As the heat kicks up on the 2016 Presidential Race, one of the main themes across all campaigns is Leadership. Without a doubt, anyone in that role should possess a variety of important skills – but leadership is by far the most critical. But, what exactly does electing the next POTUS have to do with CRM implementation, you ask? While the circumstances address two totally different goals (one being overarching humanity, the later being of corporate sustainability) the nature of both roles carry a great importance in each case.
Salesforce is a huge investment, which is why it should be led by someone who understands the needs of the business balanced with the needs of the users it serves. Otherwise, you run the risk of a failed implementation. Yet, just like the presidential role, each leader needs to be surrounded by a team that not only supports his/her decisions but that also has the competency to execute directives from the top.
Assembling the right Salesforce implementation leadership team
Those who should be involved in the implementation depends largely on which Salesforce products the company plans to adopt as well as the goals of the business. For most, this is often a challenging exercise, especially in organizations with scarce resources and limited CRM implementation experience. But in general, it makes sense to have several active participants on the project team.
Start at the top
As with any major IT or business systems deployment, it’s vital to get support from the company’s senior management. Without their support, the project will most likely suffer and not live up to its potential. These senior executives can help broadcast the vision and reaffirm the company’s commitment to Salesforce and the objectives.
It’s important to note that while senior management probably won’t be directly involved in the details or the execution of the implementation project, they can provide strategic advice to the team should there be a point of impasse. In smaller organizations, the CEO, President, COO, or another senior executive will most likely weigh in on key decisions. At larger organizations, a representative of senior management or steering committee can oversee many aspects of the project.
Get the Geek. The CIO, VP of IT or IT Director can help ensure that there’s continuous alignment between technology (data conversion, system integration, system administration) and business (user training and troubleshooting). This role is essential if you want to achieve a successful Salesforce implementation and worry-free operating environment.
Acquire the Analyst. Accounts, contacts, activities, opportunities, campaigns, incidents, cases, tickets – and more.The accumulation of these transactions provides an outstanding opportunity for data aggregation, mining, manipulation and analysis. Business analysts can assist the project team to ensure that the right data is being captured, and captured in a way that it can be extracted and put into the hands of decision makers.
Make Friends with Finance. Someone from finance can help guide decisions about costs of licensing, subscriptions and support and also contribute to discussions about return on investment metrics. A financial or accounting resource should also be involved in managing and reporting project budget performance, variances and projections.
Support your Soldiers. It’s imperative that business heads in the customer facing areas that will be most affected by the new technology processes be an active and vocal part of the planning, implementation and even on-going training processes. These executives can identify optimal business processes, unveil key activities to automate and even determine types of data the organization should capture.
Enlist an Expert. In some cases it makes sense to hire a third party consultant who can provide leadership, experience and advice. Hands-on consultants can increase the success of your Salesforce implementation, including business process mapping, configuration alternatives, system integration strategies, recommendations for application optimization, advice on security strategies and suggestions for methods to capture, extract, transfer and analyze data.
The Great Communicator. With various departmental leaders being represented from across the organization, it’s important to remember that good communication is key to keeping a Salesforce implementation on track. Companies should designate a project manager to keep the entire team as well as the senior heads at large briefed throughout the course of the project. Salesforce implementations are less likely to fail when strong communication, collaboration and commitment is shared among participating parties.
Who should be in charge?
Leadership begins with the right team supplemented with the right communication. It’s the basis for unison as you work toward a common goal. We recommend, if the resources are available, to have a project manager assigned from both the third party side as well as internally. Internally, the project manager will oversee the strategy and delivery of the project, making sure everyone is up to date and that the right information is provided to the consultant. The consultant will then lead the charge from planning to training ensuring that the Salesforce implementation meets the needs of the organization and delivers on the promised benefits.