Ross Grainger, an Intacct MVP and Salesforce expert, is the Controller at WebPT, where he leads both the Finance and Salesforce teams. At WebPT, Grainger uses Salesforce and Intacct to reduce the time spent on member subscriptions and processing while improving the overall customer experience through efficient and accurate invoicing. With his extensive experience, Grainger has gleaned some valuable insights on how to minimize software mix-ups and optimize the use of Salesforce. That’s why we interviewed him to find out his top three Salesforce tips plus some sage advice for making your Dreamforce experience a successful one:

Salesforce Tips

1. Plan for the Future
At WebPT, the team originally architected their Salesforce solution in the company’s startup stage—which solved a lot of problems at the time. But now that the company is in an accelerated growth stage, their needs have changed. According to Grainger, “With any software, you need a baseline as a starting point. And especially when you’re in that startup phase, you don't need the same solution that a growth-stage company needs. So, my advice is to not over-architect it in the beginning. First, solve the needs you have at the time. Then, it’s crucial to have the discipline to put a process in place to review that architecture on a periodic basis.” Ultimately, he’s found that the right process is about solving the problems you have now, while ensuring you’re prepared to make changes for the future as well.

2. Only Architect What You Need
When WebPT first started using Salesforce, Grainger explained that the team didn’t bother implementing roles, because the company didn’t need them. So, when it comes to building out your software, Grainger suggests following WebPT’s lead and evaluating the size of your organization before you architect. For example, if you have a five- to 10-person company, you likely won’t need defined roles. That’s because your company will change so fast that roles will evolve and change right along with it. So, give yourself the flexibility to adapt and leave the larger projects for when you have a bigger team with clearly defined departments and tasks.

3. Configure Before You Customize
As Grainger mentioned before, it takes discipline to put a process in place to periodically review your Salesforce structure. But, you shouldn’t stop there. He also suggests remaining flexible and open to restructuring along the way: “Salesforce is best-in-class. It’s evident in the vendors they work with and the standards they have in place. So, remember, just because your product is unique doesn't mean your business processes need to be built from the ground up. Salesforce has best practices already in place, and an out-of-the-box solution and workflow probably already exists—no customization required.” He goes on to cite WebPT as an example, explaining that the company wants to “undo” some of the custom work that was done originally, because it no longer suits the company’s needs. The lesson here? Before you invest time and resources in customizing a solution, configure what Salesforce has to offer and trust their advice and guidance.

Dreamforce Tips

Here are Ross’s top three Dreamforce recommendations—for those of you attending:

  • Explore the vendors
  • Ask questions
  • Think about the future

Grainger recommends that you should “walk around and explore the vendors. This is not necessarily about buying a new product, but about getting ideas. Just because you may not need the full product now, you can implement processes that will prepare your company for the future.” For example, he talked with Xactly last year about their commission tool to better understand how their system works. The information he received at Dreamforce helped inform how WebPT uses data and how they structure their own commission program. He says, “While we don’t need Xactly’s product per se, the information they provided got us thinking, and now we’re making dashboards that our Sales team actually wants to see.” Ross also suggests looking beyond the free t-shirts and phone chargers and think about what problems you want to solve, and how these vendors can help.

Thanks to Ross Grainger for sharing his experience with us. Share with Ross your Salesforce tips and Dreamforce must-dos by connecting with him on LinkedIn.

We look forward to seeing you at Dreamforce. Intacct is a Salesforce Platinum ISV Partner and a Dreamforce Gold Sponsor and will be located at Booth N1805 and N1809.  Come relax in our VIP lounge!

Find out about Intacct’s presence at Dreamforce 2016.