Cydney Dodge, Director of Operations
Mat Solso, Donor Relations Manager
Stefanie Archer, Senior Salesforce Consultant
The New Hampshire Community Loan Fund (NHCLF) provides the financing and educational tools people need to have affordable homes, quality jobs, and child care by bringing people and institutions together to solve problems. Learn more about their incredible impact and transformative programs at https://www.communityloanfund.org/.
The Challenge: Streamline Data to Double Impact
NHCLF is a complex organization with multiple departments who used multiple systems. When the organization set a strategic goal to double their impact, they knew having the right technology in place would be a key factor to success. They needed a better way of accessing information or reports that involved consolidating data from different departments.
NHCLF approached 501Partners to integrate and streamline their systems. Instead of having important data hiding somewhere in a spreadsheet, or someone’s email, or someone’s head, they wanted to optimize Salesforce to keep information in one place. Eliminating double-entry and creating automations were also on the wish list. “We wanted to get to a place where we had data in one place so we could use it to guide smart decisions and plans,” says Cydney Dodge, Director of Operations.
The Implementation Process with 501Partners
NHCLF officially set up Salesforce a few years prior to hiring 501Partners, but ended up with a system that wasn’t really theirs. They felt that implementation fell short, and wasn’t fully embraced by their staff. On the second go, NHCLF hired 501Partners and worked closely with senior consultant Stefanie Archer. Archer approached the project with an emphasis on mapping out business processes, collecting useful input from all users, and setting realistic expectations. “Collecting a holistic, complete view of how NHCLF collects and tracks information is what the 501Partners’ methodology is all about,” explains Archer.
Archer also focused on the importance working hand-in-hand. 501Partners prioritizes taking a collaborative approach so clients own their systems by the time a project is complete. “We really learned that the consultant is here to assist you, make you accountable, offer other ways to automate processes (such as other applications that SF offers) and help you get unstuck. They’re not coming in to do everything for you,” says Dodge.
Results: Improved Donor Management & Event Tracking
Mat Solso, NHCLF’s “donation guy” and Salesforce enthusiast, worked with 501Partners to get development and donor operations on the platform. Before Salesforce, he used an antiquated system and a homemade database that no one bothered to maintain. “When I wanted to reach out and thank someone for a donation, I had to check two different databases,” says Solso. Potential donors weren’t tracked outside of individual employees’ heads. “It was tough to let the left hand know what the right hand was doing.” Now this data is in one place, and they can easily pull reports.
Event tracking was also problematic. Part of their new strategic initiative includes more small events. Solso has a much better handle on it now: He can see the invite list, who’s responded, and who plans to attend all in organized Salesforce campaigns.
Tips for a Successful Project
Taking on an enterprise-wide change is no small feat. Because NHCLF felt that their first attempt at a Salesforce implementation feel short, Dodge and Solso shared these suggestions:
- Map. Your. Processes.
Documenting how you do your everyday takes time, and it can be a pain, and people don’t have a lot of time to give. Do it anyway. It helps you really see what goes into the day-to-day work. Having tasks and processes all laid out helps you see what can be improved upon and automated. Yes, you can do a lot of things in Salesforce – but mapping your processes lets you organize, plan, and prioritize what those configurations will look like and address.Another fun tip? Map them again when you finish a phase. Compare it to what you were doing before, and you can really visualize where your become more efficient. Celebrate!
- Support from Leadership is Key
Support and buy-in from leadership is crucial. Don’t have executive buy-in? Show them your mapped processes (yet another reason to map your processes!). Your board is at the 20,000 foot viewpoint and focused on overall strategy. They’re not in the weeds, and don’t know what day-to-day work looks like unless you show them.
- Take a Close Look at Change Management
Staff buy-in is just as important as leadership buy-in. Some staff members may be excited for the change, and some may be afraid. Bring the excited staff members together with the leery ones.Dodge continuously reminded staff of their important role within the organization. “We repeated that this technology was being implemented to help them work more effectively and allow them to pick their heads up once in awhile to think strategically.” Remind them that at the end of the day, it’s about keeping your mind on the mission. “The more work we can do, the more people we can positively affect.” This is especially important if staff members are afraid of their jobs being replaced with technology instead of improved by it.
- Be Real
Set realistic expectations. Salesforce implementations take time. NHCLF and 501Partners put a timeline together that included weekly meetings. An agenda was set ahead of each meeting to keep momentum. “Build in flexibility,” recommends Solso. “You need to go at a pace that works for people. Keep momentum, and allow time for testing. You don’t want to go back and re-do things.”
- Own your System
Accept that the system alone will not result in success, and there’s not going to be a day when it’s 100% done. “The world is different! We’re constantly looking at data in new ways and evolving,” reminds Dodge. Eliminate the software as out-of-the-box expectation, and acknowledge that putting effort into a flexible platform like Salesforce will pay off, but it requires work and maintenance.“Make an effort to maintain data integrity, and document your procedures,” recommends Solso. “When I win the lottery and move to Bermuda, my successor will know just what to do.”