Why Enterprise Deployments Take So Long

Q: How long does it take to implement Salesforce for a mid-size company?

Probably 6–12 months.

Let me book-end it:

  • When I was a VP at a Fortune 500 tech company, it took 2.5 years. Really longer with the initial evaluation. Why?
    • Phase I:
      • Evaluation
      • Stakeholder discussions
      • Initial budget
    • Phase II:
      • Map out migration strategy
      • Pilot and test new workflows
      • Plan business process change
    • Phase III:
      • Initial pilot roll-out internally
      • Evaluate for 6 months
    • Phase IV:
      • Phased roll-out across the enterprise
      • Massive training over several quarters
    • As you can see, an enterprise deployment can easily take 24–30 months, especially if urgency is there but not super high. And you’ll also replacing an existing system, which is a huge undertaking in almost any company of scale.

Now to be clear — deployments can happen much faster in the enterprise if there is true motivation.  We saw this repeatedly post-Covid when, for example, call centers immediately had to support stay-at-home agents.  Deployments that were originally planned for 2-3 years were done in 30 days.  It’s possible.  And it may be that overall we’ve now learned even in the enterprise to deploy quicker during Covid.  It’s just, typical enterprise change management doesn’t move at this pace.  Change itself has too much risk.

  • Now, at my 3 startups, it took from 7–90 days to deploy Salesforce:
    • You’ve already used Salesforce before
    • You just go buy it
    • Initial 2–3 folks use it that week, import data
    • Other folks phase in over next month or two
    • Iron out bumps

So … a mid-size company is going to be in the middle, i.e. 6–12 months all-in. A mid-size company can’t deploy Salesforce in a week or even a quarter because there still is real business process change, change management, and training. It’s not just about the software itself once you leave the SMB stage. You’re going to need help rolling it out, optimizing workflows, importing data, and much more.

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Published on June 13, 2021

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