Salesforce CRM dominates the worldwide customer experience and relationship management market with nearly 20% market share. Salesforce CRM is offered in multiple editions and is available for several vertical industries. A Salesforce CRM instance, being a software as a service solution, is hosted in one of the Salesforce data centers. Salesforce is the custodian of the customer data and the CRM application instance itself is owned by Salesforce.

Salesforce CRM implementation for a customer is a simple process. The success of the implementation is dependent upon the product selection, roll-out approach, integrations with other systems, user training and support.

The salesforce platform, along with Salesforce CRM application, provides organizations with a homogeneous set of enterprise applications across marketing, sales, commerce, services and insights. The implementation process across the applications is similar.  An experienced Salesforce implementation partner can walk the customer with the correct process and can implement the product successfully at an optimum cost in the shortest period.

 

#1 Three Easy Steps To Grow Your Business Quickly by Implementing Salesforce in 2019

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1.1 Initiating Salesforce CRM

The first step in Salesforce implementation begins with an agreement between various stakeholders of the customer and the Salesforce implementation partner. Project goals, team responsibilities, timelines, deliverables, business benefits are agreed up upon in the project.

  1. It requires business mapping against product functionality.
  2. The functionality gap may also be documented on the appearance of a customized deployment.
  3. Analyzing & documentation of system integration is required.

The deliverables agreed in the project plan change according to its product functionality and integration needs.

 

1.2 Building Salesforce CRM

This process includes:

  1. Development & creation of test environments.
  2. Product administration activities.
  3. Complete configurations & customizations.
  4. Loading data.
  5. Completed testing.
  6. Training users.
  7. A pilot system is implemented and conversion to the production environment is initiated.

These are accomplished with dedicated teams from both customer and Salesforce implementation partner with weekly deliverables. The deliverables at the end of this step are the completed development & test environments, completion of administrator & key user training and pilot rollout.

 

1.3 Deploying Salesforce CRM

This process consists of:

  • Production enthusiastic reviews of the customer.
  • Complete system production conversion activities.
  • Loading entire production seed data.
  • The system is put in live mode in production.
  • Go-live support is provided as per the project plan.

Initiate, Build and Deploy are onetime activities after these steps, it goes into support mode. The support is a recurring activity and is provided per customer requirements. Gradually, the customer can own the support internally or the customer can engage support partners on an on-going basis.

 

#2 Main Challenges during Salesforce CRM Implementation

 

2.1 Preference to Change Product Functionality over Business Processes

Customers ask for changes to the product functionality to meet their existing business requirements and in that process suggest a lot of customization to the product negating the benefit of the standard CRM product implementation.

This leads to various situations such as :

  1. Customization would indeed become time consuming and be more expensive for the customer.
  2. Negates the benefits of standard product functionality to the business
  3. Increases the maintenance cost to the customer as the customizations need to be revisited after product upgrades.

Excessive customization is a major cause of Salesforce CRM implementation failures.

 

2.2 Too many real-time integrations

While the end-users have the desire to see the data in real-time across the systems,  maintenance of a large number of real-time integrated systems is not only complex but can also lead to intermittent business process shutdowns.

Integrations are basically of three types

  1. Real-time (UI based)
  2. Near real-time (message-based)
  3. And batch (periodic data loads).

The Salesforce implementation partners should thoroughly verify the integration requirements, recommend the optimum number of touch points & integration types, and develop them.

 

2.3 Knowledge gap with subscription software vs. purchased software

There is a gap concerning customer’s understanding of subscribing cloud software vs buying on-premise software. The implementation partner should educate the customer in such instances.

  1. Reasons for choosing subscription software are
  2. No upfront capital investments but only monthly subscription fees
  3. Quicker implementation time frames
  4. Less support costs

In subscription model, the customer doesn’t own the software but has access to the software, the customer owns the data but Salesforce is the custodian of the data.

 

2.4  Data quality Issues

The seed data is loaded into the production CRM system as part of the implementation. The time it takes to load the data doesn’t depend much upon the volume of the data but on the accuracy of the data.  The customer needs to ensure the quality of the seed data to avoid delays in deployment.

 

2.5 Availability of key end-user personnel during various stages of the project.

As the deployment timelines for off the shelf product like Salesforce CRM product consist of just a couple of weeks, the end-users are made part of all phases of the deployment and allocate their time accordingly.

If the timelines get extended, the project becomes expensive when end-users are unavailable during various phases of the implementation.

 

#3 Benefits of Salesforce Implementation for Your Business in 2019

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3.1 No capital expenses but only operational expenses

  1. Salesforce CRM is a service that businesses subscribe to and pay a subscription fee every month.
  2. There is no upfront license cost or custom hardware cost.
  3. It is zero capital expense associated with the subscription fee model.
  4. Also, all the expenses incurred are operational expenses.

 

3.2 Standard sales processes and faster sales cycles

The customers follow only the standard sales processes such as

  1. Capturing all the data associated with each deal.
  2. Help analyze the various steps in the sales process efficiently.
  3. Leading to quicker sales cycles along with improved productivity.

 

3.3 Automatic upgrade of Salesforce CRM Software

Salesforce owns the software and is a caretaker of the customer data. Customers own their data. Salesforce implementation partner deploys the software and supports it. The whole process is simple and efficient.

As Salesforce CRM is a cloud software, the customers don’t need to go through the hassles of the various processes such as:

  1. Upgrade the software.
  2. Deploy the patches.
  3. Manage backups.
  4. Buy networking equipment.
  5. Buy storage devices.
  6. Or even have an IT engineer.

The life cycle management of the application is owned by Salesforce, and majority of the IT operations in are done by Salesforce (as mentioned above).  These translate to lower cost of ownership to the customer.

 

3.4 Access to Salesforce Ecosystem Enterprise Applications

Salesforce ecosystem is a strong ecosystem of thousands of enterprise applications, meeting the business needs of customers.

  1. Salesforce CRM is a product within and integrates well with several applications built on the platform.
  2. The applications are made available through Salesforce AppExchange. This enables a business to subscribe to multiple applications.

 

#4 Four Immediate Results of Implementing Salesforce in Your Business

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4.1 Better visibility into the sales data

With the deployment of the Salesforce CRM solution, the organization gains access to sales data and its roll-up across departments and territories. The biggest benefits of CRM product deployment are that:

  1. It helps to efficiently plan the pipeline allowing the sales activities there by shortening the sales cycles
  2. Unified access to entire sales.

 

4.2 Increase in Productivity

With all the data captured in the CRM system,

  1. Organizations can analyze complex sales data through various reports.
  2. Automate everyday tasks.
  3. And identify the areas of productivity improvement.

 

4.3 Seamless functionality across smartphones, laptops and personal computers

As the Salesforce CRM is deployed on cloud and as it is developed to be deployed across various screen layouts, the functionality is available to users across computing devices.

There is no software to download and there are no functionality differences on smartphones and computers.

 

4.4 Improved Customer Service

As the entire customer data is stored in one place and as it can be accessed from anywhere, the right customer contact information is always available to the sales team for better service of customers.

 

#5 Salesforce CRM Implementation Best Practices & Tips

 

5.1 Choose the Right Product & the Right Partner for your Business

Salesforce CRM is available in several editions such as

  1. Professional Edition.
  2. Enterprise Edition.
  3. Sales Cloud.
  4. Marketing Cloud.

The customer should select the right product supporting the functionality and suitable to the size of the business. It is not always simple for the customers to select the right product by themselves due to the several choices available. The partner can help the customer select the right product.

It is critical to select the partner who can get business objectives achieved through the deployment of Salesforce CRM at optimum cost.

An alternative approach is to engage an independent Salesforce Consultant. But the contingency risks associated with a consultant are far higher than those of a partner and it is not advisable for a customer to hire a consultant to do the implementation.

 

5.2 Get Executive Sponsorship for Your Business

Executive sponsorship is necessary for the following reasons.

  1. To ensure the project goals are always kept aligned with the business strategy.
  2. Make sure that the needed direction is given.
  3. The Finance budget is provided to the team during all phases of the implementation.

Lack of executive sponsorship is the main reason for implementation failures.

 

5.3 Minimizing the Customizations as far as possible

In several instances, the end-users would want the Salesforce CRM to replicate their existing business processes & interfaces and ask for extensive customization. Heavy customization is a recipe for failure.

Minimizing the amount of customization is something the Salesforce implementation partner needs to own, the partner also should get the buy-in of the project sponsor and emphasize the benefits of out of box implementation to the end-users.

5.4 Contain the Integration Touchpoints

Several parameters come into the picture for the seamless functioning of the real-time integrations. The integrations are maintenance sensitive to any changes across multiple systems.

The customer and the Salesforce implementation partner should diligently review the integration requirements and contain the total number of integration touchpoints & the transmitted data. This would not only help salesforce implementation save times & cost but also would reduce the maintenance cost.

 

5.5 Encourage End-user Participation during the Entire Project

End-user reluctance to embrace the CRM leads to delays in deployment and negatively impacts the success of Salesforce implementation.

The push back occurs in cases where end-user is involved only during the training phase after the implementation is completed. So it is important to engage the end-user from the initial stages of the project and seek input from them at every step.

5.6 Compress the Project Timelines

Deployment of Salesforce CRM should take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a few months of timeframe – that’s it. If the Salesforce CRM implementation takes too long, it is likely to fail; an implementation is not custom development.

The delays can occur due to various factors such as

  1. Lack of project sponsorship.
  2. Lack of commitment from the users.
  3. Changing business needs.
  4. Poor project management.
  5. Too many changes being made to the product.
  6. Too many integration touchpoints.
  7. Salesforce implementation partner lacking the needed skills.

 

#6 Salesforce CRM Implementation Costs

There are three parts to the cost associated with a Salesforce CRM implementation.

 

6.1 Subscription Cost

The fee is broadly dependent on the application edition, types of users and number of users. Salesforce channel partners can advise on subscription types and the associated cost. The subscription cost is a recurring monthly cost that is normally paid in advance on an annual basis.

 

6.2 Implementation Cost

It is the onetime cost to the customer to implement the system.

The cost of the implementation mainly depends upon the following factors:

  1. Whether it is out of the box or not
  2. Number of integrations
  3. Amount of data loads
  4. The extent of travel required
  5. The Salesforce implementation partner.

 

6.3 Support cost

This is the cost associated with continuous improvement after the implementation and is a recurring cost for the customer. The support cost depends on the extent of the support and location of support engineers. It is paid yearly and the amount decreases gradually over five years.

 

#7 Salesforce CRM Implementation Timeframes

The Salesforce CRM implementation timeframes depend upon whether it is an out of box implementation or customized implementation, the extent of the customization, the number of integration touchpoints, and the user training requirements.

Overall, customers should aim to implement Salesforce CRM applications out of the box as mentioned above. The out of box approach not only reduces implementation cost & support cost but also helps organizations to adopt standard terminology & the most efficient industry business practices.

The customers should also aim for out of box implementation Salesforce AppExchange applications for similar benefits such as:

  1. Rootstock ERP (rootstock.com)
  2. ComplianceQuest Quality Management System (compliancequest.com).

The end-users and project sponsors could heavily lean on Salesforce CRM product to refine their existing business processes and user interface elements. Salesforce implementation partners need to take ownership by explaining its implementation benefits of out of the box and reduce the volume of changes.

 

7.1 Out of box implementation:

In this approach, the application standard functionality is deployed with no changes made to the product functionality.

During implementation

  1. The dev & test environments are created
  2. Users/profiles/permission sets are defined
  3. Seed data is loaded into environments
  4. Workflow rules & email templates are setups
  5. Triggers are defined
  6. And business functionality is tested.

Salesforce application is periodically upgraded by Salesforce based on the technology advancements and functionality refinements. Several approaches to the data loads into and out of the salesforce application are provided as part of standard functionality itself. For the majority of the customers, out of box implementation is the preferred approach.

It is best to contain the total span of the project to a couple of weeks or a few months. Overall, customers should aim to complete the implementation in 2-3 months with 3-5 team members.

There is no need for all the implementation team members to be at customer location throughout the project. A week of face-to-face meetings in the initiation stages of the project and a week towards the end of the project are sufficient. The customers should select the right Salesforce implementation partner who can complete the out of box implementation at optimum cost.

 

7.2 Customized Salesforce Implementation timeframes

In this approach, the Salesforce product functionality is changed to meet the business needs.  The changes are broadly classified as configuration (done through clicks) and customization (done through code).

Examples of configuration and customization are as follows:

Configuration:

  1. Addition of objects
  2. Fields
  3. Tabs
  4. Apps
  5. Changes to page layouts & record types
  6. E-mail templates
  7. Modifications to reporting layouts based on simple objects

Customization:

  1. New apex classes,
  2. Apex triggers,
  3. Visual force pages,
  4. E-mail template changes requiring visual force,
  5. Creation Salesforce lightning components,
  6. Changes to the look of the pages requiring CSS,
  7. The addition of JavaScript to add capabilities.

The skills needed to do configuration are different than those of customization. The configuration is simpler than customization, both would increase the implementation timelines. The timelines depend upon the extent of the changes to the product functionality

 

7.3 Integration development Timeframes

The integrations are sized based on the touchpoints. No Salesforce CRM application is in an isolated environment and data integrations with other applications are necessary to support seamless business functionality.

Broadly, the integrations can be done either by

  1. Real-time
  2. Or Batch mode.

In most cases, the integrations are done real-time through APIs by sharing WSDLs. The most time-consuming part of the integration development is arriving at a WSDL file meeting the integration requirements of the participating applications.

Once the integration requirements are specified, each integration for a touchpoint can be developed in 2-3 weeks by one or two individuals knowledgeable in both Salesforce CRM and the external system. The development can be done from a remote location.

 

#8 How a Knowledgeable Salesforce CRM Implementation Partner can help you to Achieve Your Business Goals

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A Knowledgeable Salesforce Implementation Partner can assist you with proper guidance about the type of Salesforce CRM which would suit your business and help you grow by becoming a right Salesforce Implementation partner.

Always, discuss your business goals with a knowledgeable Salesforce Implementation partner who has impeccable experience in implementing Salesforce CRM, it’s AppExchange ERP (rootstock.com) and QMS (compliancequest.com) applications for better results and who can ensure ROI for your enterprise within a short period.

 

#9 Conclusion

In this article, we have discussed the 3 key steps to implement Salesforce successfully for your organization along with the best practices, benefits, and immediate results that will boost your business 10X if you choose the right Salesforce CRM implementation partner.

You also now know that with the right Salesforce Implementation partner, it is manageable to do a customized and configured implementation with ease at an optimum cost.

We hope that this article helps you to understand not only Salesforce implementation but also the right approaches to accomplish business goals.