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Apsona Multi-Step Reporting: Taking Analytics to the Next Level

This is a cross post from the Cloud for Good blog. Standard Salesforce reporting works fairly well for many people.  Unfortunately, for those users with more complex analytics requirements, even the addition of joined reports to the Salesforce toolkit doesn’t quite fit the bill.  The problem is essentially that we are still looking primarily at one object and its directly adjacent relationships.  For example, all cases grouped by Priority and listed by Status, or all Opportunities grouped by Owner and listed by Stage (see more examples here).  But what if you wanted to show the top 10 most frequently sold Products by the 5 users with the highest total Closed-Won Opportunity value this year?  Now, you see, the limitations of standard reporting are becoming clearer.  Where to turn now?  I’d recommend trying out Apsona Multi-Step Reporting (fondly referred to as MSR). What’s Apsona Multi-Step Reporting? If you haven’t heard about Apsona, Francis wrote a great overview post just a couple months ago.  The two sentence summary is this: Apsona is a great app that sits directly inside of Salesforce and provides users some powerful options for querying, updating, importing and exporting, and reporting on their Salesforce data.  It even has a mail merge add-on that Dylan wrote about last month!  The best thing is that Apsona donates free licenses to non-profits for Apsona for Salesforce, so those organizations only ever pay for the extras, like Email and Document Merge or MSR.  [To learn more, sign up for our Apsona webinar later this year, led by Cloud For Good CEO Tal Frankfurt.]  If Apsona for Salesforce allows for reporting, why would I pay extra for the Multi-Step Reporting add-on? The reporting capabilities of Apsona for Salesforce are awesome, especially when...

Choosing the Right Email Provider for Your Salesforce

This is a cross post from the Cloud for Good blog. Just about everyone wishes they had ESP (extrasensory perception) when it came to choosing an appropriate ESP (Email Service Provider) for their organization. We hear all the time from our clients that this is a difficult process since they just do not know how to begin comparing. My first response is generally, “You are correct, choosing an ESP can be challenging.” This may not be the answer someone wishes to hear but there are several factors that come into play when needing to make this decision. Each ESP has its strengths, weaknesses, and even unknowns. As with any new tool, it is difficult to understand how it can be used or more importantly, how it was intended to be used. Of course comparing ESPs is a bit like trying to compare apples to oranges or beer to wine. Here are a few basics to help get you started on your search for the ESP that best fits and meets your needs. Basic Terminology Global Opt Out – When an email recipient selects “Unsubscribe” from an email, they are opting out of receiving ALL emails from you, the sending organization. (Some ESPs only supports global opt out with their salesforce integration). Native Salesforce Application – An application built entirely on the salesforce.com platform. These applications live inside your salesforce environment and there is no need for you to log into another providers portal or environment. User Licenses – Who can access the application? Is there a cost associated to each user who will need to build, design, and send...

Ready To Start With Your Implementation? Think Again

This is a cross post from the Cloud for Good blog. This is the moment you have been planning and thinking about for the past 12/24/36 months. Your organization has finally made a decision and pulled the trigger. You choose a platform, signed with an awesome implementation partner who can translate your needs into technology, and you are extremely excited to get started. Wait… are you really ready to start the implementation? From our experience at Cloud for Good this is not always the case. Many organizations want to start the implementation immediately after they chose their implementation partner. Everyone wants to get up and running on the new system as soon as possible. To make sure that you and your organization are ready, you should review and answer the questions below. 1. Do you have an executive sponsor? The executive sponsor lends his or her influence to the project by becoming its champion. Having that person’s full support and participation—from the planning stage until the go-live date and beyond—is absolutely critical. Executive Sponsor Name: _______________________________ 2. Who will be the project manager? The project manager (PM) will own the implementation process and will guide the project to successful completion. S/he should be a person who understands the relevant business process and can effectively communicate with both the implementation partner and the rest of the organization. The PM needs to have an authority, whether explicit or through influence to marshal resources. We’ve all run into situations where the project manager is committed and talented, but cannot influence the rest of the organization. This person should have at least 30% of their...

At Project’s End: Separation Anxiety and User Adoption

This is a cross post from the Cloud for Good blog. Looking back over the last several months since I joined the Cloud For Good team, I’ve noticed that some of the biggest angst for my clients comes at the end of a project.  Wrapping up an implementation brings all sorts of mixed feelings: pride and excitement, but also a fair share of trepidation.  This seems even more common with Quickstarts, forty-hour projects designed to get you into Salesforce as quickly as possible.  After all, we’ve gotten you up and running in just a few short weeks, and suddenly you’re the proud owner of your very own Salesforce org.  It can be thrilling – and overwhelming.  It’s no surprise the that separation anxiety can rear its head when you least expect it, right at the tail end when you realize that your “one last question” is more like several hundred last questions.  To make matters worse, your end users may feel the same way.  Despite our best efforts, it’s impossible to fit in a truly exhaustive training for everyone, and even in the best circumstances, many people are intimidated by changes to systems and processes.  So how do you conquer your anxiety and jump-start user adoption?  Here are a few of my suggestions: My first words of advice are always to calm down and take a deep breath.  You’ve got this; you really do.  Make a couple lists to capture the things you want to do next and the questions you have about the system.  That’s it.  Your first step is just to write down all those thoughts and...

To CRM or not to CRM: Is that the question?

This is a cross post from the Cloud for Good blog. If your organization is like most of the millions of non-profits operating today you are concerned about increasing your access and engagements within your constituent base. Inevitably, while developing a strategy to engage your constituents on multiple levels and manage those relationships, you have asked yourself: “Should we start using a CRM tool?” Before discussing best practices, or if your organization should implement a CRM solution, lets first answer the question: What is a CRM solution? Constituent relationship management (CRM) is software that makes it easier for organizations to maintain relationships with supporters/stakeholders (donors, foundations, volunteers, clients, etc) by doing the following: Track the relationships with individual supporters and donors. Target and/or customize appeals, invitations to events, etc. Targeted appeals based on personal interests. Post on-line acknowledgments. Record all communications and transactions. Strengthen connections. Offer insight by aiding you to evaluate your approaches and results. As a former Program Manager and eventually a System Administrator for an upstart nonprofit, I was directly involved in the decision making process when determining if we should implement a CRM solution. During that time I was able to experience the pitfalls and hurdles that need to be overcome when deciding on implementing a CRM. In my current role as an Account Executive at Cloud for Good, I get to regularly interact with organizations that are trying to decide if it is the right time to implement a CRM solution. These experiences have added a new perspective for me and allowed me to identify some of the key questions that an organization needs...