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The Architect’s Role in a CRM Transformation

There are many companies out there investing vast amounts into Salesforce, expecting a positive transformation for their business. The only downside is choosing to do it without a Salesforce Architect’s guidance. The results – long delays while decisions are revisited, and increased costs associated with re-working solutions, when the project starts up again. 

It ends up being a source of frustration – a waste of money and energy across your organization. 

The purpose of this article is to help you make a well-informed decision about how an Architect’s work can empower your CRM transformation. 

WHAT IS CRM?  

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems help you manage customer data by gathering customer interactions across all channels, in one place. Managing centralized data, in turn, helps you improve customer experience, satisfaction, and service.

CRMs are mainly designed for sales, marketing, and service. They also support sales management, deliver actionable insights, integrate with social media, and facilitate team communication. Cloud-based CRM systems also offer complete mobility and access to an ecosystem of apps. 

In a nutshell, the purpose of any CRM is to facilitate you to drive growth and profits in a time-effective way, by successfully managing your business. With a CRM system in place, you have access to every question, service request, preference, and past contact details of every customer instantly available. A CRM permits you to have customised, relevant, and up-to-date interactions with your clients.

If you are missing the importance of this software, we want to remind you that a Customer Relationship Management system makes diving into online an easy task by creating the proper infrastructure for your business. Why is this important? Just think about the latest pandemic and how the online companies took less of a hit, because they didn’t rely on their brick-and-mortar stores. Consider, in addition, how easy it can be to manage your business when you have everything on an automated management software. 

WHAT IS CRM TRANSFORMATION?

A CRM transformation journey is more than processes. It touches every aspect of your business, from people to operations. Everything is taken into consideration when you are transforming.

Any successful transformation requires a transformational vision, good strategy backed by a customer-first philosophy, flexible and focused processes, and consideration of the nature of your value streams. 

To achieve the desired outcome, it’s essential to work with an experienced and certified Architect. Why? Because an Architect is a long-term thinker, working with you to learn about the company, markets, competition, and any challenges your company is facing. They analyze your business goals, plans, and values, establishing a strong understanding of your business. 

Salesforce Architect - CRM Transformation
Reference: CIOpages.com – CRM Transformation

WHO IS INVOLVED IN PROJECTS AND WHY

Any Salesforce implementation requires the completion of 3 critical stages: 1. Preparation, 2. Configuring and Optimization, and 3. Driving adoption of Salesforce.

You have to understand that preparation is a crucial stage. It is vital, because this is the phase where you have to communicate with all departments which have a stake in Salesforce. This is also the stage in which you have to set your goals and expectations. 

After doing so, you have to assemble a team to drive the project, and ensure that you adhere to deadlines. Your team does not need to be particularly large, as the same person is able to cover more than one role.

You will need: 

  1. An executive sponsor – someone who has full visibility of the project and is prepared to communicate with the stakeholders. 
  2. A project owner – they must have a tremendous technological understanding. Usually, you can assign this role to your IT manager or CIO.
  3. An administrator – someone who manages Salesforce on a day-to-day basis and sees the project through implementation and beyond.
  4. A product champion – their role is to drive user adoption, by involving the departmental heads and end users from an early stage. 

Why are all of these things required for your Salesforce adoption? Because you need specialized people to do the implementation work and to assure a smooth appropriation of this new technology within the company. You also require people that are capable of communicating with an external Architect properly. Make sure your team can keep the pace, with the Salesforce Expert’s guidance, throughout the implementation process.

WHY DO SALESFORCE PROJECTS GO WRONG (AND HOW CAN THEY GO RIGHT)?

Many companies out there are implementing Salesforce, without a clear strategy or a plan to scale. The results are technical debt and rework, which ultimately results in higher costs and a much longer time to value. 

Undergoing digital transformation and choosing Salesforce for your sales, portal, marketing, social, and service offerings is a beneficial step towards better management of your company. 

We, as experienced Salesforce Architects, are often deployed to projects that meet a dead end. A ‘red’ project is something you can avoid, if you come with the right plan in mind and involve the right people.

Do consider: whether your project is new or ongoing – it is essential to maintain a constant relationship with your Architect, as their expertise will be needed even after the implementation. Salesforce is a continually-evolving platform. You need to keep up with the new technology if you want a smooth continuity of your project. 

Many companies were hindered in their plans, as they thought they didn’t need an Architect post-implementation. Well, if you have the same mindset – whenever there’s a big update on the platform, you won’t be able to take advantage of it. Surprise! You don’t know about it, but maybe your competition does… so you’re losing ground! 

We’re not trying to convince you to throw your money in the Salesforce Architects’ direction. You should, however, see the costs of an Architect as a long-term investment in your company… a good Architect can be the kick-start your business needs to ramp-up in the market. 

Enough with the bad news… it’s time to give you some actionable steps for increasing the success rate of your implementation:

  1. Find an Architect – We will discuss more about their role and importance in the following section – also, some tips when hiring. 
  2. Define your vision of success – What is your prime criteria for success?
  3. Match technical skills with business needs – Every Architect wants to be sure they have the right set of skills to meet the customer’s needs. 
  4. Plan and communicate – Always keep a close relationship with your Architect. Make sure he/she knows your vision and values.

Yes, it’s that simple! 

ARCHITECTS – THE SALESFORCE CAVALRY

Architects are certified experts at the top of the Salesforce hierarchy. Their job is to guide you through the process of implementation, while understanding your vision and culture. Their goals are to build up a strong relationship with you, empower your business, and help you achieve your desired transformation. They strategize and employ their expertise to help you create a clear roadmap and move forward with your project. 

You are most likely to find an Architect working on enterprise implementations of Salesforce, where Salesforce forms a large part of the technical landscape and customer experience strategy… but the role is not limited to that enterprise environment alone… Architects get involved in projects where any type of complexity exists. Complexity develops when multiple teams, other workstreams, other systems, stringent security requirements, existing solutions, and cultural changes are involved – including where:

  • Salesforce will be supporting significant organizational change programmes 
  • There is significant integration between multiple systems
  • There are enormous volumes of data in play (>10m records per object)
  • An org becomes out of control due to ineffective governance
  • There’s been a high turnover of staff taking care of Salesforce 
  • Mergers and acquisitions mean that previously-used CRMs may be retired and integrated into Salesforce, or Salesforce is being retired in favour of another CRM solution
  • Org merges are required (two Salesforce instances are combined into one)
  • Projects involve remote development teams
  • Retirement of previously used AppExchange packages that have become entangled in other configuration, and code added since they were installed

WHY DO YOU NEED ARCHITECTS FOR CRM TRANSFORMATION?

  • Architects reduce risks

Salesforce is great because it’s a very customisable environment… but this can be a downside, because the platform’s flexibility means that it is also extremely complicated. The constant updates of the platform are one of the reasons why Architects are starting to get specialised in various types of Salesforce projects. If, at the beginning of Salesforce, an Architect had the option to choose from a wide variety of projects, they now need to choose a career path. Also, constant updates are synonymous with a further need for specialisation. 

An Architect sees their role as a combination of skills and mindset, so they ask questions and raise challenges, to encourage lateral thinking. It’s easy to examine a requirement – say ‘that’s a checkbox field’, then go and build it. Architects encourage lateral thinking by asking simple questions, like:

“Why is it a checkbox? Who should tick it? Will people tick it? What decisions will be made from reports that include this checkbox? What other systems need to see that this box has been ticked? Is this data so sensitive that it needs double the security cover when in transit?”

Their job is to make sure the solution is optimised, as they are accountable (or should be) for their actions.

  • Recommendations, not options

An Architect gives recommended solutions within the business constraints. Companies which use a Salesforce Architect benefit from the vast experience they bring, coupled with the business acumen required to ensure that solutions remain relevant, performant, and secure year after year. Projects also have more relevant requirements, when there’s a good understanding of technical and business architecture, coupled with empathy.

  • A smoother project

Having an Architect, sitting independently, can make consultancy relationships more productive. How? By making sure you’ve considered everything about your CRM transformation – setting design standards that align with the vision, and ensuring solutions are thoroughly tested and released at the right time.

SUMMARY

When hiring someone for an Architect role, be sure they understand your vision, and that they come with a leadership mindset. The Architect must be able to articulate proper recommendations, while also inspiring your team. Yes, it can be expensive, and that’s why you must be sure of their capabilities when handling your project. 

You should look at the price as an investment in your own company. Think about the trust you gain with your stakeholders because you made a wise, well-informed decision under an Architect’s guidance. Last, but not least, think about how much he/she can empower your company’s direction, with the right advice at the right time. 

Say no to red projects, book a discovery session now, and let us take you on a journey to your CRM transformation.

 

About the author

Gemma Blezard

CEO and Salesforce MVP

Gemma is founder and CEO of The Architech Club and a great inspiration to anyone dealing with life’s challenges. Gemma is also co-founder of Ladies Be Architects and an Award-winning advocate for diversity.
She is in demand as a conference speaker at Dreamforce, World Tour and Community events. She is open about being a Breast cancer survivor, and somehow balances being a mother, Salesforce MVP, 18 x Salesforce Certified (so far) and now an entrepreneur.

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