As a Salesforce Partner, we are often asked about best practices around Salesforce projects. While every engagement is different, we think there are a few pillars that reduce risk and drive success:
- Defining a Vision
- Initial Engagement Scope
- Change Management
- Get Help
If you get these right, you’ll be able to significantly increase your probability of success.
Defining a Vision
Know where you are going in order to take the most efficient and meaningful path to your destination. It is important that everyone involved understands the vision for your Salesforce solution. This means your executive team, your managers, your users, your internal tech team, and your Salesforce Partner.
While you may not be tackling everything all at once, the people building your solution will be able to keep in mind what is coming and help to define a path forward based on what should come before what in a phased plan.
Agreeing on one vision for your staff ensures the importance of Salesforce today and into the future is well communicated.
Initial Engagement Scope – One Large or Many Small
Once you have a vision it is going to be important to define how big the initial solution should be. It’s tempting to look to implement everything all at once but attempting to do so could risk delaying the value of the solution for months.
The first engagement is really about what we call “parody plus.” Parody refers to what you have in place today that the users need in order to do the most important aspect of their jobs tomorrow. This does not mean every one of the old solution features. “Plus” refers to the main drives that pushed you to get a new solution in the first place. Perhaps it is a new process that needs to be managed. Again we said main drivers not every aspirational hope and dream you have for the new solution. These important parody and plus features are what is considered the bare minimum work to be completed. In the tech space, this is referred to as the Minimal Viable Product, or MVP.
So, why should we drive toward MVP? What about all the other reasons and initiatives that the new solution was meant to drive for us? Limiting the initial scope to just an MVP will allow you to focus on getting the new solution in as quickly as possible. This approach will help you get to value more quickly by:
- Reducing initial scope, training and change management
- Limiting scope leads to better quality
- Allow your team to have day jobs to have less to worry about when you limit your scope
- Limiting scope reduces the risk, impact from mistakes, and most importantly corrective action.
Some of the greatest takeaways from an MVP approach are the learning that your organization takes aways. You now really understand the new solution, its capabilities, and how to use it. This allows you to be a better advocate for yourself while increasing the business user’s ability to talk more specifically about what they need.
Getting the users onto the solution sooner rather than later allows them to provide feedback that can be incorporated in the very next release. This, in turn, increases the rate of change and adoption all of which impact the value of the solution. Users who are heard and see their requests being implemented will continue to use the solution.
Starting with an MVP also signals to your users that changes and additions will happen in the future, this frees them to focus on the most important features now and eliminates the everything and the kitchen sink for fear of missing out that only doing one major release invokes.
It was mentioned above but it deserves its own space, the success of any new solution comes down to how well your organizations and ultimately the users can handle change. This includes both the fear of change and the simple act of communicating, training, and coaching that is needed anytime a change is present. When we talk about change everyone seems to focus on the main users, but let’s not forget the managers, executives, and IT staff that will need to support the new application.
The focus on just an MVP really means that there is less to learn, train on, and support when everything is new.
Finally, if you want to protect your investment and reduce long-term risk, it comes down to proper care and feeding. Create a document on who, how, and when you are going to care for your new solution. You should make sure that everything important goes into a Governance plan.
This plan can be as simple or as complex as needed but the most important aspect of it is ensuring the solution stays healthy. Decisions are made to make the vision come true and who is going to make sure the solution is used and that the data is accurate.
Don’t stress by taking on the implementation of a critical business application. A good partner can help you avoid the common pitfalls, traps, and issues that we have already experienced. A good partner can help you build a better foundation for your solution. This ensures that year after year your solution can be expanded upon.
And finally, a good partner can help you get to value more quickly.
There is a time, place, and best practice around when and how your team should contribute and take over. Lean on your partner for how best to do this. Have a vision, consider iterating over time, know the importance of change management, and have a governance plan for long-term maintenance.
In the end, Salesforce is a great tool, but only if aligned with your needs, is stable and can scale. Nothing frustrates users more than a solution that does not help them do their jobs better. Nothing frustrates executives more than paying for solutions that the users don’t like and don’t use.