Understand the Value of Governance

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Explain the business value of governance.
  • Explain how a governance framework improves end user adoption and satisfaction.

What Is Governance?

Let’s do a quick word association. When you read the word governance, what is the first thing that pops into your mind? Some people might think about government—congress, city councils, and elections. An MBA student right in the middle of their coursework would probably think about corporate governance structures. If you’re an IT professional, you probably think of software systems. All of these rely on good governance. At its most basic level, governance is a framework for how organizations operate and make decisions. From your neighborhood homeowner’s association to developing complex software applications, governance is all about the people and processes necessary to manage the organization and achieve good outcomes.

In this module, we focus specifically on basic governance for modern technology teams. This is nothing new—governance frameworks for IT organizations have been in place since the days of mainframes and disco. What is new though is the increased importance of good governance in today’s technology landscape. This can come as a surprise to you. After all, the speed and simplicity of modern cloud computing platforms have convinced many people that a governance framework will slow them down and bury them in a pit of bureaucratic quicksand. 

Not true! At Salesforce, we’ve worked with organizations of all sizes in just about every industry  to help them meet the challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Through the lens of this experience, one learning in particular is relevant to this module: All technology organizations should have a governance framework in place no matter their size.  We will introduce you to something we’ve developed over the years called the Salesforce lean governance framework - a powerful yet lightweight and flexible approach to managing your technology investments.

Why Is Governance Important for Technology Organizations?

While there are vast differences between governing a city and governing a Salesforce implementation, technology organizations and systems need governance for much the same reasons cities have it. Let’s consider a few examples.

  • Compliance: Just about every company has security or regulatory requirements it must follow. A proper governance framework ensures that your technology systems comply with these rules around system access, security, and data privacy.
  • Risk assessment: Evaluating and managing risk is another powerful benefit to good governance. Companies are becoming more dependent on technology for their most important work, and exposure to inappropriate risks can devastate business.
  • Cost efficiencies: Organizations with a governance framework focus on the things that produce the most value. With clear priorities and standardized processes in place, technology teams maximize their limited resources and can actually see significant cost savings as a result.
  • Velocity: Technology moves at a breakneck pace. Many customers find this pace hard to keep up with. How do you and your company decide which cool new features or applications to invest in and implement? With a good governance framework in place, everyone agrees on the prioritization of new initiatives so that you can focus on the right things and quickly adapt as their business changes.

These are all great outcomes of a good governance, and we’ve just scratched the surface. Yet we see so many customers of all sizes lacking any sort of framework. For many reasons, companies believe that it’s not necessary. This is outdated and risky thinking, though, and we explain why next.

A World Without Governance

We just described a few of the most compelling reasons for implementing a governance framework for any technology organization or system. But what about the flip side? What are some of the negative impacts when teams lack governance? Our Success Cloud experts hear from customers all the time about some of the challenges they face. Upon investigation, the root cause of many of these challenges is a fundamental lack of governance. Without a framework for making decisions, entropy increases and the desired outcomes suffer. Let’s explore some of our most common findings and see how a lean governance framework can eliminate these frustrations.

No Vision

All major technology projects should have a clearly defined vision statement. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. Why did your company purchase a Salesforce solution in the first place? This should be an easy answer for anyone affected by the project. In reality, many end users or people on the project team don’t know why or how Salesforce became the solution. And this leads to bad decisions and unhappy users. Later on we show you how to get started with a lean governance framework—it all starts with a clearly defined vision and strategy in business terms.  

Lack of Alignment

Implementing and maintaining technology systems can involve many different teams. Executives, project managers, and end users are all critical participants for success. It’s a recipe for disaster when these different groups are not in agreement on the goals and deliverables of the project. Here’s a hypothetical example. 

Ursa Major Solar, Inc., is Southwest-based supplier of solar components and systems. Competitively priced solar components are its bread-and-butter, but turnkey solar solutions are the fastest growing (and most profitable) part of its business. The company’s vision is to increase profitability over the next few years. Roberto Alvarez, its COO, believes that the best way to increase profitability is to increase the efficiency of its operations (he’s an operations person after all). But Sita Nagappan-Alvarez, the CEO, feels that Ursa Major should be focusing more on the turnkey solutions since it’s the company’s most profitable product line.

Ursa Major’s implementation went poorly because of these misaligned leaders. While Roberto was adamant that everything should be automated, turnkey systems are extremely complex, and the implementation team struggled to implement a fully automated quoting tool that met both their goals and budget. Upon release, the sales teams found system performance unbearable and quickly abandoned Salesforce and instead reverted to having Sales Operations create their quotes.

This is a fictional example, but it closely resembles many real-world situations we have encountered over the years. Without a clearly defined strategy that everyone agreed on at the outset, the end result was a failure. Are you familiar with any real-world struggles like this? Think about one now, and see if you can pinpoint where misalignment led to unsatisfactory results.

Low User Adoption

After implementing a new process or system, it’s imperative to ensure the actual users are, in fact, using the new tool. Let’s face it: Salesforce is an investment. If your users are not logging in and managing their work in your instance, then the return on your investment will be poor. Our Ursa Major example above illustrates this well. Since the company did not involve its field sales users while defining requirements, it didn’t incorporate mobile phone compatibility into the new quoting system. This was a huge missed opportunity because empowering sales teams with the ability to quote a turnkey system from their phone would have been a huge time saver for them and would have likely prevented their abandonment of the system soon after implementation. When developing a new system, it’s always important to ensure everybody (especially end users) understands, “What’s in it for me?”

Drowning in Enhancement Requests

After implementing a new system, user feedback inevitably starts. The customer service director wants a new field on the account. Sales operations is desperate for a new custom report type. And the field service team is urgently requesting a new project management solution. And of course, everyone needs these enhancements yesterday. How do you prioritize these requests? Who makes the decision on which one to do first? Without governance in place, dilemmas like this often result in frustrated business users and frazzled system administrators. In a later unit, we discuss a prioritized business backlog, one of the foundations of a lean governance framework that collects enhancement requests in a transparent way so everyone can see and influence the roadmap.

Ready to Get Started?

By now we have hopefully built a convincing case that you and your organization need a governance framework to be successful. But who should be involved in this journey, and how do you get started? It just so happens that we address these two subjects next.


Foundational Governance Whitepaper—Salesforce Success Community File

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