How Animal Crossing Reminded Me of Salesforce Implementations
How Animal Crossing Reminded Me of Salesforce Implementations

How Animal Crossing Reminded Me of Salesforce Implementations

07/10/2020 by Nik Panter
Three highlights on how playing the video game Animal Crossing underlined strategies on how to successfully implement Salesforce.

I love video games. I always have, and I still do. The latest game that I have been immersed in is Animal Crossing: New Horizons, from Nintendo.  If you haven’t heard of this game, a quick explanation.  Animal Crossing is a simulation game where you leave the workaday world behind to live on a deserted island owned by Nook Inc.

After a quick introduction to choose your island layout (you have four crude maps to choose from), you get to name your island with the other inhabitants of the island (cute anthropomorphic animals), pitch a tent given to you by Tom Nook, the owner of the island, and celebrate your new life with a little confetti.  

From there, the game is an open-ended simulation (the island emulates both the seasons and the time you decide to pick up the game). You are now left to your own devices to fish, catch insects, chop trees and find fossils, all to sell to the island for Bells, which you can use to expand your home, build parks, build furniture and make clothing, do whatever your imagination comes up with.  You can also complete tasks for Tom Nook, such as building new homes for new inhabitants, or the local museum to showcase the fossils and animals you find, curated by Blathers the insect-hating owl. 

Like many, this game came along at exactly the right time and has given my family (we all have our own Switches to play on) a reprieve during our stay-at-home period. However, as the days passed, while I continued to fish and build and dig, something kept gnawing at me, in that the point of Animal Crossing was very familiar to me. 

Of course, we here at Arkus help to implement Salesforce for both for and nonprofit institutions. And one night, while walking through the island, shaking trees to collect enough branches to build another fishing rod, it dawned on me.  The same key strategies and actions that allowed me to build an island were the same used to successfully implement and grow Salesforce in an organization! I’d like to share these with you.

1) There is no end game in Animal Crossing or Salesforce…

In Animal Crossing, there is no endpoint for the game, no main boss to defeat, and no puzzle to solve.  As a platform simulation-style game, you continue to build and make, and create as you see fit, have time for, and continue to enjoy doing so.  As an example, when you first begin the game, you are given a tent to pitch, and this becomes your first home on the island. 

As tents usually are, it’s a small space. You pretty much get a have a cot to lay in inside your tent. But this is not where you stop. As you continue to work on your island, you are given the opportunity to replace the tent with a proper home (at a cost), and then you can continue to add by replacing it with a bigger home, then ‘extending’ your house with more and more rooms. And as you add more rooms, you are able to have more storage, build more items, and continue to enjoy the game.

Salesforce implementations are much the same.  Everyone has a starting point where they wish to begin…their tent. Some clients who procure our services for Salesforce may also think that the initial project we do is all they need, and that’s all Salesforce will ever do.  And that’s absolutely OK; every company has to start its Salesforce journey somewhere.

Remember though that the greatest way to maximize the return on your investment in Salesforce is to continue to grow your utilization of the application. Just as you can add a room in your house in Animal Crossing, never stop being on the lookout for ways to extend your Salesforce implementation and drive value to your organization.

2) Enjoy the little victories…

When you’re playing Animal Crossing, you get to meet the other inhabitants of your island, and Tom Nook, the leader of Nook Inc.  It’s always fun to speak with these other ‘players’ on the island, as they are usually funny and sometimes give you gifts.

But there are times when they have a need, and they ask your assistance with it, whether it be finding the right place for the island’s museum, helping Wisp (the local ghost) collect all the spirit pieces you scared out of him, or catching a wharf roach so that your neighbor can win a contest. And when you complete the set of tasks, there’s always a celebration!

This reminds me greatly of how I have seen Salesforce successfully implemented over the years. An organization may have an enormous list of requirements for implementation, but by breaking out the projects into smaller, more manageable projects, you give yourself and your organization the chance to get actual working functions up and running quickly with Salesforce, giving you quick wins to celebrate, and get your organization using Salesforce for specific actions right away. 

3) I get by with a little help from my friends…

I’ve talked about the other inhabitants on the island a couple of times, and they definitely are an integral part of Animal Crossing.  Other than being your source of companionship on the island you now call home, or having tasks for you to complete (as I spoke about above), they can also be very handy in giving you items such as furniture or clothing, and most importantly, they can share DIY recipes, which allow you to make new furniture that will help turn your home, yard or the island itself into a paradise. 

As I collected the recipe for a dresser, it reminded me of the Salesforce Community. Much like the helpfulness of my island mates, the Trailblazer community and the Power of Us hub has many members who have experience in implementing Salesforce and love to share, either through User Group meetings or the Answers board in the communities itself.

Along with that, many Salesforce partners have applications (such as Arkus’ Permissioner app) available through the AppExchange that extend and enhance your Salesforce instance to truly drive value for your organization. And finally, there are trusted implementation partners who you can collaborate with (such as Arkus) to learn from their experience and expertise in best practices.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these three ways in which Animal Crossing emulated Salesforce implementations.  Do you play Animal Crossing? I’d love to hear your thoughts and other correlations. Feel free to reach out in the Trailblazer Community or on Twitter at @nikpanter.