The Salesforce Optimization Playbook
Salesforce Experience Optimization: An Introduction
Salesforce Experience Optimization: An Introduction
Our goal for this ebook is to convert our insights into outcomes for your business in the following ways:
Thanks for reading!
Joe Mallek, President
How Flexible Are Your Data, Workflows, and Processes?
Building or moving your platform to Salesforce is a major investment decision. When we’re talking with clients who are considering if they should move to or customize Salesforce, we ask them to explore these 3 topics:
Data, Workflow, Reporting
As an enterprise platform, Salesforce has to be generic so it's designed to work with a generic business model. However, if the generic Salesforce process, data sets, reports, validations, fields or objects don’t exactly accommodate your organization’s needs – it’s time to make Salesforce accommodate you.
When you set out to customize Salesforce, it can be difficult to determine where the line is between “minor renovations” and a full build-out. When is it easier to just make the whole thing from scratch? When is it more time and cost effective to make selective changes?
In the next chapter, we'll get into scenarios when it might be a good idea to hold off on a Salesforce customization.
1. Something new is happening
Perhaps you are a new organization or maybe your company is in transition – acquiring or being acquired. Maybe you’ve opened a new product line or are radically changing your processes. If you’re unsure of how your organization will eventually use or integrate Salesforce with your current (or to-be) IT infrastructure, we recommend taking a step back and letting the dust settle before making the investment.
That custom report that seemed like the best way to measure success may suddenly not be necessary. Your processes might have recently changed to accommodate your new customers’ expectations or an improvement in your organization. At this point, a planned Lightning app may not be the right investment.
If you can’t yet nail down a business process due to a major change within your organization – first focus on the business goals you have, and think about how existing technology infrastructure can best serve those goals and avoid redundant efforts.
2. Sometimes it's easier to change a business process than a technical modification
Customizing Salesforce can be accomplished through small, one-off configurations, it may require a serious investment, or anything in between. Determining and assessing the organizational value of the customization effort to your organization against the cost is a critical step. We often work with clients to calculate that value - whether it’s increased process efficiency, aggregated time savings or increased customer retention. But if it turns out that small changes to your business processes can accommodate the need, we recommend holding off on a customization effort. Keep things as simple as you can for as long as you can.
But that said, don’t stop asking “what if.” Remember - every organization is constantly changing and improving both to keep up with their industry and continue to support their customers. In light of that, we recommend keeping a log of changes you wish to make to Salesforce. Talk to your people - they are often the best sources for ideas on how your systems could be better - and in our opinion, enhancements that originate from the user community are categorically more likely to gain adoption. At some point, your organization may hit a tipping point where the value of the changes and the cost are better in balance - the ROI will be clear.
3. This build is just right (or, it will be)
Sometimes, what you need and what Salesforce provides match up perfectly – and that’s great! We’re big fans of not fixing what ain’t broke.
You may also be in a situation where the features or changes you are looking for are scheduled to be released in a forthcoming update. If that’s the case, ask yourself if you can wait, or modify your business processes temporarily to bridge the gap.
If you’re not sure if Salesforce is planning a release that includes your needs, let us know. We keep our finger on the pulse of Salesforce to keep our clients and partners up-to-date.
Prior to completing this checklist, it is important to determine what business processes and/or workflows need to be documented in or facilitated by Salesforce.
However, if you also identify with any of the statements below, then you should probably hold off on any major Salesforce customization efforts until a later date.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our Salesforce experts at Salesforce@lookthink.com.
If you’ve decided a Salesforce customization is in your future, you should know that the backbone of your entire project is setting your technical goals and analyzing your data. Don’t make development an afterthought - let it take center stage. You’ll thank yourself through time and cost savings later.
Modification or a Blank Slate?
It’s critical to know, up front, if developers are working on an existing system and existing customization. Sometimes, a blank slate is easier because they're not interacting with complexities of an existing system - that said, sometimes a pre-existing system leads them directly to one solution by process of elimination.
Where’s Your Data?
Reports, charts, graphs, and automation are useless without good data. If you put spoiled food into a great recipe, the end result will still give you garbage. At the heart of your Salesforce customization effort should be the ultimate goal of having pristine and helpful data.
Once you have identified clear parameters on your data, it's time to investigate your goals. After all, clean data is only as useful as its presentation. The same data presented in two different ways could help make key business decisions or spawn intense confusion.
The LookThink team worked with a small arts-focused university in the Bay Area to develop an app that helped students locate campus shuttles, plan trips, and monitor shuttle schedules. Upon reviewing the data they were currently receiving, we mapped that against their desired outcome. As part of our solution, we leveraged Heroku as the integration platform for the client’s Salesforce system. Heroku allowed us to take data from multiple sources (the client’s newsfeed, bus schedules in their Salesforce, and data from the transportation API) and feed the app with up-to-date, complex information, presenting it in a unified way. By starting with our client’s existing data and their desired outcome, we found a powerful development solution which drove design and UX.
Your data isn’t the only thing to consider – now let's consider how your data is already being structured, whether in Salesforce or not. How does your system play into your processes? How is (or isn’t) the data flowing through the system?
Once you understand the base state of your system, you can start to identify ways Salesforce, either used a different way or through the introduction of new components, can potentially achieve your business objectives.
A Requirement for Requirements
One key to organizing a Salesforce customization is creating a requirements document that also considers branding, user experience, business processes, and industry norms.
This requirements document not only serves to identify conflicts between requirements and limitations of the data or system, but it also serves as a lifeline to preserving the scope. It should be a living charter between the needs of the company and the limitations of the software: in this case, Salesforce.
Especially if starting from scratch, it's important to consider everything available – various licenses, different components, pending updates, or new releases, and then map each requirement back to a piece of Salesforce. The gap between what out-of-the-box Salesforce is available and applicable and your requirements indicate just how much customization needs to happen.
In the end, the goal is to make sure that the custom pieces are truly doing what Salesforce, in any other way, isn’t. Again, we don’t believe in fixing what ain’t broke.
If you’re working with an existing Salesforce installation, it's important to identify where your existing Salesforce components are and aren’t working – which dependencies or new components can be leveraged and where customization can save time and money and improve processes.
One of our clients is Washington DC’s Briya Public Charter School who needed an online system to replace their disparate and laboriously manual data collection processes. Data thoroughness and accuracy were paramount since the data needed to be reported from the new online system directly to the grant funding agency.
Identifying the system requirements from the perspectives of both Briya and the grant funding agency was a challenge. Different user groups had unique priorities and reporting needs. We documented these requirements for the input, storage, display, and reporting of data in the new system and tested solution ideas with the user groups iteratively at increasingly detailed levels. As we received feedback, our requirements documentation shifted to best reflect the nuanced needs of each group.
Our solution not only had to collect the right data, but also collect it in the right way. It had to integrate into teachers’ and administrators’ existing workflows. The fields and flows for inputting information couldn’t be clunky or too foreign for the different user groups, but also had to be consolidated into a single system with a few key flows representing the needs of all of the groups.
We started with different teachers, administrators, and staff working in separate Excel spreadsheets and mapped those requirements back to a larger, Salesforce-based solution. This consolidation ushered in new processes for the users, but alleviated clunky, disparate data-entry as well as enabled streamlined reporting.
Our client’s original business problems were unearthed and documented through initial intensive workshops, which allowed us to construct a high-level data architecture to support iterative development. What started as a collection of goals and a data roadmap turned into flexible requirements documentation validated iteratively throughout the development phase.
One More Time – Iterations
Since development is the backbone of your project, it's important to approach the development-heavy phase of a Salesforce customization in an iterative process. A good place to start is with prototypes based on development-possible solutions, informed by careful data analysis.
Then, build your solutions piece by piece, ask clients to test it out and provide feedback, and determine if their problem is actually solved. Sometimes, solving one problem brings to light to a new problem; in an iterative approach, this early discovery to previously unknown issues saves time and money and allows for the architecture of the project to react to the expanded requirements. Sometimes, you have to take something for a test drive to realize that maybe it’s not the right approach. With iterative testing taking place early in the process, it’s far more flexible to accommodate changes.
We understand that business processes are constantly changing, and your industry, competition, and clients are more fluid now than ever. That’s why it's important to go step-by-step, allowing for feedback and modification with an eye on the living requirements document.
When you’re approaching a Salesforce integration, a customization effort, or custom app, take the time to review everything from a development standpoint. We bet you’ll find the ROI more than makes up for it.
CEO of Door94 and former CIO of City Year
Like you’d expect, we have amazing designers, insightful researchers, and brilliant coders that sit together in a big, open office and work hard for our clients.
What makes us different and pleasantly surprises our clients is how we engage to thoroughly understand your industry, business challenge, and end-goals prior to initiating a solution.
By taking this approach on all projects, from completely new products to legacy application interfaces, we have differentiated ourselves as a firm that can craft interactive strategies that not only look great, but really deliver on actual business needs.
Our experience spans many key sectors and some seriously complicated solutions. We’ve specialized in helping organizations think about and use their technologies more intuitively and innovatively since long before “Digital Transformation” was a thing. We sink our teeth into your impactful challenges and in turn deliver solutions that rocket you forward.
At the end of the day, a successful solution isn’t about how cool it looks, how much it costs, or how slick (or even what) the technology is. A successful solution achieves a goal that you perhaps didn’t realize you had or didn’t think you could accomplish until we came along and talked with you about it.