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Zen and the Art of CoE Maintenance

By Aaron Mieswinkel 10.21.20 A center of Excellence is like the pit crew for your Salesforce Org.

Don’t be scared by the term “Center of Excellence.”

It doesn’t have to be an entire section of a building staffed by dozens of people — though of course you could do that if you wanted. I work with hundreds of mid- to large-sized clients, and every single one of them has a different interpretation of what it means to form a Center of Excellence (CoE) for a Salesforce solution.

I’m here to debunk the idea that spinning up a CoE is time-consuming and challenging. It looks different for everyone, and you’ll have to decide if it’s right for you.

What is a Center of Excellence?

Let’s start with definitions. I define a Center of Excellence as a collective that drives stability and innovation for your organization’s Salesforce solution.

That’s it.

It’s best viewed as an organized group of skillsets, rather than individual people. CoEs manage business stability needs, address enhancements, and craft innovative business and technology methods to make your organization stand out from the competition.

In general, anyone in the technology organization that works directly with Salesforce should be part of your CoE, from solution architects to developers and project managers. An example team could look like this:

  • Planning Team
  • Delivery Team 
  • Release Team
  • Support Team 

3 capabilities every Center of Excellence should have

So, what skillsets are required? To build a great CoE, you’ll need to pull from talent across your teams. Again, think of it less as individuals you need and more about the skills they provide, whether that’s ridiculously organized project management (Admin), technical prowess (IT), or leadership and influence (the C-Suite). Your Center of Excellence should have three major capabilities:

Momentum

Imagine your organization is one race car among the pack at the Monaco Grand Prix. Just like automotive racing, your race car has to be different and better than the others to win — is it the driver? The engine? The tires? You need to invest in enhancing and building the best car you can to win.

Your Center of Excellence can provide the velocity you need to enhance and innovate as an organization. It can complete or enhance an existing Salesforce solution to support and perform at the speed of your business, hopefully faster and better than the competition.

To capture velocity, build a prioritized wishlist from your technology and business groups for your Salesforce solution. This list doesn’t have to be a “roadmap” or “strategy” just yet, or maybe you’re already there or are prepared to get there now, but rather a list that can assist you and your partners, like Silverline, how to frame up that opinion on velocity.

Specialization

Drivers at the highest levels —think F1 or NASCAR — use specialized resources for each component of a highly integrated system of technologies. And while they may get the glory, they’re not alone: They have a team of experts in their ear, talking through race conditions, competitor positions, and car status. 

It’s the same with a great Center of Excellence. Building or supporting specializations within the team might not make sense financially. You may have competing priorities that make it difficult to know which areas to focus your attention. 

Recognize your business needs first. Take a look back at your prioritized wishlist and consider the most important or pressing of those needs. Then, create a list to determine your technology landscape and where you may need to specialize. Some questions you might ask:

  • Is Salesforce integrated? If so, what does the architecture look like?  Is there opportunity to replace some integrated system capabilities directly on the Salesforce platform?
  • Are there specialized Salesforce licenses involved, like Financial Services Cloud?  Marketing Cloud?
  • Would my team or customers’ journey benefit from process or system performance tuning?
  • What customer journey touchpoints can we evaluate and apply creativity to enhance?
  • What do you expect the marketing journey to look like?

With these two lists, you can start to form a picture of what you’ll need in your Center of Excellence. The gap between where you want to go (your wishlist) and where you’re at (your current technological capabilities) will determine your next steps.

In any CoE, some capabilities like solution design and implementation, administration, and release management will be used or needed frequently. This forms the core of your Center of Excellence. Others might be only some of the time, but are important when you do need them. Know that your business needs will change over time, and you’ll want to build your Center of Excellence in a flexible and scalable way to accommodate changing priorities. 

Stabilization

Every racecar needs oil changes, tire rotations, and other regular maintenance. The same is true of your Salesforce configuration.

The last consideration is to consider capabilities related to stabilization work efforts, like break fix, performance tuning, and managing changes brought on by new releases from Salesforce and other providers in your tech stack. Those capabilities can be layered into your gap list to determine what you need to maintain your solution after it’s implemented. 

Another aspect of stabilization is your leadership. What kind of team members will you need to knit your CoE together? This doesn’t just mean an executive team, but your individual contributors and business partners that lead your CoE on the ground. You’ll need to consider:

  • Business vision and what tactical movements you’ll need to meet it
  • Day-to-day “help desk” type needs
  • Technical governance for Salesforce and other technologies

How Silverline can help

Once you build your core capabilities of your Center of Excellence, you may still need help to address the gaps you identified in step two. That’s where Silverline Managed Services comes into play. We can address bigger, thornier challenges that help you form an essential part of the Center of Excellence. Consider us your pit crew.

We work collaboratively to deliver Silverline’s know-how and best practices for an efficient Salesforce solution technology governance and agile program management to drive velocity, specialization, and stabilization that completes your Center of Excellence team. We offer flexible services that allow you to engage on an as-needed basis and adjust based on your business needs.

Are you ready to race? We’d love to get started.

Ready to see real results? We can help.

Get in Touch

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