If you've read one of Stephen King's novels, you know his tendency to get to the ending and just give up. I remember years ago reading The Stand and loving it...even at page 800, wondering how he was going to end the book in 20 pages. Then, at page 810, getting concerned. When page 823 hit, I just put the book down, stunned...huh. Really? Really?? I vowed to never read a Stephen King book again.
But, years later, I find myself rereading the Dark Tower series. Stephen King actually ended one book with fictional diary entries that included who his readers didn't appreciate one of his trademark non-ending, endings. In book seven of the series, he even has a line that proves he is aware of his abrupt ending style:
The god from the machine (who was actually the writer), patiently working to keep the characters safe so his tale wouldn't end with an unsatisfying line like "...so sorry, better luck next time (what next time, ha-ha), THE END."
So, what does this have to do with your Salesforce project?
It got me thinking of a good number of my clients, who have brought me in after a big migration or upgrade by one of the big firms to clean up and get things working for them. They paid premium rates to only be left shell-shocked, resentful and lost. Their database was in a state that was worse than when they started the project. Their data was a mess, they didn't know where most of hit ended up, there was no documentation of any sort, and there was no training or official hand-off.
While I am happy that I can get these nonprofits back on their feet, I would rather they had a successful project in the first place.
Just How Do You Avoid the Dreaded Stephen King Ending?
Whether you are doing the work all in-house or are working with a volunteer, consultant, or consulting firm, you are can have a happy ending to your project's story.
Make sure your project plan includes a full scoping phase, documentation, and training - These are the areas that are usually reduced or cut fully in the project plan in order to save money and/or time. DON'T. Just Don't. These three steps of a project are, arguably, the most important. If you are working with an outside vendor that doesn't include these steps in their estimate, you probably don't want to work with them.
Don't give up control! - Have an internal staffer be project lead. You know your organization. You know yours and your staff needs. Don't hand over your project to anyone else. Someone in your organization needs to have the final say on any decisions.
Don't allow radio silence - For shorter projects, make sure to meet at least once a week. For longer, multi-month projects, you should meet at least once a month. Schedule all the check-in calls during the project kickoff; get it on everyone's calendars. This will stress that communication is important throughout the project.
Change management aren't just buzz words - Projects aren't just about the technical aspects. Salesforce is just a tool. You need to make sure your staff and leadership are kept informed. The Power of Us HUB has a group dedicated to all things Change Management. If you don't know where to start, check it out.
Document as you go - Don't expect to be able to document everything at the end and be good to go. You need to keep track of the decisions that were made and why they were made. You don't know how many times I hear things like, "I know there was a reason we did it that way, but for the life of me I have no clue. It makes no sense". Creating a Documentation Chatter group or a Google Doc that you post to throughout the project will be worth its weight it gold after project close.
You get what you pay for...but expensive doesn't equal good - The old adage is true to an extent. Don't equate cost with value. If you need an implementation partner, do your due diligence and find one that is a good fit with your organization. My 2015 Dreamforce presentation has a quick minute about how to vet your partner: start at 36:13 to 37:13.
What ending do you want?
Here are some great closing book lines to get you inspired to make sure your project has its happy ending.
"He turned out the light and went into Jem's room. He would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning." To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
"Very few castaways can claim to have survived so long at sea as Mr. Patel, and none in the company of an adult Bengal tiger." Life of Pi, Yann Martel
"But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them along the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest a little boy and his Bear will always be playing." The House At Pooh Corner, A.A. Milne
"It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both." Charlotte's Web, E.B. White