This project began in earnest in January of 2016. It was slated for four months. The ultimate goals were still in flux as the Fishline staff had minimal exposure to Salesforce and it is very difficult to pin down the end game with so many unknowns.
The greatest enemy of any project is inertia. If you take only one thing from this entire series, it is this: use everything at your disposal to keep the project moving forward. Do not let a single week pass without meaningful, scheduled and structured contact.
Before the contract was even signed, both myself and the Executive Director committed to two one-hour meetings each week. These were not optional, and we understood that this obligation was the cornerstone of our agreement.
Some obvious questions can be asked. First, is it critical to require the head of the organization to participate? Isn’t it acceptable to work with another member of the staff? My answer is a resounding no. Small non-profits survive because of a dedicated board and the vision and leadership of the Executive Director. If the person in charge is not excited enough to attend the meetings, there is no way to get the staff excited – and excitement starts at the top. Furthermore, if you are unable to capture the interest of the leadership, the project is doomed to failure.
Second, isn’t meeting once a week or every couple of weeks sufficient? Again, my answer is no. There will be times when a meeting must be rescheduled or in rare cases canceled. This still leaves one opportunity a week to touch bases. It also forces both parties to show progress from one meeting to the next. The incentive is much greater to get something done, however small, if the next meeting is only 3-4 days away. When meetings are a week or more in the future, it is too easy to put it off until the beginning of the following week.
We chose to meet Tuesday and Friday mornings. This allowed all parties to deal with the typical Monday chaos and have time to prepare. Friday was a nice wrap-up session.
Second only to momentum is enthusiasm. It is the job of the consultant to keep the staff mesmerized by the potential of a CRM implementation. Frankly, Salesforce makes it so easy to do this, there is simply no excuse for not sweeping everyone off of their feet.
One of my goals early on was to present one new feature per week – and it doesn’t have to be a major one – that cannot be done with the legacy software.
A great example is reports. Custom software generally offers canned reports with limited customization. Yet, these non-profits cannot survive without these reports. One of the big concerns I heard repeatedly from the outset was the need to reproduce “complex” reports.
Don’t get me wrong – I realize that these reports are indeed important – it’s just that they are not really that complex at all. And frankly, the information they provide is fairly limited. It turned out that in order to “compile” the monthly reporting, staff spent hours at the end of each month gathering data from different sources to augment these seemingly indispensable reports!
All it took was a simple demo. I opened up the report tab, created an accounts/contacts report, and within a couple of minutes showed how easy it was to drag columns around, group and aggregate rows, and produce a chart. I emphasized that every piece of data entered in Salesforce could be exposed through the reports.
The response I got from the Executive Director was something to the effect of “I know where I am going to be spending my time!” In other words, she immediately grasped the power of Salesforce reporting.
In subsequent meetings I threw together examples of views, simple formula fields, summary roll-ups, page layouts, etc.
In a pre-Salesforce world, your average software user expects inflexibility. Traditional software is what-you-see-is-what-you-get, and convincing a vendor to change one or two things to make your life easier is almost a cause for celebration.
It’s critical to alter this mindset. The best way I found to do this is to be bold and actually make changes during a conversation. Early on in the process I gave a tour of the account and contact screens. It didn’t take more than a few minutes before someone pointed out that there was too much clutter on the screen. I jumped at the opportunity, clicked “Edit Layout” and dragged the offending fields off the form. “What do you think about the order of the remaining fields?”, I asked. In about 30 seconds I added a new section, rearranged some fields, saved my changes and presented them with a glorious piece of work. Now, that’s the stuff that changes the world.