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How to manage risk while assessing Salesforce providers

Finding the right Salesforce partner: Part 2 of 6

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The potential risk in a Salesforce project, or any project for that matter, comes in many shapes and sizes, and, the risk that turns real can be expected and planned for or come as a complete surprise. That is why managing risk is as much about planning and preparing for it as it is how you handle the unexpected when it arrives. Risk assessment in the partner selection process should help identify and rate the potential for budget overruns, missed deadlines and failure to achieve the desired outcome.

Eliminating the unknown

Salesforce projects have several areas for potential risk, as well as many ways to minimize that risk. More than anything, information is the most valuable factor in project planning and minimizing risk. That is why RSM requires a discovery step in every deployment project. This well-refined portion of our project methodology is where we will help our clients flush out all the related aspects of their processes, desired outcomes and contributing factors. We will collect detailed information, develop use cases and formulate all information supporting the final design. Completing the discovery process and refining scope and estimates will dramatically reduce project risk.

Building the team

Salesforce projects are a partnership between the Salesforce consultancy and the client, focused together on delivering the desired outcome. RSM will prepare the project plan, which will include a detailed breakout of the portions of the project performed by each party, along with associated deadlines. Often the client’s balancing act of trying to reduce cost by taking on more responsibilities is a common area for risk. Challenges by existing day-job obligations and the fluctuation of resources can put a client behind in meeting deadlines and keeping the project on course. It is important that clients be realistic in what they can contribute and ask their consultants how they can support the client’s responsibilities if they fall behind.

Data migration

A critical component of many projects is the migration of data and processes from existing systems to the new Salesforce system. The condition of the existing data can be unclear and a potential surprise once data gathering and cleansing is underway. Data migration is another common area with risk to labor estimates and timelines. Ask the potential Salesforce partner what their data migration process is and what information to identify early to eliminate surprises later.

Handling the unexpected

Even the best-laid plans cannot always eliminate the unexpected—from minor resource changes to unforeseen acquisitions. Then it comes down to how well you handle the situation. Ideally, there will be a well-understood process to address issues quickly and keep you on track. Prospective Salesforce partners should be able to share examples of projects where the unexpected happened and how they quickly addressed it to get back on track, without changing the outcome of the project. In some projects, it may be as simple as working through it with one individual responsible for the project; and in other situations that stretch across multiple departments, it may be addressing it through a steering committee. A partner experienced with quickly managing unexpected change can be a lifesaver.

Be sure to discuss the above with any Salesforce partner you are considering. RSM has utilized our years of experience, hundreds of Salesforce projects, a proven project methodology and highly talented project management staff to minimize risk in our projects. We take great pride in the phrase “on-time, on-budget.”

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