When Salesforce introduced Customizable Forecasting we saw an amazing tool for sales teams to communicate essential views on their opportunities to management. It allowed sales reps to paint a clear picture of the numbers based on their real-world experience that was previously lost within the rigid confines of system-defined parameters. Having this ability within their sales force automation (SFA) tool helped reduce phone calls and those ugly spreadsheets, and made reporting forecasts easier for the entire team. But Customizable Forecasting had its limits. The main issue was that it wasn’t as customizable as the name would suggest. Admins and users were forced to come up with workarounds in their processes to align to the features of the tool or come up with creative report workarounds to deliver their data.
Salesforce listened and heard their customer’s feedback loud and clear. They introduced Collaborative Forecasting within the Spring ’14 release. In this blog we’ll take a look at some of those new features, and we will review what’s involved in moving from Customizable Forecasting to Collaborative Forecasting.
It’s probably important to point out that Salesforce has ended development of Customizable Forecasting. Going forward all new orgs will only have access to Collaborative Forecasting. For some, that decision has already been made. For others that have been on the Salesforce platform for some time, this article may be valuable to you. Either way, it’s good to be aware of what’s involved in case you’re just starting to think about implementing Forecasting.
Kara Allen wrote a great article on making the choice between Customizable and Collaborative Forecasting. If you haven’t read it yet, you can check it out here. In her article she describes the key differences of each solution and the pros and cons which may impact your choice. In Summer ’15 we will be seeing some new features that have built upon the benefits of Collaborative Forecasting that may sway your decision to move to the newer solution sooner than later.
A few Summer ‘15 highlights:
Enterprise Territory Management
Previously, Territory Management was not available for Collaborative Forecasting. This was a deal breaker for many customers. In the Summer ’15 Release Salesforce introduces Enterprise Territory Management. This new edition of Territory Management provides new ways of assigning territories to Opportunities. It also includes:
- Chatter to collaborate on Territory Models
- More efficient assignment of Territories
- Improved integration with external systems
Cumulative Forecast Rollups
Cumulative Forecast Rollups will allow sales managers to view roll ups cumulatively or by individual categories. On the Forecasts tab, Cumulative Forecast Rollup amounts combine the rollups of opportunities from multiple forecast categories. These rollups give users a clearer view of their total monthly or quarterly sales numbers.
With the original individual category forecast, forecast totals were displayed individually by category. To view what is coming up for a forecast period managers would have to add the numbers from the categories together. Now with Cumulative Forecast Rollups Salesforce will add up the numbers on your behalf. This view makes it easier for management to get a full view of the upcoming forecasting period.
Spring ’15 introduced Flexible Forecast Adjustments
In Spring ’15 we saw the ability for administrators to allow Forecast users to adjust their own forecast amounts without changing the underlying opportunity values. Forecast Adjustments allow managers to accommodate for reps who constantly overvalue or undervalue their forecasts. Managers can adjust their subordinate’s forecasts to account for these discrepancies. Now in Spring ’15 both sales reps and managers can have the ability to adjust their own forecasts.
With these new features, and many more to come, you’ll want to take a hard look at converting to Collaborative Forecasting. The steps are not overly complex, but there are definitely considerations to take into account before making the move. In this next section I’ll share some tips and steps for converting to Collaborative Forecasting.. For more comprehensive information you’ll certainly want to review the Salesforce documentation available through the help menus.
Converting from Customizable to Collaborative Forecasting
There are several key considerations the Salesforce help documentation points out. I’ll add a couple of my own to the list. As it is with any objective, to switch your business processes requires greater upfront planning to improve your chances of success. Also, consider working with a Salesforce implementation partner to help you overcome some of those unexpected hurdles that always make their way into the very best of planned efforts.
- Backup – The first step to any data/process change. Back it up! Make sure you have a recent backup before you proceed.
- Test in Sandbox – This is when having a Full Sandbox can really save you. It is highly recommended that you go through the process in a sandbox with a full set of recently refreshed data to understand the full impact of the changes.
- Document Steps – Things never go as planned, right? It never fails. Some step that you perform in sandbox that wasn’t part of the documented steps will be forgotten. So document your steps and include all those extra little things that you needed to do to accommodate your org’s specific customizations.
- Disable Customizable Forecasting – Before you can enable collaborative Forecasting you will need to disable Customizable Forecasting. This comes with consequences, so read on before making this switch.
- Quotas will disappear! – When you disable Customizable Forecasting the quotas related list will no longer appear on the user records. The permission to edit the values will also vanish from your profile permissions. (See step 1. Backup first!)
- Custom Fiscal Years – Organizations using custom fiscal years will not be able to use Collaborative Forecasting at this time. (Good news is it is on the roadmap. Vote on the idea!)
- Territory Management – If you’re using Territory Management 1.0 you will have to work with Salesforce to disable it. Consider using the new Enterprise Territory Management feature introduced in Summer ’15.
- Forecast History will be purged! – Refer back to Step 1. Backup your forecast information by exporting the data.
- Validate the Forecast Hierarchy – The hierarchy should be retained. But for good measure, validate it and make sure it’s correct.
The overall process is not very complex. But there can be a lot of “gotchas”. Consider working with Perficient (a Salesforce Platinum Cloud Alliance Partner) to help you navigate through these challenges and insure a successful conversion.