6 Overdue Salesforce Enhancements to Help Nonprofits Do a Little Better (Part 1 of 3)

I’m on my eighth annual Dreamforce pilgrimage–excited for the new announcements that will define this year’s Salesforce User and Developer Conference, and while I won’t speculate about what the announcement will be, I will propose six enhancements or features that I would like to see incorporated into the Salesforce Foundation’s Power of Us Program. Let us know what you think, or suggest your own in the comments.

And you may say, “wait, Salesforce already gives so much, plus provides deep discounts that businesses could never hope for, plus many of these things are available through the AppExchange” That’s true. No argument. But organizations often don’t know what they are missing. And if they don’t know they’re missing it, they’re sure as hell not going to pay for it without a way to experience it.

So let’s get into it. First up, Analytics Cloud.

#6 Analytics Cloud (Wave)

Why: Standard Salesforce Reporting is Limiting Nonprofit Customer Intelligence

Last year Salesforce wowed us with a shiny new Wave Analytics package that promised to help us build data visualizations rapidly, drill down effortlessly, draw meaning from nearly any dataset, and have a pleasant and aesthetically superior experience.

At the time, Buzzbold was deep in the middle of an integration project for the Future of Flight Foundation of Everett WA, and in looking for ways to help deliver insights about visitor marketing data for every tour through the Boeing Commercial Airline Factory and the Future of Flight Aviation Galleries, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to solve an immediate problem.

With all of the data already in Salesforce, standard reporting was presenting major problems. Having already removed any fields we didn’t need (per large data reporting documentation), we were still unable to graph some of our KPIs, or our reports would take minutes to run, if they would run at all. In many cases we resorted to external systems or even, *gasp*, Excel to find results.

But that’s not good enough–these analytics need to be available on demand when an entire organization is trying to learn analytics together. Unfortunately after an awesome Wave demo last year where I was sure this was exactly the solution we needed, I inquired about access for Future of Flight Foundation, and the demoer regretted to inform me that we were still below the product’s test target datasize. Sorry. No intelligence for you.

But last week developers received an offer to create a new Sandbox with Analytics Cloud enabled, I’m hopeful and optimistic that we’ll see general availability at no additional costs. Truly, it is time to fix Salesforce reporting if we hope to continue driving intelligence while expanding our expectations for integrated nonprofit customer data.

#5 Sandboxes with Partial Data

Why: Testing in an Empty Sandbox is Not a Real Test

Let’s not underestimate how wonderful the Power of Us Program really is. Nonprofits receive no-cost access to one Developer Pro Sandbox and SIX Developer Sandboxes. This is amazing, but if we’re looking to test new applications or customizations, there’s absolutely ZERO alternative to having real data to test against.

Here’s a great example: Upgrading the Nonprofit Starter Pack from an old version. Yes, it’s still out there, and yes, we can help.

Say you have 1000 contacts, 750 accounts, 800 households. We can refresh and log into a sandbox in 15-30 minutes. We can work through the installation documentation and review the Health Check report in another 30-60 minutes. Add an Opportunity Stage here, create a record type there, and so on. Easy. So you should be ready to install into production, right?

Well, you probably can if you’ve gotten this far, but don’t expect the production upgrade to happen in the same amount of time. These Sandboxes don’t represent a real “Org”, so for planning purposes, they underrepresent the steps that must be completed to call the upgrade complete. You may have to migrate records. You may be surprised to find records needing field standardization. If you have any integrations for online giving, you will certainly need to test thoroughly.

In other words, don’t start the production upgrade at 4PM on a Friday if you have somebody special to see for an early dinner.

We’d love to have the ability for a 10% test dataset from production to automatically build into the Sandbox so that our application testing is far more reliable and realistic before messing with our data. The costs can’t be significantly higher than all of those free Developer orgs out there for Salesforce, but the consultant time and staff hours can represent a significant cost for a nonprofit.

Above all, the Production Environment is a terrible place to test anything, and there’s no true test without representative data. I’d happily give up the Developer Pro Sandbox and 2-3 Developer Sandboxes in order to have just ONE with a partial dataset.

Check out Part 2…

Or see the other 6 Overdue Salesforce Enhancements to Help Nonprofits Do a Little Better:

What do you think?

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