Adopt New Tools and Get Stakeholder Buy-In
After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:
- Identify good use cases for adopting new tools.
- Understand how to communicate with and get buy-in from stakeholders.
- Understand how to build in room for failure.
Being excited about new tools and capabilities and knowing when to adopt them can feel like very different things. Because they are.
Before you decide to adopt a tool, spend time learning its capabilities so you can make an informed decision. It’s important to be realistic about your adoption journey. Planning your adoption carefully sets you and your team up for success. A healthy adoption plan should deliver some positive or exciting parts of the coming changes early in the process, and create realistic expectations about moments of frustration or uncertainty. If you can’t identify tangible early rewards, or be specific about risks, your plan probably isn’t as strong as it needs to be.
Successful adoption begins with identifying the right opportunity for adoption. Think about the resources (people, time, and technology) involved in the change. Think about the skills (communication, product knowledge, company knowledge, and experience with similar projects) needed to make the change. The right opportunity for adoption balances the areas where people need to do the most intensive learning with the skills you already have on your team.
When you’re untangling your org, if your team is unfamiliar with many of the tools needed to manage source or work with Salesforce DX, you may want to start by working with a small piece of your org. Or maybe you can work with a slightly more complex part of your org, if it means you can work with a team that's got strong systems for communication and good process documentation in place.
Whichever approach you take, consider how frequently a feature may need to change and how critical to your business it is. It can be exciting to pick an area everyone uses and is excited about as your first project. But it can also be a poor choice if you and your team are going to be learning through trial and error.
If you want to untangle your org so that you can adopt new delivery methods like unlocked packaging, starting with brand-new development might be the best way to ease into change. You can be more successful with adopting packaging if you’ve first spent time and energy to understand how you can start to modularize your org and get a strong system for source control in place.
Once you’ve identified your best opportunity for adoption, the next step is to get your stakeholders on board. Your stakeholders can be your earliest and strongest adopters, and you want them to be well-prepared for and invested in the potential hard work of helping their own teams be successful. Getting buy-in doesn't mean telling people about all the great things they should expect and minimizing the risks. You should talk openly and in ways that are easy to understand about what’s exciting and what’s unknown or risky.
Involve your stakeholders early on and give them authentic ways to help build and influence the adoption plans. Talk about how you can best share feedback (positive and negative) as your adoption gets underway. How can your stakeholders effectively collect and pass on information from people who aren’t as deeply involved in the process? What channels can be most effective for your teams? Does everyone respond best to emails? Should you use a Chatter group?
Not every plan goes... well, as planned. You can’t innovate without tolerating moments of failure as well as success. And a successful plan should look at how to handle failures.
Establishing clear lines of communication is one way to do this. Another way is to identify risks you may encounter, and clearly identify which of those risks might also be crucial failure points for your project. For each of these failure points, your team should talk about what success or failure looks like. Setting clear criteria to judge success before you get underway can help you better plan for success and better identify when you might be heading for... not success.
You should also build realistic timelines that leave room for potential setbacks. Rushing through critical parts of a project because of inflexible or unrealistic deadlines can add more frustrations and doubt about a project—and are kinds of failure that adequate planning should absolutely help you avoid.
Talking openly and realistically about failure also helps your team build a healthy relationship to failure. It can be hard to be the voice in the room that brings up how something might not be going according to plan, or that people are really, really unhappy about the side effects of something. Building in ways to talk about negative outcomes—and measures for judging these outcomes—can help everyone on your team be better at bringing up information that may be critical to heading off failure.