The Salesforce Implementation Roadmap


  • When Salesforce deployments focus on data management and basic reporting they miss the much bigger opportunity for improved user, customer and business outcomes.
  • In fact, CRM software is not sustainable when it is little more than an electronic rolodex. It quickly becomes a cost sinkhole, technology scapegoat and source of friction between IT and the business.
  • Application success is most influenced by 8 critical success factors that should be weaved into a Salesforce implementation roadmap.
Johnny Grow Revenue Growth Consulting

A Best-in-Class Salesforce Implementation Roadmap

For many companies, Salesforce performs data management and basic reporting. Important tasks for sure, but woefully short of the potential. This application is capable of much more, such as growing company revenue and reducing labor cost.

But if you are going to achieve the business outcomes that make Salesforce (SFDC) wildly successful and deliver impressive technology ROI, you may need to adjust your plan.

A Salesforce implementation roadmap will help. The roadmap below shares the 8 critical success factors that most impact deployment success.

Salesforce Implementation Roadmap

The 8 Salesforce Implementation Roadmap Success Factors

While the activities found in deployment plans vary greatly, the factors that make SFDC successful do not. Weave these best practices into your deployment plan and your results will shift from improved data management to improved business outcomes.


Start with prioritized business outcomes

Inexperienced implementors sometimes believe simply installing software will deliver improved business outcomes. That's naïve thinking.

SFDC must be engineered to achieve targeted outcomes. And because you don’t want to pursue a boil the ocean approach, the outcomes must first be identified and prioritized.

A one day Design Thinking workshop is the fastest method to identify the most important and highest impact user, customer and company outcomes available from your SFDC system.

Design Thinking

Design thinking is a people-focused design method that applies empathy for your users and collaboration among cross-functional teams that consist of users, managers, SMEs, IT and stakeholders.

A one-day workshop can surface the application's highest impact and most important success criteria; measured in user, customer and company terms; and according to the people who will most use or benefit from SFDC.


Fully leverage process automation

Bad processes are not helped by good technology.

The route to achieve SFDC automation is to simplify, streamline and automate business processes; in that order.

The sequence is important because you cannot simplify a process before it is consistent. You cannot streamline it until it’s measurable. And you cannot automate it before it is streamlined. Otherwise, you just automate a mess which only serves to achieve poor quality results faster.

Agile Value Stream mapping is a great business process improvement tool. It goes beyond just improving your existing business processes. It measures the value of what you do to eliminate non-valued-added steps and align business processes to user, customer, and business outcomes.

Agile Value Stream Mapping

Remember, business processes must be repeatable and deliver verifiable outcomes before they can be automated. Without consistent and measurable results, SFDC automation doesn't rise above an aspiration.


Invest in the UI and UX

SFDC has an effective User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX). However, there is usually much more in the app that any company needs. And if the app is not properly tailored, this results in too much of a good thing.

Many CRM apps have become complex, bloated and difficult to use, especially for part-time users and small or midsize companies.

A Forrester report titled, Riding The Next Wave Of SaaS CRM, found that more than half of CRM buyers in small and midsize companies were planning to replace their CRM applications within the next three years because they struggled with overly complicated systems that faced poor user adoption.

It's important to avoid the common practice of filling SFDC pages with features and functions just in case they are needed. Scaling back the UI to eliminate unnecessary fields and re-sequencing what's left in a more natural work stream order will minimize training and improve Salesforce user adoption.

CRM User Experience

It's also important to design the application with the UX in mind. That means advancing from a UI designed for individual pages to end to end business processes. The UX should start with a minimalist view and design complete work streams that are both efficient and predictably effective (i.e., they are consistent and measurable).

Recognize that too many features and functions come at the expense of simplicity and ease of use. Experienced designers know expansive and unwarranted features are the enemy of simplicity. When it comes to designing both the UI and UX, less is more.

A SFDC user interface is like a joke. If you need to explain it, it doesn't work.


Execute with Agile Scrum

If you are considering a waterfall deployment, consider an agile deployment instead.

Agile is group of principals which promote collaboration among self-organized and cross-functional teams, close user or customer involvement, iterative and adaptive implementation methods, and the frequent delivery of incremental software releases.

Agile is an overarching framework. Scrum is a prescriptive framework that brings specificity to agile. Scrum is the most popular Agile discipline and is very well suited for application deployments. It's a transparent approach that defines 3 roles, 5 time-boxed events, 6 artifacts and the rules that define progressive execution.

Agile Sprint

Agile Scrum works because it time-boxes all implementation events. It plans and measures all tasks and reflects on what worked and what didn't so the project team incurs continuous learning and improves productivity throughout the deployment period.

Be cautious if you hear terms like "hybrid agile" or "agile like". These are made up terms that typically apply select pieces of Agile or Scrum. But as the founders of Scrum advise, "Scrum's roles, events, artifacts, and rules are immutable and although implementing only parts of Scrum is possible, the result is not Scrum. Scrum exists only in its entirety."

When compared to waterfall methods, Agile implementations offer several advantages including improved staff engagement, increased application ownership by the business, outcomes that better align with business objectives and reduced project risk.

Our SFDC deployment experience has been clear than when you follow the agile Scrum framework and its rules you get the forecasted results. When you cut corners, you don't.


Include Change Management

Many companies need to change the way they manage change.

SFDC user adoption depends on your ability to articulate specific benefits to the people who use the system. A change management program will define these benefits. It will communicate these benefits in what we often call the user WIIFMs (what’s in it for me). It will also demonstrate how the benefits or value exceed the effort.

It's simple to describe the company benefits from CRM. It's harder to boil them down to the benefits bestowed on each person. That's a big part of change management and why it is so important.

Change Management Process

Some of the common change management events and artifacts include things like a change readiness assessment, Comms Plan, technology impact analysis, learning and training tools, post go-live intermediation methods and value realization measurements. These steps ensure resistance to change will not delay or derail SFDC objectives.

Charles Darwin first discovered that, "It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive, but those who can best manage change."


Do training right

Many SFDC deployments make two training mistakes.

First, the underestimate the number of training hours required. When staff do not get enough training, the go-live event is chaotic, time to value is prolonged and user adoption declines.

Second, they deliver all training in a single event. That creates an information overload and contributes to users forgetting over 92 percent of training content within 48 hours.

A smarter approach is to deliver incremental training throughout the deployment. Our experience has been that delivering training as part of each sprint verifies the sprint objectives from the users' perspective and builds confidence with the new SFDC application. Another benefit is that smaller and successive training sessions build upon each other which increases content retention.

Your training curriculum should reinforce the top user outcomes discovered during your Design Thinking workshop and the role-based WIIFMs identified in your Change Management program.


Apply analytics for continuous improvements

Use SFDC dashboards and analytics to show what's working and quickly fix what's not.

SFDC analytics are also the single greatest tool for continuous company improvements.

Information is just as important to the business as products and services. But this is a foreign concept for some managers. The most successful companies are defined by their ability to collect and curate the right data, use data to create differentiating products, services and customer experiences, and apply analytics to make insights actionable at every customer engagement and decision point.

Converting data to actionable information is a significant undertaking. That's why those who succeed will achieve competitive advantage over those who do not.


Establish governance

No Salesforce implementation roadmap is complete without governance.

Governance is needed to ensure the project is meeting time, cost and quality objectives, the team is unified, and any variances or conflicts are swiftly resolved.

A governance framework is needed to bring structure to cadence, communication, reporting and conflict resolution.

Your Governance success will be based on the following four essential actions:

  1. Transparency, which discloses the measures that most clearly show project status and progress, and whether the project is on track or not
  2. Inspection, which is a periodic cadence to review the most essential measurements, vet progress and ensure consensus understanding
  3. Adaptation, to implement changes when results show variances from plan, or to steer the project toward an outcome or implement a course correction, and
  4. Accountability, which makes sure each person knows and delivers their commitments

Bad news does not get better with age. Stakeholders want information early and they don't want surprises. To assist we both, we generally use an early warning system that includes the below executive dashboard.

Governance Dashboard

See the Salesforce implementation roadmap that will accelerate time to value, decrease risk and increase results.

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