Center of Excellence Model for Salesforce

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Center of Excellence Model for Salesforce

Recently,  I  had the opportunity to work with customers that realized they needed to set up a “center of excellence” (COE) and did not know where to start. A center of excellence model for Salesforce can provide a structure and base to help deploy a large global roll-out of the tool and process. You can use a COE for any IT or business initiative, however for the sake of this blog, I will give you some key tips on how to best set up a center of excellence model for Salesforce and its global deployment. And as you may know when it comes to deploying a large complex program globally (such as Salesforce), a robust COE set up the right way, will allow you to deploy the technology with less risks, more adoption and increase your chances of hitting your major milestones. Here are a the key highlights to consider:

Center of Excellence Overview and Purpose

  • A COE helps focus project/program work on the critical corporate goals and objectives for the Salesforce global deployment
  • The COE allows IT and the business to have a ‘seat at the table’ in a shared partnership for deployment and ownership
  • A well run COE manages continuous improvement and cross department collaboration to achieve goals and objectives
  • A COE should provide skilled resources to manage all key elements of a global deployment
  • Establish COE independent of technology
  • COE’s are typically used for large scale transformation programs with a VP level executive sponsorship


Setting Up A COE

Center of Excellence Model for Salesforce

  • Executive sponsorship – I have seen Salesforce deployments that were successful and adoption rocks and have also witnessed the opposite. The majority of the time, when deployments fail or adoption suffers it’s related to executives who are not fully bought into the product or process. Seek executive buy in first!
  • Write a charter or scope statement
    • Purpose: explains why the COE is being created
    • Vision: sets the standards for centers of excellence
    • Goals and Objectives: explains achievements & defines success
    • Methodology: Defines strategies used to achieve excellence
    • Critical Success Factors (can be KPI’s): identifies risks to success
    • Span of control: COE roles, responsibilities, accountability and authority
  • Assemble project and steering teams
  • Hold a “kick off event” with clear timelines and objectives for global alignment

Team Structure

Team structure for starting a center of excellence may vary from company to company, but the essence of a COE is to have teams that are not in the same HR reporting environment to come together to help deliver this one time program.  Ensure all the regions, segments and support organizations (training, comms, legal ect) are brought on-board early in the process and know their roles. Below is a sample of a COE for a global deployment of Salesforce.

Center of Excellence Model for Salesforce

Team Roles

Center of Excellence Model for Salesforce

As you know each person has a role and in order for the center of excellence model for Salesforce to work, clearly defined roles and teams should be identified. The roles within a COE can vary given the overall objectives. Keep in mind that typically if you are building out a COE for a deployment of a large program like Salesforce, sometimes these teams just come together temporarily. The list below is a standard list that you can start from, but remember, this list an vary.

  • Chief Process Officer (PMO Leader)
  • Steering Committee
  • Project Manager
  • Enterprise Architect
  • Business Process Analyst
  • Global Sales/Service Operations
  • Communications Team
  • End User Training
  • Global IT (development, testing, data stewards)
  • Legal
  • Regional Representatives (or country)

Release & Change Management

Ensuring  you have the right release management process in place will be critical. You will need to ensure you have the right structure in place to take on the changes into the system and process globally.  I have a good hybrid model I would recommend that combines both waterfall & agile and will blog in detail how to best execute this strategy in my next blog post soon.  Secondly, a robust change management process should be something to consider and set up. Once you deploy Salesforce globally, your business will want to makes enhancements and changes to the system. How do you best handle these changes to accommodate the needs of your business? This is another separate discussion I will write on soon. Stay tuned!

In summary, as you set up a center of excellence model for Salesforce, make sure you have done your homework and understand the true value of how to start your team. If you decide to move forward without deploying a COE to support the roll-out, the risk of inefficient use of resources, duplication of tasks, lack of adoption and overall risk to the ROI of the program will all exist. Let me know if you have any questions.


Hector Perez Jr



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