8 Steps to a Smooth Transition to Salesforce Lightning

There are a lot of Lightning puns that could be used to introduce this topic. To name a few, “Salesforce lightning is going to strike,” “Don’t let Salesforce lightning strike before you’re ready,” or “Salesforce lightning is here, are you prepared to weather the storm?”   But unfortunately, none of these puns explain that this jolting transition is also a huge improvement from Salesforce Classic.   Using their mountain of data Salesforce has created a mobile-first, user friendly upgrade to the most widely used and arguably most advanced CRM available on the market today. With all the power of Salesforce retained, the new interface includes features that bring information and usability to the forefront with a much needed intuitive design.   Salesforce, knowing the challenges that are inherent in this very big change, has allowed companies to transition at their own pace. While it’s not imperative to change now, we know for a fact that the future of Salesforce will be on Lightning, while Classic is likely to be left as is.  

Salesforce training has never been easier or more effective than with this step-by-step online guidance.


Handle Lightning with Caution

The benefits of Salesforce Lightning—better usability, better user experience, more functionality —became instantly available for everyone to transfer to a few releases ago and is becoming more and more compelling with every Salesforce release; Spring ’17 is coming to us in the beginning of February 2017. However, for all of those that have more than the “out-of-the-box” system running in their business, transitioning to Lightning is a process that needs to be managed carefully.   Not all customized processes will migrate to Lightning just by toggling it on. If you do so without preparation or strategy, there’s a significant chance that your sales team will be disrupted with glitches and will be less productive at first.   In my humble opinion, the key to a smooth transition is rolling out the migration to Salesforce Lightning incrementally. Larger and more complex organizations will need to account for a myriad of possible issues and work diligently to avoid significant disruptions to employee workflow.   Taking this into account, follow these eight steps to guide your transition to Salesforce Lightning.  

8 Steps for a Smooth Transition to Salesforce Lightning


Step 1: Run the lightning readiness system check by Salesforce

This cool feature, which comes from Salesforce, will scan your Salesforce organization and will evaluate your Salesforce instance readiness – what will break, what needs to be recreated, and what will work right as is.   transition to salesforce lightning   From any page within Salesforce, you can run the “Lightning Experience Readiness” report by clicking: “Setup”-> “Lightning Experience” -> “Check Your Lightning Experience Readiness”   how to transition to salesforce lightning   The report generated will look something like our example below. Expect an overview of the organization and a list of what needs to be changed, what will break, and what is already Lightning compatible. This will be your starting point for analyzing your readiness and planning a timeline for the transition.   transition to salesforce lightning report  

Step 2: Choose a business unit to start with

Migrating everyone all at once could result in a lot of confusion and could put a lot of stress on your Salesforce admin team. Since Salesforce does provide us with the option of migrating all users or only part of your users at a time, I reckon that doing it one department at a time is best.   Target only a subset of the profiles in your organization at each step, and plan to get to everyone eventually.   Also, plan to for buffer time between each department. This will ease your transition in two ways. First, this will give you time to learn from the first implementation and resolve problems before you implement your next stage of Lightning implementation for the next department. And second, this will give each department time to adjust to the new user interface and reduce the impact of pushback that comes from resistance to change.  

Step 3: Talk to department leadership to start with pilot group

If you are aiming to have a smooth transition, getting leadership on board early is an absolute must. Without leadership’s support, you’re dooming your transition to fail. Be sure to explain the value and benefits of using Salesforce Lightning so that everyone understands why it is worth taking time out of their, and their team’s, day.   Transitioning to lightning does require a bit of an effort. The interface will be different and users who knew the system like the back of their hand (and especially those that don’t) will have to adjust. Management needs to be aware that a change is going to take place and be involved in the schedule of when each department will transition.   After choosing a business unit to start with, and getting their leadership on board, you’ll then need to choose who will be the key user for that pilot group.  

Step 4: Check the report from bullet 1 for the business unit related business processes

The report from step one is a good source of information to identify what needs to be changed.   For example, in the picture below we can see the button “Add Additional Application” is used on “Sales Layout” and others; what you will need to do is to find what matters to the department you what to migrate to Lightning (e.g. Sales) and fix only these things.   Handling one step at a time is the key thing here or you will be swamped with work.   Note that the report provides you only with the layout name. Sometimes, when you have multiple objects with the same page layout name, you will need to click on the layout name in the report and check which object it belongs to.   Pro Tip: Adding the object name to your customizations (such as page layouts, buttons, Process Builder, flows, validations, Apex classes and more) can be helpful for understanding this report and your Salesforce implementation in general. An example of this would be “Sales Layout” being changed to “Opportunity – Sales Layout”.   salesforce lightning custom buttons  

Step 5: Start with building Lightning Pages for all objects that are part of the core business unit

Salesforce transforms the Classic Layout to Lightning layout automatically and is good enough to start with. However, the options in Lightning page layouts are much cooler than what we have had so far in Classic, even if you use only Out-Of-The-Box functionality.   salesforce lightning features   Just a few examples of this are: you can add Chatter anywhere in the page, play with where the user will see the related lists, add Path, add Tabs to a single record page and enhance functionality. salesforce lightning benefits

Step 6: Change the department key user to Lightning and attempt all core business processes of this department

Within each business unit, have the designated key user run all core business processes that are used in that department.   Doing this will determine if all important functions are operating properly in Lightning. Prioritize and focus on the most important tasks for the department and consult with the department head as needed.  

Step 7: Review results, fix if needed and repeat from step 5

Once you have resolved all problems that arise during your key user test, you are then ready to deploy to the entire business unit or department.   You can do this incrementally as needed, but at each stage, be sure to gather information and learn what works and what made it harder to to the transition to Lightning before deploying Lightning for the next group.  

Step 8: Enhance functionality with Lightning only features

With each Salesforce release, Salesforce continues to add more NEW functionality to Lightning. Stay up-to-date on these new features and inform department leadership so that they can realize the full potential of Salesforce Lightning.   Here are a few cool Lightning only features that are currently available:
  • Performance Chat
  • Assistant
  • Account News
  • Lightning Sync
  • Google Integration
  • Activity Timeline
  • Enhanced Notes
  Keep in mind, if a feature was released only to Lightning by Salesforce, the chances are low that Salesforce will make it available in Classic in the future.  

Transitioning Employees to Salesforce Lightning

This guide has focused on the technical side of migrating to Salesforce Lightning, but it’s important to remember that employees will also need a transition process to learn how to work within the new interface.   Be sure to develop an employee transition strategy in tangent to your technical transition strategy. What good would it be to perfectly execute the migration, only to have employees slowed down and prone to errors?   Effective employee transition strategies include bringing in department leadership or employee training professionals as well as deploying user-adoption software, such as WalkMe. Getting employees on board with the new Salesforce interface is just as important as the technical challenge and requires attentive care and planning to be done right.   Migrating to Salesforce Lightning may start as a technical challenge, but ultimately, it’s about the end users meeting the bottom line.  

A Final Note on ROI

The transition to Salesforce Lightning is intended to enhance the experience of using Salesforce, but experience is different than monetary benefit.   Before you invest your time and resources into the transition to Lightning, you need to evaluate how it will help generate additional revenue. This is a significant transition, so think ahead of how you will measure the return on investment.   Understanding how the new UI will help your users by having everything more accessible to your internal teams will help provide a better frame of reference to make your decision.   Lightning is the future of Salesforce and it looks like all current customers will ultimately need the to make the transition, but it may be worth it to hold off until your organization can spare the sunk cost of switch over.   For this reason more than any other, it is important to start with step 1 to determine just how much of an investment will be required.  

Salesforce training has never been easier or more effective than with this step-by-step online guidance.

Roy is a veteran Salesforce Expert with record of designing, building and delivering enterprise applications, CRM and admin systems using the Salesforce platform. Roy is the Israeli Salesforce User Group Leader and Director of Business Operations and Vertical Products at WalkMe.