Congratulations! You have decided to transform your business with a Salesforce.com implementation. These projects can be complex and get out of control but you can follow these key tips to ensure a rapid successful deployment whilst minimising time spent in meetings.
1. Dream BIG and then Focus.
You have seen some great demos and heard about the endless possibilities that the Salesforce Platform can offer. Allow yourself to be swept away with this new vision for your cloud transformation (this is important) but at the same time, you need to focus in on your major points of pain.
The best return on investment (ROI) will be to address the initial areas that are holding back your business. It is important to understand the ultimate vision as you will want to plan and structure your roll out with this in mind.
2. Get some Expertise on Board
Choose a specialist that can share examples of their work. Make sure you see examples of projects built with Salesforce Lightning rather than the classic version as Salesforce Lightning offers the most versatility going forward.
Let the Salesforce experts know your BIG ideas and also the key things that you need to address quickly. Your big ideas may transform into an even bigger vision, but a Salesforce specialist will also help you clearly put some stepping stones in place to address the immediate needs. The best ROI will be to address the initial areas that are holding your business back.
Ideally, speak to a Salesforce implementation specialist before you put pen to paper on your contract, and they can also advise you on the best route with respect to licence selection.
3. Implementation Planning
It is really important to understand both the BIG vision and the priority areas to address. The implementation specialist can then plan the architecture of the system to ensure that it is optimised for the future.
You may also be familiar with the term ‘Key Performance Indicators’ (or KPIs). These are the key metrics that are vital to monitor, to ensure your business is successful. Discuss these with your implementation specialist as when designing your solution, we can ensure we are capturing the information to measure these KPIs. These will then be presented on your 'company performance dashboard' so you can see your KPI performance at a glance and in real time, rather than creating reports every month.
Now is also the time to think about your implementation project team. Who are your key internal stakeholders? Internal Salesforce champions that speak the ‘Company Lingo’ and will help with user adoption can also be identified at this point and form a key part of the project team.
Ensure that your internal project team are aware of the importance of the project and ensure they have protected time to work with the implementation consultant.
You may also want to publicise the project across the whole company as an exciting new venture which will drive productivity and help the organisation be more competitive and improve growth. Demos also help drive anticipation of the new solution
4. Use the Platform!
Salesforce has a suite of configuration tools to meet the key business challenges. These have been tried and tested millions of times over, meaning you do not need to reinvent the wheel or resort to back end code. A Salesforce implementation consultant will ensure that these tools are configured to quickly provide you with the user interface and workflow functionality to meet the vast majority (if not all) of your business requirements.
Salesforce also has their own App store (called the App Exchange). If standard functionality falls a little short, then you can bet that there is an App to fill the gap. Typically, we turn to the App Exchange for Advanced Calendar Functionality, Mapping Applications, Image Management or PDF Document Generation. You may also find some popular integration tools that work with some of your existing Applications such as the Salesforce Dropbox integration.
Using standard functionality and the App Exchange means speedy development, keeps implementation costs down, yet still allows a bespoke solution for your business requirements.
Salesforce can also be configured with some back end coding called ‘Apex’. This should be used sparingly and requires more expert development. It is more costly and complex, to deploy and cannot be reconfigured as easily as some of the standard tools. Therefore, where possible, go with ‘Clicks Not Code’ and check with your implementation specialist that they are familiar with Salesforce Lightning configuration, rather than relying on back end coded solutions.
5. Sprints - Go for it!
An implementation plan should consist of a series of SPRINTS! The idea of each Sprint is that it should produce a deliverable piece of functionality that the client can start using right away. Salesforce development can be fast so each sprint should not last longer than a week or two before you start using the system.
If you have any legacy data or excel trackers, then ensure the implementation consultant has a copy of these. It will help with the design of the solution plus also they will be able to pre-load the system with your existing data.
A good Salesforce consultant (does anyone know one?) can be let loose. They know the big picture and will ask the right questions to clarify the business process requirements with regard to each of the Sprints.
If possible, rather than spend endless hours in meetings with your stakeholders gathering pages of specific detailed requirements then let them loose to build a prototype and see what they come back with. You may be surprised! We often find we meet about 85% of your objectives first-time and then the tweaks to get the Sprint ‘production ready’ are generally quick fixes. This approach cuts down development time and avoids unnecessary meetings.
6. Page Design Consistency
Typically, an implementation will consist of multiple tabs (objects) with information on different areas of the business. The new Salesforce Lightning Platform provides many different ways to design your pages. It does help to provide a degree of consistency across the pages to help user familiarity and hence adoption. For example, the ‘accounts page’ (lists of companies) can have a familiar look and feel to a custom page such as ‘employee holidays’.
Design consistency is important to help users learn the system quickly and drive user adoption
7. Test, Go Live and Iterate
When a Sprint is complete, have the appropriate team test the solution against the top line requirements. Don’t aim for instant perfection but ensure it hits the level that provides good functionality and let your users make suggestions through a feedback mechanism to make the solution even slicker. Expect multiple small changes in the first few weeks in order that the solution is optimised to meet the expectations of your users.
Ideally your users should start using Salesforce within the first couple of weeks of implementation. As well as initial user training, ensure that an implementation or training specialist is available when you go live. Ensure your Salesforce Champions are on board and trained up as these guys will be on hand to provide internal support.
9. Blaze your Trail
Ensure your users also take responsibility for their own Salesforce skill development. As well as support from your implementation team, Salesforce offers online training on hundreds of topics at Trailhead.com. Trailhead is ‘gamified’ so trailblazers earn points and badges which adds to a sense of fun and competitiveness within the team.
There are plenty of reports for beginners and we would always recommend new users look at the list views and reporting trails which will help them quickly manipulate the data to give them the views and reports to help them meet business challenges as they arise.
Check out Trailhead!
9. Measure Adoption
Have a plan to measure user adoption. This can be done from a dashboard within Salesforce that measures which users are logging in regularly and performing key tasks. Sometimes it is not easy to get users to accept change and use legacy systems so ensure you measure your teams' performance from the Salesforce Platform…if it's not in Salesforce it didn’t happen!
Include 'Salesforce Adoption Metrics' as a measurement in employee performance reviews. If you see employees logging in every day and also accumulating Trailhead points and badges, then this will translate into a benefit for your business operations
10. Ongoing Salesforce Support
So, after several Sprints you have your core business processes running in the cloud on Salesforce. Ensure your implementation company are on hand to provide further support as required. From a support perspective, there may be the odd bug to quash which didn’t raise its head during the testing phase and your users may need support setting up pages and reports tailored to their specific objectives.
Your users will also provide the next wave of ideas and suggestions to develop new features or workflow. These will be either in the format of small change requests for existing functionality or perhaps ideas for whole new applications for different parts of the business.
About the Author: Steve Mursell is MD of Cloud Jungle, a Cloud Transformation Consultancy specialising in Salesforce.com implementations. Steve’s business adopted Salesforce as users in 2005 and started consulting in 2013. He has built hundreds of Apps for SMEs through to FTSE100 companies, across a variety of Industry Sectors. READ MORE