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Understanding the Total Cost of Ownership

This is a cross post from the Cloud for Good blog. As part of our ongoing series on strategic planning for technology, this post focuses on the different costs that should be assessed as part of any project planning exercise.  Understanding the true cost of an initiative can help you determine when (or whether) you should take on a new system initiative, usually in combination with some sense of the potential benefits to be realized from the implementation.  We’ll discuss different ways to evaluate the Return from a project in a future post. Cost constraints are often one of the first things that people think of when talking about technology, in large part because technology investments generally involve purchasing or building something tangible, such as servers, laptops, or software to install. While the outright cost to purchase technology is usually pretty apparent, it’s not the whole story, as it doesn’t take into account the the hidden costs of maintenance and support and the less-tangible costs of training, user adoption and efficiency.  Adding these costs in is the concept of Total Cost of Ownership or TCO.  This concept applies as well to the implementation of new systems as it does the acquisition of hardware. When evaluating the Total Cost of Ownership, there are three main elements to take into account:  Acquisition cost, Implementation cost and Support/Maintenance cost. Acquisition cost:  Typically, this category will include the outright purchase of hardware and software and is usually accounted for as a capital expense in the organization’s budget and can be depreciated over time.  Acquisition through in-kind donations or grants should also be accounted...

5 Key Items to Run a Successful Salesforce Implementation

This is a cross post from the Cloud for Good blog. When implementing new technology in your organization or expanding your existing system, a little bit of planning can go a long way in ensuring the success of your project. Planning the project well and having subject matter experts and/or experienced project managers can help the project move smoothly. Every project will have bumps in the road, but below are some tips that will help smooth out the bumps. Caution #1: Run your discovery sessions well. Now is the time to sit down with the main “sponsors” of the project (whether it’s the executive committee or a small team of people within a department) and your client team to make sure you fully understand what your teams needs. Allow your team to do a “brain dump” of their ideas, pain points, and needs. Don’t focus yet on the technological solution; just allow them to talk about their processes or desires, or even allow them to vent for a few minutes about what simply doesn’t work for them. Allow the conversation to be organic and go in its own direction, but don’t miss an opportunity to ask follow up questions. You may hear a tiny little factoid during a conversation that is crucial to the implementation. Also make sure you have documented those “exceptions” that always pop up every now and then. Sometimes the exceptions aren’t worth planning around, but sometimes they are. After the “brain dump” is finished, the questions are answered and you have a clear idea of what your project will look like, take some time to...

Salesforce Sandbox and How To Use It

This is a cross post from the Cloud for Good blog. Who doesn’t like the idea of a sandbox? You can get creative, get dirty, and get better at what you’re looking to accomplish. Salesforce has some nice options here. Depending on the type of sandbox you spin up, you have different features, capabilities, and pricing. Your sandbox options are; Developer (Free / 6 per EE instance) Developer Pro (Free / 1 per EE instance) Partial Data (Paid / Contact your Salesforce AE for pricing) Full (Paid / Contact your Salesforce AE for pricing)   This page explains the sandbox types that you can create & a general overview. How can I create one? Go to: Setup | Deploy | Sandboxes > you can create either a Developer or Developer Pro sandbox for free (assuming your instance has some available to create). The amount of time it takes to create a sandbox is dependent on the size of your production organization. Contact your Salesforce account executive for pricing for additional Developer Pro sandbox licenses or for a Partial Data or Full Sandbox. What can I do with it? Test New Features – With each new release, Salesforce rolls out the new features in a sandbox. This is a great place to test new features/customization before they are available in your production environment. Install App’s – You can install apps from the AppExchange and test them out. This is very helpful when assessing options for a new roll-out or simply exploring how to expand your environment with new functionality. Application Development – You can built and test without risking the...

Investing in Salesforce Success

This is a cross post from the Cloud for Good blog. Roll out is often considered the end of a software or systems project, but the end of every Salesforce project is really just the beginning. As a Salesforce administrator or champion, you need to be prepared to help your organization through its journey with Salesforce. Chart a course for success by making investments in knowledge, data quality and your users. Investing in knowledge gives you the power to steer the system towards more fully supporting your organization’s needs. Investing in data quality is essential for building trust in the system and investing in users helps build  community around Salesforce. INVEST IN KNOWLEDGE According to the old adage, knowledge is power. The more you know about Salesforce, the better equipped you’ll be to answer user questions, make decisions about enhancements and be a valuable resource to your organization. Salesforce is a platform whose features and functionality increase with each thrice-yearly release.  Your organization’s use of Salesforce will change over time and knowing what the capabilities of Salesforce are is important for maintaining the growth and health of the system.  Learning doesn’t have to be a chore, though. There are excellent online resources and a vibrant community out there for you to engage with. The Salesforce Help portal should be your first stop when you have a question. It’s rich with user guides, videos and support answers.  If you’re looking for help on how to do something specific in Salesforce, check out the Salesforce Foundation’s YouTube playlist of the Top 25 Best Help Videos from Salesforce. The video topics cover everything from...