8 Steps to Salesforce Success

8 Steps to Salesforce Success

Clients often ask us what can they do to help contribute to Salesforce success and a smooth and effective deployment. After 7 years and 700 plus projects we came up with eight general requirements for project success:

Listen to your Consultant

Client should follow the consultant’s advisement in implementing technology and changing business processes within scope. If client make changes without consent from consultant, it places the consultant in a reactive mode instead of executive mode. This interferes with project planning and methodology and may even force major adjustments to the project.

Project Commitment

Client must commit internally to all technology and processes that will be implemented in the project. If client remains hesitant about an area of the project and continues to explore / ask for alternative solutions for that area, this drains time and effort from overall project execution. If the client maintains significant doubt about an area of the project, then that area should be removed from the project in its entirety.

Take Ownership

Client should have a single liaison/point of contact person to set the tone and goals of the project. If necessary, certain project areas can be delegated to other client staff members, but work and goals in those areas should be clearly defined.

Build Consensus

All client stakeholders must work together to agree on the desired improvements. Agreement towards a primary, shared goal must be worked out to claim success. Each client stakeholder must understand when a specific project area affects not just his group, but the entire organization as well.

Stay Focused

The project must remain within scope. Extra features or new technologies should not be added once the project has begun.

Be Available

No project can be done in a vacuum. If you are unavailable as a client your project will experience a slower deployment. Be engaged: resolve issues quickly, provide feedback, eliminate roadblocks.

Be Realistic

Keep requirements relevant and attainable; strive for a balance between management needs and what the day-to-day end user can actually input. Organizational change due to new technology has to be managed and indoctrinated into the project.

Be Optimistic

Continuous communication throughout the project to the end users in order to educate, inform and build excitement.

By keeping these 8 points in mind, you are on your way to a successful deployment.

Do you have any other suggestions on how to make things run smoothly? Let us know in the comments below.


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  1. Tricia Fitzgerald

    Being Optimistic is an important one. There will be triumphs and discoveries throughout the process, and some days will bring a dose of frustration. Keeping the end goals in mind, and frequently communicating them to the project team makes those tougher days bearable. Make sure everyone remembers the good things that are coming.

  2. My Dad once said to me…”I like to do in a month what it takes people a lifetime to learn” That was said while we both worked tirelessly on fitting a new canvas top to my Triumph convertible. That top never fit and I saw the water damage to prove it. I suspect my Dad would have done his own CRM deployment too — assuming he ever learn to operate a hand calculator.

    Many people have the sense to hire a professional but they debate with that professional throughout the project (Assuming they can do in a week what it took a lifetime for someone else to learn). After a proper due diligence process you should lean on the tenure of the consultant you hired — that’s what they are there for in the first place. Had my Dad and I had the sense to do the same with my Triumph I would not know what it feels like to drive a sports car sitting in a puddle of water.

  3. I would add one more that’s less about the implementation process and more about what happens next: Have a plan for when the cord is cut.

    Even if you have a retainer with your consultant and you’re totally available while the project is going on, there’s still going to come a time when you’re going to be more on your own than relying on your consultant. Six months from now…how are you going to prepare for new releases? What happens if you change jobs? What happens if the person the consultant trained to do data entry leaves the organization?

    A few weeks ago a client said to me, “I can’t wait until this implementation is over and I never have to think about Salesforce again” and I just wanted to cry. Thankfully, I took it as a teachable moment. 🙂

    • Bryan Giese

      Super point! Clients often forget that a new system needs care and upkeep over time. Sometimes I think cloud based technology helps, but other times I’m not so sure.

      That makes me think of another tip: Build a relationship. If you have a good relationship with your implementation team, it will be easier to work with them in the future on the inevitable issues that arise.

  4. These concepts were gathered from our consultants over a span of six years experience. We asked ourselves what were the common cruxes that we experience in a standard Salesforce deployment and this is what we discovered. My personal favorite is be realistic. Time and time again solutions over emphasize features without setting expectations (to be fair it is not there job to do so). This of course creates frustration when client sees that although the feature exists it does not do it the way they envisioned. Be realistic…the solution may do what you need but the exact way you want it to be done.

  5. All great points! One thing I’d like to elaborate on is the “Be Available” point. It’s really important that you make time for this project, and that you are not depending too much on the consultant. One thing to remember is that the implementation is a project and you will have a part in reviewing the work, providing feedback, and taking on parts of the project. But once the project is complete, the consultant’s work is mostly done, and you now own the system. Therefore, it is in your best interest to be involved and engaged in a helpful way during the course of a project.

  6. I would add that Salesforce should support organizational strategy(ies). Along this lines of this post: http://theconnectedcause.com/are-salesforce-and-social-media-social/, without a strategy, it is difficult to appropriately configure Salesforce for an organization. Also, without a clear organizational strategy that is intended to be supported by Salesforce, the project will likely suffer in terms of the eight steps listed above.

  7. Bryan Giese

    Great tips, Rob. The one that resonates most for me has always been Stay Focused. It’s always fun and exciting to think of the great things that you can do when starting a project. But after you go through the full prioritization and decision making process, it’s imperative to keep focused on the defined goals of the project. So many projects fall into trouble with a simple “Couldn’t we just add…” statement. It’s trouble waiting to happen.

  8. Kim Kupferman

    I absolutely agree with all of these guidelines. It can be hard, within the course of an implementation, to keep an eye on the bigger goal when managing the daily details of a deployment. This list this is a good way to make sure things stay on track. However, it is also helpful to know when it is time to expand beyond the current project, or to recognize when the original project doesn’t address the underlying issues. When that happens, it is important to bring your consulting team in quickly to make adjustments to the scope, schedule, and yes, budget. Having the conversation earlier once the problem is identified creates a higher likelihood the project can pivot to address this newly identified focus. That will set the organization up to ensure the original goals of the project are met.

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