WARNING: 3 Things to Consider Before Launching Salesforce
We see it all the time: not-for-profits need a CRM (customer relationship management) system and they hear Salesforce is free for 501c3 organizations. What they don’t hear is that Salesforce is the fastest growing and most respected CRM in the for-profit enterprise space, known for its analytical power and customizable features. Your Salesforce can be as simple or complicated as it needs to be. Here are 3 things to consider going into a project that can be limitless:
The info-graphic dream takes time
A big motivator to implement Salesforce is the real-time dashboard displays of data that could eventually become a viral infographic. Salesforce has powerful reports but it is important to remember that behind every pie chart is data that was collected and entered into the system. How will data get into your system? Will you use online forms to collect information from key stakeholders and clients? Will you have interns available to enter data?
Cheerleaders are required
Salesforce is not a spreadsheet; there are validation rules to keep data clean. Information is tied together so that you can look at one name and see the full picture at a glance: volunteer hours, donation dollars and program feedback. Salesforce can also integrate with your favorite applications. There is, however, a significant learning curve. There will be moments of frustration followed by wonder when you figure out how to run that report in 1 minute that used to take hours. Make sure there are people on your team to cheer you on in the frustration and celebrate with you in the successes.
It is an on-going process (if you are innovative)
Some people have the idea that once you set Salesforce up once, it will just work forever. This is only true if your organization never changes, never starts new programs, and always hosts the same events. If your organization is innovative and evolving, your Salesforce system will need to evolve too. If metrics and strong foundational systems are important to you, prepare to have someone within your organization that can be trained to make these changes to Salesforce or manage ongoing contract support. The good news is that there are Salesforce Non Profit User Groups across the country and an array of online resources available to support your staff.