Common Ground/Salesforce Fall Updates

In addition to Winter ’10 from the mother ship, a lot of good stuff has been happening this Fall in our little ‘ole Salesforce database. Best of all: we haven’t had to spend an additional penny for any of it, since it’s all about tools we were already using.

To me, this is what the cloud is all about. Different logins, different purposes, different data…all coming together to work the way we need it when we need it.

So what’s new?

All 3 solutions were easy to implement. Here’s a look.


Common Ground Fall ’09 version 2.1

While I was still trying to figure out what we were going to do before switching to Convio Common Ground, I asked staff for their Salesforce wish list: “what do you wish our database could do that it doesn’t already?” Our Development Director answered that he wished he could enter a partial address and Salesforce would correct.

It was a great suggestion. There are tools on the Salesforce appexchange that do address verification, but they’re not free. Even DemandTools charges extra for their address verification service.

Last week, Convio released a free Fall ’09 upgrade to Common Ground (to version 2.1) and it includes CASS address standardization!

There were other changes, including grant management workflow and improvements to the relationship widget. But the address standardization is the killer feature for me.

So let’s say we get an address like this (this is C3′s address, if anyone is wondering):

address3.png

No zip code. And is that an apartment, suite or house number?

Each address now has a button to standardize, and the status is set to “Pending” whenever an address is edited. The address verification happens on Convio’s servers.

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Click the button and viola! Corrected address. Full zip code, correct street address. The status is changed to “Standardized” on save.

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This button works one address at-a-time, and there’s a bulk tool to update existing addresses.

It’s not perfect. In the day or two I’ve been playing with it I’ve found:

  • It won’t work if the city field is blank (so no entering just the zip code to get the correct city)
  • It won’t work if the state name is spelled out (Virginia instead of VA)
  • It only works on the contact mailing address and account billing address (not account shipping address)
  • I still have to figure out how or if I can add the button to address fields on custom objects (doubtful, given all the moving parts involved).

But better than paying for the service separately elsewhere? Definitely.

Formspring Salesforce Integration

We’ve had a Formspring account for a while. Way before we signed up with ClickTools which does forms and surveys right from within Salesforce.

Why Formspring? It’s relatively inexpensive. The plan we’re on gives us 20 forms to play with, each with up 200 fields and 2,000 submissions for under $20/month after nonprofit discount. It’s easy. The interface is a breeze to navigate, the results are simple to embed on any page and it’s reliable.

Until last week, the only downside was that I had to manually import results to Salesforce. Now, that’s no longer an issue.

Take for example this simple form on our site to capture interest in our upcoming Call-on Congress.

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We just want to know if they want to be notified when we open registration. We ask for name, email and mailing address. Name and email are required.

I have a campaign in Salesforce/Common Ground for folks who have expressed interest in Call-on Congress. Makes it easy to mass email them when registration opens.

So manually, the process is that we need to bring in the contact, check if they already exist, update if they do, create if they don’t, and add them to the campaign.

Now Formspring does this for us. Within seconds of submission, that contact is in the campaign. Very easy to configure for each object.

FormSpring.png

Limitations I’ve found, especially as compared to the more expensive/complicated ClickTools:

  • No conditional mapping. In ClickTools, I can update a field in Salesforce based on the value. So in the example above, we have an opt-out question. In Formspring, I can’t set it to “If the answer to this question is X, then update this field.”
  • No customized upsert fields. In ClickTools, I can set whatever field I want to be the key field for an update. In Formspring, it can only be based on the email address (unless you happen to be capturing the ID from the user), which is fine if you’re sure that every email address is unique in Salesforce.
  • No data in the URL. In ClickTools, we can send a constituent an email with a unique survey link that already has their contact and/or case ID embedded in the URL. So they can respond without having to tell us who they are again, and their record will be updated. Formspring doesn’t do anything like this. It’s only meant to replace public forms, not collect data in the way that ClickTools does.

Box.net Salesforce Integration

Salesforce wants an arm and a leg for their data storage solution. Even with the nonprofit discount. For our simple needs, Box.net works. The only downside is its lack of a desktop sync tool (a la Dropbox, which I also love).

Last week, Box.net introduced integration with Salesforce. I wish I could say I’m over-the-moon about it. It’s just alright.

Once installed (through a link provided by your account manager) you have to add a custom s-control to the page layout of the object you want. It really doesn’t matter which layout you put it on, because unfortunately it doesn’t really integrate with Salesforce. More on that later.

Once added to the page layout via a custom s-control, you get a view into your files exactly as they are on Box.net (sorry, had to black out file names).

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And that’s the problem…it’s just Box.net inside of Salesforce. That’s not integration, that’s interface.

There are no options to specifically work with the file and the opportunity/contact at the same time. Best you can do is get the box.net shared link which you then have to copy/paste into an email.

box-2.png

No listing on the record of which collateral was sent, whether it was opened, etc. Oh, and you can add a Box.net tab to your Salesforce applications. When clicked, it’s Box.net in a Salesforce frame. Once again, this is interface. I was hoping for integration.

I guess it’s a matter of getting what you pay for, but I hope Box.net has plans to take this so much further. If I’m going to add something to an object’s page layout, it isn’t because I want convenience. It’s because there’s a reason that the added information needs to interact with that object.

See you at Dreamforce and Convio Summit next month!

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