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How a Salesforce Centre of Excellence Increases ROI (Part 1)

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Although a smooth ‘Go Live’ for a Salesforce project is a moment of huge relief for a project team that has worked tirelessly to make it a success, for the business itself, the actual work to make a project succeed has only just started.

The business goals that Salesforce was implemented for are in constant flux, processes are changing, and user adoption needs to be continuously monitored and managed. Fortunately, there is a way to increase the Return on Investment (ROI) on your Salesforce implementation through a Centre of Excellence (CoE).

Implementing Salesforce is an important moment in the life of an organisation, especially as it can have an influence on people’s way of working, such as Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) for instance. Users need time to grow accustomed to the new solution, even if the tool improves their productivity. Sometimes users are more interested in seeing how they can tailor Salesforce to their familiar way of working than in using it the intended way. One way of preventing this is to ensure that all users are continuously well trained and suitably skilled. It’s also imperative they understand what specific benefits Salesforce can bring them - the famous “what’s in it for me?”.

Besides that, users need to feel heard by creating a platform that allows the business to share feedback on their day-to-day use of the solution. Allowing this through a CoE will extend the lifecycle of the solution and dramatically increase its ROI.

What happens in a Centre of Excellence?

A CoE is a committee of people who meet on a regular basis to discuss the Salesforce solution that is in use. They will monitor the effectiveness of the solution and discuss the future roadmap or the backlog of enhancement requests from the business. They will decide what requests are accepted or what strategic decisions concerning the solution should be made and will then prioritise them. In general, the CoE will investigate how they can further improve their use of Salesforce and will also drive adoption through training and onboarding.

Who is represented in a Centre of Excellence?

There are several different ways a CoE can be set up. However, a key principle is that a CoE should always consist of a mix of business and IT resources.

Business users know best the impact Salesforce has on the company’s results and how the tool is actually used. The business end is usually represented by ‘super users’ who know the solution through and through and act as a sounding board for their colleagues.

IT needs to be there to evaluate the overall fit in the IT infrastructure and what development effort – and budget - is needed and appropriate to implement change requests.

Why involve an external partner in a Centre of Excellence?

In the current IT marketplace, it is very challenging for an IT department to keep up to speed and have in-house skills in all aspects of Salesforce that a company is running.

Salesforce themselves have a dedicated roadmap and constantly update their software 3 times a year. It can be a challenge for IT teams to can stay on top of all that. Internal ownership of the CoE is important, but leveraging external expertise is key for a CoE’s operation. By doing so, a company can assure themselves of deep expertise in the area of technology and a close connection to the software vendor.

At Pexlify, we work with customers on CoE design and execution that includes user adoption monitoring, training new users, first-line support, dealing with change requests, keeping our customers informed on product roadmaps and designing how processes or product enhancements can benefit their business.

Isn’t a Centre of Excellence just another cost item?

There’s no denying that the internal management and the external expertise are a cost factor in a CoE, but it is the value it produces and the risk it mitigates that needs to be evaluated.

Done well, it is an investment well spent. It is no secret that IT projects more often fail than succeed. Companies often have to re-implement existing or new software because the legacy solution no longer performs or achieves the desired results. The majority of the projects I have come across are replacing something existing that no longer works. Overall, a re-implementation is a much bigger cost than a CoE.

How do you measure the success of a Centre of Excellence?

When an organisation introduces a new software solution such as Salesforce, it has a certain goal in mind. Obviously, at ‘Go Live’, you will have not yet reached the goals you initially set. Going back to “business as usual” makes us forget why the investment was made in the first place.

The first measure for a CoE is to further achieve and monitor those goals by constantly evaluating whether the desired results are effectively realised. On top of that, there are also metrics that you can use to measure the success of a CoE itself, for example, user adoption. The CoE is a sounding board for users. Having a sounding board boosts enthusiasm to keep using software to the fullest.

Setting up a CoE is not something you should be doing as an afterthought, or when you notice user attention is waning. As soon as an organisation embarks on a Salesforce project, ensuring long-term ROI through a CoE should be considered as part of the scope and budget of that project.

Having a Salesforce CoE where best practices and roadmaps are managed has a strong correlation to both high ROI and better grades. 

In a 2020 Dreamforce webinar, where 300+ Salesforce program owners across North America and Europe were surveyed, 91% of them who reported the highest levels of ROI from Salesforce have a CoE in place. That is an overwhelming number, strongly correlating ROI and CoEs.

The survey’s findings also found that 82% of those companies giving their Salesforce implementations an “A” grade had a CoE, yet another nod to the importance of having a plan and structure in order to succeed with Salesforce. However, even with this evidence, 40% of Salesforce customers have no semblance of a CoE in place. This presents a huge opportunity for hundreds of thousands of Salesforce customers to get more from their existing investments.

Part 2 of our 3-part CoE series will focus on the roles, structure and governance that guide a successful Salesforce CoE.

Pexlify’s CoE Design and Execution services can assist with a Salesforce CoE stand-up, starting with structural design and including execution support as needed. However, we’re available for more than just the start of your implementation. We can also help with journey mapping, building out implementations, ongoing services after go-live, and more.

Next up 👉  Read part 2 of our CoE series "Optimising Delivery for Your Salesforce CoE"

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Today's post is by Paul Delaney, Senior Engagement Manager at Pexlify.

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As always, thanks for reading, if you enjoyed this post please feel free to share it and tag us @Pexlify.

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