This blog post is from a Q&A I had with a Salesforce administrator at a small charity. She is currently the project owner, champion, and administrator, though is largely self taught in Salesforce. She asks about the pros and cons of her taking the discounted ADM 201 with Salesforce, or whether her successor should.
I was wondering if I could get some advice?
I’m currently about to work on implementing our Salesforce database pretty much full time, but only until the end of December. In order to focus this time, I’m trying to get advice on how useful it would be for the organisation, both for the next few months and into the future, if I attended the the ADM course.
I’ve also been asked to make some recommendations about next steps for READ after I leave; do you perhaps have any examples from organisations you have worked with about how to hand over the work I’ve done and ensure the database is as sustainable as possible? I suppose we’re looking to understand whether someone internal can pick it up or whether we might need to consider budgeting for some consultancy work going forwards.
If you have any pearls of wisdom to share on the above, I’d love to hear them!
Many thanks in advance, Rachel.
And my answer:
I’ll answer your question on a couple different levels.
In terms of pricing, Salesforce is expensive to work on, so in theory one should always think of the end benefit. Working towards increasing your book donations, or saving admin time, or increasing the number of major grants definitely has a cash-positive benefit. Spending £5k to increase revenue by £20k is an obvious win, and changes the question from one one expense to one of investment.
As for what organisations need, the most important thing is having an organisation where every user likes, uses, and understands Salesforce. If just a few people don’t bother using, that bottleneck can be destructive to the others’ organisation.
Along those lines, the most important thing you can do is to ensure from day one that you have a champion power user / admin who can do all the needed one-on-one mini tutoring sessions, and build reports, and help de-dupe the data. Users who get frustrated by a simple task and have no-one to ask start resenting the system. Users who are shown how to solve their problems start to like the system and their fellow power user. Not to belittle the point, but happy users and happy CRM’s go together (as do unhappy users and unhappy systems).
So what your organsation needs is a power user / admin who can build reports, answer questions, and basically be there every time someone is unhappy, confused, or stuck. You can of course pay a consultant to do this, but there are two major downsides of this.
First, the consultant is expensive for five minute questions – it’s just not feasible to hire them for three questions totaling 18 minutes over the day. And because of that, people will simply struggle with their problem rather than hire a consultant for a quick question, where they will happily turn to their power-user neighbor or in-house admin.
Second, the consultant doesn’t know the organisation that well, either as a whole or the individual staff working in it. This makes them worse at anticipating, forseeing issues, and being proactive than the local admin might be.
So, to summarize my slightly long-winded answer, READ (like just about every organisation using Salesforce) needs an in-house champion / power-user / admin. They need this person the most during the first few months, but they need this person ongoing, forever. It doesn’t have to be their full time job – it might just be 15 minutes a day. But they need them.
So pay for the discounted ADM 201 course – it’s the best deal you can find. The 4 days of training is the same price as hiring a consultant for a day. Even, in your particular case, of you not being there for more than 3 months, because the cost of you making mistakes due to lack of knowledge can easily cost far more than a consultant day later on. And, when your replacement joins, have a decent hand over and get them on the course too.< You might have to pay for consultants for high level discussions and complex customisations. Or you might want a support contract with us so your power-user can escalate issues they can't solve to us, and we do have discounts for non-profits. But, the money spent on consultants is a waste if your staff don't use and like Salesforce. So focus on end-user adoption and happiness, and reports and dashboards that show how the org is reaching its goals. And to do that, put your resources into internal champions who can take you forward. [/testimonial]