Salesforce recently announced new industry Clouds for Education and Nonprofit in March 2023 and May 2023, respectively. These announcements sparked a lot of emotions—mixed emotions. For Salesforce technical experts, this was especially true. Many people have spent their entire careers working with legacy products originally developed by Saleforce.org, such as Education Data Architecture (EDA) and the Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP). For these professionals, the arrival of the new industry products brought the challenge of learning the ins and outs of a new set of features while taking a thrilling leap forward. But Salesforce was ready to provide help on this journey; immediately supporting its Partner Community, including Gerent, with technical enablement from Day 1.
However, I believe there are still a lot of questions and uncertainty among institutional and organizational leadership of existing Salesforce customers about what these changes mean to them. As someone who has worked with leaders in both education and nonprofit organizations for years and can go toe-to-toe with a developer or architect, I want to address the long-term impact of these changes and where existing EDA and NPSP institutions should be focusing today —and I’m going to try to leave the technical talk out as much as I can! (For the purposes of this discussion, I’ll be grouping Education and Nonprofit into one because the macro-level impacts are the same.)
First, for existing Salesforce customers, don’t panic! The investment you have made in Salesforce so far – blood, sweat, tears, and, of course, cash – is not lost. Salesforce has not announced an end-of-support date for the current products, and when that does come, I suspect it will be years in the future. Time is on your side; but don’t rest on your heels. Seize the moment by evaluating and planning. Evaluate your current Salesforce org, processes, and short and long-term goals. Then, use these to plan (and budget) for the transition to the new Cloud.
Okay, okay… I already hear you saying, “Oh!...just that?!”. Yes, but don’t overthink it. Here are the key questions to ask yourself:
- What is amazing about your Salesforce org and/or operations today?
- What could be improved?
- What Salesforce-related goals or projects have been outlined for the next 12 months?
- Can any of these projects be postponed, or are they critical?
- Looking at a 3-year horizon, what are your top priorities?
Now, let’s unpack what these answers tell us:
- These are business processes and Salesforce features (custom or not) that you need to take with you to your new Salesforce home.
- These are your opportunities! When building your new home, this is what you will change and improve – instant ROI!
- These represent the deepest area of near-term impact for the recent announcement; go into these projects with eyes wide open!
- Projects that are mission-critical, like the replacement of a sunsetting system or regulation/compliance updates, should move forward. However, look critically at or consider delaying Salesforce enhancement projects because you may need to rebuild it as part of your transition to the new Cloud—and it’s always better to invest only once.
- This will give you insight into ‘when’ you can transition to the new Cloud and where to begin. Each Cloud has currently-available features and a roadmap of features coming soon. If the capability needed to achieve a critical 3-year goal is not available for 18 months, that is likely the first marker on your timeline.
Remember those mixed emotions I talked about at the start? Well, I want to share what excites me the most: The introduction of the new Education Cloud and Nonprofit Cloud is the tip of the iceberg for what organizations in both industries can expect to achieve with Salesforce.
- These Clouds are now woven into the Salesforce core, whereas previously EDA and NPSP sat on top of the core. From a technology standpoint, this means organizations will have access to all of the Salesforce features quickly and easily—like snapping Legos together.
- The Education and Nonprofit product experts are centrally-located with all Salesforce Product teams. This means they have the Salesforce development Ferrari behind them, allowing them to innovate and develop faster than ever.
Overall, this is the beginning of a new phase for educational institutions and nonprofits in the Salesforce ecosystem; this is the long game. Yes, there are near-term challenges— but long-term, the sky's the limit!
Still feeling a little overwhelmed? That’s okay; we’re here to help! At Gerent, we specialize in giving forward-thinking organizations the guidance and practical support they need to execute a value-add digital change initiative. Learn more about our capabilities, mission, and team by visiting our Education and Nonprofit microsites or contact us to speak to a consultant! As an additional note: If you’re about to begin a new Salesforce implementation or you are still considering purchasing Salesforce for the first time, stay tuned — we will address that in another blog as part of this series. We hope that you’re as excited as we are; these are exciting times!