5 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Implementing Salesforce

Like many new admins, I didn’t choose Salesforce, Salesforce chose me.

“Salesforce chose me” is code for: I didn’t ask to implement a CRM for our business, I didn’t have time for a new project like this, I’m not even in IT…but here I am implementing it.

And if you’re also like me, not only are you tasked to implement it, but you also will become the go-to after installation. Because let’s face it, software installs are never really over. Now you’ve become a new admin and are trying to redefine what your career is with your multiple hats.

Luckily for us — most admins enjoy working with Salesforce because of its ease of use and highly customizable interface. Unluckily, though, that usually brings upon endless opportunities to improve and learn its features and traits.

When I was handed the project I had no idea what I was in for. We partnered with an implementation partner to setup and launch our org, but once their contract was up, I was left to figure it out for myself. Here are the things I wished I’d known at the moment the reigns were handed over to me.

1. Start Learning Now

I heard about Trailhead, but I didn’t take it seriously until months after we launched. This left me at a disadvantage not only with managing my users, but also in managing my partner.

The partner we worked with built much of our org in custom code. This left me with a very un-customizable org to deal with as a new admin. If I knew more about the back end of the software earlier, I would have been able to question the work they were doing and make sure I knew how to make changes.

So close to Ranger status! Sometimes though, I ask why I care?

Fortunately, Salesforce makes it SUPER easy to learn the platform. Trailhead is excellent. At first I was nervous that taking time to learn the basic stuff — the vocab, how things are connected, even how to change passwords — was wasted time. Once I learned the basics, however, I was much better at troubleshooting and making changes than when I tried to troubleshoot a high-level concept.

Approaching your learning for understanding maximizes your effectiveness in the org later. Knowing how Salesforce approaches their UX, code, and structure makes it easier for you to build solutions in the future.

Want to start with something fun? Learn to add sound effects to your org when your sales team wins opportunities. Our team loves the Yee-haw! I added to our org after completing this trail.

2. Document Everything

There are fancy org documentation apps that can help you do this, but I found two free systems that helped me. The most basic to get started is to create a running list. “On Tuesday I did x for x user, and this is how I did it.” Even a basic note-to-self will help you refer back to changes you made.

To help me better understand our org’s Service Cloud processes, I decided to take my documentation a step further and create my own internal support case layout. I used record types to make a layout that suited the requests I get from our users and projects in my pipeline. Using Status, I could relay what stage in the project I was at with each request. I also added a custom field to manage completion expectations — immediate fix, short-term project, or long-term project.

Because I built this in Salesforce, I am also able to take advantage of automations like email alerts and easily keep all feedback from my users in one place. Bye-bye searching for emails!

Not convinced yet? Consider this win: I on-boarded a new product line to our Salesforce org that was previously managed with spreadsheets. I monitored the time I spent on the project using my Case record. When I submitted a budget request to attend a Salesforce conference, I was able to show how much I’d saved by implementing the new process myself versus paying a consultant. Turns out, the cost of furthering my education far outweighed the investment. Now I’m off to Dreamforce!

3. Become Your Local User Group’s Biggest Fan

One of my favorite things about working with technology like Salesforce is that it’s seemingly infinite. The expert in the room can still learn from the beginner, and vice versa. Everyone has something to share and it makes for a really great, resourceful community. Salesforce is exceptional at fostering these communities and the user groups I’ve been involved with have been some of the most friendly professional groups I’ve been a part of.

Pro Tip: Jot down a few questions you have in your org before you go to a group meeting and see if someone you meet can help you get in the right direction. (I can almost guarantee you’ll walk away with an answer to your question!)

Need a place to start? Join the Admin Community and peruse the weekly digest.

4. Prioritize User Issues

An error message my user sent me this week, joy.

When a user needs help, they’re in a moment of distrust in the system. The worst thing that can happen with a software implementation is the users distrusting the system. Each time a problem happens, they’ll blame it on the software and hate it more.

It’s your job to keep things running smoothly for your users or to EXPLAIN why it doesn't/can’t/or shouldn't run the way they envision.

What makes you the expert they might ask? Because you listened to advice #1.

Also, kill them with kindness. It really does work!

5. You Are Not Salesforce

Don’t take it personally. Relish in your wins. Brush off the technical difficulties you can’t control. In the end, you’re not Salesforce, you’re just trying to help your org be the best it can.

Are you a new admin? Tell me what you’re worried about or how you can relate to this advice in the comments below!

Fortemente LLC | Writer | Digital Marketer | Artist