“How do we manage the day-to-day and future enhancements work for our Salesforce implementation to ensure it thrives for years and iterations to come?” The answer to that is governance.
Governance, that sounds a bit scary and looming, but it doesn’t have to be. As we continue to dive into the use cases and best practices for developing a Center of Excellence (CoE), we’re going to focus on using governance as a method of management for your Salesforce org.
Governance is accountability, making sure that you, as an organization, with your Center of Excellence are ensuring the future of the hard work you’ve already put into your practice, and helping future enhancements sustain your mission. Think of Governance like the sheriff ensuring things don’t go astray like the wild, wild West of your business processes.
Just like with a CoE, there is a spectrum of governance that you can engage with based on your needs and goals. Speaking of goals or vision, that’s one of the very first things that should be established when managing with governance. Define a clear goal or vision for your organization and your use of Salesforce and let this be what you refer back to, ensuring you’re staying on track. At Salesforce, we use the V2MOM framework to help us align on values, vision, methods and more.
Picking the Perfect Team
The success of your CoE and governance relies on ensuring you’ve assembled the proper team. For some organizations, your team may be as small as 2 people; others may have a more formal engagement with up to 10. Wherever you’re at, align your team to your organization to achieve maximum results. Organizational stakeholders should always be included in your CoE; this could mean your Executive Director, CEO, COO, Directors or Business Units, you want a reasonable sampling of your organization to ensure that everyone’s voices are being championed. Some may be inclined to sway towards more technically inclined individuals; while these individuals are helpful, you want to ensure you have voices representing the business process and end user so that your technical decisions compliment your organization and don’t dictate it. Your Salesforce Administrator should also be included in the team, as they will be executing the decisions.
Once you have your dream team assembled you can now start to implement some best practices for governing a Salesforce instance.
After you clearly define your vision, you can now define design standards associated with it. By putting into practice clear and compilable standards, you can ensure that all modifications align with your vision and aren’t in competition with one another. What are some good examples of a design standard?
- Clear naming conventions, e.g. all custom fields/objects/classes get appended with the 3 digit name of the business unit that made the request
- Defined use of the description field, e.g. all description fields will be filled out to include business unit requested, has name of linkage to any other dependencies
- All custom classes and triggers will be annotated with plain English explanations of logic and executions
- Documentation uses a standard template and includes at least 1 image.
Make sure you document your design standards in an easily accessible area for users to reference and audit Salesforce regularly to ensure compliance with these standards.
Release and Deployment Strategy
Determine your release strategy. Salesforce updates the platform three times per year: Spring, Summer, and Winter. You need to create your own your internal release strategy that includes ensuring compatibility with new core features, along with pushing out your own enhancements and updates. Having a consistent strategy allows you to communicate to users in a timely and effective manner. This will also ensure you create or refresh sandboxes in time for pre-release versions. A consistent cadence for internal releases will help users build trust and foster adoption of Salesforce, when users expect changes to come and feel prepared for them everyone is happier. Bonus: I personally love internal release notes that thank users who contributed ideas for enhancements, just like Salesforce does in every release (You Asked For It!). Make sure along with your release management, you also define how you will create, test, and deploy these changes. Make sure to develop and test in a sandbox and deploy changes safely following something similar to the recommended/typical deployment lifecycle.
In a larger organization, you may have to make sure your CoE or governance committee are meeting in a timely cadence to prioritize the backlog of enhancements and feature requests. Because this group understands the needs of each business unit and the vision of your organization, they will be able to determine the most strategic order of completion for projects in your backlog. Publish the decisions made and timelines for project completions where end users can see the results of the decision-making process. Though some may be unhappy to see their projects later in a timeline, it will help people to see the organization’s vision being implemented and have clear expectations on what happens when.
Now that you’re more comfortable with the idea of governance, it’s key to note that it helps to be transparent as you think about creating governance to implement your vision. Allow users to consume information about the hows and whys to help foster collaboration and success. In future blogs, we will talk more about measuring the success of your CoE.
To improve your governance today:
- Identify members for your Center of Excellence to drive change
- Application Lifecycle Management Trailhead Module
- Read about successful governance examples
And…If you are a Premier customer, take our CoE Accelerator.
This blog is part of our larger “Ask an Architect” content series. To learn more about engaging a Salesforce.org Customer Success Architect in your organization, please contact your Account Executive.