Play in the Sandbox for (Salesforce) Safety

USE A SANDBOX TO AVOID COSTLY MISTAKES Did you ever have one of those moments where you wished that your life had an “Undo” button?  Of course you did! Maybe it was when you did something stupid, or when you crumpled a fender trying to squeeze into a parking place. Clients often assume that Salesforce has one too, and they blunder ahead without fear. The bad news is that Salesforce does NOT have an Undo button. Why not? As an online platform, it really can’t: once a command is sent to the server in Seattle or Atlanta or Kuala Lumpur, one cannot retrieve it. However, Salesforce does have something that’s just as good as an Undo button: it’s called a Sandbox. A Sandbox allows you to test out changes to your Salesforce without affecting your data. Once you get the Sandbox working, you can reproduce it in your organization’s Salesforce account (called Production) and Voila! You’ve created your own Salesforce Undo button. Types of Sandboxes When you create a Salesforce account, your organization automatically receives a certain number of Sandboxes. If you have created a Salesforce instance recently, you will be able to set up the following four types of Sandboxes as part of your instance (three of which are free of charge): Developer (30 available): This type of Sandbox is adequate for most purposes. It is an empty version of your Production Salesforce; it contains all the objects and fields but none of the data.   Developer Pro (1 available): Developer Pro includes customizations like dashboards and report types that you have created in Production, which is not...

Think Like Einstein: Unlock Salesforce’s Capacity

When I was a kid, one of the scientific-sounding myths that stuck with me was that the average human “only” employs 10% of their brain, while geniuses like Albert Einstein utilize up to 20%. If your organization is using Salesforce only as a development tool, you are only tapping into a very small percentage – perhaps only 10% – of your Salesforce capacity. It is easy to forget that Salesforce is primarily a CRM (Constituent Relationship Manager). So many nonprofit users focus exclusively on its formidable suite of tools for tracking all types of financial transactions. Use Salesforce to Synchronize Data Across the Entire Organization When used correctly, Salesforce synchronizes all your agency’s departments. Best of all, it streamlines the process of mass uploading data to Salesforce from other databases. Just about every product on the market can produce your current data into CSV (Comma Separated Value) format, which is the data type that Salesforce reads. In our work, we’ve found that most development contacts are not cross-referenced across the organization. For every Annual Gala or fundraising event, there are donors who not only give but volunteer, too. To pull up a list of those who do both can be time-consuming and inefficient if you are using two different data systems. Five Minutes of Effort = Your Customized Report In a conventional development arrangement, you’d first go to the Development Director to get a list of everyone who donated, and then go to the Volunteer Director for his or her volunteer list. Someone would then have to manually cross-reference the lists. (We are already feeling your pain.) If you...

Starting from the Finish Line: Structuring Your Salesforce Instance

Using Salesforce successfully and efficiently long term depends on starting with a sturdy and adaptable structure. By strategically basing your Salesforce on your business processes, you can ensure proper and reliable data reporting and open a window into a high-level understanding of nonprofit organizational program outcomes, trends, financial benchmarks, and more. Building your Salesforce correctly requires capturing data with an eye to reporting on it, helping you achieve your nonprofit organization’s service and fundraising goals, and offering insights for organizational planning. At 501Partners, we approach our clients’ Salesforce structure with the mantra, “Plan the beginning with the end in mind.” We are sharing five of our “pro tips” to structure your instance correctly at the beginning, so you spend less time adjusting your reports, and get what is most valuable out of it in the end.  1, Understanding Reports and Objects: Make Sure Salesforce Knows What You Want Reporting is an essential part of your nonprofit’s success, and if used correctly, Salesforce can make what would normally be an exhausting process into just a few clicks of your mouse. Before you start reporting, however, be sure that you are asking for the right kinds of information and that you’re inputting and using the selected information correctly. All data in Salesforce is stored in separate “objects” (“tables” for people more familiar with conventional databases), and you use these objects to create reports. The objects that are most commonly used on the non-profit sector are Contacts (People), Accounts (Organizations), Opportunities (Donations) and Campaigns (Events).  When you create a report, make sure that you use the appropriate reporting template for what you...

The Cloud Doesn’t Always Have Your Back: Backing Up Your Salesforce Instance

Effective Salesforce use is often as much about habits as it is about technology. Here’s a habit every time-strapped, cash-conservative nonprofit organization should develop sooner rather than later: backing up your work. True story: when I was in graduate school, I had a big paper due to the end of the semester. Like most students, I waited untill the night before it was due. For hours, I sat typing away. As I  reached the final page, the lights in my apartment flickered. Power outage. The lights came back on, but you can guess what happened to my paper. I hadn’t saved any part of it along the way, so I paid the price of of re-typing the whole thing. “But wait a minute,” I hear you say. “Isn’t Salesforce in the cloud? Doesn’t my account get backed up on servers from Kansas City to Kuala Lampur? Why would I have to back it up manually?” True, Salesforce is in the cloud. True, it’s backed up automatically to different servers. But this is also true: when you make large changes to your Salesforce data, you’re stuck with the “last, best” version of your data. Even when it isn’t doing what you need it to do and you want to go back to the data set before that “last, best” version.  If that large change doesn’t turn out as envisioned, you’ll want to have your very “last, best” version of your data to fall back on when those large batch changes don’t quite work out. To be assured that you always have that version, always backup your data before loading a...

Using Excel for Nonprofit Data Migration

Thomas Edison famously said that “Genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.”  If he’d been a Salesforce user, he would have said, “Data upload is 99% preparation and 1% migration.” Data migration is the task of transferring large amounts of data into Salesforce from another platform. To accomplish this you will typically use Microsoft Excel or another spreadsheet program that allows you to create “common-separated value” or CSV files.  In this blog we will review some of the commonly used tools that are built into Excel to make it easier to prepare your data BEFORE you mass-migrate it into Salesforce, ensuring that the data you migrate is as accurate as possible.  After all, you don’t need to be a genius to know the expression, “Garbage in, garbage out”! NAMES MUST BE STORED IN SEPARATE CELLS Some database products expect you to put a person’s full name into a single cell.  Salesforce, however, requires that the First Name and Last Name be separated.   BEFORE: Name Buzzina Lightyear Destiny Husband Adam Levine Kelly Preston   Before you start trying to copy and paste each last name separately into a new cell, try this: Excel Tip: Text-to-Columns Use Data | Text to Columns to separate data into two columns:   Create an empty column to the right of the Name column (Select | Insert Columns) Select the Name column Click Data | Text to Columns Click “Delimited” For Delimiter Select “Space” (Tab is default) Click Next and Finish If you get an error message that Data is Already There Click OK Rename fields as “First Name” and “Last Name” AFTER: First...