Salesforce is a powerful platform with unlimited possibilities. If you are reading this, you’re likely in charge (or interested in being in charge) of a Salesforce implementation. This is great news, because you, the Salesforce implementation project manager, will own the implementation process and will guide the project to successful completion. You’ll need to understand the relevant business processes, and can effectively communicate with both Salesforce and the rest of the organization.

You are an authority, whether that’s explicitly started or influenced through marshal resources, believe it, because it’s true. Believe this because we’ve all run into situations where the owner of a project is committed and talented, but cannot influence the rest of the organization. Knowing the power and influence you have to make this happen will be an important part in a successful execution.

Here are some steps and best practices to get started with your Salesforce implementation.

1. Find an executive sponsor

The executive sponsor lends their influence to the project by becoming its champion. According to Salesforce MVP and implementation expert, Tal Frankfurt, “Having that person’s full support and participation—from the planning stage until the go-live date and beyond—is absolutely critical.”

2. Have a defined process

Clearly define each CRM process before developing a solution, such as lead flow, customer acquisition planning and campaign set up. This is all part of the Scope of Work. Create a flowchart in tools like Microsoft Visio or LucidChart, or get everyone together and write it on a whiteboard. No matter what method you choose, be thorough. Making it up as you go will result in fixing a lot of code later. “Careful preparation and planning will help make the remaining steps in implementing Salesforce go smoothly,” shares Tal.

3. Create a timeline

As part of your SOW and workflow, include the timeline. Include major milestones such as the project start date, estimated database switch date, and Salesforce go-live date. Use a project management system to help you stay organized, such as Smartsheet, Trello or Basecamp.

4. Determine the key players

Talk with key users within your organization to better understand their needs, business processes, and expectations from your new system. Who should be involved from your organization? Who will be the key decision makers? Oftentimes roles include Salesforce admins, general users, key decision makers, etc. Teams from marketing, sales, IT, customer service and more will likely be using Salesforce, so they will need to be worked in as well. As part of your plan, list everyone out with their name, role and reason for why they should be part of this initiative.

5. Share your plan with end users, including customers

The end users of Salesforce are the ones who will ultimately make a CRM initiative successful. They will use the system everyday, so share your Scope of Work and workflow with them. Talk to them throughout the project. Include your customers in the Salesforce implementation process. They will give you real insight.

Frequent and clear communication amongst the project team and the larger user community will encourage support and feedback. Incorporating that feedback encourages everyone involved to take ownership. “Remember, one of the best ways to get people on board is to get them involved,” Tal advises.

6. Take ownership of the data

Clearly define data maintenance responsibilities. In the big picture, the business owns the data and someone needs to be held accountable for its maintenance. Ensuring the data is successfully merged and consistent is crucial to having data integrity. Without data integrity, your brand new Salesforce org will often have duplicate data, unstandardized or inconsistent data, and missing data. Preparing for these data mishaps in advance, as well as having tools in place to clean and prevent them from happening, will ensure CRM system integrity. Data quality tools, like RingLead Data Management Solutions (DMS), can clean, protect, normalize and enrich all the data inside your Salesforce in real-time to make sure it is always at peak performance.

System-to-system consistency, or the integration of multiple systems, is crucial for a strong cadence and user adoption.

7. Roll it out in phases

When you launch Salesforce, do it in stages. Employees may be resistant to big change, so focus on one piece of the overwhelming pie. Salesforce adds real value, but only if people actually use it. If you try to implement too much at once, the project will likely fail. “Don’t introduce so much change that users can’t swallow it, and they can’t adopt it even if they wanted to,” advises Salesforce adoption expert, Michael Hanna. Pushing too hard or too much will deepen the mindset of existing detractors and create new ones. “Your CRM success will only be as strong as the rate at which it can be adopted, not the rate at which it can be implemented,” Hanna shares.

8. Have a post-implementation plan

Once your users are in Salesforce, you want to keep them there. That’s why inspiring CRM adoption is so important. Your post-implementation plan should not just be about the technology, but about the people who use it. Be extremely responsive to users’ questions and challenges, and try to support them in real-time. Refer them to your documentation and add their questions to your feedback list if you haven’t addressed it in your documentation.

Ready to get started on your Salesforce journey? Start by ensuring you have the proper data management tools in place, before you put data into your CRM. RingLead DMS is the only cloud-based, fully scalable data management platform to take care of all your data management needs, making your org more efficient, and your day more productive.

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How to Implement Salesforce: 8 Key Steps

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