Deploying Salesforce for Outlook to your Salesforce users is no easy task! It is cumbersome, messy and sometimes a royal pain in the you know where! But, through trail and error, I have found some helpful tips and tricks to making the roll-out as smooth as possible.

Learn the Application
In order to have a successful roll-out and support users who are utilizing the tool, it is important to know the application inside and out. Nuances of the installation can make the process frustrating. Knowing when to have Outlook open or closed will help tremendously to make everything run smoothly. Supporting your users over the phone can be complicated unless you know the tool inside and out. Install the tool now and learn, learn, learn!

Creating a Configuration
One of the most important pieces of the application is the configuration. It will have a major impact on the user experience. In our first attempt, our configuration allowed for a bi-directional synchronization between Salesforce and Outlook by default. With this configuration, we found many issues related to data quality in user’s Outlook which ended up polluting our Salesforce database. This also caused issues for our users; creating duplicate records in Outlook and Salesforce. We took the user feedback and updated the configuration to a one way push from Salesforce to Outlook with options for users to change the direction and conflict resolution.

Test each configuration with a pilot group to understand any pitfalls. Solicit feedback from the pilot group and make the necessary changes to ensure data integrity while still maintaining user needs and expectations.

Create Detailed Training Materials
Every admin knows that training materials are key to adoption and user success. The Salesforce for Outlook installation process is the most complex part of using the tool. As a result we created an instillation guide with a screenshot of every step, calling which buttons to push and highlighting important information along the way.

Many of our users found that the training material wasn’t enough as it covered mainly the instillation. As a result, I held a training webinar which allowed me to demonstrate the application and provide a Q&A session for all users. Consider creating video tutorials or a recorded webinar to provide additional assistance from both perspectives: the instillation and the day-to-day use of the tool. We experienced great attendance and overwhelmingly positive feedback. The recorded webinars are then loaded to Salesforce in a central location for all users to easily recall when needed.

Installing the Application
Depending on where you are at with the roll-out of Salesforce in your organization, a plan for installing the application needs to be determined. In my organization, we are rolling out Salesforce globally. All users are required to go through a training program where we walk through the instillation step-by-step with the instructor. With fifteen to twenty people in each classroom, we found that our internet connections slowed down considerably, sometimes taking 30 minutes to download the executable file. To compensate, we purchased thumb drives for all of the training participants which contained the executable file and we allowed users to keep the thumb drive as a gift which the users appreciated. Alternatively, each classroom can have several thumb drives to share.

There are some additional prerequisite software which must be downloaded, one of which is .NET 4.0. These additional software installs will very from computer to computer and we have not been able to find a way to compensate for the bandwidth required for these installs.

At the time of this writing, Salesforce does not have a tool to push the executable file to users from within the tool so if a large training event doesn’t work for your organization, you may want to talk with IT to determine the best way to push the software to your users – unless the complexity of your configuration is minimal and the user can install on their own.

Wrapping it Up!
Don’t underestimate your need to know and understand the tool. Be prepared to spend a lot of time supporting your users as many questions and issues will arise.

Have you deployed Salesforce for Outlook in your organization? Let me know what has worked for you by leaving a comment below. And as always, if you found this post helpful, share it with others!

11 thoughts on “ Deploying Salesforce for Outlook: What I Learned ”

    1. I have used Connect for Outlook previously, but not at this company. When we deployed with my current organization, everyone was running on Office 2010 so we were unable to utilize Connect which meant that Salesforce for Outlook was the tool of choice. We do have some users on a 3rd party app called LinkPoint because they needed a more robust application based on the way their business works, and that has been a fantastic app, but it is paid per user per month.

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  1. It’s been a year since you wrote the article, do you know if Salesforce has a tool yet to push the executable file to users from within the tool. We need to figure out the best way to push the Outlook plugin out to users.

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    1. Christy, that is a great question! I haven’t seen or heard of any “new” ways of doing this. Now that most of my users have the tool installed, we are doing one-off installs on PCs if the user wants the application.

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    2. Christy,

      We are using some built-in functionality from the System Center Configuration Manager to “Run Advertised Programs” which is a nice way to be able to push software to your users. Also is a great way to push new versions and updates. Talk with the folks in your IT department to see if you are able to utilize this feature.

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  2. When we try and deploy the Salesforce for outlook client using SCCM 2012 R2, I receive an error code of 1612. All pre-requisites are already installed via SCCM successfully. This is an MSI error code which means “The installation source for this product is not available. Verify that the source exists and that you can access it.” From what I can tell, the Salesforce MSI is just wrapping another setup program which is why it fails. Any assistance deploying this via SCCM would be welcomed.
    Thank you,
    Mali

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  3. If you need an option to view and edit any Salesforce record without leaving Outlook try using ContactMonkey (http://www.contactmonkey.com/).

    I use it to help me easily add contacts right from my email! Saves me tons of time from having to log into my Salesforce account to add my new contacts!

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  4. Hmmm. I’ve been trying to test this for one of our projects, and it’s turning into a real pain.

    I was originally thinking this might be the best approach for gathering all the users’ contacts from their PCs. But the different versions of Outlook, Exchange, .NET prereqs, and Salesforce settings aren’t all lining up.

    I’m starting to think it might be easier to try to collect a spreadsheet export from each user.

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    1. Yeah, stop there! Don’t use this to collect contact information from users. I’ve done it and I can tell you from experience that you don’t want to go through this nightmare! Allowing users to export contact data from Outlook to Excel is the perfect way to load that data. It also forces them to clean up their bad or outdated contact details or remove those contacts from the spreadsheet that they don’t want in Salesforce.

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  5. Hi,
    Is there a way where I can deploy the outlook configuration from one org to another using ANT? If not does this have to be a manual step ? Could you please clarify on the same.

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