In the fast-paced world of digital transformation, Salesforce has emerged as a powerhouse, offering a comprehensive enterprise platform designed to transform business processes. However, before committing to the Salesforce ecosystem, prospective customers must ask critical questions to ensure their digital journey is successful and transformative. This article serves as your compass, guiding you through the six pivotal questions to contemplate before starting the journey. Suppose you're considering engaging a consultant or systems integrator to assist with your Salesforce implementation. In that case, it becomes imperative to explore these questions with your consultant or systems integrator to ensure they align with your organizational goals and to ensure a seamless introduction to the Salesforce platform.
1. What Are My Business Objectives and Pain Points?
Understanding Your Business Needs:
Before embarking on your Salesforce journey, take a step back to clearly define your business objectives and pain points. Are you looking to streamline your sales processes, enhance customer support, or achieve a step-change in your marketing results? Identifying your specific needs will guide your decision regarding feasibility, scope, customization, and implementation strategy.
2. How Well Can Salesforce Fit Our Unique Business Processes?
Evaluating Customization Capabilities:
Salesforce offers a fast-track route for those who can leverage standard capabilities for lead management, customer management, case management, etc. Customization should only be considered where strictly necessary. If your objectives are transformational results, you should re-engineer business processes before deciding on your solution. It's important to scrutinize critical integrations with existing business processes and IT systems. Striking the right balance between customization and out-of-the-box features is vital, as over-customization can result in a convoluted system that proves challenging to maintain. This is where an experienced Salesforce consultant is worth his weight in gold.
3. What to Include in the Business Case for Salesforce
Delving into the Total Cost of Ownership:
Salesforce undoubtedly brings immense potential value, benefit analysis must look beyond the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) license cost. Whilst Salesforce user licenses include basic features and usage allowances, you will face additional charges as soon as you want more advanced features and capabilities. This is a common trait across SaaS vendors.
Adding custom development to the bill can rapidly increase the total cost of ownership (TCO). Customization of Salesforce will push up the total cost by increasing the time and effort for implementation design, system configuration, testing, user training, and support. Once live, your Salesforce solution will require regular maintenance and updates – more if your solution involves custom development and integrations. By gaining a comprehensive understanding of the total cost of ownership, you can avoid unexpected implementation costs and unwelcome surprises when the bills arrive after going live. Your TCO also needs to consider data and transaction volumes, test environments, software tools for development and testing, security features, and operational capabilities such as monitoring and backup.
4. How Scalable is Salesforce for Future Growth?
Planning for Scale:
As your business expands, so should your digital platform capabilities. While the Salesforce platform offers easy scalability to accommodate linear growth in the number of customers and volume of sales, other transactional records and processes requiring real-time interactions can suffer as your business expands. End-users will likely demand more from your Salesforce solution as they become more sophisticated, e.g. cross-functional reports and dashboards and deeper integration with other business systems.
5. What Security Measures Will You Need?
Protecting Sensitive Data:
Security is non-negotiable, especially when dealing with sensitive customer information.
In its internal processes, Salesforce encrypts data at rest and holds industry-standard certifications such as ISO 27001 and SOC 2. These compliances instill confidence in businesses operating in regulated sectors with their Salesforce platform.
Evaluate Salesforce's security features, including role-based access controls, encryption, and compliance certifications. Understanding these measures ensures the confidentiality and integrity of your data. Business stakeholders must be faster in clarifying non-functional requirements for data protection, security, and controls, leading to complications later in the implementation project. Adding such capabilities late in the project can also be expensive as they are foundational to the design. Detailed audit history and data encryption typically add a percentage cost to your license agreement.
6. What Skills and Competencies are Needed to Implement and Operate Salesforce?
Core Salesforce Competencies:
Even with a user-friendly platform like Salesforce, questions and challenges are inevitable. Experienced guides are necessary to ensure your Salesforce solution is built on a solid foundation, guiding you through the initial business case, solution design, Salesforce development, and ongoing maintenance. Your stakeholders will face many decisions along the way, requiring considered options and informed choices. Having independent advisors on your side is essential to navigate the challenges along the way and to hold your Salesforce Partners accountable. Even the most prominent enterprises would benefit from engaging independent Salesforce experts with broad experience from different industries and transformation programs.
After going live, your Salesforce platform will need ongoing support and regular maintenance. Your end-users will need help with training, queries, and new features. Will your organization have the technical competencies to provide in-house support and maintenance? If you already have these generic functions in-house, additional Salesforce experts could complement your existing teams. Only consider outsourcing Salesforce maintenance to a trusted partner that allows you complete control of changes and transparency of maintenance work.
The decision to embrace Salesforce marks a pivotal juncture in your organization's digital transformation journey. You lay the groundwork for a successful and impactful Salesforce implementation by posing these six critical questions. Understanding your business objectives, assessing customization capabilities, considering the total cost of ownership, planning for scalability, prioritizing security, and evaluating the support ecosystem will empower you to unlock the full potential of Salesforce. Remember, these are key questions to ask your Salesforce consultant or Salesforce Partner when formulating your implementation strategy.
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