Top 5 steps to a successful Salesforce CRM implementation

Top 5 steps to a successful Salesforce CRM implementation

No matters how big or small your company or the Salesforce CRM project success requires planning, commitment, and strong sponsorship from your company’s executive team. It’s also critical that you understand the needs of your managers and users before getting started. Without a detailed understanding of these needs, it’s easy to go overboard in customizing the application just because it’s so easy.

Here are the 5 steps to a successful implementation:

1. Plan and prepare

2. Set up and customize

3. Deploy Salesforce CRM

4. Drive adoption

5. Continuously improve

1) Plan and Prepare: Your first step is to plan and prepare. In this step, you’ll identify your company’s vision, goals, and metrics as well as your resources, tools, and dependencies. Getting this step right is crucial, so you won’t waste time or have to back track.

2) Set up and customize Salesforce CRM : Once you define your requirements, understand your data, and choose an implementation method, you’re ready to set up and customize Salesforce CRM. We recommend you keep the initial implementation simple and use the “click-not-code” built-in configuration tools, rather than using Force.com code (Apex) and the pages functionality of the Force.com platform. As you get experience with the application and feedback from your users, consider how to enhance the application with those tools.

Define early how to customize the application. For example, if you need multiple record types for an object and field-level security, identifying that need helps as you create new custom fields and associate them to the correct record type, page layout, and security level in the wizard.

3) Deploy Salesforce CRM : The timeline you defined in the planning stage should define the deployment phases and associated schedule. At the first stage, your task is to get your instance of Salesforce CRM “production ready” by creating and adding users, loading your data, and training users.

It’s important to communicate early and often, so users know about coming changes. Communication should come from the executive sponsor and focus on both the benefits to the company and what’s in it for the users. Build excitement and set expectations. As the deployment draws nearer, outline the deployment plan, including when users will be trained and how they’ll be supported.

4) Encourage adoption : Once you’re up and running, it’s critical to get your users on board. To do so, it’s important that you support your users, measure adoption, and encourage adoption.

User adoption begins with executive sponsorship. For the initial deployment, the sponsor must communicate clear expectations as well as enthusiasm. Usually, a combination of “carrots” and “sticks” works well, such as a mandate that “If it’s not in Salesforce CRM, it doesn’t exist.” Use exception reports and dashboards to track usage and then use that information to understand where you need encouragement or enforcement.

5) Manage releases : Once Salesforce CRM is live, a new cycle of planning begins for the next phase, as you make available new functionality to add value and respond to user requests. Release management should begin as soon as possible after the initial deployment. This approach will also let end users know that you’re addressing their needs and requests.

Although Salesforce CRM is easy to get up and running, proper planning and preparation is essential for a successful implementation. Start by securing executive sponsorship so you have support when building your project team and communicating with the end users. Set up and customize the application so it works for your company’s unique needs. And continually revisit and optimize the application, build and refine your metrics, and always keep your end users and overall vision in mind.

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