Successful implementation of Salesforce in a business holds the key to unlocking its benefits such as improved sales, service, team collaboration, and overall operational efficiencies. Salesforce’s comprehensive features and customizable nature extends its appeal in a wide range of industries. Effective usability of the platform depends on how it is configured across verticals, such that the implementation stands the best chance of success. This said a lot rides on the engagement of the right partner who has experience with similar businesses.
“Consulting and Services segment revenue of Salesforce also grew at a high rate. It increased from $0.6 billion in 2017 to $0.9 billion in 2019. Trefis estimates further growth and Revenue to reach $1.1 billion and $1.2 billion in 2020 (ended Jan 2020) and 2021 (ended Jan 2021), respectively”-Forbes.
These numbers go on to prove that Salesforce can truly transform the way businesses are run if and only if the first step of consultation and planning is done right. The implementation phase that follows this carefully executed step can systematically automate tedious tasks, give a 360-degree view of customers, and supercharge the productivity of the sales and service teams.
Before everything review the existing business situation and define goals and expectations-
An important prerequisite before the process of Salesforce implementation begins is a thorough assessment of the current business process to identify inadequacies. More particularly focus on the processes that have been failing for years, or the labor-intensive ones are required. Identifying business requirements early on is imperative to a successful Salesforce implementation. Further understanding the scope of the project before one embarks on it and the resolve to stick to it is important. A project needs to be based on clear cut and focused goals right at the beginning; it cannot snowball into something bigger and messier with a whole lot of additional requirements. This will not only throw the whole thing off balance, but can also blow up the budget warping timelines along the way.
Since large amounts of data are stored across multiple applications in legacy systems, the challenge of access and managing such data can be daunting-this is the primary challenge that Salesforce implementation seeks out to address.
First things first.
A quick recap of how Salesforce implementation benefits businesses–
- It aligns Salesforce adoption goals with their long term business strategy.
- Brings about a customer-centric attitude
- Prioritizes gathering insights from business data—by running reports for informed business decisions to be made
- Eliminates manual tasks by automating business processes through defined workflows.
- Works on better data administration in the long term.
Businesses especially the IT team must try and understand that Salesforce CRM implementation involves team effort as well as collaboration across departments and stakeholders. The implementation plan needs to be communicated to all concerned teams and stakeholders for preparation that may be required by the involved team as well as updating the whole organization on changes regarding the new business process. Now with these fundamentals in place, let us look at the next steps that lead up to a successful Salesforce implementation for a given business.
Steps that define a successful Salesforce implementation
With the mentioned prerequisites in place, here is how the business should ideally proceed-
1. Assess resource dependencies and if they are in sync with objectives
It is important to organize the team as per the size and scope of the rollout of the project. Ideally, all project teams should include the project champion- his/her unstinted support should drive the project from start to end and beyond. One or more system administrators will be involved throughout the implementation and later also- the administrator is expected to understand business processes and requirements from managers and users and translate them into usability. A project manager is the next who leads the implementation and ensures that project tasks are on track and timelines are met and on track. Power users who help make sure that the project meets the needs of end-users, including management. Trainer can either identify relevant materials from salesforce.com or develop custom training materials.
2. Choose the right implementation approach- Waterfall or Scrum
Salesforce.com uses the more iterative scrum approach for its development owing to its regular version updates and releases. Many enterprise Salesforce customers start with the waterfall approach for the initial release and then proceed to using a more agile approach, scheduling regular major and minor (for example, monthly releases. Weigh parameters and then pick and choose the approach that suits your business the best.
3. Work on project timelines after choosing implementation approach
Every timeline needs to include the time required to design, build, and deploy and therefore requirements need to be prioritized accordingly. Please note that in the scrum approach, the timeline will consist of short iterations of the design, build, and deployment phases for a smaller set of requirements. In the case of the waterfall approach, the design and build phase will include all requirements prioritized for the initial deployment. For both approaches, consider the tasks that can be executed in parallel such as data clean-up loading and mapping. Adopt a systematic approach based on requirements and efforts required to implement the same. Explore out-of-the-box functionality or if custom development or integration is required. Now this will help determine the timeframes required to implement requirements. Additional factors such as when the existing system gets pulled off etc. also play a role in Salesforce implementation.
4. Setting up and customization of the Salesforce CRM
Once the above steps are in place, it is advisable to keep the initial implementation simple and use the “click-not-code” built-in configuration tools, as against using Force.com code (Apex) and the functionality of the pages of the Force.com platform. Post using the application and user feedback, the same can be enhanced with additional tools with clarity on how the application needs to be customized. Bear in mind factors such as the security settings based on organization-wide-defaults, roles, and user profiles, testing of the same, and map the required roles in the right order covering all critical fields. Remember to create custom fields, page layouts, custom objects, tabs, rules, reports, and other application customizations based on the design for each requirement to meet the business needs.
5. Deployment of the Salesforce CRM
Now the roadmap to this are the timelines defined in the planning stage; the first phase in this step will be to get the instance of Salesforce CRM “production-ready” .(by creating and adding users, loading your data, and training users). From here on communication performs a crucial role carried out by the designated resource focusing on changes and the related benefits as well as on the deployment plan and training schedules. It is recommended that all users and data are loaded in a sandbox environment before loading the final set of data into the production environment. Work on a plan for data import, assigning users, and passwords along with training with hands-on exercises as close as possible to the go-live date. The sooner users begin to use the application, the better for they can get immediate help in response to queries. Once users are trained and begin using the app, the support process and answering sessions need to be organized as and when required.
- Encourage adoption and drive usage of reports and dashboards to track usage and then use that information to understand points that need improvement.
- Manage releases post the Salesforce environment becoming live- This helps the business to get ready for a new cycle of planning for the next phase if need be. This way users understand that the business is ready to make available new functionality thus adding value and respond to user requests. Release management should begin as soon as possible after the initial deployment. This approach will also let end users know that their needs and requests are being addressed.
The all innovative, cloud-based Salesforce CRM carries a whole load of possibilities that ensure better business growth for organizations of all kinds. The actual challenge lies in implementing the system successfully for which the role of the right Salesforce consultation and implementation partner is crucial.
AppShark is both a Salesforce Gold Consulting Partner and a Product Development Partner based in Dallas, Texas. Our implementation process which includes customization, set up, and configuration – has been perfected through the many years served in the Salesforce industry. We also provide software integration services including strategy, development, and management to enable a continual flow of information from the cloud, premise to premise, or from cloud to premise platforms.