Congrats! You’ve landed a new job taking care of your organization’s Salesforce.

Unfortunately, it’s an old Salesforce instance, and it needs a little love. We know how intimidating that can be, especially when you’re looking at data that may well be almost a decade old. After all, one benefit of Salesforce is that you can use it for years without needing to dump the system and start with something fresh.

Our team recently connected with a new Salesforce administrator who shared with us some of her concerns about inheriting her organization’s old system. In this case, her organization had been using Salesforce since 2008 and it had become quite cluttered with unnecessary data and apps.

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Not everyone finds it easy to get rid of old, but once useful items. An old Salesforce that has not been maintained may include some extra clutter.

The organization had not tasked anyone to maintain the database and audit the data over the years, and things were a little clunky. She struggled to pull certain reports and feared there had been some data loss.

Everyone was telling her to move to the Non-Profit Success Pack as quickly as possible.

Fortunately, our team was able to make a few tweaks to assist with the cluttered data views and addressed her concerns about the reports. And in doing so, we realized that there might still be life in the old database that she should look at first. This would enable her to buy the time needed to determine whether NPSP was the right move for her organization.

How do you squeeze life out of an old, unkept Salesforce database?

First, take an inventory of the things you’re using and not using. For instance, do you still have a Vertical Response integration, but have been using MailChimp for years?
Once you figure out what you actually need, uninstall the old apps from Salesforce to declutter and clean things up.

Second, audit your data. It make take a little time to review things object by object, but it’ll be worth the work. Remember that users over the years may have been entering data in whatever way they thought best at the time, so there is likely not much consistency. Run a few reports to identify the gaps in your data, the pieces that are incomplete or entered incorrectly.

A useful tool for cleanup is Fusion DemandTools. This tool will help you remove duplicates, and help you audit and update your data. Another useful tool is Apsona, which can help you find neglected contacts. They offer a video library on their website.

Useful tip: Be sure to create a Sandbox to test out any apps you and your team may want to experiment with. As a Salesforce Administrator for your organization, you may want to restrict others in the organization from installing apps on their own, and by establishing protocols to help determine which apps are truly valuable.

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It’s worth taking the time to get everything right before you jump.

Why not just jump right in and upgrade to NPSP?

It’s important to remember that simply upgrading to the Non-Profit Success Pack won’t resolve the problems you have with clutter or incomplete / inaccurate data. However, once you do complete the audit and clean up your data, your team can continue to use the system in its current form. This will buy you all the time you need to decide whether NPSP is what your team needs, and plan for the transition if you do decide to move forward with it. The transition can take time and money, neither of which are abundant at most non-profits.

To help you and your team make the decision about whether or not to upgrade, your Salesforce administrator should consider testing out NPSP in a separate instance to compare your systems side-by-side. You may find that your current system does everything you need it to, or you may find that what NPSP can offer you exceeds the cost and risk of the upgrade.

Keep in mind that the strength of NPSP is in its donor management and fundraising tools. So if you intend to use the system to support your programs, NPSP may not be the best fit.

We want to upgrade! What do we do next?

Before jumping in, be sure to acknowledge your team’s technical strengths, and identify those areas where you could benefit from the support of an experienced Salesforce consultant. The work you do ahead of time with your consultant will help you and your team plan for a smooth transition to the new platform.

Next? Connect with Salesforce to purchase access to a “Full Sandbox” for your Salesforce instance, which will include a complete copy of your database, along with all of your data. Your Sandbox will be where you plan the upgrade, and where your team will be able to validate the data and processes.

Once everyone is on the same page, write up the your transition plan step-by-step so you’re prepared to deploy it within your organization’s actual Salesforce instance.
Nonprofit organizations cannot afford to rebuild and replace technology over and over again. With a trained Salesforce Administrator and a reliable partner, you and your team will find that your Salesforce system can give your organization everything you need, for years. And if you find that your data does get neglected eventually, you’ll know it’ll still be there.

Be sure to ask your consultant these questions:

  • Why do you think I should upgrade to NPSP?
  • What is the value of NPSP to me?
  • How do you plan to move us to the NPSP, and what is your process?

Have you inherited an antiquated Salesforce system, or are you considering a move to NPSP? Contact us today to learn more about how our consultants and Force.com certified developers can help your organization reach your goals.

Daizy Logik: Creativity. Rigor.