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How can I be so sure? Because you read the first post (at least I hope you did). This includes consultants, executive directors, board members, staff and committed volunteers. I have written it in such a way that, although not everyone will be able to follow all the details, every post has a few gold nuggets that are applicable to each group.

The Timeline

I did not write the first post until four months had passed. I wish I could say this was by design. In truth, it was a lack of time on my part. One of the stipulations of this project is that it had to be done outside of my normal work, and this “normal work” has been abnormally hectic until very recently.

In hindsight, I was very fortunate. My original goal was to blog in real time. The challenge with that approach is that it would not incorporate the benefit of hindsight.

From this point forward, the bulk of the posts were written in a three-week period.

My Writing Style

While I am perfectly capable of writing technical documentation, in my heart I am really a story teller. It’s important for you to know this, because you will be disappointed if you are expecting bullet points and a step-by-step process.

From my perspective, a technical document is useless. Every implementation is unique. Of course, there are some consistencies across all projects, and I do emphasize those. What is important to me, as a consultant, is the process of working together as a team, struggling with unexpected roadblocks, making sometimes drastic changes to the plan, and still get the job done in a reasonable period of time within the allotted hours.

I intentionally included a lot of paraphrased dialog in an attempt to capture what it is really like to work through a small non-profit Salesforce implementation on a shoestring budget.

For the Consultant

First, I am a great advocate of the “giving back” Salesforce philosophy. Some consulting firms work only in the non-profit space and other firms do nothing in this space. For the former, you need to charge for your services, since this is your business. I assume that your “giving back” consists of discounted rates to everyone, which I applaud. My suspicion is that most of your implementations are not with tiny non-profits. We budgeted about 120 hours of consulting time for this project including some post-implementation support. Even with a very generous discounted rate of $100 per hour, that’s $12,000 – something a tiny non-profit cannot even consider. I am optimistic that this series may benefit your novice consultants and demonstrate some of the challenges they will face – before they actually face them.

Turning to the consultants that do not work with non-profits, again, I encourage you to consider a little pro-bono work. It’s a real paradigm shift, so be prepared for it. As with any good business, we should be interested in the “up sell” – doing good work, getting the job done, and making recommendations for further work. This benefits both parties. This is a completely different situation. There is no “up sell” potential, and there is a very fine balance between minimizing your time and delivering a solid implementation.

This blog series highlights every pothole I hit along the way. If you are prepared for these, you can avoid them. And, the less time you spend getting “unstuck” the more time you have to gain ground. It’s that simple.

For the “Do it Yourself” Non-Profit

Suppose you have heard that Salesforce is the way to go, and you cannot find a consultant. It’s not a problem. Salesforce created the “Power of Us” Hub as a huge resource for non-profits. I encourage you to watch this introductory video. You can only access this hub if you are an approved non-profit and that means that your Salesforce instance is already created. This series covers how to do that, so you are already well on your way.

The real challenge for you is the likelihood that nobody in your organization has either used Salesforce before or, if they have, do they have experience in configuring it?

If you are going to take on the implementation without a consultant, you must have someone in the organization who is willing and capable to fulfill that role. Do not choose a staff member. The staff are already overworked and are too embedded in the current processes. You need an outsider, but someone who is dedicated to the organization and will be there for the long haul.

Consider either a board member or a “super volunteer.” This person does not have to be a techno-geek, and probably should not be. We are looking for a very organized and pragmatic individual who is very comfortable with using computers and software.

Once this person is selected, please have her take the Salesforce Trailhead Admin Beginner Course. At this point do not worry too much about security. It can be overwhelming, and from my perspective it is not relevant early in the process – since we don’t even know that the process is going to be.

As you work through this blog series, it will become obvious when these courses need to be revisited.

Let’s get started.