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A Balanced Approach to Driving Your Salesforce Vision

You have reached the point where you’ve launched Salesforce – congratulations! Now it’s time to take a step back and think about supporting a Salesforce vision for your organization. Organizations that truly unlock the power of Salesforce have a strong vision for how to leverage this technology and support it holistically.

Vision Setting

You may be finding yourself on the other side of your Salesforce implementation where you’ve worked hard on identifying requirements for your system and have gotten the system to function as you and your team need it to, but have you truly set a vision involving Salesforce yet? Start asking asking yourself what should Salesforce become. Spend some time reflecting on your organization’s core values and identify intersections where Salesforce can help you be better what you value most. Identify problems Salesforce can help you solve in the long term. Yes, some of these have been resolved as you start to look at reports and dashboards, but you need to delve deeper here. Where can Salesforce revitalize how you raise more funds, better manage programs, etc.? Then ultimately, what will things look like within your organizations if you achieve success in leveraging Salesforce?

Your Salesforce Vision should be comprised of BHAGS – those Big Hairy Audacious Goals. As James Collins and Jerry Porras put it in their book Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, “A true BHAG is clear and compelling, serves as unifying focal point of effort, and acts as a clear catalyst for team spirit. It has a clear finish line, so the organization can know when it has achieved the goal; people like to shoot for finish lines.” Set a goal that your team can rally behind and become invested. Getting team members invested in your vision and strategy around tangible goals will help drive adoption and investment in the system. Take Salesforce from something someone has to use to enter data and transform it into a revolutionary tool all users are looking towards to help make data-driven decisions.

This is just the beginning of vision setting. Check out my colleague, Kestryl Lowrey’s, post on Nonprofit Technology Vision for even  more information.


Once you’ve established this vision, you’ve shared it
broadly and have folks working towards some BHAGS, it’s time to think about how to support your team. Below are four key pillars that you can consider working to help achieve your ultimate Salesforce vision.

Knowledge & Skills

Training your team on what things are in Salesforce is the first step to helping them figure out the platform. This often looks like defining fields, adding help text and clarifications to help things make sense for them as they’re leveraging the system. Additionally, how do they report on key metrics they need to help answer tough questions and get a pulse check on their progress against key performance indicators?

A key component here is establishing a tight feedback loop. If you’re noticing there’s a group of people entering in data differently than a field was meant to be used, follow up with them ASAP. It’s important to give and collect feedback to either clarify their error and help ensure it doesn’t happen again or to see if there’s an additional need that isn’t currently available to your users to date.

A data dictionary can often really help lay a foundation for your organization in terms of what fields mean in the system. As you construct this though, make sure to keep an eye towards sustainability. Ensure this is something that is manageable to not only create, but update as Salesforce is an ever evolving ecosystem and the minute a portion of your data dictionary is out of date, the entire thing becomes useless.

Business Processes

Another pillar of support is ensuring there are clearly defined business processes in place that all users are aware. While Salesforce is amazingly flexible, this can be overwhelming to users as they begin adopting the system. It’s important for there to be a clear rule of thumb for how basic operations happen.

A good example of this – how exactly do we process a gift now that we’re in Salesforce? Your team understands the fields being in Salesforce, but what is our whole process from start to finish? What are the key data points that we need to make sure are hit on every Opportunity and payment? What do I need to do in Salesforce now as a development team member to set this gift up for the finance team? What do I do with my physical check now that I’ve entered it in Salesforce? What does the finance team do both in Salesforce and their general ledger to ensure proper recognition?

Noting these business processes can make a world of a difference once you’re in the system and help avoid confusing data points if different individuals are executing in the system in different ways. While they may have different needs, it’s important to reground these processes in your Salesforce vision and your BHAGs.

Investment & Adoption

Driving user investment and adoption is our third pillar of successfully supporting Salesforce. If you’re starting to see Excel sheets and shadow trackers popping up or hearing from users that they’re only entering data in Salesforce because they have to, then it’s time to get super focused on adoption.

For folks not invested in the system, it’s important to listen to them, really listen, to get to the core at what’s causing them to not adopt Salesforce. Is it the User Interface not being intuitive enough for them to work through? Do they prefer the flexibility of jumping around in Excel and playing with numbers? Find out what’s causing them to be more a detractor than evangelist and spend some time solutioning for that. Figure out how to meet them where they are. It can often be that they need some additional training, a little bit of TLC and some stellar dashboards to change their outlook.

It’s also important to have representation in supporting Salesforce. Gather groups of users from across your organization and consider developing some form of a data governance group. What you want to avoid in managing Salesforce is getting feedback from only power users or the loudest folks in the room. Changing fields and making decisions from just those pieces of feedback can often continue to alienate folks that aren’t fully warmed up to Salesforce. You’ll be able to tackle key data governance issues and ensure all voices are heard when everyone across your organization feels like they can provide input.

Consider developing a regular survey of users. Ground questions around your BHAGS and Vision to see how your org is progressing against. Additionally, get that honest and raw feedback as to what users need – what’s working for them? What’s not? How can Salesforce continuously improve?

Learning & Growing

Embed Salesforce your company culture. As folks are thinking about their professional development, inspire them to include their own personal goals around leveraging Salesforce. These can be as straight forwarded as shooting to ensure a fundraiser’s pipeline stays up to date throughout the next quarter but will help your team become Salesforce experts.

Additionally, for anyone administering your system, Salesforce is a journey. As a system, it’s continuously adapting and improving its effectiveness. If you include Salesforce learning in your own professional development, it’ll ensure you have the most up to date knowledge on how Salesforce can work for your team. Stay in touch with the latest Salesforce news through Salesforce newsletters, the Power of Us HUB and consider even studying to collect a few certifications. There’s certainly no lack of new things to learn when it comes to Salesforce!

If you have any questions or are considering consultative support for your Salesforce platform, contact us to talk about any partnership questions you may have!

You may also be interested in:

Your Nonprofit Needs a Technology Vision
Getting the WHOLE Team On Board: Lessons Learned About Change Management
Salesforce Implementation: Be the Change