Enterprise Salesforce Implementation that Transformed a Virginia Beach Company to be Featured at Dreamforce

port and starboard dreamforce
The Salesforce implementation and adoption at one Virginia Beach company has become a pinnacle of success in the federal government contracting industry. The project will be featured at Dreamforce 2017 in San Francisco on November 7 by our colleague, John Scardino. Scardino will share the details of our transformation of a company’s enterprise architecture and culture in just three years.

port and starboard dreamforce

Port & Starboard co-founders Lisa DeNoia and Jeff Werby at Dreamforce in 2015

Port & Starboard co-founders Lisa DeNoia and Jeff Werby led the implementation project, which kicked off in December 2013, from start to finish. The two developed and implemented a revolutionary system, allowing a defense contractor to have improved efficiency and maximum transparency, while enhancing company culture, compliance, and speed of execution. The final solution was fully integrated with the company’s back-end ERP system, and accommodated countless customer-facing and internal support processes that were formerly managed in many disjointed applications.

By 2016, just three years after starting the project, a powerful solution comprised of Salesforce features (Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Identity, Knowledge), AppExchange products (SteelBrick (now Salesforce CPQ), TaskRay, RemedyForce), integrated solutions (Odaseva, Cloudingo, ShoreTel Sky, Jitterbit, Tableau, Dataloader.io), and custom-built platform apps streamlined every function in the company, including sales, service, finance, logistics, IT, marketing, events, and the warehouse.

The culmination of the project for its visionary leaders was the founding of their own consulting practice, Port & Starboard LLC. “During the course of this project, we overcame significant obstacles and learned many important lessons about leadership and organizational change. Now, as consultants, we’re focused on sharing our knowledge with our clients,” DeNoia said.

“We are honored that Salesforce is sharing the impact of this project with the broader community at Dreamforce 2017,” Werby said. “We are excited for and proud of our talented colleague, John Scardino, in whose capable hands we left our capstone project when we pivoted away from our full-time jobs last year to launch our consulting practice.”

Port & Starboard is a Virginia Beach-based technology and business consultancy with a team focused on Salesforce, WordPress, WooCommerce, Amazon Web Services, G Suite, and cloud migration. Our clients range from small non-profits, SMB manufacturing operations, large multinational media companies, and Fortune 50 conglomerates. We are always interested in talking to people about their most complex and important problems.

So how’s your Salesforce? We’d love to talk to you about it. 

Schedule Time to Talk

5 Reasons to Use Blackthorn | Payments to Charge Credit Cards in Salesforce

We implemented out Blackthorn | Payments for a client, and they love it. It’s an intuitive, reliable solution their team was able to start using within a day.

As part of a recent enterprise Salesforce implementation, Port & Starboard configured Blackthorn | Payments (formerly Payment360) for a tech-savvy team of 35 who needed a payment solution, and here’s why:

1     Ease of Use
Our approach to training users is this: you shouldn’t have to spend a whole bunch of time training users. No one trains users to use Google or Facebook — users figure it out because the interface and experience make enough sense that almost every can figure out the basics. Same goes for products like Blackthorn | Payments. Once we deployed it (in record time, using their brilliant Quick Start guide), it took about 10 minutes to show 30 people how to use it, and we were off to the races, charging about a hundred credit cards within the first day.

2     Customer Service
When we encountered a confusing step in the configuration of Blackthorn | Payments, a knowledgeable member of their team set up a call with us within the hour. Over the course of a few days, the same team member was available via phone and email while we worked through some minor bugs. It was refreshing to get such quick support and from the same person, who was already familiar with our use case!

3     Reliability
Our client has been up and running with Blackthorn | Payments for eight weeks now, and we haven’t heard a peep from the users about any problems. Credit card transactions are being processed without issue every day.

4     Flexibility
We determined we needed to generate some additional records for the client’s accounting system and commission payment process. We were able to use the Lightning Process builder to kick off some automation upon the successful completion of a payment transaction, as well as update or roll back those records upon refund of a payment.

5     It’s Free!
Blackthorn | Payments is free to install in your Salesforce org. Payments are processed through Stripe, so you’ll only need to pay the standard Stripe fees for your transactions!

Our views and review of Blackthorn | Payments are our own and based on general payment processing requirements. If you’re in the market for a payment processing solution in Salesforce, please contact us today! We’d be happy to help you evaluate solutions for your company’s specific requirements.

2017: The year of the SSL


SSLs protect information sent between your visitors’ computers and your site’s server(s). Any website that collects credit card numbers, passwords, email addresses, or other personal information should encrypt data with an SSL to ensure it is not readable by potential hackers. Trust is a two way street, and we don’t trust many sites that aren’t encrypted with a secure certificate.

The use of an SSL results in trust and legitimacy and is quickly becoming the standard for all websites. Sites with SSLs are given preference in Google search results, and customers are becoming more savvy about internet security every day. The trusty “https://” in our browser lets us know we’re in the right place, and not giving away all of our personal information on some imposter website. Don’t give people a reason to drop off your site by encountering pesky warnings or being wary about entering information on your site.

Port & Starboard takes security seriously, which is why we implement encryption with SSL certificates on every site we develop, mange, or host. (Unlike a lot of companies who almost always offer cheap, basic plans with no SSL.) We also always use the latest AWS hardware, Cloudfront CDN, fully patched operating systems and WordPress environments to ensure speed, efficiency, and availability.

Contact us to have a free web assessment and to discuss how to get your site in compliance with the changes impacting the web in 2017!

Four Things We Love About Hoopla

hoopla leaderboard

We tried out Hoopla for a client, and we love it. It’s a simple, lightweight solution that perfectly meets their needs.

Port & Starboard provides analysis of alternatives as a service for our clients, which means we do all the research, contact the software sales reps, sit on the demo calls, negotiate the pricing, and provide our clients a recommendation and matrix of all the solutions we reviewed for them. In this case, we took a look at Hoopla, Ambition, and LevelEleven. Each of the three are exceptional products, two of the three offered a little too much functionality for what this particular client needed. In the end, Hoopla was the solution we recommended, and here’s why:

1     Look and Feel
Hoopla’s newsroom-inspired appearance is right up our client’s alley. It’s less “corporate presentation” and more “current events.” The slide transitions and ability to add custom slides, videos, and graphics was just what they were looking for. The channels will be playing in an office frequented by both their sales personnel, and their customers, so it was important to them to be able to communicate their message to both audiences.

What our client wanted:
A leaderboard to feature their top sales talent on the impressive flat screens in their multiple office locations
A solution that would allow them to pepper in videos, graphics and slides that compliment their branding and decor in each location
Something simple and affordable – they weren’t looking for a complex dashboard, analysis or coaching tool
The ability to display real-time or recently updated data from Salesforce
Scalability — the ability to implement the solution in future office locations as they grow

What our client didn’t need:
Fancy user-specific dashboards
A solution native to Salesforce or accessible through Salesforce
Complex data analytics
Management or coaching tools

2     Salesforce Integration
Hoopla is not built on the Salesforce platform, but it does offer a fairly simple integration, allowing customers to broadcast live Salesforce data as part of any leaderboard. It has a direct connection to Salesforce, so the use of a third-party middleware is not necessary. The integration enables Hoopla Users, Teams, and Leaderboards to be managed through the use of reports stored in a single folder in Salesforce. We were pleasantly surprised (and impressed!) by Hoopla’s Salesforce connector. The connector makes two to three API calls per report per sync, and settings allow administrators to choose the frequency that report data is updated.

3     Ease of Use
Whenever possible, we build a proof of concept of solutions we recommend to clients with their data, so clients can get a true feel for what the product will do for them. We set up a trial version of Hoopla, connected it to our client’s Salesforce org, and created a few leaderboards within two hours. Our client already had their Salesforce reports created, which made it really easy. We estimate it will take 6-10 more hours of set-up time to truly get them up and running for each office, but the initial set-up and proof of concept was really easy.

4     Standalone App
Based on our client’s requirements, the fact that this app lives outside of Salesforce is actually a better fit for them. There was no need to install a managed package and a bunch of new objects in Salesforce to meet their requirements. Doing so would add a layer of complexity that was just unnecessary for this client’s use case. This lightweight, standalone app with a connector gives them just enough functionality to meet their needs, and nothing more.

Our views and review of Hoopla are our own and primarily based on a single client’s needs. Ambition and LevelEleven are additional products we would recommend, depending on your needs! If you’re in the market for a leaderboard solution integrated with Salesforce, please contact us today! We’d be happy to help you evaluate solutions for your company’s specific requirements.

So you implemented Salesforce. Now what?

Have you implemented Salesforce and are not sure what to do next? Do you have a sustainable training program? Do you have an accurate perception of your company’s adoption? Are your sales reps using the system the way you expect them to? Is your data clean? Do your reports and dashboards help you make key business decisions? Are you optimizing your investment into Salesforce with apps to automate additional aspects of your business?

One service we offer is a one-day Salesforce.com assessment. During this day, we will spend up to eight hours on-site with your team members defining your goals, learning about your business processes and auditing your Salesforce implementation. After gathering information from key stakeholders and users within your company, we will provide a full report of our findings and recommended next steps to meet your goals as they pertain to your use of Salesforce and related technology. We will supplement our recommendations with any other key information you might find helpful for your overall IT strategy to help you achieve your business goals.

Benefits to working with Port & Starboard vs. other Salesforce.com partners:

  • We are local to Hampton Roads, but we are also willing to travel. We will be on site to learn about your business in person, rather than over the phone.
  • We have experience with a wide range of AppExchange products, managed packages, custom applications and partners. After gathering this initial background, we can point you in the right direction to meet your objectives.
  • We have experience integrating Salesforce with a variety of other systems, including Oracle Enterprise Business Suite (EBS), FormAssembly, WordPress, QuickBooks, Xero, Twilio, and many other custom applications.
  • We are using the latest Salesforce features, including Lightning and Salesforce1. We can perform a Lightning Experience readiness assessment as part of our evaluation.

Interested in a one-day Salesforce assessment? Contact us today to request a quote!

Fences by Dente Website Design & Hosting

Port & Starboard designed and relaunched Fences by Dente‘s website in early 2016. Based on our recommendations, our client moved from a very expensive hosting and pay-per-click advertising plan to our supported monthly hosting. We were successfully able to reduce their monthly website-related costs by nearly 85 percent, while increasing their web leads by almost 75 percent. Not surprisingly our client was initially hesitant to move away from their costly former advertising program, but they were excited to be able to reallocate some of their budget to producing a quality video for their site.

Within a few days of launching their new site, Fences by Dente began seeing increased traffic and engagement, resulting in triple the amount of completed contact forms! In addition, thanks to Port & Starboards monthly supported hosting plan, Fences by Dente’s simple change requests are implemented within an hour.

Need help with your upcoming web project? Contact us today to set up a time to chat!

What’s Your 2016 IT Budget?

Do you know how much your business will spend on technology in 2016? Probably more than it should.

It’s estimated that as much as 70% of companies’ technology spending is misallocated. Technology and applications on the market are increasing at an alarming rate, and you can’t justify hiring a full-time CIO, so how do you know your IT budget fits your business needs? You’re a small business owner, not an IT expert! Nor should you need to be. That’s where we come in.

IT Spending Audit

Is your business leasing printers? Working from old laptops and desktops? Paying for SEO or outdated web hosting products? You’re very likely overpaying for technology that isn’t really working for you. If you’re a non-profit, did you know there are thousands of software products out there that you could be using for free? Let us guide your business through a free IT health check and spending audit. We’ll comb through your hardware, software and service contracts and provide you with recommendations for saving money or optimizing your use of the technology you already own.

IT Procurement & Implementation Assistance

If your business is new or you’re looking to implement new technology in 2016, we can also help evaluate and negotiate IT solutions on your behalf. We’re seasoned experts at translating tech jargon into plain English, and we can interpret all those lengthy terms of service before you sign off on a project. We’ve even got you covered during your implementation because we offer technical project management to ensure you end up with what you asked for.

Interested in working with us? Let us know how we can help!

How to Integrate Google Apps and QuickBooks to Email Attachments

After a recent Google Apps implementation, our client let us know she was unable to email directly from QuickBooks using her new email address. She was attempting to connect to QuickBooks using the default Gmail settings, but the system kept prompting her for a password. After a frustrating call with Intuit, she resorted to downloading each PDF individually and attaching manually via Gmail until we came to the rescue to figure it out.

To connect your Google Apps for Work email account to QuickBooks Pro 2015, here’s what to do:

Note: There is one potential downside to this approach. You’ll have to enable users to sign in from what Google considers “less secure apps.” You can enforce this for all users (essentially allowing anyone to authenticate from any app) or you can enable it, so each user can turn it on for their account specifically. We recommend the latter if you have a bunch of users who do not need to email from QuickBooks.

Have your Google Apps Administrator enable or enforce Less secure apps in your account.

  1. Sign in to the Google Admin console
  2. Click Security > Basic settings.
  3. Under Less secure apps, select Go to settings for less secure apps.
  4. In the subwindow, select the Allow users to manage their access to less secure apps radio button (this option allows each user to toggle their access on or off) OR select Enforce access to less secure apps for all users (this option allows all users to sign in through less secure apps).
  5. If you choose Allow users to manage their access to less secure apps, you’ll have to have each user needing QuickBooks email access do the following:
    1. Go to the “Less secure apps” section in My Account.
    2. Next to “Access for less secure apps,” select Turn on.

Change preferences for sending forms in QuickBooks.

  1. Click Edit > Preferences.
  2. In the list at the left of the Preferences window, click the Send Forms icon.
  3. In the Send email using section, select Webmail.
  4. Click the Add button. QuickBooks opens the Add Email Info window.
  5. In the Email Id field, enter your email address.
  6. In the Email Provider field, choose Others.
  7. In the Server Name field, enter “smtp-relay.gmail.com” (without quotations).
  8. In the Port field, enter 587.
  9. Ensure the SSL box is checked.
  10. Click OK.
  11. Click OK again to exit the preferences window.
  12. Test using a QuickBooks form!

We hope this solution saves you some time integrating Google Apps/Gmail with QuickBooks. Need help with this or anything else technology related? Leave us a comment or contact us.

Port & Starboard LLC specializes in technology consulting for small businesses. We can help with any technical problem, big or small. We specialize in web hosting, business application implementation (Salesforce.com, Xero, Google Apps and WordPress are a few of our favorites), technical project management IT procurement and training. We’re also based in Virginia Beach. If you’re local, let’s meet for coffee and talk about your business!