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9 Easy Steps for How to Implement Salesforce

salesforce implementation checklist

With Salesforce, any business gets unlimited opportunities. When planning to implement this powerful solution for a business, getting some guidance on how to do it is essential for an effective result.

For those business owners who are new to Salesforce, it is especially important to find a reliable Salesforce consulting partner. This allows for avoiding unnecessary risks during the implementation process and conducting the implementation process itself in the most efficient way.

Our Salesforce implementation specialists will share their knowledge to ensure the success of any Salesforce project. However, there are some meaningful steps to go through to achieve the desired outcome for the business.

Step 1. Shape Your Goals and Estimate the Risks

At this point, it is time to analyze business needs and progress expectations. This is the task for Salesforce consultants, and the Salesforce functionality is dependent on what they come up with. Among the best ways for Salesforce solution implementation, several options are possible:

  • Implementation in the current business system
  • Adjusting the business system and processes to the planned Salesforce solution
  • Designing new business processes based on the solution

The Salesforce consultant also discusses the licensing options and advises selecting the one that matches the identified needs and capabilities.

Outline Your objectives

Due to the continuous nature of Salesforce incorporation into your day-to-day business activities, divide the process into smaller tasks. Try to integrate Salesforce step by step, making sure your employees have enough time to get used to it. First, it may seem like you slow down the process, but in fact, you ensure successful CRM adoption. If you decide to make these changes overnight, you may not only face resistance from your team members but also encounter some unplanned challenges; whether it’s setting it up as your first CRM or replacing the old one, it is hard to assess all the risks. That is why it is necessary to plan everything ahead of time and release the new functionalities gradually. Doing so, you will be able to perform the rollback if a need occurs without damaging the working features and disrupting the services. Additionally, all members will become acquainted with the new features in more depth and use all Salesforce potential once the implementation is complete.

Choose a Salesforce Edition and Calculate Your Budget

This one may also be a challenge, especially if you are not sure what edition you need. That’s why the Salesforce partners exist. A SF partner will gladly help you choose the proper edition based on your needs and calculate the implementation cost. It consists of the following components:

  • required products range and proper subscription plan
  • number of Salesforce users
  • consulting
  • data migration
  • customization scope
  • integration
  • user training
  • ongoing support after the launch

We have prepared a detailed guide on the implementation costs and ways of reducing them so you can invest wisely.

Evaluate Risks

Like any other complex process, the Salesforce implementation checklist includes connected risks. Being aware of these risks helps avoid or prevent unpleasant issues in the future.
Since there are different kinds of risk factors, they should be approached differently.

Storage Limits

Before you start the implementation process, make sure to check how much disk space your data will take up in the Salesforce Cloud.

Salesforce has two types of storage: file storage and data storage. The first one comprises all the files across the platform (i.e., from home, chat system, user avatars, various documents and all the resources from the content management system). Note that the data storage size is not reflected immediately, so you may upload the data and only then discover it is not sufficient for your plan.

Here you may check the actual quotas:

Data Storage Limits

Data limitations are divided into organizational and per user. Organizational limits include 10 GB for the following editions: Contact Manager, Group, Professional, Enterprise, Performance and Unlimited. This amount is provided separately from the data allocated per user license. Each user license provides additional storage of 20 MB per user apart from the Performance and Unlimited editions. With these two, you get 120 MB per licensed user plus 20 MB for Lightning Platform users. For example, if you have an Enterprise plan for five users, you will get a 10.1 GB quota for your account. This is without counting the file storage.

File Storage Limits

Regarding the file limitations, they are the same: 10 GB for all the editions mentioned above. Per-user licenses for Performance Unlimited and Enterprise editions add 2 GB to your quota for one team member, while Contact Manager, Group, and Professional provide 612 MB per user.

Extra Features

This is a common mistake of all beginners. It may seem that the more features there are, the better it is. But if the majority of them are rarely used, they are not worth being paid for.

Low Adoption Rates

Making sure business processes are easy to manage and perform with integrated technology is crucial to its progress. Therefore, the solution is to have a nice UI in the first place. Rich functionality should not be the priority.

So, any new solution should be tested to gather users’ feedback. Launching a prototype and improving it according to the user experience is the best option for this.

Long Implementation Process

If the entire implementation process lasts too long, such as a year or more, it ends up causing negative consequences, such as challenges in user understanding of how to use it and a lack of progress in the business. In fact, some users might give up trying, which, in turn, causes a new list of problems.

That is why implementing the most important functionality first is a good idea to see an immediate positive impact. Users will learn how to use the most basic set of features the system offers and will proceed to more complex ones seamlessly.

Step 2: Define Your Team Members

Depending on the scope and time you have before the release, you may need different team resources to complete the Salesforce implementations. Still, the following members should be present on your team to ensure the success of your project:

  • An executive sponsor. This is a team member or executive who supports the project from the beginning to the release. Most often it’s the person who was responsible for making and advertising the Salesforce solution in the company.
  • System administrator. This is an employee who handles the server-side of your project before, during and after the release. Since the day-to-day work with the Salesforce system is required, it would be nice to check the tips on Salesforce administration to know more about the requirements for system administrator tasks.
  • Project manager. This person will be the main contact point, as the main responsibility of the project manager is to organize the work processes and lead the communication to ensure the clients’ requirements are fulfilled.
  • Power users. You need to have one or more people that will have a possibility to check the functionality as soon as it is ready to ensure the needs of the people who will use it are covered and all the nuances of everyday work are taken into account. You may consider providing more detailed training for such users and ask them for advice regarding basic questions you may have related to the Salesforce before turning to the Salesforce administrator.
  • Trainer. A trainer will choose material and work on custom Salesforce documentation related to the project. This is so new users are easier to onboard and have the proper guidelines for new features along with their release.

Step 3. Choose a Methodology

Despite Agile evolving and spreading throughout the business world, some more conservative methodologies still exist and are widely used. If we were to speak about the most common ways to manage your teams and projects, we would mention Agile Scrum and old-school Waterfall.

So, let’s jump into more details.


Once you hear about the development methodologies, even if you know nothing about them, you will recall the word ‘Scrum.’ This is not a coincidence. This is the most popular way to manage projects and is instead of making high-level estimations that may not prove to be true in the end. In Scrum, the work is done in small iterations, rolling out features and their addons gradually. That’s the case with Salesforce. They release the new functionality with the core features and then update them by offering more and more functionality. One of the recent examples is the modification of the Customer 360 application, where they added the data integration and unified user profiles after the primary release. They proceed developing their products in the same way, as it helps to see the demand and value for the requested improvements.


This is a complex system where every next step and functionality depends on the previous one, and initial costs and time estimations are done before the start of the project. It is considered to be outdated, as it provides less flexibility and maneuvers for development, as the progress is often delayed by unexpected issues and a lot of interdependencies that are possible to tackle in simultaneous work in different directions remain unnoticed. Teams face issues only when they start dealing with a certain stage. While it is still popular in big companies and widely spread, the Waterfall takes a backseat if we talk about the methodologies that bring the most of the value to their users.

In order to receive the most value from a chosen methodology, companies often combine the methods, adhering to the Waterfall before the project starts to roughly estimate time and money that need to be invested and then plan the roadmap of deliverables using Scrum or other Agile methods to be more flexible during the course of implementation and as new features release.

Step 4. Define Implementation Plan and Timeline

The chosen Salesforce implementation project plan depends on many factors, with the most significant being the following:

  • The size of the business. The bigger the company is, the more expensive the implemented solution is likely to be, along with increased effort.
  • Marketing and sales processes. If they are managed well at the current level, the Salesforce implementation will run smoother. Adapting the plan to the established processes is the next thing to do. However, both marketing and sales procedures might need to be redesigned from scratch to enhance business progress.

Choose the Salesforce Implementation Sequence

Depending on the business objectives and the company’s current position, the sequence of Salesforce implementation guide steps may vary. The following are some sequence options to consider.

  1. Implementing Several Salesforce Clouds Simultaneously
    This option is good for when Salesforce implementation is planned for all departments. Doing it simultaneously helps run the business in a well-coordinated, smooth way. All the departments become interconnected and collaborate to achieve the desired outcome.
    However, this kind of implementation is a complex process; failing to hire a specialist with proper knowledge and experience might result in drastic failures and errors.
  2. Step-by-Step Cloud Implementation
    This approach is good for implementing Salesforce in one department at a time and proceeding with the next ones once satisfied with the results at each stage. It is easier to perform the implementation of one cloud for a department initially, yet it is a challenge to make all the clouds work as a single complex at later stages.

Create an Implementation Plan

Depending on your requirements, final goals and development methodology, the Salesforce implementation steps vary, but in most cases, it will include the following:

  1. Gathering the Requirements
    Before any project launch, it is necessary to define the business requirements and goals. This information will help to avoid unplanned changes in the process and ensure the final result corresponds to your needs.
  2. Initial Setup and Customization
    Based on your needs, the Salesforce instance needs to be configured and customized. The process begins with utilizing the default Salesforce functional and configurable settings, and once it is not enough to cover some processes with the complicated business logic, the custom code development in Apex is done to achieve these goals.
  3. Migrating Existing Data to Salesforce
    If you have a running business, it is a compulsory step to ensure that the data is transferred from the old systems to Salesforce. Data migration includes not only the transfer from one place to another but the correct mapping of fields and objects, according to the relevance and security of all your assets to be utilized in Salesforce.
  4. Quality Assurance
    Once the CRM is set up and customized, it needs to be properly tested before the launch to production. It helps to see any unspotted bugs that may negatively affect the work processes and ensure that all the requirements are met before the end-user receives the final product.
  5. Release to Production
    When all the preparations are done, the developers with the DevOps and SysAdmins assistance move the Salesforce from the sandbox environment to production so that the CRM access is ready for your team members to start using it in their daily work.
  6. Training Sessions for Your Team Members
    To make your users comfortable with operating Salesforce, you can use their official free educational program. Alternatively, it is possible to get individual training sessions from your Salesforce consultant to make sure your team members understand the core functionality principles.
  7. Post-Release Maintenance and Support
    After the Salesforce is moved to production, there are still some ongoing tasks, new integrations or just questions regarding the work of custom dashboards, apps, etc. You may need the advice and support from Salesforce administrators and developers. This may be arranged beforehand to the deploy to ensure your peace of mind and integrity of your application after it was deployed and your employees could use it.

Project and Time Planning

If you already decided on the approach you will use for the implementation and agreed on all the business requirements, you can make a detailed outline of the project including the time-scope, priorities and critical features. You also specify what goes in the MVP version of the product and what features can wait for further release.

If you opt for the Waterfall, you will likely have a general overview of your project and see the sequence of the actions to achieve the results. However, it may be a tricky one; if one of the phases is delayed, all the other parts are influenced as well. If you are ready to go with Scrum, your project will be segmented into several iterations, and all the parts, including development, design and integrations, will be worked on simultaneously, delivering certain results after each iteration, aka sprint.

Regardless of the chosen method, the requirements and estimation of efforts will need to be performed. For instance, you need to know how much time the development of custom dashboards or integrations with your third-party system can take. These estimations will help you to plan better and assess the approximate scope of the project overall.

And last but not least, make sure to take into account the factors that can influence the scope, such as vacations of your team members, sick leave, the end of the fiscal year, the time required for critical bug fixing, etc. Employees are often so excited about the new projects and focus on the end goal that they forget about these factors. Including them when making your estimations more precise and to have a buffer time to be confident that the deadlines are met.

Step 5. Take Care of Salesforce Customization and Integration

To make the new solution work properly, it has to be customized, and the best decision is customizing it at the code level, including workflows, calculators, validation rules, branded custom UI, and everything else. Depending on the situation and particular business needs, complete customization or one-by-one app customization can be performed.

Start your customization with the following components in mind

  • Security. First and foremost, you need to take care of the security of your applications. While the system administrators and network specialists set up the firewalls, protecting the server against any malicious attacks, it is also wise to make sure your internal environment is safe. To prevent any unwanted data leakages caused by human intervention, assigning the roles depending on the data required for everyday work will be essential. It’s also important to restrict access to editing certain fields, as this will also help you avoid cases where critical data is mistakenly modified. Lastly, before going live, be sure that all users are assigned the correct privileges so confidential data is accessible only by users with the appropriate rights.
  • Customization. You can ensure all functionality for your employees to do their job to the best of their ability is present. For example, you will need some field modifications, the presence of certain objects, and an overall layout to correspond to your business requirements.
  • Reports. Each business uses unique metrics to track the health of sales and products overall so you will probably have critical data to assess the prosperity of your business. Thus, make sure to include the required metrics on the planning stage so that once the Salesforce instance goes operational, you can see your customized reports including all the fields and numbers.

Step 6. Migrate Your Data to Salesforce

Having decided on the Salesforce implementation strategy, it is time to proceed with the actual implementation. Transferring all the data from an old system or a former CRM to the new Salesforce solution is the first step to take. Here are some aspects to keep in mind while transferring the data:

  • Data quality should not suffer during the transfer.
  • Data accuracy must be ensured.
  • Data mapping for the new system should be developed.
  • Implementing several clouds requires using duplicate rules for the data.
  • Automated data migration tools are of great help.

Of course, not using any CRM at the moment makes integrating the new system simpler and less troublesome.

Step 7. Test-drive the New Salesforce Solution

The data transfer and app customization processes are over, and many users believe this is the sign of the entire implementation process being completed. However, it is just around half of it: one of the main implementation stages, the testing, follows.

QA engineers are able to test all the processes at this point. Does the solution work properly? Is it compliant with your requirements? Do all the processes run smoothly? If yes, it is time to move further.

Step 8. Launch

And still, the solution is not ready to be used yet. To familiarize your employees with it, it has to migrate to the Staging environment first. This is where a complete clone of your Salesforce instance is made in order for your employees to test functionality without fear of loss or global issues due to some misclicks and human errors. The employees will learn how to work with the new system and test whether it works as expected. If all goes well, it is possible to start using Salesforce in the real business environment.

Step 9. Organize Employee Training and After-Launch Support

To ensure the team is ready to work in the new environment, they have to undergo training. After the training, the staff will be able to manage daily business activities with Salesforce.

During the first three to four months after implementation, the project will need constant management and support. That is why it is important to have a specialist available to implement timely solutions if the need arises.

Plan Salesforce Updates

Once the Salesforce initial launch is in production, it’s high time to plan the next stage. When the functional system is growing gradually, it is easier to conduct operations ensuring that all employees’ needs are covered. When the release of new features in iterations is performed in a timely fashion, it will facilitate easy adoption. At the same time, you will keep the work organized, avoiding unplanned interruptions and maintenance.

In Conclusion

Developing and implementing Salesforce correctly reveals the full potential of a business. Therefore, selecting the most appropriate implementation strategy by including the listed steps is critical in developing the best implementation approach and achieving the growth of ROI.

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Written by

Dmitriy Ogol

Experience in various CRM systems as Zoho, SugarCRM, Hubspot and Pipedrive helped to reach the right expertise level in the CRM systems, which, consequently, lead to significant Salesforce potential. So now, Dmitriy helps to create various solutions on the Salesforce platform.
Starting from 2008, Dmitriy helps in the development of CRM solutions for such industries as Real Estate, Marketing, Insurance and Healthcare.

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    Comments (7)

    • Kathleen Gustafson

      Just cannot get why would people working in Manufacturing need something like Salesforce. For me, it’s more for companies that sell some products and need to put more marketing efforts. But In my understanding, the big companies producing some engines, etc, should have a solid client base to focus on product quality rather than going to the sphere they may not need.

    • Melisa Potter

      I’m closing to the end of transferring operations to Salesforce, is there any information on successful training case studies or methodologies? My personnel seems to be resistant to accept changes and I’m afraid they can make a lot of mistakes.

    • Jon Walker

      Pretty long article however nothing specific about the challenges of Salesforce implementation. Would be more interested to see some traps during the deploy not to fall into.

    • Сharles Nelson

      I was searching for tips and tricks for Finance Cloud implementation and found this one. Do you have anything about specific Salesforce product integration for small businesses?

    • Conney Camacho

      Wow, I wish I have read something before my first project related to Salesforce deployment for our Customer service department. We have definitely missed consulting with our CS guys, and here it’s even a separate point. Useful to share with newbie PMs.

    • Issac Rash

      Quite a comprehensive reading. I was curious whether it really makes sense to follow such a detailed preparation procedure if I plan to launch Salesforce for my small startup ( 3 people including me)

      • Lily Atharp

        Salesforce adoption is worth every second spent on planning especially for the first interaction. Even if you are a solopreneur it’s better to know what you are doing to avoid re-working everything from scratch. Trust me, I know what I’m saying.


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