How to Overcome Implementation Challenges for Salesforce Financial Services
Financial services organizations are constantly looking for new ways to streamline their processes, deliver better customer experiences, and boost their bottom line. Salesforce is a popular CRM solution in this industry, offering a wide range of tools and features to help financial organizations get the right information at the right time, grow their business, and – with the correct implementation – achieve their business goals.
However, implementing Salesforce in a financial services environment can be challenging, and some of Salesforce’s features are very complex, which can also create difficulty during this process.
I’ll be exploring the top Salesforce implementation challenges faced by financial services organizations and developers, while offering practical solutions to help overcome them. Get ready to take your FinServ Salesforce implementation to the next level!
Top Salesforce Implementation Challenges
There are a few different ways to implement Salesforce in a business. Some organizations decide to do it by themselves, others hire a freelancer to help, and many hire a Salesforce consulting team to oversee the implementation (the most recommended thing to do). However, if you don’t have adequate planning to prepare before the implementation, you risk getting a solution that won’t meet your business needs and goals.
Before you start the project, let’s first check some common challenges faced by users when implementing Salesforce – this will help you to address these issues as quickly as possible and ensure a successful rollout.
An Outdated (or Absent) Roadmap
Without a clear vision and roadmap of the project, your Salesforce implementation will probably fail. This is one of the top issues consultants and developers have when starting any Salesforce project, especially an implementation. And it’s also why many implementations fail to meet the business objectives, decrease the organization’s productivity, and hinder the company’s growth.
If you want to realize immediate value from Salesforce, you need to lay out your business’s short-term and long-term goals, address your organization’s immediate needs, and build your roadmap.
If the business has very old processes that were built around the previous platform’s capabilities, this can also affect the implementation of Salesforce. These processes might not bring out the best functionality of the new system; they will need to be updated to fit the company’s needs so you can make the most out of Salesforce’s features.
Finally, another issue developers and consultants face during this process is an unclear roadmap. This is down to stakeholder disagreement on the project’s requirements or scope, which can lead to confusion among the implementation team. It can also create technical obstacles, provoke the wrong migration of data in Salesforce, and prevent the platform from aligning with the business objectives. So, a clear implementation roadmap is crucial to avoid these issues.
Some businesses may be required to invest more in technology and resources when implementing Salesforce, especially if they are large organizations.
This is a very common issue consulting teams face during the implementation process, having organizations not being aware of out-of-scope items, the features, and limitations of each Salesforce edition, or the features that need to be purchased separately, and this can be a very awkward conversation to have with the stakeholders.
Implementing Salesforce can be expensive up front. You need to understand the Salesforce edition you bought, how many licenses you are going to need, the cost to support ongoing operations, and any additional features that would need to be purchased – not to mention those unpredictable difficulties that could bring additional cost. Before starting your implementation, you need to be very clear on the scope of the project, as there might be some out-of-scope items that were not easy to foresee.
Correct Data Migration
A big challenge for Salesforce experts during the implementation process is the correct mapping of data from any system to Salesforce (and vice versa). If the data is incomplete or inaccurate, your CRM platform becomes useless because it will provide faulty analytics, can create duplicates and inconsistencies, and can be an added cost to fix.
Additionally, large volumes of data are being created daily by different sources, especially for the Financial Services industry. And for companies in this sector to be able to filter which data is useful (and which isn’t), it can be a challenge.
However, it’s essential to ensure the accuracy of the data that is migrated from one platform to another. Consider the type of data you’ll need in Salesforce (if you’ll need any integrations in the system and how many) and put proper data validation metrics in place.
This can be a very tedious process, but in order to have a successful data migration, it is necessary to have the right expertise. By having a robust strategy to clean and consolidate your data, and by partnering with an experienced Salesforce team, you can make this process faster and easier.
If you want your platform to meet your business’s unique needs, you may need to customize it. It’s a great thing, then, that Salesforce is highly customizable! However, this process can be very complex and time-consuming, depending on the type of business and industry.
Customizing the platform without having a clear understanding of your business needs can lead to a very complex and faulty implementation or even the over-customization of the system, making the platform harder to use.
Furthermore, some developers can face difficulties during this implementation stage if they have to work on and redesign customizations that were built previously and are no longer necessary. Providing your implementation team with a clear vision of your business objectives and the best understanding of your unique needs, is key to finding the correct customization balance.
Businesses evolve and grow over time, so it is crucial to implement a platform that can be scaled. Salesforce architecture allows for scalability and the addition of application servers to keep adding more users over time.
However, there are some scalability challenges businesses face after implementing Salesforce – for example, the accumulation of custom code, integrations, and workarounds, which can result in technical debt, preventing scalability and future upgrades. Additionally, too many integrations and too much customization can lead to a cluttered user interface and make the platform difficult for users to navigate.
Moreover, to implement a scalable system, it’s important to know where to make changes to improve the platform for users, and you might be required to invest in resources that are out of the initial scope. To avoid this, start with basic functionalities and then build from there. Then bring technical expertise in to help you build a solid implementation plan and monitor and optimize your platform’s performance regularly to have a continuous improvement approach.
Training is an important stage of the implementation process. Without proper training, users can have difficulty using the system, it can bring your implementation to a stagnant level, and users can feel like minor issues are complex problems – no matter how good the system is.
A challenge consultants face at this stage is resource availability, as there might have been an organizational change in management during the project timeline, the development team might have difficulty finding adequate time for training the available resources, there is no one to hand over the documentation on the new system to maintain it, or there is no Super Users (a person who can train their own colleagues) of the new system.
It is crucial to provide an admin who the development team can train on the new functionality and features of the system. This person will be the direct contact for users in your organization in case of an error. Additionally, by having a Super User, you can ensure that someone in the company can continue training other users on how to use the platform. Finally, it is very important to have a clear view of who the people using the platform are and include them during the user training, ensuring that end users know how to use the new system.
One way to ensure that you have the right resources available is to set the roles at the beginning of the implementation (during the roadmap stage), and have them involved in the design of the process. Having your stakeholders in place is very important for the proper use of the platform.
Challenges for Financial Services Customers
The challenges businesses face when implementing Salesforce can vary depending on their industry and the requirements they need to make their business work. Here, we will mention some challenges financial organizations face during Salesforce implementation.
Choosing the Right Salesforce Implementation Partners
One of the mistakes businesses make when looking to implement Salesforce is partnering with a Salesforce Consulting company with no experience of working with Financial Services organizations. It’s very important for businesses to work with Salesforce partners that understand their industry’s pain points, needs, and challenges.
Financial Services is a very fast-paced and competitive industry, with complex requirements and needs that must be considered during the planning process of the implementation – for example, building custom FinServ integrations, designing unique loan management workflows, enhancing their compliance processes, and more.
Additionally, they need to consider all the intricacies that come with an implementation. So, going with a Salesforce Implementation team who has already solved problems similar to yours is key to ensuring the implementation can be successful from the start – they already know all the issues and risks that might arise, as well as what measures to take to overcome them.
Finally, get the expertise of a team who can help you carefully plan your implementation process – one that knows how to guide you about the right technology to use that can cover your unique needs and the true capabilities of the platform. This can help you avoid the incorrect implementation of Salesforce.
Align to the Organization’s Business Processes
As mentioned before, every organization – big or small – has its unique flow and business processes. Salesforce allows a lot of flexibility to customize the platform to the business’s preferred way of managing clients.
Financial Services companies have the option of using either the Financial Services Cloud or asking a consultant to custom tailor Sales cloud to their needs. Financial institutions often have a very different organizational structure than other industries and need to include different relationships to their users, like households, personal accounts, organizations, and more. This again is where finding a consultant specializing in FinServ can be critical, as they should be able to help clients decide which Salesforce Cloud best meets their needs.
With this said, it is imperative for the FinServ organization to define the requirements as clearly and explicitly as possible at the beginning of the implementation, let the development team know about what sold them on Salesforce, what their company’s vision is, how they want to use the platform and the reason that drove them to implement Salesforce now. By providing a clear view of your business processes, goals, and vision, you can ensure the results of the project align with your initial expectations.
Low or Zero Salesforce Knowledge
One issue FinServ companies face when implementing Salesforce is having low or zero Salesforce knowledge. The lack of clarity on what the Salesforce platform does and the low understanding of the impact it can have on their financial services businesses or employees can be a disaster for the project.
Moreover, this lack of knowledge can make the process tiresome and dull, hindering user training and creating resistance from users to adopt the software. If your employees don’t understand the platform and how to take full advantage of it, it’ll be difficult to improve your business’s productivity and gain expected growth.
By identifying which stakeholders have no Salesforce knowledge, you can work towards educating them on how Salesforce can help improve the efficiency of their business processes.
Financial services institutions are subject to strict regulations, and some of them have been slow to adopt cloud software due to compliance and data security challenges. Salesforce has strict security measures in place, but ensuring compliance can still be difficult.
You need to ensure that Salesforce implementation meets data protection regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and industry-specific regulations, such as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) for financial institutions.
Additionally, it’s necessary to ensure that customer data is recorded and stored in accordance with regulatory requirements. This includes retention periods and data destruction policies, ensuring that data is reported to regulatory bodies on time, and that the Salesforce implementation is audited regularly to maintain compliance with regulatory requirements.
Another challenge is integration with existing systems. Integrating Salesforce with existing financial systems and tools can be complex, requiring technical expertise and resources.
To take full advantage of Salesforce’s full capabilities, it is recommended to integrate the platform with the applications your business uses daily. This way, Salesforce can help break silos, and your team can be confident of the accuracy of the data entering the system.
However, integrating data from various sources, such as existing financial systems, can be complex and time-consuming. You need to ensure the data is accurate and up to date, with no duplicates.
Additionally, integrating Salesforce with other systems, such as accounting and billing systems, can be a challenge because these may not be compatible with Salesforce, and there could be conflict or data loss.
To overcome these challenges, financial services businesses may need to work with a Salesforce consultant or integrator to ensure that the integration process is smooth and that the solution meets their specific needs.
Customizing User Permissions
User permission can present its own set of challenges during implementation – for example, creating and controlling user access to sensitive customer data and ensuring only authorized users have access to the data can be complex.
Other complications include managing the creation, modification, and deletion of user accounts in Salesforce, so they can reflect changes in jobs or responsibilities. It’s important to ensure that employees are trained on the use of Salesforce and how to access and manage customer data securely, while guaranteeing user access is controlled, and that sensitive customer data is protected.
By addressing these user permission challenges, financial services businesses can ensure that user access to customer data is controlled, customer data is managed effectively, and users are trained to use Salesforce securely.
Security, like compliance, is very important for Financial Services businesses, as they are prime targets for cyber attacks due to their sensitive data – these attacks can cost companies millions of dollars, besides their clients’ confidential information and their trust in the financial organization. As such, there are concerns businesses need to be aware of when implementing Salesforce.
First, ensure that sensitive customer data is protected from unauthorized access and breaches, and that only authorized users can access it. Your development team also needs to be certain that the integration with existing systems and tools doesn’t compromise the security of customer data. It’s important that customer data is backed up regularly and can be recovered in the event of a disaster or breach, and to apply stronger protection methods like multi-factor authentication (MFA) to increase the security of the platform.
Finally, if your employees are not adequately trained in security best practices and how to minimize the risk of data breaches on Salesforce, you can have a hard time maintaining the protection of sensitive customer data.
Lack of Resources
A Salesforce implementation requires dedicated resources from the beginning. However, sometimes stakeholders are not involved in the process at all, which can be detrimental to both the adoption of the new platform and the overall implementation process.
If you don’t ensure that everyone relevant to the project is involved, you won’t have internal talent that can facilitate the internal training and testing of the CRM, it will be challenging to get complete and clear requirements of the implementation, and they won’t be able to provide constructive feedback, input, or clarification to improve the project. Without their contribution, the development team can have a very challenging time trying to build a solution that aligns with the business’s initial vision.
Identify the people whose needs will need to be addressed during the project and establish some key roles and responsibilities for the implementation. Choose people to represent end users’ needs to identify the requirements, issues, and expectations. Select Super Users who can help with the rollout and testing of the implementation, and provide support to their colleagues while they adjust to the new system.
Technology is constantly evolving – sometimes before we can familiarize ourselves with it. That’s why some employees have problems adapting to change and are resistant to adopting new software when they can continue applying old models. This is especially true in the FinServ industry.
Many employees prefer to work with old legacy systems, because that’s what they know, and it has ‘done the job’ for decades. Excel sheets and email may feel comfortable, but they aren’t always efficient. This resistance to working with new technology can lead to low user adoption, can ruin the ROI of the business, and can be detrimental to the success of the Salesforce implementation.
However, getting employees to effectively use the CRM can be a challenge of its own. If your team doesn’t understand the functionality of the CRM, they might get overwhelmed and try to avoid using the platform altogether, creating silos in your processes and slowing down the productivity gains.
It’s important for your team to understand that the new system is there to make their lives easier and to support their efforts, not to make them more complicated. The success of your new implementation will depend on high user adoption.
For this reason, it is necessary for the management team to establish training opportunities for employees and stakeholders to explain the benefits for them and the organization. They need to learn how Salesforce can improve the collaboration between teams, break silos, and automatize their business processes – all to boost their productivity and efficiency.
No Post-Implementation Plan
It’s not over after the implementation is done. Ongoing support after a Salesforce implementation is still a critical challenge.
If you don’t have a post-implementation plan, it will be difficult to keep your Salesforce instance up to date, measure ongoing success, maintain continued stability, or optimize the platform for continuous improvement.
So, setting up a process to continually improve, and getting support from experienced Salesforce consultants can help you take advantage of everything Salesforce offers – including constant updates to modify and customize your business processes as needed, even after the project has concluded.
How to Avoid These Challenges
Throughout the article, we have discussed why and how to address these challenges when implementing Salesforce as your CRM, but we can summarize them in the following steps:
- Have a clear roadmap: Provide your development team with a clear and detailed view of your business processes, goals, expectations, and requirements to ensure the end project aligns with your vision.
- Plan data migration carefully: Thoroughly plan and test the data migration process to ensure that all customer data is useful, with no duplications, and that it is accurately transferred to Salesforce.
- Ensure compliance and security: Work with Salesforce to ensure that their security measures meet the necessary compliance requirements and establish internal procedures to manage data security.
- Plan integration carefully: Work with a Salesforce consultant or partner to plan the integration of Salesforce with existing financial systems and ensure that the integration is efficient and effective.
- Foster user adoption: Provide adequate training and support to employees to help them adapt and effectively use Salesforce. Consider involving key stakeholders in the implementation process to increase buy-in.
- Plan customization carefully: Work with a Salesforce consultant or partner to determine what customizations are needed and how to implement them efficiently and effectively.
- Manage costs: Work with Salesforce to determine the most cost-effective solution for the organization and develop a budget that takes into account the costs of implementation, customization, and ongoing maintenance.
By taking these steps, financial services businesses can effectively implement Salesforce as their CRM and overcome the challenges that come with it.
Salesforce can be a game-changer for financial services organizations as they attempt to keep up with the financial market’s constant changes and stay on top of the competition. However, FinServ businesses face unique challenges when implementing Salesforce. From data security concerns to customization needs and regulatory compliance, there’s a lot to consider, but with the right approach, they can be effectively overcome.
Want to know one of the best ways to ensure your Salesforce implementation is successful and seamless from the get-go? Try partnering with a Salesforce Consulting and Implementation firm (such as Cloudsquare) that has experience and expertise working with Financial Services companies – one that is knowledgeable about this industry’s challenges and unique business needs. This way you can ensure that not only Salesforce best practices are followed, but also that every possible issue and need in your business processes might be covered.
Whether you’re just getting started or you’re looking to optimize your existing setup, taking a proactive approach to these challenges can help your FinServ organization leverage the full power of Salesforce and take your implementation to the next level.