Salesforce Implementation Guide
How to implement Salesforce CRM?
No matter how big or small your company—or the Salesforce CRM project—success requires planning, commitment, and strong sponsorship from your company’s executive team. It’s also critical that you understand the needs of your managers and users before getting started. Without a detailed understanding of these needs, it’s easy to go overboard in customizing the application just because it’s so easy.
Salesforce CRM Implementation Steps and Best Practices
You might be thinking to yourself, “I don’t need a consultant — my organization can handle an implementation, no problem.” That may very well be true, but unless you have the internal expertise and resources to handle a large-scale Salesforce implementation, it’ll likely take you a lot longer and cost more to self-implement. And, should things go wrong along the way, you won’t have the professional support you need to get your project back on track. All of this could result in a faulty implementation and a low ROI — so, why take the risk.
Let’s say you want to start with CRM implementation in your company or you want to consult your customer ask 3 Questions to yourself:
- What? – What is Salesforce CRM?
- Why? – Why is Salesforce CRM needed? how will it help you to achieve your goals?
- How? – how will you be able to make your project successful with the right kind of resources and process implementation?
Here are the 5 steps to a successful Salesforce implementation:
- Plan and prepare
- Set up and customize
- Deploy Salesforce CRM
- Drive adoption
- Continuously improve.
Step 1: Plan & Prepare
Planning is very crucial for the success of the Project. It has been a proven fact that Planning internally as a Customer becomes crucial for the success of the Project.
- Find an Executive Sponsor
- Team Structure / Resource Planning
- Set Metrics for Success
- Project Methodology
- Build a Project Plan
Find an executive sponsor
The executive sponsor lends their influence to the project by becoming its champion. According to Salesforce MVP and implementation expert, Tal Frankfurt, “Having that person’s full support and participation—from the planning stage until the go-live date and beyond—is absolutely critical.”
Team Structure/ Resource Planning
It is very important to organize a team and to know the resources needed before you start the implementation. This helps you better plan the implementation and lead toward success. The size and scope of your rollout will determine how many resources you need. However, all project teams should include the following participants:
- One or more system administrators – This person should be involved throughout the implementation and afterward. It’s important that the administrator understands the business processes and requirements from managers and users.
- A project manager – This person leads the implementation and makes sure the project tasks and overall timeline are on track
- One or more power users – These users help make sure your project will meet the needs of the end-users, including management. We also recommend that you use power users as first-line support. To fill that role, consider training these users first and then providing more in-depth training.
- One or more trainers – Trainers need to identify relevant materials from salesforce.com or develop custom training materials (such as quick-reference guides). You’ll need materials both for the initial implementation to onboard new users and once the application is live, for remediation or for new functionality.
- Implementation team – Are you capable of implementing it in-house or do you need a consultant? Make sure before you make a decision of implementing in-house you have all the salesforce expertise. Usually, an implementation team consists of a Developers, Configuration Engineer, Business Analyst, Solution Architect, Deployment Engineer.
Set Metrics for Success
It is very important to set a realistic goal and measurement of success.
You should approach CRM implementation with specific, measurable goals. These goals should be articulated before shopping for a CRM program even begins. Anyone who has taken a goal-setting seminar (and who in sales hasn’t?) knows about SMART goals, goals that are:
Your Salesforce CRM implementation will be an ongoing, living process. To get the most from your investment, it’s important to roll out functionality early and often. Start with small goals that track against your overall vision. We recommend that you “crawl, walk, run” by keeping your goals simple and attainable and then adding to your achievements.
The two most widely used approaches are the ‘waterfall’ and ‘scrum’ methodologies. The waterfall is the traditional, phased, sequential approach that may lead to a drawn-out implementation timeline. The scrum approach is to constantly build and deliver small units of functionality and revisit and refine them with each cycle.
Salesforce.com uses the more iterative scrum approach for its development. With Salesforce regular releases (spring, summer, winter) we deliver new enhancements as soon as we have a baseline of functionality and then build and refine the functionality based on user feedback and use cases. For example, Salesforce quoting module was first delivered as a pilot with limited functionality. Salesforce added additional functionality in the next release as a beta release. In the next release, Salesforce added even more features and made it generally available. Salesforce continues to add additional features as customers use quoting and let Salesforce know what you want.
Build a Project Timeline
Once you’ve chosen an implementation approach and prioritized all requirements, you can build the project timeline. Every timeline needs to include the time required to design, build, and deploy. Prioritization of requirements is also key to ensure any ‘must-haves’ are included in the first phase of rollout.
If you use a scrum approach, your timeline will consist of short iterations of the design, build, and deployment phases for a smaller set of requirements. With the waterfall approach, the design and build phase includes all requirements prioritized for the initial deployment. For both approaches, consider what tasks can be done in parallels, such as cleaning, mapping, and loading data.
Below points to Remember:
- Use Project Management tools like Smartsheet, Trello or Basecamp.
- consider each requirement and estimate the effort required.
- Plan Contingency.
- Current System Rollout plan
Define Business Process
The next step is to interview a subset of those team members, so you can gain a greater understanding of the pain points they experience on a day-to-day basis. These interviews will also give you an idea of what these teams want out of a Salesforce implementation — in other words, what features and functionality they think will bring them the greatest value. These interviews should occur at every level of business, from managers and stakeholders all the way down to end-users.
Let’s say, for example, that you talk to key members of your sales team and learn that they struggle to effectively qualify leads due to a lack of insight into each lead. As a result, your sales representatives consistently pursue the wrong leads, wasting time and resources in the process. Based on this conversation, you can identify both the problem and a potentially workable solution, such as implementing — or, if you already have one, upgrading — a customer relationship management (CRM) system so that your sales team can gain a true 360-degree view of each lead in the pipeline.
Interviewing key team members is a simple, yet effective way to figure out which business processes your Salesforce implementation project plan should focus on, as well as to ensure user adoption further down the road.
Step 2: Setup & Customize Salesforce CRM
Once you define your requirements, understand your data, and choose an implementation method, you’re ready to set up and customize Salesforce CRM. We recommend you keep the initial implementation simple and use the ‘click-not-code’ built-in configuration tools, rather than using Force.com code (Apex) and the functionality of the pages of the Force.com platform. As you get to experience with the application and feedback from your users, consider how to enhance the application with those tools.
Define early how to customize the application. For example, if you need multiple record types for an object and field-level security, identifying that need helps as you create new custom fields and associate them to the correct record type, page layout, and security level in the wizard.
Be careful not to over-configure. For example, one customer created many new fields on its contacts page, which meant users had to scroll—a lot. As a result, they didn’t fill out many fields and the company had started over with designing that page.
Here’s a suggested approach for setting up and customizing Salesforce CRM:
- Define the security settings – Include the organization’s wide-defaults, roles, and user profiles. Test those settings by logging in with different roles and profiles. Make sure each user type can see, create, and edit information as needed, that the fields are in the right order, and that critical fields are required. Another important step is mapping all the roles to the users who will be added to the system, to ensure all users are associated with the correct roles when you go live.
- Customize the application – Create custom fields, page layouts, custom objects, custom tabs, rules, and other application customizations based on the design for each requirement to meet the business needs.
- Create your reports – We recommend that you start with the standard reports and customize them as needed to show the information you defined in the planning stage. You can easily customize reports to include any custom fields you need.
Step 3: Deploy Salesforce CRM
Once you feel confident in the solution and the architecture, and your users seem to like it, you’re ready to prepare for go-live.
Prepare Go Live:
- Move your entire configuration to a full sandbox environment to see how it performs under large data volumes. A full sandbox — as opposed to a partial or developer sandbox — is a test environment that contains an exact replica of your production data (customer information, deals, and so on). This enables you to simulate how your configuration will run in a production environment, so you can identify and resolve potential issues such as heat barriers, runtime errors, latency, and downtime prior to go-live.
- Develop a go-live checklist. This list should include all of the pieces you’ve configured, all of the data transformations that need to occur, and all of the integrations that need to be rebuilt in your production environment. Ascribe an order to this list so that when the time comes to deploy the implementation, everything is deployed in the correct order. There are a lot of dependencies in Salesforce, and certain configurations can’t be deployed before others. The go-live checklist should also identify the method of deployment you intend to use.
Communicate to End Users:
It’s important to communicate early and often, so users know about coming changes. Communication should come from the executive sponsor and focus on both the benefits to the company and what’s in it for the users. Build excitement and set expectations. As the deployment draws nearer, outline the deployment plan, including when users will be trained and how they’ll be supported.
Before loading your production data, first load all users. You can load users manually, one at a time, or with the data loader functionality. We recommend you first load all users and data in a sandbox environment before loading the final set of data into your production environment. (Unlimited Edition includes sandboxes; for all other editions, you can purchase sandboxes for an additional fee. Please contact your account executive for more information.)
If you load users with the data loader, the password notification is not automatically sent out. That’s good because you don’t want to send out passwords until users have been trained and you’re ready for them to log in. If you add users manually, you can select whether the user is notified.
Develop a Change Management Process
Change management is an essential part of any implementation because it tells your constituent base what to expect, invests in the project, and empowers them for success. For example, if you’re making upgrades to your existing Salesforce implementation, your change management strategy should communicate to end-users how long Salesforce will be down — or, better yet, eliminate downtime entirely — and how they should track data until they’re able to log back in. If you’re deploying Salesforce for the very first time, your change management strategy should explain to end-users how they’ll benefit from the new systems and which training courses they should take to get up to speed.
It’s also essential to get executive leadership involved in the change management process.
Because data is loaded at a specific time, the transition will be easier if the data load is as close to deployment as possible. Be sure you schedule enough time to map and test the data. Here’s a summary of the steps involved in importing data:
- Plan your data import
- Prepare your data
- Test the import
- Execute the import
- Validate your data
Note: If users are still entering data into an existing system after the initial data load but before the go-live or cutover, there may be a set up “delta” data set. You’ll need to import or manually load that data and incorporate it into any training exercises.
Training end-users is key for the adoption of the tool. If you have a sandbox environment, you can train end-users around the same time you load your data. Use a subset of data—or data developed specifically for training—and plan training with hands-on exercises as close as possible to the go-live date. The sooner users can begin to use the application, the better; that way they can get immediate help in response to any questions. Create a Training plan with details as mentioned in the Salesforce tips
Step 4: Drive Adoption
CRM adoption is positively correlated with sales success Once you’re up and running, it’s critical to get your users on board. To do so, it’s important that you support your users, measure adoption, and encourage adoption.
Three other characteristics in addition to advanced CRM that must be in play for a sales organization to be successful:
- Sales processes must be formal and dynamic.
- Sales processes need to be adopted by the organization’s sellers.
- Customer relationships should reflect salespeople as strategic advisors or trusted partners.
Measuring adoption is critical, both immediately after go-live and over time. Set up usage reports and use adoption dashboards to track progress right from the start. You’ll find adoption dashboards on the AppExchange.
Step 5: Maintain the System
As salesforce release 3 times a year and brings really cool features that will help you to take your implementation at the next level and improve as you use it.
Once your users are in Salesforce, you want to keep them there. That’s why inspiring CRM adoption is so important. Your post-implementation plan should not just be about technology, but about the people who use it. Be extremely responsive to users’ questions and challenges, and try to support them in real-time. Refer them to your documentation and add their questions to your feedback list if you haven’t addressed it in your documentation.
Once Salesforce CRM is live, a new cycle of planning begins for the next phase, as you make available new functionality to add value and respond to user requests. Release management should begin as soon as possible after the initial deployment. This approach will also let end users know that you’re addressing their needs and requests.
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All the Best 🙂