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?
- Convio released their own Fall ’09 upgrade of Common Ground (to version 2.1)
- Formspring introduced Salesforce integration
- Box.net introduced Salesforce integration
All 3 solutions were easy to implement. Here’s a look.
If I knew that I could make the switch from the old Salesforce nonprofit Starter Pack to Convio Common Ground in less than 6 weeks, I would have made this move months ago.
Yes, it was time consuming, but not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. I ended up using just under 7 billable hours of consulting support time. Now it’s just about tweaking little things that may not work right, and figuring out where we’ll need some Apex or VisualForce to smooth rough edges. Other than that, we’re fully up and running.
Here’s another techie-geeky and “won’t be interesting to you if you don’t know Salesforce” post… promise I’ll keep them more general in the future.
Back in February, I did a little “thinking out loud” about where C3 was going with Salesforce.
We started using Salesforce as our main database in 2006, following the nonprofit best practices of the time. Now, 3 years later C3 has grown exponentially and we’re quickly outgrowing the structure I set up in 2006. Not outgrowing Salesforce by any stretch. There were simply some assumptions I had made in setting up our data model that were true and valid in 2006 that no longer apply. I had a big decision to make on where we would be heading next.
Over the last few months I’ve talked to many folks I trust and respect in the Salesforce nonprofit community. People who are a lot smarter than I am on many levels. They confirmed what I already suspected: There are no easy, obvious answers. Whether I decided to install the Salesforce Foundation’s Nonprofit Starter Pack, Convio Common Ground or something in between (or nothing at all), I would have some concessions to make.
After weighing all the options, and with a little help from some friends, we’ve decided to purchase Convio’s Common Ground.
I feel good about our decision. Read on for why…
Allan Benamer has a great post which gives an overview of all the fun stuff that’s happening in the nonprofit technology space these days.
I was going to leave a comment on his post, but then decided it’s time to throw my own $0.02 into the conversation.
I will never forget the chat I had 2 years ago with the senior GetActive employee who oversaw data integration projects. I asked about plans for integration between GetActive and Salesforce. To say that he blew me off was kind. And look at ‘em now!
I am very happy for my friends at Convio and the Salesforce Foundation that this is happening. I’ve had a chance to see an early demo of Aikido, and it’s incredible for such a young project.
Alas, to answer some questions I’ve been getting, despite what may appear to be an obvious fit for C3 (Convio? Salesforce? Hello!) I have decided not to participate in the Charter program. I wanted to, I really did. There are features in Aikido that had me cleaning up my chin after I saw them (think: relationship management). But we’re too far gone in Salesforce. Even though Convio’s CRM is built on Force.com and is Salesforce, there’s currently no easy way I can add it on to my existing Salesforce instance without losing some of the customization I’ve built on over the years.
For example, let’s say someone buys pins on our website through our Convio eCommerce store. Overnight, the buyer is added as a contact in Salesforce, the transaction is added as an opportunity (along with appropriate workflow rules so the office knows to send the pins and we can track that they did and when). At the same time, the inventory custom object we have is updated to reflect that pins will soon be leaving the shelf. The Convio CRM wouldn’t be able to do anything with this, and I couldn’t have Aikido and the opportunity-based customizations I already had at the same time.
That was a deal breaker for us. Aikido is a great fit for an organization that will either be touching Salesforce for the first time, or has been using the nonprofit template with minimal changes.
Anyway, why is Convio for “the rest of us?” Back to Allan’s post:
Despite the self-imposed quiet period due to the acquisition of Kintera by Blackbaud, Kintera issued a press release on June 6th touting the ability to add custom entities (database tables) to Kintera and have them automatically exposed through the Kintera API. Yes, you can now develop unique third party apps in Kintera that have nothing to do with fundraising (even though everything has to do with fundraising).
Huh? Guess what, not every nonprofit has a developer down the hall. Even organizations twice our size (which are still pretty small) glaze over in fear when you start talking about custom development. They just want to save the world, they don’t want to program it.
I am not a developer or programmer. A lot of what I’ve been able to do for C3 in Salesforce has been possible just by reading some simple documentation where I didn’t need a programmer translate for me. It’s that easy. And that’s why I’ve become a bit of an evangelist for the platform. Since Aikido is built on the Salesforce platform, you’ll be able to tap in the AppExchange and all the functionality that already comes with the Enterprise edition. Plus, Aikido is fully supported by Convio. Organizations will have all the Salesforce support resources plus Convio support resources. Honestly, if you can’t get your question answered with all that you aren’t asking it right. Cool stuff.
Convio hasn’t released any information yet about Aikido pricing, but some of the preliminary strategy has been privately shared with me. I can tell you right now that what is most exciting about this project is how approachable it will be for nonprofits of all shapes and sizes. Trust me, they’re thinking of us little guys as well as the organization with the $10 million budget. It’s not just a new toy, it’s a strategy shift. This isn’t your grandmother’s Convio.