By Kelly Hardebeck

Change is hard. If it were easy, there wouldn’t be any need for Pavlock, nicotine patches or New Year’s Resolutions. We’d all be able to easily swap old habits for new and improved ones any time we wanted. Goodbye morning donut, hello kale smoothie! Unfortunately, personal and organizational changes are often more challenging to effect.  Implementing Salesforce in an organization is typically a large scale change that affects people, the tools they use and their work processes.  Applying the principles of change management can help ensure success for your Salesforce project.

Change management is all about transitioning people, teams and organizations to a desired future state. There are many models of change management, but they all have several elements in common – creating awareness of the change, involving others in the change, making the transition and reinforcing the change. Successful change happens when all elements are addressed.

Create the vision

The “desired future state” is the goal or the vision of the project encapsulated into a sentence or two. Start each project by creating a vision statement. It doesn’t need to be long or complicated. Simply, articulate what you hope to accomplish with this project and the end results or benefits. For example, “To improve the organization’s online donation management system to improve the donor experience, expand the options for mobile giving and reduce the amount of manual data entry required to process them.”

Share the vision

Share and communicate the vision to engage people and teams. By communicating the vision widely, you can identify who the project supporters and detractors are and work to engage each camp. Engage as many people and teams in the organization as is practical and create a coalition from this group to support the project team. Throughout the project, leverage this coalition as cheerleaders, problem solvers, beta testers and early adopters. Let the vision be your guide and use it to help craft design documents and specifications for the project.

Make the changes

Managing the change doesn’t stop during the project development phase. During the project lifecycle, keep communicating the project’s progress to the project’s supporting coalition and celebrate small wins along the way. These wins help to reinforce the vision and will build momentum for the change. For example, in many organizations, being able to see the total number of donations and a donation summary directly on an individual’s or household’s Salesforce record is amazing and showcasing that feature, even without live data, can create excitement about the platform and the transition.

Wow your audience

Every TV makeover show knows how to stage a good reveal. Your shiny new Salesforce instance deserves the same treatment. Once the customizations have been built, the data loaded and checked for errors, be sure to stage your own big reveal. Return to the project’s vision statement and map how elements of the vision correspond to features of your Salesforce implementation.

Gather the project team, the users, and the project coalition to present the new Salesforce project and how it meets the project vision. This is your chance to wow the audience! A before and after comparison might be a good way to tell the story or, sometimes, just showing how Salesforce makes a wealth of information available is enough.

Change takes practice

Before the excitement fades and nervousness about using the system sets in, you’ll need to ensure the users are properly trained. A training plan is essential to prepare users for starting to use the new system. People learn differently, so different approaches might be needed to  teach staff how to effectively use Salesforce.  You don’t need to create everything from scratch, though. Salesforce has created excellent help and training materials that are available through the Help for this Page link in Salesforce. Leverage what’s been created before and fill in the blanks with custom content. People may need time to get accustomed to the system, so don’t give up. Keep showing them the value of the new system and providing them with supports to help get their work done and, before you know it, they’ll be begging you for enhancements to the system.

Kelly Hardebeck

Kelly Hardebeck