So you've decided to get the 10 free donated licenses from salesforce.org for your nonprofit - congratulations! If one of the reasons you're excited about Salesforce is because of the license donation, you're probably interested in how you can keep your costs down and your return on investment high while using this incredibly flexible constituent relationship management software in the cloud. Here are a few tips:
1. Be flexible. This can mean a few things, of course, but the general rule of thumb to remember is to focus more on what you need to accomplish rather than how it needs to be accomplished. In other words, put your needs in the form of "we need to report on how many new donors we have attracted each month" rather than "we need a report in PDF format with a green column showing how many new donors we obtained for each calendar month."
2. Get on the trail! The more you're willing to use learn yourself, using the fantastically free Salesforce Trailhead online learning tool, the better off you will be. Think about it - spending a lot of money per hour to have a consultant do a custom training for your Salesforce administrator or staff is probably not worth it for about 80% of what your staff needs to learn. If your staff can complete certain trails and badges before doing certain customized training with your consultants, you will save hundreds if not thousands of dollars. What's even better, is that this will assure that everyone comes into the custom training your consultant does with the same base level of knowledge. And what's more exciting is that you can track people's progress in Trailhead and make sure that everyone has earned the same badges.
3. Know the true drivers of your timeline. Almost everyone who hires a consultant wants the project done immediately. What is the real reason for your urgency? Do you have an event coming up? Is there a board meeting? The more honest and open you can be with your consultant and of course the more flexible you can be in your date, the better off you will be. The more urgent and desperate you are the more likely you are to pay a pretty penny for expedited services.
4. Be willing to do work yourself. Not only is learning Salesforce an excellent investment for the long run at your organization, you can save thousands by doing some of the data clean up yourself or other tasks that can be extremely expensive if only consultants do them. Ask your Consultants directly what tasks you can take on to lower the total project cost.
5. Dedicate the internal resources. Almost every client I work with has vastly underestimated how much internal capacity a CRM project can take. There's a wide variety of knowledge that only nonprofit staff have and are actually better positioned than the consultant to do - for example, working with the executive team, mapping out certain processes, clarifying internal timelines, and creating the exact field mapping from the legacy system.
There are many more ways to save money working with consultants. One great way to start is to just ask. That said, working with Salesforce is an investment and if you truly have no budget you may want to reconsider your decision until you learn more. How can you learn more? Glad you asked. The Nonprofit CRM Summit has a free session for you on nonprofit system administrators as leaders which you can get right here.
Missy (@missylongshore on Twitter and Periscope) writes this blog just for you!