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Propelling the Salesforce Manufacturing Cloud

What exactly is the Salesforce Manufacturing Cloud? Learn all the ins and outs, plus how its value can be augmented for product companies.

A few years ago, Salesforce launched Manufacturing Cloud. Since then, Salesforce has further built out its breadth of industry-specific clouds—a move that seemingly catalyzed action from the other major enterprise players

We agree with the notion from Salesforce that “it’s more important than ever to stand out with digital-first experiences—for your customers, ecosystem partners, and employees.” 

In this regard, Salesforce emphasizes three primary use cases as the focus for its Manufacturing Cloud solution. Let’s dive in.

1. Modernize commercial operations

Per Salesforce, the role of Manufacturing Cloud in modernizing commercial operations is to capture a complete picture of net new opportunities alongside customer agreements, long-term projects, and an accurate demand forecast. 

The forecast represents the anticipated business that the commercial teams expect to transact and represents vital information for sales leadership. Clearly, what we’re talking about here is pivotal for running a productive and predictable business. 

But let’s consider the enterprise-wide benefits that could be realized by appropriately contextualizing the information captured in the forecast. For example, could product teams—engineering, quality, production, etc.—operate more effectively if armed with the right lens into sales forecasts? Most definitely! 

The forecast represents the incoming revenue picture of the company’s operations: 

  • Active opportunities, and their included products
  • Quantity
  • Price

But forecasts also contain valuable information—albeit through a different lens—for the product teams. 

Instead of revenue, the product teams might first think in terms of parts or components, quantities, and sources, such as the manufacturers or vendors from which those components are purchased. Viewing the forecast through the lens, you can understand how product teams could improve their decision-making, and positively impact the company’s profitability. 

For example, knowing how many of Part XYZ will be required to fulfill Q4 demand, procurement teams are in a far better position to negotiate volume purchasing agreements with their suppliers. In turn, this can reduce direct material spend, which improves product margin. 

Similarly, knowing the overall volume and the end destination of the demand, helps manufacturing teams better plan for production, such as determining which sites and production lines would most efficiently fulfill the expected demand. And, at which times are they needed to be online and operating at volume. 

All vital pieces of information to ensure that timelines can be met, orders can be fulfilled, and that all-important revenue can be realized. 

The product teams’ view vs. the commercial teams’ view of information represented by forecasts

An additional capability of Manufacturing Cloud is its support for sales agreements. This allows companies to apportion one order over time, providing a better representation of the true cost of sales, and better informing your production schedule over the duration of order fulfillment. 

This capability enables improved margin tracking and helps optimize fundamental processes such as New Product Development, and Custom Product Development.  

2. Transform service experiences

The second main use case for Manufacturing Cloud pertains to service. The importance of establishing a positive customer experience is particularly true when the products have an intended life of several years or more. Such is the case for consumer durables, medical devices, and industrial equipment. Based on Propel’s research, we know that 54% of consumers will switch brands after just one poor experience

This challenge is the job of the entire ecosystem. Per a recent IndustryWeek article, Are Your Sales Channels Turning Off Buyers, “It is also important to establish digital continuity from how the product itself is engineered all the way to how the product is serviced, meaning that everything in the value chain must be part of the customer experience ecosystem.”

To see how this works, the Salesforce Manufacturing Cloud product page demonstrates an example of a customer completing a product registration via Experience Cloud as a part of a robust service experience. 

But consider the many product development processes manufacturers must skillfully execute in order to plan for and deliver efficient and effective product service. For long lifespan products, there are significant design requirements that center on meeting warranty agreements and providing in-field service. Here the tasks include:

  • Determining proper maintenance intervals for equipment
  • Designing parts and systems such that they may be properly repaired or replaced (Propel helps with this by designating aspects of the engineering BOM as Field Replaceable Units, or FRUs.)

In this way, Field Service teams are equipped with the knowledge to efficiently maintain field equipment and are able to keep the asset record up-to-date, reflecting any repairs made. Additional field team advantages include:

  • Running “health checks” to ensure proper software revisions are installed
  • Conducting preventive maintenance
  • Identifying upsell opportunities.

Customer Support can provide great value in identifying new issues, quickly responding to customer inquiries or cases. ‍With Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), Quality Management System (QMS), and Case Management integrated on a single platform, customer cases are quickly dispositioned. 

As appropriate, complaints are documented and quality issues are logged for review and resolution by engineering. This is yet another area in which Propel excels: linking the customer experience via service teams to quality and engineering. 

Service can be a hugely impactful aspect of the customer experience. Companies that align around the delivery of transformative customer service tap into the means to continuously improve products, bolster service, and increase customer satisfaction.

Key benefits of transformative customer service:

  • Service Productivity. Effective design for service practices means that service teams are better prepared to resolve customer issues when they are deployed to the field. Thoughtful design for service leads to improved First Time Fix rates and reduces Mean Time to Repair. This, in turn, improves service profitability and customer satisfaction.
  • Higher Quality & Faster Issue Resolution. A closed loop system that can link issues found in the field with designs, parts, and product usage can speed time to resolve issues. Not to mention the improved subsequent design iterations by capturing field insights to be internalized by engineering teams.

3. Simplify partner engagement 

And finally, the third impact for Manufacturing Cloud is to simplify partner engagement. In this realm, Salesforce specifically calls out rebate management: efficiently building and scaling incentive programs, while nurturing trusted channel partner relationships. 

But well beyond resellers, product companies engage partners to fulfill many roles—such as suppliers, contract manufacturers, service providers, graphics designers, content authors, and translation providers just to name a few. 

Consider how some of the above-mentioned roles would benefit from simplified partner engagement. 

Take suppliers, for example. Suppliers that operate in multitier supply chains typically need to master many simultaneous communication threads—with their numerous original equipment manufacturer (OEM) customers and their own suppliers. When you realize that each of these engagements might be conducted through different software tools, it’s apparent how the complexity of collaboration can quickly get out of hand. 

But there are productive ways to foster “right-sized” collaboration. One example is with a supplier community or portal. For example, Propel uses the Salesforce Experience Cloud to offer a highly configurable experience for establishing the right level of communication between customer and supplier for common daily tasks.

Importantly, while the Experience Cloud-based solution is infinitely configurable, a best practice would suggest creating a very lightweight, user experience, finely tuned only to the necessary tasks. Some of the more common workflows in the case of OEM-Supplier collaboration would be: 

  1. The supplier securely accesses and downloads the most accurate version of a product’s Bill of Materials (BOM) to put into production/manufacturing.
  2. The supplier responds to a design workflow request and can approve or respond to a design change.
  3. The supplier team communicates with the OEM team in the direct context of the product or component, avoiding missed or out-of-context communications.
  4. The OEM integrates quality management processes such as Corrective and Preventive Actions (CAPAs), Supplier Corrective Action Requests (SCARs) and audits directly with supplier-specific data.
  5. The OEM conducts supplier onboarding and qualification processes to ensure guidelines and requirements are consistent and traceable across the supplier lifecycle, enabling supplier performance reporting is accurate and accessible by the OEM cross-functional teams.
  6. The OEM conducts supplier training via the community, such that compliance requirements and reporting are achieved via the same platform on which they collaborate daily.

Another example where the partner engagement can be simplified pertains to onboarding new distributors to expand your channel footprint. In this scenario, a new distributor needs an easy way to get spun up on your solutions, in order to best represent your offerings in the marketplace. 

In the same way that a Supplier Community provides a simple means for specific OEM-supplier workflows, the same can happen via a Distributor Community. For example, via such a community, the new distributor might:

  1. Download product specifications or other relevant sales and marketing enablement material to learn the ins and outs of your product portfolio
  2. Take any required training, completing quizzes to certify they are properly skilled in your products’ selling points or differentiation 


It really is more important than ever to stand out with digital-first experiences — for your customers, ecosystem partners, and employees. To that end, there’s Manufacturing Cloud. And to bring out the best in Manufacturing Cloud, there’s Propel.

When product, quality, and service data are linked together onto a single platform, as there are with this powerful combination, companies can see impressive gains: 

  • Improve Product Quality and Customer Satisfaction: This will drive increased market share and customer loyalty with great products and service.
  • Reduce Service Cost: Synthesizing data from product usage and quality events will forestall problems before they arise and maximize equipment uptime and productivity for customers.
  • Continuous Product Improvement: Incorporating feedback from Field Service into current and future product design will improve quality and customer experience.

Learn more about the Salesforce user interface and how it makes life easier for enterprise software users.

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Post by
Tom Shoemaker
VP of Product Marketing, Propel

Tom Shoemaker is the VP of Product Marketing at Propel. In this role, he’s responsible for product messaging and positioning, sales enablement, and voice of customer programs. Prior to Propel, Shoemaker was Chief Marketing Officer of itslearning, a Scandinavian-based edtech provider, where he led the company’s marketing and business development efforts. Prior to itslearning, he held numerous leadership positions at PTC, including pre-sales, R&D, and marketing. Most recently, he was VP Enterprise Marketing. Over his 20-year+ tenure, Shoemaker was responsible for the go-to-market strategy and product launch of PTC’s primary solutions, including Windchill and Creo.

Fun Fact: In high school, Tom appeared on Brainstormers, a local station TV quiz show.

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Tom Shoemaker