Salesforce Implementation Series: How to Define Project Scope (Part II)

by Martin Messier

When a client approaches us for assistance with a Salesforce implementation for Sales and Marketing, they usually face a common problem: what Salesforce products or features should we implement and how should we go about implementing them?

The question usually stems from two realities: 

  1. Different constituencies have virtually unlimited wants (and in many cases, conflicting) as to what they expect their tool to perform;
  2. The organization has limited resources to dedicate to the project.

The solution to this problem is to let your business outcomes drive the scope of your Salesforce implementation. Once you define the most important business outcomes, you will be able to allocate resources in line with your top priorities.

The challenge with scoping a Salesforce implementation

This challenge is quite common. As we conducted high level requirement sessions with our clients, it became clear that different constituencies wanted a particular piece of technology implemented — with varying degrees of urgency — to satisfy a particular need of theirs. For instance, in a single organization:

  • VPs of Sales wanted advanced analytics with visual maps to monitor the performance of their region;
  • Reps wanted automated email outreach;
  • Marketing wanted ad-to-lead tracking;
  • Operations wanted detailed pipeline analysis tools to be able to better plan for resources;
  • And, preferably, all of them wanted their ask delivered in phase 1 of the project.

This is just one example of the kind of demands we encountered over the years.

This menu of requests presents a red herring to the organization and to the Salesforce implementation partner: if not careful, the implementation becomes a political battleground whose focal point is “who will be the first to get what they want?” Of course, this does not serve the single primary goal of the Salesforce implementation, which should be to help your business grow.

If left unchecked, this question benefits primarily Salesforce implementation partners who have no stake in the business success of the project. An implementation can be deemed successful according to spec without ever yielding the growth your company should expect from it. All the involved constituencies of the business, even the ones who receive their ask as a priority, will suffer from this approach since the business is an integrated entity.

Warning signs for the CRM Program Manager

CRM Program Managers responsible for Salesforce implementation projects should pay attention to early warning signs. Requests will often come in the form of specific technology requests such as:

  • “Let’s implement Tableau.”
  • “We need to implement Docusign.”
  • “We should be using Marketing Cloud.”

A successful Salesforce implementation generally does not emerge from a technology conversation. As such, CRM program managers should redirect initial conversations of the project to the scoping framework, which will be the object of the remainder of this article.

Our outcome-driven approach to Salesforce implementations

We believe the problem of scoping persists — when it does — for two main reasons:

  1. The interested constituencies do not understand Salesforce sufficiently to make effective decisions about which technologies to implement and in what order.
  2. Salesforce implementation partners understand Salesforce technologies, but do not sufficiently understand their client’s business.

This translation disconnect between “business speak” and “tech speak” means that technology will not be adequately mapped to business outcomes, and project scoping will more than likely include items that should not be a priority from a business standpoint and leave out items that should.

How do we solve this?

At the onset of your project, we help you define the goal of your Salesforce implementation project. This means answering the following question:

“If we successfully implement Salesforce, what’s the business outcome it will yield us?”

For example, if your company aims to grow by 1000% over the next 3 years, your implementation may look dramatically different than if you wish to have a CAGR of 5% over the next 3 years. 

If you want to manage sales teams in a single location in the United States, your Salesforce implementation will look dramatically different than if you intend to manage sales teams in multiple divisions across different geographical regions. 

Once you have established the ‘why” behind your Salesforce implementation — the specific business outcomes you expect to gain from the project — it’s time to define “what” the implementation is supposed to do. Best practices in Project Management methodology propose that you invest time and attention in identifying with precision what is and out of scope. When planning a Salesforce implementation, this means that you address questions such as:

  • Will the project simply identify the Salesforce technology we wish to implement, or will you develop high level requirements for the components?
  • Will out-of-the box Salesforce technology help us achieve our outcomes, or will we need custom development to sophisticate our tools?

A robust Salesforce implementation usually happens as a multi-phase journey, for which we design a roadmap that aligns features and functionality with business outcomes. We always recommend planning the roadmap at the onset of the implementation so we can determine how to phase the project and the scope of each implementation phase.

A useful scope will offer explicit in-scope and out-of-scope examples for your project. It will also point out how much of the project will consist of implementing technology to enable existing processes, and how much will require the implementation of new processes in the business.

Once these questions have been addressed, you can begin allocating resources for the execution of the project. Implementation phases will emerge naturally in harmony with the company’s outcome priorities.

When you establish the scope at the onset of your project, you facilitate decision-making, establish a common vision, and define reliable boundaries to focus effort and resources, and prevent distractions throughout the timeline of the project.

At Xceede, we can assist you in establishing the scope of your Salesforce implementation by guiding you through our detailed Scoping Framework about what should be addressed in your project to outline a vision you can communicate to all stakeholders, and solid boundaries as to what the project will include and exclude. The result is a Power Presentation that draws clear lines from business outcomes to technology and includes a detailed implementation roadmap. You can then use that presentation as a reference for your Salesforce implementation across your organization.

If you wish to go through this exercise, we have made our Salesforce Implementation Scoping Canvas available to you as part of Xceede University. If interested, contact us and we can make it available to you.

By taking the time to go through this exercise, organizations can structure a coherent Salesforce implementation that ensures it will yield business outcomes and growth.

Scoping determines the success of your Salesforce implementation

A Salesforce implementation can begin from many different points. A constituent may present a business need. Another might be interested in a piece of technology. No matter what the starting point, best practices suggest to immediately bring the conversation to the company’s desired business outcomes. You can then ensure each piece of technology and its functionality maps back directly to a business outcome. This helps keep the project focused and decide what to include in and what to exclude from the scope.

Driving growth with Salesforce

Scoping is just one important activity in implementing Salesforce as your growth hub.

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