How to Migrate to Lightning in Salesforce

One of the biggest themes in the Salesforce community right now centers around tackling a strategic migration from Salesforce Classic to Lightning.

The transition isn’t required. Yet. However, my team and I are reading the tea leaves – Salesforce won’t support Classic forever. And most new features are only available in Lightning.

Most companies are picking up on these hints. As a result, my team and I have helped many clients successfully conduct a Lightning migration by following a list of best practices. I’m happy to share those with you today.

Step One: Outline Goals for Transition

As much as Salesforce is nudging businesses to make the shift from Classic to Lightning, some organizations are either not ready operationally or just don’t need the functionality enough to make the shift. However, if you think Lightning functionality will enhance your business offerings, empower your team, or drive efficiency in your operations now or in the near future, it’s time to outline your strategy.

I recommend starting with a clear list of goals for the Lightning migration. What do you need Salesforce to do that Classic can’t offer? What do you want to accomplish? By starting with a list of business goals and prioritizing features based on them, you can build a focused and goal-driven transition process.

As a note, if Salesforce Classic currently provides you with the functionality you need, and/or you don’t have the resources to shift to Lightning right now, I still recommend you take this step. By outlining goals and conducting a high-level investigation, you’ll prepare yourself with a better understanding of how your system would evolve with an upgrade. You’ll understand the potential challenges, workflows, and processes to evaluate when the time comes.

Step Two: Map Out Workflows

A shift to Lightning doesn’t give you access to new features and functionality; that’s just the top perk. There are potential risks too.

Many companies struggle during and after a Lightning migration, because their internal processes make a parallel shift as well. If they don’t prepare and train all affected teams, it can create roadblocks and even set the company back instead of moving it forward.

To avoid this, my team and I recommend outlining all existing and new processes and discussing them with each affected team before moving onto planning for development. If a team expresses hesitation or concern with how things will work in Lightning, now is the time to discuss that. Mapping out a strategic process beforehand prepares your team for a flawless launch. It also ensures fast and efficient development during the development stage.

Don’t neglect any teams! Everyone uses Salesforce differently, and everyone has their own favorite feature. If you leave someone out, you run the risk of lackluster adoption of the new system and a skeptical team resistant to change. This often leads to a lower return on investment for the Lightning migration.

Step Three: Discuss and Prioritize Functionality and Potential Integrations

Once you have a roadmap for what you’d like to do with Lightning, you’re ready to move onto a plan on how to make it all happen. By building a clear guide for your development team, you reduce risks and hiccups in the critical nuts and bolts of the transition.

Start with the key Lightning functionality you’re pursuing first and then prioritize features from there. Keep in mind how everything will tie together and if certain developers and admins will need to tackle pieces together or separately. Schedule their time to the week, if not the day, to avoid overlaps in needs and consequent roadblocks.

Don’t forget about the design element of this step. Easily-navigated and understood layouts play a major part in the success of any and every Salesforce org. Having great functionality isn’t enough. It has to be user-friendly for each user group. Take care to build layouts that make sense for each stakeholder category.

Outline, step by step, how and when features will be built and customized. If you’re planning on integrating Lightning with outside systems, pause for discovery on how this will affect the platform and your team’s use cases. Ensure a streamlined and secure integration that protects your company and its data while enhancing your capabilities.

Step Four: Run a Lightning Readiness Check

I’m sure you don’t want anything to slip through the cracks, so even if you think you’ve covered all of your bases, I recommend you run a Lightning Readiness check. It can pick up on potential unforeseen bugs or org incompatibilities you may have missed and helps your team build an even more robust Lightning migration plan.

Step Five: Work in a Sandbox

Now that you have your well-defined plan, it’s time to get started! I recommend using a sandbox to isolate and test your changes without affecting other developers’ work. This allows you to understand how the updated code would affect all users.

The sandbox testing environment also allows key stakeholders and Super Users to test out new functionality and provide critical feedback before an official launch. Using a sandbox greatly increases your opportunity for eliminate bugs before going live.

Step Six: Test Your Goals

Before moving on, double back with all of your key stakeholders to ensure the new Lightning features you’ve prepared and built will accomplish the goals you outlined in step one. If they don’t, take a step back and evaluate where you veered off path. It may feel like you’ve invested too much time to take a step back at this point, but trust me, if you don’t refocus on your goals now, you may never be able to correct course.

Step Seven: Roll Out Lightning to Power Users

Once you feel ready to launch, start with all changes to Power Users only. Each user account can roll out to the new functionality individually. This isolates major unforeseen issues in a Lightning migration and ensures the functionality lines up with what each user group actually needs.

Collect feedback from these Power Users. Implement changes and release the updated functionality to production.

Rinse, repeat. Trust me when I say you want as many kinks ironed out before rolling out to your entire organization. Once someone learns something the wrong way or makes a first impression decision on how a feature will work, there’s no going back.

Step Eight: Write Detailed Documentation

Next, before launch your Lightning migration, you need to ensure you have a reference document to ensure the new functionality release goes smoothly. Don’t let productivity come to a screeching halt just because users can’t figure out how to do something or find a critical piece of information.

Using the outlined workflows and processes, use cases, and goals detailed in steps one and two, build a comprehensive documentation guide. This informs other developers, admins, and even users of how to edit, update, and use the Lightning functionality as intended, in a way that relates to your organization’s goals.

Everyone has their own style for documentation, but I recommend creating a living document that team members can add to or update as needed. (This, of course, means choosing a tool with different access levels to limit who can make changes.) Consider using Salesforce’s Files feature and Chatter to support access to and editing of this document.

Step Nine: Introduce Lightning and Training

Use your documentation above to train all users on the new Lightning functionality before rolling out the changes as live to the entire organization. Your Power Users can train other users on how to leverage the new functionality properly and find the information they need.

Once admins learn the new system, they can make tweaks on their own. This promotes independent management of the org and opens up opportunities for adoption of new Lightning features in the future.

Step Ten: Launch!

Once your team feels confident everyone understands how to use the new Lightning system to its highest potential and has access to knowledgeable resources should they have questions, it’s time to go live!

If you have engaged in custom development to make this transition, we recommend keeping a core team of developers available for the week or two following launch. After this initiation period, though, it’s time for your trained administrators to take over management of the Salesforce Lightning system.

Need Help with your Lightning Migration?

If you’re looking for more direction in your migration to Lightning or need help understanding how to customize the features you need, contact our team. We’ve helped many clients make the transition to Lightning, building them custom integrations and launching new features during the process. Our team can help yours build a strategic plan for success.

Get more of our Lightning migration resources.

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