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The Top Mistakes to Avoid When Adopting Salesforce

posted on July 29th, 2015by Andrew Lawlor

The Top Mistakes to Avoid When Adopting Salesforce

No software implementation is without its challenges. That’s certainly true even for cloud-based software deployments that revolve around products from Salesforce.com.

Fortunately, forewarned is forearmed. So, as you contemplate your own installation of Salesforce CRM, service, marketing, or other solutions, consider how you can make an end-run around some common mistakes that previous adopters have made.

Mistake #1: Data Migration’s a Mess

Things are just waiting to go wrong when it comes to bringing customer data from legacy systems into Salesforce’s CRM and sales automation apps. Problems can start if a company skips a data cleanup in advance and winds up moving incomplete or incorrect information into the new neighborhood. That’s a hit to expected productivity benefits right off the bat. Even if new adopters don’t neglect that step, they should still perform a data cleanup within Salesforce after the conversion as a second check.

Another data hazard: Not applying the appropriate transformation rules to ensure that existing customer data beyond the basics of contact, address, and the like – whether that data exists in another CRM system or elsewhere – maps to the correct fields in the new Salesforce implementation.

Mistake #2: CRM Customizations Lack the Right Balance

Salesforce is almost infinitely customizable. Unfortunately, not all buyers take advantage of that, instead rearranging their own business processes to fit Salesforce scenarios. As good as those are – and they typically are very good – they don’t always perfectly transition to individual company requirements, and that can create problems in your sales and other processes.

On the other hand, some new adopters get carried away by Salesforce’s customization opportunities, doing more than what’s necessary for their own business.

It’s a fine line to walk between where customizations are warranted and where simpler configurations will work, and the truth is that new users aren’t always prepared to walk it straight.

Mistake #3: End Users’ Requirements Aren’t Closely Considered

For your Salesforce sales, marketing, service, or other application to drive real ROI, it’s got to be used. But as big a brand as Salesforce is and as wide a customer base as it has, I’ve seen plenty of companies where user adoption just isn’t as widespread as it needs to be to make a difference.

The reasons for that often lie with the fact that the project didn’t consider from the start how to make people’s work-lives easier in the ways that are most important to them.

Maybe no one on the implementation team worked with business units to really understand their workflows in order to better automate them in a Salesforce app. Or maybe someone did – but that work wasn’t followed up with strong training so that users would understand the advantages of what was accomplished and eagerly embrace the tool as a result.

Sadly, there are many other ways in which end user engagement doesn’t get the attention it deserves. For instance, it’s possible that no steps were taken to minimize what the user actually has exposure to in the Salesforce user interface (UI). It may make sense to “dumb down” the UI based on user profile to minimize confusion and maximize productivity gains.

Mistake #4: The Company Fails to Secure Salesforce Administrator Expertise

No, an IT department cannot do everything on its own, and that includes extracting the greatest value out of your Salesforce ecosystem.

It’s vital when you adopt Salesforce that you have someone – depending on your size, perhaps several people – who can take on everything from setting up user privileges for an organized sales pipeline to integrating with separate-but-related apps to achieve greater operational consistency, efficiency, and quality.

Sometimes companies aim low and try to fill the bill with a less-experienced administrator. But that might lead to making big mistakes in critical infrastructure that could have unfortunate repercussions. For instance, unfamiliarity with using record types appropriately may create unnecessary difficulties and add to the time it takes for uploading data and other features.

Mistake #5: Mobility Options Aren’t Maximized

Fact: Your enterprise is mobile. Salesforce adopters limit their business’ possibilities when they don’t take advantage of the system’s mobility accommodations, including its Salesforce1 Mobile App (or, for businesses that require a complete customization and/or offline usability, an app built using Salesforce’s even-more advanced Mobile SDK.)

Where do they lose out? For starters, their sales teams will be hampered when it comes to important tasks such as converting leads to accounts or viewing opportunity updates from their mobile devices, wherever they are. That’s not helpful for moving deals forward. Without making mobility a big focus of a Salesforce roll-out, employees on the go also will lack access to dashboards and reports that deliver real-time data to make fast – and smart – sales, service, marketing and other business decisions.

Yet simply ensuring that Salesforce is in the hands of mobile users is only the start of how to get the greatest benefit. It’s also important to fully exploit its power in mobile form, which some companies fail to do. They miss out on taking some of their existing customizations and optimizing them for mobile devices, for instance, including tailoring page layouts so that the most important field information gets top billing on smaller-screen real estate.

Best of luck with your own Salesforce adoption plans. To discuss the best ways to begin adopting and maximizing Salesforce in your own organization, just reach out.

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Andrew Lawlor is a leading authority and published author on cloud computing and CRM technology. He specializes in helping companies and government agencies fully integrate Salesforce and other cloud-based applications with enterprise software. Since founding Aptaria in 2002, Andrew has led integration and implementation projects for major clients including Citibank, Danone, Colliers International, American Red Cross, and ExxonMobil. Prior to Aptaria, he held IT management positions at Verizon and webMethods. Andrew holds an Electrical Engineering degree with honors from the University of Maryland at College Park and he studied computer science and electrical engineering at Columbia University's Graduate School. He is a Salesforce.com Certified Developer. Andrew lives in McLean, Virginia with his wife, daughter, and son. When not working he enjoys playing and watching basketball and playing poker.

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