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What is a project manager’s role in Salesforce success?

A Project Manager (PM) is a professional responsible for planning, executing, and closing projects. They oversee the entire project lifecycle, ensuring it’s completed on time, within scope, and within budget— while meeting the quality standards and stakeholders’ expectations. Project managers are especially critical to the success of Salesforce projects because of their complex, fast-changing nature.

In this post, we’ll look at what a project manager does, what skills they need to be successful, and how they support Salesforce project success.

Different styles of project management

In recent years, there has been a surge in project management styles. Agile, Scrum, and Kanban are now best practice approaches in many organizations, particularly for technology initiatives. Agile is often favored as it mirrors product release methods. In essence, developers and product managers create Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) in sprints, release them, gather user feedback, and incorporate this feedback into the next release. This agile approach enables quicker time-to-market by emphasizing “progress, not perfection.” Agile project management is an approach centered on continual improvement and innovation.

Popular project management approaches

Jira Board view
Source: Atlassian
  • Waterfall: A linear and sequential approach where each phase of the project must be completed before the next phase begins.
  • Agile: An iterative approach that emphasizes flexibility, collaboration, and customer feedback. Commonly used in software development.
  • Scrum: A subset of Agile, focused on iterative progress, feedback, and innovation in sprints (set durations).
  • Kanban: Emphasizes visualizing work, limiting work in progress, and maximizing efficiency.
  • Prince2 (Projects IN Controlled Environments): A process-driven method with detailed steps to guide the project from start to finish.
  • Six Sigma: Focuses on identifying and removing causes of defects and minimizing variability in processes.
  • Critical Path Method (CPM): Emphasizes the sequence of tasks and activities required to complete the project.

At SaltClick, we have our own custom Hybrid Agile Methodology that encompasses elements of both Scrum and Kanban. An approach we’ve fine-tuned after working on 1,000+ Salesforce projects:

Project manager general skills for Salesforce success

If you’re vetting a project manager for a Salesforce initiative here are some skills to look out for:

  • Communication: Clearly conveying information to team members, stakeholders, and upper management.
  • Agile guidance: Inspiring and guiding the team towards achieving project objectives.
  • Risk management: Identifying, evaluating, and addressing potential threats to the project.
  • Time management: Ensuring that projects stay on schedule.
  • Cost management: Ensuring the project stays within its budget.
  • Critical thinking/problem solving: Evaluating multiple scenarios and determining the best course of action.
  • Technical proficiency: Understanding the tools, technologies, and methods used in the specific industry or sector.

What SaltClick's project manager recommends: 

I chatted with SaltClick’s Project Management Director to better understand the “in the trenches” skills project managers need to have to ensure the success of Salesforce initiatives, here’s what Lisa Erickson (our Lead Project Manager) had to say:

  • Positive attitude and a natural inclination to take initiative.
  • Organizational skills and a strong sense of ownership when it comes to tasks, deliverables, and timelines.
  • Comfort and adaptability in handling ambiguous situations.
  • Proficiency and experience with Salesforce.
  • A knack for holding others accountable for their commitments.
  • Enthusiasm for continuous improvement and a drive to enhance skills.
  • Willingness to step out of comfort zone and tackle projects beyond past experience.
  • Experience with Agile/Scrum methodologies.
  • Sound understanding of Project Management best practices in a Professional Services organization.
  • Proficiency in utilizing Project Delivery solutions such as JIRA, Confluence, and Google Workspace.
  • Ability to effectively manage client relationships, communicate with clarity, and maintain organization amidst a demanding workload.
  • Capable of leading sessions with clients to extract requirements effectively.
  • Strong ticket creation skills and the ability to define needs clearly.
  • Proficient in delegating tasks and effectively managing the outcome.

Organizing productivity boards & communication

PMs often use tools like Trello, Jira, ClickUp, Monday, or Asana to visualize tasks, track progress, and manage teams. They can set up boards with columns representing different stages of a task, and move tasks (often represented as cards) through the columns as they progress. Effective PMs also schedule regular check-ins, status updates, and feedback sessions to ensure open and consistent communication.

ClickUp task view dashboard
Source: ClickUp

At SaltClick, we use Jira, Tempo, Sheets, Confluence, and Salesforce to keep track of Salesforce projects and streamline feedback and communication. But we’re always looking at new tools to do what we do even better.

Driving Salesforce project progress

PMs set clear milestones, conduct regular status checks, and use Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to monitor progress. They adjust resources, timelines, or strategies as needed to ensure the project remains on track.

Woman in office and project milestones chart

How SaltClick project managers keep Salesforce projects on track

Here’s a look at our Salesforce project management process:

Current state:
We use Google Sheets during scoping to identify key milestones.

Next, the project manager takes this information:

  • Creates epics with corresponding tickets within Jira.
  • Identifies overall project milestones within Salesforce.
  • Monitors a combination of Jira, Tempo and Salesforce reports to keep the project on track and reviews with clients on a weekly basis.
  • Gives clients visibility with automated scorecard via email which displays milestone progression & hours.

Future State:
We’re continually refining our tech stack and processes to better serve our teams and clients. We do this, by staying up-to-date and test driving the latest project management tools.

Who project managers work with on a Salesforce project:

  • Lead Consultant: Gathers Requirements, Documents Need/Solution/Delivery, UAT & Deployment Management/UAC, Bug Validation.
  • Solutions Architect: Oversees Design / Solution Review, and Build Technical Requirements.
  • Salesforce Administrators: Manages user access and basic configurations.
  • Salesforce Developers: Create/Update more complex configurations such as: LWC, Apex, Flows
  • Stakeholders: Such as department heads or C-level executives who have an interest in the project outcome.
  • Customers: To understand their needs, conduct training, and gather feedback.

How Project Managers Handle Conflict, Scope Creep, and Extended Timelines (with Examples)


Project managers (PMs) address conflicts by facilitating open communication, understanding each party’s perspective, and finding common ground.

Example: If Marketing wants a Salesforce integration that Sales deems unnecessary, the PM might arrange a meeting to discuss its merits and drawbacks and reach a consensus.

Scope creep

Project managers ensure a clear project charter and scope. Any changes are evaluated for their impact on time, cost, and resources.

Example: If a department suddenly wants additional Salesforce reports, the PM evaluates the time and resources required and either adjusts the project or denies the request.

Extended timelines

Project managers communicate potential delays early and adjust resources or expectations accordingly.

Example: If customization is taking longer than expected due to unforeseen complexities, the PM might bring in an additional developer or adjust the go-live date after discussing with stakeholders.

The downsides of not having a project manager for Salesforce initiatives

Not having an appointed project manager on a Salesforce project can lead to several significant costs, pitfalls, and problems. Here’s the breakdown:

One Hundred Dollar Bills and a pocket watch
Cost implications
  • Budget overruns: Without a PM’s oversight, costs can spiral out of control. It’s easy to underestimate expenses or fail to account for unexpected costs.
  • Missed opportunities for cost savings: A skilled PM knows where to find efficiencies, negotiate with vendors, and maximize the value of investments.
  • Redoing work: Without a clear roadmap and oversight, tasks may need to be redone, leading to wasted resources.
  • Extended timelines: Delays can increase costs, especially if external contractors are hired or if there are penalties for late milestones.

  • Scope creep: Without a PM to clearly define and manage the project scope, additional features or tasks can be added without proper evaluation, leading to delays and overruns.
  • Misaligned objectives: Teams might work towards different goals without a unified vision, leading to a final product that doesn’t meet organizational needs.
  • Poor quality: A lack of oversight can result in lower quality work, which may not meet standards or user requirements.
  • Failed implementations: Without effective project management, there’s a higher risk that the Salesforce implementation won’t meet its objectives or could fail entirely.

  • Ineffective communication: Without a central point of contact, teams might not communicate effectively, leading to misunderstandings and mistakes.
  • Resource mismanagement: Resources, whether human or technical, might be underutilized or stretched too thin without proper management.
  • Lack of accountability: Without a PM to monitor tasks and responsibilities, accountability can wane, leading to missed deadlines and poor performance.
  • Inefficient processes: Redundancies and inefficiencies can creep in when there’s no one streamlining processes and workflows.
  • Inadequate risk management: Without a PM, potential risks might not be identified or mitigated in time, leading to a preventable crisis.
  • Stakeholder dissatisfaction: Stakeholders might feel left out or dissatisfied if their needs aren’t met or if they’re not regularly updated.
  • Poor adoption rates: A successful Salesforce project isn’t just about implementation; it’s about adoption. Without a PM, user training and change management might be overlooked, leading to low adoption rates.

Final thoughts on Salesforce project managers

A project manager is the driving force behind any project.

While it might seem like an initial cost-saving measure to forgo hiring a Project Manager for a Salesforce project, the potential costs, pitfalls, and problems that can arise without proper project management can far outweigh the salary or contract cost of a project manager. Especially for complex projects, having a dedicated professional to steer is a must for ensuring timely, on-budget, and successful outcomes.

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