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Change is inevitable for high-growth companies. Along with changes to business processes and GTM strategies comes modifications needed to your Salesforce. And while making changes in your Salesforce org is a necessary step, if not managed the right way, it can quickly become a messy part of your business.  

As your GTM team expands and your tech stack becomes more complex, change management risks amplify as presumably minor modifications can result in major breaks that impede your revenue engine in ways most of us would rather avoid. 

We get this more than most because it’s actually why our CEO, Brad Smith, built Sonar. Read more about his own personal #OhSh!t moment here.

So, how can you better equip your team to avoid common pitfalls– or worse, lost revenue, when it comes to managing changes to your CRM? The answer lies in implementing a proper Salesforce change management process. 

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Why Ops Leaders Need a Salesforce Change Management Process 

With studies showing that over 70% of change management fails, it’s more important than ever to make sure you’ve got solid business processes in place when it comes to managing change within your Salesforce Org.  

Without a proper process in place, you risk your Salesforce admins facing pitfalls they could have otherwise avoided. What’s worse, these hiccups can put your entire GTM team’s processes to be put on pause– which means lost revenue for your organization. 

At the end of the day, your business needs to run smoothly. And even if it’s just 30 minutes of downtime, holding up your GTM team is a financial risk most businesses want to unequivocally avoid. 

5 Ways Poor Change Management Costs More Than Money

Anytime you aren’t maintaining a solid change management strategy within your Salesforce org, you are setting yourself up on a collision course of risks you’ll inevitably have to deal with at some point. 

Though the old saying might go “the greater the risk, the greater the reward,” when it comes to your Salesforce org, you’re better off playing it safe. Some of the risks you face include:

1. Your tech stack faces downstream impacts   

It’s easy to make mistakes in your Salesforce org if you’re not paying attention … like really, really easy. The worst part is, those mistakes can oftentimes have a wide-reaching affect on your overall tech stack. Think of all the technologies that integrate with your Salesforce and trigger workflows and messaging based on certain processes or fields. If one workflow breaks, the ripple effect across all of those technologies could be severe. 

Proper change management means taking the steps to avoid these risks, and in turn ensure the health of your Salesforce org remains strong. 

2. Your GTM team loses agility

When your Salesforce org has been compromised with errors, your RevOps and GTM teams face downtime and lack of agility. RevOps will be backed up trying to fix bugs and resolve issues while downstream, your sales, customer success and marketing teams could face their own inactivity due to broken processes or flows. All this time and effort spent working out these issues means less time spent on driving revenue. 

3. Your data is at risk of corruption & loss

We’ve said it once and we will say it again– bad data can really hamper your Salesforce org

Not to mention, if you’re in a highly regulated industry, data protection is critical. By making changes nonchalantly to your Salesforce org, you run the risk of wiping out critical business data OR accidentally exposing PII that could violate GDPR, HIPAA, PCI, or other compliance standards. Not only does this make your life more difficult and impact your GTM teams downstream, but these slip ups could mean huge violation fees for your organization as a whole. Be safe– not sorry. 

4. Your customers’ journey can be roadblocked

If the modifications you’ve made to your Salesforce org are subpar, you might break workflows related to Salesforce Cases that could impact support and lead to wrong information on your accounts. 

This can cause a massive ripple effect down your entire go-to-market team. First, it can cause breaks in customer support and ticket resolution, hindering your customer service teams. Not to mention potentially slowing down sales and CX teams from locking down critical renewals.

5. Your revenue engine can get derailed 

While there are other risks, revenue loss is definitely one of the more severe change management risks you’re bound to face after a poorly executed change. The financial ramifications add even more burden to your process, which no one ever wants to have to deal with. Some of those consequences include:

  • Projects being put on hold longer than expected due to downtime 
  • An increase in expenses due to additional people and processes being brought in to fix breakages 
  • An overall loss in revenue due to poor customer service, workflow breaks and inaccurate account information

8 Steps for Implementing a Strong Change Management Process for Salesforce

By now you know the costs and risks associated with not having a strong change management strategy in place. If you don’t have a current process in place, or are looking to audit your existing strategy to make sure it’s up to par, here are eight steps we recommend following. 

Step 1: Assess the need for change

First, you will want to assess why your organization needs the change to begin with. It could be to better align your GTM teams, fix reporting issues, or simply be updated as your organization changes. Regardless of the reason, you want to make sure you understand the type of change and its scale before jumping in.  

Next, you will want to loop in stakeholders, department leaders and development partners to properly communicate the changes you’d like to make and how it will impact them. This is your chance to also collect a change request list from department heads to support their goals. 

Step 2: Define the scope- investigating and evaluation of impact on end user

Once you have your change request list put together, it’s time to scope out the change strategy with your team. 

RevOps leadership is encouraged to conduct meetings with all Salesforce end users including architects, admins, developers, project managers, and Salesforce consultants to:

  • Set realistic goals 
  • Talk implementation tactics 
  • Communicate roles, responsibilities, and expectations
  • Assign tasks and deadlines

Step 3: Develop the strategy

At this stage successfully executing the plans you have set in place depend on leadership effectively communicating the expectations needed to internal end-users, and having a clear view of the following:

→ Timelines: 71% of small companies and 36% of enterprises don’t have a release schedule. Making ad hoc edits to your Salesforce instance can cause serious issues down the line. To avoid this, set clear guidelines for when project completions are required, in order to stay on task and avoid the risk of falling behind schedule and wasting resources.

→ Ownership: It’s essential that each end-user is clear on what tasks they will be taking on. Having your team aligned from the very beginning will eliminate the potential pitfalls that can come with disorganized structure.

→ Deliverables: During your project scope make sure you have clear visibility into what the tasks at hand entail, and the impact these changes would have on your organization.

Success measures: Put in place clear KPIs for your team to measure their performance against.

With your overall strategy defined, you’ll find it will be much easier to make and manage the required changes your org requires. 

Step 4: Implementing in staging 

Breakages are a complete nightmare for your entire GTM team. So, having a safe environment where you can fully test your changes is paramount. That’s where sandbox comes in. This allows you to configure and test out your initiatives without any threat to your production. By using the sandbox features, your organization’s data remains safe from change management risks that might otherwise come from a live implementation. 

For an extra layer of security, add Sonar to the mix to centralize your systems knowledge, have a clear view of potential change implications, and ultimately, help you execute your work with confidence.

Step 5: Test, test, test

Once you’ve made all the changes in staging, it’s time to test the changes. Consider running both quality assurance and user acceptance testing for optimal success.

→ Quality assurance testing: Test all of your Salesforce application components to ensure workflows, configurations and features are error and bug free. 

→ User acceptance testing: Think of this as your pilot program. Ask a handful of trusted end users to test the changes in your sandbox environment. Do these changes meet their expectations? Collect their feedback and make your final set of changes accordingly. 

Step 6: Migrate changes to production

With the size and scope of your project, a better phrase for this step would probably be “unleash the Kraken.” It’s during this step in your strategy that you’re going to go from the safety of your Salesforce sandbox to production. But don’t worry, you’ve been following a solid strategy so far, so the change management risks you would otherwise face are (hopefully) nowhere to be found.

Step 7: Train end users & adoption 

In order to best maximize the changes to your Salesforce org, you’re going to want your end-users to be fully trained in what was done and what it means for their ongoing processes. This stage is critical when it comes to avoiding change management risks, so take the time to educate your team on everything they need to be successful.

Step 8: Collect feedback 

Now that you’re living in production, that doesn’t mean the work is done. You’ll want to constantly look at your Salesforce org and evaluate what worked and what didn’t work, and aim to improve it. The most effective way to do this is to check-in with your admins and end-users to collect feedback on your new changes and see what you might be able to improve. From there, any chances worth making should be added to your admin’s release schedule. 

Sonar is your change management guide

You know what can happen with one wrong move when trying to implement change within your Salesforce org. The ripple caused by poor changes can have a downstream effect on your entire organization. Luckily, Change Intelligence with Sonar is here to help. With Sonar, you’ll be able to mitigate risk by having a metadata blueprint of your Salesforce at your fingertips. With a real-time look at your fields, flows and dependencies, you can confidently make the changes needed without compromising your business.

So don’t let the fear of poorly executed change keep you from succeeding, try Sonar free today.