Discovery remains one of the most overlooked and often undervalued steps in a successful Salesforce implementation. That goes for core products like Sales Cloud, Pardot and Communities, and some larger AppExchange apps such as Steelbrick.
The role that discovery plays to your success is extremely critical, and dedicating the time and resources to a proper discovery is well worth the effort. Even today, the single cause of IT-related project failure is poor application requirements. And you can only gather complete requirements during a proper discovery.
How long should a proper discovery process take?
It depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. If you’re implementing a new CRM system, the discovery might take several weeks or months depending on the complexity of your needs and number of users.
Hiring an experienced implementation and post-implementation Salesforce consulting partner can help narrow the window of discovery by understanding the right questions to ask and also providing the thought leadership necessary to build requirements for innovative solutions that really transform how the business operates.
Why have companies moved away from traditional discovery, requirements gathering and documentation?
The answer probably lies in the shifting roles of CIOs and CMOs, and growing popularity of SaaS.
Not that long ago, IT projects fell into the hands of the IT department. However, as more organizations adopted SaaS applications such as Sales Cloud or Service cloud, more IT project management has moved to the responsibility of the CMO or even CEO. That’s understandable considering the tightly interwoven role technologies plays in marketing, and the impact marketing nows has across the entire business. Every prospect and customer touchpoint is essentially a marketing event to find, win or keep customers.
But not all business stakeholders are familiar with formal software requirements gathering processes. They may have a great vision but lack the application development experience of a CIO. Combine this with a sense of urgency on the shoulders of a CMO, it’s easy to see why proper requirements documentation has fallen to the wayside.
But I thought Salesforce was supposed to help my strained IT resources?
While traditional development support, including coding, is not always necessary with Salesforce, Salesforce is still a custom business application. And as such, the complete process, start to finish, must be conceptualized and documented in order for the application to fulfill user needs and garner 100 percent adoption. That documentation piece also is important for business continuity should an administrator, developer or other key member of your team move to a different role or leave the company.
We recommend making sure you have an experienced Salesforce implementation consultant and someone on your Center of Excellence team internally who will take ownership of the solution and help support the requirements process.
Balancing urgency with effective planning
Without a commitment to planning upfront, the solution often is not built to satisfy user and executive needs or fulfill business goals such as revenue growth. That jeopardizes the investment, delays ROI and delays reaching your goals. A failed implementation will only prolong reaching KPIs.
Talk to your consultant about realistic timelines and a phased approach to implementation or post-implementation optimization. Creating a healthy mix of internal resources and external assistance from a consultant will accelerate your ability to build the right requirements and get a fully optimized, working solution off the ground quickly.