Foundation of CRM Success Relies on Good Governance and Defined Processes

This is a story of how my team increased CRM adaption in only 6 months by 50%. Significant improvement in Salesforce usage required renewed governance, new ways of working and an inspiring vision. It was possible only by showing top management the status quo and to inspire management with the future vision.

I presented my story in Salesforce and Axenon morning seminar on 3rd of May, 2017. ElastinenRR also took part in to the seminar and talked about inspiring people, showing example and impact of positive energy. I believe, part of the SSAB CRM success was due to a positive attitude and seeing the possibility to improve the status quo.


Background in Salesforce Usage

Ruukki, a Finnish based steel company, took in active use in 2008. Ruukki was acquired by a Swedish based global steel company SSAB in 2014. A roll-out of the CRM system to the former SSAB organization took place during 2015.

Usage and adaption of CRM was on expected levels. Users had been trained and there were no significant development needs. Everything worked well, processes were somewhat agreed on and the majority of the organization and sales management was satisfied with the CRM usage.

Challenge and Reality

CRM was added to my area of responsibility in mid-2016. We made an analysis and sales interviews of the usage and data quality. This included e.g. sales pipeline accuracy, value of sleeping opportunities as well as customer and contact data analysis, and very importantly, an analysis of how sales teams were actually using CRM. This gave a good fact-based background to start discussions and workshops with top sales persons.
The sales management realized that we had a huge unused opportunity to improve adaption, functionality and the whole value of CRM. Understanding the future potential also meant developing a first version of the future CRM vision and revitalizing the role of CRM system in the sales processes.

Everything looked really good on the surface – what was then the problem? Even though systematic trainings were organized, sales organization was using the system, and we had a good technical partner, something was missing. The underlying challenge was with undefined governance and the need to crystallize sales processes.

Kimmo Kanerva: Salesforce event

Kimmo Kanerva talks about CRM governance


New Governance Model

At first we nominated Sales Process Owners to each division, with responsibility for developing sales processes and Salesforce functionality. Also, the role of IT was upgraded from a pure application management to a solution development partner for the business. At the same time we selected Super Users for each country and a team to accelerate usage, to train sales staff and to collect local CRM needs.

Secondly, a new Digital and CRM Steering Group was established to accelerate decision making and further the alignment of sales targets. The aim was to further improve customer experience by taking also other digital development initiatives like customer care and customer self-services to the same Steering Group. At the same time, formal Operational and Development Meetings were established.

Alignment and Development of Sales Processes with CRM usage

I believe the alignment of sales processes with the CRM usage is the most crucial factor for successful adaption of the system. Over the years, sales process descriptions had been developed and used at Ruukki. Due to the merger, they became suddenly somewhat outdated or forgotten. Even though users were trained to use the system, sales processes lacked behind the usage. In theory, everyone should have been capable of using the system, but in reality it was not clear what was expected from the users.
The first thing we did was to agree on a common terminology for CRM. For example, what was meant by a lead or at what stage it should become an opportunity? Secondly, we started sales process crystallization and alignment. This meant defining clear rules of what was expected from each sales person, how to use the system and what was the expected value when using Salesforce.

Data Quality

There were typical challenges with usability and data quality. Over the years a lot of new data fields and features had been implemented. Also, contact and account level of information had been accumulated through the merger.
It was time to start a clean-up of the data and to crystalize processes around the data. This started gradually to improve the usability of CRM.

Salesforce Roadmap

After collecting feedback from the field and sales management, it was easy to start drafting a version of future development roadmap. Soon, there were over 80 development items in the pipeline. This further opened up eyes to the need to boost up development activities. This roadmap included usability improvements, integrations, and data and analytics developments.


I believe it is important to understand that even if everything seems to be ok, there is always room for improvement. When you challenge yourself, engage the whole organization and think about new ways of working, you can achieve remarkable results.

You can read more about digital governance and digitalization myths from my earlier blog post from here.


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