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The Secret to a Flawless Salesforce Implementation

It doesn’t matter what kind of project you’re trying to execute: Continuity is your friend.

Imagine the staff of your favorite TV show all left to pursue other projects, but instead of packing up, the producers scrambled to re-cast every role. Would it still be Curb Your Enthusiasm if there was an all-new writers’ room, and Larry David was suddenly played by Johnny Depp in a bald cap?

This example may seem ridiculous, but for some reason, it’s pretty close to the industry standard practice for Salesforce implementations. Companies will contract a Salesforce Partner to discover and build their custom solution, but once that’s done, the Project Team leaves to set up Salesforce for a different customer. The original company then has to “re-cast” every role in their Salesforce team with current employees, a handful of new hires, or some combination of the two. These are the people who will actually be operating Salesforce for the business long-term.

This massive disruption of staff continuity is almost always a problem for your Salesforce operations. If we stick with the TV metaphor - you don’t want to ask your internal Salesforce team to write entire seasons of a show they’ve only seen once or twice.

Despite this problem, we’ve noticed that many implementations follow the same continuity-busting steps toward broken Salesforce:

  • A company purchases their licenses from Salesforce, usually 10-30 to start depending on their needs and size. These licenses aren’t cheap, so obviously the buyers are looking for a big ROI.

  • Salesforce connects the buyer company with a Salesforce Partner tasked with creating a solution. This Partner then assigns a Project Team to begin the Discovery or “Recon” stage of the project, where they attempt to scope the entire build and figure out the customer’s needs. The budget is agreed upon, and it’s time to start building.

  • A build can take months, sometimes up to a year! As the Project Team attempts to create the solution they scoped at the beginning, there’s almost always some amount of “tug o’ war” regarding the budget. Large projects like these are difficult to fully scope, especially when customers aren’t Salesforce-savvy enough to be sure what they want from the CRM, and this can lead to some tense (sometimes costly) re-negotiating during the build process.

  • During the build, the company tries to assemble their internal Salesforce team, often forced to hire on an accelerated timetable for a job that isn’t even fully understood yet.

  • After the build is complete, there’s typically a training process that lasts a few weeks. Here, the Project Team does their best to teach the solution’s operations to whoever has been assigned to the customer’s internal Salesforce team. Then, they’re off to the next project.

Now let’s leave metaphors behind and discuss in practical terms why this “Project Model” is the wrong way to implement Salesforce. Firstly, it’s the opposite of a seamless transition. The “seam” between the Project Team, who designed and built the solution, and the Internal Team that’s actually responsible for keeping that system operational, couldn’t be more obvious.

Salesforce is a highly complex, deeply customizable CRM. Using it, the right Salesforce Partner can build your business a truly optimized solution. However, complexity and customizability are a double-edged sword when your implementation lacks continuity. They make your solution hard to learn or operate for people approaching it from the outside, usually with just a few weeks of training before they’re on their own.

On top of this complex “crunch” of a learning curve, for most businesses, building out a complete internal Salesforce team is no small undertaking. It takes time, revenue, a strong network, and a robust vetting process for each of the specialized roles.

Many companies don’t even do that, choosing instead to scale down to a bare-bones internal team, or even reducing to a single Salesforce “guru” tasked with running the solution once it’s implemented. We’ve written extensively about why this is a bad idea already, right here, but let’s proceed under the assumption that you weren’t planning to put all the responsibility for your company’s Salesforce operations on the shoulders of one unfortunate employee. Even if you assemble a strong team with every role filled, they’re going to run into problems when they’re handed an unfamiliar solution by the Project Team that designed it.

The “seam” between the team that actually designed the solution and the team whose job it is to operate it creates an inevitable gap of knowledge, and with a product as nuanced as Salesforce, small gaps of knowledge can snowball into big problems. Oftentimes, the internal team doesn’t fully comprehend their new system after only a few weeks of training, and they may perform operations that are breaking their build without even knowing it.

Once these breakages are finally noticed, they’ve likely already resulted in plenty of data errors and lost revenue. To make matters worse, since the internal team wasn’t part of the build, they’re also poorly equipped to fix these problems. This puts your company in a horrible cyclical situation where, just like a sitcom, you keep ending up right where you started: Contracting an outside Salesforce Partner to fix the system and hand it back to the internal team.

This entire implementation strategy needs a page-one rewrite, because cyclical frustration can result in customers blaming the CRM for problems that actually occurred due to their implementation process. Instead of breaking Salesforce with this “Project Model” implementation strategy, more companies should use Cloud Pacific’s “Continuity Model” - where discovery, build, operations, and maintenance are all handled by contracting a complete out-of-the-box Salesforce team for one flat cost.

The teams you can contract from firms like Cloud Pacific, typically around 3-4 Full-Time Employees, come with built-in expert knowledge of Salesforce, defined best practices/processes, knowledge of how to work with Agile and Scrum methods, and years of experience both developing and operating Salesforce solutions. With a contract team, you can skip the long hiring and vetting process of assembling your own internal team, bypass any tug o’ war or renegotiating with cost-locked budgets, and operate with total confidence that the “seam” where gaps of knowledge could occur has been sealed from the start.

With the Cloud Pacific “Continuity Model” in place, you get the peace of mind that those who built your solution will always be there for you, from the first stage of the process onward, all for a locked-in budget you only have to negotiate once! For that price, you get a dedicated Salesforce team that saves you money in the long run, deleting the cycle of break-repair-handoff-repeat, delivering an outstanding solution that doesn’t leave you vulnerable to damaging errors, and removing the stress of hiring (or re-hiring) your own team entirely.

There really is no better way to get the absolute most out of Salesforce, all with total peace of mind - and peace of wallet - that comes from staff continuity.

Want to learn more about what Cloud Pacific’s continuous solution teams can do for you? Click here to start a conversation.

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