Monday, February 10, 2014

The Very Beginner's Guide To Your Salesforce Implementation

For smaller organizations just getting started with Salesforce, the possibilities it offers can seem overwhelming.  But it is not as challenging as it seems if you make sure you have a plan.

Prepare to dive in!

7 Considerations for a Salesforce Implementation

1.  Find your data.  Talk to every department and ask them what data they share and where they store it.  Some people find their own solutions and you may discover stores of data you didn't even know existed.  You may be surprised by how many different places the same data is being stored by different departments using different ways to store and work with the same data.  Don't forget to review what's on your website as well.

2.  Get to know your data.  When you are confident that you have located everything, compare what different departments are storing.  Where is the overlap, and where can you suggest more avenues to share information.  This is also your chance to start looking for bad data, duplicates, missing information and inconsistent data values. 

3.  Familiarize yourself with Salesforce features.  Get to know how different data objects, like Contacts and Accounts, interact.  Look at the data sharing, security and permissions options.

4.  Start a dialogue with potential users.  If you can set up a committee to drive implementation success, you should include not only the individuals who might be enthusiastic supporters, but also the ones who may be your biggest detractors because they can both help you create a solution that works best.  You should be talking with decision-makers and super-users who will be spending the most time using Salesforce. 

5.  Create a three part plan.  Part 1:  which business processes need to be addressed first and foremost?  Can you pick a smaller project that can be rolled out quickly to have a big impact and get users active right away?  Part 2: how will you configure your data in Salesforce?  If you are migrating from a different database, this is your chance to reconsider whether the data model works.  Part 3: how will you get users onboard?  Have your training and support processes well thought out and take advantage of Salesforce features that enable users to look for the information and help they need while they are in Salesforce.  Think about what best practice documents you will need to produce for users and start them during the planning process.

6.  Try everything out with a Sandbox.  Once you commit to using Salesforce and they convert your trial org to a production org, you can set up Sandboxes to test out all of your plans.  You can customize Salesforce and load samples of your data in a Sandbox to
determine how well everything works together before rolling changes out to all of your users.  You can even have your committee review and approve the final implementation plan after they've seen it in action in the Sandbox.

7.  Look at third-party applications on the AppExchange.  If you have a particular business process you would like to address with Salesforce, look at its native functionality first and consider how much customization you are able to do yourself, but also take a look at existing solutions.  You can install applications in a Sandbox to test them and make sure you find them easy to use for your particular needs. You can also use the AppExchange to find developers and consultants to assist you along the way.

Regardless of whether you plan to hire a consultant or do all the work in-house, keep in mind these seven considerations to help make your Salesforce implementations go more smoothly. 

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