Avoid the Pitfalls
Seven Tips For Implementing Salesforce.com
Resist Going Backwards
You made a decision to invest in Salesforce.com because your current systems and processes didn’t work as effectively as your business demands. But when faced with design questions, many people tend to revert to what they know. Try to resist the urge to make Salesforce.com look, feel and work like your old systems that didn’t work for you in the first place. Now is the time to reinvent, and position your business for the success it deserves.
Find The Right Implementation Partners
We all look for a bargain, but when it comes to the future of your business, you should not take a gamble on a partner just because they offer the best price. Whether you are looking for a business analyst to help draw up requirements, a developer to build out the application, or an integration partner, it pays to do your homework. What is their experience? Do they have references? What makes them stand out from the thousands of others working in their space? This step should be no different than the time you take to interview and hire a permanent employee. Doing the necessary diligence up front will reduce the risks and costs that tend to pile up when a hasty decision is made.
Analyze Your Data
If your plan is to migrate data from your existing systems to Salesforce.com, it pays to take the time to determine what data you really need. The number of records, how it’s formatted, and the overall quality of the data will be factored into the size of the lift that will be required to format and import the data into Salesforce.com. More often than not, new customers tend to feel they need everything, and go through considerable time and effort to get data loaded, only to realize after the fact that they could have lived with a subset of what they paid to import.
Don’t Forget Analytics
This is one of the most common traps companies fall into during an implementation. The primary focus tends to be on data entry and user experience, and little attention is paid to the reports and dashboards management needs to measure success and run the business. More often than not, this is a critical mistake that is only discovered after go-live, and can be costly to go back and redesign in an attempt to address it. Technical design needs to consider the analytical needs of the business, and the data model in Salesforce.com needs to be constructed to support what needs to be measured. Testing plans should also include validation of all of the reports and dashboards required, to ensure the data model is set up properly to maximize analytical output.
Plan For The Future
While your goal may be to get Salesforce.com up and running as soon as possible, your planning and design should always include some insight into where you want to take the platform in the future. Since the Salesforce.com application is open to custom development, many customers tend to think that custom code is the best way to get exactly what they want. But straying too far from out-of-the box Salesforce.com features and functionality often ends up being both costly and growth prohibitive. In many cases, custom code will require developer hours to make even the simplest of changes. Many of the enhancements Salesforce.com makes in their regular releases are designed to work with the native platform. If your solution is custom-built, this can mean even more developer hours. Want to expand use of the platform via add-on applications off the AppExchange? Most are designed to work with the out-of-the-box application, and may or may not work with a custom-designed platform. The point is that most of the future potential of the Salesforce.com application comes from keeping things simple and standard. It’s also the most cost-effective way to manage and maintain your Salesforce.com footprint.
Test, Test, Test
This can’t be stressed enough. Salesforce.com offers Sandbox environments for a reason. Everything should be tested, all fields, all rules, all business scenarios. A member of each user group should test changes impacting their area. This is not only the best way to find issues before go-live or change release, but will help determine if you got it right during the requirements phase. Often users cannot envision how the platform will look and feel based on written documentation, and they need to be “hands on” before they can understand if something works or doesn’t. You don’t want this realization to occur after you’ve gone live. Taking the time to test - and test properly - is as important as the design itself, and the business should require this step as part of any Salesforce.com implementation. And don’t forget to test analytics, as noted above.
We hope some of these tips will help you plan and execute a successful Salesforce.com implementation. In the event you get stuck, DPM Technology Solutions offers more than 13 years of Salesforce.com professional experience. Our services run the spectrum of Salesforce.com skills, and are scalable to any size business in every industry.
Know What You Want
It sounds easy enough. You got this far because you determined that your current process and systems aren’t working, and you chose to go with Salesforce.com in order to boost your success. It’s a good first step, but your work is far from finished. A good set of business requirements is an essential ingredient in the recipe for success. This step should occur before any configuration or development work is started. At this point, you don’t have to worry about how you’ll get there, just define what you want as a business. Get all essential parties into a room, then discuss and agree upon your business process and objectives for the implementation. What are your needs? What can’t you live without? How might your business processes change as a result? What data do you need to migrate? How will you measure success? These are just a few of the questions you might ask, but aligning your business partners in advance will result in one set of marching orders that will help position the application to best serve your needs.