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5 things you wish you knew before implementing Salesforce Nonprofit Cloud

March 01, 2021

We recently sat down with Greenpeace USA and Computer History Museum to hear their top tips for implementing Salesforce Nonprofit Cloud

So, you’re thinking about implementing Salesforce’s Nonprofit Cloud? While we’d love to sit here and tell you it’ll be a walk in the park, the reality is quite the opposite. The launch of a digital transformation is a complex and well-choreographed set of steps that requires intentional communication and coordination.

We recently sat down (at the virtual table) with John Biscevic, Director, IT Strategy & Program Management, Computer History Museum, Doug Krehbel, Director, Data and Business Intelligence Greenpeace USA and Sarah Seipelt, Data Operations Manager, Greenpeace USA and to discuss their “I wish I’d known” list.

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Tips for implementing Salesforce Nonprofit Cloud

1. Talk to other nonprofits first

As Computer History Museum’s John Biscevic points out, the best place to start is by talking to others who’ve already made the investment.

“We spoke to as many of our industry peers as possible to see what CRM they were using, why they made that decision and how the platform has been performing since.”

What John and his team found from these interviews with nonprofits both using Salesforce and other CRM platforms, is ultimately what led them to choose Salesforce’s Nonprofit Cloud. It also was an opportunity to ask for first-hand recommendations about implementation partners, change management tips and words of wisdom for undertaking a digital transformation.

Pro tip: Are you wanting to get in touch with a nonprofit currently using Salesforce? A great place to start is by speaking with your Salesforce Account Executive, your potential implementation partner, or in the Power of Us Hub.

2. Make change management your top priority

Successful digital transformations are not about technology — they’re about people. So how do you ensure you’re prepared to support your users and their growth on the new system? According to Doug Krehbel, Director, Data and Business Intelligence at Greenpeace USA, continued success requires a concerted effort to ensure everyone understands the impact of the technology on their day-to-day processes.

“You can’t approach this as a tech project, you have to approach it as a large-scale strategic project,” said Doug. “It’s an organizational change and I can’t stress enough how important it is to get early buy-in from your main stakeholders.”

Pro Tip: What are your success metrics around change management and user adoption? Think about:

  • How the technology is adopted by stakeholders
  • Their confidence in the new way of doing things
  • The positive impacts the new technology have on the organization, as envisioned at the initiation of the project

3. Clean your data before implementation

Imagine you’re preparing to move out of your family home of 30 years. While you may want to simply pack it all, you know the best approach is to do a thorough deep clean and only bring what you need—perhaps do a Marie Kondo cleanse. The same applies to digital transformation. As Sarah Seipelt, Data Operations Manager at Greenpeace USA discussed, after 40 years in the same system their data was in need of a thorough clean.

“We had to make huge decisions around our data and what we wanted to keep,” said Sarah. “Make sure your data is clean, look into your architecture and do what you can to prevent duplication.”

Pro Tip: Looking for some data integrity tools? Check out:

4. Identify priorities early on

Do you know your top priorities for your digital transformation? As both Computer History Museum and Greenpeace USA pointed out, identifying your priorities and testing them early is essential. You should ensure complex processes tied to key revenue drivers are prioritized — or as Doug said, “make sure you can collect the money.”

“Ensure you’ve got strong fundamental requirements from the start. Know you’re top priorities and make sure you get them up and running, early.”

Pro Tip: Making Priorities a Priority. Ensure you have a solid testing plan and approach for these areas as well as dedicated time set aside for staff to test. The more time you can put into testing, the better the end result.

5. Train, Train and Train Again

It’s no secret that training is a huge aspect of any digital transformation. But as Computer History Museum’s John Biscevic pointed out, you not only need to start training early, but do it often, and all throughout the transformation—from pre-launch, to post-implementation.

“I’d recommend starting with the basics. Ensure your user community understands what Salesforce is, what a CRM does,” said John.

Greenpeace USA’s Doug Krehbel also suggests that you identify your training methodology early on. “Decide if you need to outsource training to a partner like Traction on Demand, or if you’d like to build ‘superusers’ to act as your in-house training experts.”

Pro Tip: Check out our digital transformation pre-launch training checklist

  • List internal and external stakeholders that need training
  • Find out how stakeholders like to learn (make this process fun and engaging by sending out surveys to better understand their preferences)
  • Set a list of goals and learning objectives for your audiences, this helps define the courses and content needed
  • Make a list of what worked well and what didn’t during past training exercises, if applicable
  • Plan a similar training experience for everyone, no matter their location, and be aware this may impact your delivery methods
  • Decide who will lead the training and be responsible for both content and delivery moving forward

Digital transformation post-launch checklist

  • Decide how training will be provided to new staff (which will be different than training provided to current staff who are learning through the lens of how it “used to be”), and adapt training materials accordingly
  • Implement a system to store training materials — LMS (learning management system) or other. Check out My Trailhead, a new Salesforce offering

6. Find a Salesforce implementation partner (BONUS)

Doug Krehbel sums this up well, “If you’re considering something as large and vibrant as Salesforce, you need an implementation partner.”

While we may be slightly biased (spoiler alert: we’re an implementation partner), as John Biscevic also pointed out earlier, just go and ask those who’ve undertaken a digital transformation before. “After speaking with other nonprofits who’d been through it, we knew it would be no small undertaking. We immediately began looking for an implementation partner.”

John went on to explain their team was busy with their own jobs, let alone taking on this huge project. “We had over 40 people working full time on our implementation. Without a partner, we wouldn’t have the staff to run everyday operations.”

In addition to partnering with Traction on Demand, both Computer History Museum and Greenpeace USA leveraged Salesforce’s expertise and were assigned a Customer Success Architect of their own. “It was like embedding five Salesforce experts into our own team,” said Sarah.

Implementing Salesforce Nonprofit Cloud

Are you ready to start implementing Salesforce Nonprofit Cloud? Remember, the success of your technology ultimately depends on the people: your team. Learn about our customer enablement program and how we can help support you in achieving your business goals or fulfilling your nonprofit missions.

Got a project for us?

We love helping nonprofit organizations bring their digital transformation dreams to life. Get in touch with a member of our dedicated nonprofit team today.

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