The Difference Between Salesforce System Integrators (SIs) & Independent Software Vendors (ISVs)

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Salesforce is a significant Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform most businesses use to streamline processes, manage customer interactions, and enhance marketing functions. The two players in the Salesforce ecosystem are System Integrators and Independent Software Vendors. Understanding the services, roles, and differences between the two can substantially help businesses maximize their Salesforce investments. This blog displays the differences between Salesforce SIs and ISVs, plus how companies can leverage their expertise. 

Salesforce’s massive ecosystem consists of different partners who contribute to its functionality. They are called System Integrators (SIs) and Integrated Software Vendors (ISVs). 

Salesforce is a revolution in how businesses approach CRM by providing a customizable platform that can meet the requirements of an organization. Salesforce’s flexibility and scalability have made it an automatic CRM choice for companies of all sizes. However, such flexibility requires specialized expertise to make the maximum out of the Salesforce capabilities. System Integrators and Integrated Software Vendors come into play, bringing their strengths entirely.

System Integrators (SIs)

System Integrators are service providers specializing in the customization, implementation, and integration of Salesforce Solutions inside an organization’s system. They work with clients to understand their business wants and ensure seamless integration with numerous enterprise systems. Their particular expertise ensures that Salesforce is optimized efficiently to deliver maximum value. 

Independent Software Vendors (ISVs)

On the other hand, ISVs develop applications and solutions that enhance the capabilities of Salesforce. Such solutions are available on the Salesforce AppExchange, a marketplace where one can find apps that significantly improve the environment. Integrated Software Vendors focus on innovation, adding new functionalities, and creating tools that address specific business challenges. 

Roles & Responsibilities of System Integrators 

  • Implementation Services

System Integrators play an imperative role in the setup and configuration of Salesforce. They tailor Salesforce to meet the requirements of an organization, ensuring that the implementation is in sync with the processes and business targets. It incorporates setting up user roles, workflows, data structures, and security settings.

  • Integration

Integrating with existing systems is a crucial task for SIs. They ensure smooth data flow between other enterprise applications and Salesforce, offering a unified and efficient workflow. It incorporates APIs and middleware to connect disparate systems and allow real-time data exchange.

  • Customization & Development

At regular intervals, Salesforce functionality needs to be customized. System Integrators develop custom solutions, integrations, and workflows to ensure Salesforce works seamlessly with other tools inside the organization. They use tools like  Visualforce, Apex, and Salesforce’s proprietary programming language.

  • Training & Support

System Integrators offer comprehensive training to users and support to ensure that the Salesforce solution constantly meets the business requirements and improves with the organization.

Roles & Responsibilities of Independent Software Vendors

  • Application Development

ISVs develop apps that add new functionalities to Salesforce. Such applications consist of industry-specific solutions to tools that improve productivity or offer advanced analytics. It uses Salesforce’s development platforms and tools to create apps that easily integrate with the core CRM.

  • Innovation & Updates

Independent Software Vendors constantly innovate and offer regular updates and new features to their apps, ensuring they remain valuable to the users. It involves being ahead of trends and adding feedback to product development.

  • AppExchange Listings

The main distribution channel for ISV solutions is the Salesforce AppExchange. They allow users to browse and purchase apps according to their choices. Independent Software Vendors leverage the platform to r

each a bigger audience and provide updates and support via the ecosystem of AppExchange.

  • Customer Support

ISVs offer customer support to allow users to leverage their apps and guide the best practices. They include support packages consisting of training, technical assistance, and consultation services.

Difference Between Salesforce SIs and ISVs

System Integrators and Independent Software Vendors contribute massively to the Salesforce ecosystem, but their roles and service offerings differ. Have a look:

Core Focus

  • System Integrators. It focuses on services, customization, and integration of Salesforce inside an organization’s infrastructure.
  • Independent Software Vendors. They focus on product development that enhances the capabilities of Salesforce.

Engagement Model

  • System Integrators. Engages directly with clients, configures solutions, and offers training.
  • Independent Software Vendors. They interact via the AppExchange, where their apps are downloaded and purchased. In terms of support and updates, they offer remotely. 

Customization vs Standardization

  • System Integrators. Offers customized solutions to meet the specific needs of every individual client.
  • Independent Software Vendors. Offer standardized applications and are designed to be applicable across numerous organizations.

Revenue Model

  • System Integrators. They usually charge for their implementation services and consulting, majorly on a project basis or via support contracts.
  • Independent Software Vendors. Generates revenue through subscriptions and sales of applications on the AppExchange.

Scalability & Flexibility

  •  System Integrators. Offers scalability via custom solutions that grow alongside the business, providing flexibility according to system integration and bespoke development.
  • Independent Software Vendors. Focuses on making scalable products that resonate with a large audience, ensuring their apps can handle growth.

Leveraging SIs and ISVs for Business Success

Businesses need to leverage System Integrators and Independent Software Vendors to maximize the pros of Salesforce. Here’s how:

Strategic Implementation

Engaging an SI for an implementation ensures that Salesforce is configured correctly with the required integrations and customizations. Such an approach offers a solid foundation for growth and future improvements.

Enhancing Functionality

When the core system is in the right place, businesses can look at ISV solutions listed on the AppExchange to add specific functionalities, such as productivity enhancements, advanced analytics, and industry-specific tools. Such a system enables businesses to evolve and adapt their Salesforce environment to meet rapidly changing needs.

Cost Management

With the expertise of SI’s and ISVs, businesses can manage costs effectively. System Integrators help optimize the initial investment by enabling a smooth implementation. Additionally, ISVs provide cost-effective enhancements as per the needs.

Ongoing Support & Evolution

Constant support from System Integrators can assist businesses to adapt their Salesforce environment as their preferences change. Meanwhile, Independent Software Vendors offer new features to their apps, ensuring they remain valuable over time. Such a combination of support and innovation enables Salesforce to be a dynamic tool.


The Salesforce ecosystem is massive, consisting of diverse roles played by System Integrators (SI) and Independent Software Vendors (ISVs). While SIs are crucial for integrating and customizing Salesforce to fit different business requirements, ISVs offer innovation via ready-made apps that extend the platform’s capabilities. After understanding and leveraging the different contributions provided by System Integrators and Independent Software Vendors, a business can squeeze out the maximum potential of Salesforce, driving growth, competitive advantage, and efficiency.

To conclude, the synergy between System Integrators (SIs) and Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) forms the backbone of an excellent Salesforce environment. Companies that plan to stay ahead of the competition must adeptly navigate such an ecosystem, engaging SIs for tailored implementations and ISVs for enhancements. Such a balanced approach ensures that Salesforce exceeds the organization’s objectives, unlocking new opportunities for success in the industry.

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