Sometimes an existing Salesforce instance is no longer optimized. This happens for a number of reasons, and sometimes they’re not always under the system administrator’s control. Listed here are some of the more frequently appearing culprits that can lead to your Salesforce instance getting cluttered and ultimately creating a less optimal experience for your end users. Guidance is also provided on how to remedy these situations, though each reader’s situation is unique.

  1. Don’t make every user a system administrator.

    Yes, you may work at a very small company or a startup and to save precious time, everyone is an administrator so that people can make changes whenever they want. Well, those small companies can often grow or change employees. At some point, too many cooks will be in the kitchen, and people’s memories may fade, which leads to no longer knowing why a certain field was created, potential field clutter, and an increased chance of redundant data being captured in different places.

    With great power comes great responsibility. Become the Salesforce expert at your company so that you can customize a strong foundation for your company to grow on.

  2. Don’t mass-import thousands of leads into Salesforce.

    A salesperson leaving another company to join yours may have done a mass export of leads or contacts and now wants to import those tens of thousands of names into your instance of Salesforce. This brings some potentially valuable information from a prior employer, but it also brings all that company’s baggage and introduces it to your potentially pristine system.

    Is anyone going to check the export for duplicate people? What if some names in your export file match contacts that are already in your database? Most of the time, the person asking to import that file is not going to volunteer to clean up the data for you prior to loading it. You risk introducing a lot of useless records into the system that could affect existing marketing and sales development efforts.

    Usually, critical information is missing from other records (like opportunities), so marketing or outbound people can’t be that effective with it. If this person is adamant about doing this mass import, at least try to reach a compromise where only the names from top accounts are put into the system, while the other parts of the file are scrubbed or at least scrutinized somewhat more.

  3. Don’t turn on features without considering all the implications.

    Thinking of turning on multicurrency? You can’t turn it off if you change your mind, and it results in what could be a field appearing on every single object that will confuse everyone. The system is also locked for up to 30 minutes sometimes, as changes perpetuate through your instance. Pay attention to the Salesforce warnings, do research online on implications for being stuck with something, and experiment in a sandbox environment. If you don’t have the budget to get a sandbox to use, download a free Developer Edition instance to use as your playground.

  4. Enter help text when creating custom fields.

    People come and go, training can be rare, and memories often fade. Do your future self a favor, and when entering custom fields, fill out the help text and description details. Use the help text as an economical way to provide user training tips. Use the Description field to give operations folks some background as to which department requested this field and why. Trust us, it may not seem that obvious six months from now.

  5. Communicate system changes or updates to your users.

    Most people don’t like change, especially if it makes them feel like they’re not in control of what they previously had a handle on. Make sure that you give end users a heads up, and some context, before a change is rolled out. Even more importantly, involve key end-user representatives when you are trying to improve something for them.

  6. Don’t assume that all the fields you create will all have data magically entered.

    You may aspire to analyzing a ton of information during particular parts of your customer life cycle, because after all, information is power. But this relies on very busy, often customer-facing people accurately entering in new information and keeping statuses updated. Oftentimes, that is the last thing on their minds. You could get stuck with a lot of empty fields that are not giving you any insight into your lead generation, sales, or consulting processes, for example.

    Work with business unit managers to agree on a minimum number of fields where information is mandatory. Agree on the carrots and sticks to enforce entering this information. Incorporate data from those fields into reports and dashboards that are regularly reviewed, and do not allow exceptions — it only takes one person to feel that he’s above reproach to make the whole process less effective.

  7. Review what’s coming up in the next release of Salesforce.

    Understand what new features might be automatically enabled in your organization so that you can possibly keep these features turned off until further testing is done. Look for potential solutions to some of your existing challenges. If you were struggling with a particular task, chances are other people were, too, and asking for help. If you don’t have time and don’t feel like enough of a geek to read the release notes in their entirety, Salesforce also puts out a summary level release preview that you can hopefully skim.

  8. Don’t share user licenses.

    Not only is this a violation of your licensing agreement, but it also removes any visibility that you might have as to who really made modifications to the system. When something breaks, and you are doing root cause analysis, you will hit a dead end if this shared license is the culprit.

  9. Don’t deploy AppExchange packages to all users before testing them.

    Similar to the advice on turning on new features in the sandbox for a Developer Edition instead of any production environment, you should similarly test out the AppExchange packages in a sandbox environment. The initial technical installation of an AppExchange package may be straightforward. Your business users will tell you that as they eagerly await a package to solve their most recent problems.

    However, understanding how the package interacts with shared objects, knowing whether it potentially clashes with some of your customizations, and fixing those clashes in the live system are all your responsibility. Do a slightly more thorough investigation, and you can provide a diagnosis as to where packages can immediately help your organization, where they may cause more hurt, and where they may make no difference.

  10. Attend Dreamforce.

    This is the place to go once a year to get all your burning questions answered and to network both with employees, including your sales rep or customer success manager, and other users that may have faced similar challenges as you. It’s also become so big that it is a great time to network with potential new employers.

    If your company doesn’t have the budget or is unwilling to invest in sending you to Dreamforce, you can still attend the keynotes virtually as those are live-streamed through a web browser. Shortly after the conference, recordings of the sessions are also available on YouTube. The experience isn’t the same, especially when they are talking about confidential things like what is on the road map, but if you are very interested in a session topic and not able to attend it, you can at least catch up on it later via the videos.