When implementing Salesforce, prioritizing user adoption is key to maximizing your investment and ensuring your implementation team meets their goals. After many years implementing new systems (and updating old ones) across cultures, countries, and industries, I can offer the following cross-cutting tips for consultants, developers, admins, and super-users to help drive adoption:
Performance expectancy is your top priority.
Ensuring that Salesforce can both meet and improve the day-to-day work of a user is the most effective driver of intent and use (there are various academic models used to study usage behavior). Factors we commonly associate with user adoption can be influential but are not core to driving usage. The expectation of users is that technology will help them do their job, that it is easy, and that it will work every time - these expectations need to be closely managed from the start.
Anything is possible, even compromises.
For all its wonderful functionality, know that Salesforce has real limitations that sometimes seems like complete oversights. Also know that new feature requests that seem like no-brainers can take years to materialize. As an implementing partner, you are responsible for making sure trade-offs are communicated and understood. Respond quickly to what Salesforce can and cannot do, and even should or should not do. As a customer, expect having to make compromises in your new way of working.
Showing is always better than telling.
In both a process automation and interface sense, Salesforce has the power to very quickly make things real. This means you can make quick changes on the fly and show business users what they are imagining (or better yet, have been imagining for years). If you cannot achieve it in demo environment, use a design tool or create a mock up to show users what they will ultimately end up seeing. This will provide important feedback.
If you do not own it, do not expect others to.
This holds true from the C-Suite to the Admin. Be a champion to get your users on board. Make sure they are involved in the design and decision-making early. If you are heading down the wrong path, do not be afraid to pull the plug and regroup.
Details matter (the 90% rule).
I have been in many meeting rooms where, after demoing a complex piece of development or automation that took weeks to build, someone says something like, "Looks good, but can we add a hyphen there?" People are naturally programmed to finding these sorts of details. Do not be discouraged. This feedback does matter and making these changes quickly will get a user from 90% happy to 99% happy.
Provide good documentation, even if no one asks.
It might not seem important, but it can become critical to have reference material on hand when customers need it. Start documenting early because you will forget things.
Practice good system hygiene.
Remove the clutter - if it is not being used, get rid of it. Most users do not even know what is and is not being used so run a report on what fields are usually left blank or where related records are never added. This is directly related to the performance expectancy point above - if users do not use something in their day to day, it is probably not important and hurts adoption.
Keep it simple.
It is easier to make things more complex than it is to keep them simple. Make sure you are on the right side of complexity - are you dealing with a complex question or a complex solution? Remember that Salesforce has a dearth of features and abilities, however, it is not a crystal ball that knows what users are thinking so always ask before you start putting up bells and whistles.
ABT. Always. Be. Training.
People love to learn and every question is an opportunity to teach. Do not be afraid to take users under the hood and show them how changes are made. Explain why custom code is needed when reaching declarative limits or how things work. This builds trust and ownership, while reducing change management risk.
Lightning is NOT an adoption silver bullet.
Lightning is great but it is still incomplete. Just flipping the switch will not make your users happy; make it an important part of your adoption strategy that is supported by other points in this article. (It is important to make sure your users are eventually going to be on Lightning.)
Establish KPIs that matter.
The standard input-oriented "adoption metrics" - number of records created, number of users logged in etc. - are actually not very useful and feel generic to customers. Work on creating real KPIs that matter to your customers and make a proper dashboard prior to going live.
Avoid the Salesforce language barrier.
Try not to speak in terms of features, clouds, or architecture - call things what your users call them. Change standard labels if necessary and never create records with the word "Test." When training or conducting demos, learn to use the lingua franca of the customer and their business.
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