Four Reasons Salesforce Implementations Fail

Over the years, many organizations that started their Salesforce journey before we arrived on the scene have reached out to us for help. Some organizations need just an enhancement or two to keep their systems running smoothly. Some want to push into new horizons and build out new functionality. But others are disappointed. In Salesforce.

“Our Salesforce system is broken,” we hear. Or: “We used Salesforce but it was too hard so we went back to our old systems.”

What happened? Why do some organizations succeed with their Salesforce launches while others struggle and even go back to old ways that weren’t really working before?

We’ve seen four common reasons for Salesforce implementation failure:

1. Insufficient internal commitment to the Salesforce Administrator role. The number one success factor for organizations using Salesforce is a strong and empowered administrator. A system will quickly go off track without a resourceful, flexible, committed, and passionate administrator at the helm. And once you’ve found–and trained–the right person, it’s essential to make sure your skilled Salesforce administrator stays as long as possible. Valuing them means involving them in organizational strategy, paying them well, and supporting their professional development. The demand for their skills elsewhere is too high to skimp here.  

Some turnover is inevitable. You need to be prepared for this turnover by accurately documenting any custom code, processes, validation rules, and other functionality that makes your Salesforce org unique. You will also want to develop Salesforce power users. If your Salesforce administrator leaves, replace them quickly with someone who has the right attributes. Learn more recommendations in our Salesforce staffing guide.

2. Fading organizational commitment to Salesforce. No database system is ever “done” at launch. Just like any other complex system, Salesforce requires ongoing focus on user adoption:

  • Get the right people involved from the beginning. Key subject matter experts and decision-makers need to be on board right away.
  • Communicate with all team members to ensure they understand the value Salesforce provides to help them meet the organization’s mission.
  • Invest in staff time– to learn and to become proficient in using Salesforce.
  • Make sure leaders are committed so that the rest of the organization’s commitment doesn’t drop.
  • Grow and evolve your Salesforce org to meet changing business needs.

Without a firm focus on leaders’ commitment and team understanding, users quietly abandon the system and the organization goes back to the old way of working.

3. Lack of a change management process. It’s critical to grow your system with thought and care. Users will lose confidence in Salesforce if you make changes without planning or communication. Develop an overall strategy for the growth of your Salesforce org that includes how and when to let users know what’s changing, and a commitment to provide any necessary training. Be thoughtful about the timing of major changes. For example, it’s best to limit big changes immediately after launch.

4. Major organizational change. It’s disruptive when an organization goes through a major change such as a key leader’s departure or organizational strategy change. This can cause energy and attention to shift away from Salesforce. During these times, it’s essential to focus on the value the system provides in helping meet the organization’s mission, or better yet, consider how to adapt Salesforce to support the organizational changes.

At Bigger Boat, we thoroughly understand what it takes to be successful with Salesforce–and we’ve designed our processes to help you get there. Our approach focuses on client success, starting with understanding what you are getting into with Salesforce, building the right project team, creating the right system for an organization’s needs, and planning for user adoption.

It’s normal for technology adoption to have its ups and downs. Not everyone will be enthusiastic about your database system one hundred percent of the time. But with thoughtful planning and an ongoing commitment to investing in Salesforce, you can avoid the four fail points and reap the many benefits of a successful Salesforce system.