What is a Center of Excellence and Why do I want one?

Recently (Southeast Dreamin’ & World Tour London) I spoke about moving from being a Solo Admin to creating a Center (or Centre) of Excellence (CoE).  The talk I did at Southeast Dreamin’ was a little different content wise from what I had spoken about at World Tour.  I’ve also summarized a fair amount of the important points in this post.  Now that you have a good background on how to quantify and qualify your time as well as ask for assistance, I am going to move into the next part of this topic.

What is a Center of Excellence?

A Center of Excellence leverages People, Processes, Knowledge and Technology to drive business value, encourage collaboration, socialize best practices and promote standards across the business.

This sounds fairly easy and straightforward, right?  Not really.  The devil is always in the details and in trying to figure out how to effectively leverage people, processes, knowledge and technology to drive business value.  It’s one of those sentences that sounds great on paper (or online) but means very little without some best practices to guide you through the creation process.

Core Pillars

Ok, well core pillars now sounds really official!  It sounds like we’re getting somewhere now, so let’s define the 5 Core Pillars that comprise a CoE.


Governance:  This is the processes that ensures the effective and efficient use of IT in enabling an organization to achieve its goals.

Business Management: Empowering the business to know what to deliver, why it is important and the value to the business.

Change Management: The process to manage enhancements, timely delivery to market, prioritization and utilization of resources

Release Management: Ensuring the highest quality with structured processes and methodology.

Support Management: The ability to provide Subject Matter Expertise, responsiveness and education.

Now that you know what the Core Pillars are, why do you want to build a CoE?

Here are some reasons why building a CoE is the right thing to do to manage Salesforce effectively for your business.

  • Salesforce is unique and encompasses competing stakeholders within Sales, Marketing, Service across one or more businesses and/or regions
  • Delivering a quicker time to market with utilizing out of the box and easily configured features but discipline and process is essential
  • Managing the rapid change of pace as Salesforce has thrice annually releases in addition to ever changing business needs
  • Justifying license model and reacting to data management challenges by ensuring adoption is high, data is clean and trusted by the business to justify investment
  • Acting on complex org decisions such as single or multi org strategies due to organic growth or growth by acquisition in a firm.

In the next post, I will detail each of these pillars out more and with additional details.

Project Pitfalls: Fear of Going Live

Doubt & Fear

As I was talking to my mentor, she suggested a great idea to start blogging about some project pitfalls that I’ve
encountered.  As a project manager at Cloud Sherpas, I would like to say I have seen everything, but clients continue to amaze me with each and every new project I lead!  One of my favorite project scenarios is the one that I decided to begin this series with, Fear of Going Live.

Fear of Going Live, FoGL for short, is a condition that makes mature organizations become frightful of deploying their initial Salesforce solution.  Before anyone starts to panic, FoGL is not contagious or terminal!  There are proven non-drug therapies to treat and cure if it is caught early enough! Treatment can save an organization a considerable amount of money, time, headaches, and heart aches upon initial implementation.  I am going to quickly break down the symptoms of FoGL and then I will list out the treatment.  These are proven methods that have been tested and put through special clinical trials.  So basically, trust me!

Symptoms of FoGL:

If you’ve experienced FoGL in any way, some of these may sound familiar to you..

  • Requesting project extensions to elongate the QA or UAT test cycles
  • Bringing a significant amount of additional people into testing to ensure that absolutely NO DETAIL has been missed (this is usually seen when the client is doing a “lift & shift” from an old system to Salesforce – more to come on the perils of the lift & shift)
  • Not trusting earlier requirements/user stories and continuously raising defects that are essentially, new requirements
  • Believing that everything needs to absolutely perfect for go live because users will not user the system as they will not trust it
  • Not understanding that a Salesforce implementation should be an evolution out of basic requirements with room to scale

Causes of FoGL:

  • Lack of Change Management efforts, including change agents/champions and a proper communication plan
  • Not reviewing As Is processes to align with new To Be processes within Salesforce (retiring legacy processes)
  • Not bringing key business participation into the project early on so that the following occurs:
    • Poorly documented user stories without key business participation
    • Lack of input from key process owners
    • Validation of requirements and acceptance criteria from the business
    • Lift & Shift Syndrome

When helping clients or your own organization implement Salesforce, whether it’s Sales cloud or Service cloud, be aware of signs of FoGL.  Making sure that due diligence is performed from the beginning to ensure all requirements have been captured into actionable user stories that align with new To Be processes to achieve business objectives are key.  Do your part to stop FoGL and ensure a successful implementation.

Happy Go Lives make the Best Go Lives! (cheesy.. I know! )