and SI partners. And, understanding the differences between PDOs and SIs is the crucial first step in hiring your Salesforce partner. While most partners only fall into one of these categories, theCodery falls under both. Our experts have decades of combined experience developing products on the AppExchange and delivering Salesforce development solutions. But as a Salesforce user in need of assistance, which one do you choose? To help you decide, let’s first unpack what each type of consultant does.

What is a PDO?

Salesforce Product Development Outsourcers (PDOs) are partners who are highly experienced in creating commercial applications. They are typically aligned by industry and cloud to support companies with product expertise, development, and technical support. A reputable PDO will help clients, also called Independent Software Vendors (ISVs), create success within the Salesforce software ecosystem, specifically the marketplace known as the Salesforce AppExchange.

Salesforce PDOs are well versed in the Salesforce system and can design, build, help market apps to serve multiple lines of business across various organizations. Reputable Salesforce PDOs need to have a history of excellent project delivery and a commitment to quality for product development services. Since most PDOs use scalable configuration and UX design patterns based on the latest best practices within native Salesforce frameworks, the use of a PDO can enhance your odds of creating and delivering an exceptional product. You can read more about why you should hire a Salesforce PDO partner in our recent blog post.

What is an SI?

Systems Implementation (SI) partners have teams with the experience and tools to implement, configure, and customize a variety of Salesforce solutions to ensure the best fit for their clients. Depending on the needs of your business, your implementation partner may involve Salesforce administrators, consultants, developers, architects, business analysts, and others or all the above. Regardless, every implementation should include a client engagement manager/project manager and a quality assurance lead to ensure your project goes smoothly, is clearly documented, and is well tested.

Strategic Salesforce implementation partners provide a thorough evaluation of your current Salesforce product mix to ensure it fits your needs and is technically sound so your CRM can scale and grow with your business, thus avoiding excessive updates and over-customization.

SIs also mitigate risks related to your implementation’s scope, timeline, or budget. If you need assistance and support with change management and user acceptance, SIs can provide testing to further drive long-term adoption for your implementation. You can read more about successful Salesforce Systems Implementation in another blog post here.

Compare your options when hiring a Salesforce Partner with our chart below:

PDO vs SI Salesforce Partner Chart - theCodery

Projects vs Products

Choosing the right Salesforce partner also depends on how and when you want to reach your business goals using Salesforce CRM. Although there are similarities between PDOs and SIs such as providing custom developments, testing, and delivery, there are huge differences between the two when it comes to the scope of work and the end-user of the work.


SIs typically provide customizations, updates, and new implementations within a single Salesforce environment.

  • Typical SI projects can consist of:

    • Data Migrations

    • Configurations

    • Custom Development

    • 3rd Party Integrations

    • New Salesforce Cloud Product Integrations


PDOs create apps that add functionality beyond out-of-the-box tasks.

  • PDOs have expertise in product ideation, UX best practices, security review, and long-term product evolution.

  • As PDOs and ISVs work together and report their projects to Salesforce, PDO partners tag their projects with one or more of the following 7 specializations (which in return helps them become discoverable as successful products are completed):

    • Ideation/Business Model/Value Prop

    • Architecture & UX Design

    • Development/QA/Release Management/Security Review

    • AppExchange Listing/Trails and Demo

    • Product Support

    • Packaging Review & Optimization

    • Marketing Support

Who is the end-user?

The final test for clients to decide if they need a PDO or an SI consultant is simply who is the end-user?

For PDOs, the end-users are those who choose to pay for a product (app) on the Salesforce AppExchange.

For SIs, the end-users are those who work within a specific Salesforce org as a company or business. These end-users are typically employees of the client who hired the SI to integrate, customize or update their instance of Salesforce.

What’s Next?

If you’re ready to engage with a Strategic Salesforce Consulting Partner, we’re here for you! Whether it’s starting a new Salesforce implementation or getting your app onto the AppExchange, our team of Salesforce admins, developers, technical architects, and solution engineers will dive deep into your business and help you create a secure, scalable solution that helps you see ROI quickly.

theCodery understands the challenges in modern tech stacks. We develop a personalized approach for each client while leveraging our deep been-there-done-that and best-practice expertise to ensure you get the most value from Salesforce. We take an agile approach with all development, optimization, and integration projects. Whether you are trying to broaden your engineering and development capabilities, reduce technical debt, integrate tools you are unfamiliar with, or create new applications, theCodery has a proven track record of solving problems and streamlining complexity.

Contact us today to get started!

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