6 Roles You Need for Every Salesforce Implementation

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There’s no getting around it: Implementing Salesforce is an all-hands-on-deck effort. It requires the right team to align your business goals with the Salesforce platform and build a solution that can deliver the desired results and effectively grow alongside your organization.

As a result, before you begin any kind of Salesforce implementation, it’s important to assemble your team. Critically, this team should include both external consultants who are Salesforce experts as well as internal resources who are experts on your business. Let’s explore exactly what this team should look like so you can prepare your infrastructure accordingly.

The Importance of Assembling Your Salesforce Implementation Team

Working with a Salesforce expert is absolutely critical to a successful implementation, but the business expertise your own team brings to the table is equally as important. These internal experts should help align Salesforce best practices to your business goals and hold your team accountable to achieving those outcomes.

That said, the roles you need for a Salesforce implementation often depend on the complexity of the project. Additionally, not every organization will have all of the necessary roles and expertise in-house — and that’s okay. What’s most important is evaluating (1) which roles you will need based on the complexity of your implementation and (2) which of those roles you can fill with your own resources. 

If you can’t fill all of the necessary roles with your own resources, you can always fill in the gaps with resources from your implementation partner so long as you identified this need early on and planned accordingly. Remember: Your partner is there to help your business succeed and they should be prepared to help your team address any challenges — and that’s easy to do with a transparent relationship and advanced preparation.

Inside the 6 Roles You Need for Your Salesforce Implementation Team

With all of that in mind, let’s take a look at the six roles that you typically need to round out your Salesforce implementation team, keeping in mind that some of these roles depend on the complexity of your project.

1) Product Owner

Role: The product owner is an essential role no matter the size, maturity or complexity of your organization or Salesforce implementation. This person is the main point of contact for your implementation partner and acts as the project lead, making it by far the most important role and one that must be filled by someone from your own team. The product owner is ultimately accountable for the success of the product, so they must understand what the “end game” is and take responsibility for getting it there.

Time commitment: The product owner should prepare to dedicate at least 50% of their time in the initial ramp phase of the product. This time commitment often comes as a surprise, so it’s important to prepare accordingly.

Responsibilities: The product owner must have the ability and the authority to make key decisions on prioritization of features and which approach will be taken since there are often many ways to deliver a requirement in Salesforce. The product owner should be able to align these decisions to project goals, timeline, and budget. Along the way, they must act as a liaison between the stakeholders and the project team, particularly if they need to escalate any decisions that sit outside of their authority.

Post-implementation, the product owner will also need to make decisions on how to handle the change, for example by answering questions like:

    • How do we communicate changes?
    • How do we get from “here” to “there”?
    • How do we approach reinforcement after go-live?

2) Executive Sponsor

Role: The executive sponsor is an individual in a leadership role with the ability to make key decisions on aligning internal resource bandwidth and allocating budget. They should also act as an escalation point for issues that go beyond the project team, making it important for this role to also come from within your own organization.

Time commitment: The executive sponsor should prepare to dedicate 25-50% of their time to the implementation, with the highest level of participation typically coming during the ramp phase of the project.

Responsibilities: The executive sponsor is responsible for ensuring the project goals align with the company’s overall strategy. Involvement from an executive sponsor during an implementation can vary from simply being informed all the way to participating in most meetings. That said, it’s important for the sponsor to participate in business process review sessions, scrum meetings, and status updates so that they can be as informed as possible when it comes time to handle escalations.

3) Project Manager

Role: The project manager is responsible for the project timeline, budget, and project plan and for making sure the work stays on track to that plan. Oftentimes, the product owner and project manager are the same person.

Time commitment: The project manager should prepare to dedicate 50-70% of their time to the implementation.

Responsibilities: The project manager helps the consulting team ensure everything and everyone stays on task, for example by following up on action items, setting up raid logs, and scheduling tasks that involve others within the organization. They are also responsible for coordinating teams and tasks and play a major supporting role during user acceptance testing, training, and deployment.

4) Subject Matter Experts

Role: Subject matter experts are hands-on users (e.g. field reps) who are considered power users in their business unit and can share important information about their job function that the rest of the project team might not know otherwise. 

Time commitment: Subject matter experts can be included as needed, and this may be a fairly light involvement, with the biggest needs occurring at the beginning of a project.

Responsibilities: While the leadership team may have a vision for the overall project, subject matter experts have the details needed to create a system focused on improving the end user experience. As a result, subject matter experts play an important role in upfront discovery sessions, user acceptance testing, and training. Their role in these instances is to communicate what users need out of the system to help ensure those requirements are present in the end result.

5) Data Lead

Role: The data lead is the person who understands the data landscape within the organization and can help answer questions like: 

  • Which systems store which data?
  • Which system is the source of truth for certain data?
  • What is the quality of the data (e.g. in terms of duplicates, completeness, and accuracy)?
  • How can you extract the data from each system?


Time commitment: The data lead should prepare to dedicate 25-50% of their time to the implementation process.

Responsibilities: The data lead is responsible for helping the team think through the quality of the data that will live in Salesforce prior to a data migration or integration in order to avoid a “garbage in, garbage out” situation. This role is important because it helps grant the consulting team access to data ahead of time, even if it is just a sample data file. In turn, this visibility makes the team more effective by helping them better prepare for business process review sessions and by enabling them to lead more meaningful conversations.

6) System Administrator

Role: The system administrator handles day-to-day management activities within the system, including responding to user requests and managing any ongoing changes.

Time commitment: The system administrator should prepare to dedicate 50-70% of their time to the Salesforce program.

Responsibilities: The system administrator’s responsibilities may differ depending on the maturity of your organization’s IT team. At a minimum, it’s important to have someone internally who can respond to user questions, create users, adjust user permissions, generate reports, and perform minor tweaks to the application. In situations where your organization doesn’t have the necessary skills or bandwidth internally, you can engage a partner in a managed services contract to take on these responsibilities.

Organizations with a full software team should think about taking this role even further by creating a Center of Excellence, which can introduce a formal process for accepting user feedback and for managing release schedules for new features and enhancements.

Prepare for a Successful Salesforce Implementation

One of the most important steps to preparing for a successful Salesforce implementation is to assemble the right team — and in most cases, that starts with the six roles listed here. In an ideal scenario, these roles would get filled by members from your team who can collaborate effectively with your implementation partner to deliver a successful end result.

However, every situation is different, and the complexity of your implementation as well as the bandwidth of your own team might change what roles you need and which ones you can fill with your own team members. Importantly, that should not be an obstacle to success, it’s simply something you have to be aware of and manage against.

Ultimately, the best approach is to identify the roles that you will need to make your Salesforce implementation go smoothly, determine which of your team members can fill those roles based on the time commitment and responsibilities, and then communicate that roster along with any gaps to your implementation partner. Taking these steps early will help you and your partner prepare accordingly and will set up your organization for maximum success.

Ready to get started with Salesforce? Contact our experts today.

Jay Datta

Manager, Solution Engineering

Read more posts by Jay Datta