implementation

6 Questions to ask before you hire a Salesforce advisor: Implementation methodology?

By Amy Cook, Ph.D

Things are getting pretty serious at this point. You are pleased with the candidate’s past credentials and want to get an idea of a course of action should she get hired. Our fifth question for the advisor would be: What is your implementation methodology?

Even if two candidates have received the same Salesforce certification and have the same Trailhead badges, you may still find significant differences in the way they execute their implementation. Two of the most common methodologies are Agile and Waterfall.

While an in-depth analysis of both methodologies would take more time than we have here, we can still skim the surface of each:

Agile

Agile, as its name implies, is all about speed and dexterity. In Agile, focus is placed on small teams that organize themselves, not by tasks, but by time. Teams are responsible for organizing their work into clearly defined periods of time—called “sprints”—to which they assign a list of deliverables. When organizing the sprint, teams work closely with clients to determine/prioritize deliverables based on business value. At the end of the sprint, the most important deliverables have been completed. If any tasks have not been completed, they are those that the client deemed less important, and the client and team reprioritize work for the coming sprint.

Agile relies on a high level of client involvement throughout as teams report on progress and send deliverables to the client for review. Various advantages include the following:

  • The client feels more involved in the work being conducted and is less likely to be surprised by developments or nished projects.
  • Because of client feedback, projects are more user-focused.
  • Teams and clients alike learn how to prioritize better as projects continue.
  • When time is an issue, deliverables of greater importance are completed faster.
  • Agile is the preferred methodology of Salesforce.

 

Of course, one of Agile’s greatest strengths is one of its greatest weaknesses, as well: not all clients want to be as involved as Agile methodology demands. However, this can easily be adjusted so that clients are only consulted at the beginning and end of each sprint.

Waterfall

Waterfall, also known as traditional methodology, is a very linear approach to projects, with every project being divided (typically) into seven stages:

  1. Requirements Specification  
  2. Design
  3. Construction
  4. Integration
  5. Testing
  6. Installation
  7. Maintenance

 

When using this methodology, every stage is kept distinct and without overlap, and client approval is necessary before moving on to the next stage. Advantages to this method include the following:

  • Progress is easy to measure since requirements are decided early on. Design is likewise easier to execute.
  • Team members who are not needed on every stage are free to work on other projects until called upon.
  • Clients do not have to be present except when it comes to giving requirements, performing reviews, and granting approval.

 

As with Agile, Waterfall’s greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. Because the requirements are set early on, there isn’t much room left for discovery. At the end of the project, clients may realize that what they wanted isn’t what was best. However, the realization comes at a point when it is the most expensive to correct.

There are, of course, many other methodologies you or your potential advisors may use: PRINCE2, Lean, and RAD to name a few. Additionally, many companies choose to blend methodologies in order to find the process that works best for them. What is most important is that you understand how the advisor prefers to work.

You will want to choose the advisor that (a) uses the same methodology as your company or (b) demonstrates sufficient expertise in the methodology to convince you that it is the best fit for your projects. That will reduce the amount of time you and the advisor will have to spend adjusting to one another. If you enter into your partnership speaking the same language, you won’t have to waste time on translation.

An advisor’s implementation strategy is an integral part in your final decision of choosing a candidate. It really all depends on where you are now and where you want to be as a result of their hiring. As we near the end of our blog series, there is really only one more thing to ask: What is your price?

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