Salesforce implementations, additions, and upgrades are on the rise globally. Salesforce offers a clean and accessible interface, which has been pivotal in driving its popularity. As a result, Salesforce projects now extend across industries and companies of varying sizes.
With so many Salesforce implementations underway, it's not surprising to hear that some organizations struggle to achieve the results they need within their desired timeframe. The complexity of implementations depends on the size of the company, business requirements, industry, and existing platforms/data to merge or take over from. However, across implementations, there are five common mistakes that can lead to serious delays and poor results: inadequate cost assessments, unsuitable implementation partners, complicated requirements, underestimating data migration and integrations, and poor internal buy-in.
It’s easy for a team or a company to get ahead of themselves when it comes to implementing a new technology. They’ve committed to a solution and are excited to get going to achieve game-changing business outcomes through their new CRM or Salesforce add-ons. The anticipation of finally having an old, decrepit system replaced or new functionality added to support efficiency and accuracy can get easily everyone’s hopes up. However, many teams experience high levels of stress when it comes to assessing the cost of such a solution or functionality, and sometimes even breeze over this critical process.
Costs can come in a variety of shapes and forms for Salesforce implementations: budget, time and complexity. According to Salesforce, cost concerns extremely common. Lack of clarity around the real costs of a implementation can stunt a project’s success when unexpected expenditures and delays become a regular occurrence.
Timelines and processes should be developed ahead of the implementation to ease the stress and prevent unforeseen costs, whether they be in your budget, timeline or— ultimately— project’s success.
More often than not, Salesforce implementation teams will not be sourced internally. Even if the company is already running Salesforce in some capacity, in-house knowledge is unlikely to be able to carry out a full implementation or upgrade.
When a company decides to purchase or add to an existing Salesforce platform, it's important that the work is carried out by experts to get the results they need. The bidding or selection process to find the right partner—usually a consultancy or major systems integrator— can be lengthy and does not always result in the right choice if details are overlooked or generic sales pitches accepted. Major pitfalls with poor partners can play out over the course of the Salesforce implementation. Bad partners will not communicate well or fail to manage expectations when it comes to what is achievable within scope and budget.
A common complaint when it comes to implementation partners is the quality of consultants that are sent to assist and lead. Partners may send developers, who-- while highly skilled— are unfamiliar with SFDC, or just learning it. As core contributors to a successful implementation, it is crucial that developers and consultants sent by partners are highly skilled in Salesforce implementations and have the skills necessary to guide a Salesforce initiative.
So, how can companies select the right implementation partner? IDG sets the following guidelines to ensure help companies select the right partners for any implementation, Salesforce included.
- Conduct a rigorous RFP process that is more of a negotiation (and introduction) than a presentation.
- Innovation should be lead internally, rather than created by your partner. Do seek their input and guidance.
- Understand that price is not always a reflection of skill.
- Collect references and success stories from companies like yours or implementations like yours, who have worked with your partner.
- Test your partner on their commitment to timelines.
- Establish a relationship of trust and respect to maintain open lines of communication.
- Propose contractural guarantees for work completed to a standard.
Some organizations have enough in-house knowledge to support basic Salesforce projects. In this case, companies may opt for Salesforce freelancers to manage and support the Salesforce implementation internally. This tends to be another sustainable and budget-friendly option for organizations already running Salesforce.
Racing into a Salesforce implementation can be exciting and full of demands from the business. However, while Salesforce can offer a lot, it is still a platform that works within set parameters. Often, companies will require extensive customizations or extend complicated requests that Salesforce may not be able to deliver. These customizations and requests can lead to serious complications during implementation and user adoption.
A major complaint during implementations centers around necessary customizations. Customizations are well-known for generating bugs and inconsistencies. If the teams commit to customizations, they should be able to communicate the amended costs— whether it means bringing in a specialist Salesforce freelancer or longer development time. Bugs that are not fixed as a result of customizations will likely impact user buy-in, as users struggle to use the system as intended.
Migrating customizations from a previous CRM can also generate limited functionalities or delays. This should be communicated during the planning phase and reflect on the scope and timeline of the Salesforce implementation to avoid disappointment.
Sometimes complicated requirements and customizations cannot be avoided- this does not always indicate that the Salesforce implementation will be a disaster. It does, however, indicate the need for a strong business liaison or analyst, who is able to advise appropriately.
Often in Salesforce implementations, new features come to the forefront of a team’s focus, leaving data migration and integration as an afterthought. In reality, if data migration and integration are not prioritized at the outset, they usually get left behind causing major delays in following phases.
Integration with other running systems or platforms can be a particularly tricky area of any implementation and must be approached with foresight and experience. Integration specialists may be necessary and should be considered during early assessments.
Data migration should also be considered in early stages of a Salesforce implementation. Undoubtedly there will be a varied quality of data and any duplication or ‘dirty’ data should be addressed before implementation in order to achieve the best results. In order to facilitate this process, one person or team should be responsible for data maintenance.
When getting into the grit of a Salesforce implementation it’s easy to overlook a core element: the users. Often, user training is saved for the end and often lacks in substance to generate enthusiastic internal buy-in to the new or upgraded platform. User adoption is absolutely critical to the success of an implementation and should be taken seriously from the beginning.
A concerted effort should be made in the following areas to promote internal buy-in:
- Identify internal leaders who can promote Salesforce in their teams and drive go-live results;
- Seek user motivations, needs and struggles to incorporate core features into the project plan;
- Measure adoption among users past implementation;
- Conduct through key user training.
One of the biggest concerns with Salesforce implementations is the ultimate usage of the platform among company users. If the system does not work as intended or is littered with errors, this can be a real hurdle for user adoption. Ensure users are a core consideration throughout an implementation to yield the best results far past project close-out.
Despite the challenges of implementations, they remain widely popular. As demand grows in different Salesforce niches such as Marketing Cloud and Vlocity, end-users and consultancies alike will seek out experts in these areas. Salesforce freelancers who are able to assist organizations, avoid these core mistakes, and drive successful Salesforce implementations will not struggle to find exciting work at market-leading organizations.
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