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In previous articles, my colleagues have introduced and explored VRP’s delivery strategies and service models. Now I want to discuss how to succeed in working in the middle, and getting the best results from Salesforce consulting engagements.
The Salesforce consulting service model walks through the challenges, risks, and opportunities that earmark a successful engagement when outcomes are a shared responsibility for project objectives and delivery success. What do you need to be thinking about, and how do you prepare to set yourself — and your consulting partner on the path to success?
That’s what I’ll be looking at in this article. Let’s get started:
The foundation for a successful engagement
There are certain things you need to have a good understanding of, as early as you can — ideally before you’ve even signed the contract.
So, with that said, before starting Salesforce consulting engagements, make sure that you know:
Your internal team
If they don’t directly report to you, understand the bandwidth and skills that they will be bringing to the project and have internal processes in place to work out bandwidth concerns; if the team member does report to you, ensure that are set up for success and have clear expectations and direction on the value they are bringing to this project. A single person on the client side who will help coordinate meetings, knows the stakeholders, and can wrangle everyone into a virtual meeting room is necessary to push the project forward. I know it isn’t a glamorous role on a project, but it will often make or break it.
The business problem
Clearly understand what pain points in current technology, business processes, or missing analytics have on your business. The more examples you have or documentation to support the business use case, the better.
The budget and approval processes
The most significant barrier to getting any project off the ground is knowing the critical people/ process by which ROI and budgets are approved. Going back to the basics of middle school, be sure to have the answers of “Who, what, when, where, why, and how” covered when it comes to funding your project/ strategic initiative.
Your technology stack and who owns what
In terms of Salesforce implementations, ensure you know your account’s edition and license types. Having an inventory of the applications (AppExchange) and systems that are connected to your Salesforce instance only helps the team get a clear vision of what
Your Salesforce Account Executive (AE)
Your company’s partnership with Salesforce could be one of the highest capital expenditures it has on its books; because of this, knowing your Salesforce AE will be critical for adding new license types that might be needed for the project, and they will be your advocate for turning them around quickly and getting them provisioned in your Production instance.
Being prepared for any bumps in the road
OK, so now we’ve covered how to create the best possible foundation for a successful consulting engagement. But how do you give yourself the best chance of keeping it running smoothly when it’s in full swing? You can start by always remembering this: risks, issues, and concerns do not resolve themselves auto-“magically.”
One of my old bosses from early in my Salesforce career had a motto: “Good or bad news doesn’t get better with age.” It is human nature to avoid what is uncomfortable to talk about, especially when it could mean that someone on the team may need to publicly own their mistakes or missteps. Fear is often the driving emotion for not wanting to address what is not working in a project, and the “unspoken” doesn’t get better with age; it rots.
To help address the inevitable tension/misalignment that comes with technology transformation, you should establish these norms at the beginning of any project:
Create feedback/escalation paths
Normalize differences of opinion and establish explicitly cadenced feedback loops for the entire project team. Yes, not just the client team or the consulting team but everyone, the “collective team.” My favorite piece of thought leadership around team formation starts with a framework (as all things do), Bruce Tuckman’s 1965 Team-Development Model, where groups naturally go through the cycle of Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing. This model underlines what is “normal” around groups coming together for any reason. There will be a time when “storming” always happens, and how the collective team works through it and makes meaning from it – drives the proceeding stages.
Create clear sign-offs and checkpoints in the project
In technology development, aside from the amount of change, is the ability to train and bring people along the path to adopting the change. This is where scope creep and change orders happen when more people outside the core project team are invited into the function’s user acceptance testing (UAT). In a fully-functioning project team where each of the respective leaders on the client side and consulting side – managing/controlling and hearing the UAT tester’s feedback is essential as it is a litmus test for how the organization will view the work completed by the project team. This is a clear place for defining “future” enhancements for the next phase of the project or “show-stoppers” for going live, but either way, it is good news to know the feedback before it is live in production.
Create and use RAID logs
RAID (Risks, Actions, Issues, and Decisions) logs drive accountability from all project team members. These little gems are the “magic” that brings the hidden into the seen. They also facilitate collaborative conversations around what is happening and drive toward solutions as they arise. They are a practice within the consulting delivery practice.
Dedicated to making the most of Salesforce consulting engagements
I hope this article has been useful and helps you to collaborate as effectively as possible with your Salesforce Partner, and achieve the best outcomes together in Salesforce consulting engagements. I’ve provided these tips in a quick-reference graphic here, so please feel free to share it (and this article) with your colleagues and anyone else who would benefit from it.
We in VRP Consulting’s Delivery team are glad to guide you through all the considerations we’ve covered here and more. If you have any questions about anything I’ve explored in this article, or about any other subject related to a consulting engagement, we would be very happy to speak to you – so just get in touch.
About the Author
Principal Delivery Manager, VRP Consulting USA
Lila has been in the Salesforce ecosystem for 14 years, rapidly scaling tech startups (System Admin & Operations), and came to consulting five years ago. She thrives in fast-paced, high-ambiguity environments, with clients needing guidance for implementation and best leveraging the platform.