Salesforce Governance: A Little Order Goes a Long Way

Throughout my career, I have seen many examples of how software governance — or lack thereof — can have a huge impact on a company’s success, affecting everything from employee satisfaction to the company’s bottom line.

As an ISTJ, I’m a big fan of structure and rules. (I swear, I can still have fun at parties, too!) However, I am really excited to have the opportunity to discuss a topic that warms my heart: governance.

Data governance chain

At its core, governance refers to a framework for operating and making decisions. How does this relate to Salesforce? Any admin knows that Salesforce is a powerful, highly configurable platform. There are frequently many choices to be made:

  • Which app should I install?
  • Do I need to create a new profile or use a permission set?
  • How do I prioritize all of these requests I’m getting from users?

Without having a framework and vision in place to guide these decisions, your Salesforce instance can quickly fall into a state of disorder with disparate configurations and low user adoption.

Establish a Center of Excellence

A Salesforce Center of Excellence (CoE) brings together stakeholders from across the organization to create a group that is responsible for making decisions about Salesforce. The CoE collects feedback from end users, oversees ongoing maintenance of the system, and maintains a vision for the solution.

Your organization’s CoE could be made up of as few as two or three individuals that meet on a monthly basis. If you’re just starting out, my recommendation is to include your Salesforce administrator and a representative from each department that uses Salesforce.

The most critical tasks for the CoE include:

  • Developing and maintaining a long-term vision for the solution
  • Collecting feedback from users
  • Prioritizing maintenance requests and the feature backlog
  • Setting consistent design standards
  • Maintaining communication with users about new features and rollouts

Develop a Vision and Prioritize New Features

“Why do we use Salesforce?”

Many organizations can’t answer this question and it speaks to a profound (but not uncommon) lack of vision. One of the first things a new CoE must do is define a vision statement that can be used as a guide for all future decisions regarding Salesforce. The vision statement must be developed with input from all Salesforce stakeholders. At Redpath, for example, we use a digital transformation success blueprinting process called the “Path to Success” to help clients document a clear vision.

Whatever you use, keep the vision statement concise and do not include technology or systems. Make sure your vision is measurable, which will allow you to evaluate success. A vision statement could look something like this:

“Increase profits by rapidly qualifying leads and efficiently converting them to new business.”

Here are some examples of how this vision statement could be measured:

  • Average time to move a new lead to MQL status is 4 days
  • Average time to generate a quote is 3 days
  • No more than 25% of sales quotes require assistance from Sales Operations

Once your vision statement has been defined, the CoE can use it as a guideline for prioritizing and making decisions about what new Salesforce features to implement. Features that do not align with the vision can be maintained in a backlog. Just be sure to give your end users a simple and efficient way to submit feedback and enhancement requests. The CoE should also regularly review and update their vision as business priorities shift.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Every single new feature, large or small, needs to be communicated with clear instructions. It’s always a good idea to make sure your Salesforce users understand how the feature is going to benefit them, too.

Let’s pretend that the marketing team has requested a new field to be added to leads called “Purchasing Timeframe.” It is to be a picklist field with values of Immediate, 1-3 Months, and 4+ Months. The field will be required when the lead status is “Meeting Held.” This feature fits well with the organization’s vision of using Salesforce to support rapid sales growth.

You test the field out in a sandbox, and make it live in production. Great, right? Maybe not. Consider what could happen in this scenario:

  • The next day, Linda has a meeting with a lead and attempts to change the lead status to “Meeting Held.” She gets an error saying that she needs to fill out the Purchasing Timeframe field. Annoyed, Linda randomly picks a value from the list and grumbles under her breath about the weird error message.
  • George sees the new field the next day, too. He decides to update it on a new lead he’s entering. He thinks that lead might be looking to make a purchase in about 1 month, give or take, so he selects 1-3 months, since he isn’t sure whether that qualifies as “Immediate.”

Suddenly, you’re in a situation where you are not collecting meaningful or accurate data. Your users are annoyed about the extra data entry, and the sales team is not being provided with the best sales opportunities. This all could have been avoided with a simple communication to your users about the purpose and benefits of collecting this new piece of data. And that’s why it’s helpful to institute software governance right from the beginning.

Ready to get started?

If you’re new to Salesforce governance, I hope this information has inspired you to take the next step! Establishing a governance framework will help you avoid costly pitfalls and keep your end users happy, while supporting your business vision.

To learn more about enhancing your Salesforce governance and internal communication, check out our demo webinar on Enhancement Manager for Salesforce – a CRM roadmap app by Redpath. 

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