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If you’re an operations professional, you’re a Salesforce change agent. Our world involves constantly refining, updating, and fixing the processes and systems that keep go-to-marketing teams running. But unintended errors, user adoption hurdles, and unclear goals can get in the way of making those changes successfully. That’s why Salesforce change management is so important.

When to implement change management

Ideally, every change you make to your tech stack is part of a scheduled release management process. Making changes on the fly increases risk. Ops teams can take a cue from DevOps and use release management protocols to make the process of change more systematic. With this approach, every new release is a change project. And every new release should be guided by change management.

It will take time to set up your change management processes, but they’ll pay off in the long run. You’ll spend less time putting out fires and more time monitoring the impacts of your changes and planning your next strategy.

Why change is so risky

Change management is vital to managing execution risk. Without it, you increase the odds of encountering pitfalls that negate any potential benefits:

Unclear goals

Change management processes require that you outline your goals for your project upfront. This forces you to ask yourself why you’re making each change, whether it aligns with your objectives, and how you’ll measure its success. If clear goals aren’t in place, you run the risk of making unnecessary changes that waste your time and disrupt users. 

Failing to outline your goals also makes it more difficult to show the value of the work you’re doing. Ops teams have the potential to play an important role in strategy and planning. Teams that can demonstrate the impact of their expertise will help encourage leaders to see the true potential of ops.

Poor user adoption

Change can be uncomfortable. In any organization, you’ll encounter users who are married to the way things have always been done. And you’ll find others who aren’t necessarily resistant to change but just aren’t engaged with how it impacts their day-to-day lives. Whether you’re performing a major Salesforce data migration or rolling out new features, it’s important to put yourself in the users’ shoes. While you may take the benefits of change for granted, they need an incentive to get on board. Salesforce may be a critical part of their jobs, but it’s not the only part.

From the user’s perspective, the tech stack is supposed to make things easier and more seamless. Adopting change can feel like an unnecessary inconvenience. It’s up to ops teams, as the drivers of change, to help users see the benefits and give them the training they need to successfully adapt.

Unintended errors

It’s not uncommon for change projects to lead to errors that call for you to put out fires and implement a whole new set of change projects. These unintended errors are caused by a lack of Change Intelligence. They’re both the worst nightmare and the most common risk involved in change projects. Anything can go wrong, from lost data to broken automations, and even lost revenue. They also make user adoption much more difficult.

Change management tools like Sonar give you insight into the impact of change before you make it. By being able to see the dependencies of your data within Salesforce, you can avoid the potential landmines that come with making change.

How can you effectively implement change management?

The most important aspect of effective change management is commitment. As a team, ops has to commit to establishing and following your change management process. When your communication, deployment, and training are delivered clearly and consistently, user adoption will reflect that.

To get everyone on the same page you need a plan for delivering effective change management. Every change management process should follow clear steps:

  1. Plan: Take time to document every potential change and determine whether you really need to make it.
  2. Find an executive sponsor: A member of the leadership team can help guide the process and help you get the resources needed. It’s also important to get their buy-in on the strategic objectives of your change and your plan to measure success.
  3. Talk to users: Gathering user feedback will help you understand how they’ll be impacted by the change so you can create better training and communication.
  4. Set the scope and impact: Now’s the time to go over your changes with a fine-toothed comb to make sure they align with your broader strategies.
  5. Prioritize: Once you know the true impact of your planned changes, assess which ones to implement as part of your current release, and which ones can wait.
  6. Configure and test: The sandbox is your friend. Test out your changes here to make sure everything is as intended.
  7. Train and communicate to users: Prepare users for the change and train them on how the updates will affect their workflows.
  8. Deploy: Push your updates live.
  9. Monitor and support: Follow up with users, measure the goals you set, and watch for any errors.

Change management is a blueprint to success

Implementing change management may seem like just another step, but its benefits far outweigh the time investment. A clear plan, with goals and a communication strategy, sets your project up for success. And when you incorporate Change Intelligence into your SF change management processes, you can eliminate the errors and unintended consequences that are all too common in new releases.