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Autodesk makes software for people who make things. They are a leader in providing essential design software for 3D design, engineering, and entertainment. They are known for blazing new trails for their customers by cultivating a thorough understanding of their needs, whether they're designing a city skyscraper or landscaping a backyard. In order to maintain their leadership position, it's critical that Autodesk stay up to date with the latest technologies.


“When it came to Salesforce Lightning, we knew that at some point Salesforce was going to kick us off Classic. We would rather be ahead of the curve than behind it,” said Aaron Gregoire, Sales Automation Architect for Autodesk. Aaron and his team started planning their move to Lightning in late 2016 and quickly realized that the intuitiveness of Lightning would allow employees to spend less time organizing their tabs and searching for information and more time selling and solving problems for the company's customers.


However, Autodesk's usage of Lightning extended beyond the sales team. They also used the Lightning Design System to give their users a consistent experience. And with Lightning Components, they could develop reusable customizations for Lightning Experience and the Salesforce mobile app. “Working in Lightning is different than working in Classic. We get a lot of benefits — things like a confined layout and the usability factor,” said Gregoire.


During the early stages of planning their move from Classic to Lightning, Aaron and team spent a lot of time thinking about how to get information into the system and how to make it easier. They did a clean up of their org, focused on removing things that weren't being used. They understood that a faster, cleaner system would help them take advantage of new functionality. Here are the three steps Autodesk used to successfully transition their employees to Lightning:


1. Adopt the Lightning Design System


The first phase of rolling out Lightning was to adopt the Lightning Design System, which gives developers a framework so they no longer need to spend cycles on colors and fonts. At Autodesk, the Lightning Design System was applied to all VisualForce pages going forward to expose users to the Lightning look and feel while still in Classic. This helped prepare employees for the coming changes.


2. Get up to speed with Lightning components


The second phase was getting their developers up to speed with Lightning components. The Developer team at Autodesk used Lightning components to build a page that could search and assign opportunities in mass. The components they used to build those pages were actually different components that had already been built for other applications. Their developers loved the fact that they could reuse components, thereby significantly speeding up development time.


3. Drive adoption


The next step was to simplify their processes. For example, they had three different coded ways of adding products to opportunities. They realized that it made more sense to consolidate those three different methods into one, instead of bringing all three into Lightning.


Make a plan to adopt Lightning Experience


Prioritize what to fix

The first phase was to adopt Lightning Experience. Some of the challenges that Autodesk faced had to do with the technical debt they had accumulated and getting alignment across the organization. The project team started by prioritizing what they needed to fix. They came up with a list of all of the customizations within their Salesforce org that needed to be addressed. For example, they had lots of custom buttons, but not all of them needed to be re-worked.


Optimize and reduce repetitive process

The next step was simplifying some of their processes. For example, they had three different coded ways of adding products to opportunities. They realized that it made more sense to just consolidate those three different methods into one instead of bringing all three into Lightning.


Phased release starting with small sales groups

Rather than trying to roll out Lightning Experience to the entire company at once, they decided to go with a phased approach, working with smaller pilot groups so they could receive feedback and keep iterating. This led to a fine-tuned user experience


Engage with enablement training and rollout

The project team worked closely with Autodesk's sales enablement leaders to determine how users would be trained and what was the best approach. This was also another good opportunity for them to take a look into their processes to see how they could be improved.


Leverage Trailhead to drive Lightning Adoption

They leveraged Trailhead modules, such as Lightning Experience Features, to help users prepare for and adopt Lightning. They even curated the relevant Lightning modules and trails to create an internal Trailmix called, "Autodesk Lightning Onboarding." By requiring new employees to complete the on-boarding Trailmix, this allowed them to keep their training consistent for users in different geographical locations. Throughout this transition, Trailhead has been a key resource for Autodesk, helping increase Lightning's adoption and influence across the organization.

If your organization is considering a move to Lightning, we hope you use this story as inspiration. To begin your own journey to Lightning, check out the resources available on and be sure to visit Trailhead for additional support.