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“Receiving is very complicated.” That’s what I heard over and over with respect to the information that needs to be logged. Currently, all of this information is written in a log. There is no computer in the receiving area.

Everyone has a different definition of “complicated” and the best thing to do is to simply go for the facts. Conversations like to stray, and my job is to keep them on track. One thing I made clear from the start: the goal of a consultant is not to be liked – it is to get the job done.

Just the Facts

Keeping things on track and getting usable information is facilitated by the methodical “stepping through” of a process. Start from the beginning, telling a story, and let the staff fill in the blanks.

“Okay, let’s say the supermarket makes a grocery rescue delivery. Have I got that right? Grocery rescue? Good.” I continue, “so my name is Joe, I unload the truck, and bring the boxes of food to the check-in counter. And …”

I learn that the boxes are weighed. It doesn’t matter the type of food, everything gets weighed. That is the only thing that is recorded, along with the donor. Well, not quite. All of a sudden things go sideways. Donations don’t go just to the market. They may go to other programs. Not only that, but we need to differentiate between “grocery rescue” and other food donations. Not to get too complex, but sometimes there are deliveries that include items that were purchased by the food bank that will be used in the market … or other programs, or …”

Here is where the consultant becomes “not liked.”

“Too much information! Let’s deal with one thing at a time!”

This is a very difficult point to get across, and it is critical. I realize that these are all important nuances, and I also realize that everyone now is thinking about all the permutations as one massive blob of uncontrollable ooze. But it’s not helpful.

Be objective. Make a list of what needs to be gathered for each donation. This is what we came up with in the first round:

Okay. I admit, a little more complicated. But this is a great start. We have agreement. There is nothing else we need to capture. But how do we capture it?

Returning to Data

The golden rule: it’s not how to capture it, but what is it that we want to capture? This can only be answered by reflecting on what is most useful in reports.

Thinking in reporting terms, it’s who, what and how much. There are five types of transactions: perishable food donations (vegetables), non-perishable food donations (canned goods), purchased items, monetary donations and other donations (clothing, kitchenware, etc.)

Each of these has some sort of measure, whether it is pounds, amount of money or type of “other” donation. This sounds like a Salesforce object to me – a donations object.

For now, I am not going to go into all the specifics. The point is that this object contains all of the information we need to report on, and since there is a donation type, it can be filtered, grouped and massaged in just about any way to deliver some pretty exciting reports and charts.

The experienced Salesforce admin will latch onto something in the Donation page layout immediately: not all the fields are applicable to every donation type. This is the perfect case for a record type. We will get to that in later posts.