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Building Product Manufacturers: Steering the CRM Ship: Think Governance

Guiding the Salesforce Ship Requires Captaincy

In our previous post, we discussed road maps. Clearly, the CRM matures over time; it’s on a journey.

Well. Where exactly did that road map come from? And who’s got their hand on the long-term wheel to ensure we navigate down the charted path? And who’s deciding if we revise the map along the way? Who sets the boundaries for who can do what, when, and how in the system?

This is the realm of the Steering Committee.

Time to Talk Governance 

Governance is a general term used to describe overall CRM management and the rules under which the CRM is maintained and upgraded.

Why govern? What are the benefits? Many clients we see manage their CRM on a reactive basis – someone makes an ask, a junior person simply makes the change. Over time the CRM becomes a tangled web, may have poor adoption and likely has very spotty compliance to best practices. It’s just like an unmanaged business – it wouldn’t run very well without oversight and planning. And it’ll surely cost you more and give you less benefit if you don’t tend to its care and feeding!

Salesforce system governance most-effectively falls under the purview of a “CRM Steering Committee.” This is a team made up of a handful of senior leaders and individuals with vested interests in what the CRM does; they are the platform’s overseers and owners.

The list of things that a steering committee is responsible for typically includes the following:

  • Review of adoption and usage metrics; assessment of process compliance – they should assess whether the system is running right and being used right.
  • Identification and approval of any major new features, capabilities, processes, changes, or applications to be built into the system
  • Bridging corporate business objectives into the CRM’s capabilities and measurements, as appropriate
  • Long-term strategic plans
  • Budgeting
  • Timelines – the roadmap
  • Defining and maintaining general rules for how the system is operated – what kinds of changes can be made under what circumstances, by whom, and when 
  • Data quality – measuring and assessing whether the valued asset of data in the system is being kept to a good standard

Who’s on the committee

  • It should have an effective size as a first consideration – anything beyond 8-10 and you’re into the realm of unwieldy.
  • A senior leader who has authority over the majority of the system users – Chief Revenue Officer, Vice President of Sales, Chief Operating Officer, potentially even the CEO
  • A representative, generally at director level or above, for each of the major functional groups using the system (sales, marketing, customer service, etc.)
  • A representative from each distinct business unit – here, this can be a senior, but the individual-contributor-level person who really understands how that business runs.
  • IT
  • A strategist from your Salesforce consultant firm

Who runs it

  • Someone should be the formal “owner” of Salesforce in your organization, at least titular; that person has ultimate responsibility for making sure the steering committee operates effectively
  • However, the chair of the committee should probably be a business leader; best to make sure they’re fully-vested and thinking about the business problems the system solves

How often?

  • Quarterly meetings are probably best in a mature organization
  • Monthly for less mature or rapidly growing or changing businesses
  • Mid-implementation or major project, where the system is mission-critical, could be as often as bi-weekly

By the Way, Who Should “Own” Salesforce?

What a complex and oft-overlooked question this is. In many clients, we ask, “who owns Salesforce here?” and we get blank stares. So here’s our opinion.

Business should own it; IT should be responsible for it. Here’s some backup to that opinion:

  • The system is there to provide business solutions; business leaders had, first of all best want it in place, and secondly, they should have ownership of what it delivers.
  • The role of IT here is to ensure the system is managed properly to best practices for software systems. They serve the business and make sure that things get done right.

We’ve seen the reverse, where IT owns and tells business what they’re going to get. Yeah, guess how well that works out.

We’ve seen business take no real ownership, and the system is adrift. Suboptimal.

Make a clear choice; that’s our guidance.

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