Everybody loves Salesforce—at least that’s the way it feels. Salesforce and its reliable nonprofit fundraising derivates offer tremendous customization, mobile-readiness, and automation capabilities, just to name a few of its best-known, distinguishing features. In my previous article, I introduced the idea of Salesforce, with its many unique capabilities, as potentially being a part of the solution to the chronic problem of Legacy 2.0 in enterprise CRM system implementations. The basic concept is to leverage just how powerful, cutting edge, and even “cool” Salesforce can be. Practically everyone seems to “know” just how innovative and game-changing it is, so use this perception to generate and sustain the focus and enthusiasm needed for a successful implementation.The definition of “successful implementation,” for our immediate purposes, is as simple as minimizing Legacy 2.0 and leveraging the distinct capabilities of the new system. Success means driving the adoption of business processes to support the strategic and organization goals that drove the decision to convert systems.

If we wish to change the way we do business by leveraging a system like Salesforce, I would argue in favor of also including success metrics based upon things that people do.

So, just how can you use these “features” of a system like Salesforce to combat Legacy 2.0? One tactic is to include formal success metrics in the implementation project charter. Every enterprise-level CRM implementation we’ve worked on has had some form of governance structure (e.g., executive sponsor, steering committee, committee of champions, and core project team), along with several related important strategic documents. The most notable is the project charter. 

Project charters go by different names—like “project definition” or “project statement”—and even multiple definitions, some of which are extremely technical. Jargon aside, a project charter is a formal statement of the scope and objectives of a project, often with a keen focus on the objectives. In the context of a CRM system implementation, organizations use project charters to state the key objectives of the conversion to and adoption of the new system. Another way to describe it might be “a succinct re-statement of the business case intended to guide the project toward successful achievement of the real goals of a project.” I emphasize the word “real” because Legacy 2.0 effectively is the loss of focus on the real goals of an implementation. It’s overlooking the forest in the attempt to see the trees. By that, I mean that it’s neglecting strategic objectives that guided the decision to invest seven figures and 10,000+ hours of staff time for the purpose of making that one report exactly match the old system’s version.

Project charters often contain a number of success metrics as part of its statement of objectives. This presents a simple opportunity to use a well-known construct to help drive the change we were hoping for when deciding to convert systems: Make innovation a success metric. I’m using innovation here to refer to business process improvement. I’m not suggesting you can revolutionize the fundraising industry in an 18-month project, but “innovation” is a much more powerful and attention-grabbing word. Keep in mind that this is all about finding ways to keep project participants engaged and energized deep into a long, arduous, taxing effort, so perception and branding are critical. Several traditional success metrics commonly found in CRM implementation project charters include goals such as:

  • 15% increase in alumni annual fund participation within 5 years
  • Overall increase of 10% in annual dollars raised
  • Reduce the average time from prospect assignment to gift closure by 60 days

These are all worthy and necessary examples, and they all slightly suffer from being outcomes, in that they are less directly actionable and less within direct control.

What would it look like to make innovation a success metric in a Salesforce implementation?

This is uncharted territory. In my opinion, there are really no established best practices yet (the notion of “best practices” is worthy of deeper scrutiny in a future article). This may be, also in my opinion, because nonprofit Salesforce-based solutions are still rather immature, as is their delivery. And so, in our discussion about using innovation-based success metrics to optimize an implementation, we have to innovate! Given what we’ve emphasized so far in this piece and in its predecessor, regarding the distinct capabilities of Salesforce, several possible innovations/process improvement success metrics could be:

  • At least 50% of all contact reports to be filed via mobile app within 12 months of going live (which would mean gift officers are spending less time at their desks! This is an actionable metric that could lead to better strategic outcomes because fundraisers see more prospects.)
  • Reduction in average number of clicks per Opportunity update.
  • Elimination of at least 75% of audit reports/queries (which could be accomplished through carefully-designed use of validation rules and process automation in Salesforce).

Those are just a few ideas. Once you gain a bit of familiarity with these types of functionality in Salesforce, a wide range of other kinds of innovation success metrics will suggest themselves. One final thought on success metrics, which is born out of a little over two decades in the nonprofit industry: I encourage everyone to think more expansively about success metrics than is often done. Not all success metrics have to be fully quantifiable, nor do they necessarily have to be terribly quantifiable at all. As you think through your innovation success metrics for your next charter, give yourself the freedom to innovate there as well! The Salesforce train is coming, and Zuri Group has the Salesforce-certified expertise and the unmatched CRM system implementation experience to get you on board.

Brandon is a Salesforce Certified Administrator and brings over 20 years of experience as an advancement practitioner and consultant. Before joining Zuri Group, Brandon was a Senior Enterprise Solutions Consultant at Blackbaud, and prior to that he was a fundraiser for 12 years. This deep experience in both frontline fundraising and fundraising operations and data management strongly informs his approach to consulting, and Brandon helps his clients keep the bigger picture in mind at all times.

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