Sometimes Salesforce projects don’t stop, they slow down, sputter, and you can’t seem to get them restarted or firing on all cylinders. These projects aren’t always failures – they just need a thorough tune-up and clear path to get them back on the road. As such, below are the top reasons for a project stall and how to get them back on track and delivering success.
Tell Your Passengers to Buckle Up (Stakeholders)
The top reason for a Salesforce project stall is dwindling senior stakeholder involvement or lack thereof. Whether you are rolling out Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, or a custom cloud solution on the Salesforce platform, your senior stakeholders hold the key to moving the project forward. As priorities change in an organization, from budget changes to new strategic initiatives, the major stakeholders will need to keep a steady grip on the project and provide support. Project stalls from stakeholders can be detrimental, as their buy-in (or lack thereof) can significantly affect the resources involved as well as future adoption by your business users.
Ensuring stakeholder buy-in is both the most useful and most obvious solution to the problem. It is important to understand where the Salesforce project sits on the roadmap for the business and any potential roadblocks, potholes or speed bumps along the road. Is your organization a startup and planning for an IPO this year? Do you have any major changes in leadership, especially in those roles that can impact a Salesforce project (VP of Sales for Sales Cloud or VP of Service for Service Cloud)? Is your solution answering stakeholder specific questions? You will need to answer these questions before you can fix the solution.
One way that I have seen work is to identify the stakeholders who are blocking your path, and bring this to the attention of the steering committee or discuss it in a weekly status meeting. The intent behind this is not to make them feel targeted, but rather to expose an issue so that it can be managed collectively. Often stakeholder concerns surround a lack of acceptance for the vision with Salesforce or a lack of inclusion in decision making. Provide better visibility to the project, actively supporting their questions and make sure everyone is buckled up for the ride!
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Check the Gas (Money)
Is your project funded appropriately? Is the tank running dry but you have plenty of miles to go until you reach the finish line? These questions often plague many Salesforce projects, and the answers are not always simple. Project budgets are often set early on and have approval from fairly senior stakeholders, so going back to ask for more gas money can be a challenge or impossible. Also, when solutions start to get too complex, money can start to dwindle as consultants or other highly technical resources are pulled in to support the project. Although very technical resources are always a high profile cost, they are often necessary and should be reviewed within the entire project cost.
Fixing a lack of funds can be difficult and will require a deep understanding of the solution that is stalling as well as a plan for what will be accomplished. Some key areas to consider include:
- Get to your destination – what is the plan and how can I/we accelerate it to ensure budgets can cover it?
- Use experts wisely – are consultants being used on significant capability gaps, and if so, when will they complete their efforts? Also, has enough time for knowledge transfer been put in so that permanent employees can successfully manage the solution down the road?
- Strip it down – especially when implementing Salesforce, are there out-of-the-box components that will get the team to a successful go-live and sometimes the extra apps, new business processes, complex integrations can wait until Phase 2 to make their impact?
Don’t Forget to Get the Whole Car Inspected (Org Health Assessment)
Although budget and stakeholders are certainly the chief reasons why a project can stall, problems can be more systemic and need a holistic product approach to fixing it. Stopping a project and doing a diagnosis of why it isn’t progressing as hoped takes both determination and character, as the tendency to want to progress a project at all costs is an enticing one.
A project may also need to take a larger view of what it is attempting to solve as well as the environment it is operating in. Is the Sales Cloud attempting to deliver complex forecasts within a simple business model? Is the Service Cloud not integrated with a central ERP system that will inevitably be in conflict with it? These types of questions will need answers as well as solutions which may affect the total environment.
An external Salesforce specific health check or assessment is one of the best ways to get a fresh perspective on the systemic issues that may be plaguing your project. Whether it is a simple license issue (using Professional Edition rather than Enterprise) or a complex integration (combining Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, CPQ and ERP systems) an assessment will layout both the issues and potential roadmap to get the project back on track.
Health assessments also perform another function, they support better stakeholder engagement and provide the validation to seek more budget. Effectively fixing the two previous problems, the assessment will provide a view on the entire solution and give a high-level set of actions that senior stakeholders can put in to practice. Also, the set of actions can be effectively costed to provide the basis for greater investment.
At the end of the day, like a car, the project should reach its destination successfully by reducing the bumps along the way to ensure all passengers (users) are happy with the journey. Don’t consider your Salesforce project a failure if it stalls, needs a jumpstart, or requires servicing to get it restarted. Reviewing the level of stakeholder engagement, managing the budget, and, if completely necessary, doing a tune-up or complete diagnosis, is where the rubber meets the road with Salesforce.
Great post Marc. I like the analogy to a car, “check the gas”.
Thanks Tim, glad you enjoyed it. The analogy was a lot of fun to use!