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Want to Start Implementing Salesforce? Lessons from a Farming Documentary

7.1.21 By: Orson Ku

A few years ago while on an international flight, I was scrolling through the onboard entertainment to see what I should watch. With hours on the plane ride to go, a movie called ‘Biggest Little Farm’ caught my eye.

‘Biggest Little Farm’ was a documentary that detailed the journey a couple went on to bring to life a farm from scratch. The premise was made more interesting by the fact that the couple - the Chesters - had left behind their life in the city to start this project. The Chesters had no real-world experience in what they were trying to do, but still set out to build a fully functioning and profitable farm. To make things even more difficult for themselves, they wanted a farm with certain features: full of different types of trees, crops, and animals.

It may seem a strange comparison, but the documentary actually highlighted a lot of useful lessons for an organization trying to start a Salesforce project for the first time. The movie displayed the importance of the planning and assessment that is required for things to work out. And in a compelling manner, it also showed the consequence for failing to do so.

Let’s look into each area, and how you may want to approach your own Salesforce project.

How’s your Plan?

The couple in ‘Biggest Little Farm’ had a dream. They wanted to build a farm from the ground up, and they had an idea on what that looked like. They researched hundreds of articles and poured over books to make their dream come true. With great bravery, they took the plunge and purchased a plot of land to begin their adventure...and quickly discovered they had no idea what to do next.

The Chester’s trouble was that they didn’t really have a solid plan. They knew what features they wanted and why those features were important, but they didn’t know how to arrange it all together in a comprehensive way. In the end, they hired a farming consultant to help them outline what steps to take and what they should be focusing on.

The Chester’s situation may resonate with you. You may know what features your organization needs, and have a list of things you would like to see implemented. You may even have a picture in mind of how it all works out, but the plan to actually get there is unclear. In the complexity of transitioning age-old processes and shifting roles, plans can start to look more like wish lists.

While it’s easy to romanticize Salesforce being perfectly implemented or everything migrating over smoothly, don’t fall into the trap of not planning ahead. Give yourself enough lead time to discover your company’s goals, resources, and restrictions.

This includes things such as:

  • Timeline – Identify dependencies and milestones
  • Budget – What do you need versus what you can afford. What is the cost for not implementing?
  • Success metrics – Define goals and tangible ways to measure them
  • Your Team – Who in your organization will be your implementation team? What roles do they play? Who will be the end users when you get Salesforce up and running?

Very importantly, ask yourself: what are the problems you are trying to solve with this implementation?

If you need help with this phase, start looking for a Salesforce Consultant that can help guide you through all the steps. The upfront planning will be a major factor for success down the road.

How’s Your Self Assessment?

The Chesters had another problem. They had the will to plan out everything, but they lacked the knowledge to account for it all. They were new to the farming space, and while they recognized the importance of asking questions and getting answers, there were some questions they didn’t even know they needed to ask!

For example, the couple knew they needed to improve the conditions of the soil to begin growing crops. So they asked the simple question:
“How do we improve soil quality?”

The answer was manure, so they went down the logical path of bringing in cows for that purpose.

However, they failed to ask a crucial follow-up question:

“What should we look out for by fertilizing in this manner?”

(Short answer: disease and pests)

The phrase, you don’t know what you don’t know, illustrates the concept that there are gaps in a person’s or organization’s knowledge. It is not ignorance on purpose, but simply not knowing enough to ask the right questions. Or, in the case of the Chesters, the right follow-up questions.

These blind spots can be small and result in a tiny bump down the road. Or, they can be large, causing a giant roadblock later on that brings progress to a screeching halt. While there are some benefits to hitting a problem and overcoming it, it may prove to be an expensive lesson.

Those reasons are why you should consider an external assessment, especially if your organization is larger or more complex.

An assessment will provide you with an outside expert that knows the right questions to ask. They have the experience to recognize what factors to consider, and can help you flesh out your plan in ways you cannot really do on your own. Depending on the type of assessment, it can also be customized to your situation and needs.

At the end of the documentary, we find that the Chesters were finally able to build and run a profitable farm. It took them eight years to do so and it involved a lot of struggle and hardship. While it makes for a beautiful story in how they overcame adversity, it cost them a lot of time and money to get things right. If you’d like a smoother journey around your Salesforce implementation, invest in the time it takes to develop a comprehensive plan and consider initiating an assessment. These things may sound basic and boring, but you’ll thank yourself later when you see the fruit of that upfront labor.

If you would like some guidance in taking your planning to the next level, or need an external assessment to ensure you’ve covered all the bases, we’d be happy to help.

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