Why Salesforce? What the heck is it? Who cares?
What It Is. In an unsophisticated way to explain it, Salesforce is a sophisticated CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system that organizations can use to interact with people. It’s all in the cloud, so no worries about updates and servers.
Yep, you’re right. Salesforce was designed to extract the public’s hard-earned dollars, but the company has a strong commitment to philanthropy; one way they give is by providing a free version of Salesforce to nonprofits. This is called the Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) and includes 10 licenses (meaning, 10 people can use it) plus a good amount of storage. Of course, if you’re a big nonprofit and you need more, it does cost.
I’m actually consulting with a nonprofit right now using the NPSP and finding it a fun challenge to translate the for-profit concepts I learned when I studied for my Salesforce Administrator Certification test (which I passed, thank you) to nonprofit concepts.
Who Cares? You got me there. But for geeky me, I actually find it quite fascinating. Even if you don’t, it is good for your cv. Salesforce is growing, taking over the planet.
I’m not a programmer, but I understand data a bit and I’m good at learning clicky (called “Declarative”) programs, so Salesforce is perfect for me.
You Can Salesforce, too! Not only do they provide nonprofits with free copies, but you can get a free Developer Edition on which to practice. Plus, they’ve created a free learning environment called Trailhead with lessons and “Trailmixes” to earn points/badges or even study to get certified. Note that I failed my first certification test (difficult!!), so supplemented Trailhead with courses at Udemy and other websites.
Scary Big Data. I know that Big Data is a frightening Kaiju (what is Facebook up to?) and it’s creepy the way you Google something and the next thing you know, “helpful” ads pop up seconds later featuring that same thing. But from what I can tell, Salesforce is committed to the ethical use of data.
Marc Benioff, Chairman and Co-CEO of Salesforce, says, “We know that technology is not inherently good or bad; it’s what we do with it that matters. And that’s why we’re making the ethical and humane use of technology a strategic focus at Salesforce.”
So, we have to trust right now. Data is the future and we have to get in there to steer it correctly. I’ll have more to say about this in the future.
Let’s Do Together! In upcoming articles, I’ll start with a macro view to give a sense of the shape, layout and function of Salesforce. Again, it’s essentially about the relationship between an organization and people (customers, donors, volunteers, etc). Then we’ll take a micro view by diving in and creating a record. It’s super user-friendly in terms of adding information; it gets more complex once you have the data entered and then you want to do stuff with it. We’ll take it one step at a time.
We’ll also learn about the differences between Salesforce and the Nonprofit Success Pack, and the original interface called Classic vs. the new sleeker, spiffier interface called Lightning.
Slow and Easy. I’m experienced in training non-techy people, so I’ll do my best not to confuse. I really believe that context and purpose are crucial. You need to know why you’re doing something, not just be told rote steps.
Caveat: I’m still learning Salesforce, so bear with me. However, I figure we can hold hands and jump in together. So, join me on a new adventure!