Detailed Review of Cloud Coach Salesforce App

Japanese scholar performing detailed review of Cloud Coach Salesforce app

Cloud Coach is reviewed against 200+ project management software requirements on a downloadable spreadsheet. Cloud Coach is scored overall and for each of the ten project management processes. This post provides a summary of the key strengths and weaknesses for each of the processes.

Summary of Findings

Cloud Coach is primarily a professional services application (PSA) with a robust project portfolio management (PPM) tool on top of it. The first thing that jumped out at me while reviewing Cloud Coach is that the user interface is very well done. The screens are very well designed and implemented. Overall, Cloud Coach provides a good PSA solution for firms with fairly simple project plans. The PPM functionality would also be good for a company wanting to organize and track their internal capital investment and business improvement projects.

While I believe Cloud Coach would provide a complete solution to a professional services firm with simple work plans, like a digital marketing or accounting firm, I believe it has gaps that would have to be supplemented for more technical work like construction or software development. I also don’t believe it provides a full solution for a company managing their internal capital investment and business improvement projects. That being said, Cloud Coach is a native Salesforce app, so it would be very easy to fill some of the gaps with new custom objects or by integrating with other Salesforce apps.

When compared to the project management process as defined in the PMBOK it has a coverage of 63% which is pretty good considering its intended scope. It has coverage in all the processes, but this is primarily because it could be configured to to support the processes outside of its main functionality. The table below shows the coverage of each process as a percentage basis compared to full coverage.

Cloud Coach
Total Score51%
Communications Management9%
Cost Management68%
Integration Management61%
Procurement Management13%
Quality Management17%
Resource Management55%
Risk Management83%
Schedule Management56%
Scope Management0%
Stakeholder Management29%

Download Cloud Coach Evaluation Spreadsheet

Click here to add the Cloud Coach Excel spreadsheet to your basket and continue reading. Visit the basket page to complete the download.

Cloud Coach Pricing

Cloud Coach has three tiers of pricing. First, it offers a free version called ‘Starter’. Second, it offers a second tier called ‘Enterprise’ for $59/user/month with a minimum purchase of 25 users, resulting a minimum annual spend of $17,700. The top tier is called ‘Ultimate’ and uses a site license of $2,500/company/month for a total annual spend of $30,000. Therefore, companies with more than 42 users would purchase the Ultimate package.

For a comparison of the functionality provided in the three tiers, here is a link to a page on the Cloud Coach website: Cloud Coach Pricing. The Enterprise package provides the full PSA functionality. The Ultimate package adds the full PPM functionality.

Scoring Methodology

I’ve been evaluating all of the Salesforce project management software and sharing the results to help others save time in making an informed decision. I started the evaluation as marketing research for the Salesforce project management app I built: Project Lifecycle Pro. I’m doing my best to give a unbiased review, but I’ve attached the detailed Excel spreadsheet which you can use to perform your own analysis. Here are detailed instructions on how to use the spreadsheet to weight requirements and compare multiple software packages side-by-side.

I structured the analysis around the Project Management Institute’s (PMI)© project management process. This is outlined in the PM Book of Knowledge (PMBOK)©. First, I listed the project management processes and then the activities within each process. Finally, I developed a list of requirements related to each of the activities. The list of requirements is based upon my thirty years of project management experience and experience evaluating project management tools for clients. When I come across novel functionality in the software I add it to the requirements list. Of course, I’m sure I missed some requirements and welcome any suggestions.

I gave all processes and requirements equal weights, but you can adjust the scoring weights in the Excel spreadsheet to suit your needs. Each requirement was rated as either:

  • Yes – As Is – Meaning, the requirement is met with out-of-the-box functionality. This rating is awarded four points.
  • Yes – With Configuration – Meaning the requirement can be met with minimal configuration or no-code updates. Since, Salesforce is highly configurable I used this rating for simple things like changing picklist values, adding a field to an existing data object, creating a report, etc. This rating is awarded two points.
  • No – Not Available or Requires Customization – Meaning the requirement cannot be met without significant investment of time or money. I assigned this rating if custom coding would be required, or a new custom data object, or a new custom flow. This rating is awarded zero points.

Finally, the scoring spreadsheet totaled the ratings by process to show how the apps compare by process. Therefore, you can assess the apps based on which processes are the most important to you.

Download Cloud Coach Evaluation Spreadsheet

Click here to download the Cloud Coach Excel spreadsheet.

WARNING: Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to successfully load Cloud Coach into a sandbox environment to play with it myself. However, to assess the software I watched numerous demos and searched through their extensive knowledge base. I’ve noted in the spreadsheet when I was unsure of whether Cloud Coach supported the requirement.

Communications Management

Cloud Coach received points for their functionality to communicate the project status. Change management is not an area of focus, and thus they scored poorly related to change management communications and training.

Their project status functionality is quite good. They have nice dashboards and stoplights for schedule and budget. They also incorporate Salesforce Chatter into the solution.

Cost Management

Cloud Coach has a nice cost management solution with an excellent user interface. The only major gap I identified was an inability to sum costs by release. This is because Cloud Coach does not provide an ability to plan or manage releases within a project.

One minor gap is the ability to differentiate budget costs and non-budget cost items. I found in the past that projects may be evaluated based on total costs including internal labor, but costs like internal labor are considered fixed and do not hit the project’s budget. Therefore, the project manager needs to be able to make these distinctions.

Integration Management

Cloud Coach scored a whopping 79% on coverage for the integration management process. I only found three major gaps in their functionality. First of all, Cloud Coach doesn’t have the ability to capture detailed scope items. I find this a very important factor in communicating understanding of the project. This could be fairly easily rectified by creating a custom scope object tied to the project.

Secondly, Cloud Coach doesn’t have the ability to capture details about the systems being impacted by the project. This also extends to details required to make system changes like requirements. I find almost every project has a system component, and it is important to inventory all the new and existing systems impacted by the project.

Finally, Cloud Coach apparently lacks the ability to restrict access to confidential projects. All Cloud Coach users can view all projects. This could become a problem for an executive wanting to use Cloud Coach as their insight to all the company’s projects, but wouldn’t want the entire company to be aware of certain projects. Confidential projects could include potential mergers and acquisitions, or process improvement projects with significant staffing reductions.

Procurement Management

Procurement is not a focus for Cloud Coach and therefore, they have limited functionality. However, with their extensive cost management capabilities it should be fairly easy to tack on some procurement functionality.

Quality Management

Cloud Coach does not have any testing functionality. This would be a major gap for software development projects. This gap could be filled with a dedicated QA tool.

Resource Management

Cloud Coach has the resource management functionality needed for a PSA tool and it is easy to use. Time can be planned and tracked down to the task level. Customers can be billed based on time worked. The time entry system seems easy to use and has a nice feature where it will flag situations where a person worked an activity but didn’t record any time. Time cards can also be routed to managers for approval.

I only noticed two major gaps related to resource management. First, it is rare that a systems project (especially an Agile project) plans resources down to hours per task. The planning is usually much higher-level like a percent of a person’s time allocated to a project for a specific period of time. I did not see any functionality to support this approach.

The second major gap concerned project access. Like any Salesforce app an admin can universally control a user’s access to specific data fields. Meaning, you could give all users with a developer role read only access to cost data, but it would be the same across all projects. What I didn’t see in Cloud Coach was the flexibility to set access rights for an individual that varied between projects. So Joe only has read only access to one project because he’s a stakeholder, but Joe has edit access to a project he is working on.

Risk Management

Cloud Coach has robust risk management functionality. Risks can be logged as tickets associated to tasks and then can be reported at the project level. There is a nice risk matrix graphic that summarizes risks based upon probability and impact.

The only gaps I saw could easily be addressed by adding some additional fields to the risk object. First, I didn’t see a way to associate a quantitative range to a risk. For example, an impact of $10K – $20K. Ideally, these values would be captured and summed to determine the amount of contingency required for the project. Second, strangely there weren’t any fields to record the risk mitigation or avoidance strategy or tasks.

Schedule Management

Cloud Coach has some good scheduling capabilities which should suffice as a PSA tool. It doesn’t have the full functionality a professional scheduler would need for a large technical program or a construction project. A couple of key features it has that many cloud-based scheduling tools don’t have are:

  • Task details displayed on the Gantt Chart page. There is a frame on the right which displays the task details for the task that is highlighted.
  • It will calculate a critical path.
  • It will re-schedule based on task dependencies. Meaning, it will push the start of downstream tasks out if you extend a preceding task.
  • It has a Kanban board and functionality I haven’t seen before where you can combine the Gantt chart phases with a Kanban board.
  • It can support at least four levels of tasks: phase, tasks at phase level, sub-phase, tasks at sub-phase level. I couldn’t confirm how many total levels of sub-phases it will support.

The significant gaps are related to advanced features of a full-fledged scheduling tool and support for Agile projects. Most of the Agile gaps could be filled by installing the free Salesforce Agile Accelerator app.

  • It appears to only support Finish/Start dependencies. It does not support other types such as Finish/Finish, Start/Start and Start/Finish.
  • It doesn’t support lag on dependencies.
  • It doesn’t support Agile sprints or epics.
  • Cannot rank Agile cards/tickets in a product backlog.
  • Cannot create parent/child Agile cards/tasks.
  • Does not have an Agile burndown report.

There were several gaps I could not confirm, so if these are important to you, you should investigate these more:

  • The number of sub-phase/task levels it will support.
  • Not sure if it will reschedule downstream dependent tasks based on a delayed actual completion date.
  • Not sure if you can assign multiple people to a single task or a team.
  • I didn’t see any examples where multiple preceding tasks were assigned to a single task. Therefore, I suspect it only supports one Finish/Start relationship.
  • There is a tab labeled ‘Project Dependencies’, I didn’t see it demonstrated but it may allow you to create inter-project dependencies which would be a nice feature.

Scope Management

The are only two scope-related features. One is the ability to group tasks under phases and sub-phases to create a work breakdown structure. The second, is to create and approve change orders. There is no other functionality to plan or track scope changes.

Stakeholder Management

Cloud Coach has a some neat stakeholder management features but it falls short of a full change management tool. It has the ability to identify individual Salesforce users and contacts as stakeholders and to plan their required level of engagement. It can even organize the stakeholders in a tree view. It also has a nifty RACI chart tool to assign responsibilities to the stakeholders. I’ve never used a RACI chart to define stakeholders before, but I assume it could be helpful in some cases.

The biggest gaps I see in the Cloud Coach stakeholder management functionality are related to the overall change management process. There isn’t any functionality to identify change management impacts and to plan their timing based upon release or deployment dates. Therefore, communication and training plans cannot be created based upon the Cloud Coach data. Lastly, the system uses the Salesforce user and contact objects to identify individual stakeholders. In most cases, stakeholder planning is done at the group level and Cloud Coach doesn’t allow the definition of a stakeholder group. For example, an update to the SAP accounts receivable module will impact everyone in the accounts receivable department. For planning purposes I want to list the stakeholder as ‘Accounts Receivables’, I don’t want to have to list everyone in the AR department.

In Conclusion

Cloud Coach has some very nice features and a great user interface. It definitely should be considered by professional service companies and any company looking for a project portfolio management tool. However, those attempting to build a comprehensive project management solution need to be aware Cloud Coach would only form part of their solution. Luckily, it is built on the Salesforce platform which would allow it to be easily integrated with other apps.

Regards,

Brian

Additional References

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