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Salesforce Lightning is Rolling Out – Don’t Fear Being Rolled Over!

By July 1, 2019

By: Michael Kolodner, Director of Information Systems at Spark

I sometimes forget that there are a lot of organizations whose Salesforce instance still looks like this:

Salesforce Classic screenshot

Instead of like this:

Salesforce Lightning screenshot

It makes me sad. I know that change is hard. But the changeover to Lightning does not have to be scary. It doesn’t even have to be that much work. Your users will take to it more easily than you think.

I’ll give you two easy tips to improve your rollout of Salesforce Lightning. When you’re done, you’ll wonder why you waited this long!

Stage 1: Plan and Pilot

Start by reminding yourself—and perhaps also your colleagues—that Lightning Experience is still the exact same underlying Salesforce that your colleagues have come to trust. We’re not talking about migrating to a new system. It’s like when you get an update to your iPhone overnight. The next morning your email, your contacts, and your Candy Crush high scores are still on your phone and your icons are exactly where you left them. You’ve just gotten security upgrades and new features that will soon be indispensable.

To begin with, your Lightning design is going to look like an incremental upgrade from Classic. Give yourself some time to go briefly through each regularly-used object and make small tweaks to the page layouts. Decide whether you think users go to that object primarily looking for detail fields or for information in related lists. Then make whichever tab you’ve chosen load first.

Your organization may have special considerations that you need to take into account, such as large numbers of custom buttons, custom VisualForce pages, or installed apps that aren’t Lightning-ready. But those issues don’t apply to 95% of nonprofits. Most of us can practically just flip the switch with little to no preparation.

Your first pass is just to get the broad stokes looking right. Then you’re ready to give a select group of users access to Lightning as a pilot test. At Spark I did this with our Salesforce Center of Excellence (COE), but you could convene an ad-hoc group of experienced users for this purpose. Make sure you have a cross-section of functions in your pilot so that you get people that will try most of the things your organization does in Salesforce. Give that team an intro and then ask them to switch into Lightning and do their jobs for a couple of weeks in the new user experience. You want them to communicate with you right away about what they’re finding, particularly anything they can’t seem to accomplish or page layout tweaks they notice in the moment. You’ll quickly see small changes you can make to improve everyone’s experience. Make those changes right away and let your pilot group see how easily you can customize Salesforce to their benefit.

Within a short time you’ll know you’re mostly ready to bring the rest of your colleagues along. Then it’s time to set a date. That deadline will focus the mind! Don’t plan to do it right before a big gala or fundraising push. If it’s not too far out, make it a switch with the change of the fiscal year. Or plan to transition along with staff-wide training in the summer. Don’t make it too far away, but give yourself and your coworkers a chance to plan for it as well.

Stage 2: Train and Coach

After a few weeks of your pilot, start encouraging your Lightning users to let their colleagues catch a glimpse over their shoulder at “the new Salesforce.” Those stuck in Classic will be jealous for sure. That’s a good thing! People always want the new shiny thing.

Start making your introductions to the wider organization. Demonstrate in all-hands settings what “the new Salesforce” will look like. Maybe let your pilot users run some sessions within their functional groups so that the development users can ask questions that are different from what the program managers need to know. And send out written materials as well. Some all-staff emails with key upgrades and appropriate screenshots are easy to put together. Maybe start a Trailhead Challenge and offer some of that extra Dreamforce swag you’ve got laying around as prizes. You’re building awareness and excitement as you approach the big switchover day.

A fun Lightning Experience rollout email

This is also your time to put a little thought into who might be your biggest resistors to change. Make some time for one-on-one coaching to make sure those folks are comfortable with the migration. Don’t focus solely on what’s different. Introduce the Lightning Experience, give a quick intro so they know how to do their job the same as they do on Classic, and then move on to up-skilling them so they’ll like Lightning better than what they have now. That could be showing them how to mass edit records in a list view or pointing out the pencil to edit right into a single field instead of starting always with the Edit button. Tricks like those are great in Classic, but if you teach them in a Lightning context, they’re going to remember them together with the overall experience.

The easy-to-edit pencil icon in Lightning

Once you’ve officially launched Lightning in your organization, let your colleagues know that you’ve unlocked the key to exciting new Salesforce features. All the innovation on the platform is coming in Lightning Experience at this point. So start taking advantage of it!


About the Author
Michael KolodnerMichael Kolodner is Director of Information Systems at Spark. A declarative Salesforce engineer, Salesforce MVP, Trailhead addict, and active member of the Power of Us Hub, Michael got his start in Salesforce accidentally, like so many of us. He loves to help nonprofits use technology and data to work efficiently, solve problems, and make the world better. His favorite Salesforce mascot is Earnie the Badger, who is long overdue for creation in plushie form!