For Salesforce Success, Team Tenacity And Strategy With Technical Know-how

There's a pretty simple reason that businesses – even high-tech ones – look for outside help for integration and project resources: they don't have the internal technical skills to handle it themselves.
But what do they really find valuable in a cloud integrator? "It's pretty easy to find Salesforce coders and developers. We were really looking for a partner to come in and handle the strategy side," said Michael Brooks, vice president and CIO for Infor, which hired one such expert, Appirio, to manage his company's migration.
Appirio, which is a Salesforce Global Strategic Cloud Alliance Partner with more than 1,000 enterprise engagements under its belt, helped Infor migrate its internal sale and business partners organizations off a proprietary platform onto Salesforce. It also helped the software company build out its partner community. It had three big goals: streamlining its overall sales methodology, getting deeper visibility into the opportunities pipeline across sales and business partners, and embracing a global security model to protect the data, Brooks said.
Appirio's stature as a global partner got Infor's attention, but equally as important was its ability to handle tough criticism and objections when it came to strategy and ideas. "We wanted a vendor that could stand its ground," he said. "We wanted to know they could handle conflict and sometimes disparaging opinions."
Another thing that Infor knew going into the project was that it wanted to learn enough along the way so that it can handle future work at least partially on its own. With that in mind, Brooks worked with the Appirio team to structure the year-long engagement in four different phases. Here's the breakdown of how Infor approached this project:
Scoping the solution – The integrator did about "80 percent of the work," interviewing internal stakeholders and gathering their wish lists for the implementation. There were about 25 people internally at Infor who were assigned to shepherd the migration.
Defining the requirements – The Infor and Appirio teams worked side by side to settle on proposed features, and set aside anything that couldn't be a priority. Appirio handled custom development work to get the customizations in place. One important consideration: the design had to be flexible enough to accommodate future changes to sales methodology, which can change at least a couple of times per year.
Prepping the data for migration – With Appirio's guidance, Infor's team did much of the heavy lifting in moving information from the old platform to the new, a phase that took longer than expected. "People sometimes go into cloud platforms with the assumption that there won't be real work behind the scenes. The amount of effort that it took to get data out of the old system and into Salesforce was probably a little more than anticipated," Brooks said.
Ongoing evolution – With the project completed, Appirio remains strictly in an advisory role to offer guidance and act as a sounding board for ideas that Infor has about changing sales methodologies or processes within the Salesforce deployment. "We use them in an architect and advisory role," he said.
This approach is similar to the one outlined for me by Stephen Yeo, marketing director for Panasonic System Communications Europe, which used another integrator, Cloud Sherpas, to handle a nine-month migration that consolidate three different CRM systems into one Salesforce platform.
Although the projects had different aims the ability of the integrator to navigate internal conflicts to keep work on track was crucial in delivering both of them basically on time. "It was like constructing an airliner when it was in flight," Yeo said