Thursday, October 1, 2015

Even Small Companies Benefit From A Center Of Excellence Team

User adoption is a double-edged sword for some companies. As more users become more active on Salesforce, and as more departments find it to be the best solution for their needs, the more work administrators and developers have in keeping the system working the way users need it to work.

I've heard of companies that have such a large backlog of requests in Salesforce that by the time any work request gets cleared, the requesting user may no longer even need whatever they requested. Obviously pulling work requests out of a backlog on a First In First Out basis is not a manageable solution for anything much more complicated than user provisioning and password regeneration.
A governance team can help keep things running smoothly.

Instead, companies should consider implementing a more mature governance system like a Center of Excellence (CoE), or scaled down version in the form of a Success Team. This governance body for Salesforce orgs brings all the stakeholders to the table at once and provides transparency into the important issues each department is facing.

You may be familiar with scenarios of what happens without a CoE: multiple departments need customization work but the administrators and developers are stretched too thin to dedicate a resource to any project. In some companies, new requests simply spread resources even thinner across yet more work.

For example, the product department needs a way to mass input new products while the customer service department needs a smoother way to handle complex steps for authorizing a product return and credit. The admins and developers are stretched too thin to take on both tasks simultaneously. But that's what they are asked to do any way. And so both projects chug along ever more slowly without the proper attention to detail.

Instead, an active CoE can prioritize these requests based on input from administrator, developer and end-user representatives.  But the administrator has to be given a lot of say in the CoE decisions.

Special talents of any good Salesforce Administrator include the ability to understand your specific business processes and how they relate to Salesforce features and capabilities. Companies need to use that person's knowledge to put projects in logical order and give them a reasonable timeline. And in some cases, departments may discover that their needs overlap and the administrator can accomplish multiple tasks at once.

Nightmares of No Governance

One administrator I worked with had multiple departments needing a way to combine records into various related groups. A simple addition to the data model and Heroku Connect settings could have made that possible, but coordinating with three departments for a solution required getting everyone together to discuss. That is the most difficult part of projects without a CoE.

In this example, the administrator had built out and populated a model that no one was using. The administrator had been working with customer service, but that department had turned its attention to fighting other fires.  The product department was at a loss about how even to put a request together for configuration changes in Salesforce and had a terrible relationship with IT.  And the marketing department did not know they could simply use Heroku Connect to pull the data they needed from Salesforce into their web app. The administrator and developers didn't even have a way to communicate to users that solutions were complete because they did not have User Acceptance Testing scheduled.

I've also worked with CIOs who make purchasing decisions based on demos rather than actual product testing in Sandbox. These CIOs expect administrators to configure ill-conceived or undefined solutions with untested products. Yet a CoE can create well defined functional requirements enabling the administrator and select users to conduct basic testing before purchase decisions in order to determine how new packages interact with existing systems and whether they address basic business needs.

Simple Efficiency of Teamwork

Rather than setting your projects up to fail by not allocating sufficient time to them or setting up your company to fail by pitting departments against each other to fight over limited internal resources, set up a CoE to handle these issues in a transparent way. Discussions can be continued in Chatter and resources can be shared in Content Libraries or Chatter Files for full disclosure to Salesforce users. Proper governance records why decisions were made, which keeps your company from spinning its wheels revisiting decisions when there is no new information.

The beauty of the CoE is that it can be scaled to meet your company size and needs. Start with an executive sponsor and department managers who are using Salesforce as well as administrator and developer representation. Add a couple of power users and training experts. Schedule meetings and combine them with an online Chatter group to continue any open discussions. You will find that this can help equally with the initial roadmap of Salesforce projects and ongoing collaboration as well.

When projects require outside vendors, there should be an administrator in all meetings with the vendors to ensure that the business and user needs are well defined for your vendor partner as well as for anyone responsible for in-house support and maintenance after the project goes live.

Once departments start sharing how they are using Salesforce, they may even inspire each other to make better use of data that is already in the system.

No comments:

Post a Comment