Why do some Salesforce projects go wrong?

Moving your business onto a new CRM system can be a daunting task, fraught with risks and dangers, and of course we’ve all heard a story or two about a Salesforce (or insert any other software provider) project going wrong. These horror stories can be a major barrier when it comes to taking the plunge and implementing a new CRM system, so what’s the solution?

We’d love to tell you that there’s a sure-fire technique or silver bullet for ensuring that your project will be successful, but in reality there are many risks attached to a major digital transformation project.

Should that scare us off? Those excel spreadsheets we’ve been using for ten years are feeling pretty safe right now huh?

In our experience there are a handful of common areas that can put pressure on a Salesforce implementation, and they can largely be mitigated by identifying and managing them before, during, and after your project.

Project Scoping

One of the most important parts of the project is actually agreeing up front what the goals of the project are. It’s absolutely key that everybody involved is on the same page about what is, and more importantly, what is not in scope as part of the project.

What are the warning signs that project scoping might cause an issue down the line?

  • The scope (statement of work, if you’re working with a Salesforce partner) is very loose or high level and doesn’t appear to go into detail on your specific business requirements. Take the time to make sure that the scope is accurate, and if you’re working with a partner, spend some time combing through the statement of work with them to make sure it meets all of your needs.
  • The scope is agreed/signed off without key stakeholders being involved in the discussion. For example, the Head of Sales has not been involved in scoping out the Sales Cloud requirements and is therefore destined to crash the party and have their say when it’s too late. The inevitable “this system doesn’t do what I need” will be met with the response from your Salesforce partner: “Sorry, nobody told us that it needed to do that”.
  • We often talk about minimal viable product (MVP) with customers who are budget conscious. It’s important to ensure that business users are able to input on what can really go into phase 2: Dave from Customer Service may not think it’s important that Sally from Marketing can send emails to prospects, but she may disagree!


Appointing the right people within the business to take part in the project is something that should begin well before the implementation, but can often be an afterthought.

So, who are some of the people that need appointing to the project?

  • An exec sponsor to take overall responsibility and ownership of the project. Typically someone C-Level or similar who can also sell the benefits of the system to help with user adoption
  • A project manager to take overall responsibility for timelines, scope, and deliverables. You don’t necessarily need a formal PM skillset, but somebody to be the central contact is always helpful
  • Business representatives from each department (sales, customer service, marketing etc) who will be using the system
  •  A Salesforce Administrator to take day-to-day ownership of the system once it goes live – training users, dealing with BAU issues etc. Again, this person should be identified early and actively involved in the project if possible. Don’t dump this responsibility on IT after the system goes live.


The last one may seem like an obvious sales pitch from a Salesforce Implementation Partner, but the fact remains that one of the number one reasons for the failure of a CRM project is handing the responsbility to somebody without the relevant skills or experience.

As much as Salesforce like to talk about their admin-friendly back-end system, the truth is that actually configuring the system is only part of the puzzle. Although it is true that almost anybody can add a field or create a report in Salesforce once they’ve spent a bit of time on Trailhead, they’re typically not going to be qualified to help with any of the following:

  • Salesforce best practices, learned from implementing CRM systems for dozens of businesses
  • Best practices around implementing CRM systems within your industry, again, based on experience with similar businesses.
  • Drawing on a team of skilled individuals, with knowledge across all areas of the platform and all products
  • The ability to challenge the business on their processes and requirements.
  • Able to think ahead to those “unknown unknowns” – products that may help, potential issues that could arise based on prior experience, and maybe the occasional Salesforce functionality “gotcha”.

Although it’s easy to learn the basics of Salesforce, we often see customers come back to us several months after trying to self implement and hitting a brick wall. We get it, proper expertise is expensive but we’ve all heard the old idiom “Buy cheap, buy twice”.

We’ve touched on a couple of the key areas that can help you ensure a successful Salesforce project in this post, but the truth is that covering them all would result in a very long blog post. Luckily, we have a free e-Book with our top tips on Salesforce adoption and project success. Why not give it a download below to see what else you should be considering for your Salesforce project.

If you’d like to speak to our expert team instead, then don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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