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Salesforce Development and Governance – Don’t Go it Alone

By January 5, 2015

By: Jennifer Walker, Associate Direct of Strategic Engagement and CRM at Georgetown University

Working TogetherBringing Salesforce to my school was far from an overnight success. We listened to everyone’s needs and configured solutions for them, but too few people were taking advantage of this powerful platform. And the ones who did didn’t always feel invested in its development. Establishing our steering committee brought Salesforce to life by connecting the technology to the users and allowed us to tap into a wealth of resources that were at our fingertips all along.

A governing body such as a steering committee can:

  1. Share decision-making – A governance system enables multiple stakeholders, including users, in an enterprise to have an organized say in evaluating conditions and options, setting direction and monitoring performance against enterprise objectives.
  2. Be your information resource – Think of it as crowd sourced requirements gathering.
  3. Promote collaboration – Not easy, but a formalized group with collaboration as its mission can make this easier.
  4. Evangelize the solution – An invested steering committee will be more inclined to promote the solution to others and share the impact.
  5. Establish investment in CRM – A feeling of ownership and responsibility will empower users to maintain the data. If the data and the system are perceived as being owned by one department such as IT, users might be less inclined to take part in upkeep, data cleansing, duplicate prevention, etc.
  6. Help standardize data – A cohesive group can work to find common data definitions and business processes so that you can scale beyond one department.

So how do you go about crafting the right steering committee? There is no one size fits all structure, but here are a few suggestions to consider:

Define the structure of the steering committee

If your aim is to develop a single enterprise-wide solution you might want to consider a central steering committee to help facilitate cross-departmental dialogue. If a centralized committee isn’t for your organization, do you want to create a governance structure for a single school, unit or specific project?

Establish clear roles

You might find a RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) matrix helpful in defining roles. Think about your role. Are you totally accountable to the committee? Do they advise but you are the ultimate decider? Make sure everyone is on the same page so there is no confusion come decision-making time.

Develop and share the communication plan

How often are you going to reach out to the steering committee? What communications should they be responsible for? Can you provide them with talking points, one-pagers or slides to share with their respective departments?

Hold a standing steering committee meeting

Maybe this seems obvious, but it’s tempting to think “Meh, I don’t have much to share at this point. Maybe I’ll cancel and give them their hour back.” Squash that thought! Your meetings can be used to keep committee members engaged by sharing interesting updates, explaining new features, providing instructions and making key decisions. It’s important to keep everyone involved and the momentum going.

Cherry-pick your champions

If your organization is like mine, there may be a strong desire to bring the usual suspects to the table. These people tend to be the leaders of the department, but consider whether they are the right people to sit at this table. Can they speak to specific business processes? Will they be the ones working within the system on a regular basis? I like bringing in people who are up to their elbows in the nitty-gritty, because they tend to have some great ideas about where to improve. Look for positive, can-do people who are excited about initiating change. If the leadership of your organization prefers to do the nominating, perhaps make a helpful suggestion, something along the lines of “Amanda has already been a real force behind this initiative, and she consistently brings value. I think she would represent the needs of her department well.”

Good luck!

About the Author

Jennifer WalkerJennifer Walker is the Associate Direct of Strategic Engagement and CRM at Georgetown University, where she is working across the university to develop and enterprise CRM solution. Jennifer is also the Vice Chair of the Salesforce Higher Education Advisory Council.