Dreamforce Highlights for Nonprofits


by Will Nourse, Chief Information Officer at Citizen Schools

The Foundation is pleased to welcome Will Nourse as a special contributor to the Foundation blog. Based in Boston, Will Nourse is the Chief Information Officer at Citizen Schools (www.citizenschools.org).  He has been using salesforce.com at Citizen Schools since 2008 and is a passionate believer in the ability of cloud technology to help non-profits transform the way that they operate.  He was named a salesforce.com Community MVP in 2011 and is active on Twitter as @wnourse.  His blog on non-profit technology can be found at www.nonprofit-force.org. He and his wife live in Amesbury, MA with their daughter and two cats and he is an active amateur photographer and astronomer.

Last month, I had the privilege of attending my sixth Dreamforce.  As I have each year, I came away inspired and reinvigorated to continue our work with the salesforce.com platform.  As always, there were numerous product announcements and enhancements discussed and it can be hard to keep track of everything. When the Foundation asked me to summarize some of the best takeaways for members of the nonprofit community, I decided to focus on a couple of the most interesting new product announcements.

These were exciting for me because they each leverage the power of social technologies to help solve specific problems.  While ‘social’ is almost as big a buzzword as ‘Cloud’ these days, if you stop to think about it, what’s most important about social technologies is that they help break down the barriers separating us from our constituents, our coworkers, and ultimately, the people that we serve.  So here’s a quick discussion of three new social technologies that might be of use in our social change work:

Chatter Communities:  For nonprofits, connecting with your constituents in an authentic and ongoing fashion is key to engaging them in your mission in different ways – converting a donor to a volunteer, or a volunteer to a policy advocate or an advocate to becoming a staff member.  Facebook is often identified as a key engagement platform that can be used to do this, but when you want to share data from within your Salesforce instance with your constituents, you need a tool that’s more directly integrated.  That’s where Chatter Communities comes in.

The next stage in the evolution of salesforce.com’s portal products (Customer and Partner Portals), Communities provides a branded social community for you to use to engage your constituents.  By layering Chatter on top of the existing ability of portal users to access business data in Salesforce and then adding in the branding and visual design capabilities of Site.com, Salesforce has created an external engagement platform that has a ton of potential.

I can see us using communities to connect our volunteers with each other in a way that has been very difficult to achieve in the past, as well as to develop stronger communities of staff alumni, Expanded Learning Time practitioners, and policy advocates.

The product is in pilot right now, with an expected go-live in the second half of next year.  Here’s a link to some resources that may answer questions:

Salesforce Communtiies FAQ:  http://www.salesforce.com/chatter/communities/faq/

Chatter Communities at the Chatter Keynote DF12

Work.com:  As social continues to permeate all aspects of business, it has even begun to infiltrate the human resources function.  Earlier this year, Salesforce completed the acquisition of Rypple.com, which brings a social approach to employee performance management into the Salesforce product line and has rebranded it as Work.com.

Work.com is not a full-featured HRIS (Human Resources Information System), but rather provides functionality in three primary areas:  recognition, goal setting and management and performance management.  There are lots of other systems out there that do this, but Work.com’s special sauce is to make the processes, transparent and easy to use.

  • Recognition:  Survey after survey shows that staff members want recognition and appreciation for their work, and this is built into Work.com’s DNA, from badging to integration with Chatter.  It’s also easy to do, which lowers the barrier to using it and it makes the recognition public, but also compiles it for managers to use when writing reviews.
  • Goal-Setting: The platform also provide mechanisms for transparency around goal setting and progress, which leads to improved alignment among staff members and should allow for the identification of mis-alignment in a more timely fashion.  Goals may be defined as public or private, and if public (the default setting), are visible to anyone in the organization.  Any user can sign on to support that goal and record the activities they are doing to support it.  The platform also provides a place to handle coaching notes between individuals that can be in support of particular goals or provide more general feedback.
  • Performance management: Work.com provides an easily customizable performance review system which allows an administrator the ability to create specific reviews for specific staff and incorporates peer, self, upward and downward reviews as desired.  For managers who are conducting reviews, goal information and other feedback is easily accessible in one place, which makes it easier to write good reviews.

For nonprofits, our human resources are often the most precious ones that we have, so systems that support a robust performance management process can be a valuable tool in managing, developing and retaining staff.  We’ve been running a trial of the product for a couple of weeks and I’m convinced that it has the power to be transformative, but it’s going to take a culture shift to make that happen.   The potential benefits, however, are enormous, and would be well worth the investment in time, change and dollars.

If you believe that your staff performance management process needs an overhaul, I would take a serious look at the product.

Here are some resources from Dreamforce discussing the product:

From the keynote with Mark Benioff:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4J0HpBnwqU0&feature=relmfu

Spotify Case study video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sl5i8z1Ag3w&feature=relmfu

Work.com Product Keynote

Chatterbox:  Salesforce.com has made no secret of its’ plan to take on Microsoft in the Enterprise content management space.  The announcement of Chatterbox was a clear warning to not only Microsoft, but also to Dropbox,  Box and even Google that Salesforce intends to be a player in file sharing for the Enterprise.

Chatterbox is the next step in the evolution of content/document management on the Salesforce platform. Chatterbox provides the equivalent of Dropbox for the enterprise, allowing the easy synchronization of files across all of your devices but also leveraging the social power of Chatter to share files with your colleagues directly from your Chatter feed.  Then, when you update the file, it’s updated for everyone to whom it’s been shared as well.

So what advantages does it provide?  In my opinion, the real differentiating element is the integration with Chatter.  Chatterbox is more than just a file sharing solution, but instead leverages the power of the Chatter feed – documents which are shared may be tied to specific records in Salesforce, so if you have a proposal that’s being worked on in the context of a Salesforce Opportunity, as it gets updated, the current version that’s attached to the Chatter feed for that Opportunity is also getting updated and people who are following the document get notified of the change.  It’s this feature that really separates it from Google Drive or Sharepoint or Dropbox.  By keeping the document in the context of the record with which it’s associated, anyone who has access to the record has access to the most recent copy of the corresponding documentation.

There’s not a ton out there about the product yet, but here’s are a couple of links with more information:

Salesforce Blog: http://blogs.salesforce.com/company/2012/09/chatter-df12-news.html

Chatter and Chatterbox demo:

(demo appears late in the video, but it’s a good one to watch overall)

As you can tell from the above, social is infusing virtually everything that salesforce.com is doing these days from improving the performance management process to truly collaborating with partners to working more effectively with documents.  Take a look at what’s available, think about how it can help you improve your organization’s performance and get social!