Without proper change management, your Salesforce implementation is likely to fall flat.
Imagine you’re given a car and never taught to drive it. Or even worse, imagine you’re given a car and its maintenance responsibilities without being taught how to maintain it. You probably know what a car is; you might even be excited to have one. It can feel like an insurmountable task without the proper training and community.
The point is that the Salesforce platform and a quality implementation is no small investment for most organizations. We spend a lot of time and energy working out the technical details and focusing on how a system will operate. However, when we focus on just the technology, we lose sight of a critical aspect of long-term success: the people.
In this three-part series on change management, we’ll start with the basics of change management. The next two blog posts in the series will cover core principles of change management and tools for success.
What’s Change Management?
So what’s change management? Change management is all about understanding how a new system, technology, or tool will impact your people, then planning to make the transition smooth.
Strong project roll-out plans generate excitement, offer level-appropriate training, create space to give feedback, and ensure your team understands why the new tool is so important to the organization.
When you don’t consider change management as part of your implementation strategy, you severely limit your potential ROI and can even increase employee turnover due to its impact on morale and productivity.
Before You Get Started
Change management begins sooner than you think. Nope, even sooner than that. If you wait to plan your launch until the very end, you’ll miss critical opportunities to bring your team up to speed.
Before you even begin implementing, you should consider how Salesforce will impact your team.
You need to understand two critical things to build a successful change management plan: the goal you want to achieve and the current state of your users. Staying connected to these two cores will help you develop a plan that really works.
Connecting to your Goal
Thousands of organizations across the globe use the Salesforce platform, and we can confidently say that no two organizations use it the same way. The power of the platform is its ability to be customized to meet the needs of each organization.
So, before you begin, ask yourself and your organization’s key stakeholders: what is the problem we are trying to solve? Some answers might include: creating more visibility into our pipeline, making our process more repeatable, creating opportunities for our customers to learn about our product, and so many more. Understanding and staying focused on this goal will help you a) reach a solution that solves the key problem and b) communicate that goal clearly to your team.
Understanding your Team
The people who make up your team are just that: People. They bring their own experiences, challenges, and points of view.
Understanding who your team is and how they learn will ensure you build a plan that works for them. There are three key things to understand about your team:
1. What key events and changes the team is currently experiencing
The pace of business today is incredibly fast. Understanding what other changes a team is currently processing will help you help them prioritize appropriately and help you build a more appropriate plan. For example, it would probably be a bad idea to roll out new accounting tools to a team of CPAs during tax season.
Your team may not be preparing taxes, but they likely have other high-stress time periods or events. Even unrelated events like an office move or a leadership change can impact a team’s ability to be open to new tools.
2. The right depth of understanding for various team members
As stated, organizations all use Salesforce differently. This can even be true within the same organization. Understanding how each team will use or benefit from the platform will help you develop a plan that meets them where they are.
Consider how much time a person can or should spend learning a new tool. If it is something they will use every day for their job, it’s important that serious time is invested for them to learn it. If it’s something that will only be used occasionally, then having strong reference materials and job aids is more important than in-depth training.
3. How your team members learn and build excitement
Albert Einstein is often credited with saying, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” This is a great summation of why considering learning styles is so important.
You definitely have team members who will read the whole user guide and feel confident. You have others who would rather get their hands dirty and play around themselves. Investing the time and energy in creating a diversity of learning tools will help your team get up to speed faster.
Creating opportunities for team members to learn how they learn best creates better outcomes.
Now that we’ve discussed the basics of change management, next up in the second post of this series, we’ll cover the core principles of change management.
Below are a couple of resources to help you learn more about change management:
- Take a look at this Salesforce Trail covering Drucker’s Approach to Change.
- I was a guest on two episodes of Ted Newill’s Medical Device Success podcast (read more about the episodes here), where I talked about Salesforce as a CRM system. In the context of this series, in the first episode of the podcast, around 16 minutes in, I address successfully implementing a new system and getting your team members to use it.
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