Support and Maintenance of Your University’s Salesforce Org: Leading Through Governance

In part one of our Support and Maintenance of Your University’s Salesforce Org blog series, we explored long-term maintenance and success strategies, starting with best practices related to staffing your Salesforce instance.  Now that you know how to place the right people in the right positions based on their skills to succeed, it is also important to ensure that you have implemented a governance model.  When you enact a governance framework, you can improve collaboration, gain organizational buy-in from stakeholders across levels, streamline business processes, and reduce risk.

For example, with a governance model in place, you will ensure that your support agents and technical staff are enabled and guided by the leadership within your university to make the right changes that are approved organization-wide, that comply with regulations, and that are technically sound.

So, what is Salesforce governance?  Simply put, governance is your organization’s approach to ensuring accountability to your organizational technology goals.  Salesforce governance, specifically, includes three major components.

  • Change Management: Managing the change within the project lifecycle or overall organization.
  • Organizational Strategy: Design, structure, and vision for your Salesforce org(s).
  • Technical Governance: Guidelines for development on and management of the Salesforce platform.

Why Does Governance Matter?

In addition to the collaboration improvements, organizational buy-in, business process streamlining, and risk reduction, governance matters because it is a cost-effective method of planning for growth.  Governance allows an organization to focus on enhancements that bring the most value across teams, enabling IT and support staff to maximize impact on available resources; it also considers the long-term, organization-wide impact of new features and functions that are recommended for the Salesforce system.

As discussed previously, your Salesforce instance should be supported by Tier 1-level technical staff members (comprised of support from business units, such as Business Analysts or Super Users), as well as Tier 2-level technical staff members (comprised of Salesforce Administrators and Developers).  To ensure that your governance framework guides and supports your Salesforce support agents, each tier of technical roles should be provided with specific-to-your-institution training at onboarding as well as ongoing.  A thorough enablement plan ensures that each member of your staff has access to the training, resources, and leadership necessary to be successful within their respective roles and that any competency gaps are filled so all end-users have the support they need.

Furthermore, it is important that their day-to-day work is led by an organizational vision driven by the organization’s leadership and guided by the governance framework to ensure success.  Below, we discuss two activities that your university can do to ensure that your Salesforce support agents are working cohesively according to a higher-level vision and framework, to foster improved user adoption and aid change management.

Defining the “Rules of Engagement”

One of the most critical aspects of leading your institution toward success with Salesforce is through defining the “rules of engagement,” or ensuring that end-users and support agents know what to expect by having a clearly defined process that is communicated across all stakeholders.  Thus, we recommend that in addition to including technical concepts in your support agent enablement curriculum (such as how case management works or how to filter a report) that you also include and reinforce the key tenets of your governance and change management framework.  This will ensure that agents are responding to end-user requests based upon the approach and strategy you’ve agreed to as a university so that the right things are being prioritized and staff is working efficiently.

Moreover, these “rules” should be clearly outlined in service level agreements that are well-publicized across campus so that everyone regardless of tier – from end-users to escalation points – know how, when, and where to manage tickets for support and what to expect through that process.

If you haven’t yet defined your “rules of engagement,” we recommend that your governance board or steering committee – or selected stakeholders from across departments if a board hasn’t yet been formed – meet and discuss questions such as:

How do end-users become familiar with the processes to submit support requests?  What is the communication plan?  How quickly can end-users expect a response/support to be provided if they’ve followed the defined process?  How, when, and by whom is documentation created (e.g., for new functionality, for version updates or changes, for process changes)?  What information must be included?

Once questions such as these are asked and established, make sure that all university staff (or system users) are knowledgeable and comfortable with the information and processes.

Implementing a Single Support Ticket Tool

Remember the three parts of governance: change management, organizational strategy, and technical governance.  We know that, especially with Salesforce, which is highly customizable to your business process, change will occur.  People will request new features; new functionality will be released by the Clouds and third-party tools you already use.  To ensure that these changes are consistent with your overall vision, are configured and released according to your technical governance, and are communicated clearly to end-users in a way that fosters buy-in, we recommend implementing a single support ticket tool.  In other words, we recommend that all new feature and support requests are funneled through a streamlined process, so it is easy to review and prioritize changes.

Naturally, Cloud for Good recommends the use of Salesforce Case Management as your single support ticket tool.  Salesforce cases offer a great system to manage requests.  Internal users can quickly and intuitively create support tickets with minimal clicks and without ever leaving Salesforce.

Depending on the size of your institution, it is possible that Tier 1 and Tier 2-level staff utilize a variety of different tools and processes to track and manage support efforts.  We highly recommend that a single tool and process be identified, designed, and implemented across campus as an ideal state, so the support process workflows for each team should be clearly diagrammed to ensure understanding of current and desired states before consolidation into a new process/tool.

A new or shared ticketing system should enable end-users to quickly and easily submit requests for support to encourage adoption across university staff.  Create ticket templates and picklists of common requests and provide a “new request” button where end-users are already working.  One thing to always keep in mind when implementing a single support ticket tool is that support agents should be enabled to manage, track, and escalate tickets all in one place, rather than having to switch between tools to juggle requests.

We highly recommend setting up queues and/or automatic ticket assignments that route support requests to the right person with the right experience and leveraging categorization of ticket types and support agent skills to automate routing and avoid turnover problems.  Providing access to knowledge articles and providing suggested articles based on the respective ticket also helps to speed up resolution and lessen the load on your support staff.

In governance, the focus should always be on empowering your staff to work confidently with self-reliance and supportive technology.  To that end, quality communication goes a long way to bridge the gap between end-users and agents on support tickets.  Tools such as texting and/or chat functionality will encourage students to engage more proactively with support staff so you may consider including them in your overall support ticket process.

Aligning Governance + Vision

When utilized correctly, governance has the ability to unlock your overall vision, clearly outline your goals, and serve as a roadmap paving the way toward smarter decision-making that will benefit the university on a larger scale.  With the right people and plan in place, you will be able to better prioritize the backlog of recommended enhancements based on what supports the ultimate vision, ensure that Tier 1 and 2 staff are working efficiently to support and communicate change with end-users, and manage change to strengthen user adoption.

Your investment in Salesforce is too valuable to be left up to chance; establish governance within your university and protect that investment according to your unique vision.

In our upcoming final installment of the Support and Maintenance of Your University’s Salesforce Org blog series, we’ll shine a spotlight on the keys to success from the point of view of one of Cloud for Good’s very own clients.  Stay tuned!

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