Posts Tagged Salesforce.com

Don’t let your Salesforce.com Implementation Program lose Momentum

Salesforce Implementations can get seriously bogged down after a year or two of haphazard evolution

Salesforce Implementations can get seriously bogged down after a year or two of haphazard evolution

Is progress with your Salesforce implementation program becoming increasingly challenged? 

Symptoms include:

  • Project delivery late and over-budget
  • User adoption decreasing
  • Data quality decreasing
  • Minor changes taking too long to move from idea capture to delivery
  • Stakeholders preoccupation with stabilising the mess rather than taking strategic next steps
  • Salesforce staff failing to be retained

Whilst these symptoms are all too common with larger Salesforce implementations made complex due to the number of business units and system integrations, the good news is there are steps you can take to stay (or get back) on-track.

Make these practical decisions at the start a Salesforce implementation program to ensure you don’t get “stuck in the mud” or perhaps “Stuck in the cloud” should be the modern phrase!

  1. Establish a “Centre of Excellence” to govern change
    – centralise decision making, release management and design standards;
  2. Establish strong product management involving business and IT to assess and prioritise requests for change
    – ensuring high priority/value requests are delivered first;
  3. Stay ahead of the curve with strategy and architecture
    – communicate a clear (regularly refreshed) vision explaining where you are heading and how you will get there;
  4. Use a consistent delivery team
    – yield better results with an agile team working through a regularly re-prioritised backlog to avoid loss of staff continuity across a series of larger stop/start projects;
  5. Deliver releases regularly (continuous delivery)
    – be responsive to change requests (at least for minor enhancements) to keep users engaged as they receive increasing value as the platform is advanced;
  6. Keep documentation current
    – capture the reasons why decisions were made and what outcomes were achieved to inform the future;
  7. Develop a library of test classes/methods which simulate and test critical business functions
    – ensure nothing breaks as changes are deployed using automatically run test methods;
  8. Continuously focus on data quality at the point of entry
    – be clear for all data about why it is needed, how it will be used, and what defines “good data”;
  9. Make an ongoing investment to resolve legacy implementations which are causing problems
    – avoid an increasing pile of “technical debt” which will eventually inhibit progress;
  10. Learn as you go and invest in training
    – improve delivery over time by conducting post-implementation reviews;

If you need help with Salesforce please get in touch with Artisan Consulting.  Artisan provides a cost-effective Salesforce Program Health Check which documents your current state, where you want to get to, and provides practical recommendations for your next steps.

About the Author
Richard Clarke is a Program Director and Technical Architect within Artisan Consulting's Salesforce Delivery Team.  Richard has led Salesforce delivery teams in the Australia, New Zealand and the USA and applies over 20 years of enterprise software experience when delivering business value with Salesforce.com.

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What sets you apart when it comes to delivering sustained results is not what you know but what you are capable to learn…

The challenge in staying current with Information Technology comes from how fast the industry continually changes.  Moore’s Law is often quoted “overall processing power for computers will double every two years” but I’ve found extreme evolutionary pace applies to application development as well. 

In my view the pace of change in software engineering is even more significant and harder to keep up with.  Processing power has focussed on doing the same thing faster, smaller and with greater power efficiency.  Software engineering has also invented completely new ways to design, develop, deliver and operate software.

Take Salesforce.com for example which I started working with in 2007.  Since then the platform has become more capable as significant new business functionality has been added three times a year.  Acquisitions like Heroku, Pardot and ExactTarget have broadened the definition of what “Salesforce” means.  Deep expertise across the full Salesforce suite becomes harder and harder to maintain.

What you need to know iStock_000014937781_Double 800x600Maintaining a high level of capability with software platforms like Salesforce means committing to a journey of continual learning and often progressive specialisation.

What I knew at the start of my career about Burroughs B6700 mainframes and PDP-11 mini-computers is now totally irrelevant.  What remains constantly valuable is knowing where and how to research and where and when to ask for help.

In September 2015 I’m off to Dreamforce in San Francisco which will be my fourth pilgrimage to what has become the largest annual IT conference on the planet.  Of course the networking and inspirational keynote speeches will be great, but I go primarily to learn and to absorb a vision of what is coming next.

Being part of the global Salesforce community is an exciting immersion in continual learning!

 

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Cloud Computing: Not Always a Silver Lining

The Happy Promise

Cloud computing comes with an attractive promise – much like the sun shining on lovely white fluffy clouds. Life's good in the cloud the vendor will say. No more infrastructure to purchase, host and maintain. And with a cloud application platform like Salesforce.com no more developers either as all it takes is "clicks not code". Sounds wonderful. And it always is at the start.

Clouds sized

The Reality

Building complex integrated business solutions continues to be complex, especially when the landscape includes legacy monolith systems unaccustomed to "talking" to anything outside the firewall boundary.

Managing the evolution of an enterprise database is also a challenge as business needs change over time. With Salesforce it is incredibly easy to add new entities to your organisation's "database" or add new fields to entities already there. Add-on applications can easily be introduced from the Salesforce AppExchange – each of which adds to the overall system complexity.

The law of entropy (the second law of thermodynamics) applies here – an isolated system will spontaneously evolve towards maximum disorder.

The faster a cloud platform allows changes to be made then the faster the pace towards disorder will occur.

The Common Journey

Particularly with Salesforce.com the journey starts with business stakeholders becoming exasperated with the speed of their IT department. They engage Salesforce and within days their CRM system is up and running. So easy. In hindsight perhaps too easy.

Initially Salesforce is a clean well-structured system without back-office integration. Then the changes start and the clouds start changing their colour. New entities and fields are freely added to the database. Integrations are established with back office systems. Add-on applications are installed.

Entropy kicks in and the march towards disorder begins.

Eventually the integrated system becomes challenged with data synchronisation issues and fields which contradict themselves (should that be an opt-in or opt-out to stay compliant with anti-spam legislation?). Ownership of the system moves progressively from a front-office business unit over to IT. Who for the most part of been kept out of the journey to date and don't understand how clouds work – other than they look black and ugly and threatening.

The pace of evolution slows or stops and the main point of why the cloud based system was introduced is lost in distant history.

What can be Done?

The good news is this outcome is not pre-ordained and need not happen.

Here are some things to consider early in the journey to avoid ending up in a stormy situation:

  1. Accept building complex integrating technology solutions remains complex even with cloud computing and success will require skilled IT professionals to be involved (regardless of whether the vendor assures you that IT won't be needed and it's best not to engage them).
  2. Accept that database design is a specialist skill and establish good data governance from the beginning.
  3. Provide adequate training and mentoring to the group tasked with administering the platform especially if they come from a business rather than technology background.
  4. Realise the law of entropy applies and there is a need to proactively push back against the drift towards chaos. All changes need to be thought through carefully.

Storm Disbursement

If you find yourself no longer living the blue-sky dream with Salesforce.com and need help to disperse the storm clouds which have accumulated during the first few years of use then I'd encourage you to get in contact. After a detailed current state assessment of your Salesforce organisation and integrations it will be possible to plot a path back to the land of the fluffy white clouds again. It may take a while to unpick the chaos but it is always possible.

Richard Clarke, Salesforce Architect and Integration Specialist
Contact me via email: richard.clarke@fuseit.com

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Which CRM system is most popular? Comparing job demand is an interesting measure.

All software products have fluctuating popularity as user expectations and features change.  So how do you work out which is the best if you want to back a product that has good momentum? 

Evaluating the job market to see which product is most popular within a category is one interesting approach.  Check out http://jobgraphs.com/crm-softwares-demand-comparison/ with CRM products in mind.

Monitoring the trend in the job market is a good way to spot the ebb and flow of popularity.  Here we can see demand for Salesforce.com professionals increasing significantly between March and April.

For those interested in CRM, watch out for the new kid on the block, Nimble will soon be lauched with a fresh take on Social CRM.

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