I’ve spoken to a number of IT Directors and System Users who have asked me about the Salesforce Nonprofit Starter Pack, and have worried that, from its name, it’s only for “small” organizations. The truth is that after I’ve encouraged them to download a trial and kick the tires a bit, they’ve overwhelmingly come back and have been shocked and excited at the out-of-the-box functionality in this mighty app.
Meanwhile dozens of other large nonprofits (with hundreds of users, and scores of locations) who built customizations on the standard Enterprise edition of Salesforce (or other full-function apps) have moved or are planning to migrate onto the Starter Pack.
Enterprise nonprofits typically have strongly defined business processes, that in many cases are unique to them. The problem with most large, full-scale applications is that they require conforming to specific ways of working. They get their fingers into every single darn database function and essentially force an organization to execute their work in a certain way (and often overbuild for one department, making the needs of the other unable to be accommodated).
The Nonprofit Starter Pack is the opposite of that. It was built thoughtfully from the ground up to be scalable and allow organizations to extend functionality to their business processes and most importantly, manage various programmatic functions in a unified platform. You’ll be surprised at how often the Starter Pack exceeds the needs, and when it doesn’t you have a strong foundation to extend customizations that don’t compromise the needs of other departments.
Because of its scalable approach, the Nonprofit Starter Pack retains the reason all of us got onto the Salesforce platform in the first place: amazing customizations at the fingertips of the average system administrator. If you haven’t experienced the awesomeness yourself – know this: page layouts, new fields, reports, queries, custom objects, processes that take a value from a child record and update the parent = all customizable out of the box, without custom code.
I recently remembered how much I take this for granted when working in our project management system. I asked to add a custom field and I could with some effort. But when I asked how to report on it? No dice. Don’t underestimate the value of an Enterprise Nonprofit being able to customize and configure and extend a product without the involvement of the product owner or a developer.
My ten-year old recently asked me for a “phone”. I asked him who he would call with this hypothetical device – and he admitted he really wanted the “apps”. If you are choosing an enterprise-level CRM based on the “calling” functions of that product alone, you’re missing the future of Nonprofit Technology: it’s the apps. I wrote a blog last fall on the end of “Do-it-All Packages”. The combination of the robust Salesforce AppExchange with the flexibility and scalability of the Nonprofit Starter Pack means that it’s easy for applications to build integrations with the Starter Pack. There are thousands to choose from and more come online each week.
- Ongoing Development
The Salesforce.org developer team runs in two week sprints and the new features and modifications come at a dizzying rate. The community demanded a separate channel recently just for announcements of new development work, and how to enable them (we were having a hard time keeping up). That, combined with the extensive native Salesforce.com features that come out once a quarter, and we’ve got a recipe for innovation. Most nonprofits only use a fraction of what power they have out of the box with the product.
- Open Source Development
If you missed the San Francisco Chronicle article about the last Nonprofit Starter Pack developer sprint, know that the buzz is real. The developers of the Nonprofit Starter Pack within Salesforce.org have spent a considerable amount of time making it viable for the Community to submit code to the package. See this link for a presentation I gave on new functionality that came out last fall with a combination of community and SF.org developer efforts. The developer team at Salesforce.org is the best I’ve seen – when coupled with the crowd-sourced community = amazing.
- It can be uninstalled
Talking about uninstalling a product can seem counterintuitive after spending an entire page evangelizing its benefits. But here’s the thing – most “too-big” products can not be uninstalled and require expensive data migrations if an organization decides the product no longer meets some or all of its needs. This relates intimately to the issue of scalability and integrations (and the end of “all in one”). Any product that publishes how to uninstall itself (as the Nonprofit Starter Pack does), is, as a consultant, the one with whom I hold my confidence. That way if an organization’s needs evolve, they can change gears without having to move into a whole new house. As you are deciding upon a new product or CRM ask this: how do we get out? The answer will tell you a lot about the product’s architecture and scalability.
- Community of Users
I recently had a use case in our own business around tracking deposits in our project management tool, that I just KNEW other businesses using the tool must have dealt with. Support couldn’t give me a real answer. What I really wanted to do was pose the question to the community of users of the product. I’ve come to love and rely upon the 20,000+ nonprofit users of Salesforce who selfishly answer questions and collaborate around Salesforce and non-Salesforce topics in the Power of Us Hub. Together, we know more.
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