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Assess Yourself Before You Wreck Your Database

2.28.18 By: David Rosenstock

If you’ve been tasked with getting your organization up and running on Salesforce, I’ve got some words of wisdom before you hire an implementation partner. The design of your database is only as simple as your organizational processes.

If you have a high degree of complexity in your organization and its processes, the more upfront planning you’ll likely need to better prepare for your Salesforce implementation. Think about the last time you had to be out of the office for an extended period - was it hard to train the person who covered you? Now imagine an entire department went on vacation and you had describe business processes for multiple roles. If this thought is frightening, you likely have highly complex organizational processes.


Why you should consider an  Assessment

Just as you wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint, you wouldn’t want to build a CRM before you have a plan in place. Unless you are launching the equivalent of a fabricated home (and some of you are), you will need to prepare before you build. In our world, the equivalent of an architect’s blueprint is a Assessment.

More and more organizations are discovering the pitfalls of implementing without a plan. The result of failing to plan is that you are likely to find Salesforce sits unused or becomes a very expensive Rolodex. When you compare the cost of paying for unused Salesforce licenses vs. the cost of an assessment, it doesn’t seem that expensive to invest in some planning. Which is why if you’re the Executive, IT or Sales/Development Director for a complex organization that’s looking to implement Salesforce, we recommend you take a step back and consider additional project planning.


What is an Assessment?

An assessment, simply put, is the planning done prior to a technology implementation to increase the likelihood of success and give you a broader perspective on your technology project.


Assessment Types

There are different types of assessments, and it can be a challenge to determine what’s right for you. Much depends on the size of your project and organization. Below we will outline some of the options available to you with Idealist Consulting.


An Audit

Sometimes all you need is for a consultant to take a quick look under the hood to be able to diagnose the problem. This quick assessment is intended for Salesforce instances that have been in use for a while and are having issues such as reports not working or broken integrations. Without an experienced database admin assessing the condition of your database, it can be a challenge to properly scope the cure. The admin needs to understand your existing solution for this type of assessment.

In this scenario with Idealist Consulting, an audit can include:

  • up to 20 hours of discovery work
  • have the sole outcome being an accurate Statement of Work for a project.


Sometimes in an audit, it can be revealed that the CRM is no longer meeting many of the needs of your organization. In that case, your Salesforce instance might be in need of an upgrade and optimization.


A Needs Assessment

Let’s say you have a small company or nonprofit with a handful of departments and limited stakeholders. However, you have an ancient legacy database, siloed solutions (e.g. e-commerce, mass email service provider, etc.) that require a custom integration with Salesforce, and complex business processes that might necessitate Salesforce customization. You have buy-in for the project from senior management, but you want to reduce scope creep because there’s a set budget and you can’t have a lot of surprises.

The above scenario likely only requires a needs assessment, which might include user stories, a Gantt chart for planning resource allocation, and a finalized Statement of Work with accurate estimates for the activities associated with the project.

Depending on a number of variables, a needs assessment with Idealist Consulting can:

  • take anywhere between 20-60 hours
  • reduce time allocated to discovery during the project by as much as 75%.


A Strategic Assessment

For larger organizations, you will need to do more heavy lifting during the initiation of a project to get it off the ground. This is necessary anytime you have complex departmental structures, a number of key stakeholders, and a decision-making process requiring buy-in from senior management or a board of directors. In this case, you will want to consider a Strategic Assessment.

The executive sponsor of a project like this often finds themselves having to justify a major expenditure on technology infrastructure. You will be better poised to get approval and have a successful project if you work with a consultant to develop a presentation detailing potential impact and total cost of ownership for a Salesforce implementation.

A Strategic Assessment with Idealist Consulting will typically be delivered as a report or slide deck that outlines findings and breaks down project needs, sometimes in a visual way. The Strategic Assessment can include:

  • informed recommendations
  • an overall project plan
  • supporting documentation such as a System Diagram, User Stories, and/or an Assessment Grid.


A Feasibility Study

Typically reserved for enterprise organizations that require an in-depth discovery process, a feasibility study is intended to determine if Salesforce is the right fit for you. Often the biggest decision for an organization, and the most difficult, is which CRM to choose.

There are so many CRM options it’s safe to say no single consultant will know them all. Which is why larger organizations should double and triple-check that Salesforce is really going to satisfy their needs. Salesforce is not a cure-all, and sometimes it’s only part of a larger puzzle.

A Feasibility Study with Idealist Consulting may include

  • high-level goals
  • a catalog of the details of your business processes
  • a rubric for measuring Salesforce against other platforms as a potential solution.

The goal of a Feasibility Study is to help your management team make an informed decision and move forward with the confidence that the tool they select is the right one.


In closing, an assessment can help your project be successful from the start. When you consider the investment that Salesforce will be for your organization, planning its implementation is a no-brainer. As a decision maker, choosing an assessment can help you rest easy and understand the full extent of your organization’s project needs.

Inspired to do your next technology project right? Sign up here to get our whitepaper on how considering total cost of ownership for CRM can get you off on the right foot.


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