4 steps to successful salesforce implementation

Salesforce is powered with solutions to help all areas of business operations. With that comes many use cases and features that can make the implementation process seem overwhelming. 

It doesn’t matter whether your business is large or small—or what the scope of your Salesforce CRM project is—the key to any successful implementation requires planning, commitment, and strong indoctrination from internal teams. Mapping out your needs and goals, along with armring yourself to take on any challenges along the way, will set your business up for success at the beginning, through go-live, and beyond.

To gain maximum benefits from a Salesforce implementation project, let’s look at four ways to chart your course.

1. Getting Started

Before diving into an implementation plan, it’s important to clarify what matters most to your business, its people, your customers and the essence of their relationship with you. Begin by determining who you’re implementing for. Is it your sales team? Project management team? Customer success managers? Now that you know who it is for, ask: what are they trying to accomplish? Understanding that helps the whole team see beyond the challenge of learning a new system to the bigger picture — a more efficient sales process and a better-managed pipeline. Help them realize that Salesforce is more than just new software, it’s a new (and better) way of operating.

Next, have a clear timeline as part of your SOW and workflow, with major milestones like the project start date, estimated switch-over date, and Salesforce go-live date. Use a project management system to help you stay organized and on track so all parties are aware of projects and next steps. 

Most importantly, think through the optimal timeline for the project that will minimize business disruptions for go-live. Avoid too much automation or integrated systems at once – you can always add those later once everyone is using the new system effectively. 

2. Define Goals and Metrics

From the first step, we know broadly what we’re trying to accomplish with this new integration. Now it is critical to define the specific objectives and desired outcomes. For example, maybe the goal is to increase lead flow by 20 percent. Or maybe to reduce case time resolution by 25 percent. By defining goals and metrics, you have a tangible way to monitor the overall success of the implementation.

It’s vital to “crawl, walk, run” by keeping goals simple and attainable and then adding to your achievements down the line. The success or failure of your implementation is largely dependent on your end users. The platform provides the opportunity to transform your business and its inner workings, but the people using it must be on board. That transformation and customer success is attainable through Salesforce, but things stand the chance of going awry, so it’s important to be prepared. 

3. Challenges With Implementation

We refer to the 3 legged stool of implementation: people, process, and technology

The tech is the easy part. It’s the people that can pose the biggest challenge. After all, technology isn’t resistant to change, people are. Figuring out how to accompany them through this change so the project is successful becomes very important. 

Often where it can go sideways is if organizations lack internal champions. Often, implementation teams become very myopic. Some people just don’t know where or how to begin, or possess the appetite to tackle it. What happens frequently is there’s an evangelist from within who’s adamant about a particular technology, they spearhead the project, it goes great, then it fizzles—adoption decreases and things derail quickly. 

What we’ve learned is having a heavy emphasis on organizational change management as part of the implementation process is a must do. It’s necessary to make sure all Salesforce users fully understand why a certain system benefits them and their organization. Preparing the company for this kind of change by making all levels of the organization better able to deal with it may be as important as the details of the actual project.

Adoption is critical. You can create the perfect system, but if employees don’t use it, the company will not reach its desired results. Depending on the scope of the engagement, it may benefit to have specialists and staff overseeing the change management at the onset.

4. Making a Post-Implementation Plan

Making sure the wheels don’t fall off after a successful implementation is vital to its long term success. With Salesforce, you’re never done. Things are always ongoing with new releases and features rolling out, so buying into that ongoing evolution helps make the most out of the investment. 

As things evolve with more integrated features, you need to keep pace with everything that’s rolling out and revisit the system to address any challenges that may arise. With Salesforce’s regular releases (spring, summer, winter), they look to deliver new enhancements as soon as they have a baseline of functionality based on user feedback and use cases, so you will need to iterate as that new functionality becomes available. 

Your post-implementation plan should not just be about the technology, but about the people who use it. Be responsive to users’ questions and challenges. The key is communicating. Don’t make the mistake of assuming they’ll see the changes and execute accordingly. Communicate key changes, explaining why they’ve been made and how your respective teams need to adjust their Salesforce workflow.

Key Takeaways

A strategically planned and managed implementation unleashes the full potential of your Salesforce solution. The main focus in avoiding any pitfalls is to set up and customize the application so it works for your company’s unique needs and offers positive change. Implementing sensible and robust technology solutions directly contributes to the success and bottom line of the business. But this can only be achieved if you commit to revisiting and optimizing the application, refining metrics, and always keeping end users in mind.

If you need all-around assistance in Salesforce implementation, Forcivity’s experts will be glad to help. We provide the implementation of key Salesforce Clouds and are able to carry out the process from consulting to after-launch support of your Salesforce solution. Our consultants can help to build more engaging communities, improve customer support, guide you through new releases, and optimize your Salesforce technology investment. See how!

Steve Baines