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The Sustainable Implementation: How To Consistently Deliver Salesforce Features Your Users Will Use.

If you’ve been a part of a Salesforce implementation – you know it took a lot of work.

It required vision, careful planning, strategy, financial resources, and plenty of stakeholder input. Hopefully, the hard work paid off; the executive team felt the money was well spent, business ran more smoothly, and tedious manual processes were automated. A happy ending – or so it seemed.

Unfortunately, this is where many organizations’ Salesforce initiatives lose steam. They neglect or underestimate the work that comes AFTER the implementation. Implementations don’t always fail – but they can unravel.

Salesforce is a platform that is meant to deliver continual value to its users just as YOUR organization must deliver consistent value to your customers.

The continuing success of a Salesforce implementation depends on an organization’s ability to successfully transition to ongoing care and management of their newly deployed Salesforce org. The end of the Salesforce implementation is only the beginning of a partnership between the business and technology team, whether that be in-house or a partner like EightCloud. Here are some critical post go-live activities to facilitate that transition.

Assemble a Salesforce Team

Who ‘owns’ the tool? You’d be surprised how often this question goes unanswered. Whether your organization has a rag-tag group of power users or a highly organized application team, the key to a great internal Salesforce team is the same: Rally around a vision, plan and execute. Usually, this team consists of business subject matter experts, such as a business analyst or marketing/sales operations and members of a Salesforce technical team, such as the Salesforce admin or system analyst. This group should also include end users, if they aren’t already represented in the subject matter experts.

The Salesforce team is responsible for:

  • Developing new functionality. At the end of the day, the team needs the Salesforce know-how to develop scalable solutions.
  • Analyzing adoption. How much is the system being used and is it being used correctly? The Salesforce team analyzes and thinks about ways to improve user adoption. There are several free reports and dashboards on the AppExchange that help measure adoption.
  • Planning and delivering releases. How will releases be planned and managed? What will be the release cadence for new features and how will these releases be communicated? This includes sandbox management and deployment.
  • Triaging bugs and analyzing enhancement requests. The team should provide a way for users to input feedback and report issues. They should also organize around a change management process. How will decisions around changes be tracked? It may be as simple as an excel spreadsheet or through project tracking software.

Create and Maintain a Healthy Backlog

A backlog is a prioritized list of feature or enhancement requests provided by the business. These are essentially to-do items. A backlog item can be as small as adding a field to a views or brand new functionality.  A common mistake is to assume that having no change requests is a sign of contentment when it usually means that the business doesn’t have a way to make requests or that they don’t have the confidence in the process to believe anything will change. Bad news, in both cases.

Start building a backlog by actively soliciting requests from the business. Schedule brainstorming sessions with each business unit. The backlog barrier to entry should be low – you can prioritize and analyze items later. The Important part is building an environment that allows the business to feel like they have input and that they’re part of a larger effort to improve the tools they use.

Once a large backlog is built it can be ‘groomed’, which is the process of analyzing, prioritizing, and estimating each item. The remaining, high priority backlog items are then worked on and eventually released. At EightCloud we install our tool “Case Manager” on our client’s orgs to track user stories, manage projects and feedback. After project completion, it remains a great tool to manage the backlog.

Offer Plenty of Training

Almost every blog about failed user adoption gives ‘Lack of Training’ as one of the top reasons. The more users feel competent around the Salesforce implementation, the more likely they will be adopt to it. Provide plenty of training documentation, FAQs as well as opportunities for hands on, classroom or virtual live learning. And make all of these resources accessible, whether your staff is in an office or working remotely.

Creating training content will also help the organization think more critically about best practices, allowing opportunities for standardization. 

Communicate frequently about upcoming feature enhancements, update training documentation regularly and make sure to include training as part of new user onboarding.

Pulling it all together

Whether or not you have internal Salesforce resources, a good solution to find all the resources you need on this team is to use a Salesforce Managed Services partner. A Managed Services partner can provide all the additional skills you need to deliver the roadmap. But be cautious; you want a partner that will not just provide you a single person who likely doesn’t have all the skills you require. Look for a partner that will provide you fractions of multiple people, each with unique skills to complement your team.

EightCloud is one of only a small handful of partners certified by Salesforce as a provider of Managed Services. EightCloud provides a unique fractional resource model that optimizes the skills for what your company needs.  Learn more here.

 

Author: Grant Ongstad, Senior Salesforce Consultant

We engaged EightCloud to assist us with the development and implementation of a custom application. EightCloud provided outstanding service and expertise throughout the life of the project. I’ve been managing projects in the public sector for nearly 15 years and can’t remember an engagement that went smoother than this one. Their expertise and responsiveness was as good as I’ve experienced in the industry. I would not hesitate to partner with EightCloud again."

- Tim Vessey, Washington Department of Natural Resources

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