As we all know, good user trainings are crucial to ensure a high adoption rate and a successful CRM strategy.
I’m hired quite regularly by customers to provide enduser trainings. Always there is the challenge on which environment the training should take place. It’s really hard to figure out a good solution for the most common use cases.
Assume that the clients may have already a Salesforce Org up-and-running. Those Orgs may have been setup in the past by persons, who either left the company, are not available or are unknown at all. It occurs that they have a huge number of custom fields, unclear processes and bad data quality and only a partial understanding of the basic entities in salesforce. Sometimes the Orgs are in a better shape, but highly customized.
This question does not apply to new implementations, since there is typically a good time-frame to place trainings and wipe training artifacts after the training. Either by repeating a data-migration or import ETL process. My focus here is on uncoupled trainings on existing orgs, which should also work within a reasonable budget for the client.
Either way there are two basic choices for the training:
- do the training on an environment similar to the production environment
- do the training on a purely generic environment
Obviously the first choice is the far more effective. Unfortunately it renders hard to do it that way, considering the following possibilities:
- A) training on the Production Org itself
- B) training on a Sandbox
- C) training on a different Org customized to come close the the production environment
In my experience you need the Configuration (Metadata) and the Data (Account, Opportunities, etc.) itself to make the training most effective. You also need to carry out exercises and let the participants execute irreversible processes and CRUD operations. The participants also tend to make some mistakes.
So option A) is very risky and in the best case comes with additional “cleanup” effort. If feasible I would always try to avoid it. Option C) could work, but is mostly simply too expansive and blows up possible budgets, because some kind of data-migrations doesn’t work with a few clicks in salesforce. Salesforce does not offer a simple Org-Clone mechanism (except of Sandboxes). In earlier times there might have been something like DOT process What can be done by “DOT”? (Black Tab Feature) – but according to the support, it was abandoned some releases ago.
So the B) – The Sandbox – it is, you might say. Right and wrong.
First, Sandboxes are only available in EE+. For Orgs with PE and below there are no sandboxes at all. It’s very unlikely to convince a client to upgrade (and probably double the annual cost) just for the sole purpose of a training.
If the clients are lucky and have a EE+, they usually have at least one Developer Sandbox. Additional Sandboxes come with extra costs and in different flavors: Developer Pro, Partial Copy and Full Copy.
If they have additional Sandboxes those are very likely already in use, meaning you can’t use them for trainings and/or the configuration plus data differs a lot from the Production Org.
In my opinion only the Full Copy (and depending on the Data) the Partial Copy Sandboxes are perfect. Since if you use the “smaller” Sandboxes, by default you again have no data in it. You have to create or copy some data, somehow. If you want to make it good, it again blows up the budget.
Unfortunately Full Copy and Partial Copy are the most expansive Sandboxes. Assume they might cost about a twelfth of 20% to 30% of the clients annual license costs if you take it for a month. A month seems to be the shortest possible period.
For small Orgs this is my first choice, since a couple of hundred bucks sounds in most cases reasonable for the clients and are somehow in balance with the training budget. For Orgs with thousands of users there is typically no longer a balance in the budget, when the few days training costs are only a fraction of the Sandbox costs.
What I have tried usually is to speak with the AE of the client. My experiences are mixed. Although you may ask for a courtesy sandbox, and theoretically you might get it approved it usually will be rejected.
So I would be interested in your experiences. If you perform trainings, on which environment you do it? Have you found ways to increase the chance to get courtesy sandboxes provisioned just for a few days? If so, to whom you have spoke to? What are you doing with PE clients?
And just to give you an impression about what trainings we talk:
Assume 1 to 3 days onsite training for 6 to 12 participants. Additionally I would guess about 0.5 to 2 day preparation time. So budgets will be roughly about 1.500 to 5.000 €. Lets say we have an EE with about 1.000 Users – but only 12 affected users.
So for the sake of this example ignoring several variables and assuming 25k€ as Sandbox cost per the one minimal required month, I thinks it’s pretty clear how likely it is that the customer will buy it.
If your looking to get a developer or developer pro sandbox populated with data, i would suggest you use an app like SFXOrgData (http://www.sfApex.com). I developed this app to get around having to purchase a new full or partial data sandboxes. It was originally developed for the benefit of developers and QA testers but we’ve also found it useful for training purposes as well.