What do dinner, process definition, and Salesforce have in common?

We often get asked how to prepare for a Salesforce project. One of the most critical preparation steps is defining key processes. But many of the processes we follow at work are things we do without thinking, like making a cup of tea– we don’t need instructions, we just do it. So where do you start when you need to define processes? We’ll explain. 

What’s a process, exactly, and why does it need defining?

Processes are series of actions that need to be completed in order to get something done. To make a cup of tea, the process is: fill the kettle, boil the water, insert tea bag, steep, remove tea bag, add lemon or milk.

Familiar processes aren’t often evaluated or questioned because at the end of the day, they get the desired result. But is the familiar approach the most efficient one? Or is it just the way it’s always been done? 

This is where dinner comes in: Sam is prepping a prime rib for a dinner party. His roommate sees him chopping off a considerable amount from both ends of the roast before putting it in the oven. The roommate asks why, and Sam says, “That’s how my mom did it.” The roommate’s not satisfied, and Sam calls his mom to confirm. His mom says she only preps the prime rib this way because it’s too big for her good roasting tin–she has to cut the ends off to get it to fit. 

When the answer to “why is it done that way?” is “that’s just how it’s done,” it’s a sign that it’s time to do some process defining. 

What is process definition?

Process definition is the exercise of identifying and breaking down processes into tasks. This makes it easy to find inefficiencies, breakdowns, and bottlenecks. After addressing these issues, a consistent, high-quality result becomes more achievable and predictable. 

Process definition also means standardization. The exercise helps surface exceptions, where teams have multiple ways to do the same thing. From there, teams can figure out why this happens, decide which approach should become the standard and whether they need to allow some exceptions.

Ultimately, process definition results in best practices.

What does this have to do with Salesforce?

Before teams can reap the benefits of a great CRM– better-managed relationships, saved time spent on administration, deeper impact– they need to capture the data that allows them to understand their performance and make smart decisions. Processes are the ways that data gets into your CRM. They’re the daily, weekly, monthly actions that people take to collect essential information. 

If processes aren’t well-designed, data entry becomes inconsistent and/or inefficient. Staff can end up spending tons of time entering, cleaning, and searching for data. Another pitfall of poorly defined processes is a bloated Salesforce system: if your CRM reflects the five different ways staff accomplish the same task, you end up with duplicative functionality. It’s hard to manage long-term, makes collaboration difficult, and it makes training new staff painful. 

Defining your processes well means that you can get the most out of Salesforce. You can use its power to organize and streamline your work and make sure data gets to the right place in the shortest amount of time possible, in a way that allows you to use the information you need when you need it.

In our next post, we’ll talk about process automation

Our team can help with resources and coaching in process definition. Reach out to us here! 

Fiona Rosenthal

Fiona Rosenthal

Senior Consultant

Fiona joined North Peak in March 2017, following six years as a Salesforce Admin in the private sector. In her previous position, Fiona managed a Salesforce instance of 2,500 users where she configured and customized Salesforce, managed data migrations, and supported the daily needs of her end users.