In Digitcom’s November newsletter, I mentioned we were partway through a Salesforce migration and we were planning on a mid-December cut-over. Fast forward two months to early January. We’re now about halfway there.
So, what lessons have we learned so far in our migration to Salesforce? Let me share with you the top 10 lessons learned, in no particular order:
1.You’ve Likely Underestimated your Time Investment
Before embarking on the project, I heard from a lot of friends and other senior executives that have migrated to Salesforce on how complex and time-consuming an ERP overhaul could be. We’d originally expected 400 to 500 hours of time. Once we finally started the cut-over, however, our time expectations became a bit more realistic – we’re up to 1700 hours so far, with another 1000 projected.
2. Seek Outside Assistance, This Isn’t a Do-It-Yourself Project
There’s a good chance you’ll want to hire a Salesforce consulting company to assist with the migration. You should expect to use the consulting company for the initial deployment and data migration, but don’t pass any sort of project management to them. You’ll likely do a much better job of project managing than a consulting company will ever do (see point 5 below).
3. “You Can’t Boil the Ocean”
Here’s a good expression you can use in your own life: “you can’t boil the ocean”. People have a tendency to add more elements, or make the project more complex than necessary. Their project then becomes far too ambitious and unrealistic: they end up trying to “boil the ocean”.
To keep from over complicating things, remember that you can’t do everything at once and you’ll need to break things into bite-sized pieces. First, decide on the scope of your project. Then, break it into phases. You’ll want to be realistic with what should be done and who will oversee each phase. For example, with our project, we decided that breaking the project into 4 phases made the most sense.
4. You Need Senior Management Buy-In
It’s important to have all levels of senior management involved with the planning and development of the project. I can’t stress this point enough. Migrating to a new ERP is a massive undertaking with budget and scope creep, and having senior management buy-in is critical if you want to get the right people speaking and the project moving along.
5. Proper Project Management is Key
Once you’ve set realistic time frames for each phase, prepare a proper GANTT chart listing your expectations for time and tasks. Assign each task to someone experienced in project management, then empower that person to gather the teams, budgets, and processes required to move things along.
6. Estimate the Amount of Training Required. Now Double It
It’s easy to overlook training, but don’t. Everyone needs to be properly trained, and even then, they’ll need lots of practice playing with the new tools well in advance of the cut-over.
7. Test everything before you go live. If you think you’re done testing, test again. And again.
The smallest things can derail a project. For example, under certain circumstances, you might not be able to produce an invoice. Or you might not be able to open a support ticket. If you want to do proper damage control, test every scenario you can think of so you’re uncovering the issues well before they can become a serious problem. Then, think of a whole new scenario and test that one, too.
8. Cancel all other large corporate projects and focus on the ERP migration until it’s principally done.
Along the lines of “you can’t boil the ocean”: be mindful of any other large initiatives that you might be undertaking and make sure they won’t impact the success of the ERP migration. An ERP migration is a massive undertaking, and you don’t want anything distracting the staff and management from the success of the ERP until it’s either under control or close to complete.
9. Integrated is not the same as a product on the Salesforce platform.
Salesforce has an AppExchange (much like the Apple Store) where 3rd party developers can write applications that either integrate with or reside on the Salesforce platform. If you need a project management tool, for example, you can search for “Project Management” in the AppExchange. There, you’ll find some options that could do the job developed by either Salesforce themselves, or by a 3rd party developer.
Here’s a tip we learned the hard way, and something I wish I was told in advance: a 3rd-party tool that integrates is very different from a 3rd party tool developed inside the Salesforce platform. A tool developed by Salesforce will integrate, but one developed by a 3rd party may not.
10. Data Migration is a Complex Task
In the end, data migration proved to be the most complex of the tasks. You really do need to understand your current data, as well as how you will migrate your data from your current software tools to Salesforce.
So those are the 10 things we’ve learned during our Salesforce migration. Believe it or not, now that we’ve completed the most complex of the 4 phases I can see a light at the end of the tunnel. We’re already realizing the benefits of working within a fully-integrated organization where our quoting tool can speak to our sales tool, and where our service tickets, dispatch, and invoicing are consolidated. We have full visibility across the organization, and best of all, I can run a single dashboard that provides full insight into all the important metrics of the company. What used to take hours to report on can now be done instantly.