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9 Steps to Effective Change Management

Your users have a lot of ideas and requests for Salesforce functionality, including new apps and solutions to extend their experience. Because you can’t do everything at once, how do you focus on the product enhancements and solutions that most effectively drive user adoption and have the biggest impact on your organization—and your users’ day-to-day functions? Here are nine steps to for successful change and seasonal release management:

Step 1: Get a strategy

A core tenet for initial deployments is “keep it simple.” You can always add features and processes after the app is live. It is impossible to incorporate every change request into your deployment – the level of effort may be too great or the request may not align with your business goals. When the steering committee meets to determine which change requests and seasonal release features will be implemented, you need to have a strategy to determine the level of effort required.

Tip: Use a project management solution for planning >>

Step 2: Get a sponsor

Having an engaged executive sponsor is key to an effective change management process. The sponsor will help guide the change management group by defining the process and establishing strategic objectives. The sponsor should also contribute to communication plans and help define the message to your users to drive adoption.

Tip: Keep your sponsor up to date with reports and dashboards >>

Step 3: Collect input

There are lots of ways to get feedback and ideas from your users—the important thing is that you do it. Create a Chatter Group to capture ideas, feedback and questions. In the group, post links to training, process documents, FAQ and other helpful resources in the right sidebar. Oftentimes you’ll find users will start helping each other and answering questions, which frees up time for you.

Tip: Use a Chatter app to streamline processes and communication >>

Step 4: Define scope and impact

Once you have a list of enhancement ideas, determine the scope and impact of each idea. For global or cross-functional deployments, it’s critical to align processes between functional areas. These processes should be reviewed by the change management group to avoid negatively affecting other functional areas. This step also provides an excellent opportunity to engage with your users. It’s a good idea to scope out the proposed features with a specific use case in mind and to shadow your users’ day-to-day routines to predict the effects of any changes.

Tip: Work with a consultant on your scope >>

Step 5: Prioritize

Incorporating every enhancement request and idea is just not feasible. That’s why defining the overall impact is important in helping the change management group and sponsor decide which enhancements to implement, which to target for a later date, and which to reject. For those requests that get approved, use a change management application to track the progress, status and next steps of your project.

Tip: Test out a release management solution >>

Step 6: Configure and test

Depending on your Salesforce edition, you’ll have access to one or more sandbox environments. Use the sandbox to configure and test any enhancements and changes before deploying them to your production environment. This step is critical to a smooth and surprise-free deployment.

Tip: Try a configuration solution >>

Step 7: Communicate and train users

Don’t derail your new release by not having a communication or training plan. Set employee expectations about the upcoming changes, such as when they’ll happen and how users will be trained. And be sure to answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” Take advantage of your sandbox environment to provide a real-life training environment for your users. Depending on the complexity of your release, you have several training options, including Trailhead and the release notes. For very simple implementations, an email notification or FAQ document may be enough.

Tip: Hire a consultant for training >>

Step 8: Deploy

Once your new release is configured and tested and your users are trained, it’s time to push your new release to your production environment. Create, convert, and deploy apps with a Salesforce DX test environment. Learn more in this Trailhead module.

Tip: Use a deployment solution to streamline processes >>

Step 9: Follow up and support

Finally, measure the success of your new release and identify areas you can enhance in the future. After you deploy, reconnect with your power users or survey a broader base of your user community to start the cycle again. Have a support process in place when your users need support or have a technical question. Check if your IT department uses a help desk application; or use the Cases object in Salesforce to capture user issues.

Tip: Measure your progress with reports and dashboards >>

Do you have more change management tips? Share them with us on Twitter at @appexchange. We'll update the post with your ideas.

Amanda Nelson is Director of Community Marketing at Salesforce AppExchange.
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