By Holly Filkins
Imagine you are going to build a house. Do you simply drive to the site, start digging a hole for the foundation, and then gather materials from the nearby woods? Chances are you’re not going to be able to find everything you need in the woods, nor are you going to be able to build your dream house using this approach. The same is true with a Salesforce implementation! In both cases, the key is to begin with a plan that aligns with your budget, identifies the right materials, the necessary tools, the right people, and even a contingency plan or two. Once all of that is in place, you can then start building.
The first thing you need to focus on is your budget. It might not be set in stone yet, but it is never a good idea to start building a mansion when you only have the budget for a quaint cabin in the woods. If you have a figure in mind, once you start your blueprint, you can begin pricing items to see what will fit in your budget. If something doesn’t fit, you can figure out if there are other items you are willing to sacrifice so this particular item can be included and stay within your budget. The same is true for Salesforce – a lot of functionality is available right “out of the box” for the base price. There are some things, like automation and integration, that potentially add line items (and thus, dollars) to the budget – you’ll need to decide whether you can afford those items up front, or whether you can continue some processes manually while you allocate budget to add those on later. Or, you might prioritize some apps and decide you don’t really need the others at all.
Next comes the plan – a blueprint, if you will. You wouldn’t start digging the foundation for your house without first knowing the dimensions, right? With Salesforce, the cloud is the limit – but you need to start with a strong foundation and solid processes to reach the clouds without crashing. It is important to clearly understand your business processes, why they are in place, and if there is room to streamline and update them. My colleague, Jami, has some great tips on how to more effectively gather requirements with use cases. Make sure to keep the whole house in mind, along with all of the details – don’t get distracted by all of Salesforce’s shiny features and forget the big goals of the implementation.
Any automation you can add to Salesforce to streamline processes is a key item to uncover during the discovery process. If you’ve always washed dishes by hand, but the budget allows for the installation of a dishwasher in your new kitchen, now’s the time! Identify any pain points you currently have with your processes and look for ways to improve them.
Once your budget and plan are in place, then you can start gathering the tools and materials while making sure you have the right people for each job. For a house, you want to make sure you can acquire all of the materials for the foundation and framework before you worry about your throw pillows or bathroom faucets. Also, if items need to be special ordered and are going to take longer, you’ll want to order them sooner rather than later. Should I hire a general contractor? An electrician? A plumber? With Salesforce, you’ll want to think about what can be done with standard “out of the box” Salesforce, and what needs to be customized. Do we need an external application for that? How do we integrate systems together, if needed? Can I do all of this myself, or should I hire a consultant to oversee all of the different aspects? Do we need to hire a developer to complete this work on our Salesforce implementation? Ultimately, in both building a house and setting up Salesforce, you need to ask yourself the question, “Is this something we can do ourselves, or do we need to hire a professional for that?” There are definitely things we can usually accomplish on our own. Just remember it’s not as cost effective to do it yourself if you have to call in a professional later to clean up the mess…
For the house, once the plans are in place, then you can build! Throughout the build process, there are inspections for things like structure, electricity, and plumbing. The same is true with Salesforce – you want to build in a logical order and everything you build should be inspected and validated. Once the design of your implementation has been completed, the build begins. You start with the foundation: security, objects, fields, users, etc. Then, the pages are arranged, and you and your users can inspect, and make changes as needed.
Once your house is deemed a safe, completed living space, you can move in. Enjoy your new home! At a later date, you might decide to make some upgrades, or add some additional functionality. When that happens, you start this whole process over again, but this time, room by room. Pick the room that you want to upgrade the most (or have the budget/resources for first), complete that smaller update, and then move on to the next room. For now, enjoy your well-designed, efficient, cost-effective new home in Salesforce!