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The Ultimate Salesforce Delivery Machine [Part 4]: Communicating Change to Optimize Value

“Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.”  
– Fyodor Dostoevsky 

We conclude our Ultimate Salesforce Delivery Machine series with a look at an important topic: communicating change effectively. If you’ve missed our previous articles, we recommend reading Part 1Part 2, Part 3(a), Part 3(b) and Part 3(c).

Almost as important as delivering value release after release is relaying that value to your organization. If no one but you and a select group of people know how to take advantage of the great functionality your team delivers, then what was the point? 

Many organizations struggle to maintain a release strategy – not due to a lack of technical skill or planning – but because they overlook the importance of communicating concisely.  

The risk of neglecting a communication strategy is that it can result in a lack of adoption, improper use of the system, poor team performance and an inaccurate depiction to upper management about the importance of the Salesforce team.  

This is why establishing a communication strategy is so important to the release process. 

More reasons to be deliberate about a formal communication strategy

  1. It solidifies the Salesforce Team’s value. Users are reminded someone is behind the curtain thinking about their business and working hard to resolve pain points. 
  2. It increases adoption. Users feel like their voices are being heard and that there is an open dialogue with the Salesforce team. They’re also aware of what to expect and how to interact with new features. 
  3. It eases change resistance. Since users are notified of new features and are aware of how it helps them, they won’t be ‘surprised’ and as resistant to change. 
  4. It magnifies receptiveness. Having a strategy around communication and thinking about the audience and the message will result in more people absorbing what is communicated. 

What exactly is a release communication strategy? 

A communication strategy outlines the whowhatwhen and how around communication efforts related to your releases. 

Who: Who is the target audience of your message? Business stakeholders, users, executive management, etc. Depending on who the audience is, the message may change. Identify the ‘who’ for your release communication. Keep in mind that who may change from release to release. 

WhatWhat is the content being delivered? If it’s content about an upcoming release, end users might want to see instructional information on how to interact with the new changes. If it is management, they may want to know how the enhancement helps increase productivity. 

WhenWhen is the communication going out and how often? Again, depending on the who, the when may be different. Typically, communications around changes are at least scheduled: 

  • Before (Pre-Launch) 
  • During (Launch) 
  • After (Post-Launch) 

HowHow are we delivering the message? What is the medium or tool we are using to communicate? Email, webinar, In-person training, blogs?  

Here is a good resource from Trailhead that outlines a high-level communication plan. 

Timing 

Key Topics 

Pre-Launch 

  • Program vision 
  • Key players 
  • Business goals 

Launch 

  • Instructions on how to access Salesforce 
  • How to get help (questions, training) 

Post-Launch 

  • User recognition 
  • User tips/tricks 
  • Reminder of how to get help/ask questions 

How to Implement a Release Communication Strategy 

The best way to approach the communication strategy is to define the who, or groups of who, and then break out and define the whatwhen and how

This exercise will foster a keen understanding of the different audiences at play within your Salesforce environment and their needs relating to how they interact with Salesforce.  

Here is an example of how that might look laid out in a table:

Who 

What  

When  

How 

End Users 

Release Notes and Training FAQ 

Before Release 

Wiki, Email 

Business Stakeholders 

Release Notes and Business Benefits, Vision 

Before Release 

Email, Power Point Presentation 

End Users 

Instructions, Training and FAQ, Support information 

During Release  

Email, Wiki 

Project Team 

Risk Registry, Support Contact List  

During Release 

Shared File repository, Email 

End Users 

Satisfaction Surveys, Tips/Tricks, Updates 

After Release 

Email, Blog 

Business Stakeholders 

Adoption Metrics, Satisfaction Survey Results 

After Release 

Email, Salesforce Reports 

You’ll notice that for each group (who) there is a different need for what, when, and how. The project team needs to be communicated with during the release to be aware of outstanding risks while the Business Stakeholders may benefit from more high-level documentation, such as a list of release business benefits. 

Once this is diagrammed, it’s time to execute the plan. Create the necessary content, align with the rest of the release team, and get something on the calendar! 

As always, happy releasing! 

Author: Grant Ongstad, Senior Salesforce Consultant

Read the rest of the Ultimate Salesforce Delivery Machine series:

Part 1: The Backlog

Part 2: Governance

Part 3(a): The Software Development Lifecycle

Part 3(b): The Release Lifecycle and Technical Governance

Part 3(c): Release Cadence

The EightCloud team was professional and methodical in learning about our organization and understanding our needs. We greatly appreciated the transparency and thorough documentation along the entire development process (design docs, status updates, weekly check-ins). The knowledge and expertise of the EightCloud team was apparent as they were able to explain options and make recommendations."

- Michael Garcell, First 5 Orange County

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