Implementing Salesforce solutions demands active engagement and technical expertise, which is why organisations look to an implementation partner. According to one report by CIO, 18-69% of CRM Implementation Projects fail due to data-quality issues, unaccountable project management, and unrealistic expectations.
There are obvious considerations when starting a CRM project, such as budget, but also there are camouflaged factors, such as data migration costs. Therefore, it is critical for organizations to leverage the expertise of a Salesforce partner to maximize their Salesforce investment. Organizations need to ensure that they select the right Salesforce partner from the multitude of options available to them in the Salesforce ecosystem. Here are ten points that will enable you to begin on the right foot, and select a Salesforce Partner.
1. Do Your Own Research
It is highly likely that your business need is not unique, and has been previously addressed. Look for Salesforce implementation case studies related to your industry vertical and business. Find your peers from other industries who have recently adopted Salesforce.
Salesforce’s official trailblazer community or joining in-person groups are the official forums where you can get advice from your peers. You can also ask them for reviews of implementation methodology, implementation partner, the time required for learning the new technology, and ROI if the implementation has been in place long enough to complete a revenue cycle.
2. Ask Salesforce
Your designated Account Executive (AE) can help with the list of certified partners that are right for your project type. The AEs are backed with a team of Salesforce experts and try to match the partner with the business process and use-case in question. Apart from the official source, there are many vocal Salesforce admins at Social Media and Tech Forums which can help you with questions regarding implementation challenges, app feasibility, and specific features of various products.
3. Don’t Zero Down in the First Go
It is easy to be biased towards the first vendor or the one with a fancy business proposal! But if you are a CRM fresher, it is best to think along the lines of good-old business strategy; instead of evaluating expertise on paper, ask for demos, relevant studies or Proof of Concept (POC).
An established Salesforce Implementation partner will have a plan of action in place for new clients, and will approach the project systematically; they will take time in understanding your requirements and will define SLAs prior to initiating the project.
4. Look for a Close Match
It is a general observation that if the prospective partner has a substantial understanding of your vertical and business-process, implementation would be a bit easier; for example, if the partner has experience in CRM implementation for FinTech client, they will know the workaround for common challenges in the same industry.
5. Find a Partner Who Disagrees and Discusses
Good consultants ask inconvenient questions, sometimes interrogating the whole logic of your business processes. Why? They have witnessed the failures of flawed business processes and data models.
On the other side of the spectrum are the developers who execute what you precisely ask them to, conveniently ignoring the problem at the basic level. Your implementation project is in the right hands if the partner is asking questions that make you revisit the business model – from the ground up.
6. Look for Certifications
Associate with a certified Salesforce Partner. Salesforce has a strong certification program that offers credentials for Salesforce Administrators, Consultants, Developers, Architects, and Marketers.
Depending on the number of certified experts on board, partners are awarded tiers— Registered, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Global Strategic Partner.
7. Cost is Just a Factor
Salesforce Projects don’t come cheap, so, instead of looking for the most economic Salesforce Implementation, the decision-makers should strive for the most comprehensive and time-efficient Salesforce Implementation.
Often, organizations have wrong expectations of some parts of their implementation; as Gartner found, 83% of data migration projects either fail or exceed their budgets and schedules.
A reliable way to estimate the cost of implementation is calculating the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), which factors the cost of the product licenses, services, internal labor, and long term cost of maintenance.
8. Analyze the Project Management Strategy
When both parties have made an agreement on upon the scope of the work, it is time to discuss and document how the work will be executed. Responsibilities of the stakeholders, the contingency plan for mitigating risk, and the SLAs are some of the factors that should be considered at the very beginning and not dealt with on-the-go.
9. Determine Who Does What
For clarity and accountability, both parties should know the roles of in-house and consultant team members involved in the process. Key roles such as Data Architect, Project Manager for Internal Requirements, and Project Administrator should be well-defined and assigned based on competency.
10. Go for Long-term Engagement
When the implementation is business-critical, and internal resources are not Salesforce certified experts, a wise approach is to associate with a Salesforce Partner who can support the organization from implementation to process evolution as per your evolving needs.
Salesforce Certified partners have robust inbuilt mechanisms for proactively identifying risks before the issues penetrate, therefore, long-term engagement is a preferred option for most customer-centric businesses.
To find the right Salesforce partner to fit your business, you need to diligently follow a systematic approach. Like any other technological upgrade, a Salesforce implementation has a learning curve, demanding effort from all levels of the workforce. Everyone who touches the customer journey should be involved in the implementation process to experience a unified salesforce ecosystem for superior business performance – your salesforce implementation should not be “blind leading the blind”!