Salesforce customers have a ton of experience and knowledge when it comes to the ins and outs of operating a business. That peer-to-peer knowledge sharing is what makes our Success Community and Salesforce events, from Dreamforce, to World Tours, to user group meetings, invaluable resources.

In the  latest AppExchange ebook, 15 Success Stories of Business Growth with Apps, featuring stories of growing business leaders using apps to scale. In researching the ebook, I spoke with a number of customers who shared their thoughtful advice on how to effectively use technology and AppExchange apps. Below are two audio stories highlighting that advice, with quotes that provide even more proof that the Salesforce community is one of the greatest resources that exist in the business world today.

Listen: Advice from SMB Leaders on Using AppExchange

1. Don’t reinvent the wheel

“If you have a project that you’re looking to build, check AppExchange and see if it’s built first,” said Emily Tam, Director of IT at Borrego Solar. For many companies, challenges are met by building or buying technology, and with AppExchange apps ranging from sales productivity to accounting and everything in between, it’s often more efficient to benefit from the work already done.

For Corinne Hua, CFO of Traction on Demand, apps and technology are a means to make her employees more productive. “We believe we can find efficiencies in automation and processes to help people find more time,” she said. “We use technology to create what we all strive for, which is more time.”

Using existing AppExchange apps can help stretch resources further, said Erin Peterson, VP of Customer Success at Mintingo. “The amount of overhead to bring in a solution from AppExchange is so much lower than having to go externally and build custom integrations and vet solutions,” she said. “I think it's a really great way for somebody that's small and of a limited set of resources to find and integrate a solution into their organization.”

2. Understand your challenges before investing

Listen: How SMB Leaders Use Technology

Having a wide range of apps and technology to choose from is alluring, but without completely understanding the challenges your organization faces, and what solutions you need to solve them, you could end up wasting valuable resources. Hans Schaedel, CFO at Canto, said that companies should seek personalized solutions for their problems. “Every company should look for solutions that apply to their specific use case, and perhaps industry and size, and see what can help them to aggregate all the data in one place automatically,” he said.

Blaine Iler, co-founder at SOMMA Food Group, knew what potential issues his company could run into as it grew, and decided to take proactive measures to make sure its supply chains scaled. “For us, one of the reasons why we implemented Kenandy so early was for traceability. The products that we produce, a lot of them are produced in USDA-inspected facilities, and they carry a significant burden on us to know throughout our supply chain,” he said. “We weren't all that big when we did it. We just knew that we were growing so quickly and wanted to get ahead of it.”

And for Justin Bakes, CEO of Forward Financing, the investment his company made in technology overall has paid huge dividends in the long term. “It's allowed us to almost triple in volume without needing to increase our headcount,” he said. “We have capacity to do a lot more with our current headcount by leveraging technology across the board.”

3. Do your homework and crowdsource knowledge

Once you understand your challenges, and have decided to seek out existing technology to solve them, it’s critical to do your homework to make the best purchase. Crowdsourcing information and speaking to a community of users is a great way to understand the experiences, challenges, and secrets to successful implementation.

Peterson’s advice is to look at what others have said about an app before purchasing. “Leverage the fact that Salesforce and our peers have done so much of the vetting for us to make a really great set of solutions available,” she said. “The apps that have high ratings are an easy and safe approach to go with. But I think it's also a great way to explore other solutions that are newer to the market. Get plugged in with your local user groups to learn about some things that people are using successfully.”

Heather White, VP of Delivery at ForeFront, echoed those sentiments. “Talk to the other people in your business area, find out what they’re using, and look at the reviews before trying it out. If it’s a good fit now, think about whether it’ll be a good fit 4-5 years.”

Get your copy of 15 Success Stories of Business Growth with Apps for more advice from these growing business leaders.