Your Data Dream Home

Have you ever tried to explain to friends and family what Salesforce is? It can be challenging to provide them context for all the functionality Salesforce offers. I came up with an analogy that I believe works pretty well. What do you think?

Think of all of your data as separate rooms. But, the question is: do these rooms come together to make a well-functioning house, a place to call home where everyone lives and works to their best potential? Imagine building your own dream home with everything just as you want it!

When we first arrive at our new home, it’s full of potential and possibilities - and a desire to make it our own. Think of Salesforce like your new home -- a new home for your data.  There’s a solid foundation, and even some plumbing, electrical, and framing to provide a starting point ready to be built out.  This foundation is like the core Salesforce features: accounts/organizations, contacts, and reporting to build your data house.

Now the fun part: making your Salesforce house your home. There are a number of possible directions to go in as you build out the features to make this Salesforce home work for you.  Keep it simple and add a few custom fields, just like putting some personal touches on a model house.  On the other end of the spectrum, work with a Salesforce architect (like our HandsOn Connect Cloud Solutions team) and do a custom build out unique to you and your needs.  Or, aim for the middle and use pre-built additions to save time and money; even add some personal touches as well.

But before getting too far into building and customizing your Salesforce data home, we need to understand how the data will work -- just like how a family will live together in a house.  This is where the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) part of Salesforce comes into play. The CRM is the floor plan to use for your data home.  Just like you don’t want to sleep in the kitchen, you don’t want all your data in one room.  Each room has a designated use while allowing a good flow between rooms.  Salesforce data works in a similar manner. The Account/Organization has all the information about the organizations/businesses that you work with. The Contact room that has all the information related to the individuals related to the Accounts/Organizations.  Because these two rooms are related, there’s an easy path from one room to the other.   

Now that the foundation is in place, and we understand the desired floor plan, it’s time to get building and customizing.  Not being an architect or a contractor, how do you get started?  Implementation teams like HandsOn Connect Cloud Solutions can help!

Our team reviews the floorplans for your data dream home, assesses needs and resources, and suggests options available within your budget and ability. Since we work with a lot of nonprofits, let’s tackle this build-out by focusing on building our dream home around volunteers and donors.  

As your architect, our first stop is the DIY store to identify ways to save time and money. After all, it’s much easier to buy our furniture than to build it from scratch!  The Salesforce AppExchange has resources like HandsOn Connect (a volunteer engagement solution), the Nonprofit Starter Pack (a donor management solution), and many other options.  

Now that we identified these solutions, it’s time to add them to your house -- Accounts/Organizations and Contacts rooms.  The first thing to avoid when adding onto our house is a detached garage that may just get filled with junk -- in this case useless or lost data.  Fortunately, Salesforce apps are designed to work together.

In the rooms dedicated to volunteer engagement, HandsOn Connect has great options!  The Volunteer Opportunity option houses information about the ways volunteers can serve your organization.  The first step is to connect the Volunteer Opportunity room to the existing structure using Accounts/Organizations. But how do the Contacts and Volunteer Opportunities rooms connect?  That’s where Connections in HandsOn Connect comes in.  Storing the data that links volunteers to the projects.  

Now your house is up and running with Accounts/Organizations, Contacts, Volunteer Opportunities, and Connections and you can move easily from room to room.

Nonprofits know that volunteers are two times more likely than others to donate to our organizations. It only makes sense to add a Donation Management room connected to your volunteer information.  The Nonprofit Starter Pack (NPSP) helps here.  With the NPSP, you can easily configure the existing Opportunity room to capture donations to your organization.  

With HandsOn Connect and NPSP in place, you now have that 360-degree view of your Accounts/Organizations, Contacts, Volunteer Engagement, and Donation Management within your data dream home.

Of course, the core rooms that come with Salesforce are pre-built but work best with expertise to help configured and size it to your needs -- to optimize livability and save time and money. While you could have built everything that these solutions provided from scratch, it ultimately saved everyone a lot of time and money by using these existing solutions customized to work best for you, plus you get the benefits of ongoing enhancements and support to keep things running smoothly.

Once your Data Dream Home has been designed and configured to provide you with the space you need to house your organization’s data, you’ll be ready to move in. All the members of your staff will have what they need to build a better, stronger organization -- under one roof, with one data solution! Should your organization need to grow, your data dream home can handle it -- expand your current structure and you'll never need to go house hunting again. And, you have the confidence of knowing that as you grow you have a partner in HandsOn Connect Cloud Solutions to accomplish things you never imagined through your data.

Art Ordoqui is the Chief Sales & Customer Success Officer of HandsOn Connect Cloud Solutions, a global technology solutions firm that helps organizations — including volunteer action centers, food banks, United Ways, Habitat for Humanity organizations, Catholic Charities, and many more — build and manage volunteer and donor engagement solutions. Art also serves as the co-leader for the San Antonio Salesforce User & Nonprofit User Groups.