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September 9, 2016

CloudToday there is a tectonic trend, and for good reason, from expensive to maintain, on-premise server-based CRM systems to more cost-effective and functionally advanced, cloud-based CRM platforms.

The decision to modernize or switch CRM systems also involves other factors such as high license renewal costs; highly customized and expensive to upgrade andmaintain legacy systems; out-of-date, soon-to-sunset systems; and platforms and applications so stale that it's hard to find people who want to work on them.

Moving to a new platform is a great way to energize the agility of the enterprise, but only with a holistic view on the value creation the capabilities of the platform can provide. When I think of Salesforce, it is often mis-categorized a "CRM Application" vs. an end-to-end enterprise platform. With that in mind, following are a few suggestions to help you maximize the value of your investment in a CRM modernization project, and avoid some of the pitfalls along the way.

Use the Opportunity to Be a Silo Buster
Let me ask the question: Do you get more value from implementing a single Salesforce CRM application or a combination (that is completely integrated) of sales, service, marketing, analytics, mobile, social, custom apps, etc.? Having all your core data in the same data model makes a lot of sense – what better way to enhance collaboration and change than to enable different business groups and regions to share data and better communicate with one another? This speaks to the enterprise's ability to change and adapt, because we can see insights between the groups where they might be hidden in the past.

Avoid the "Lift and Shift"
Everyone has their own opinion on the best way to move from a legacy platform to a modern, cloud based infrastructure like Some like to map out all the screens, functions, and fields in the old system and start building it exactly (or as closely as possible) the same way in the new system. This is typically called a "lift and shift" approach. This is at the expense of recognizing how things work today may not be the best way.

Another approach is to map out the business processes the way the users want them to be in the future, create the data model, security model, and map to the out-of-the-box (OOTB) capabilities and anything that is custom (checking Salesforce's App Exchange for OOTB first) and build a new platform. My success in the past has resulted from building the future state based on the strengths of vs. trying to do a lift and shift. Moving to the cloud is very different than any on-premise environment and has its own set of challenges including UI, governor limits, capabilities, data model, security model, etc.

Ask yourself: Do you really want to do it the old way, which may have been part of the problem?

Find an Experienced Partner to Lead You in the Journey
TCS has the specialized industry expertise and major IT systems and databases knowledge as well as global reach to serve enterprise clients. In some cases, we might have thousands of people engaged supporting a company's systems and databases! We work hard to bring this knowledge forward into our CRM modernization approach to understand how data that already exists can transform the customer experience and even the business.

By bringing the depth of our knowledge of our customers and the breadth of the Salesforce platform as a whole, we can bring a true 360-degree view of the customer along with actionable intelligence that has never been achieved in the past. From our experience, here are potential trouble spots to avoid when migrating from old legacy server CRM systems to Salesforce:

  • Environment and Release Management are not the same – be sure to understand how this best works in the Salesforce environment.
  • The data models have many differences and issues can arise around activities now that a Contact can be related to multiple Accounts in Salesforce.
  • Only migrate what is truly needed. IT and the business typically want everything, so be prepared to push back and propose a data mart instead.
  • Be sure to stay away from a lift and shift approach. Show how it should be done, not how it was done.
  • Set up clear objectives and guiding principles from day one. This will help you prove value over the lifetime of the project and keep focused.

These are just a few steps you can do to help make your CRM modernization project a success. If you'd like more details about your specific situation, be sure to visit TCS at Dreamforce Oct. 4-7 in San Francisco and attend my "Modernizing CRM to Maximize Enterprise Agility and Engagement" speaking session at 12:30 p.m. Oct. 4. We also invite you to meet with us privately at our VIP lounge at the W Hotel Trace restaurant to discuss your CRM needs or visit us in the Cloud Expo at booth 413.

Matt Francis is a Director within the TCS Global Salesforce practice. With an extensive background (18+ years) building Customer Experience and CRM technical and operational solutions across Sales, Service, Marketing and IT functions, Matt helps organizations meet key business objectives leveraging cloud technologies. Matt also has extensive leadership experience and has helped numerous organizations in strategic initiatives all the way through tactical projects and execution.


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