By Kaitlyn Burns
Planning Your Budget
Nonprofits do a great job at budgeting for fixed operating costs, such as personnel (salaries and benefits), office expenses (rent and utilities) and program costs (supplies and materials). More often than not, technology falls into one of those buckets as a one-time fixed cost for expenses such as implementation and license fees.
As operating programs grow and evolve, reinvesting in the technological infrastructure that supports those programs help ensure your programs continue to develop and thrive. Technology is always changing and evolving—Salesforce alone has three releases annually with major platform updates. Are you remembering to include technology training, growth and strategy cost into your 2020 budget? Of course, all organizations have different needs, but based on our general experience at Cloud for Good, the following considerations can be made when you’re looking to include technology in your 2020 budget planning:
Consider Your Growing Team
Is your organization looking to add new staff members next year? It can take some pretty substantial costs to onboard your new hires. Introducing new employees to Salesforce and the related operations processes takes time—both for the new hire, and the trainer. Calculating an estimate for orientation to your organization’s technology systems can help refine your ongoing technology budget strategy for upcoming years.
Additionally, take another look at the annual licensing fees for Salesforce and your active applications. Do these need to increase with hiring? If so, make sure to account for those extra expenses in your budget.
Ongoing Maintenance and Current User Adoption
It’s important that your organization has a Salesforce Administrator, or at least a platform owner on staff. According to Glassdoor, the average salary of a Salesforce Administrator is just over $87,000, this can fluctuate based on experience and the number of certifications they currently hold. With an in-house Salesforce Administrator, you have a point-person to manage releases and updates with business process changes, as well as monitor and refine a backlog of initiatives. Often, we find organizations that try and make things work without investing in a full-time administrator. This can be a very risky approach because even the smallest organizations need to have someone who can help lead the direction of their Salesforce initiatives. Through our Managed Services practice, we routinely partner with Salesforce Administrators to help them grow their knowledge and the capabilities of their organizations. In the absence of a full-time Salesforce Administrator, you can still partner with our Cloud for Good through Managed Services programs to ensure continuing to improve the efficiency and increase organizational success!
Additionally, it’s important to continually monitor user adoption. Is your organization successfully using Salesforce, or are you struggling? Perhaps you’re somewhere in between. By continually monitoring user adoption, you can account for continual training opportunities for your entire organization and develop the current user skills. Ongoing maintenance is an investment in your platform.
Expanding Upon Current Technology Solutions
Understanding that business requirements change and grow, make sure to account for technology enhancements and innovation. Technology can get stagnant. Expanding upon the current Salesforce with initiatives such as marketing automation and/or applications for payment processors continually improves the efficiency of your organizational operations and the ROI of your current technology. It’s important to note that you need to account for the time to gather new requirements and user stories to identify the right solution.
Investing in a Partnership
While in-house personnel costs can account for a large portion of your technology budget, a partnership with a Salesforce consultant organization brings constant knowledge and updates to your organization. Included in the partnership, are training on items that are specific to your organization, knowledge of upcoming Salesforce releases, and continual backlog refinement.
Using a partner, you have access to an entire organization full of Salesforce experts and your organization can greatly benefit from the institutional and specialized knowledge that a partner organization can provide. Additionally, if your in-house Administrator leaves or other significant staffing changes occur, the partner organization is there to back you up. Cloud for Good has our own offerings of Managed Services to help you fill this need. You can learn more about these services here.
Events to Celebrate Success
Not all budget items for technology expenses need to be training and licensing. Take into account events to celebrate the success of significant milestones and experiences. If you recently implemented Salesforce, plan a get-together for your organization. That’s a big feat, and by celebrating success, you’ll improve your technology adoption.
Some of our clients have had large parties once their implementation has concluded. This can include Salesforce branded sweets, swag or even a pinata of your legacy system.
Providing ongoing communication throughout your organization regarding technology investments and maintenance, such as emails and presentations, can also reinforce the shared success of your organization. Additionally, it emphasizes the importance of the work in supporting the platform.
As you begin to prepare the budget for 2020, remember that the key to planning for technology is to consider an ongoing technology strategy and understand the cost of being successful. Planning for more than ongoing maintenance allows your organization to innovate when it comes to the technological infrastructure that supports the awesome work your organization is doing. Technology is a big part of being adaptable and successful in the current business environment—so plan accordingly!