Migrating to Salesforce Lightning?

How to control the change, reduce the risk and harness the power.

Lightning is pure power. A single bolt of lightning is 5 times hotter than the surface of the sun.

There are two types of lightning; negative strikes and positive strikes. Positive strikes are 5 times more powerful than negative strikes.

We have developed lightning conductors to control lightning, render it harmless and defuse the risk. In this article, we look at the risks and rewards of migrating to Salesforce Lightning and how you can harness its positive power.

A bolt from the blue?

Not really. Salesforce has been pushing the Lightning interface for 3 years. As one of the first cloud-based companies, their Salesforce Classic application has been an industry standard since 1999.  That pre-millennial interface is the same one still used by thousands of companies today. More than overdue an upgrade and update.

Salesforce Lightning is a hugely powerful tool. Consequently, migrating to it can have far-reaching consequences. In 2019 Salesforce issued its own storm warning: “Lightning Experience includes many new features and entirely redesigned pages, but not every Salesforce feature is supported in Lightning Experience.”18 Nov 2019

Anyone using the Classic version of Salesforce, and crucially, anyone using Veeva CRM, will need to migrate across to the Lightning interface. Why Veeva users? Since Veeva built their CRM platform on top of Salesforce, it’s in the very DNA of that application too.

If you are under-prepared, this change could be a storm on the horizon.

Is there a date when Lightning will strike?

Salesforce hasn’t set an end-of-life deadline when Classic will no longer be supported, but the writing is on the wall. Most of Salesforce’s updates are designed either for Lightning only, or for Lightning and Classic together – an indication that the company is no longer investing in developing Classic as a stand-alone interface.

Which means that you can set your own ‘go-live ‘date, building in plenty of lead time to audit your existing system, and plan your migration step by step. You can properly structure a change management plan with a schedule that works for your business and a training programme that allows your staff to absorb the complexity – and potential – of Lightning and practise at their own pace. You’re in control.

Does it really look that different?

Classic is very text heavy, with small graphics and icons – it’s not easy on the eye. The whole “feel” of the Lightning interface is different. The way in which you navigate around the platform is different. Lightning is far more contemporary in its design, which makes it visually appealing to today’s users.

One new user posted “It has enough changes to make it feel like we are learning a new platform all together.”  You can hear the despair.

Even for experienced users such as Bright Affect Managing Director Dale Peters, Lightning is no walk in the park: “I can find my way around Salesforce, Veeva and Classic effortlessly. If I allow the Lightning interface to be turned on I have to stop and think about what I’m doing. From an end-user perspective, Lightning will undoubtedly be better, but it is a significant step change. It requires change management as well as user training.”

Strike 1 – the impact on your organisation

One of the beauties of Salesforce Classic is that it allows you to customise the application so that it fits your business like a glove. Some of your key features may not work within the new interface. So be prepared – at an organisational level.

If you have developed custom-coded pages, or workflows internally, you will need to carry out a detailed audit to ensure compatibility within the Lightning interface. Are you sure you still need all the customisations – and if you don’t, now is the time to consolidate and streamline them. If you are about to list your application or have already listed your application with Salesforce App Exchange,  Salesforce will want to be sure that your app will work within the Lightning interface.

For future development and planning, this could be business critical.

Salesforce has helpfully provided a number of tools you can use yourself within your own version of Classic to run a health check to see if you are migration-ready. You need to be running these health checks now to see that all essential workflows and internal processes will perform.

Strike 2 – the impact on your workforce

A word of caution – don’t pull the switch overnight without telling anyone!

It sounds obvious – but a significant number of organisations did just that and switched from one system to the other without warning. In these instances, many employees just switched back to Classic because they didn’t have time to get their heads around Lightning. It’s demoralising for everyone and potentially disastrous for your bottom line.

You need buy-in from your end-users – they are your champions and stakeholders as much as the board members and your senior management team. You can’t be an advocate for what you don’t fully understand. Some will adopt it faster than others, but you don’t hire people on the basis of their ability to pick up a new software application – and you don’t fire them either! A good change management plan will ensure that there is enough time for practising the new system alongside the old, before switching completely.

If you control the change you reduce the risk

“Progress always involves risks. You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.” — Frederick Wilcox

Any migration project from a longstanding, successful software system to a shiny new model carries an inherent risk. As business owners and managers, we are all familiar with controlling levels of risk every day – risk nothing and you risk everything. Users however are more change-averse. Change means a temporary loss of control of their working environment and therefore their performance and productivity. They feel they may be penalised if they aren’t working as fast, or as hard. Change management is essentially controlling the risk to both organisation and individual at a moment of change.

In order to successfully equip and empower your end users, you need a robust, four-part change management plan:

  • A project schedule to budget time and resources
  • A consistent communications strategy to all stakeholders
  • A strategy to get the buzz going – Lightning is a powerful step forward
  • A well thought-through training plan.

We saved the best until last – the training plan. Training is key in all successful change management projects.

The intricacies of Lightning are such that getting all your training done in one fell swoop may be counter-productive. There’s just too much to take in at one sitting. A steady drip feed of information introducing the new features, preparing people with bite-sized chunks will ensure that the new skills stick.

Will the system perform as well when we migrate?

The key concern for both organisation and end-user is not so very different. Everyone, from the managers to individuals, has their eye on targets, goals and productivity. Bonuses depend on it. Shareholders depend on it. If you migrate without doing an appropriate assessment on how the system is going to perform to your business advantage, things could backfire.

When you control the change, you reduce the risk.

And you harness the power.