Just the other day, I was forwarded an email from a friend whose colleague was in quite the predicament:
We are in the process of implementing Salesforce, but before we can roll it out organization-wide, we need to document how our staff members will use the system so that everyone is on the same page and data is entered and used consistently - unfortunately the consultants we engaged to handle the install have no materials to share.
Does anyone who uses Salesforce have documentation they can share with us?
Amazing. The consultants could have done a perfect job implementing and integrating the most amazing Salesforce instance in the history of Salesforce - yet nobody will know how to actually use it.
Even if another organization out there can "share" their Salesforce documentation, it won't be customized to their implementation, which means that it could be a long time (if ever) before this organization sees the full value of Salesforce.
[Fortunately, I referred this individual to our partner, KELL Partners, so that they can quickly realize the value they're expecting from Salesforce - crisis avoided.]
What do most consultants do?
When I attended Cloudforce in New York City last summer, I spoke to several large consulting firms who had booths in the cloud expo. I was surprised to hear that consultants who did Salesforce implementations often did not provide any documentation on how to use the system.
They would provide a playbook (something that I've heard is practically useless), and they would train Power Users in hopes that the Power Users would lead the way with Salesforce use and adoption - but that was it. They just built it and let people figure it out for themselves.
I've also learned from friends of mine who use Salesforce in their business or nonprofit that documentation really isn't provided - they have to learn how to do everything from their manager or an on-site consultant. (They also complain that Salesforce is hard to use and say they don't like it - coincidence?)
What should your consultant do?
If you are going to hire a consultant to help you implement (or fix) Salesforce in your organization, ask them whether they will provide you with documentation that shows you how to use Salesforce.
If they say no, keep looking or hire another consultant to do the documentation in conjunction with the implementation and customization. You do not want your consultant to walk away from the implementation with all of their knowledge still stuck in their heads.
But they do a live training
Live training is a great start, and there are some great training programs available - but it isn't enough. Nobody can cover everything there is to know and answer all of your questions in one live training session. And even if they could, there is no way you would be able to remember it all.
If you want to get your money's worth from Salesforce, you need documentation that can show your organization the workflows they are to follow and answer basic questions that come up after the training is over.
They charge extra for documentation
Ask to see an example of their documentation and decide whether it's worth it. Not all documentation is created equal, and some documentation is definitely not worth it - but if your consultants use the right tools, e.g. ScreenSteps, they should be able to create great documentation in very little time (and no, Word and Paint are not the right tools - if they use those then you will definitely be overcharged).
If the documentation is good, and the rates are reasonable, pay it. The way to think about it is - how much time will you waste trying to figure Salesforce out on your own and then teaching others how to use it? And how much money will you spend having to fix bad data that was incorrectly entered?
Power without know-how = waste
When you look for a consulting firm to help you implement Salesforce, make sure that they're competent so that you get a powerful system that will help you do what you want it to do. But also make sure they provide materials and resources that show you how to use that power - otherwise you'll have a very expensive, virtual paper weight.