Top 16 questions about Salesforce implementations

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We’ve done our fair share of Salesforce implementations and we have discovered that the same questions are usually asked by our clients or Salesforce reps. We thought it might be helpful to document some of our responses to help anyone who is considering an implementation.

Implementation basics

1. How long will it take?

For simple Sales Cloud and Service Cloud implementations, Fluent Group offers an Activate package, which is a 3 to 5 week process. We also provide an extensive implementation approach for clients with highly customised requirements that need to be scoped in detail before committing to a timeframe.

2. What is involved?

Every implementation is unique with different goals and needs. However, the framework is consistent in that each implementation will involve a build, data migration, testing, training and integrations.

The set up

3. What information do we need for implementation?

A client once asked us to confirm all of the resources needed at the beginning of their Salesforce implementation so they could set up their implementation in as little time as possible. While it is a great goal, we don’t often know all of the requirements from the outset, because much of the detail is learnt during the process. This is where we have a conversation about phasing, preparation and adapting during the process.

4. What is the structure of an implementation?

Salesforce implementations follow four key stages:

a. Scoping and design
b. Delivery and implementation
c. Client testing and fine tuning
d. Go-live and user adoptions

Integrations can happen as part of the initial project or in a later phase, depending on the complexity of the project. Once the requirements and dependencies for each stage become clear, it is easier to dictate the timing of the overall implementation process.

5. What is the best way to phase an implementation?

There are a few questions to consider with the timing of a Salesforce implementation. The following list is a great place to start in confirming your phasing plan.

a. What are your objectives?
b. What is the budget?
c. Do you have a target go-live date or delivery timeline?
d. Do you have any unique requirements to be considered?
e. Who in your team needs to be involved and when are they available?
f. Are there other projects underway that could impact or distract your business from the implementation?
g. Are there periods where people will be unavailable e.g., holidays or end-of-financial year?
h. Have you already confirmed and documented your current sales processes?

6. How much of the design should you do upfront versus what can be worked out along the way?

Some clients want to start the process and see how it goes. Others prefer to conduct a detailed design before they pick up the tools. We find that the best approach is somewhere in the middle. It’s important to be prepared so you implement efficiently, but you also need to be open to responding to the new information you will inevitably discover along the way.

7. What are the main risks/red flags to consider for an implementation?

The most common issues we come across are:

a. Getting to the scoping stage and realising that processes either aren’t defined or no longer suit the business needs. Always, always, always define your sales processes before starting an implementation!
b. Not having the right people involved to support the implementation from the outset.
c. Not having a consensus on the desired objectives of the implementation.
d. Not thinking about the state of the existing data e.g., trying to work with unstructured data in Excel spreadsheets.

Data Migrations

8. What data can we migrate from an old system to Salesforce?

If you have an existing CRM, the data in that tool is often structured. This means it is highly likely this data can be migrated.

If data is stored across many individual spreadsheets it can be extremely challenging to migrate, as it is highly unlikely there is a common data structure. This means each individual data source would have to be independently migrated.

9. What do we need to think about for data migrations?

The two critical considerations to prepare for data migrations are:

a. How will you be supplying the data?
b. What is the core schema in Salesforce e.g., for invoices, emails, tasks, contacts, leads, opportunities, accounts, cases, campaigns, etc.?

Integrations

10. What integrations are right for me

It depends on several elements. What are your requirements and how complex is the project? Your budget and any existing technology are also important determinants. We encourage you to gather as much of this information as possible to determine your integration requirements. You should also keep in mind that you will need to finalise the solution design before you can complete any integrations.

Reporting

11. What reports can I get from the new system?

Rather than investing in dashboards delivered externally, we recommend our clients implement a standard series of reports and invest in equipping their team members to build and modify these reports and dashboards. This gives our clients the independence to manage their reports in the long-term.

Implementation team

12. Which departments should be included?

Common departments that are involved in implementations include Sales, Operations, Marketing, IT and leadership. It’s important to include any department who will be impacted by the solution, not just the departments that will use it the most.

Involving everyone who will be impacted by a solution from the very beginning is the only way to ensure you avoid wasting time and money. Consider an example where your marketing team is itching to introduce automation, so they implement a tool without consulting any other department. When they start using the new tool, they realise it doesn’t align with the sales team’s processes so they can’t integrate the customer data needed to automate their marketing activities. Consequently, the next six months will be spent trying to find ways to fix the issue, and often an entirely new system will need to be implemented in the end.

13. How should I engage with these departments?

Each department will need a different approach to ensure they support the solution. Some teams will be extremely tech-savvy and support the software solution immediately, while others might want to stick with their trusty spreadsheets or notepads. We tailor each implementation strategy and approach to the requirements and preferences of the teams we work with, to maximise adoption and the overall transformation success.

Training

14. How do we train people?

We adopt a train-the-trainer approach. We start with identifying the right person or people who are in leadership positions that will directly or indirectly manage the team who are moving onto Salesforce. We then train these leaders so that they are able to train their team, as this has proven to yield better outcomes and significantly improves user adoption and overall confidence in the new solution.

15. How do I access ongoing training?

We leverage Salesforce’s “Trailhead” online learning materials from the outset to create consistency and efficiency. These self-paced learning modules also include hands-on activities and practical assessments that can be completed within a training sandbox environment. Salesforce continually updates these modules in line with new releases and changes, so they reflect the more recent features and functionality. We also stringently leverage the standard Salesforce data model for all core process paths in our implementations. This means we don’t customise the solution to a point that your team can’t use the trailhead training modules.

Support and maintenance

16. What ongoing support and maintenance is required post-implementation?

Small start-up businesses can leverage Fluent Group’s ongoing support until they grow large enough to justify a dedicated Salesforce resource. Ideally, we recommend high-growth businesses implement sales operations and/or marketing operations leaders who will own revenue, conversion optimisation and the administration of Salesforce from the outset. These positions are far more valuable for small and high-growth businesses than a dedicated system administrator, because they are multi-skilled and business can get more bang for their buck.

For businesses with internal IT teams, we can also supplement these in-house resources and capabilities to support their path to certification until they are up to speed.

Do you have another question about a future implementation? We’d love to help answer it. Simply contact us.

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