Human nature has conditioned us to want the shiny, new, highest-trimmed model of nearly everything — phones, cars, and even Salesforce! The powerful Salesforce marketing engine wants you to see how efficient your users will be when you purchase 20 SKUs — and those bundled deals make it difficult to resist! So you purchase all the things.
A problem now presents itself: how do you implement years’ worth of products and business process iterations in a few months’ time, with as little cost as possible, while showing a return on investment? It’s nearly impossible to do. The best approach is to start lean and build from there.
Enter the minimum viable product (MVP).
An MVP is a defined set of functionality and business processes that must be available for users to complete their everyday work. It’s a stripped-down, lean version of the platform that builds a solid foundation for future iterations. It may be limited in some functionality, with the purposeful intention of getting users up and running quickly while still providing user value. A well-defined MVP also includes loosely defined future phases, describing what features, processes, integrations, and refinements will come over time.
MVPs are beneficial for a few reasons:
- They help to prevent “scope creep” by creating a roadmap of essential requirements.
- The well-defined scope streamlines project timelines.
- They keep project cost more closely aligned with estimates.
- MVPs support easier and less complex deployments.
- The purposeful configuration and business processes create a better user experience.
An MVP does not exclude specific features or functions of Salesforce, and it is not limited to out-of-the-box features.
ShellBlack’s most successful projects have had a well-defined MVP reached by a consensus of all business stakeholders. So, how do you go about defining an MVP for your Salesforce implementation?
Defining Your MVP
Speak with Stakeholders
Before engaging with Salesforce or partner sales teams, it is important to ensure that you have internal buy-in from your team and end users. Define the “why” around the move to Salesforce, and speak with end users to understand what works, what doesn’t work, and what they would love to see in a future iteration of the current tools or processes that Salesforce will be replacing.
Consolidate the feedback and return it to users in survey form, asking them to rank the feedback from most to least important. This will clarify user priorities.
In my opinion, this is the most important step. If pain points can’t be addressed and users have no improvements to look forward to with the MVP, you’ve already lost the war. Yet even small enhancements and efficiencies can have a significant impact on user buy-in and adoption.
Understand Your Organization’s Long-Term Vision and Goals
While the user experience is critical, it’s also important to have a roadmap of your company’s long-term vision. Where does the company hope to be in the next five years, and how does it aim to get there? What role does Salesforce play in that vision?
The goal of an MVP isn’t to build out a robust CRM that can meet the demands of your organization’s five-year vision in a handful of months. Instead, we want to build the foundation now with the MVP in mind so that, over the course of multiple project iterations, the company can achieve its vision and goals. Without this long-term vision, your Salesforce foundation has the potential to crumble as the company grows.
Take a Mission-Critical Inventory
Take an inventory of business processes that your team wants to add to Salesforce over time, and then determine which of those are mission critical. What processes must we include in Salesforce on Day One in order to avoid disrupting business?
For example, a wealth firm may identify 45 business processes that need to migrate to Salesforce — but perhaps only 12 of those processes represent the daily, critical functions of onboarding and client servicing. The firm’s stakeholders may agree to include these 12 key processes in the MVP and defer the remaining 33 for future phases.
Be sure to also consider other systems in the organization that may have a future integration with, or may be replaced by, Salesforce. System inventory is just as important as business process inventory!
Find a Balance
Ask me the question “Can Salesforce do this?” and my answer will be an enthusiastic “Yes!” But the question I will ask in return is “But do you really need Salesforce to do that right now?” There is beauty in balance!
Let me provide an example.
Clients get excited about automation:
Automatically create records.
Automatically send emails.
Automatically post to Chatter.
Automatically update owners.
Automatically update fields.
Automatically calculate specific metrics.
Technically, Salesforce can do all of these things and more. Once users begin to leverage the newly deployed system, though, they may find that processes defined in discovery sessions were not quite correct — whether a step was missed in the business process or whether seeing the process in practice versus theory reveals holes that need to be filled. Many times clients end up turning off, revising, or totally reworking these automations shortly after going live.
In this scenario, the key is to find the balance on automations. Keep automations to a minimum and allow manual updates to occur at the outset. Once the business process has been vetted and is solidified with real-world use, then apply automation to the appropriate degree.
This applies to every other aspect of Salesforce — not just automations. Strike a balance between form and function, keeping your configuration, features, and processes as streamlined as possible.
Document Your MVP
Once you’ve defined your organization’s minimum viable product, document it. This documentation can be used as a roadmap during conversations with Salesforce and implementation partners like ShellBlack. While you’ve worked hard on this document, don’t be offended if partners like ShellBlack make suggestions or recommend changes to your MVP. With our years of experience and expertise, we may suggest shuffling things around to maximize your return on investment.
Defining and adhering to a well-defined MVP will help your organization:
- Avoid over-purchasing products for your immediate needs.
- Manage project scope, timeline, and budget.
- Generate a quick return on investment by getting your Salesforce org up and running quickly.
- Support future growth by providing a solid foundation for future project iterations.
While it can be tempting to jump right into your Salesforce project, do your due diligence and define an MVP. You’ll be grateful you did.
Director of Delivery ShellBlack.com