PhoenixTeam is excited to announce that we are now a Salesforce Partner! Phoenix is no stranger to Salesforce as most of our client engagements involve Salesforce Product and Implementation leadership. The uniqueness of this partnership comes from the combination of our Salesforce strength with our mortgage and financial services industry mastery. Reflecting on the partnership, Jake Artz, a PhoenixTeam Consultant specializing in Salesforce says, “solidifying Phoenix’s position with Salesforce allows us to tell the world what our clients already know, that we are the most specialized mortgage technology industry consultants in the Salesforce space.”

We are a one-of-a-kind consulting firm. Our focus is mortgage technology and delivering high-value outcomes to our clients with speed, precision and quality. It takes skill, focus and confidence to do this regardless of how “hard” the problem is. Paul Weakley, PhoenixTeam Partner speaks for us all when he says, “This is a door opening opportunity to help our clients and future clients leverage Salesforce to solve business and customer problems. We look forward to impacting and adding value to mortgage technology financial services organizations seeking to leverage the power of Salesforce.”

Salesforce has been part of Phoenix’s strategic technology vision and this partnership cements it on our roadmap for years to come. We look forward to showing the industry the power of uniting Salesforce with the Phoenix mindset to deliver impactful changes and outcomes. Visit our website to read our Salesforce blogs and download our Salesforce Leadership fact sheet. So much more to come – Stay tuned and thanks for the support!

Download our Salesforce Fact Sheet here.

Learn about our Three Pillars to successfully implementing Salesforce:
Pillar 1: The Right Strategy
Pillar 2: Defining the Right Process
Pillar 3: The Right Talent

Pillar 3: The Right Talent

PhoenixTeam introduced two of our three pillars to a successful Salesforce implementation: The Right Strategy and The Right Process. Once you have a good handle on the key components for defining the right strategy and you have aligned on the right process, it is time to turn your attention to the resources and skillsets you need to deliver Salesforce and delight customers. Some organizations say that talent is what separates the best from the rest. PhoenixTeam agrees but takes it a step further, knowing that having successful talent requires us to align our team members in a way that contributes but also drives, our client’s process and business strategy. As we dive into Pillar #3 – The Right Talent, we will discuss how to position your team to deliver maximum value.

Let’s face it – a Salesforce implementation is complex and can easily get derailed without the right team. Be real with yourself, if your organization does not have the skills, experience and resources to confidently implement one or more Salesforce Cloud solutions, admit it and consider working with an experienced Salesforce partner. Many consulting firms look at Salesforce implementation engagements as a “get in, get out” gig. This is not the PhoenixTeam way. The right Salesforce partnership goes beyond consulting to bring momentum to the solution through product and implementation leadership, training, and industry knowledge. The best partners provide support after go live. Here are some tips for vetting talent to make sure that they can “bring it” if selected.

  • Seek a consulting partner who has in-depth experience and a proven track record with Salesforce implementations of your size and complexity. Request referrals. If there is any hesitation in providing referrals, heads up, may not be the right talent for you. This insight will give you confidence that your Salesforce partner has the maturity, knowledge, and sophistication necessary for a well-executed implementation.
  • Take advantage of all that Salesforce has to offer from a training and learning perspective.  At PhoenixTeam, we are continuously learning and encouraging our talent to grow in their Salesforce expertise. We provide training and certification programs to build skills and stay up to date on Salesforce features. We gamify our teams’ developmental learning experience through Salesforce Trailhead leader boards, Superbadge contests, and Salesforce Certification training opportunities. In addition to Salesforce education, we train our team in SAFe, Lean Agile, and other relative frameworks to provide strong knowledge and value to our customers.
  • Search for partners who are experts in your industry. All time is valuable. Removing the ramp up time spent educating the team on your industry allows you to realize value quickly.  PhoenixTeam focuses only on the consumer lending and financial services space. As mortgage technology experts, we marry our mortgage and Salesforce knowledge to bring quick strategies, alternatives, and solutions for common and complex mortgage industry challenges.
  • Be open and honest about your goals and objectives. Giving this insight to consulting partners is vital for them to staff the implementation with the right talent.

When PhoenixTeam explores Salesforce implementation engagements, we listen to the needs and carefully curate our implementation teams to align with them. Our team members know the heck out of mortgage, but they are also visionary, empathetic and solution oriented.  This combination allows us to provide a team of talented individuals who:

  • Know the ins-and-outs of Salesforce. We identify the feasibility of potential solutions because we know the terminology, features, and configurations of Salesforce and what it means for your processes. We recognize when it is best to configure, code, or integrate and can translate “The How” to your business in an approach that everyone understands.
  • Think “long-run” rather than “end-game”. User adoption of the implementation will not be supported without the proper internal resources to change manage the solution. Your partnership is not complete after the initial go live. PhoenixTeam remains a go-to resource for your team and provides knowledge and training on the new system and stays up to date on Salesforce’s ever evolving features. Release updates are announced three times per year that include hundreds of new platform features and enhancements, some of which may benefit solutions. We anticipate these updates, presenting them to clients and preparing clients on potential impacts. As business needs change, so will your strategy and solution. We know this and design a solution that will carry your business long term.
  • Are committed to you and your company. When you work with PhoenixTeam, you gain a strategic partner and trusted adviser for your business. Unlike other consulting firms, our team members embed themselves into your team and organization. We stay laser focused on the engagement at hand and do not split our time between other clients or opportunities. We thrive on bringing team members together to envision, understand and create the desired end state. We believe in a “one-team” culture and mentality where a win is a win for all, and a misstep is equally shared.

The right strategy, the right process and the right talent. A simple, three-part recipe for any Salesforce implementation. PhoenixTeam believes in our team, in Salesforce and the value this combination can bring to any implementation. We constantly invest in our team. After all, if we want our team to invest 100% in our clients, we have to do our part and give them the tools, education and opportunities to showcase their skills. PhoenixTeam has more Salesforce knowledge to be shared – be on the lookout for our Salesforce Implementation Guide and White Paper as we continue to share out how PhoenixTeam knocks Salesforce implementations out of the park.

Pillar 2: Defining the Right Process

PhoenixTeam recently introduced the first of our three pillars to a successful Salesforce implementation: The Right Strategy. A strong strategy and a mutual understanding on the strategy sets the stage, the “what” and “why” for the implementation. Once we have the right strategy, it is time to put that strategy to work.  Allow us to share how we put that strategy into practice, building a reliable structure on top of the strategic foundation. Introducing Pillar #2: Defining the Right Process.

PhoenixTeam defines the right process as the use of one or more frameworks to achieve the desired results of the strategy. We see organizations primarily use one of the following frameworks:

  • Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)
  • Systems/Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC)
  • Customer Centricity
  • Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)
  • Lean Agile
  • Design Thinking
  • DevSecOps

So often, organizations go through a lengthy transformation process and come out an “insert framework name” shop. What we know from our umpteen years of working with Clients to build and implement mortgage technology products, is that one specific framework or process rarely results in achieving a strategy or the expected outcome. The organization does not always fit into the framework and does not have the expertise to pivot or incorporate a different approach. We encourage Clients to be open-minded and embrace that a blended framework or process structure will move the needle faster than trying to fit into one framework. Phoenix team members are experts in these frameworks, and we know our Clients well enough to help them develop a personalized framework, more importantly a mindset, that better suits their organizational structure and development approach. This is just one of our superpowers. Applying the right framework, mindset or process enables a team to iteratively deliver out-of-the-box Salesforce capabilities with speed and precision.

Here are a couple of nuggets we take into deep consideration when defining the right process for Salesforce implementations:

  1. Does our process enable us to concentrate on time to value? Before developing a solution, ask what Salesforce-specific tools, such as customization, flows or process automation, will add the most value and why? Aim to balance the use of declarative Salesforce tools and custom development to optimize the speed of delivery and maintainability of the solution. Throwing a slew of Salesforce features and capabilities together will result in more problems, not a cohesive solution. Consider the time and effort involved behind each tool; the most value is delivered when the solution (a) solves the problem without overcomplication, (b) does not exceed the capacity and capabilities of your team, and (c) is delivered successfully without delays. Then, build out a more complex solution down the line. This concept is at the core of software and product development, iteration.
  2. Does our process allow for iterative and agile development? Salesforce is built with iteration in mind. Apply the iterative techniques from the previously mentioned frameworks to problems that can be solved with out-of-the-box Salesforce capabilities. The features and functionality coming from the design and product teams will not be specific Salesforce features. They will be problems that need to be solved to realize the value that the strategy seeks to achieve. It is about affirming and refining your understanding of the problem through customer involvement, developing a strong process while keeping an open mind, and having the ability to successfully deliver the solutions.But what does it mean to truly iterate a solution within Salesforce? What is the cost and overheard of implementing and then reimplementing a solution? We recently worked with a Client seeking to  integrate a custom web application with Salesforce for internal support. The custom web application is a complete application with its own user interface, web server, and database. There were many ways that we could integrate the two systems, including using  REST APIs for Salesforce objects, a custom API endpoint within Salesforce, or even use the platform events for asynchronous ingestion. We heard the desired outcome and chunked out the solution so we could get something of value delivered quickly. We decided the best approach was to implement a lightweight Web-To-Lead solution. It would have limited negative impact, if any, and was easily deployed to production in the matter of a single iteration. Moving so swiftly allowed us to get just enough feedback to determine the next best chunk of value for the internal support team while providing the greatest level of flexibility for the custom web application team. Our strategy and process allowed us  to make decisions quickly, move nimbly and add value quickly.
  3. Does our leadership support and understand our process? If you have defined the right approach, now it is up to the leaders to communicate it out and encourage others to adopt it. One of the most common pieces of feedback we get from Client team members is that “leadership does not evangelize the vision for the desired process.” Time and time again we work with leaders, both Executive and boots on the ground, to appreciate the impact their support of a process has on their team members. From day one, it is vital that technology, business, and product team leaders align and work together as partners, seeking to achieve the same goal.  We love to see leaders dig deep, find time to get in the trenches with their team members to see the process in action and understand barriers to value delivery and where they can help course correct, or, in many instances, make a much-needed decision.Engaged leaders empower team members to flow through the process. They support, understand, and appreciate the process and the work done to make the strategy a reality. Allowing team members the time and space to create visualizations that illustrate the vision of Salesforce benefits to the organization, or its end users, takes a team from good to great. Some impactful, customer-centric, artifacts we promote within our teams are customer journey maps, storyboards, persona and empathy maps, and process flows. We focus on pain points, delays, and issues to gain a mutual understanding of the problem areas and their goals with Salesforce.

Salesforce is extensible. It is flexible. There is a myriad of solutions to meet your need. Let your process help you discover what approach to take and what solution adds the most value in the shortest amount of time. Keep your customer and their feedback at the forefront of any process – after all, it is the customer or end user that determines the success of the solution.

Now that you have a good handle on the key components for defining the right process, we must account for the folks doing the work. Before you kick start the process, ask yourself, “do we have the right number of resources with the right skillsets to knock this Salesforce implementation out of the park? Enter PhoenixTeam’s Pillar #3 – Defining the Right Talent.

Pillar 1: The Right Strategy

As Consultants, we see many organizations embarking on a Salesforce implementation or have one in process. In most instances we see similar themes in the strategy for implementing a world class CRM – better customer experience, increased sales pipelines, automation of team member or customer activities. However, the difference is that we are more centered around how to achieve these goals.  Some launched into the implementation believing they had the recipe for success figured out but then came to realize, often after a tremendous amount of spend, not so much. Others spend so much time analyzing and evaluating all the possibilities, that rabbit holes become the norm and before they know it, momentum is lost, and discourse sets in before taking one step forward. There is no way around it, a successful “Salesforce implementation” is not something that just happens. Salesforce is a complex tool with robust capabilities. Any implementation, in particular a Salesforce implementation, should be thoughtful, purposeful, and driven with intent to produce the desired and expected value. Implementing Salesforce iteratively and successfully means that we must have the right ingredients, specifically a foundation that sets all team members up for success. PhoenixTeam’s CEO and managing partner Tanya Brennan and partner Paul Weakley shared our recipe for knocking a Salesforce implementation out of the park during NEXT’s Winter ’21 summit. It comes down to three pillars: the right strategy, the right process, and the right people. This blog is all about the right strategy and setting the foundation for success. Let us dig in.

Companies want a plan, but plans are inherently inflexible. They want a roadmap, but roadmaps are aspirational and highly subject to change based on a multitude of factors, including ever-changing business needs. What you need is the right strategy. A strategy that allows you to move fast, fail, learn from failure and do it right. We know that one of the keys to any successful implementation is to have a strong strategy, and more importantly, clarity on the strategy.

Granted, having the right strategy applies to implementing any new product or initiative. It is especially important to have an effective and bullet proof strategy when implementing something like Salesforce. After all, the decision to purchase was likely made with great care and consideration. As you dive into developing the right strategy, remember that Salesforce is a platform on which you are building your product. Regardless of whether it involves only Salesforce or is a complex solution with integrations across your technology landscape, it still requires that you treat the Salesforce functionality as a product component of the solution. We recommend product leaders keep these four fundamentals at the forefront of their minds when developing the right strategy: (1) know the specific business problems you are looking to solve (2) keep the customer or end user at the center of all you do and every product decision to be made, (3) commit to delivering value incrementally, and perhaps most importantly, (4) always seek feedback to validate what has been delivered is truly valuable.

So, how do we at PhoenixTeam help our Clients develop the right strategy for their Salesforce implementation?

First, we work closely with critical stakeholders to understand, help develop and refine a rock-solid business strategy. Good business strategies are simple, to the point and easily understandable to others, particularly those working on the Salesforce implementation. Why settle for good when you can be great? A great strategy elicits alignment and excitement out of the gate. The vision and mission statements are direct, outcome focused and most importantly, reflect the value of the strategy. We spend the right amount of time with our Clients to learn the “what” and “why” of the current state functionality and processes. This sets us up nicely for a smooth transition to establishing a future state.

Next, based on our desired target state, we define solid, measurable, and clear strategic goals, objectives and key results that align to our strategy. Here are a few of our non-negotiables when it comes to developing, and gaining alignment on a strategy:

  • Do the business problems tie to the strategic goals? If not, take some time to re-evaluate. Misalignment between the business problems you are looking to solve, and the strategic goals will create churn and confusion across all team members. Lack of strategic clarity is a problem we hear often and seek to solve immediately.
  • Have you defined clear cut KPIs and success metrics? This can be hard – we know. But, putting in the brain power to clearly call out how you are going to measure value is critical to building morale, understanding and buy-in on expectations so you can achieve your goals.

Finally, given Salesforce is a highly extensible platform, forming the right strategy to balance the use of the declarative framework and custom development will optimize the speed of delivery and the maintainability of the solution. Your solution is not done after the first pieces of functionality are built and delivered. Remember, you are building a product, not implementing a Salesforce feature. Products are iterative with short increments to add value. It may be more beneficial for a quick solution to start realizing that value while a more robust solution is being developed over time. Salesforce was built with flexibility in mind. Use this to your advantage as this is a common theme with modern software development frameworks: maximizing the work not done to achieve the value. It is a multi-tenant infrastructure and sharing those resources means you will need to adapt your mentality. Embrace the platform. Define your strategy to make the most of Salesforce and embrace its strengths. Ensuring you have the right strategy is the greatest influence and input into Pillar #2: Defining the Right Process.

PhoenixTeam is a women-owned small business that provides mortgage technology solutions to improve the home loan experience for borrowers and help financial institutions, technology providers, and government agencies achieve their desired outcomes. With a focus exclusively on the mortgage industry, we delight clients and deliver better business solutions through technology implementation excellence.