Cloud Giants: Making Salesforce Work for You
“Our purpose is to help people get to the next level, whatever that may be,” says Kelly Pfrommer, who founded Cloud Giants in 2014 to assist companies in stages of growth in finding, and taking, their next step. “Our mission was and continues to be helping organizations both envision their goals and enjoy reaching them.”
The company uses their expertise with Salesforce, enterprise software and enterprise architecture to do just that. “As a tool, Salesforce is amazing and has tons of features,” says Kelly. “But because of that, it can be surprisingly easy to overcomplicate things.”
In what she describes as an unanticipated business ownership, Kelly realized the need for this type of service while working at Red Hat. “I loved the company I was working for, loved what I was doing and loved the process of helping others. But I especially loved using Salesforce,” she says.
However, Kelly also noticed many of her colleagues and connections weren’t getting the most out of the platform. “You can have a certification in Salesforce and still not have the tools you need to get it to do what you want,” she says.
For example, many users can easily add fields or manipulate pages, but the hard part is what comes before it: determining what needs to be done, and finding out how to arrive at the solution.
“A lot of people want to fast forward through that part, but it can end up costing them in the long run,” Kelly says. “You have to really ask yourself, how will I be better off once this solution is implemented?”
The mother of two boys, Jakob and Jonah, now 7 and 4, the Plainsboro, NJ native saw an opportunity to re-envision her career in a way that would enable her to spend more time with her young sons while helping others unlock their potential. “They are really what determined everything for me. Having them in my life made the decision easy.”
“That year, Salesforce was growing quickly, qualified resources became a huge need for companies of all types, and I knew I wanted to spend more time with my young boys,” she says. It all collectively motivated Kelly, and she began freelancing as a Salesforce consultant on the side. Before long, in part due to her background and large network, Kelly had enough client interest to go out on her own.
She also credits the growing need for services like Cloud Giants’ to “shiny object syndrome,”–the feeling that implementing just one more feature or field will make all the difference, when in reality it might slow you down. “Making decisions is difficult. We challenge our clients to make the right ones for them by helping them focus on the actual change and benefits that will result,” she says. “And customers are thrilled when we get to the results.”
Today, Cloud Giants makes both developing young people and helping the community a core part of its mission. “Partnerships with nonprofits are some of the best we have. It helps us to put our thinking caps on in a different way, and benefits the nonprofits as well.” Kelly says they often continue supporting nonprofits after agreements have ended, both to continue the relationship and to keep their skills sharp.
The company’s six full-time staff members and three contractors also keep one another accountable. Two of the full-timers are senior, experienced system architects. “They’re the people who can tell you how the systems should work together and how data should flow. They do very hard system design work and a lot of development as well,” Kelly explains.
The other team members include five lead consultants and two junior associates who work directly with clients to determine solutions that will be the best fit for them.
Kelly says Cloud Giants’ location has been a big factor in seeking out employees from local universities. “We’re really lucky that all of team members are able to meet and work together face to face,” she says. Some of them, including Alex Kenney, have been connected with the company since before their professional careers even began.
Alex started an internship with Cloud Giants during her senior year at NC State–and never left. “I knew I would have a unique experience that would be tough to find anywhere else. The start up environment allowed me to learn fast, be creative, and contribute to the growth of the company.” she says.
Another part of their growth meant transitioning their office’s physical location. “In the beginning, we were meeting at my dining room table,” Kelly laughs. “When I’d ask someone to join our team, the first thing I’d ask was ‘are you comfortable working at my house? I’ll cook for you!’” Though she didn’t fully realize it at the time, that early stage formed the basis for the strong connection the team continues to share.
The team worked in her dining room until July of 2016. Kelly decided it was time for a vacation with her family, and her team decided it was time to find a new place to work. That place ended up being the first floor of The Frontier. “We just kept meeting there, carving out as much space as we could.” A few months later, they became full time tenants.
For Alex, what makes The Frontier special is the atmosphere, the people, and the space. “I love the entrepreneurial spirit – it’s palpable when you walk through the halls,” she says. “The people are so friendly–as are the dogs!”
The team also appreciates the concept behind the building. “The space is perfect for companies like Cloud Giants. It allows us to grow, without being bigger than we need it to be,” Alex says.
Cloud Giants plans to continue growing and improving in the coming months. “We hope to continue the internship program for a long time, and that more of our interns choose to stay with us as they transition into their professional careers,” says Kelly. “And we hope to be at The Frontier for a long time too.”
Though she was originally hesitant to commit to the new space, Kelly says she and her team have enjoyed the amenities, extra space, and especially the convenience of commute for employees all over the Triangle.
As for the secret to their success, Kelly says it is vital to address every part of what a client needs. “We don’t just address the technical side of things. We do our best to keep the conversation on the people involved, and the how of what they’re doing. It keeps them focused on moving to that next level, and it makes us better, too.”