So, you’ve successfully completed a Salesforce implementation? Congratulations! All of the time, effort, and money you and your team have spent over the last few months has landed you a shiny, new, powerful Salesforce instance and you couldn’t be more excited. But…now what? It’s time to look into creating a Salesforce post-implementation strategy.
You’ve got this killer new system in place, the adrenaline levels have returned to normal, and you’re left with massive expectations on your shoulders and no idea what to do next. Have no fear…that’s where a Post-Implementation Strategy comes into play.
What is a Salesforce Post-Implementation Strategy, you ask?
Think of it as your game plan to indoctrinate your organization into the brand new, custom CRM system that you’ve just designed and built, assist them in learning to utilize it, future-proof the system as you continue to improve upon it, design a release management plan for future modifications and architect a project roadmap for future enhancements.
Salesforce Post-Implementation Strategy
Does that sound like a lot? It is. But, let’s break the creation of a Salesforce Post-Implementation Strategy into four main areas of focus:
- Post-Deployment Budget
- User Adoption
- Release Management and Planning
Yes, the implementation of a new Salesforce instance required some serious resources; money, time, and people. However, many think that once the implementation is complete, the need for these resources ends. They couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, immediately after a new implementation is when companies are the most vulnerable and usually need the most resources focused on their Salesforce.
It’s time to develop and implement a post-deployment budget. You’re going to need money, time, and dedicated people to train employees to use the system, to increase user adoption, to modify, tweak and improve the system, and to plan for the future. Ideally, you have planned ahead and set some funds aside to support your project post-implementation. If you haven’t, now is the time.
Your new Salesforce instance is shiny, streamlined, powerful, and has many bells and whistles. But, what good is it if you can’t get your employees to utilize it? For your day-to-day users, your goal is to see them migrate from legacy technology to your Salesforce instance and utilize it to improve process efficiency and increase data capture. For Management, you want to see them use the system to easily pull reports and make informed decisions. As a major component of your Salesforce post-implementation strategy, the only way to achieve these goals is to increase user adoption.
Often, employees are averse to change and scared of the new. This could become a roadblock to getting users onto the system. However, with quality training and useful educational materials, you can help your employees overcome the hurdle of uncertainty. By explaining the value proposition of switching to Salesforce in a manner in which your employees can visualize the benefits they’ll glean from utilizing Salesforce, you’re more likely to nudge them towards the new system.
Achieving Executive buy-in, sponsorship and management are other very important methods for improving employee adoption. When Management is using the system, the masses are more likely to follow suit. Managing system usage will also help adoption. Create a company culture that revolves around something like “If it’s not in Salesforce, it doesn’t exist.”. This mantra and its repercussions usually help to inspire employees to utilize the new system, especially if their compensation is tied to the data that is to be input into the system.
Lastly, you should be implementing adoption measurements to gauge which users are adopting the new instance, what aspects of the system are being used the most frequently, etc. There are boilerplate Usage reports and Adoption dashboards that can be downloaded into your org and put in place to help identify the progress you’re making towards adoption. Like everything in Salesforce, user adoption is also trackable and reportable.
Some tactics you’ll want to consider to your users with adoption.
- Promotion: Generate some excitement about your go-live. Get your users engaged and excited about what’s to come prior to actually getting in Salesforce. Let them know what they can look forward to, to get excited about the platform.
- Training: Create a formalized training program or consider using Trailhead and assigning specific trails to users. Make sure the training is relevant to the end-user and their goals in using Salesforce.
- Reference Materials: You’ll want to consider creating reference materials to document the processes and resources to help users get acquainted with the system.
- End-User Support: Have a plan in place to offer support to employees. Decide whether or not you will dedicate a specific support resource or leverage your whole team.
- Communication: Consider creating a channel to collect end-user feedback, provide updates, and send information about what’s coming to Salesforce. Some organizations leverage chatter, an internal community, and even email to communicate information about Salesforce. If your organization has organizational-wide meetings, consider getting some time during this meeting, while having the organization’s attention, to talk about your implementation to create excitement.
As with any system, the more adoption you see over time and the more usage your new Salesforce gets, the more complaints you’ll receive, the more feature ideas you’ll hear, the more modifications will be needed, and so on. It is vital to put a process in place to capture, organize and review requests prior to making any changes to your instance.
As important as it is to welcome feedback from all users across the system, it is also as important to have a process for evaluating, prioritizing, and analyzing the feedback. Remember, one small change to one field in your Salesforce has the potential to break multiple objects, formulas, automations, reports, etc. Time needs to be spent investigating all modification requests as well as communicating reasonable expectations to the individuals who request the modifications.
Additionally, as part of your Salesforce post-implementation strategy, any changes you plan on making to your Salesforce instance should take the future plans for the org into account. This is where your project roadmap comes into play, which we’ll touch on in the next section. Also, the goal when modifying the system should always be to use as much declarative programming as possible. In other words, try to avoid coding and utilize click or drag-and-drop solutions whenever possible. This will allow for someone without coding knowledge to work on your system in the future, saving your company time and money down the road.
Release Management & Planning
At this point, you’ve got your post-deployment budget burning a hole in your pocket, you’ve got your employees to not only utilize Salesforce, but they’re loving it, and you’re collecting feedback on a regular basis, including problems, feature ideas and more, and have a process in place to review, analyze and prioritize them. What’s next? It’s time to put those post-deployment resources to work and to execute your release management and planning strategy.
Whether you have Salesforce resources in-house to handle user requests, system tweaks, org maintenance, etc. or if you outsource for this expertise, it’s imperative that you follow a rigid change management process to document any changes to the system and ensure that you minimize system downtime. Salesforce, itself, rolls out new releases three times per year, and your Salesforce resources need to remain on top of new features, changes to existing capabilities, and so on in order to maximize the utility and efficiency of your Salesforce instance. These resources also will most likely be called into action to assist with new user training and ongoing user support, so they’ll need to stay up-to-date on any modifications made to the system.
This is also the time for you to start planning the next phase of your Salesforce instance. Your Salesforce instance is like a living, breathing entity in that it should always be growing, improving, and fine-tuning. Hopefully, your initial implementation covered all of the required system necessities, but once things are humming along at your company and your processes are streamlined, planning for Phase II should begin. If you architected a project roadmap during the development of your initial implementation strategy, then you should be reviewing it and modifying it as your business environment and processes evolve. If you don’t have a project roadmap, there’s no better time than the present to create one.
Your Salesforce project roadmap should consist of solutions for the needs of all business units that will eventually utilize the system. It should solve for all software currently used by the company that can either be integrated into Salesforce, replaced by Salesforce, or plugged into Salesforce via an application in the AppExchange. New functionality, enhancements that add value, automations that can streamline processes or improve the user experience, etc. should all be factored into your project roadmap.
Once you’ve built and updated your project roadmap, it is time to select Phase II of your Salesforce Implementation Plan and begin the implementation cycle all over again! (And you thought you were finished…!)
If you’ve just gone live with your Salesforce implementation, be sure to check out this helpful post on what you need to do after implementing Salesforce. If you still have some questions feel free to reach out to us. Learn more about us, we’re an Austin based Salesforce Consulting partner, with a passion and belief that the Salesforce platform’s capabilities can help businesses run more efficiently and effectively. Thanks for stopping by the Roycon Salesforce blog, be sure to subscribe. Thanks for reading and as always, happy building!
Senior Business Systems Analyst
Dave, one of our talented Senior Business Architects, has over two decades of strategic planning and strategy work. With experience utilizing the system as an employee, as a consultant, as an administrator, and as an end-user, he has been offering a unique “big-picture”, strategic outlook to Salesforce instances for more than 10 years.