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The Roles and Structure That Drive a Successful Salesforce COE (Part 2 of 3-part CoE series)

  • 07 Oct 2021
  • admin

At Pexlify, we tackle a lot of different business and technical challenges. However, one of the most rewarding initiatives for us is helping set our customers up for long-term success by designing and building a Salesforce Centre of Excellence (CoE).

As I mentioned in my last blog, “How a Salesforce Centre of Excellence Increases ROI” if you are looking to get more out of your Salesforce investment, having a CoE in place is one of the best initiatives you can undertake.

CoEs don’t have to be complex to be effective, but they should have certain attributes, namely:

  • Defined and assigned team roles and leadership structure;
  • Adopted and managed delivery standards and processes;
  • Models for Governance, Change, and Release Management;
  • Clearly defined end-user support processes; and
  • A method for growth and education around the Salesforce platform.

This blog post (part 2 of a 3-part COE series) dives into that first area mentioned above, the team. Specifically, what roles should you consider for a COE, what are those roles responsible for, and how that team should be organised and led.

Roles and Responsibilities

Every COE is unique, but all successful ones have something in common, they involve both business and IT stakeholders. 

  • Business stakeholders are key in driving the organisation’s strategy and provides key feedback to the technical team. They may be involved in first-level support, user testing, as well as change management and user adoption; and
  • The IT stakeholders are integral in defining the standards and best practices that ensure whatever is put in place is not just valuable to the business, but realistic, scalable and supportable over time. IT also plays a critical role in defining organisational data standards, selecting tools, managing infrastructure and integration, and much more.

Whether your CoE aligns under a business or IT leadership will depend on your organisation’s structure.

When it comes to the specific roles within a COE, here are the most common ones we come across:

CoE Lead: This role is responsible for the overall program execution. They establish the standards and guidelines for anyone who interacts with the Salesforce system, coordinates the resources needed to execute on the established strategy, and manages partners and vendors.

Admin: This role is primarily responsible for supporting those across the business who use Salesforce. They are extensive users of the Salesforce system, dealing with everything from creating dashboards and reports, to managing configurations and campaigns, to communicating changes and updates to end-users.

Business Analyst: This role works hand-in-hand with the business to review operational processes and identify opportunities to automate and improve those processes using Salesforce. They gather and articulate requirements and serves as a change management agent across the business.

Technical Architect: This role owns the technical design of the Salesforce system, making sure declarative and non-declarative features are used appropriately and that the system can scale as the amount of functionality grows.

Developer: When your requirements warrant the use of programmatic functionality, this role is responsible for building it using platform features such as Apex Classes or Lightning Components. This role may also be responsible for integration development, configuration changes, and solution design for complex features.

Other roles that you might need depending on the scale and focus of your CoE include:

Release Manager: This role is responsible for environment strategy and coordinating the testing and release of code to make sure nothing breaks in production. They are leaders in the DevOps space for the organisation and are also strongly aware of the testing approach for each workstream.

Quality Assurance (QA) Specialists: This role (or team) provides overall QA best practices and reviews the testing approach for each workstream, often in collaboration with the release manager. They manage testing plans and scripts.

Integration Specialists: These specialists provide technical guidance, create integration designs, and implement integrations between Salesforce and other applications.

Salesforce Functional Specialists (CPQ, Tableau, MuleSoft, etc.): These subject matter experts provide the guidance and technical skills needed to get the most out of niche Salesforce platform investments.

The roles and responsibilities within your COE may vary based on your organisation’s size, structure, complexity, budget, and other factors. In some instances, one person plays all or most of these roles in some way, shape, or form. This is advised where your organisation is managing a small Salesforce instance (< 25 users). Larger organizations may have multiple experts in each of these roles. However, most companies fall somewhere in the middle and use a combination of internal and external expertise to build and manage their implementation.

Leadership and Structure

Depending on the size of your company and/or Salesforce instance, there can be several levels of leadership for a Salesforce CoE, but they typically encompass two primary types of committees.

First is an Executive Committee, which is made up of executive sponsors from your major business areas (e.g. Sales, Marketing, etc.). This group meets on either a monthly or quarterly basis and sets the strategic priorities for the program based on the business's short-term and long-term objectives. This forum defines the success metrics, and most importantly, provides the funding.

The Salesforce Steering Committee is made up of sponsors from the business and IT, but the individuals are one or two levels lower than the Executive Committee. This group establishes the tactical roadmap for the strategic initiatives laid out by the Executive Committee. It sets the overall program scope to achieve the success metrics and lays out the deliverables for the same. It is also on point to review and prioritise requests as they come into the CoE and helps the Executive Committee understand the potential impact and cost of certain decisions so that they can be funded and prioritised onto the tactical roadmap.

One tip for success we always recommended to our customers is to include the CoE Lead in as many steering committee meetings as possible, regardless of whether or not that role is an official member of the committee.

Putting the right team in place is just the first step, but a good team won’t reach their true potential without delivery processes and standards. We’ll dive deeper into this area in the final part of this blog series, but for now, the most important thing to remember is that the better defined your roles are, the more productive your team can be.

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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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