September 3, 2019
Revamp or Start Fresh? Planning Your Salesforce Implementation
Posted by Lu Bai
As you plan a Salesforce upgrade such as adding Field Service Lightning or Service Cloud, you have to factor in a number of considerations to design the best approach. In some cases, you may decide that a total replacement makes more sense than upgrading a Salesforce organization that’s not meeting your company’s needs.
Some of the common problems that can inspire companies to think about upgrading or replacing their Salesforce org are issues with data integrity (including duplicate or manual processes), process automation, third-party add-ons, system integration, and insufficient or non-existent documentation.
While it’s tempting to launch an upgrade to address performance issues, it’s important to first invest the time to review the existing org thoroughly to understand what’s wrong, the best way to fix any issues, and the most effective project delivery methodology to ensure a smooth transition.
Identify Performance Problems
In some instances, data and performance issues can prevent you from upgrading your Salesforce org effectively. For example, a life sciences client of ours discovered during this plan-and-analyze phase that a lack of documentation and improper system design — along with integrity issues with historical data and a lack of Salesforce administration governance — would prevent them from adding Field Service Lightning and Service Cloud to their existing Sales Cloud implementation.
In this situation, starting over with a fresh implementation allowed the company to clean their data internally before they uploaded it to a new Salesforce org in its raw format. This ensured compatibility and allowed the company to include the Field Service Lightning and Service Cloud functionality in the new org.
Deciding how to approach an implementation — whether it’s an upgrade or replacement project — requires detailed discussions among business and technology leaders, end users and your implementation partners to address basic questions such as:
- Why are we going through this implementation?
- What are we trying to achieve?
- Are we ready?
- Have we gathered enough requirements internally to hand off to our consulting partner?
This stage will often uncover performance issues such as:
- Redundant and manual processes to enter data
- Data integrity issues that require time and manual effort to correct
- Excessive triggers and apex code with little reference on business justification
- Inappropriate usage of standard objects
- Overuse of record types and custom fields
- Lack of documentation for existing customizations
The project analysis phase also involves gathering requirements down to the user story level, which means defining what the key employees who use Salesforce do every day. A user story includes three main pieces of information: the user’s role, what they need to do, and the function they are supporting.
These user stories will help you make key decisions while the implementation is being designed, determine development milestones and, ultimately, understand whether an implementation is successful.
It’s also important to include change management and user training in your implementation plan. Helping users understand what’s being implemented, the problems and processes you’re working to correct, and the best way to use the new org will all be important in mitigating risks and driving user adoption.
You should also pay attention to leading industry practices — such as making sure a Field Service Lightning implementation is FDA compliant, and automating data exchange between your CRM and ERP systems — as well as any regulatory considerations. For instance, a medical device company must track the components it purchases and the products it ships, as well as products that are returned or repaired. Salesforce, Field Service Lightning and Service Cloud can help with these tracking requirements.
Choosing a Methodology
Once you determine the goals for your implementation project, the next step in the planning process is deciding how you’re going to approach the initiative.
In general terms, most technology implementations fall into one of two project management frameworks: waterfall or agile. The waterfall framework calls for defining your requirements in the earliest phase of a project, building and testing features to meet those requirements, training users, and deploying the software.
Waterfall offers a “big bang” approach that’s best suited for situations where you understand your organization’s requirements and don’t expect significant issues or design changes as the software is implemented.
The agile framework, in contrast, is more of a “define as you go” approach in which different elements of a project are developed in short periods known as sprints. A need is defined, features are developed and deployed, and the overall project continues with a focus on a different feature or aspect.
The agile framework is best suited for situations where the company’s requirements aren’t understood as clearly, or it needs to correct specific aspects before continuing with an upgrade. With some projects, problems emerge during the implementation phase that require the company and its implementation partner to change priorities mid-stream. The agile framework offers the flexibility to shift the project’s focus in response to newly discovered needs.
Some implementations are best served with a hybrid approach in which an overall design is developed under a waterfall methodology, but the implementation phase follows a series of agile sprints (this was a successful approach for our life sciences client’s implementation). This hybrid blends waterfall’s big-picture project design with the flexibility and frequent communication more typically associated with agile implementations.
Comparing these methods and choosing one (or the best features of both) provides an important framework that will, in turn, influence your project planning and the ultimate success of your Salesforce upgrade or replacement.
Lu Bai is Armanino’s Salesforce consulting practice leader. She has more than eight years of Salesforce solutions and implementation experience and is a certified Salesforce administrator and sales cloud consultant. Lu specializes in consulting clients for Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, CPQ, Communities, Digital marketing automation, optimizing system utilization, change management and user adoption.