10 Tips for Running Requirements Workshops for your CRM Projects

  1. Nominate a facilitator. Choosing someone from inside the organization or an external expert each has its unique advantages. If you engage someone from inside the organization, make sure it is someone who is well versed in facilitation techniques and does not become defensive about inefficiencies in current practices at the organization. In other words, you need someone who stays neutral about the items being discussed. It is ok to have an opinion but not to impose it !
  2. Make the outcomes you are looking from the workshop stand out clearly for the attendees, leading up to and during the workshop. An example set could be to assess current state of sales processes, brainstorm on improvements and prepare plan for implementing improvement ideas in Salesforce Sales Cloud.
  3. Prepare a list of attendees and map each one to what objectives you are looking for them to contribute to, during discussions. Avoid tourists. Is the attendee responsible and accountable for the topic area or is a Subject Matter Expert ? Run this list by the sponsor for the initiative. Push back on suggestions for people who are 'nice to be kept informed'.
  4. Have an agenda and share with attendees preferably well ahead of time. You may have specific topics such as Leads & Campaigns, Opportunities Flow, Accounts & Contracts that you schedule time for discussions. Organize the time into broad themes like for example:
    • Analysis of current state
    • Improvement opportunities and
    • Implementation roadmap
  5. Set ground rules. Include one that addresses respecting each other’s views. I use one that says ‘Respect for each other’s point of view is non-negotiable. Each participant brings a perspective coming from his/her unique experience. Don’t argue with people’s experience’
  6. Ensure participation throughout the duration of the workshop. People coming in and out of workshops disrupts continuity. Having said that, you may have Subject Matter Experts who participate in discussions of specific topics. That should be the exception rather than the rule. One of the benefits of the cross-functional participants in these workshops is indeed the broader perspective or the bigger picture they leave for the participants.
  7. If you hear comments that are disruptive, gently question how the comments will influence the objectives or further the dialog. If you hear comments that are repetitive, point out that the idea has been captured. If you see few participants dominating the conversation, say with a smile that this time you would like to hear from those who haven’t spoken yet or as frequently.
  8. Track key points on a medium large enough for everyone to see. Maintain a running list of action items (description, owner, completion data). Have a parking lot for items not within the meeting scope.
  9. Plan logistics, plan for the environment, plan for lunch, plan the breaks. If you have remote attendees, plan ahead for their participation through web conferencing. Check in with the remote attendees from time to time.
  10. Follow up after the workshop with notes, action items and responsibilities and ask for feedback on the effectiveness of the meeting, improvement areas. While you may have roadmaps for several years out as a result of the workshop, have at least a few deliverables planned for within 30 days of completing the workshop. A proof of concept, a research study, an implementation project plan are all good candidates for a short term deliverable. Workshops leave participants energized for action !.
Ramana Metlapalli
Ramana Metlapalli
Ramana is a Managing Principal at Varasi. Ramana is a lifelong learner and eternally curious about what goes into making some individuals and organizations, high performance ones. He writes about Business Analysis, Salesforce best practices and the world of Consulting.