Saturday, September 19, 2015

Struck By Lightning, Now What?

We have all seen the new Lightning user interface by now and while it currently effects the way sales teams and admins interact with Salesforce, we can start planning for a broader implementation right now.  Lightning provides for a modular page layout that we can configure for our own processes and dynamic components including a Kanban board layout and interactive charts, among a lot of other cool features.  And it represents a big change in the way users can view and interact with data in Salesforce, whether sales users today or every user as new releases become available.

As you consider rolling these new features out to users, here is one process you might consider:

Step 1, Learn

Trailhead offers learning modules to help
with smart implementations.
Recruit some super users to play with Lightning Experience in a Sandbox.  Find enthusiastic users that you know will have exciting ideas, but also have at least one of the more reluctant users.  If you have a user who is just not that into Salesforce, this could be a good opportunity to win them over by listening to what they need and letting them effect change.

As an admin/developer, start learning about Lightning App Builder in Sandbox or in a developer org.

Of course, everyone should go through Trailhead modules related to Lightning.  End-users might want to start with the features module.  Admins and developers both can start creating apps to become familiar with features and limitations.  At Dreamforce 2015, there were already 17 Trailhead learning modules available that you could find with the Lightning tag filter.

If you have not set up a CoE (Center of Excellence or Success Committee) in your company to bring together representatives of each department using Salesforce, this would be a good time to put that group together and start planning as a team how to bring Lightning to users in each department.

Evaluate some of the Lightning Components from the AppExchange and see if there are any quick wins you can bring to your users or inspiring solutions that may already be available.

Keep mobile in mind as well.  The Lightning user interface works well across all devices and if you have not considered the mobile user experience, this is a great time to learn more about it as well.

Step 2, Plan

Meet with your super users and your CoE to workshop ideas about what may be the best way to design page layouts but make it clear that this is a way to gather ideas, not all of which can be implemented right away. This is a time for generating wish lists rather than worrying about actual final product.  Let users dream up their ideal page layouts but keep realistic expectations, their ideal may be unattainable, but it should help you understand their needs and goals to work towards a better middle ground.

Give each user paper and have them draw out what they would like their page layouts to look like now that they have seen what could be possible with Lightning.

After you give users a chance to draw up their own ideas, give groups of users who perform the same job function the chance to work as teams to combine their ideas on a whiteboard or, better yet, on a poster board you can keep as a reference.  Try to have multiple groups of users each create a board and then have the groups come together and discuss why they designed the page layout on their board the way they did.  As they discuss their ideas, they may want to make changes and you should be able to discover some of the most important concerns and requests.

During the planning phase, admins and developers at your company should also conduct a workshop, or internal hackathon.  Create a new Sandbox Idea Factory where they can put together ideas that they think might benefit the company or the individual user experience as well as ideas that simply interest them as a challenge.  This is a great place to promote creativity and inspiration and bank resources that may come in handy for development.

Step 3, Develop

Create a project plan that merges the most workable options from your Idea Factory with the most desired and manageable requests from user workshops.

Keep the channels of communication open as you execute this project plan.  Whether you use Agile or other project management methodologies, it is important to make sure everyone understands the immediate goals as well as the more long term goals.

Keep meeting with your CoE to make sure they are behind the development efforts and aware of timeline, progress and roadblocks.  You want to ensure that the users are kept in the loop during the development cycle so that they don't feel forgotten or get the wrong impression that their ideas from the workshop were merely dismissed.

Make sure your super users from the learning phase are still involved with user acceptance testing and helping with creation of training materials and best practice guidelines as you develop those as well.

Step 4, Implement

Now for the fun part!  With the support of your super users and your CoE, start rolling out your customizations to users. Make sure they have the training and support they need for a good start with your custom Lightning user interface.

Step 5, Evaluate

Listen to your CoE to discover what worked well in the process and determine what changes you can make to these steps before beginning the process again.  When you start the next learning phase, you might consider introducing your users to some of your favorite ideas from your internal Idea Factory as well as new Salesforce features they may not be using yet.

This initial Lightning release affords us all time to work with users and plan how to meet their needs. If we start now, we can create a process that will make transitioning to the new user interface a chance to impact user adoption as well.

This is just the beginning.  With three releases a year, Salesforce will have more features coming available so keep your Idea Factory Sandbox active to give admins and developers a place to challenge themselves and stretch the capabilities of the org.  And let your CoE continue to support project planning and generate enthusiasm among end-users.

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