Cloud-based subscription products like Salesforce aren’t like hardware. With hardware — whether it’s a computer, TV or any other type of physical device — the manufacturer builds each product as best as they can and then releases it into the world. Then, unless the consumer brings the product back in (if they have a warranty, for example), there’s little the manufacturer can do to improve the product once it’s in the consumer’s hands.
But you know that’s not the case for software, cloud-based products and even video games. You’ve gotten the notifications about new releases, updated versions and patches. These products are almost like living, breathing creatures — always growing, addressing deficiencies and improving overall.
Well, the same principle applies to your Salesforce build. As a company, you have full control over the shape and quality of the technology you use, so we recommend using that power to pursue constant improvement in the Salesforce platform. As a rule of thumb, Salesforce should never be set in stone for your company. Here are 6 reasons why:
6 Reasons To Stay Flexible With Your Salesforce Build
1. Chances Are, You Aren’t Taking Advantage of Salesforce’s Full Potential
Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud, Community Cloud — Salesforce’s products solve a lot of use cases. And, as we’ve mentioned before on this blog, we recommend using Salesforce as a comprehensive business platform, not just a single-team solution. So, while your business certainly doesn’t need every single Salesforce offering, the platform will always offer helpful technology that you’re currently not using. Especially if you start small with Salesforce, as we generally recommend.
Best practice is to maintain an overarching vision of where you want your business to go with Salesforce — what teams should eventually be on it, what systems to ultimately integrate with Salesforce, etc. From there, you can incrementally build toward that vision by adding a piece here, a bit of functionality there. It takes a commitment toward constant Salesforce development, but it’s actually easier than trying to build everything at once.
2. There’s Always Room To Improve Your Tech Efficiency
If point 1 is about what you can build on Salesforce, this one is about how you build it. When you first implement Salesforce, you’ll probably get 85-95% of it right, but it’s impossible to make it perfectly right out of the gate. There are two main reasons for this: First, the optimal solution that involves the fewest number of steps/clicks may involve a super-awesome custom coded page that isn’t in budget for the initial setup. Second, no matter how much you test before go-live, your team won’t figure out the best way to use the system until they’re using it day-in, day-out as a part of their regular routine.
The overall point here is that opportunities to improve your technology processes on Salesforce will always exist. So if you don’t have the resources in place to do so, you’ll end up sacrificing your user’s time and energy.
3. You’ll Always Be In Search of New Analytics
Few business leaders content themselves with the same metrics. Instead, they usually want as many lenses into company performance as possible, and every revealing piece of data should elicit five more questions about diving deeper into the numbers.
And, while Salesforce reports and dashboards offer a lot of powerful functionality, your team may need to make real Salesforce changes to answer all of your data analytics questions. It could involve building more fields and objects to capture the information you need, integrating with outside systems to bring the desired data into Salesforce or producing automations that slice the numbers in the right way.
4. Your Business Is Changing Constantly, So Should Your Technology
In my work as a Salesforce admin, I’ve seen that a change to your business usually necessitates a change in the supporting technology. These moves could involve launching a new line of business, targeting a new type of customer or merely tweaking an existing process — typical initiatives to help the bottom line and stay ahead of the competition. And any of those changes will require new information to track, analytics demands and/or process automations.
So if you neglect to update Salesforce as the business changes around it, your technology will gradually become further out-of-step with your needs, until one day your users tell you that it's antiquated, inefficient, useless. You want tech that reflects the way you do business now, not the way you did business two years ago. That requires regular maintenance.
5. The Salesforce Ecosystem is Always Evolving, And You Need to Keep Up
And not only is your business changing around your technology, the very platform it’s built upon shifts over time. Salesforce releases updates three times a year (most recently in the Winter ‘19 release) and new third-party apps and solutions join the Salesforce AppExchange each month.
These changes represent both a challenge and an opportunity for your business. To illustrate both points, let’s look at the switch from Classic to Salesforce Lightning. This major innovation may present a challenge for many companies who were perfectly happy with Classic — Salesforce will phase out Classic at some point, forcing these users to change, and the Lightning conversion is a multi-step process. However, as happy as your team may be with Classic, Lightning offers numerous benefits: Proven ROI over Classic, better reporting, better productivity features, you name it. It may take some effort to get you there, but the results will be worth it.
Numerous Salesforce ecosystem changes will feel similar (though not as major). They might force you out of your current solution in the short term, but they’ll open up countless avenues toward better processes in the long term.
6. It’s Good for Adoption
Finally, as we’ve mentioned in our list of Salesforce adoption tips, incorporating user feedback into Salesforce brings a considerable boost to adoption. This one practice both alleviates system pain points and offers users a sense of ownership over the technology. And it shouldn’t stop once the implementation project ends because, as I mentioned above, some users won’t know what they want out of Salesforce until they’re using it within the context of their daily work.
Here, we recommend implementing a Salesforce user support process — a way of collecting, organizing and acting on end-user issues and enhancement requests. A well-functioning support process will show users you’re listening, and their feedback will help you keep abreast of business and ecosystem changes, opportunities for efficiency improvement, really anything we’ve mentioned above.
In short, whether your business is new to Salesforce or has been using it for years, you need dedicated resources available to carry out the sort of incremental platform improvements we’ve been talking about. If you currently don’t have access to these resources, the two most common solutions are opting for a Salesforce admin or managed services, so start thinking about which might fit your business better. For guidance, check out our ebook on signs you need a Salesforce consulting firm; it'll help you figure out whether the support you need should be in-house or from a third party.