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Optimising Delivery for Your Salesforce CoE (Part 2 of 2 in CoE series)

  • colm_barry

Part 1 of our Center of Excellence (CoE) blog series focused on the team, roles and structure that will help organisations run a highly successful Salesforce program. In this edition, our last in the series, we’ll focus on how those experts work together and execute in the most efficient and productive way possible.

Let’s recap. The purpose of a CoE is to manage your Salesforce system in a way that delivers on near-term needs while ensuring long-term performance. This all comes down to execution. More specifically, managing your implementation as part of a cohesive program, not a series of one-off, siloed projects. Many organizations make the mistake of treating a Salesforce rollout as a one-time exercise. Basic change management measures are taken, several key communications are distributed on a mass basis, and focus is placed on general feature-based training. So, when managing a program of work, it’s always good to set some standards upfront.

Set Your Standards

Standards set the bar for what is expected, and establishing them at the outset will ensure teams understand what is expected of them and result in higher quality deliverables. Standards, if they are set early and communicated often, will also help guide internal team members and external vendors to look at the Salesforce system in a cohesive way, ultimately reducing your technical debt over time. For Salesforce CoEs, at a minimum, you should be considering technical standards and delivery standards.

Technical standards include things like:

·  Metadata creation: These are things like naming conventions, descriptions, and the help text that will help give you a more consistent and easily maintainable implementation.

·  Feature usage: Depending on the specifics of your implementation and the skillsets of your team, you may choose to use certain Salesforce features over others. Documenting how and when to use features like declarative versus programmatic is an important distinction to make. This also extends to how you use Salesforce add-on features, such as CPQ, or any third-party vendors such as Conga or DocuSign in conjunction with the standard Sales and Service Cloud features. 

·  Coding: Coding standards ensure your development team crafts code that is easier to maintain, and if done correctly, performs better. This includes documenting naming conventions, code style and structure, the use of trigger frameworks, test classes, and more. 

Delivery standards include things like:

·  Requirements definition standards: These definition standards outline what information has to be included when defining user-centric requirements and ensures that those collecting and writing requirements know which questions to ask. This will also guide how to document the answers, which will allow for a more efficient handoff to the delivery team.

·  Success criteria/metrics: One of the most important questions you can ask your business stakeholders is “How will you measure success?” This can sometimes be a challenging question to answer, but it is very valuable as it adds context to the requirements. It will also help ensure the solution is designed in a way that allows stakeholders to achieve those measurements.

·   User acceptance criteria: Along the same lines as success criteria, user acceptance criteria provides context around the specific actions that users of the solution should be able to accomplish. When these are clearly defined they are not only helpful in solution design but also very effective for quality assurance and testing.

·   Proposed solution design: This is a written and/or visual explanation of how a solution should be developed and includes information about the technical components that should be used by the delivery team. This is imperative for teams where a Solution Architect reviews a solution design prior to development.

Plan Holistically

As you outline your processes, it’s key to think about it as a journey and consider every milestone along the way, from the moment work has been scheduled to when it is released into production. Each gate should have clearly prescribed entry and exit criteria, including who is responsible. 

Define Your Delivery Process

Once you have your standards documented and communicated, you need to think about how the delivery process will work across your Salesforce CoE. Which delivery process you choose will depend on your organization’s overall maturity in software delivery. Some companies enforce a business-wide set of processes that are tightly coupled across teams while others allow more autonomy. The majority of companies today use some sort of agile-like process, ranging from strict adherence to Agile methodologies such as Scrum to a basic iterative, story-based process. 

Delivering on the Salesforce platform is different from most other technologies because Salesforce is easier to customize and sees more frequent platform updates. Salesforce issues three releases and hundreds of new platform features every year, so regardless of your situation and your broader IT process, you’ll likely want to tailor certain tenants of your delivery process.

At Pexlify, we have developed an approach to engage with our clients to assist them in planning and implementing their Salesforce journey, CORE.

CORE Approach

·  Collaborate - We work closely with you to get a true understanding of the challenges, goals and opportunities of your project. A key pillar of this step is to hold discovery workshops which are critical to the success of the project. In these, the Pexlify team will conduct ‘Requirement Gathering’ sessions to fully understand the scope of the project. We meet with key stakeholders to map out key elements and journeys users will take and also to drive conversations around vision, challenges, goals, tools, metrics & KPIs, etc.

 ·  Optimize - We design solutions that digitise, optimize and automate internal and external processes and workflows. The team creates user stories and storyboards to map out how each individual or team member will use the solution. We create prototypes to allow stakeholders to explore, experience and test the usability of the solution before implementation begins. The UI/UX design of the solution plays a crucial role and improves the user experience and customer satisfaction of the implemented solution. It benefits not only the end-user but can also improve the efficiency of back-office teams.

 ·   Resolve - Our solutions will integrate with internal/external systems, break down siloes and unify customer data across a single, centralised platform. Pexlify uses a best-of-breed industry-standard agile implementation model for the implementation phase to iteratively build the Salesforce solution in 2-week sprints. We put in place regular touch-points between the Pexlify and Customer project teams to ensure that all projects are on track. Each implementation will include Implementation, integration, data migration and User acceptance testing workstreams to cover the core activity in a project.

 ·   Execute - We ensure success using UAT, Quality Assurance Testing and provide in-depth Adoption Strategy & Change Management programs. Pexlify deploys the solution to production and provides support to ensure user adoption is monitored and optimised.

 If you have been following this CoE series all the way through, I want to thank you. Having a COE in place, and the right team, structures and processes around your Salesforce program can make a huge difference when it comes to seeing a higher return on your Salesforce investment and making Salesforce an integral part of your business. 

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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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