Guest Blog Post By: Izzy Smith, Director of IT Solutions, All Hands and Hearts
In the Fall of 2017, All Hands Volunteers merged with Happy Hearts Fund to form All Hands and Hearts. Our nonprofit addresses the immediate and long-term needs of communities impacted by natural disasters. By listening to local people and deploying our unique model of engaging volunteers to enable direct impact, we rebuild safe, resilient schools, homes and other community infrastructure. Since our inception, we’ve made an impact in 18 countries with over 80 projects.
All Hearts and Hands supporting Hurricane Maria relief in the Dominican Republic
CHOOSING THE RIGHT VOLUNTEER AND DONOR MANAGEMENT SOLUTION
About 18 months ago, All Hands and Hearts needed to make a decision. We were approaching a renewal date with our previous CRM provider and needed to decide whether to re-invest or make a move to another product. After some deliberation and analysis, our organization made the strategic decision to migrate our data to Salesforce. With a contract extension in hand, we began the journey.
Shortly after we engaged a consulting partner to help us transition our database, Hurricane Harvey hit Houston. Our organization sprang into action immediately to help communities in need in Texas. During this time, we more than tripled in size both fiscally and in terms of personnel.
We were very stretched at this point and unfortunately this coincided with key discovery and build phases of our Salesforce launch project. This led us to need our partner to take the lead on planning and executing the database transition and product launch. A result of the split focus and unprecedented scaling was we struggled initially with clearly defining and executing our business requirements when using a brand-new tool set. This resulted in us launching with a Salesforce implementation that didn’t meet our minimum viable product requirements. We then engaged Cloud for Good to help us efficiently address the immediate gaps in our initial implementation. Spring boarding from the success of our first, focused engagement we started discussing a larger project together, with the aim of optimizing our implementation and really leveraging the value and investment we were making in Salesforce.
Shortly after starting to work with Cloud for Good, I attended the Classy Collaborative. While there, I got the opportunity to sit down with like-minded organizations where I was surprised to hear that issues with launching Salesforce were not uncommon. This was both heartening and helped us reset our mindset for future success.
Managing a technology migration can be a labor-intensive process. We were grappling with the question of how do we blend a strategic, agile approach to project management with very detail orientated and deliberate execution?
OUR APPROACH TO CHANGE MANAGEMENT
It was important for our team to manage our optimization plan in a way that allowed our organization to get ahead of the impending change as we had struggled to do this in our initial implementation. This had resulted in a loss of organizational confidence, both in the product and around our IT team’s ability to deliver value and thus led to a sluggish uptake and user adoption.
Like many organizations, we had a good understanding of who our primary users were and the processes that were going to be taking place within Salesforce. The platform was taking the place of two fundamental architectures that allowed All Hands and Hearts to exist as an organization. Salesforce was not only a data collection and business intelligence tool but would also be used in essential day-to-day activities required to run our business.
As the implementation progressed, we noticed almost every individual working at our organization was impacted in some way by the processes now being housed in Salesforce. From fundraisers to program managers and even those individuals on site, as we continued our implementation, we needed to not only give users the functionality they requested, but also implement the processes that were the best fit for our organization.
Trying to get consensus on requirements from a crowd as large as our organization is a bit of an oxymoronic thing to do. But when we’re able to give the users a basic understanding of the system, solutions and why we may be implementing their requirements in a different way than they expected, user adoption was more organic and less forced. We even had several users who were hard-core fans of our previous databases start to see and use the value of Salesforce, helping us make it better every day.
TOP 5 TIPS FOR MANAGING YOUR INTERNAL CUSTOMERS
Tip 1: Invest in Dedicated Salesforce Resources
Migrating your Volunteer and Donor Management systems was a big task and one that requires care and attention in order to be done correctly. A key learning point here is we underestimated the scale of this project. By having internal resources dedicated to the success of migration and optimization projects we were able to potentiate the expertise of our consulting team whilst also keeping our internal teams up to date and engaged and ensure we are always prioritizing and executing in a strategic manner.
We have a team at All Hands and Hearts dedicated to getting the right solutions from a technology perspective to meet and develop business processes and drive company-wide satisfaction. Our team is led by an experienced technology expert, Kris Cyr. Kris has experience with everything from technical coding to project management of multi-million-dollar technology processes. His experience and leadership were essential to our ultimate success. We are a team that has a shared vision but also decentralized responsibilities and accountability. He empowers both me and our project manager to make decisions and have the conversations needed to keep the propelling the project to completion.
Tip 2: Stay Organized
Being in disaster response, our organization is used to a reactive approach to our organizational decisions. Implementing Salesforce gave us a reason, as well as the tools, to develop a more proactive mindset.
As user feedback quickly came in, we decided to stay organized by creating a spreadsheet detailing any request for change in Salesforce. This backlog list included many categories, such as department, that enabled All Hands and Hearts to identify the main owners to follow up and prioritize.
This also gave every major business unit the visibility into which tasks our team was working on and any questions that may have arisen during the process.
Tip 3: Get Out in Front of the Change
Although labor intensive, one of the most successful things we did during our implementation was to get our stakeholders on the phone. Instead of sending 30 emails a day, we held periodic meetings with every major business line.
This gave our end-users the chance to ask questions, understand what the status of their requirements was, understand why it was in the position of priority, identify any questions or problems we, as the technical experts were experiencing and gave them the opportunity to ask questions of their own.
Tip 4: Increase User Adoption by Involving Your Legacy Database Super Users
We also encouraged continuous conversations with the individuals who used our legacy systems. It was easy for them to identify if the data or processes we were creating in Salesforce didn’t feel right. Was this the same process they were used to? Could the processes we have in Salesforce be improved? These superusers were organically placed at key nodes in our organization, therefore by focusing on their satisfaction and engagement we were able to create a domino effect of user adoption and uptake.
Tip 5: Put Yourself in the User’s Shoes
There is a delicate balance between communicating and over-communicating. For me, it was important to ask myself, what are the three things this person needs to know without getting too much into the technical aspect? It was important to give our users and stakeholders enough context to understand what our team was doing and why, without explaining details that they wouldn’t want to know. For example, your Executive team may not need to know about dates for testing but are incredibly interested in product launch dates.
Another problem I often see in the technology space is the use of jargon or inconsistent terminology. During our communications to our organization, I made sure to be both thoughtful, and consistent. I’d take the time to explain any of the features or processes to our users and adding additional training or articles that Salesforce provides. I think this really helped our end-users become both comfortable and confident in the final product.
At the end of 18 months, we’ll be in a successful first-stage implementation. Salesforce is an amazing product and one that should continue to grow and change as your organization does. With Cloud for Good’s help, we’ve set the perfect foundation for All Hands and Hearts to proliferate our use cases and drive more value out of the investment we’ve made with Salesforce. We have a platform that supports our users and business processes, allowing our organization to be responsive in the situations where we’re needed the most.