Today’s guest post comes from my friends Jack Pereira and Stephanie Gaughen of Nuvem Consulting, a Salesforce consulting partner based in my hometown of Omaha, NE.
Strong governance and oversight of your Salesforce solution is absolutely critical. Without that, your org can quickly become the wild west. From your sales reps entering in basic Leads data with no standard process to downloading apps at will from the AppExchange, in the blink of an eye, you can have a data disaster and a nightmare for reporting.
But not everyone has the luxury of a strong governance committee from day 1 of their implementation. There’s many reasons organizations go without a governance strategy, and it doesn’t take long for data issues to proliferate. But the longer you let them go, the harder they are to clean up. Remember, big data isn’t getting any smaller.
So whether you’re switching jobs and inheriting this wild west, or you’ve come to the realization where you can no longer manage this sort of Salesforce anarchy, we put together some basic governance principles applicable to businesses of any size and industry.
1. Establish your Salesforce governance committee
Whether you call it a Center of Excellence, a change committee or a Salesforce governance committee, the concept is the same: bring together a team of people involved in processes touched by Salesforce to oversee the ongoing maintenance and long-term vision for the solution.
Your governance committee should include an executive sponsor, department leaders, administrators and an end-user champion. If your solution touches departments beyond sales and marketing, leaders at those departments also must be involved.
One Clear Owner
And even with the guidance of an oversight committee, it is absolutely critical that there is clear ownership of the solution with one individual. It’s common in many organizations that multiple people are responsible for Salesforce but no one person has clear ownership. But that goes against a fundamental principle of management that a leader be designated for such endeavors. If there are multiple owners, nobody is responsible for the success of the solution.
Great Salesforce “owner” will act as the key facilitator, champion and cheerleader of the solution. They’ll be committed to continuous improvement, system optimization and coaching of other team members.
2. Establish data standardization early and audit often
You must have accurate and complete data to create accurate and meaningful reports, which is the whole reason you bought Salesforce in the first place. If you aren’t getting the reports you need, you aren’t getting the insights you need to sell more and make better business decisions.
When establishing a data standardization strategy, it’s best to start with a data map listing all the critical fields necessary per Object and where the sources are for that data. You also must understand if all the sources providing that data are accurate and complete.
When considering the reports you need to manage your process or business as a whole, reverse engineering your reports helps you understand what data you need to get those reports and what Objects will help organize that data.
Data standardization among integrated systems
If you’re integrating to a marketing automation system such as Pardot, the importance of having a data standardization strategy may finally be coming to light. Marketing automation systems can only talk to your CRM when the data fields match. And public-facing forms must capture data in the same format. Using picklists to minimize inconsistencies and spelling errors, as well as making certain fields required are common ways to ensure a smooth sync.
With marketing automation, you must also consider the completeness of your data. Making certain fields required for your sales reps will help ensure the marketing team has the data they need to effectively segment Prospects onto Dynamic Lists. After all, you can’t quickly grab a marketing list of all your local customers for an upcoming event if only 30% of your Leads and Contacts have that field completed in their records.
The same goes for other systems connected to the main Sales Cloud database such as Communities or Steelbrick CPQ. The more systems you have integrated to your core solution, the more oversight and consideration will be needed to ensure data quality.
Cleanse, audit, repeat
After you have developed a standardization strategy, then comes the dirty work of cleaning up the existing data to match it to the standard. There are many tools in the AppExchange and admin tricks to do this efficiently. You can also enlist the help of a consulting partner if you don’t have the resources or expertise to do this internally.
Finally, once the database is in good shape, you must put in place regular data audits to make sure you stay on track. These can take place monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly. Any proposed changes to the data standardization strategy can then be evaluated by the governance committee.
3. Establish release and application management plans
Salesforce Sales Cloud has three major releases a year with new features that must be rolled out and managed according to your needs and unique configuration. Sometimes Salesforce replaces major tools and stops supporting older features, which calls for action and planning.
Depending on the complexity and extent of new features, as well as your number of users, it may take time to configure and roll these out to your org. This needs to be accounted for to allocate resources. Plan governance committee meetings after release notes are made available so you can discuss new features with your team.
All new apps must be put through a rigorous discovery process
You also need to consider new releases for other apps you have in your Salesforce ecosystem, as well as general management principles for applications connected to Sales Cloud. New apps, whether large or small, must be fully vetted and approved before they are downloaded and added to the org. And there must be a process for ongoing maintenance and support of these apps.
About the authors
Jack Pereira [@jackpereira10] is the co-founder of Nuvem Consulting and works with leaders worldwide to refine their business processes from lead generation to cash in hand using the Salesforce platform.
Nuvem is a Salesforce consulting and development partner that transforms businesses for the future with streamlined processes, integrated technologies and a delightful customer experience.