At its core, the J Curve communicates the idea that before things can get better, they have to get a little bit worse. Or, as Harvey Dent (Batman, The Dark Knight) put it, “The night is darkest just before the dawn.” This concept proves to be ubiquitous across many areas of study—with the J-Curve being applied to political revolutions, private equity funds, and medical morbidity rates.
At RevCult, we focus our energy on the intersection of technology and strategy—not so much on political revolutions. In our space, we use the J Curve to model the journey that users go through when a new Salesforce enhancement or application is introduced. Under this broad definition, the J Curve can be applied to everything from a new page layout for sales reps on the opportunity record, to a major rollout like a CPQ implementation. By embedding our knowledge and understanding of the Salesforce Adoption J Curve in our project plans, we ensure successful client outcomes, regardless of the scale or size of the project.
By understanding this model and applying it to your projects, you can strategically engage with stakeholders, and thoughtfully plan your Salesforce projects to ensure that you deliver what is expected in the most painless way possible. This in turn will drive adoption, increase collaboration, and ultimately build up your “Street Cred”.
Let’s get a little familiar with the Salesforce Adoption J Curve that we’re talking about here—specifically the 6 stages or milestones along it, all shown below:
The diagram and stages demonstrate what was mentioned before—when you release a new feature or platform (or any type of change), efficiency will drop to a level worse than the initial starting point and remain there before it begins to improve. This is what is referred to as the “Valley of Death” – a little severe, but it’s grounded in truth. If you’re in the valley and your users are fumbling around with their new tool, and you’re not there to listen to them and morph the tool, your project will die right there.
After you have survived the Valley of Death (steps 1, 2, and 3) then you get back to “Model”—this is where things begin to pick up—your new technology is harmonized with the reality, and the users are on board with it, happy to have made it through. This is when you start to gain significant momentum—the ripple effect of your efficiency is realized, and the business harvests a true return on the investment. The end result is a new “current state” that is superior to what existed at the inception of the project—this new current state should be in line with the goals that started the project.
The J Curve is inescapable and always present, and once you accept that reality, then you can begin to understand that your role as a Salesforce Admin (or developer or project manager) is to shrink the valley of death by making it narrower (quicker) and shallower (less painful).
Shrink The Valley of Death! 5 Steps Every Salesforce Admin Should Take
- Communicate: Everyone involved in the business, from users to the executive sponsors is impacted by the J Curve—so the first step is to make everyone aware of it. When you’re starting out a project, make sure you explain it to your users—you can even use the graphic from this post if you want. This will help not only set expectations, but it will set the standard for open communication between you and your users.
- Collect: Try and solve for as much as you can upfront by doing an excellent job gathering requirements. Also explain that requirements gathering is never perfect or fully comprehensive, so something will always surface after the solution is delivered—and you’ll be ready when it does.
- Listen: Once everyone understands that there will be gaps, set a place and time to listen and collect feedback after implementation. This should be a recurring meeting that happens for as long as necessary to ensure that you have turned the corner from “Morph” to “Model”.
- Be Present: You should plan to be on site (or if you’re already on site, then be within shouting distance) with your users immediately following the release so that you can observe how they work and interact with the system. This allows you to gain a deeper understanding of any issues by observing them first-hand and in real-time.
- Find an Advocate: The final piece of navigating through the J Curve is to identify a power user. The power user should be someone who can offer support in your absence, and serve as a filter for issues, questions, and requests that need to be escalated to you when you’re not on-site.
If you’re interested in learning more about the J Curve, and how you can build up your Salesforce Street Cred by mastering it, check out the below video from our recent webinar, or get a free consultation.