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Success with Salesforce: Strategic Governance for Nonprofits, Schools, and Universities

By Dan Luton May 9, 2018

Over the last few blog posts in our “Ask an Architect” series, we have focused on why governance, and specifically a Center of Excellence, can benefit your organization. But how do you actually make that vision a reality? How do you build a Center of Excellence that fits the needs of your organization and that will allow you to address your competing demands today with an eye on long term success?

Governance is a team effort. Make sure you’re maximizing your Salesforce investment by implementing governance to service the diverse needs and demands of your organization. Governance of a system is a crucial part of success with your Salesforce implementation and ongoing efforts. Because every organization requires a unique model of governance, we’ll explain how to build programs to be flexible to meet your changing needs.

Pulling from knowledge across the architect teams at, our partners, and our customers, we have created a resource document to guide you through the process of understanding, designing, implementing and measuring the success of a Center of Excellence at your organization. Below, we have summarized the content covered in each of our chapters.

Why Do I Need Governance?

Governance is accountability: ensuring the success of our implementation and providing structure for future enhancements to sustain your mission. It improves collaboration, organizational buy-in and, when done well, results in short term success aligned with a longer term vision for growth. Whilst it can be a wide ranging definition, for the purposes of this piece we define governance as having four key pillars.

Center of Excellence diagram

What is a Center of Excellence, and why do I need one?

A Center of Excellence is a group of individuals at your organization who are ultimately responsible for shaping the vision, implementations and success metrics for your organization. Exactly why you need a Center of Excellence at your organization will be driven by many factors including your size, ambition and Salesforce footprint. In some cases you may not even need this to be a formal group; but whether you are a startup organization using 10 free subscriptions or a nationally recognized enterprise, defining the vision for your CRM and planning for its future should always be at the heart of your decision making.

What Kind of Center of Excellence is Best?

With your investment into Salesforce, you’ll likely want to maximize your use of Salesforce across your entire organization. This might be multiple campuses, schools, chapters or departments but it will certainly involve people with different requirements and personalities. What options do you have in designing a body and process that fits the goals, and culture, of your organization? Keep reading for the how-to tips.

How do I Build a Center of Excellence?

You’ve picked your model and now you need to build out your Center of Excellence in your organization. A Center of Excellence is comprised of 5 key attributes:

    1. A group of people
    2. Guided by a charter
    3. Manifests in meetings, and provides output in the form of;
    4. Critical decisions and
    5. Other deliverables

A final key concept is to keep in mind is that your CoE can (and should!) grow to meet your needs.

How do I run a Center of Excellence?

Next, get your Center of Excellence up and running. The CoE can be made up of several different meetings coming together under the banner of CoE. If your organization has already established practices on how meetings are run, then the CoE should fit nicely into your practices but no matter what, the agenda(s) you use are key to you long term success.

Having said that, it’s important to understand that the CoE does not only exist in meetings and you should consider a process where guidance, expertise, prioritization can be provided by the CoE and any time. Collaboration is an important part of the CoE, whether that is providing best practices, standards or just general advice, consider an online forum using tools such as Chatter to make the CoE accessible, transparent and open to all.

How do I know my Center of Excellence is working?

It is rare to have a CoE that consists of full time staff, dedicated only to that role. With it’s member usually wearing multiple hats and the CoE itself rarely solely responsible for the delivery of business KPIs it can be frustratingly hard, to assign a single ROI value to a Center of Excellence.

That is not to say, however, that its value cannot be measured or that it should not be held accountable for delivery. Some key metrics we can look at include timelines, adoption, budget and future redesigns.

Interested in learning more? Download our Managing Governance with a Center of Excellence white paper to learn how to use governance as a method of management for your Salesforce instance and programs. And don’t forget to view a recording of the webinar and download a copy of the slide deck.

Download the White Paper

This blog is part of our larger “Ask an Architect” content series. To learn more about engaging a Customer Success Architect in your organization, please contact your Account Executive.

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