So you have been researching, evaluating, and comparing different CRM platforms. You have finally made the wise decision to purchase Salesforce licenses and hopefully have negotiated a sweet deal with your Account Executive. Congratulations. You interviewed a few Salesforce consultants, did your homework and checked references, and decided on which firm to hire to help you implement and customize Salesforce to your needs. Congratulations again. Fast forward a few weeks or a few months depending on how complex your implementation was and now you have this magical data-centric platform ready for your users to finally collaborate together, be more productive, and get a true 360 degree view of your customers. The list of benefits you are about to harness goes on and on and on. Your consultants have provided some training to select users who will train other users (train the trainer kind of training) and have rolled off the project. Congratulations again! So far so good.

Panic time!

Now, people are coming up to you and asking how they should do this, what is the best way to that, why is this data looking this way and why they are not seeing what the other sees etc.
You need a manual, a point of reference, a user guide, best practices, anything at this point to ensure your organization is using Salesforce the way it is supposed to be used and everyone is using it the same way. You go back to the project documentation folder and search for this life-saver documentation that you so need right now. Unfortunately, none was provided! Who to blame? The consultants of course because the customer (you) is always right. Right!

Take documentation seriously!

So please, remember to ask and insist that your consultants provide documentation explaining how to best use this magnificient CRM that is Salesforce. If, for whatever reason they say no or cannot, then you best not sign that SOW and hire another firm. Salesforce is so powerful, so flexible, and so customizable. Users can do the same thing in at least two different ways. Is there a best way to perform a particular task? Of course. Especially when your Salesforce org has been customized. And you want to make sure your users follow those directions to keep your data clean, accurate, and reliable (remember your data is your best asset).

When you are about to hire a consulting firm, ask them if they provide user documentation and please do not confuse that with an administration guide, deployment guide, design document, architecture document, requirements document or any other artifact. You need documentation that can show your organization the processes and protocols they are to follow, how workflows are triggered, and answer basic questions that come up after the training is over. This documentation includes visuals, articles, how-to-guides, and manuals. Tools such as ScreenSteps (I am in no way affiliated with this company) are very helpful in creating and maintaining this kind of documentation.

Do I have to pay for this documentation?

If your consultants are using the right tools, then producing such documentation should not be a big effort contrarily to using Word or some other basic tool. So to answer your question, yes you may have to pay a little extra but that would definitely help you maximize the use of Salesforce and maximize your ROI. Think about how much time you will have to spend learning on your own, helping others, and onboarding new employees. Or even worse, you may even end up hiring a consultant to clean up the mess your users have made. Paying a little extra for that documentation can go a long way and is just worth it. Repeat after me, I want clean, professional, complete, accurate, usable, and maintainable user-documentation and I will not budge.

Takehome message.

When you are looking to hire a consulting firm to help you implement Salesforce, make sure they are competent and can deliver what your business needs but also make sure they can provide documentation to help you use this technology to its full potential.