We are going through a time in which digital transformation is key to the survival of companies and organizations. In this scenario, Salesforce is the ideal management tool for those NGOs that want and need to face this great challenge.
There exists a myriad of reasons why: Salesforce is the leading CRM in the world; it has a licencing program specific to nonprofits that allows even the smallest organization to access top notch technology; and for more than 10 years it has been offering and evolving, through its community of users and partners, the best solution adapted to the needs of social organizations, from fundraising to program management. At S4G we can guide you through the best practices and lessons learned after implementing dozens of successful projects in various nonprofits.
Phases of Salesforce implementation in an NGO
Before the project
When an NGO decides to implement Salesforce, a fundamental first step is to define a starting point: How do they manage their data at present? Where is that data? Who uses that information and how? What channels of interaction do they have with their donors, volunteers and beneficiaries? What are the main weaknesses in their processes? Understanding the current situation will help you measure the effort required to reach your goal and prioritize.
The second step is to clearly identify the objectives, requirements and priorities of the implementation. If this is not worked out and defined from the beginning, the project can become confusing, with requirements arising at any time and perhaps in opposition to others. In addition, it will probably exceed the timeframe for its execution and it will be necessary to dedicate more resources than planned, whether that be time and/or money.
Finally, it is very important to involve the project sponsors in change management. Conveying the importance of incorporating Salesforce to the NGO, the reasons for the decision – for example, to improve key indicators and efficiency – will facilitate adoption in the day-to-day work of the team. The team’s time commitment should be planned for project tasks, such as: analysis workshops, database preparation, training, testing to validate the proposed solution, among others. If there is no time commitment from the users, the project may be compromised.
During the project
Maintaining focus on the NGO’s side throughout the Salesforce implementation is fundamental, dedicating the necessary time and performing the tasks corresponding to each stage. Having an internal Project Manager to help organize these efforts and ensure that tasks are completed in a timely manner can be an important key to the success of the project. By working with an experienced partner such as S4G, the team will not have to worry about finding the best technical solution or proposing a work methodology that guarantees the quality of the implementation. On the other hand, they will have to devote effort and attention to accompanying them throughout the project.
During the requirements analysis phase the team should provide the information in as much detail as possible, without assuming any implicit understanding, so that the consultants have all the relevant elements at the time of designing the solution. It is essential, for example, to share all the indicators and reports used by the organization to measure results and management. If this is not clear, it may be appropriate to spend time defining this before the project, and include it as part of the objectives.
This builds upon the importance of being involved in the stages of the project where the solution has to be tested and validated. This is key to minimize misunderstandings, failures in the final process or the difference between what was obtained and what was expected. Consultants can design the best possible solution based on the technical capabilities of Salesforce, but many times this alone is not a priority over user experience. Therefore, if users do not test and evaluate the proposed process, they may end up with a solution that is not optimal for them.
Closing the Salesforce project in a NGO
A final point which is often underestimated: every system requires continuous maintenance. There are basic tasks that need to be performed on a regular basis, such as user management, data quality control, accompanying users when they have questions, or accommodating field values. An internal administrator can do this based on the training obtained in the project, and using the available Salesforce resources (the nonprofit community is very active and collaborative).
If the business processes are very complex and require specialists for proper maintenance, S4G provides maintenance service to maintain and evolve the system, incorporating minor improvements that may arise. One way or another, this is necessary and should be taken into account when deciding to implement Salesforce in the organization.
A Salesforce implementation project, therefore, is not something that expert consultants do in isolation: it requires commitment, time, effort and change management from the organization. To undertake this digital transformation, it is also necessary to have an accurate and detailed diagnosis and to set clear and realistic objectives. Having a Project Manager to help plan the tasks and follow up on the plan is essential to achieve the objectives.
The importance of an experienced partner in the Third Sector
At S4G we have 14 years of experience in Salesforce implementation projects in NGOs and we have extensive knowledge of the Third Sector. A fact of utmost relevance to accompany and add value to these organizations, even allowing us to develop our own Salesforce-based CRM solution that drives NGOs.
We know your challenges and we know the technology, but most importantly: we know that every effort can help increase the positive impact in the world, and that inspires and motivates us to be the best technology partners for this sector. So if you’re ready to take the next step in digitizing your organization, don’t hesitate to contact us.