Top 10 Tips for a successful Salesforce journey


Working with charities implementing Salesforce over several years I have noticed some key factors that make for a successful Salesforce implementations so I thought I’d share them with you.  Salesforce is a hugely powerful, flexible and wide-reaching platform so it’s important to make the most of it.


1. Agree the benefits of the investment to your organisation

How will it benefit you? It’s not enough to say “I think we need a CRM”.  This is going to cost you money and time (the second being of immense importance in any organisation, non-profit or not).  It’s important to consider why you need Salesforce and how will it benefit your organisation.  Keep them to just a few simple, key benefits.  Start with those, you can always add more after the first phase.

2. Set clear Goals

Bit of a cliché, but try and make them SMART Benefits/Objectives so when you review them post implementation you know when you have achieved them. A good example could be To reduce time spent on monthly reporting from one day to ten minutes!

3. Ensure you have Senior Level Buy-in

Do you all agree about the benefits and the value to your organisation of a CRM? Once you have established what they are, get buy-in from everyone that they agree with these benefits.  Even a couple of people who don’t agree could scupper the success of your project – you’d be surprised about how attached people get to their excel spreadsheets!

See Point 1 in this article When not to implement Salesforce

“You need strong executive-level buy-in.  The leaders have to understand and sanction the project.  They have to understand the investment, why they’re doing it, and what are the outcomes.

4. Develop a good understanding of how your organisation works

Do you know your processes?  Are you hoping your move to Salesforce will give you some? If so, then look elsewhere! Salesforce can help you automate some of them.  But, you need to understand how you work (or want to be working) as an organisation before you start explaining them to an external personal/ organisation.  Or ask your partner to help you map these out.

5. Be open to change

Organisations with successful Salesforce projects are not stuck rigidly to existing methods and processes but are open to ideas and and use it as an opportunity to change and improve their process e.g. using tasks or opportunities.  They don’t want to simply transfer their spreadsheet into Salesforce.

6. Allocate a budget

Have you assigned a budget yet?  While the kind people at Salesforce will donate 10 licenses assuming you meet their criteria, you will probably need to work with a consultant to get you up and running and possibly need support post go live. (Note: if you want to do it yourself you can, using free resources but it will take you time and you’ll need to assign someone within your organisation who has the time, willingness and skills to take this on).

7. Allocate time

Have you assigned a Project Manager and a Project team? This may seem like a bit of a grand title but really, it’s someone who will be the go-to person for your assigned partner/consultant. Successful organisations recognise that this person will need time to manage the project and tell the consultancy you work with how much time they have, as this could affect how long the project takes.  They will need to be involved in testing and key decisions so it’s important to give them time to do that.  The Executive Sponsor is someone they can go to for help, advice and guidance.

8. Realise the value of the role of System Administrator

Have you considered who in your organisation will be your System Administrator? What does that mean you ask? Well, effectively it’s a single ‘owner’ of your Salesforce CRM who does the following types of things: Trains new users; makes any major changes – or approves them; keeps up to date with enhancements from new releases.

In an ideal world,  your Project Manager ultimately becomes your System Administrator as he or she will have the knowledge of what was decided and why in your use of Salesforce and has the most experience.  Most consultancies will try to ensure this person gleans as much as they can from their team so you can keep your ongoing costs down.

Here is a great document describing the New Salesforce Administrator Learning Journey.

9. Be forward thinking

Successful implementations of Salesforce I have worked on have included longer-term thinking; they take time to consider the bigger picture and prioritise what will have the biggest impact e.g. take into account legislation changes coming up which may affect the way you store your data.

10. Set realistic plans

If there is a long list of features and functionality required, is it all essential for the first phase of your Salesforce implementation or is some more important than others?  Some people find change easier than others so if you can try not to overwhelm them and break it down into achievable phases, your project is more likely to be a successful one.


P.S. Remember the Salesforce community is a huge one, over 50,000 organisations worldwide access Salesforce via the Power of Us Program. It’s highly likely that they will have faced challenges such as yours so get talking in the Salesforce Trailblazer Community and benefit from their experience, for free!.

Written by

Julia Whitehead