Stakeholder Alignment is Key to Salesforce Success

Why is alignment so important?

  • In many organizations, business and IT are working in isolation
    • Business leaders may define their requirements, then throw them “over the wall” to IT
    • IT implements the requirement, only to be told it wasn’t the solution the business needed
    • Perfect example of lack of alignment
  • For successful programs using Salesforce technology, path to ROI is secured with a real partnership across all business/IT stakeholders working together for a common goal
    • This common goal should be documented in the program vision and strategy document - part of the first principle of COBIT5
    • COBIT5 is a business framework for the governance and management of enterprise IT
  • When programs are not aligned, it delays or destroys ROI

When alignment goes wrong

  • Example: blog post author visited CIO who wanted to understand why project costs were out of control for delivery of a specific application
    • Intent was to automate a paper-based construction defect process
    • They discovered:
      • Previous paper-based system was very complex and associated requirements were not communicated to development team
      • Project budget was entirely owned by IT - no money or resources secured for UAT - business users had different priorities
      • End-users did not see the value or benefits of automating the current process
  • Creating alignment at the start would have resulted in a different outcome for the project

So how can your program achieve alignment from the start?

  • When programs discuss stakeholders, they generally mean the program executive sponsor and senior IT and business leaders
  • But, two other groups need to be included as well:

Middle Management

  • Critical layer in most companies - focused on keeping the “lights on” and keeping things within the annual budget
    • Annual plan normally involves long and complex approval process
    • New, unplanned, mid-year projects are normally ignored
    • If a program is to be successful, IT and business middle management need to be engaged. You should:
      • Explain that you know their challenges
      • Explain how the new program will deliver their agreed commitments
      • Focus on “what’s in it for them
  • Do not proceed to the next step if there is no buy-in from middle management

End Users

  • End Users make or break the implementation
  • Adoption is critical for every persona in the business - no one really loves change to their daily work rituals. You should:
    • Engage with these stakeholders in groups by their planned usage (ie, personas) early in the process
    • Communicate clearly “what’s in it for them
  • If the end users can be engaged early, the program team(s) will understand adoption challenges early
    • If these concerns can be fed into the overall project map early on, then the product will be more likely to be successful overall

One Vision

  • Once all stakeholders have been engaged, drive alignment across all stakeholder groups
    • Accomplish this through a common program vision and strategy
      • Should be created by the program team and approved by all executive stakeholders
      • Should be stated in business terms and include clear business outcomes
      • Should also have a clear set of measurements including project KPIs that have direct linkage to executive stakeholder KPIs
      • Draft should be circulated to all stakeholders to secure their feedback - revise it to incorporate the feedback, securing buy-in
  • An example of how Salesforce drives alignment is via its V2MOM process