Countdown to Launch: How to Prepare for Your Salesforce Project

By Jean-Michel Tremblay, Nubik Salesforce Consultant

Whether Salesforce is the first CRM you implement or you’re migrating from an existing system, this process is sure to be transformative for your organization. At Nubik, we have seen our fair share of launches, and we’ve learned through experience that projects are successful not due to luck, or the alignment of the stars, rather, it’s the careful planning and execution that are the biggest determining factors.

Having worked with 100s of companies across 100s of projects, we polled our Project Team, and have identified the common themes that can make or break your project. Whether you’re planning a QuickStart for a small team, or a complete digital transformation for 10s or even 100s of users, here are our top 6 pointers for to set you on the right path:

Involve Your Users

You want your implementation to succeed?  Easy, get your team involved. Why?

  • First (and probably most importantly), you will make it THEIR project
  • They can help you uncover some of their day-to-day use cases that you might not even have thought of, or didn’t evaluate the importance
  • You will seed the idea so that when the project is launched, they are in the right mindset and ready to ease into the transition

How do you do this? Communication is key. Both throughout the project by sharing information on the project status, but also meeting with them to their ideas and inputs. The more you communicate the more they will follow your lead, and become the champions after delivery.

Build Your A-Team

The project has been communicated, everyone is onboard. Super! What’s next? You need a team to drive the project. Your next objective is to identify who will be the key people within your organization who will be directly involved in the project, figuring out which role they will play and organizing a kick off to outline their involvement. The key roles you need to cover off are:

Project manager

  • The first thing to identify is who will be the Project Manager. This person will be responsible for keeping the project on track, making sure you adhere to the scope, the timeline and the budget. Whether you self-implement or work with an implementation partner, the project manager is your Quarterback.

Project sponsor

  • You need an executive level sponsor who will help drive the success of the project. This person will support the project manager in all major decisions, and will also help advocate the value of the project to other departments and stakeholders. The project sponsor should have, at all times, a solid grasp on the project status to ensure that it stays inline with the corporate objectives.

Business Process Owner

  • Your CRM is a reflection of you business processes. When you are launching a new CRM, your Business Process Owner is the key driver to determine how the system should work. In the case of a Sales Cloud implementation, this person would naturally be a senior Sales Executive in your organization. For a Service Cloud project, this is the head of your Customer Care of Services Department. You get the idea. This person will be mainly involve at the beginning of the project during the Business Process Review, and then throughout the project to review and test how the system functions.

Power User

  • During the development, the Super User will be the voice of the team, able to provide feedback on questions of usability and identify training needs. Once the project is live, this person will become the point of contact for internal questions on how the system is to be used. In the case of a Sales Cloud project, this might be a member of the sales team; for a Service cloud implementation, this could be someone in the Customer Care department; and so on.

Salesforce Admin

  • An internal Salesforce admin will become your best friend. This person will be an aide to the implementation partner, learning what are the core system requirements and having a full grasp on how the system has been configured. After Go-Live, this person will remain at the helm serving as the POC for daily support and adjustments that will be needed once you take ownership of the CRM. Our #1 piece of advice for the Admin? Involve them as early as possible in the project, so they have time to ramp up fully before they take ownership.

Great, now you know the key people that need to be assigned on your project but how do you help them succeed? Make sure they have enough time to work on the project.

Once the project kicks off, you will need to regroup on a weekly basis, often to make important decisions related to your process. When you understand it fully, you are in the best position to ensure that the system is configured to match those business needs.

Identify Your Core KPIs

We all know that a CRM is a powerhouse at keeping your Sales Team structured. But what other KPIs are important to your organization? There are a ton of standard KPIs that you might also want to track

  • Number of leads per month,
  • Leads from source
  • Sales pipeline
  • Average opportunity age
  • Close rate,
  • etc.

But you need to keep your eye on those custom KPIs that keep your organization at the top of it’s gam. Sometimes, just figuring out what those might be can be a challenge, so start by looking at your sales data including what’s in your ERP, and find some trends you might want to better understand. Look at your best performer to find out what’s his average deal size, then use this as a benchmark for their colleagues: How many items per transaction? How many deals per year?

Taking the time to identifying those KPIs will better scope what data needs to be captured in Salesforce so we can make to configure it properly.

Extra bonus: these KPIs will become key reports after Go-Live, to keep your business on track.

Plan to integrate with your ERP

In an ideal world, all your IT systems are fully integrated, and data is visible from anywhere. That is the dream. But let’s start smaller, looking at how and when to integrate your ERP and your CRM. Integration can be very challenging, yes, but this is by far one of the most powerful ways to give your sales team a complete view of their customers right in Salesforce.

Before moving forward with your integration, here are few questions to consider:

  • Do you want to automatically create new accounts in your ERP once they reach a certain stage on opportunities?
  • Do you want to sync your total sales from the ERP to Salesforce so sales people can compare sales data year over year?
  • If you will be quoting in Salesforce, do you want to sync the quotes to the ERP as an order once they are won?

There are unlimited possibilities and your job is to identify what those are, so that we can design the best architecture in Salesforce to meet those needs. Even if you don’t perform this integration as one of the first steps of your Salesforce implementation, knowing this information will allow the implementation team to build the object architecture accordingly, so you’re future-proofing your system for Phase 2.

Clean Your Data

Have you ever heard the phrase Garbage-In, Garbage-Out? We cannot underscore the need to scrub your data before you launch. Most projects will involve a data import from the previous systems that were used. And, if you migrate old, inaccurate data into your fresh new system, you’ve already compromised the success of the new system.

  • remove duplicate company records
  • remove duplicate contacts
  • make sure your contact names are correct (proper titling, not all caps)
  • … you get the idea.

The lesson here is: plan plenty of time to clean your data, prepare your import, and get ready for a fresh start.

Carpe Diem

Change is thrilling. New horizons. Out with the old, in with the new… Harness that excitement and launch quickly. Organize the projects into phases, so you can respect your original timeline and get people using the new system as soon as possible.

Not to mention, going live quickly has its own advantages :

  • Present a tool that’s much easier to learn
  • Show that the project is under control
  • Get a return on your investment faster
  • Your users can become your advocates, helping inspire ideas of their own to improve the overall system performance.

And let’s not forget: Once the project is live, by all means, you can continue to iterate and improve. The system is not set in stone. Updates can be pushed anytime. Just keep what’s working and upgrade functionalities that need to be changed.  Exciting times call for exciting measures, so: Carpe Diem.

Conclusion

If you’re about to embark on a Salesforce implementation, take some time to think through these points and get prepared. And of course, never hesitate to discuss these steps within the project team and ask for help throughout this process. The more you ask, the more you communicate, the better your project will be, allowing your organization to reap all the benefits that Salesforce has to offer.

TrailheaDX 2017 – Highlights

Original article by Mat Bonin, Force.com Developer

 

It’s been a week since TrailheaDX 2017 and I’m still processing all the things we’ve seen there; suffice to say, there’s plenty to learn from my latest trip to San Francisco. While it’s officially described as the “Salesforce developer conference”, it’s clear there’s a lot for admins and project managers to learn there as well. That said, as a developer myself, here are my takeaways from the conference.

Lightning. Lightning everywhere.

2016 was billed as the “year of lightning” for Salesforce, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still going strong in 2017. At the event, there were over 25 sessions and workshops on Lightning Experience. The message is very clear : Lightning is the future – and very much the present – of Salesforce. If you’re a developer and you’re not yet familiar with Lightning, get on Trailhead and get up to speed.

Lightning Data Service

Yep, more Lightning. Lightning Data Service is a tool for everyone who feels loading records in Lightning was a bit too complex compared to Visualforce pages. It’s available right now, and by using the “force:recordData” tag in your lightning components, you can now get your record from the server or, more conveniently, from the local cache. And saving changes to that record is done very easily from the client-side controller, without the need for a server-side controller. There’s a lot to like here, if you ask me.

Einstein : Object Detection,  Sentiment and Intent

Salesforce unveiled 3 new services that use Einstein AI, namingly : Einstein Sentiment, Einstein Intent, and Einstein Object Detection. Einstein Sentiment works by simply feeding these services text messages (most likely from a customer via Live chat or email). It then works to detect the tone of the message, which can then be use to take actions automatically, for example creating a Case if the tone is negative.

Einstein Intent works similarly, but this time assessing what the customer is looking to accomplish, so you can route the message to service or sales, appropriately.

And Einstein Object Detection builds on Vision, by identifying multiple objects it has previously been trained to detect, in a picture. One use case that was showcased during the opening keynote was a hiking equipment sales rep asking a customer in a live chat session to show her the gear they already owned. Object Detection then proceeded to identify everything in the picture and then used that information to suggest more items that could be relevant to the customer. Very, very impressive live demo.

Intention and Sentiment are currently available in Beta, so not quite there yet, and Object Detection is even further away from release. I feel that the biggest challenge will be getting customers to trust the capabilities of this service, as it feels a bit too much like magic. And that in itself is very exciting.

Dancing Mascots

Seriously, check out the mascots. Einstein got some moves.

Salesforce DX Open Beta

It’s probably not the first time you hear about Salesforce DX, but now we can all go out and try it out ! Salesforce announced that Salesforce DX is now in Open Beta. I did not get to spend time with the Beta yet, but here’s what excites me about DX : it allows developer to launch their own “scratch orgs” on demand, to test and develop in your own personal org. And once that’s done, you can bring back the changes – code and metadata.

In short: no more breaking sandboxes that other people are working on. Not that it’s ever happened to me or anything…

And much more…

Obviously this is only the tip of the iceberg – especially regarding Salesforce DX, it’s much more than what I covered here and I’m still learning about it. We were a team of three developers covering the conference for Nubik and there was still stuff we couldn’t cover as well as we would have liked. Luckily, a lot of the sessions are covered by new trails available on Trailhead, a lot of them right now; so even if you didn’t get to go, you’re covered.

Speed is the new currency: Community Live Wrap Up

Nubik attends FinancialForce Community Live

Original article by Patrick Gouin

Before we get started, let me lay down some context around my perspective. I am new to the FinancialForce ecosystem and community, and to Nubik, joining the team with more than 10 years track record in the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions realm, and the first thing that I can tell you is – This was very refreshing.

Community Live 2017 in Las Vegas was packed with so much great content, from hands-on training sessions, to thought leadership keynotes, and live customer success stories. And for me, it all came down to some inspiring and very well delivered keynotes and panels, and realizing how FinancialForce is dedicated to helping customers shape the future.

This is a first of a series of articles. More is on the way!  

The new services economy

I think we can all agree, our economy is changing. As a result, 89% of Fortune 500 companies have disappeared in the last 60 years. The biggest change is happening right now as we enter the New Services Economy. We are in an era where businesses are easily disrupted by technology and customers, which both evolve faster than we can keep up with.

Ultimately, companies are left with two choices; disrupt your market and exceed customer expectations or become disrupted by your customers and disappear.

Tod Nielsen presents at Community Live

From Tod Nielsen’s, CEO, FinancialForce, point of view – “The pace of change in our industry is relentless right now, services are continuing to drive and the way we experience value over products is outdone through services”. And it is true, our economy is changing rapidly and it is hard for organizations to keep up with next generation buyers. Speed is the new currency.

FinancialForce gave examples here, like music, where not so long-ago people would go to the music store to buy albums. Then we went digital, and people now buy digital albums or even specific songs, which was impossible before. Fast forward to today: consumers want instant access to every song that’s ever been created. The music industry flipped to a service model through subscription services like Google Unlimited, Spotify, Apple Music and more.  

Another case in the entertainment industry shared by FinancialForce was how Netflix was an actor in the demise of Blockbuster by disrupting the rental model and delivering movies direct to your television screen. And further disrupting the market by going full digital, recently announcing that they now have more subscribers in the USA than all the cable suppliers combined, accounting for more than 30% of the bandwidth on the internet today.

And all of it, happened fast, and will just keep happening faster in more industries.

The new services model

As we keep moving forward, coming to this phase of our economy, where products and services are blurring into one another, the way customers will want to experience and interact with brands, products and services, is fundamentally changing. In fact, Tod stated that more than 80% of companies are seeing a change in how customers want to access and pay for goods and services. Which means customers will expect to have a completely new type of relationship with organizations.  

FinancialForce suggests; “As customers drive these changes forward, we will see packaged products include service components to them, there will be more support services, utility models, organizations will face having to deal with subscription models, renewals and usage contracts, managed services, and will need to pay closer attention to customer attrition and retention”.

I love the slide below! It was shared during the opening keynote, and summarizes very well what the new services economy is.

the new services economy

Companies will need to be able to adapt, iterate and try new things. And they need to act fast.  

Tod from FinancialForce also noted that in a recent study that was published in CFO Magazines – 70% of CFOs say that more than half of their revenues are generated from services, and that services can no longer be ignored, or considered as part of a different business unit”.

As a result, companies need to ensure they include services as part of their model and track customer’s complete lifetime value, from lead/customer acquisition to a contract renewal. Companies that are used to selling goods will need to start thinking about how they can sell services, and what tools they can leverage to ensure they meet their customer expectations and operational efficiency.

Conclusion

Moving forward into this new phase of our industry means companies need to fundamentally disrupt the way things are done both from a customer point of view, and from an internal operating point of view. They need to start thinking how they can adapt through iterative changes and transform to new business models.

What about you? Are you ready to face empowered customers, to change your product offering into a service hybrid or become the next AaaS (Anything as a Service) company? Undergoing such a transformation, with speed and success, relies heavily on People, Process and Technology.  

Native ERP

On the technology front, FinancialForce, is a leading Cloud ERP on the Salesforce Cloud Platform,  that is built with the new services economy in mind. It is a great place to start your transformation with speed.  

Tim Brown, CFO and FinancialForce customer said“The power of using FinancialForce has really been about having the data centered around a single customer record. Our Sales Team, our Service Team, and the Finance Team, are all able to drill down the same customer record and data. It really provides us with the core data that we use to drive a lot more business intelligence around the company”.

Stay tuned for more articles around the great content from FinancialForce CommunityLive 2017 and feel free to catch up in our blog section where we cover anything from best practices, customer case studies, thought leadership and solution how to’s. Nubik is a different breed of implementation partner. We bring best practices, industry knowledge and experience in delivering complete solution, from “Lead acquisition to contract renewal”, leveraging over 15 years of Salesforce CRM experience coupled with strong ERP background.

Closing the quote-to-cash gap with Salesforce CPQ

In business, quoting is the process whereby you go from promises made by the sales rep to making customer commitments in writing and kick-starting the quote-to-cash effort.

The way that businesses produce quotes has historically been a function of their size and maturity. For many companies, quoting was and often remains a manual process, prone to error, due to the complexity of the underlying product line and price book and each organisation’s unique business processes. In larger companies, creating the quote may even be handed off to specialist employees, freeing up the sales team to continue to seek new business opportunities.

The business challenges of quoting

A recent study by Pace Productivity estimates that the average sales rep spends 12% of his or her day preparing quotes or customer proposals. For complex solution selling or international sales involving channel partners, this number can easily go much higher, meaning that sales reps are spending a significant portion of their time producing quotes rather than prospecting for new business.

Average portion of day creating a business quote

All too often, companies are faced with numerous challenges that can slow down or otherwise hinder the quote-to-cash cycle:

  • Time-consuming, error-prone manual quoting process
  • Product catalogue and price lists spread across multiple spreadsheets or databases
  • Large product selection with multiple variable configurations, including product bundles, to consider
  • Out-of-date list of products; many products no longer available and many recently introduced
  • Out-of-date pricing, including promotional pricing that is no longer in effect
  • Out-of-date product documentation and contractual terms and conditions
  • Customer or partner-specific discounts and payment terms
  • Multiple quote versions to meet different customer purchase scenarios

For companies that operate internationally, additional concerns may include:

  • The ability to price products and services in multiple currencies
  • Managing availability based on geographic region, market vertical, or channel partner

Nowadays, automated quoting tools such as Salesforce CPQ are helping companies relieve the business pain of quoting, enabling quotes to be produced and delivered faster than ever before. Professional quoting solutions such as Salesforce CPQ provide support for complex product configurations, product bundles, guided selling, and authorisation workflows (aka governance) as well as support for international sales channels, including agents and distributors.

Salesforce’s quoting platform

In the past, customers of Salesforce’s Sales Cloud had access to the native quoting module, which while very functional for some scenarios, was not able to handle complex requirements faced by international sales organisations with rich product catalogues. As a result, many users either turned to a third-party quoting solution from the AppExchange, or they had one custom-developed for their specific needs.

Enter Salesforce CPQ. In 2015, Salesforce acquired SteelBrick and began the process of incorporating the solution as a Salesforce product, by integrating SteelBrick into the core Salesforce flow and leveraging the Lightning user experience. Since rebranded as Salesforce CPQ, the solution has evolved to include invoicing, enabling Salesforce to get closer to covering the range of business activities from lead to cash.

Nubik and Salesforce CPQ

Performing Salesforce Sales Cloud, as well as CPQ, implementations has taught Nubik much about the dynamics of business quoting. It is this experience in serving the needs of multiple customers across multiple industries that has enabled Nubik to develop a solid understanding of the quoting dynamic, in particular, and how it fits into the larger business picture, in general.

To deliver Salesforce CPQ implementations, Nubik counts on a team of certified Salesforce SteelBrick blue belts. These are Nubik team members that are specially trained for the deployment of Salesforce CPQ, in addition to their training on and years of experience in deploying Sales Cloud and Service Cloud.

Nubik helps launch Salesforce CPQ

One of Nubik’s customers is a fast-growing, international company that provides subscription-based solutions to some of the world’s largest industrial manufacturing organisations. With hundreds of employees spread out around the world, not to mention numerous joint ventures and channel partners, this company offers direct sales in addition to working with a worldwide network of distributors as well as what it calls “bundled resellers”.

Historically coming up with a price for a customer or channel partner meant consulting at least three different Microsoft Excel workbooks; for international sales, a 4th workbook is required.

The first workbook contained each of the various product configurations and subscription options, with over 400 variations in all. The second workbook featured pricing for each major geographic region, such as the Americas, Europe, or Asia. A third workbook provided the negotiated discounts and payment terms for each business partner. The fourth workbook provided the exchange rates used for reference purposes. (The company prices its products in US dollars and revises its exchange rates on a set timetable to even out short-term fluctuations and better support business forecasting and reporting.)

These four different Excel files would be revised manually on a regular basis to take account of new products, retired products, new channel partners, expired or renewed discounts and payment terms, as well as updated reference exchange rates. Notes would be left in the workbook to remind the reader of any imminent planned changes. Workbooks could also be updated on an ad hoc basis, necessitating the distribution of revised workbooks.

This manual process left a considerable margin for error, and greatly impacted the company’s ability to quote.

Salesforce CPQ, with its automated configure-price-quote workflows was key to the company’s plans for growth, to help them streamline and improve their processes.  But, they needed help to ensure the success of the project. This is where Nubik stepped in.

Nubik undertook a series of workshops with the customer where they jointly discovered its specific quoting needs as well as the resources available to support quoting activities. Together, we helped refine the project scope and objectives, to identify key project resources both at the customer and at Nubik, to build out a schedule, and to identify project risks. Leveraging interviews with various stakeholders in the quoting process, as well as through surveys and questionnaires, Nubik worked to understand the company’s unique business processes. Armed with this information, Nubik was in a strong position to help launch a secure, efficient CPQ system.

Accelerating the quoting process

At the outset, the company identified five areas critical to their business that needed to be resolved:

1) Enabling the ability to quote

As described earlier, producing a quote was a major undertaking, featuring lots of manual, out-of-band processes. These include back and forth communications by email and phone with key stakeholders to address product dynamics not formally captured in the price book, as well as consulting multiple complex Excel workbooks that needed to be cross-referenced during the quote building process. These contained lots of business rules, different products carried by each distributor, different pricing levels per country, and different currency exchange rates that may or not be current. Finally, the calculation and management of channel partner commissions were a major challenge.

There was also no single “source of truth” but rather multiple sources of truth, one for each copy of the Excel workbooks in the hands of personnel and channel partners. Tracking changes to the Excel workbooks was not easy—nor was ensuring that account reps used the most recent version—and participants in the quoting process could never be sure that they were employing the most recent information. That would require a phone call or an email to confirm, adding complexity to the quoting process and delaying the production of a quote.

The status quo was overwhelming the company’s resources and threatening its future growth plans. Even though the customer had used Salesforce’s CRM offering for a long time, it could not figure out how to put its quoting process, including its price book, on to Sales Cloud. That is when it reached out to Nubik and Nubik proposed Salesforce CPQ. Nubik worked to consolidate the information from the different Excel workbooks into a single price book and a single set of business rules, thus providing the company and its business partners with a single source of truth, enabling the production of quotes promptly. In addition to implementing rules that would avoid the creation of erroneous product configurations, Nubik implemented a guided selling capability, ensuring that valuable opportunities for upselling and cross-selling we never missed.

2) Improving quoting accuracy

Historically, providing a customer with a quote would require an account rep to consult at least three Excel Workbooks—four for international sales—and the creation of a new deal-specific workbook for calculations. This deal-specific workbook could see multiple worksheets created in response to different quoting scenarios and customer feedback. When creating a quote, the sales rep would have to take it on faith that he or she was accessing the most current, approved pricing information as well as the most current channel partner entitlements.

By moving to a price book managed by Salesforce CPQ and accessed from the Cloud, the company could be sure that its reps were always using the most recent prices, discount levels and payment terms, across its four core products as well as the 400 configurations and ancillary services that it offered. By codifying business rules, such as geographic pricing and partner or customer-specific discounts, quote calculations could be automated, and the company was able to remove the margin for error typical of manual calculations. Consequently, it  was able to vastly improve the accuracy of the quoting process, leading to improved profitability

As of its initial implementation, the company can address 80% of its quoting needs with Salesforce CPQ. It continues to use some exceptions to retain some flexibility in the quoting process to support its existing channel partners and end customers. That being said, the company intends to standardise on Salesforce CPQ for all channel agreements going forward.

3) Subscription management (and service contracts)

Before providing support to a customer, a company support rep or third-party support partner would need to consult the status of the customer’s support relationship. Because the quoting and invoicing processes were managed outside of Salesforce, the customer’s technical support entitlements would have to be modified in Salesforce’s Service Cloud manually. At some predetermined interval, customer support entitlements would be reviewed, with support periods extended or terminated where applicable.

In addition to adding complexity and additional time to the technical support process, this approach could end up negatively impacting the customer experience by unnecessarily refusing support to an eligible customer. On the other hand, the company’s support usage factors and costs, and, ultimately its profitability, could be negatively impacted by providing support to a customer that was no longer entitled to it.

Using Salesforce CPQ, Nubik’s customer is now able to automate the subscription management process, including the ability to auto-renew subscriptions. Accounting for subscriptions has been simplified as well with data flowing automatically from Sales Cloud to the company’s  accounting systems. Salesforce CPQ also enables it to consolidate multiple customer support contracts into one, with the ability to harmonise renewal dates and prorate support fees.

Customer support has also been simplified as well. Leveraging the same underlying database, the company’s Support Cloud instance is always up-to-date with the latest customer entitlements. The company has thus been able to reduce the amount of upstream time required to manage customer subscriptions, renewals, and amendments, and the downstream time required to validate customer subscriptions, enabling support personnel to spend more time focused on customers.

4) Efficient International Quoting

The vast majority of the company’s sales take place outside of its home country and are billed in US dollars, though its operating expenses are in a different currency. As a result, the efficient operation of its international distribution network is paramount to the company’s success.

Supporting that network requires the company to provide region or country-specific pricing in local currency. However, in pricing its products in local currency, the company exposes itself to exchange rate risk, such as short-term currency swings. As a result, the company’s finance department has implemented a quarterly exchange rate policy to standardise the exchange rate for a set period. (The company uses currency hedging to mitigate the risk of major movements in exchange rates.)

Irrespective of actual currency movements, the company provides this fixed local currency price to its channel partners and customers, which greatly simplifies the sales process as well as the calculation of commissions and tracking of payments. Though the company currently uses set reference exchange rates, Salesforce CPQ offers support for real-time currency conversions.

Salesforce CPQ also supports the company’s ability to offer tiered pricing and discounting specific to each channel partner. It also greatly simplifies the tracking of channel partner incentives.

5) Automated Quote Generation

Before implementing Salesforce CPQ, quotes were built using Excel. Once the terms of the quote had been settled and internal approvals completed, the contents would be copied from Excel to Word. Once in Word, additional elements were added to the document, such as boilerplate texts about the business opportunity, documentation for each of the products and services covered by the quote, and general contractual terms and conditions. The document would then be further customised to the customer’s requirements, including a discussion of the customer’s operations.

This entire process was manual and was prone to error, so doing it well meant ensuring that each component featured the latest version, resulting in additional time required to produce a quote. Also, the component texts of the quote, such as the product documentation, the support entitlements, or the governing terms and conditions, could be expected to change over time, but the quotes that the company produced for its customers might not reflect that. Nubik’s customer could easily find itself committing in writing to feature availability or support entitlements that were out of line with current or projected practices.

Salesforce CPQ automates that entire process, ensuring that product and pricing tables are correctly formatted for the printed page. Salesforce CPQ also automatically appends the appropriate documentation for each company product or service referenced in the quote. The most recent approved contractual terms and conditions are included as well. While implemented in Salesforce CPQ as separate document components—simplifying their maintenance over time by the relevant company stakeholder—these are consolidated together when generating the quote to produce a document with a professional look and feel. As a result, Nubik’s customer always appears at its best, reinforcing its positive perception in the minds of its customers.

Conclusion

As we have seen, quoting is one of the most important aspects of running a growing business. By implementing an automated, cloud-based quoting solution such as Salesforce CPQ, any organisation—but particularly those with international sales—can achieve numerous benefits. These include simplifying the production of business quotes, including the gathering of all relevant documentation; providing unparalleled levels of accuracy in pricing, discounts and entitlements; supporting channel relationships and eliminating channel conflict; freeing up account reps for more value-added activities, such as prospecting for new business opportunities; and delivering enhanced levels of profitability.

Common business problems when creating a quote

Implementing an automated quoting solution requires not only a solid understanding of Salesforce CPQ but also an intricate understanding of the underlying capabilities of the Salesforce platform to minimise the level of manual data capture and to optimise the customer experience. As one of less than two dozen Salesforce partners worldwide with the expertise to deploy Salesforce CPQ, Nubik has the technical savvy and the business prowess required to make such a vision a reality.

Linking quoting with lead management, customer relationship management and financial management solutions, such as those offered by Salesforce, it is possible to fully automate the quote-to-cash cycle in addition to providing a truly comprehensive customer experience.

When is the best time to implement a CRM? Now!

Summer is a great time to implement Salesforce CRM

For some of us, it’s been a long time waiting, but finally, summer has arrived! And for us Northerners, we’re finally able to shed some layers and head out to the terrasse, the pool or even the cottage. In other words: we’re ready for some outdoor relaxation.

Does it mean that the earth stops turning and business grinds to a halt? Not even close! On the contrary, this is often the best time to take on those famous long term projects you never seem to have the time to tackle.

For example: implementing a CRM. It’s been several weeks since you’ve been thinking about getting organised, finding a way to align your team with a more structured process and finding ways to increase their productivity.  The discussions have already happened, and now you’re wondering: is it the right time?

Some folks might tell you that summer is not ideal. But we respectfully disagree. In fact, why not take advantage of summer’s positive impacts to help you launch into the project:

1- Team Spirit

Sure, some of your team might be dreaming of sandcastles and flip flops, but they are also relaxed! They’ve left behind the dark, gloomy fall months, and the relentless start to the New Year when sales activities are often at their peak. Their minds are clear and they are able to focus.

People are generally more relaxed in summer and more inclined to take on infrastructure projects. Summer usually has this effect of relaxing the atmosphere. Longer days certainly help, the team has more time to focus on the project and contribute to the improvement process.

2- Customers on Holiday!

Well, it can certainly be unsettling, but customers on holiday is a reality you have to deal with. During the summer, many clients are on vacation, regardless of your type of business, and the day-to-day is usually idle. In fact, it is not uncommon to have customers who close their doors for a few weeks during this time

So why not take advantage of this period to prepare for the fall! In an extremely competitive world where every second that you yield to competition can result in huge losses, you want to come into the fall season prepared. So take advantage of this time to get organised so that you can hit the ground running that first day back after Labour Day, and leave your competitors behind.

3- Best focus

Sometimes it feels like life is a race that never ends. A typical day can include getting the kids out of bed, making lunch, heading out the door to the office, coming home and chauffeuring your kids to all the activities, and eventually falling asleep in front of the TV when you finally get the kids to bed, only to start all over the next day. Fortunately, during the summer, the end of classes means you get to ease up on the stress of a busy family schedule.

Less stress usually involves more focus and therefore more productivity! This is the best time to think, regroup and organise. And why not regroup all the players on your team s who are otherwise distracted by their day to day?

Conclusion

You can probably find ample reasons why other times of year are are just as good for launching a CRM. The fact is that introducing a productivity tool like a CRM requires a certain level of commitment from the team. What we have noted historically is that our customers tend to be more engaged over the summer months.

So, with that in mind, Summer is a great time to launch a CRM, and summer has officially begun!  So when you’re ready, give us a shout and we’ll help you figure out which CRM is best for you, and get you started on your journey while the sun still shines.

Salesforce Summer ’17 is Ready When You Are

Nubik consultants summarizes Salesforce summer 17 features

With the Salesforce Summer ‘17 release notes weighing it at over 500 pages—definitely not for the faint of heart or those whose job isn’t to read release notes—we thought that we would share the thoughts of our team of Salesforce admins and consultants on the most important new items and changes in the Summer ‘17 Release.

New Release Icon

Goodbye rainbow, hello seagulls (with sunglasses!)

For most users, the first sign of a new Salesforce release is the colourful new icon displayed to the right of the Salesforce cloud logo. The official icon of Summer ‘17 is a pair of sunglass-wearing seagulls, replacing the rainbow of the Spring ‘17 Release.

Lightning

The rollout of the next generation of Salesforce continues

Salesforce’s next generation UI for desktop and mobile devices Lightning continues to be deployed throughout the Salesforce user experience. The Summer ‘17 Release adds a variety of lead conversion enhancements, support for omni-channel activities, support for external search engine results, and enhanced support for meetings. Salesforce also announced that the Classic version of the Salesforce1 mobile app will be retired in December of this year in favour of the Lighting experience, so if you have want to provide a unified user experience, you may want to consider moving your desktop version of Salesforce to Lightning in the near future.

Thinking of migrating to Lightning but not sure if you are ready? As we wrote this past February, Nubik has developed a Salesforce Lightning Readiness Assessment that is designed to take the guesswork out of migration for your organization and ensure a smooth transition.

Einstein

Coming back from Dreamforce in October, Nubik’s team of Salesforce admins and consultants was very excited about Einstein, which puts the power of artificial intelligence at the service of all of your customer activities. The Summer ‘17 Release introduces Einstein Discovery, which analyzes your existing data—from Salesforce, Excel, and external databases—with no modifications required to surface relevant facts, causes, and correlations, providing you with unbiased answers and recommendations for acting on its findings. Einstein puts its powers to use in Sales Cloud with enhanced lead scoring capabilities, automated contacts, and account insights. Einstein’s reports can easily be exported as Microsoft Word documents or PowerPoint slides. With a minimum of configuration, Einstein’s recommendations can also be added to objects in Salesforce, so that actionable information is always at hand. Einstein also powers new capabilities in Wave Analytics.

While AI is the future of so much in business, it can provide both substantial and incremental benefits to your business today. If you are not sure how Einstein can help your business, please get in touch so that a member of our team of Salesforce experts can walk you through the latest possibilities.

Channel Partner Management

Salesforce customers that work with channel partners will be delighted by the arrival of Partner Central— the new partner community solution. Designed for Partner Relationship Management, also known as PRM, Partner Central features a variety of tools and templates for building and managing partner communities, including automated  lead distribution, deal registration, marketing development funds and more.. Partner Central also offers workflows for recruiting, onboarding, and supporting channel partners over the long term.

Gmail / G-Suite Integration

The Summer ‘17 Release adds support for Lightning in combination with Google’s G-Suite family of productivity applications. The addition of Lightning Sync for Google means that contacts and email records can be synced with Gmail and events can be synced with Google Calendar. With this release, Google contacts and events will also sync more frequently.

Microsoft Integration

Lightning for Outlook now integrates with more Salesforce features, such as Email Experience and Email templates. Lightning Sync for Microsoft Exchange offers two-way syncing of events and better calendar integration. For Office 365 users, the Summer ‘17 Release means that events can be synced in both directions between Microsoft and Salesforce calendars. Support for Skype from Lightning Experience is also added in this release, though it is being labelled a beta.

Mobile Experience

The Salesforce1 mobile app has been updated with improved search capabilities (including in-line spelling correction and support for similar spellings), records display, and enhancements to business workflows. (As mentioned earlier, Salesforce1 support for Classic is being ended as well as client application support for the iOS 10 and Android 7.0 mobile operating systems.) Wave Analytics for iOS and Android has also been updated with new visualisation types and new dashboards.

Of course, there are a ton more features, 300+ to be exact, if you want to dig into the details of Summer ‘17, or want to take full advantage of the latest features, contact us, we’ll be happy help. Have a great summer!

 

 

Transforming Nubik’s Project Delivery with FinancialForce PSA

Nubik uses FinancialForce PSA to support Salesforce implementation projects

By Alexandre Boyer et Julien Tozzi

Managing project assignments for a team of 10 people is a relatively simple task, nothing an excel worksheet can’t handle. Combined with weekly project status updates, you can keep track of what’s going on: who is doing what, which projects need extra resources, when projects close and the customer needs to be invoiced, and so on. But as the projects multiply, the team expands, and roles diversify, it becomes inefficient with too much manual effort and lack of cohesion between different processes.

As a professional services organization, project management is core to our business. And, as the company started to grow, we needed to up our game and become more effective in how we track, monitor and deliver them. Working as project managers at different organizations for the past number of years, we’ve gained our share of experience with various tools on the market. Each time with mixed success. For example, some systems will provide a global list of all resource assignments, but no information about project budgets. Or, there is no easy way to track change requests.

This led us to a review process, to compare multiple systems in order to identify which solution would handle our requirements while giving us the most productivity gains in how we run our business.

FinancialForce PSA (Professional Services Automation) solution stood out from the crowd, and was quickly identified as our go-to. We’ve listed here the main areas of how we use the system to increase our productivity along the following axes:

  1. Creating projects from opportunities
  2. Managing tasks and assignments
  3. Project Planning
  4. Timesheets
  5. Billing
  6. Managing resources

 

1- Creating Projects from Opportunities

Gone are the days when an opportunity is won and the project manager has to manually create the project and re-enter basic information such as the budget or number of project hours. A simple push of the button automatically creates the project, carrying over the budget and other relevant information. For those already using Salesforce as their CRM platform, this is even more magical! Opportunity and project data resides on the same platform and makes it seamless to access one from the other.

In addition, since the project is associated to the opportunity, managers can easily evaluate the status of sales bookings versus recognized revenues.  

Another benefit of being able to create projects from opportunities is the ability to manage change requests. With FinancialForce PSA, you can combine multiple opportunities, and their associated budgets, to the same project. It is therefore no longer necessary to manually reconcile sales data with project data.

2- Managing Tasks and AssignmentsNubik uses FinancialForce PSA to manage Saleseforce implementation projects

For Nubik, this is one of the key highlights of the PSA solution: to ensure that our team members are assigned to the right projects, and that the workload is evenly distributed.

The PSA Resource Planner makes it easy to evaluate workload. You can verify dates and level of effort for all of the assignments. In addition, because everything is integrated, the assignments will be reflected in the employee’s timesheet (more on that later…).

The gain in time is substantial, in the order of hours per week. The time it takes to check in with each employee to review their calendar for the week is easily 5-minutes per person.  For a company of 50 resources, that quickly adds up to 4 hours per week, and over 2 weeks per year! That’s a lot of time over the course of the year, that could be much better allocated to other billable projects.

3- Project Planning

The PSA Project Planner provides visibility into several aspects of project management. For example, budget management becomes much more efficient. The ability to create and track multiple tasks and create a baseline for each task, allows for a more granular management of the project, so you can evaluate potential cost overruns before they happen.

The project manager gives a single source of truth to managing timesheets, schedules and budgets, where all aspects are fully interconnected. Once an employee submits their timesheet, the Project Gantt chart is automatically updated, and a project status report can be easily produced and shared with the client.

4- Timesheets

Fully integrated with Salesforce, PSA Time Management allows employees to enter and track timesheets. Hours worked are associated to a specific task on a specific project, which means that as soon as hours have been entered and approved, the project plan is automatically updated and the project manager can immediately access to the budget, and find out the status of how many hours have been spent so far. This is a significant advantage over more traditional tools such as MS project, that have no integrated way of managing timesheets or billing.

The same is true of the expense account, which makes it an ideal centralized tool.

5- Billing

The area where we experienced the most substantial gains was in billing.

Before the PSA solution, billing was performed via a bridge to another system. This approach had several drawbacks: First, limitations in the functionalities of the bridge led to a direct impact on the process of generating invoices. In addition, the cost to maintain this bridge and those of other systems was quite high, taking several days per month. Even more problematic was the process to generate the invoices that took upwards of 3 weeks: including the time it took to generate an invoice, have it reviewed and approved by the project manager, adjust if needed and finally send them to the customer.

With PSA Billing, it feels like magic to have a single button that kicks of invoice generation in a simple click! All the elements are automatically synchronized, and we can streamline the validation process. All told, we reduce our billing cycle by a full week.

6- Managing Resources

As a manager, it’s not always easy to balance your team’s workload. Realizing that one of your resources is underutilized, or worse that someone is overloaded, are two situations that you want to avoid. Unfortunately, as I’m sure you can agree, they are all too common. With the PSA Resource Management module, we are now able to very accurately track the billable levels of Nubik employees in real time. This feature helps us quickly identify who is on the bench, and who is overbooked, so we can make proactive decisions about resource allocation, rather than chasing our tails in a reactive mode.

Conclusion

The FinancialForce PSA platform has radically changed our approach to how we manage our professional services. Fully integrated with the Salesforce platform, from sales opportunities to billing and accounting, this system has provided us with a comprehensive view of projects, assignments, resources, and billing. Not to mention substantial time savings, in the order of weeks per year; impressive!

If you’d like to see how FinancialForce PSA can transform your business, contact us. We’re happy to help.

The Long Distance Manager

Managing Nubik Employees at a Distance

By Alex Boyer, Vice-President Operations, Nubik

Given the rapid pace of globalization, urban sprawl (and its inherent problems of urban congestion), the proliferation of cloud-based office software, and the challenges of reconciling the balance between having a family and a career, the way that we work is being drastically redefined.

Over the past few years, we’ve increasingly seen teams being de-localized, comprised of members that do not necessarily share the same physical space. When hiring employees, geography is less of a deciding factor, thus cloud-based tools keep us connected in a virtual office space. But that’s not to say that working in a virtual environment is not without it’s challenges!

Many years of working in a shared office has given rise to strategies and processes for managing teams. But, these same rules don’t always apply to working remote. That being said, having some basic, guiding principles can greatly improve the working conditions and contribute to overall success of remote teams.

To ensure success, here are some elements that need to be carefully considered:

  1. Hire the right profile
  2. Regular communication
  3. Measure employee performance
  4. Use the right tools
  5. Organize activities that foster team spirit
  6. And lastly: flexibility, flexibility, flexibility

1. Hire the right profile

Working at home may seem appealing at first. But it is not for everyone. For example, a particularly extroverted person might have difficulty in not meeting colleagues on a daily basis. Or, when faced with technical challenges, an anxious person could enter a spiral of distress, incurring a sense of isolation and inability to get the job done.

The selection of employees must therefore go through a rigorous process, where the personality traits are as much if not more important than the technical knowledge. The use of psychometric tests is thus fundamental, allowing the hiring manager to evaluate the right profile for the position at the same time as the right profile for remote work.

2. Regular communication

One of the pitfalls of working from home is the risk of being isolated. Communication is critical to keeping your employees engaged. It is essential that each individual has a dedicated period with his / her manager and this, in a recurring and systematic way. The frequency must be higher than in a traditional environment to compensate for the reduction of spontaneous encounters and avoid isolation.

In the absence of face-to-face meetings, it is also more challenging to know what is going on in someone’s personal life. More frequent communication should therefore also include extension to more personal elements of the individual.

3. Measuring Performance

Important for any manager, this is even more important with remote employees. Yet, it is often considered a daunting task for many managers: How do you really know if your employees are working?

Evaluating an employee’s performance based on the hours they spend at their desk, this is a basic metric, and no longer works when you’re managing someone who works at home. You have to go beyond and consider other less tangible metrics, such as working with colleagues, customer satisfaction, or participation in the firm’s well-being . In short, the measure is essentially based on results, not on presence in the office.

At the same time, it is important that employees have a reasonable number of clear and accurate performance measurement metrics. Four or five measures of performance allows employees to auto-evaluate and make sure there is no overlap in their performance measures.

4. Use the right tools

The last few years have seen the emergence of a variety of new technologies to keep teams connected while at a distance. Historically, these tools were used by sales teams on the road. More recently, we see them being adopted by in-house teams like production and administration.

The use of a unified enterprise tool such as Salesforce, enables a strong cohesion between the various departments that run the business, from marketing, sales, project management, human resources and accounting.

Virtual office technology also helps to restore proximity to colleagues. The tools used by Nubik enable others to visualize the presence of each person, to organize meetings by means of virtual conference rooms, even to share their screens. The result is a highly dynamic team, maybe even more so than in a physical office, where all experts are just a click away!

5. Organize activities that foster team spirit

With all the opportunities for proximity in a virtual office, there’s nothing like a good face-to-face meeting to get everyone on the same page. Whether they take place every two or even three months, this is an opportunity to have everyone aligned to the company’s vision and business objectives. They also stimulate brainstorming ideas, and give employees the chance share their own successes and shine in front of the team.

Not to mention, this is the best opportunity to foster those interpersonal relationships that keeps your organization together. There’s nothing like finishing your get together in a festive way, either with a fun activity, a meal or simply with a drink!

6. Flexibility, flexibility, flexibility …

Flexibility must live at the core of a virtual organization. Allowing for the range of employee productivity, the manager must adapt to the constraints of individual employees. More precisely, work-life balance can directly impact presence in the “office”. For example, a sick child may cause sporadic employee absences, yet being mindful that the employee can make up the time in atypical time slots.

That being said, this flexibility stems from a high level of employee trust; which brings us back to ensuring that the right employee is hired in the first place.

___________

Conclusion

Managing employees remotely is not easy. You have to be willing to relax traditional strategies and think differently. But if the guidelines outlined above are followed, the productivity, commitment and welfare of employees may increase. And most importantly, it should not be forgotten that employees are the most important assets of any organization. Corporate policies must constantly evolve to accommodate employees while ensuring the financial health, stability and growth of the business!