How to Implement Lightning Experience

Lightning Experience… (cue thunder sound effects) … Sounds frightening, doesn’t it? Changing the way your users interact with Salesforce AND the way you fulfill your Admin responsibilities?

We’re here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be a daunting task. While making the switch to Lightning is certainly an endeavor and involves some planning, you will be successful if you develop an organized plan. Today, we’ll present a general implementation plan that was the foundation of our implementation plans. Together, we’ll walk through each step and at the end of the post you’ll have a good start on your own implementation plan.

Enough exposition; bring on the Lightning! Before you continue on, make sure to complete the Migrate to Lightning Experience Trailhead Trail and download our Lightning Implementation Plan Template. While this is certainly not an extensive plan, it will get you on your way to bringing the awesome new features of Lightning to your users. Another tool that we’ll reference here is the Customer Enablement Pack provided by Salesforce. The project plan included is what we used to create our implementation plan; we have built it out a bit, but you’ll see some of the overlap.

Assemble Your Team

Each organization is unique in its structure, so there’s no “magic team” that will be best for everyone. We recommend representation from your admins, developers, and IT Support, and the owner of the tool in IT and in the Business. Some of these may be the same person, and that’s okay. If you happen to be the one person for all of these positions, create a team that makes sense for your organization. You’ll need a team who can help advocate for this change with your users.

Step 1: Educate Yourself

The first step on the path to Lightning is to learn about the changes and educate your team. The Trailhead Trails are a great foundation for your learning. Since they’re made by Salesforce, you know the information is correct. If you’re a Premier customer, there’s a Lightning Accelerator that you can utilize as well. Once you’ve finished learning from Salesforce, you’ll want to grab the two main tools that you’ll need for the rest of your implementation process: the Lightning Readiness Report and the Lightning Roadmap. The Readiness Report is available in the Lightning Experience section on the left sidebar under Setup. When you run this, the Salesforce sends you a diagnostic report on how ready your org is to move to Lightning, and lists the items in your org that are not quite ready for Lightning Experience. The Lightning Roadmap is Salesforce’s list of when features should be available in Lightning Experience (Safe Harbor, of course!).

With those items in hand, let’s move on to…

 Step 2: Identify Changes

In this step, you’ll look at each section of the Readiness Report and identify what needs to change in your org to maintain functionality in Lightning Experience. This is a great reflective process, and can help you clear out junk. “THAT page layout still exists? For a third-party app we stopped using in 2011?!” Yep, we can personally verify that this happens. It’s a great opportunity for some spring cleaning.

After you review the Readiness Report in detail, conduct a gap analysis where you identify every change that needs to happen in order to roll out Lightning. We’ll define the details in…

Step 3: Manage Changes

In this step, you’ll start by defining whether your changes are declarative (settings, point-and-click development) or programmatic (code-related changes) and assign them to the appropriate person to complete – in your Sandbox, of course! You’ll also want to do a clean refresh of your sandbox, enable Lightning Experience there, update all third-party apps, and turn on and configure MyDomain. This will help you to start with the best data and configurations from production.

Step 4: Build Out Your Team

“Well I’m the Salesforce Admin, so of course you should listen to everything I say just because I said it” will probably not get your change very far in your company. You need to show people how awesome this tool is, and show that this change is good! You will especially need the buy-in of key stakeholders in your tool, because this change is drastically different for users. When users see something completely different, they will likely be very confused. Their management will hopefully tell them how awesome this change is and all of the great features that come along with it. There’s a sample slide deck for this demo in the Customer Enablement Pack mentioned above.

When your executive sponsor and project team have decided to move on with the implementation, it’s time to put on our thinking caps to…

Step 5: Develop Your Strategy

Lots of work to do in this step…  Apologies in advance; lots of words coming at you.

In this step, the overall goal is to form your strategy for going live. There are countless ways to do this, and you’ll need to pick a solution that’s best for your company. One way to start is actually at the end: how will our users be activated? Will you turn all profiles on at the same time? Just a few? Will you use permission sets to enable users for Lightning (hint: we like this strategy)? Let’s walk through a scenario (from the end):

  1. Users are activated in groups based on when they are trained
  2. Users attend a training
  3. Users receive documentation about the change
  4. Pilot users are activated
  5. Pilot users are trained
  6. Pilot users receive documentation about the change

You can see a pattern here: identify a group, tell them about the change, walk through the change with them, enable the change.

  • Identify a group: pick what makes sense for your org. If you have sales teams, you could enable a team at a time. Make sure to include your support in this decision as well; they’ll need to know who and when will be enabled. If you are the support, then you’re already a step ahead.
  • Tell them about the change: figure out how to best market the switch to Lightning. Change can be hard, but in this case, it’s a great thing. Lean on the new functionality in this material. Make sure the users know that you will do what you can to guide them through this process so they don’t lose valuable time at work looking for features they had previously.
  • Walk through the change: train your users. We definitely recommend a walkthrough of the new tool with users. If you can, record it and post it to Chatter. That way everyone will have the information and can watch the walkthrough again if they forget. If possible, keep the video to about 5 minutes (or less). We recommend taking each of our business units and watching them use the tool so you can see which buttons, etc. are important to them. In your training, you can have Salesforce Classic in one window and Lightning Experience in the other, showing where something is in the Classic view, and then where the feature is in Lightning. It will ease nerves to know where everything is.
  • Enable the change: flip that switch! Either choose a profile-based rollout strategy or a permission set-based strategy. Depending on the size of your company, one of these may make more sense than the other.

You’ll want to talk about how you’ll measure your success. Do you have a goal date by which you’d like your users activated? A certain adoption rate that you’d like to hit? Write these down so you can measure them later.

Now let’s talk about a pilot group. If you have a group that is especially eager to be your first group through the process and is of a manageable size, you’ve got your pilot group. Otherwise, work with your stakeholders to find a group that isn’t huge that is willing to provide you feedback to make sure your overall strategy will work.

Your power users are the folks in each business unit that will help lead change. They can help train users and provide any feedback to you after you go live. Take volunteers if you can, and again be sure that they are willing to be a positive influencer with this change and provide meaningful feedback.

You’ll also need a test plan. Essentially, you’ll need to ask every business unit how they use the tool and run an appropriate number of tests for each feature. Make sure to include any integrations into and out of Salesforce (especially those that we might forget about because they are scheduled jobs that run automatically). Complete this with your power users (and/or pilot group) as User Acceptance Testing and make any necessary changes.

Lastly, make the changes that you defined in step 3. PHEW. We made it through the longest step.

Step 6: Execute Your Strategy

Now it gets exciting! YOU GET TO ENABLE LIGHTNING! It seems scary, but it’s actually underwhelming. No, Lightning will not actually emit from your computer. Now that we’re enabled, we can start rolling it out. Starting with your pilot group, take them through your educational material and training, then enable Lightning for them. Next, go through the same process with your power users. About a week after you’ve gone through these iterations, reach out to the users you’ve activated. What can they tell you about going live? Was anything missed? Was the training sufficient? Make any changes based on the feedback and get ready to…

Step 7: Flip the Switch!

This is the easiest (but not necessarily the shortest) step: iterate through your training/activation plan.

Step 8: Measure Success, Monitor Health

In this step, you’ll want to refer back to your measures for success (or KPIs if you prefer that term). How successful were you? Can you identify any additional changes that should be made? Are users logging in? Are they using Lightning?

Engage with your business users with a survey or focus group, and take their suggestions. Your power users can help identify potential pain points as well. Meet with them regularly for a while to make sure all is still going well.

To wrap it all up, write up a report of your project for your executive sponsor to share with other parts of your company. Very importantly: call out your team for their hard work. You all deserve praise for pulling this off and it’s great to be recognized.


Wow… YOU DID IT! Congratulations. Even more if you made it to the end of this post. We hope this helps you get a start on your Lightning journey. And we want to hear from you! How do you like our plan? Tweet @BeardforceTyler if you have a topic you’d like to see on our blog. Thanks for reading!