Five critical Salesforce implementation mistakes (and how to avoid them)
POSTED : July 15, 2015
BY : Jack Pereira

If you’re getting ready to implement Salesforce, you’ve probably already invested a lot of time and money in making sure the solution works well for your business. Understanding critical Salesforce implementation mistakes that other customers have made can be helpful in making sure you avoid common roadblocks that delay ROI.

1. Inadequate discovery

Companies implementing new business systems, whether it’s Salesforce or other software solution, sometimes find that their new system solves many problems, but also creates new ones. A proper discovery enables your team to uncover all needs and challenges, and all strengths and limitations, with the proposed system so that you avoid such problems.

Successful projects require a discovery to identify business requirements and define the solution that is best aligned with those requirements. The solution needs to address the technology and process changes that are necessary, along with key stakeholder buy-in to ensure participation.

During the discovery, you must review all processes to identify areas that could be streamlined. You also must identify who can support the new solution and how your staffing needs or responsibilities might change. Make sure to conduct a thorough analysis of all business systems, not just CRM and not just Salesforce. Without this analysis, it’s much more difficult to be truly effective with a system that doesn’t match what you need it to do. Salesforce implementation mistakes like this can cause cascading problems.

2. Incomplete requirements

Poor system requirements are the leading cause of IT project failure. Requirements establish the needs of stakeholders that will be solved by the new software. The discovery, or elicitation, is only the first step of the requirements process. You must analyze, document, and manage the requirements throughout the duration of the initial implementation, as well as post-implementation.

Documenting system requirements in a way that ensures the end product fulfills the goals and vision is no easy task. We encourage clients to list out “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves” in a cradle-to-grave format. The more detail, the better the end solution will match the original vision, which limits rework and scope creep.

Common requirements pitfalls:

  1. Project scope not well defined or agreed on
  2. Not enough detail and omissions.
  3. Communication breakdowns
  4. Not the right people involved
  5. Out of control changes or new requirements

3. Wrong implementation partner

There are hundreds of partners now on the Salesforce AppExchange. Choosing the best one for your needs, budget and timeline can be a challenging but very worthwhile process.

Three types of Implementation Partners:

  1. Small – usually work only within one Salesforce product (usually Sales Cloud). They configure and customize the solution but don’t have the capabilities to handle complex integration and development or big-picture business process improvement.  Examples: freelancers, staffing agencies, small firms (1-5 consultants)
  2. Mid-market – usually regionally based and have depth in capabilities and certifications with a range of services for multiple Salesforce products. Mid-market partners serve mid-market to enterprise-level accounts at more affordable rates than the larger Systems Integrators. Examples: Force By Design, Vertiba
  3. Global – align themselves very closely with Salesforce product development. They work with clients on the very leading edge of innovation with Salesforce such as Virgin America, Coca-Cola, and Philips. Examples: Accenture, Appirio, Deloitte, PK

A skilled Salesforce implementation partner will develop a Salesforce roadmap that sets you up for success. They will take the time needed to really learn your business and understand your technology challenges and goals.

4. No post-implementation plan or strategic “roadmap”

Post-implementation is one of the most underestimated areas of Salesforce success. In many cases, there is an idea that when Salesforce is implemented, it will take off and succeed on its own.

After implementation, however, a project leader or administrator is necessary to continuously monitor and ensure the following:

  1. New processes are identified, implemented, and improved
  2. Users are using the functionality the way they are supposed to
  3. Users are supported with training and assistance
  4. Technical resources are available
  5. New features and requirements are identified for future releases
  6. A Salesforce Roadmap is in place
  7. Users have communication and feedback mechanisms for new enhancements
  8. Additional phases and larger requirements are being budgeted for and included in the roadmap with ROI analysis and approval; implementation plans in place
  9. Adoption and ROI reporting is in place to communicate to Senior Management on the actual performance, and to establish corrective actions as needed

Many businesses need Salesforce functionality that is not “out-of-the-box” (standard objects). In this case, custom Force.com development (custom objects) should be considered.  There may be users who only require access to customs objects. Some of the standard objects could be handled through a type of license with a lower cost.

5. Not understanding mobile options

Salesforce has powerful mobility capabilities. Enterprise businesses are rapidly deploying customer, employee, and vendor-facing mobile apps using the Salesforce1 Lightning development platform in which a Web app is wrapped into a native application. It features drag-and-drop components that don’t require advanced coding skills. You can design apps to look the way you want on tablets, phones, wearable devices, or desktops.

There are some limitations, however, for users that have to work offline at times. Of course, this is always changing and Salesforce may possibly offer offline functionality in the future. For now, if this functionality is required, there are proven approaches that can be used in conjunction with Salesforce to provide needed off-line capability using the Salesforce mobile SDK.

Contact us to find out how we can help you avoid these common Salesforce implementation mistakes.


About the author

Jack Pereira Jack Pereira is a chief cloud consultant at PK. He has held various high-profile leadership roles and has a passion for making companies well-positioned for growth.

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