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February 27, 2018
Bumping up your CRM capabilities? Here’s how to handle COE growing pains
By: Matthew Johnson
Achieve greater CRM value

Many smart companies have built Centers of Excellence (CoEs) to help them be more strategic about their Customer Relationship Management (CRM). I see a lot of these CoEs thrive in the beginning, but tackling scale and added complexity as they grow trips up quite a few. When companies add or deepen capabilities within their CRM suite, they may run into issues with the very scale and complexity they thought they had mastered. Growing pains are natural.

Moving up the CRM value curve requires new partners in the ecosystem. As you add specialized solutions to your capability stack, it’s all too easy for your well-run CoE to experience more than a few hiccups. Usually, they occur in three main areas: governance, architecture management and delivery.

Want to gain more value from your #CRM? Address these 3 main areas to reduce operational & process hiccups.



When adding applications, it’s important that they are managed appropriately. That means governance from Day One. Decisions regarding if and how to use new applications should be managed within your existing governance structure and approach.

That approach is the strategic option but I can hear some of you already: “These applications sometime just pop up. They catch us unawares.” I see that often. But you must bring them into the fold rapidly so they can be fully integrated into your solution architecture. If they are supporting CRM, they need to be part of your CRM CoE. We’ve all seen situations where your platform undergoes an upgrade but an under-the-radar bolt-on app is not included because it’s shadow IT. And then you’re getting frantic calls from business owners because the bolt-on is no longer compliant and doesn’t work.

To minimize those types of inefficiencies and avoid architecture conflicts, your company’s CoE needs to have proactive, enforced policies around governance and architecture of any software.


A key piece of the decision making around architecture is business-related. While you’re considering the technical implications (if Architecture is iterative simply because of how rapidly today’s businesses are growing. CRM capabilities will continue to change and your architecture needs to reflect those changes in the smartest, most efficient way possible. Ask questions before taking action, like: If we add an app, does that mean something else needs to be sun-setted, etc.), you also have to think of the business implications? Will there be integrations and how does the impact business operations? Does having a new app sit on the platform make sense not only for our architecture but for the business?


Delivery standards are so essential. Having a delivery standards protocol helps avoid so many headaches.

One of the major instances where delivery standards can help is when a specialized app requires specialized skills. Protocol will make you ask yourself the right questions: Do we understand how to configure and maintain this app properly? Do those skills exist in-house or do we need to outsource them? Asking the right questions as you configure, implement and maintain specialized apps, ensures they fit in with the rest of your delivery standards.

Taking a bit of time up front, before software multiplies within your company systems, will save you loads of time on the back-end. CoEs thrive with long-term, evergreen operational requirements. Something that is a 1-time decision (or audit) might often be a poor example to bring into a CoE on your own. Bringing in an ecosystem partner with specialized skills and proven expertise will not only provide the right balance and be more cost effective, they will also help ensure your program continues to move up the CRM value curve.

As your CRM program matures and gains complexity, so will your CoE management principles. That’s not a bad thing, if you can handle the growing pains correctly. The value reaped in the end will be well worth it.

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