In large organizations, how do you efficiently manage projects and effectively communicate at scale to achieve desired outcomes? How are large goals accomplished when there are several stakeholders and owners with different areas of responsibility?

These two questions are familiar ones that face many companies. While there are a variety of disparate project management tools one may use to address this challenge (including meetings, email, Microsoft Project, scheduled reports, and self-service reporting) the most effective management productivity tools incorporate the best aspects of each.

This whitepaper discusses the challenges facing marketers and program managers tasked with the responsibility of driving and reporting on outcomes cross functionally within an organization. Using a hypothetical customer event, a solution to those challenges is discussed, planned and executed, illustrating how a marketing initiative may be managed from beginning to end with the use of Salesforce dashboards.

Effective Program Management with Salesforce

Suppose there is a fictional employee of a company called SuccessCo named Debra . She has been tasked with organizing a dinner for the international company’s top 100 customers. These customers are global and Debra does not interact with them directly. SuccessCo’s customer service managers, who are located all over the globe and responsible for maintaining consistent contact with SuccessCo’s customers. How does Debra ensure that by the time SuccessCo’s dinner is scheduled to occur in 3 months that she will have the 100 RSVPs?

Clearly, Debra will have to work with dozens of customer service managers to manage the invite list and obtain attendance confirmations. What challenges might she encounter?

Let’s apply some of the commonly known project management tools to this hypothetical dinner to anticipate the challenges.

Management through a single meeting of all far-flung customer service managers will be impractical given all the different time zones. Breaking up the task of obtaining 100 RSVPs into smaller, more localized geographies is one way to tackle the time zone problem.

Debra can hold video conferencing meetings with groups of customer service managers in similar time zones: the daunting global task seems far more manageable when just 10 RSVPs are needed 10 times over.

But what if some customer service managers miss the meetings? Do all the customer service managers even speak the same language as Debra? Even if everyone cooperated, is it really efficient for Debra to have to pursue 10 parallel tracks?

Already, we begin to see how this approach does not scale.

Email as a tool allows meetings to scale by having one-on-one meetings that can occur at everyone’s convenience, but again, the risks here are attendance or non-responsiveness and language barriers.

Spreadsheets and reports could certainly help to standardize the content of the meetings and updates; but what if Debra relied on everyone to update a shared spreadsheet or reporting interface?

While that would certainly help accomplish the task, shifting priorities and different reporting hierarchies may not result in the desired cooperation, as individuals may forget to update the spreadsheet or experience technical difficulties using a Web-based reporting interface.

In this global coordination puzzle, one begins to see how compliance with the program’s objectives amongst team members is the primary, intangible risk that is often overlooked.

Therefore, the key piece of information in this project is not the number of confirmed dinner attendees, but the level of compliance by customer service managers around the globe.

Enabling Program Management

With the powerful insight from the previous section, the second most important question is: How to measure compliance?

Before answering this question outright, Debra asks herself a couple more questions:


Because compliance is more difficult to measure than the execution of the dinner itself, Debra does not wish to replace or augment a challenging dinner with an even harder task. She does not want to lose sight of her primary objective: securing 100 RSVPs from SuccessCo’s top global customers within three months.

If there were a way Debra could encourage customer service managers to be compliant on their own, she could transform her role to that of an enabler. Meaning, instead of being the person who cracks the whip, Debra could be the resource to help unblock obstacles faced by the customer service managers in their respective quests to fill seats for the event.

By transforming and redefining the goal of dinner attendance this way, Debra now has some additional tools at her disposal. She can tap into the human capital that is the customer service manager, and leverage their competitive skills and their desire to avoid failure to obtain the compliance and RSVPs she needs.

The Solution: Enter the CRM Dashboard

Debra turns the customer event into a tournament amongst the customer service managers to see who can secure the most RSVPs. The tournament is publicized through a leaderboard so that there is complete transparency. The transparency is the key to promoting competition and avoiding failure.

The next step is to find a leaderboard that can be emailed to every stakeholder.

Most companies use a customer relationship management (CRM) tool for storing every piece of known data about customers and prospects. While all of this data is very valuable, it is not useful if it cannot be extracted as needed. Consequently, more advanced CRM systems have built a usable infrastructure to report and display this crucial information.

While many great CRM systems exist on the market, Salesforce has become ubiquitous. At Fipsar, the tools of choice for managing programs and projects are Salesforce dashboards, and Fipsar dashboards.

Fipsar uses Salesforce extensively, as Salesforce is able to email a dashboard of up to 20 graphical reports on a daily basis to any number of users.

The key purpose of the dashboard is to drive behavior. Going back to our hypothetical dinner, the dashboard acts as an instigator, enabling the customer service managers to clearly see how they stack up against their peers.

With the dashboard being emailed to all stakeholders, the managers of the customer service managers can see which teams are performing well and which are not.

With up to 20 configurable reports on a single Salesforce dashboard, a story can be created and told from any number of perspectives, including:

The systematic quantification of outcomes and the sheer transparency makes this a great tool for almost any business problem that can be modeled in a CRM dashboard.

How to Create an Effective CRM Dashboard for Project Management

Good journalism answers the “Five Ws’’ and dashboards should be no different. Dashboards need to answer the following questions:

When creating a reporting dashboard, define who will receive the reports. In general, the audience is usually three types of people: 1) people whose compliance in the program or project is required, 2) their managers and 3) the CEO or executive the program is important to.

Next, the dashboard needs to be painfully simple for anyone to understand, especially for the CEO. If the CEO cannot readily understand the dashboard, then the customer service managers and their managers will not necessarily be motivated to enhance performance.
In our fictional story, Francine’s performance is ultimately measured by the number of RSVPs at the customer event, so one of the 20 reports will simply be a running tally of the number of RSVPs. This will be the report the CEO understands.

Given who the primary audience is, there also needs to be a report of RSVPs by teams as well as a report by individual customer service managers. There go two more reports out of the 20.

Given that RSVPs take time to procure, it would be prudent to show the important milestones on the path to, “Yes, I will attend.” For example, how many invites were sent, how many people responded, and how many customer service managers contacted customers?

It also would be smart to see the details of who was sent an invite and who responded so that the dashboard is entirely self-sufficient for answering questions. That’s another six reports accounted for out of the 20 available.
In our fictional story, Francine will want to track progress through milestones by week. That may account for four more reports from the available 20.
Since this customer event addresses customers all over the world, it may be a good practice to understand the distribution of RSVPs, contacts, responses and invites by country.
In this example, Debra did not max out the 20 reports available on a single dashboard. It’s fine to have a dashboard with less than 20 reports because, quite frankly, 20 information-rich reports can be overwhelming to digest in a single email. And often, ad hoc questions come up that may require an additional report.

Having some excess capacity gives program managers extra room to work with and alleviates them of the decision regarding which of the 20 reports should be removed in the case an additional one is necessary.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Defining the Foundation for a Salesforce Dashboard

Now that you know what goes into creating an effective dashboard, here comes the fun part. Let’s look at how to create a Salesforce dashboard.

The easiest way to understand, explain and design any dashboard is to think of the dashboard as having an x-axis and a y-axis. Because most languages read left to right, think of the x-axis as showing progress over time or a process from left to right as the horizontal axis.

These processes in a dashboard are sometimes referred to as funnels. In our hypothetical example, the funnel could be “Invites,” “Contacts,” and “RSVPs.” The y-axis can be drill-downs into each layer of management, from the CEO or executive to customer service managers.

The x-axis and the y-axis are interchangeable so that the hierarchical drill downs could read left to right and the funnel progression from Invites to RSVPs could be read from top to bottom. However, visually, the upper right-most report is the prime piece of real estate on a dashboard because the top of any email will always be visible.

Debra should reserve the upper right most report for reporting on the total cumulative number of RSVPs worldwide as this is the number the CEO will care about most. This dictates which axis is which, as the funnel progression needs to be the x-axis.

Because the dashboard will be emailed daily or weekly, everyone involved will see the same information and know just how well they (and everyone else) are performing.

Managers and customer service managers at the top of the charts will continue to work towards the desired outcome of RSVPs because they know there is competition from behind and that there is recognition ahead.

Those not at the top of the charts will strive to make it towards the top because no one wants to be that person who comes in last in the rankings.

Debra can enjoy the process and progress towards the all but sold-out customer event.

How Fipsar Helps Programs Succeed through Reporting

Fipsar leverages Salesforce dashboards to drive organizational success. Because customer success is Fipsar’s top value, we’ve built configurable dashboards into our content performance marketing technology, the Fipsar platform.

Similar to this case study, marketers and project managers must work cross-functionally with peers across departments and sometimes across the globe to successfully promote a brand and its marketing campaigns.

Fipsar dashboards allow customers to align all stakeholders and drive revenue from their digital marketing in a measurable and predictable way. Please contact us for more information.