Wednesday, June 17, 2015

What the Interstate Highway System Taught me about Salesforce Adoption

Have you ever thought about the Interstate Highway system in the US?  It’s a marvel of engineering.  The speeds are higher and the accident rate is lower than on other roadways.  A big part of that is the result of deliberate choices in the design of the system.  Similar choices in the design of a Salesforce org can raise the adoption rate and reduce errors.

A fundamental principle of the Interstate is that the road goes where people want to travel.  You don’t find it meandering or terminating in ghost towns.  To a large extent, it connects populated areas.  

Few things kill adoption more quickly than pages filled with ghost towns--that is, fields that are not important and are seldom filled in.  Maybe they were boom towns once, but now no one cares and no one visits them.  

You as the admin would love to tear them down (remove them from the page) and clear the view, right?  So, why don’t you?  You don’t, because you can’t be certain that they’re unused.  Certainly, you can run reports, but that’s tedious and all it takes is one field missed and you’ll have the VP of Sales down on your head.  There is a better way.

A free app on the AppExchange called Field Trip easily and silently gathers stats on your fields and gives you the hard data necessary to determine which are ghost towns.  With that in hand, you can tell the VP of Sales, that as much as he wants to capture the barometric pressure when deals close, his people just aren’t doing it!

Something else I’ve noticed on the Interstate is the presence and uniformity of guidance.  While they vary slightly by state, a speed limit sign is uniform in size, color, and design.  The obvious advantage is to limit the decisions a user (driver) has to make and to reduce errors.

Similarly, by replacing free text fields with picklists wherever possible, you reduce the decisions a user must make and you markedly reduce data errors.  Do you really want to rely on your users to consistently spell Mississippi, Bonaventure, and antidisestablishmentarianism correctly?  Better data and fewer decisions also encourages use.

Remember, to increase adoption, reduce ghost towns and give your users clear, correct road signs in the form of picklists.  Not sure where to start?  Your friends at Basati are happy to discuss your situation and give you guidance.  Pull off at the next rest stop and give them a call!

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