5 Salesforce.com® Pitfalls for Nonprofits

Young women stressed out of salesforce for nonprofits pitfalls

As salesforce.com for nonprofits increases in popularity, many organizations are making the same avoidable mistakes with the platform.

We’ve identified 5 salesforce.com pitfalls for nonprofits to look out for. This list comes from experience in working with dozens of non-profit clients.

When performing nonprofit implementation and administration for Salesforce.com, look out for the following traps:

Pitfall #1: Thinking Salesforce is a Purely Technical Endeavor

In reality, Salesforce implementation is about 80 percent business planning, 20 percent technical work. While the technical work is important, it’s easy to get lost in the “how to” and lose focus of the “why.”

For this reason, if you choose to hire a consultant to help you implement Salesforce, you should be sure to find one that understands the trinity of business planning, Salesforce.com, and technology. Too often, GeauxPoint is contracted to fix the mess of “technology consultant” that said “sure, why not” when asked if they can help implement Salesforce.

Pitfall #2: Over-relying on Vendor Support

Often times, Salesforce users add apps to their platform for certain functionalities, such as mail-merges or household management. However, these clients often underestimate the complexity of what they are trying to accomplish, and become dependent on the sometimes reluctant support of third-party app vendors.

For many non-profits, configuring apps will often require some involvement on the vendor side. Their support teams often have to tweak things on the backend or provide essential info directly to clients.

However, vendors are feeling the burn from needy non-profit clients, and some are even turning away non-profit business. This can leave the client in a bad spot.

The reason vendors are turning off to non-profits is that it costs too much to support them. When the vendors realize that a client is trying to do something that is way more complex than what their budget can support, the vendors will choose to walk away client rather than adopt a lifelong series of problems.

Pitfall #3: Not Accounting for “Total Cost of Ownership”

Salesforce only grants ten free licenses. You can get more at a discount, however.

When budgeting for any project, it’s important to look at the big picture. In Salesforce’s case, some commonly overlooked expenses training, implementation, and  process development. This is not to say that total cost of Salesforce is super expensive; the non-profit licensing model makes it very affordable. But you should know what to account for.

Note that this is especially true for open-sourced alternatives to Salesforce, where costs are commonly underestimated. For these solutions, the difficulty is higher for both the implementation and administration, which is especially expensive in the long-run.

Pitfall #4: Loading the Instance With Apps

There are some really great apps available for Salesforce, but it’s a best practice to do as much as you can with the native Salesforce instance. You can do more than you think with the pure instance, and those apps are a lot harder to remove than they are to install.

Further, third-party apps can create data issues. Many apps require you to move data to the app-holder’s database, where ownership lines get hazy. Further, being developing your business processes around an app means that if that app producer goes out of business, you may have to re-develop your entire salesforce strategy.

Pitfall #5: Not Reviewing Salesforce Best Practices

Many organizations that fail with Saleforce do so because they try to use the platform for something that it was not designed to do, or in the way that it was designed to do it.

Before planning even starts, it helps to understand Salesforce and how it works. This can be accomplished by thorough review of Salesforce best practices. This will ensure that your business goals align with the capabilities of the system.

Salesforce is a registered trademark of salesforce.com and is used here with permission.

Any questions about Salesforce for your non-profit? Drop a line below or contact us directly.