Salesforce CRM is a robust platform with infinite possibilities. It is arguably the most popular CRM solutions provider in the market today. The primary reason for its popularity is due to its ease of implementation, flexibility, and scalability. Salesforce platform is extremely appreciated by organizations since it integrates not only all the stakeholders but also the various elements of the business. It has a host of cloud-based products/services comprising of Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud, Analytics Cloud, Community Cloud, etc. These services can be highly personalized according to a particular type of business and, therefore, organizations enjoy greater flexibility during implementation.
Organizations invest in Salesforce with a view to manage several complex business challenges. If Salesforce implementation goes wrong, organizations cannot achieve their desired objectives. It is usually suggested to have a Salesforce implementation project manager, who owns the process and guides the project to successful completion.
The implementation time for Salesforce can vary based on individual organizational requirements. On an average, it could take 3 to 4 weeks and, sometimes, it can be much longer than this in certain cases. Understanding common best practices in salesforce implementation can expedite speed and reduce costs.
However, there are still challenges that can be confronted while implementing and integrating Salesforce into the dynamics of an organization’s ecosystem. The primary and fundamental step in implementing Salesforce is defining the business objective and understanding the root-level implementation of the CRM solution. This is done by taking all the stakeholders concerned into strict confidence.
Golden Rules for Successful Salesforce Implementation
Rule#1: Planning & Preparation
The first rule before implementing Salesforce is to plan and prepare. Planning well in advance is vital to a successful Salesforce implementation. In this, you have to identify your organization’s vision, goals, and metrics as well as the resources, tools, and dependencies at your disposal. Getting this step right is extremely critical so that you save your time and don’t make any mistakes while in the middle of implementation.
The Planning and Preparation stage of Salesforce implementation includes the following:
- Organizing Your Team & Framing its Structure: The team may require an executive sponsor, one or more system admins, a project manager, one or more power users, and one or more trainers.
- Resource Planning: The size and scope of your implementation will determine how many resources you will need.
- Understanding Your Data: Whether you are moving from another CRM application or just tracking customer information in spreadsheets, you will already have some existing data. Data always becomes an impediment if it’s not reviewed and cleaned early in a project. Data shouldn’t be entered until your system is set up, including setting up your role hierarchy, sharing model, and sharing rules. By understanding the data without any ambiguity during the planning stage, you can define critical questions such as “Is crucial data being tracked?” and “What else should be tracked?”
- Project Methodology: The type of approach that you would follow for the Salesforce implementation. The two most extensively used approaches are the ‘waterfall’ and ‘scrum’ methodologies. Waterfall is the traditional, phased, sequential approach that may lead to a prolonged implementation timeline. The scrum approach is to constantly produce and deliver small parts of functionality, and revisit and refine them with each cycle. Salesforce uses the more iterative scrum approach for its development.
- Determining a Roadmap to Achieve Implementation Goals: There are several ways to determine a roadmap to achieve goals for Salesforce implementation project. For instance, your goal might be to reduce case time resolution by 40%, or your customer churn rate by 20%. Or your goal may be to increase your average deal size by a certain amount of rupees, or your lead flow by 25%. By defining goals, you can give yourself a tangible method to evaluate the overall success of your implementation.
It is absolutely critical to have the support and participation of executive sponsor – from the planning stage until the go-live date and beyond. To improve participation and support, you have to include your staff members and critical prospective Salesforce users to understand their needs and pain points. Irrespective of your chosen method, you must ensure all the issues are being addressed. This will enable you to plan a Salesforce implementation that gives you better success.
Rule#2: Set Up a Project Timeline
When determining the project timeline, there are a few things to pay attention to, beginning with dependencies. Ensure you have a lucid understanding of the other initiatives that are simultaneously being executed at any given point in time so that the scheduling of your Salesforce implementation doesn’t clash with any other major project. Evaluate the key members of your implementation team who may be out of office to ensure that there is no shortage of staff during implementation. Carefully think about the optimal timeline for the project that will reduce business disruptions for go-live. Once you have fixed a specific timeline for your project, identify critical achievements on your calendar, such as business process mapping, alpha, beta, and pilot testing, kick-off, and project completion date. If you intend to work with a consultant, clearly communicate all deliverables (on both the consultant and client side) in advance to ensure smooth flow of things according to the specified timeline.
After determining your implementation approach and requirements, you can commence building the project timeline. There are two approaches that organizations generally adopt: Scrum and Waterfall approach. Irrespective of your choice, there are several other variables that you must take into account, beginning with dependencies. Organizations might be working on several huge projects simultaneously. To prevent clash of Salesforce implementation with any other project, ensure you schedule and maintain a proper timeline.
Rule#3: Plan Your Implementation Cost
When it comes to the cost of Salesforce implementation, you have to take into account the number of potential Salesforce users and the cost for the following elements:
- Migration of Data
- User Training
Depending on your business requirements, choose the appropriate Salesforce edition – Sales Essentials, Professional, Enterprise, and Unlimited edition. The cost of each Salesforce edition depends on the number of users. The price varies between $25 to 300 per user per month. If you want to buy additional products such as Salesforce Configure Price Quote (CPQ), it will cost you extra.
Rule#4: Define Success Metrics & Set Pragmatic Goals
To achieve growth in your business, you have to define your success metrics and set pragmatic goals. There are numerous ways you can define your goals for Salesforce implementation project. Goals can differ based on the organization. For instance, a company’s goal might be to minimize case resolution time by 25% or increase lead flow by 30%.
Or consider that company X’s goal is to expand the average deal size by a certain amount of money, and company Y’s goal is to reduce customer attrition by 10%. Company X and Y can use the same application for different purposes, but achieving it requires focused goal setting in place. By defining goals and metrics, organizations can evaluate the overall success of their implementation in a tangible manner. Organizations must have ‘SMART’ goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-based. To get the most out of Salesforce application, ensure that your goals simple and achievable.
Rule#5: Prepare to Go ‘Live’
Before launch, set up and personalize Salesforce CRM according to your business needs. It is recommended that you keep your initial personalization simple and based on user feedback, so that you can make requisite improvements in the future. It is extremely beneficial if you have a ‘go-live’ checklist ready. The checklist must include all elements of information including the mode of salesforce deployment. It should also include all of the items that are configured, all of the data transformations that has to happen, and all of the integrations that have to be rebuilt in the production environment. Assign an order to this list so that it is deployed in the exact order during implementation. There are several dependencies in Salesforce that prevent certain configurations from being deployed before others. Before the launch, the top management must convey to the users to keep them informed of the prospective changes. Create excitement among users and establish deliverables. Ensure your users are ready to embrace the transformation. Change resistance can be an impediment at this stage.
When you feel confident in the solution and the architecture, and your users like it, you’re ready to prepare for ‘go-live.’ There is an optional, but recommended, step to take as you prepare for final testing and go-live. Although it is sometimes limited by timeline or financial constraints, it is extremely beneficial to building a seamless finished product:
- Shift the entire configuration to a full sandbox environment to examine how it performs under large data volumes. A full sandbox — contrasted with a partial or developer sandbox — is a test environment that contains an exact replica of the production data (customer information, deals, etc.). This allows you to simulate the manner in which your configuration will run in a production environment, so that you can identify and resolve any issues such as heat impediments, runtime errors, inactivity, and disruption prior to ‘go-live.’
Rule#6: Design a Change Management Strategy
Change management is an integral part of any implementation because it explains your fundamental base what to expect, invests in the project, and empowers them for success. The success of your Salesforce CRM implementation significantly depends on your end-users. Your users must be ready to adopt this change. The executive sponsor must communicate with crystal-clear clarity about the benefits for users and a change management strategy must be executed to ensure its success.
For instance, while implementing Salesforce for the first time, the Change Management strategy should explain to end-users how they can get benefit from Salesforce and which training method they should choose. If you are making changes to your current Salesforce software, your Change Management strategy can help you communicate to your staff the length of the time it will take for implementation and what they should do until the changes are implemented. Change Management can ensure a healthy and positive user adoption. An effective Change Management strategy keeps the staff involved and ensures seamless adoption. There are tools that can keep your staff involved during their training process and beyond. Once your users start using Salesforce, you must ensure that they keep using it constantly. That’s why Salesforce CRM adoption is so critical. Tools such as Digital Adoption Platform (DAP) can make your onboarding and training effective, ensuring swifter Salesforce adoption.
With Copado, on-boarding of applications can be done rapidly by automating end-to-end delivery pipeline and facilitating CI/CD across Salesforce platform. Blending a flexible, powerful platform such as Salesforce with the speed and reliability of DevOps processes can create completely unknown levels of efficiency and effectiveness for teams. Overall, organizations with full DevOps potential and successful agile practices report a growth of up to 60% in revenues and profits. DevOps organizations are 2.4 times more likely to witness business growth at the rate of 20%, compared to their dominant competitors.
It’s also vital to get the top leadership involved in the change management process. Executive supervision plays a significant part in change management. Executives can make Salesforce implementation and adoption an organizational initiative and make a strong case for embracing change.
Rule#7: Initiate Training & Push Adoption
After successfully launching the Salesforce CRM with the best UI, relevant automation, and personalization, half the job is completed. The next big challenge is to get your staff onboard and provide them training in using Salesforce. To ensure users take full advantage of the software, provide them effective training and promote adoption. Salesforce user training can be provided by an internal training specialist, but the mode of training is vital. Traditional methods can be protracted and reduce staff involvement rates. Digital Adoption Platforms (DAPs) offer the best alternative to this as they can provide virtual training within Salesforce, thereby improving productivity and involvement. However, DAPs cannot completely replace traditional training, but can complement their methods to make it simpler and more effective.
Rule#8: Devise a Post-Implementation Strategy
Immediately after the Salesforce is live, you must start planning for the subsequent phase. The post-implementation strategy includes the following:
- Release management
- Usability tests
- Developing a feedback system
- Strategic long-term plan
- Developing a resource library, and more.
Salesforce releases updates thrice a year in which cool new features can be added that enhance its current features and overall user experience. Release management must start immediately after the successful deployment of Salesforce. Assign a team member to ensure that the post-implementation process is implemented the correct way. Responding to user feedback and resolving employee-related issues must be undertaken at regular intervals. After implementation of Salesforce, there must be a shift in focus from technology to ensuring that end-users are comfortable by addressing their needs and requests.
Organizations must frequently make required changes to the Salesforce platform and optimize it based on user needs and user feedback. To create efficient processes, a blend of strong implementation design with a flexible foundation should be adopted. Following the above golden rules can help you achieve successful Salesforce implementation.
CloudFulcrum with its mission of “DevOps as a Service” has been part of multiple successful Copado implementations across the globe with customers in BFSI, Health Care, Retail, Real Estate, and Technology verticals.
With our DevOps consulting, we help enterprises align their Digital Transformation goals to achieve higher efficiency, faster time-to-market, and better quality of software builds with early identification of arising issues, enabling continuous release of Salesforce applications.