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February 13, 2017
How a Center of Excellence can help you achieve next level CRM
By: Matthew Johnson
How a center of excellence can help you achieve next level CRM

What does your CRM program look like today? What did it look like a few years ago? How do you think it will look a few years down the line? The answers to all of these questions should be different.

Just like anything else in life, a CRM program needs to evolve and mature over time, getting smarter, bigger and overall more valuable. But how do you make sure this evolution happens and that your program grows the right way? In other words, how do you "parent" your CRM program? The answer lies in a dedicated Center of Excellence (CoE).

Breaking Down the Need for a Center of Excellence

Although it's a term that gets thrown around quite a lot, it's important to be clear on what exactly we mean when we refer to a CoE. A CoE should include representatives from both the business and IT who are responsible for overseeing the CRM program (or whatever program they preside over) and making decisions about things like strategy, governance, application selection and capability delivery.

Overall, a CoE should manage stakeholder requirements, ensure visibility and alignment across the program and maintain a clear and focused strategy, among many other responsibilities that provide both insight and oversight. As a result, a CoE is a critical component in moving your CRM program to the next level of maturity and expanding the value it provides.

Center of Excellence in Action: Achieving Next Level CRM with a Dedicated CoE

I recently worked with one life sciences organization that epitomizes just how much a CoE matters when moving your CRM program to the next level. This organization built its CRM program around the Salesforce ecosystem and recently found its environment getting increasingly complex as the program expanded.

Recognizing the Need for a CoE

The organization reached the point of maturity where it had multiple orgs, several business units with different needs using the system and a growing number of AppExchange and ecosystem products integrated into the program, such as Veeva and social applications.

On the one hand, this complication was a good sign – it meant the organization was moving its CRM program to the next level by adding capabilities to the stack and making everything work together, which is exactly what increases the program's value. But on the other hand, this type of complication leads to the glaring question of "who's minding the store?" The answer to this question needs to be a CoE.

As this organization found out, moving your CRM program to the next level often includes both vertical expansions (e.g. adding orgs and applications) and horizontal expansions (e.g. adding business units and functions), and managing this scale requires a CoE. That's because at a certain point, your program will scale so much that replicating capabilities no longer becomes possible. The only solution is introducing a CoE to centralize program management and provide economies of scale and mature, aligned governance.

Developing a CoE

Having already developed a CoE for one of its other technology stacks, the organization was familiar with the benefits that having this type of centralized, strategic body in place can provide. For example, the CoE it built previously helped drive out inefficiencies and increase adoption, both of which it hoped to achieve this time around with its CRM program. The organization also recognized the need to develop a more formal and structured approach to governing processes, resources and automation, and it knew that a CoE could deliver.

Based on this understanding and the key drivers of improving the CRM program value and creating economies of scale, the organization's CRM stakeholders began to plan its new CoE with help from the Accenture team. To develop this plan, we asked questions like: What structures, processes and resources do we need? And what approach should we take to governance?

Reaping the Benefits of a CoE

The newly formed CoE did indeed deliver several benefits to the organization. For example, by centralizing governance, the CoE allowed the organization to share best practices and successes across the organization rather than each group having to go it alone. This formal collaboration spread the program benefits across the organization and helped fulfill the two main drivers of improving the value the CRM program delivers to the business and achieving economies of scale.

In terms of value, the CoE's formal collaboration allowed the business to get better results and get those results faster, which in turn helped increase adoption. This increased adoption was critical to helping the organization move its program to the next level, as adoption is not just something you can push once and walk away. In order to continue to move your CRM program to the next level, you need to constantly revisit and grow adoption so that people follow best practices, take standard approaches to processes and view the CRM tools as essential elements to doing their jobs, not burdens that slow them down. The newly formed CoE helped the organization achieve this more mature level of adoption by continuing to introduce new capabilities, doing so in a strategic way across the entire organization and increasing the speed of delivery so benefits are realized faster.

The CoE also proved effective in delivering economies of scale to the organization. Specifically, by centralizing program governance and decision-making and encouraging the sharing of best practices across different groups, the CoE made it possible for the organization to scale its program cost effectively rather than replicating efforts, money and resources within each business unit.

How Will a CoE Take Your CRM Program to the Next Level?

I like to share this story because it provides a clear picture of exactly how much of an impact a CoE can make. Although a CoE might just seem like a small thing, it can actually be a key factor in whether or not your CRM program moves to the next level or remains stagnant. And the same goes for any other cloud program for that matter.

So how will a CoE help your organization move its CRM and other cloud programs forward? It's time you find out.

Navigating Your Cloud Program with a Cloud Applications Center of Excellence. This opens a new window.

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