Best Practices for Salesforce Deployments and CRM Migrations
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A CRM Deployment or “Moving Checklist” for Migrations

Every Salesforce implementation has its zenith in deploying the final solution and going live. This may include multiple phases or steps, people and technologies to be successful. When planning your next CRM deployment, take a page out of a recent house move when thinking about the essential steps. House moves are similarly complex. There are often a lot of moving parts and timing is critical. A migration or deployment is also a group effort, just like moving, to make sure you meet any deadlines to be out of your old house, that you don’t leave anything behind, and you are also able to reduce any anxiety stress  throughout the move.

When planning a CRM “house move” or Salesforce deployment you should consider the following:

  1. When is it happening and can you do it now? Often times, deployments need to be planned around certain events or to avoid others.  For example, one big event in the calendar to avoid for Sales Cloud implementations is month end.  This is when all sales reps are getting in their deals and finalizing contracts, so updating a Sales Cloud platform will only confuse and frustrate them. Also external events like Dreamforce may take away key System Admin staff from your deployment as they are learning all the new tips and tricks!
  2. What is coming with you and what isn’t? Deployments without a checklist can get messy.  Make sure you have a “moving checklist” of all information that needs to be migrated over, deployed and any integrations that have to be set up.  Also, don’t forget any third party apps that may not have a central role in the deployment but are key to future functionality. An example of this would be Conga, which is often used to run styled reports or presentations from Salesforce. It is necessary and will need to be installed and configured manually in production first to be successful.
  3. Do you have the right vehicle for the move? There are a few ways to execute a deployment, and making sure you have the most effective tool will be essential to your success. We often see highly successful deployments using the Force.com Migration Tool, an ANT-based command line utility, as it allows Salesforce consultants to compare the Production and Sandbox orgs so that they know what should come over. For simple deployments, a change set will certainly suffice, but you should still understand what is coming in the change set and what isn’t!
  4. Will everything fit and work like you expect it to work? Production can have slight differences from even a Full Sandbox, so you need to make sure your environment is ready for the deployment.  Have you made sure your Sandbox is recent?  Have you done a quick deployment to another Sandbox to test for accuracy of your build?  These are essential steps to avoid potential failures when you are ready to go live.
  5. Does everyone have a key? Uploading or updating CRM users is typically the last step in a deployment.  You need to make sure that your users have the right access and that you have tested users that are loaded.  Using the login button, the user record will allow you to see things from the users perspective and is invaluable for post-go live testing.
  6. Can you move in early? Sometimes you can move to Production before your official go live date.  This may include deploying components but keeping them hidden, so that Salesforce admins can see the build from the inside the org, but not expose it to others just yet. Also, I have done an implementation of a Customer Community where we turned on the site for 15 minutes so that we could do some necessary testing, but then turned it off to ensure that external users didn’t see it until it was fully ready.
  7. What do you need when you get there? Just like a checklist for your new house – turning on the water, gas, installing cable, and internet – you need to ensure you have tested everything that you deploy.  Remember, you can’t put in the lamps without first setting up your end tables won’t work, similarly larger objects need to go in before smaller ones.

In summary, Salesforce deployments with a well-defined plan, good tools, and an engaged team can be a success.  Make sure you have a more detailed deployment checklist and that you follow it along with your bigger picture CRM strategy and plan.  Happy deploying!!!

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