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How to (not) sabotage your Salesforce project

After working on thousands of Salesforce projects—including our own launch to over 1,200 of our employees—we’ve identified some common mistakes to avoid.

by Sara Tupac

The following Salesforce mistakes are easy to make, but will almost always result in a sub-optimal solution or unnecessary re-work.

Focus on “what” instead of “who” and “why”

It’s tempting to dive into a technology platform and get excited about new features and possibilities, but you’ll get much better results if you take a step back first. What is your true goal—the “why” of your project? What results do you want to achieve? What do your users really need? What will delight your customers? Establish, fully define, and prioritize that vision first. Then determine how the Salesforce platform can best help bring it to life.

Rush the discovery phase

Taking the time to understand all perspectives is critical for both internal alignment and long-term success. For a major transformation, you may need to “go slow to go fast.” But you might only need a few weeks—if your key players are fully engaged.

Slalom once built a Salesforce Community Cloud solution to help a restaurant business centralize hundreds of tasks associated with opening new franchise locations. Franchisees embraced the initial solution, but we later learned that it did not provide accurate estimates of open dates. Why? Because several key stakeholders didn't engage in the discovery phase. They gave us the spreadsheets they’d been using to manage disparate pieces of the process, but not their unique insights.

Duplicate your existing process

This might be okay if your process is extremely simple, but even the best process can usually be improved. Plus, if you force an old process into a new technology without thinking it through, you run the risk of an overly customized solution that’s difficult to maintain or scale. Over-customization is a prime reason why clients reach out to us for help with older Salesforce implementations.

Let’s look at the franchise story again. Once the stakeholders understood their missed opportunity, we returned for a brief engagement to fully consolidate the process. Together, we dramatically reduced the number of tasks required to open a new location, and we aligned them along critical paths that automatically adjust deadlines for supporting tasks and projects. Now, new locations open faster with accurate and transparent timelines.

Wait until launch to engage internal users

If you start at launch, adoption will be an uphill battle. Successful change management requires foresight and planning. Let your people know what’s coming and how it’s going to help them.

Provide steady, bite-sized communication leading up to launch. Consider video preview demos or “early look” sessions during development. The goal is to work through any change resistance early, so users are pumped up and ready to learn at launch.

Underestimate ongoing ownership

The more features you add, the more people you’ll need post-launch for training, data integrity maintenance, and technical support. Plan as generously as you can, and be prepared to adjust your plan if you get excited and add more functionality than you originally planned. We had to do this ourselves.

We also recommend a dedicated administrator within your organization to maintain a unified data model and manage roadmap priorities over time. That was the other missing link in our franchise story. At first launch, the client team didn't have a full-time administrator owning the solution and roadmap. With an experienced administrator on board, they were better equipped to realize the full potential of their solution.

By steering clear of these mistakes, you can make the most of Salesforce to achieve your business goals. 

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After implementing Salesforce for hundreds of clients, we launched Sales Cloud to over 1,200 of our own employees. Find out what we learned—and how it can benefit you—directly from our top sales leaders.
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