Salesforce at UCSF: Build Simple CRMs, Fast

Here at UCSF we often encounter people who are fairly new to working with Salesforce and are looking for ways to use this tool to meet their business needs. Salesforce is a robust and powerful Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool that is highly configurable and extremely customizable. Though some complex business processes require custom coding in Salesforce, an out-of-the-box or “Vanilla” Salesforce CRM can provide a faster, easier, and simpler way to manage your customer relationships.

Are you wondering if Salesforce Vanilla CRM is right for you? These helpful frequently-asked questions can give you insights on what a Vanilla CRM is, whether it is right for your organization, and how you can get the most value to make Salesforce an indispensable tool for customer management, engagement, and collaboration.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What is Salesforce? 

    Salesforce is a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform. This platform helps develop cloud-based applications such as sales cloud, service cloud, marketing cloud, and health cloud, most of which can be managed easily without necessarily the need for IT experts. Salesforce aims to create a more streamlined, efficient, and effective sales or service process.
  2. What is a Salesforce out-of-the-box (OOTB) application and how does it differ from a custom-built application?

    OOTB application simply means you get standard features of Salesforce and the application can be set up without any custom coding.
    Salesforce provides a lot of features that are available for the users to use directly without making any modifications on the code. Unlike custom-built Salesforce applications, OOTB apps use standard features already available for users to start using.

    Salesforce Terms

    What it actually means

    Standard or Custom?


    Potential Customers



    Qualified Customers or Partners (people)



    Qualified Customers or Partners (companies)



    Projects or business deals with your customers


    Integrations external to Salesforce

    Pulling data from an external system into Salesforce; or pushing data from Salesforce into an external system (not the same as importing/exporting files; eg: pulling “people data” from UCSF directory into Salesforce)


    Advanced reporting and dashboard

    Complex matrices; analytics


  3. How do I know if a Salesforce OOTB App is right for my group?

    That will depend on what feature you think you may need and what is important for your business. If your business entails managing partners or customer relationships from a service you are providing, and your business process has some flexibility, an OOTB app can provide you with a quick and easy way to track leads, opportunities, and contacts with minimal configuration.

    In most cases, Salesforce OOTB Apps are being used to replace legacy systems and manual processes. Tools like desktop applications (Filemaker, MS Access), Excel, or just plain manual tracking on paper without a single source of truth can be challenging to track. Salesforce OOTB can help track your pipeline and create standard reports for your metrics to help serve your customers better.

    Here is an example of an Opportunity in progress:


However, not every solution is a Salesforce solution. You need to think about what value you are getting from building this app, if it is meeting your business needs, and if it is worth the cost-- not just cost in development, but time and effort to train your staff to become power users, and ongoing support and maintenance. If you think you need a fully customized CRM that falls outside of OOTB, please consult with ISU for a custom-built application. 

Here are recent UCSF Examples:




Not a fit

UCSF group wants to track their clients and projects in their start-up program and see where they are in the pipeline so they can make informed decisions. They do not require “people data integration” and imports their data from their web form.


UCSF group wants to track their deals with industry partners and align these deals with PI interest, meaning PI information or “people data” needs to be integrated with Salesforce.



UCSF group wants to replace Excel spreadsheet of an ongoing list of 50-100 students. The process is somewhat unknown and the group does not know how they want the reports to look like.


  1. How much will Salesforce OOTB App cost? How long will it take to launch the product?

    You can acquire a UCSF Salesforce license at no cost. However, the configuration of your OOTB App can typically range from $20K-$40K and can take 4-6 weeks depending on your requirements, and time and resource availability. This cost is exclusive of initial business analysis, ongoing support and maintenance, and user training. Note that having your own “Salesforce org” requires you to have a designated systems administrator who can manage the application and will require more in-depth training than other standard users in your group.
  2. If we decide we want Salesforce OOTB App, how can we get started?

    If you are fairly certain that your needs fit a Salesforce OOTB app, you can contact ISU for an initial consultation. Upon consultation, we need to do some initial discovery (business analysis) work to validate if your requirements fit a OOTB app. If so, we can connect you with our trusted vendor to help you get started while still providing some guidance. Alternatively, if your requirements fall outside of a OOTB app, we can do some further analysis and provide some recommendations on how to move forward.
  3. How do I get more information about Salesforce applications builds?

    You can find more information about Salesforce by contacting ISU at