Who Should Own Salesforce?
I’ve seen this story play out a number of times in the last 10 years at many different companies. See if this sounds familiar:
A few years ago, your Sales leadership had the bright idea to buy Salesforce. Over time, functionality within the platform grew, users adopted and committed to using it regularly, and your management team realized a substantial revenue increase as a result of gained visibility into your selling data. It’s an awesome time, and everyone is riding high on the increased success. Other organizations in your company start to see this success and soon your marketing, operations, and customer support teams are all on the platform. Again, after the initial pushes, each of these organizations starts to see increases in efficiency and realize cost savings and increases in revenue.
After those magical first couple of years, the implementation teams have moved on to the next client, development slows, and the honeymoon is over. Everyone has an appetite for new functionality but, because the Sales still owns the application in her cost center, she has the final say on where development resources are used. And wouldn’t you know it — Sales always gets the new toys while everyone else is left in the dark. The Sales leadership gives you the old “but we bring in all of the money” argument and that’s that.
So, now that your Salesforce platform has graduated to an enterprise level tool and not just a shiny new toy for Sales, you might be wondering… who in your company should own it? I’m glad you asked!
The IT Crowd
One of the most obvious answers is your company’s IT organization. After all, they own and maintain most of your other business applications. Furthermore, they are a team of technical experts who have managed and delivered many technical projects. Now that your Salesforce environment has become a pretty complex puzzle of code, integrations, and complex automated business processes, your IT team is a great choice.
Furthermore, your IT team already has important knowledge related to information security to keep your data safe, complex business architecture to keep your business applications and data centers from colliding, and has worked closely for years with the Project Management Organization to impartially prioritize support work and future development based on importance, level of effort, cost, and potential return on investment. They will ensure that everyone’s important projects are completed and help to settle disputes about timing and logistics of project delivery between multiple different stakeholder organizations.
While IT can be a great choice, there are historically some shortcomings with their ownership. One of the biggest shortcomings is that many IT leaders just don’t know that much about Salesforce. They have a LOT of other stuff to deal with including ongoing support and development of infrastructure, hardware, and software applications of many different technologies. Salesforce is a beast of a platform in its own right and needs some serious attention to stay healthy.
To address this issue, we turn to a dedicated Salesforce Center of Excellence. A Salesforce COE generally comprises both technical and functional Salesforce specialists. It might have a dedicated Project Manager, Business Analysts, and Developers or just multi-functional Salesforce Certified Administrators. Either way, this team is dedicated to the health and continuous improvement of your company’s Salesforce platform. They have very few other distractions that don’t have something to do with the growth and continued health of the platform and it’s integrated business applications.
Furthermore, since a lot of people kind of “luck into” a Salesforce career, the team usually has people from a wide variety of backgrounds: technical, functional, and business-side. This means that your Salesforce team should be able to interface well with everyone from IT, PMO, and business stakeholders to get your projects done.
Third-Party Salesforce Managed Services
I will start this with a full disclosure: my firm, Bryto Consulting, offers Salesforce Managed Services. We got into this because we genuinely believe in the service and have brought a lot of value to our customers. There are a lot of businesses that either don’t really need a full time Salesforce resource or can’t afford to hire one. A dedicated Salesforce expert can be well over $100,000 per year, plus benefits. Even more expensive can be letting your Sales Ops Analyst go in and try to “figure it out”. Beginners with System Admin privileges can make messes very quickly. Another scenario is that you have one dedicated Salesforce person and they just can’t possibly do it all. They get pulled every which way and have trouble keeping up.
Using a Managed Services provider for your platform means that you can scale up and down the work as you need it. You aren’t paying someone full time to sit around when times are slow, and you can always get more help when things get especially busy. There are many ways to package this — some might have you pay a flat monthly fee for a set number of hours, others will allow you to buy a “bucket of hours” that you can use as you need them. Either way, it’s a good opportunity to keep your team lean and get optimum value for your investment.
Another value of working with a Managed Services provider is that not only will the resource dedicated to your company be a Salesforce expert, but they will also be backed by the expertise and experience of everyone in their whole company. Lastly, not only do Salesforce Consultants have knowledge of industry best practices, they also know what your peers are doing with Salesforce to help you stay current and get the most out of your investment.
Is your company stuck with the question of “Who should own Salesforce?” I’d love to hear about it in the comments! What are you doing to resolve it?