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My toughest Salesforce project, and how I got through it

SalesforceCareer startersIndependent professionals

Salesforce may be the world’s leading CRM, but being a Salesforce project manager isn’t always a straightforward job, says K2 consultant Amos Tang.

Amos, who holds 10 certifications in Salesforce, and has been in the software industry since 2015, explains what made one of his projects particularly challenging and how he found solutions which lead to a successful outcome.

Please describe the scope of the Salesforce project, and your role within it

The client had been using Salesforce since 2006, but the adoption rate was very low (almost negligible). I joined the project in 2020 as the project manager from the vendor’s side. The project goals were:

  1. Revamp the old Salesforce functionalities to improve usage.
  2. Migrate an outdated CRM system used by another department into Salesforce.
  3. Transition from Classic to Lightning, all within a very short timeframe of 2.5 to 3 months.

What made the project difficult?

  1. The system was very old, with many obsolete fields, reaching the field limit, and the organization was shared by three regions, each with its unique usage.
  2. Since the client had rarely used the system before, they couldn’t tell us how it was used, nor were there any handover documents. We had to test and figure out how the system was originally used and then inform the client.
  3. For a system from 2006, we even found lead conversion pages different from what we had seen before. It took a long time to figure out that Salesforce’s early lead conversion functionality wasn’t written in Apex and required a special ticket for a specific module upgrade by Salesforce.
  4. After the requirement interviews, a new product owner (PO) was assigned to the project from the client side. He was eager to make a mark and accepted all requests from his boss, which put immense pressure on the implementation team. He also proposed significant changes to the permissions functionality right before the go-live.
  5. The client was very concerned about the technical approaches (Apex, Workflow, Process Builder), so we had to explain why we used certain techniques.

How did you overcome these challenges? Can you share some innovative solutions?

  1. We were onsite at the client’s location almost every day. For issues related to any department, we discussed them directly with the concerned department.
  2. I spent a lot of time thinking about how to solve each issue, whether in the car or on the subway.
  3. I kept a list where I recorded every detail (still-pending tasks). I crossed off each task as it was completed.

How did you approach problem-solving when you hit roadblocks during the project?

  1. I had frequent meetings with my leadership and the client’s product owner (PO), maintaining very frequent communication.
  2. During critical times, we brought developers from other locations to the site for face-to-face discussions with the PO.
  3. I dedicated all my time to resolving the encountered issues.

What was the final outcome of the Salesforce project?

The project was highly successful. The client’s PO voluntarily sent a thank-you letter, and the client’s CEO praised the project in an internal meeting. Salesforce usage rates significantly increased, and the entire company started using Salesforce for weekly and monthly sales meetings instead of manually creating Excel spreadsheets.

What were the best and worst aspects of working on this project?

Best aspects: Being onsite every day, the client wanted to understand every aspect and technical point, which pushed me to learn about areas I wasn’t familiar with, utilizing every possible moment to study.
Worst aspects: It was extremely exhausting; the toughest project I’ve ever encountered. The client’s staff also became very tired.

What were the key lessons you learned?

The more challenging the Salesforce project, the more it can develop your skills. Knowing the limits of the system in various aspects allows you to choose the right technology for implementation rather than defaulting to using Apex for everything. Additionally, after going through such a difficult project, I remain calm when facing other challenging projects, but none have been as tough as this one.

Want the skills to tackle the most challenging Salesforce project? Supercharge professional success with official Salesforce training from K2 University.

Simon Mortlock, Head of content

Simon Mortlock, a seasoned writer and editor, is an expert in producing content across diverse digital channels. Having joined K2 in 2023, he brings over a decade of specialized experience covering talent-related subjects.

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