TLS Update Required

On July 22, 2017,,inc will be rolling out an updated version of  TLS, an encryption protocol that is pertinent to the database’s security. This is “to align with security industry best practices and protect the safety of your data”, quoted from Salesforce®. Changes you may need to make will vary based on your org.

Some of the impacts include: User browser access, browser incompatibility will prevent your internal users from accessing Microsoft email integrations such as Salesforce for Outlook, Exchange Sync, and Salesforce App for Outlook won’t work if users don’t meet compatibility requirements. API integrations  will cease to work if they are not compatible with TLS 1.1 or later. This includes .NET-based integrations that send requests to Salesforce, and are not enabled with TLS 1.1 and/or TLS 1.2. Communities and Sites users will not be able to connect unless their browser or browser settings are updated per compatibility guidelines. Things you’ll want to consider when adapting to TLS 1.1 is how users are accessing your org, which version of TLS your integrated systems use, any API integrations, and your Communities and Sites browser settings. Salesforce was even nice enough to put together a helpful Checklist to assist their customers with the transfer.

I’ve reviewed all materials provided and here are some of the key take aways. Be prepared to meet the deadline for any necessary changes so, that your org is not negatively affected on the day of The Switch. Review user’s access, what browsers are being used to access the database?  API integrations, inbound data transfers to Salesforce from integrated systems, and call-outs to web pages and integrated systems.  Examples of these integrated systems may include: Single-Sign-On, Outbound Messaging, and Applications including Mobile. You can reach out to Vendors on details about their compatibility with TLS 1.1. Further documentation can be found on the Salesforce Community.

As an additional accommodation, Salesforce is now offering special promotions for the  ‘Enabler4Excel’ app. For those who don’t know this is a product offered by Salesforce that acts as a connector to Microsoft Excel. You can have your Salesforce data in an Excel environment which enables mass updates, inserts, deletes, merges, and Lead conversion. Since it’s release date November 7, 2013, you can sign up for a 30 day free trial. Regular pricing is $8.25 USD per user/per month, and three free licenses are available for non-profit users. As of July 1, 2017 the ‘Retrieve from Salesforce’ feature will be free of charge to all users no matter their licence type. Use this link for more information on ‘Enabler4Excel’, enjoy!

The change over to the upgraded TLS 1.1 encryption protocol will be deployed on July 22nd to all orgs, at the same time. Be sure you review the preparation materials, as changes will vary based on your specific integrations and security guidelines.

Salesforce to Salesforce How-to Part 2: Beyond the Basics

As you may remember from my post last week, Salesforce to Salesforce How-to Part 1: Beyond the Basics, we were recently working with a set of clients who were working together to conduct a workforce training program. One organization, Screening Pittsburgh (SP), was focused on recruiting and screening candidates for the training program, and the other organization, Training Pittsburgh (TP), was responsible for ensuring that all screened candidates met the eligibility requirements and for conducting the training itself. We configured Salesforce to Salesforce for SP and TP so that they were able to share data about their training candidates (tracked in the Leads object), training students (tracked in the Contacts object), as well as the Leads’ career history (tracked in a custom object Careers) and program assessments (tracked in a custom object Screenings). In my Part 1 post, I shared the process we used to ensure that custom object records (i.e., Careers and Screenings) would retain their relationship to an associated Lead when they were shared via Salesforce to Salesforce.

This solution worked for us, but we found another problem: we realized that our custom object record types weren’t being retained during external sharing; for example, SP would create a “Drug Test” record type Screening record, and it would be displayed in TP’s system as an “Initial Contact” record type Screening record (note: “Initial Contact” was their default record type for this object). Here are the steps we took to resolve this issue, to ensure that the record types of incoming records were correct. We conducted all of the following steps in both instances of Salesforce (i.e., SP and TP) so that data could be shared in both directions:

1. We created two fields each on Career and Screening: Record Type In and Record Type Out. Both were text fields.

2. We created a workflow rule field update for each object (Career and Screening) to set the Record Type Out field with the Name of the actual Record Type of the record.

3. After confirming that the record types of our objects were listed in the exact same way in both instances of Salesforce, we used Salesforce to Salesforce to map the Record Type Out fields to the Record Type In fields.

This blog isn’t intended to go into the details of how to configure Salesforce to Salesforce. I recommend the introductory Salesforce to Salesforce documentation to learn the basics. If you have your basic Salesforce to Salesforce configuration down, the following image will make more sense. This shows the Connections screen where we subscribed on the SP side to fields published from the TP. As you can see, we specified which of the SP fields to populate with information from the TP fields.

4. Finally, we created a set of Process Builders to update the record type for each Career/Screening. Specifically, the Process Builder checked whether the Record Type In field was set or the Record Type name was set and the record wasn’t shared. Each step of the Process Builder looked for a different Record Type name, so there were as many steps as record types. Finally, the Process Builder set the correct Record Type ID. The images below show the Process Builders in more detail; we had as many steps in the Process Builder as there were record types for that custom object, and each step was the same: a) check whether the Record Type In value matches the name of a record type, and b) set the record type based on the Record Type ID. The second image shows an actual example of our Update Records action.

Ultimately, these solutions worked for us! Our clients have a functioning Salesforce to Salesforce system -- and are in the process of using that data management system to more efficiently train people for better careers. However, we’d love to hear if you have found a more elegant (or faster!) way to resolve these Salesforce to Salesforce issues! Please reach out to us at with your Salesforce to Salesforce comments and ideas.

Salesforce to Salesforce How-to Part 1: Beyond the Basics

We recently completed a project with a set of nonprofit organizations who had won a grant award together to conduct a workforce training program. One organization - let’s call them Screening Pittsburgh (SP) - was primarily responsible for recruiting and screening candidates for the training program, and the other organization - let’s call them Training Pittsburgh (TP)  - was primarily responsible for ensuring that all screened candidates were eligible, and for conducting the training itself. Understandably, SP and TP wanted us to help them share data between their systems, and so we decided to move forward with configuring Salesforce to Salesforce. We learned some interesting lessons along the way (after discovering some of the challenges with Salesforce to Salesforce), and wanted to share some of those lessons with you:

The primary objects which were shared were the standard Leads object (which tracked training program candidates) and Contacts (which tracked current and past students), as well as two related custom objects:

  1. The Careers object tracked a Lead’s job history, with one Career record for each previous position.
  2. The Screenings object tracked a Lead’s process of becoming a part of the training program. Each Lead had to pass a set of 5 assessments, including a drug test and an interview, in order to be eligible for training. Thus, the Screenings object had 5 record types, one for each type of assessment. A Lead would be ready for conversion (i.e., the candidate would be ready for the class) when they had all 5 screening records, with passes.

We quickly found that publishing and subscribing to our standard objects via Salesforce to Salesforce was fairly straightforward. We followed the introductory Salesforce to Salesforce documentation as a guideline to turn on the connection, to select our objects and fields to share, and used the auto-mapping tool as much as possible. These steps all worked as expected. The picture below displays the Salesforce to Salesforce field-mapping screen; whenever you subscribe to objects that were published from your connection instance, you’ll see this screen and can specify which incoming fields map to which of your fields. The auto-mapping tool automatically sets the mapping based upon matching field names.

However, we realized that our custom objects, which had lookup relationships to a Lead record, were being shared via the external connection, but their link to an associated Lead would not be maintained. For example, let’s say that SP was tracking the Career record “Mechanic” for the Lead record “Joe Candidate.” In the SP system, there would be a lookup relationship between “Mechanic” and “Joe Candidate.” SP shared the Lead and the Career record with TP. In TP’s system, both the Lead and Career record would exist - but the lookup field would be blank, so there would be no relationship. Further, we realized that our custom object record types weren’t being retained during external sharing; for example, SP would create a “Drug Test” Screening record, and it would be displayed in TP’s system as an “Initial Contact” Screening record (note: “Initial Contact” was their default record type for this object). Obviously, we needed to resolve both of these issues in order for Salesforce to Salesforce to be a truly viable option for our clients.

Here are the steps we took to ensure that the lookup relationships between our custom objects (i.e., Career, Screening) and standard objects were retained through the external sharing process. By the way, we did everything listed below in both instances of Salesforce - Screening Pittsburgh’s, and Training Pittsburgh’s - so that sharing could occur in either direction:

1. We created a Lead External ID field on the Lead object that was an autonumber. Since we were creating an autonumber Lead External ID field in both systems (SP and TP), we had to make the starting number for the autonumbering “0” in one system, and high enough in the other system to ensure that they would never experience a duplicate. In other words, an autonumber field mapped to an autonumber field in another instance via Salesforce to Salesforce cannot be guaranteed to be unique across the two instances, nor can we “set” an autonumber field value via a tool such as Salesforce to Salesforce mapping or a workflow field update, etc. Thus, each instance had its own unique Lead External ID autonumber field, with a significantly different starting number, so that every Lead in both systems had a unique external ID.

2. We created a Lead External ID Num field on the Lead object that was a read-only text field to capture the Lead External ID. We had to do that in order to retain the correct value of the auto-numbered external ID during sharing. Salesforce to Salesforce will not allow you to map an autonumber field outright. We were, however, able to map this text field in Salesforce to Salesforce.

3. We created a workflow rule to set the Lead External ID Num field only when the Lead was created in that instance of Salesforce. Thus, if SP created a Lead, their workflow rule set the Lead External ID Num field (from the Lead External ID field). We mapped that Lead External ID Num from SP to the Lead External ID Num field in the TP instance of Salesforce, which would previously have been blank because the workflow rule criteria stopped the field from being updated from within TP. The pictures below show our workflow rule criteria and field update.

4. We created a Lead External ID Copy text field on the Career and Screening objects, which was set by a workflow rule only when the Career or Screening record was not shared from another system (i.e., when “ConnectionReceivedID” was null). When the rule criteria was met, it would set the field to display the associated Lead’s Lead External ID. We then mapped the Lead External ID Copy field via Salesforce to Salesforce. Thus, when a Career or Screening record was received from the other system, its Lead External ID Copy field would be populated with an existing Lead’s External ID Num. The pictures below show our workflow rule criteria and field update.

5. We created two Process Builders and two flows - one each for Career and Screening - to set the correct Lead ID to the Career/Screening record based upon the Lead External ID Copy field. The Process Builder was set to trigger the flow, and it only triggered the flow when the Lead External ID Copy field was not null. The flow looked for a Lead record where the Lead External ID Num field matched the Lead External ID Copy field from the Career/Screening and updated the Career/Screening record appropriately.

This is what our Process Builder looked like, focused on the criteria which determined whether or not to launch the flow.

And our Flow looked like this:

There were three elements - to find the Career or Screening record that triggered the Flow, then to find the related Lead, then to update the original Career or Screening record with the Lead ID. The following image shows the detail of our 2nd element, the Lead Record Lookup, which found the Lead where the Lead External ID Num field matched the Lead External ID Copy field from the Career (specified in the first element). As you can see, we also assigned the Lead ID to an SObject, which we used in the third element to update the Career/Screening record.

Together, these steps ensured that when a Career or Screening record was shared via Salesforce to Salesforce, the receiving organization got a Career/Screening record that was still linked to the associated Lead record. Great! ... But, as I mentioned, we also found that our Career and Screening records were not retaining their record type when they were sent via Salesforce to Salesforce. Stay tuned for my next blog post, where I’ll share our resolution for the record type issue!

NPSP Sprint in the Greatest City in America

This past week, I had the opportunity to participate in the Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) Sprint in Baltimore, MD (“the greatest city in America,” according to the benches). The NPSP Sprint is not a typical conference; it’s a chance for NPSP end-users, consultants, developers, and fans from around the country to gather, discuss what’s working with the package, and brainstorm how to improve and enhance the existing NPSP features. For someone like me - a social worker who fell into the Salesforce world - the NPSP Sprint was particularly inspiring because I was able to connect with a room full of people who were passionate about using Salesforce technology to help nonprofits meet their missions.

In small groups, we tackled specific, high-priority issues facing NPSP users. I chose to work with a group tasked with making Trailhead more accessible and relevant to a broad array of nonprofit users (e.g., small community-based organizations to church groups to national organizations with local chapters). I’ve always felt that Trailhead is an awesome asset, but that the existing units seemed most appropriate for large organizations, and it would be hard for smaller nonprofits to relate the trainings to their unique needs. My group’s goal was to create new basic and adaptable units to bridge that gap. We created four units focused on defining the basics of Salesforce and NPSP and providing diverse use cases.

I’m relatively new to the Salesforce community, so I didn’t know what to expect at the conference. I hoped to make some new friends with experience working in the tech-meets-social-services space. I hoped to have a “professional-development experience” and learn new technical skills and knowledge. I was surprised to find that the NPSP Sprint also provided inspiration and development outside of explicit technical knowledge. One story stands out: My Trailhead group was debating the advantages and disadvantages of including click-path directions in one Trailhead unit (e.g., “Contacts represent individual people in Salesforce. To create one, click Contacts, then click…”) versus a higher-level overview. A young woman who had joined our group for the debate and had been quietly listening casually commented that learning happens when people believe, then understand, then do. She recommended that we focus our Trailhead on facilitating the belief that Salesforce and NPSP can meet the needs of nonprofit organizations and an understanding of key Salesforce terms (i.e., platform, app, object)... and let those pieces sink in before we bog people down with learning to do. Our group thought that this was brilliant, and we used it as our guiding principle for the Trailhead. I’m excited to see the final product, and to apply this philosophy to how I conduct trainings. I look forward to sharing the new units with nonprofit clients at WIN… I hope they help you believe and understand, and we’re here to help you do!

Photo credit:

Salesforce Integration: Unexpected Issues

A great way to maximize your usage of the Salesforce CRM database is to integrate it with other outreach and marketing applications. This is a wonderful feature in which certain third party applications can possibly retrieve or share data with your Salesforce instance. For a list of over 200 applications and add-ons that provide an easy method to sync with Salesforce, visit

As an individual who is currently training to be a Certified Salesforce Administrator, I come across many opportunities to integrate Salesforce with other third party applications. There are a few tips I would give to anyone who is considering integrating their Salesforce database with other database systems. First, you should consider, analyze, and review any apps that may fit your needs; research-research-research, and don’t be too quick to overlook when shopping for an app. Second, someone with knowledge of the Salesforce database should be doing the configuration once an application has been chosen. One application may be more desirable over another if it can be easily configured by a Salesforce Administrator.  Third, test all settings, configuration, and customization in a Sandbox instance before deploying it in your Production org. You never know what kind of unexpected issues will occur when sharing data between different computer programs. Lastly, have a Salesforce Administrator be prepared to deal with these challenges. Sometimes integration doesn’t go as planned or expected.

Specifically, I recently integrated Eventbrite with Salesforce through the Eventbrite Sync app. Many companies use Eventbrite to gather information on their clients, and provide customers with a place to be in the know about upcoming events. I installed Eventbrite Sync into a Sandbox instance for a client. Once I authenticated their Eventbrite account with the CRM database, I began to walk through the configuration. One feature I enjoyed was the fact that this integration offers the option to either store incoming data in custom objects from the Eventbrite package, or have the data be processed to standard Salesforce objects.  When the package begins to process data from Eventbrite it imports records into Salesforce.  Something to note: when someone registers for an event (via Eventbrite) associated with a ticket, even if it’s free, they will be processed to become a Contact in Salesforce. The Contact record(s) will be associated to a Campaign (event), and to an Opportunity record reflecting the ticket sale. A pretty big issue here is the ticket buyer’s Work Information was still sitting in Eventbrite, and there was no business Account associated to the Contact. This may be fine in certain business models, if you want to have the person’s interaction be tracked by their Household Account.

However, this particular client deals with Small Businesses and an individual’s Work Information in Eventbrite is very important to their business process. Now I’m going to share the steps I went through to debug this issue for those whom may be in a similar situation. First, there has to be a place to map the imported data. So, I created custom fields on the Contact object to map work information: Company Name, Street Address, City, State, Postal Code, and Country. Then, I went into Sandbox (Eventbrite App) and changed the configure mapping settings to map the Work Information section in Eventbrite to my custom fields on the Contact object.  Once I got to this step I tested the import process to ensure that my custom fields would populate correctly with information from the Eventbrite form. Lastly, I made a Process Builder to create an Organization Account when a Contact is uploaded from Eventbrite. The filter criteria was set to only consider Contacts with an Eventbrite Id, and data from my custom fields; no need to trigger this process if the data isn’t there. I made it so the Process Builder would use my custom fields to create an Account of the correct custom record type (Small Business), fill in the Billing Address information, and associate it to the original contact by identifying them as the Primary Contact.  Also, as you guessed, I tested again to ensure that the upload process would trigger my Process Builder to create and associate Accounts and Contacts when appropriate.

Lastly, at World-Class Industrial Network we encourage ideas from other I/T and Salesforce leaders in the region. If you discoveredcame about an alternative solution to integrating Eventbrite with Salesforce, please reach out to me via email Also, I’m open to converse about how you addressed other challenges that you faced with this specific integration process.

HOW TO: Prepare for Salesforce as a Nonprofit

We regularly work with nonprofit organizations who are deploying Salesforce for the first time. They are excited to take advantage of the Salesforce Foundation grants and to manage their administrative and programmatic data more effectively. However, they aren’t always perfectly prepared to implement Salesforce. Of course, new questions are inevitably going to arise throughout the implementation project, but there are thankfully some strategies to ensure a smoother transition to the new platform.

Before working at WIN, I was working at a local CBO and was the project lead for our Salesforce implementation … and I probably wasn’t perfectly prepared myself! Based on those experiences, some recommendations for nonprofits who are implementing Salesforce:

  1. Define a project manager and/or project team, including someone who can serve as the System Administrator. This is not revolutionary advice, so many nonprofits are already prepared to this. However, it can be quite challenging for some community-based organizations who have just a few staff. Regardless, it is always critical to have a Salesforce implementation project lead who can dedicate significant time to it, so I recommend utilizing volunteers or interns to fill in the gaps.
  2. Take the time as a full staff to outline what you’d want any database system to do, if you could have anything you want. Don’t worry about whether your wishes are technically possible, or too costly, or would take too long to create – let the developers and consultants you hire later worry about that. I would guess that some consultants and developers would not agree with me on this, but I found this method to be incredibly useful in facilitating a successful Salesforce deployment. We identified our top priority wishes, and other things that were “wants,” and we often didn’t know if what we were describing was realistic. But, we were able to give a complete list of requirements and wishes to our consultant, who was then very easily able to identify items that we could have out-of-the-box, items that would require a third-party application, and items that we’d have to adjust our expectations on. This enabled us to determine our actual costs early on, rather than realizing after deployment that we were going to need a bunch of other applications to meet our needs.
  3. Every blog you read about preparing for a Salesforce implementation will tell you to review and define your business processes, so I won’t go into much detail here – but it’s critical, so it’s worth repeating.
  4. Revise and streamline all your tools – intakes, surveys, case management forms, reports, etc., across all your programs. Nonprofits are often running multiple interrelated services, funded by multiple sources, and as a result, are often collecting and managing duplicate – or unnecessary – data across a variety of forms and tools. A classic example is continuing to collect participants’ voter registration information 10 years after the grant that required you to do so ended. Rather than spending the time (and money) to customize Salesforce with fields and objects that aren’t necessary, my recommendation is for organizations to review and streamline their tools so that only critical data points become a part of the system. It makes data entry and reporting more manageable later.
  5. Decide which, if any, legacy data you want to store in Salesforce once it’s deployed, and gather it and clean it. Especially for small organizations that have faced a lot of turnover (which is unfortunately common among nonprofits), this step will take a lot longer than people anticipate. While there are many great tools to mass upload data into Salesforce (stay tuned for future blogs about them!), data must still be cleaned before it can be uploaded. For nonprofits, that usually means a few things:
    • Data should be organized into relevant groups. If you have 5 different case managers who all take case notes using different tools or data structures, find a way to gather and organize that data into one dataset. It will save time later on.
    • Data should be structured in picklists and checkboxes whenever possible, as opposed to long text boxes. While Salesforce has the capacity to store text data, it is difficult to report on – and isn’t the best benefit of Salesforce the ability to run reports and dashboards so you can easily view the impact you have on the community? For data that is tracked in long narrative formats, review it. See if you find any patterns, and grab your interns again to help you codify and categorize your data before you add it to Salesforce.
    • Remove duplicates, and make sure that related items are accurately related. For example, if your afterschool program serves a bunch of siblings, make sure your data indicates that they live in the same household. If you have a bunch of survey data, make sure that the names on the surveys clearly indicate who took that survey (clean up nicknames).

Salesforce technology is helping nonprofits accelerate their missions!

We’ve already shared many of our reasons for favoring Salesforce for our nonprofit clients, both in terms of our experience as Salesforce consulting partners and as direct nonprofit staff. To further back up our case, we wanted to also share some facts and stats from a recent annual customer relationship survey conducted by independent research firm Decipher/FocusVision. The results of the survey demonstrates the significant impact that Salesforce can have on nonprofits:

  • 87% of nonprofit and higher education respondents indicated that is helping them advance their mission.
  • customers who participated in the survey indicated an average of:
    • 63% improvement in operational effectiveness;
    • 57% faster response [rates from constituents];
    • 53% improvement in data quality;
    • 45% faster collaboration; and
    • 45% faster decision making.

Other impact studies have shown:

  • 92% of customers would recommend Salesforce – and 82% already have.
  • customers reported a 40% decrease in IT costs.
  • nonprofit and higher education customers reported an average of:
    • 36% Increase in [outreach/recruitment] productivity;
    • 34% Increase in volunteer/student engagement;
    • 30% Increase in funds raised;
    • 27% Increase in volunteer/student retention; and
    • 23% faster approval of fundraising deals.

Interested in learning more? Contact Tim Marcovecchio, Partner in charge of the World-Class Industrial Network, LLC (WIN) I/t Practice. WIN is a Registered Salesforce Consulting Partner.

"Nothing Ventured Nothing Gained"​ - Tips for Project Development Success!

How is Project Development different from Project Management?

Whether you are launching a new product, business line or program, work in a project-oriented industry like IT or construction, or just have a bunch of improvement initiatives you would like to pursue, you’re in the Project Development business. Most professionals have been exposed to at least some of the key concepts of Project Management, and the Project Management Institute has formalized a Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK). But Project Development is not as well understood. Diverse project-oriented domains including construction, IT and product development have codified their own versions of a Project Development Process to varying degrees. So what’s the difference? In general, what distinguishes Development from Management is a heavy emphasis on the early stages, a.k.a. the "fuzzy front-end" of projects, where all that may be identified is a vague opportunity or idea. During these exploratory steps, there are a lot more unknowns than knowns, and there is rarely a commitment to proceed with a more detailed plan or design, let alone with execution. If these steps are navigated well, new information is revealed and assumptions confirmed or challenged through a structured but flexible discovery process. Feedback loops ensure plans and solution designs rapidly adjust as needed while still moving forward.

Guidelines for PD Success!

Because most people are uncomfortable in managing risk, the development phase is where most projects stall and die! We plan to start with a quick, low-cost, low-risk assessment and then jump right to detailed solution design. Unfortunately, projects in complex environments rarely work this way. If you have projects and initiatives like this to pursue, here are some important tips to keep in mind:

  • If you want to proceed, know that there are no guarantees! There is no way to ensure success for individual projects in the early stages. There is also only one way to eliminate risk, and that is to not proceed at all. But there are proven ways to proceed while minimizing risk.
  • Development is the point of highest leverage. This phase is where risk and reward can be optimized. Yet anxiety or impatience with the inherent ambiguity of the process causes an urge to take short-cuts, which typically leads to one of two outcomes. Most commonly the project withers and dies without implementation. Even worse, costly changes or even abandonment occur during implementation.
  • Trust the process part 1- have a method. You need structure and methods. Truth is, not even experienced practitioners are comfortable with uncertainty. What they are is rigorous in their efforts to minimize it. To the extent practical, make visible ALL unknowns and assumptions, and make at least a cursory attempt to quantify or verify every single one within a reasonable range, no matter how crude the initial methods. It is the only way to surface the hidden uncertainty causing us to hesitate, to expose the biggest risk factors, and to provide the confidence to know what to do next.
  • Trust the process part 2 - stay disciplined! It takes uncommon discipline to see a plan through in the face of doubt. While agility is essential, leadership must know the difference between an adjustment and a knee jerk reaction. Such responses rarely provide new and useful information and usually exacerbate existing challenges while adding new ones. Further, even experienced practitioners must rely on the process to avoid the trap of jumping too quickly to familiar solutions. Lastly, it requires both wisdom and consensus to know when to proceed, when to adjust or even when to abandon plans.
  • Experience Counts! Because of all of the above experience navigating this process with both success and failure is therefore incredibly valuable.
  • Try a Pilot first. Success is more likely with smaller phased, or iterative (spiral) projects including a pilot or prototype phase. This allows your team to learn important lessons, and calibrate the solutions before going to scale.
  • Spread your Risk. Breaking a large project down into smaller phases minimizes the magnitude of problems or even failure. Similarly, success is much more likely across a program, or portfolio of projects, and with a disciplined development approach.

So, what do we mean when we say World-Class Industrial Network and eCap Network are "Project Development" firms?

Our team of consultants are experts with technical skills in different domains, but we are all practiced in navigating the Project Development Cycle from concept to pay-off. We have learned best practices through study, as well as hard, real-world lessons from direct experience. Those lessons, methods and tools have become the foundation of our PD methodology. Everyone on our team has helped to identify and assess opportunities, fund those opportunities, plan and design a way forward, implement the solutions and verify performance. This orientation allows us to help you avoid potential pitfalls and barriers, and keep your projects moving forward, even when resources are initially scarce.

Capitalizing on the Client-Consultant Relationship

For the last several months, our team here at Prosperity Connection has had the great opportunity to work with the incredible folks at WIN. To be honest, after having engaged with other consultants in the past, we were all a bit weary to begin this process again. As a non-profit, a great consultant can help change the face of your organization, but the wrong consultant can be a waste of valuable time and resources.

Through our experience, we’ve learned a few tips to get the most out of your consulting experience.

1.      Be transparent. Take the time at the front end to make sure you are on the same page – with your team and with the consultants. Prior to engaging with WIN, our team met on a regular basis to discuss our “ideal process flows,” i.e. what our ideal day to day workflow would look like. We shared those flows with our WIN consultants and walked through each step in the process. During that time, WIN asked a number of questions to ensure they understood our logic. In addition to sharing your organizational needs, consider sharing your expectations around the client-consultant relationship. Discuss your preferred mode of communication, frequency of interactions, and what roadblocks you anticipate.

2.      Be engaged. I can’t say enough about maintaining active, ongoing conversation with your consultants. Quality feedback is a two-way street and is critical to the success of any project. That being said, it can deteriorate quickly if one party falls silent. Throughout our experience with WIN, I have met weekly with our consultants to stay up to date, weigh in on progress, walk through new features, and troubleshoot any unexpected issues. As a result, I’ll finish out our current contract with a comprehensive understanding of our outcomes as well as how we arrived at those outcomes.

3.      Do your homework. Throughout the process, your consultant will inevitably ask you to complete certain tasks, test new features, etc. While this may seem like an added burden at times, it makes all the difference. Failing to do your homework may cause a delay in project completion, ultimately leading to dissatisfaction amongst both parties.

You may be thinking this sounds like a lot more work for you. After all, consultants are supposed to make our lives easier, not harder. Take a deep breath. Things can be clunky at first, but once you establish a solid working relationship with your consultant, you’ll learn that their efforts will take a lot off your plate and save you money in the long run.

Guest blog written by Abby Clavin, MSW, Assistant Director - Operations at Prosperity Connection in St. Louis, MO.

Engagement Plans and TaskIt!: Non-Profit Tools to Consider in 2017

As the old year closes out and the new year begins you may be evaluating how well your efforts to engage your stakeholders and/or customers this past year actually performed. If you are reading this blog entry it is likely that many of those efforts began with or directly involved your use of If you are a non-profit it is also likely that those efforts also involve your use in some shape, form or fashion of the Nonprofit Starter Pack (NPSP) for

Yet again, if you are one of the many nonprofit organizations using NPSP serving a specific population of individuals with a core set of “case management” or “capacity building” services, it is also likely you are looking for more effective ways to a) keep your clients engaged and on task with the coaching or service plans you have laid out for them in the coming year or b) ensure that your case management staff completes all of the many steps involved in their work. Now the dilemma…

I have things, tasks and to-dos I want my client to achieve by specific dates and I want them to keep me updated on their progress as they work to complete their assignments. I would really really like to move away from paper and phone calls if possible. But they are a client, not a co-worker, and they have no access to shared documents, shared calendars, shared tasks, and (if you aren’t using Salesforce Communities) no access to Salesforce.

However, if they have an email address and access to to the internet there may yet be a solution … well … combination of solutions … enter Engagement Plans and TaskIt!

First, Engagement Plans … Engagement Plans are a way (feature of the Nonprofit Starter Pack)  of defining templates of related tasks which you can use again and again to assign the same set of related tasks (a plan) to a person, an account (organization), opportunity, case and a variety of other standard records in Salesforce. If you are in the business of using prescribed sets of tasks (simple or complicated) to achieve specific objectives then you need to check out Engagement Plans … especially if you want to reduce your workload associated to constantly creating the same sets of tasks over and over again for multiple clients. You can determine which users are assigned to the Engagement Plan Tasks to ensure that your case management team is on top of their tasks lists.


The Plan from the Template:

But what about when I want to assign an Engagement Plan (or any) task to one of my clients, who, unlike my staff, doesn’t have access to Salesforce?

Second, TaskIt! (by Cloud Concept).... of the many cool apps we have run across, this one is awesome. Basically, you can assign a Task to a Contact (yes a contact not a user) and send an email to the contact indicating they have been assigned a task (with details). Better yet, the client (contact) can access the task online (via a link in the email they receive)  from a sites page which allows them to (securely) review the task, add comments, and indicate when they have completed it. And they don’t have to be a licensed user in you system!





What happens when I combine the two applications with a bit of “clicks-not-code” advanced admin skills? I can generate an entire “coaching” or “engagement” plan for my client and have my Salesforce system send to the client (in a scheduled manner with a bit of Process Builder or Workflow wizardry) the set of tasks they need to complete according to their service plan! And the client can keep me informed of their progress by simply updating the task(s) online! Now I can generate daily and weekly reports in Salesforce of my clients progress on their plans and even receive (or send) additional notifications when tasks and plans are complete (or falling behind)! External client (contact) task management achieved! 

For those of you using NPSP and struggling to find a better way of keeping your clients actively engaged and on task according to a prescribed plan of action, the combination of Engagement Plans and TaskIt! may be the solution. If you have found another solution or end up giving Engagement Plans and TaskIt! a try, let us know how it goes by contacting us at As with most things Salesforce, real success comes from actively sharing knowledge and experience with the rest of the community.

Best wishes for the New Year!

The Fun Way to Learn Salesforce: More on Salesforce

A few of my coworkers previously have blogged about studying for the Salesforce Administrator exam. Emily mentioned Trailhead, and I wanted to add to the discussion about it as this has been a very helpful and encouraging study tool in preparation for such an exam. First: let's talk about the site itself, and then I’ll share my personal experience with it.

According to Salesforce, Trailhead is a fun, interactive, free way to learn Salesforce. With trails and projects for Administrators, Developers, and Users you can learn all you need to know about Salesforce. This website offers a completely free Developer Edition Salesforce instance for you to practice in and take challenges. As you complete the modules you gain points, and earn badges, which you can display to your Salesforce Community Profile. For some modules you read the content and answer questions; other modules challenge you to perform a specific task in Salesforce.

I rank as a Mountaineer in my Trailhead account, and currently hold thirty-three badges. I also accumulated over 25,500 points. It’s an accomplishment I share whenever possible. One time, I earned a sweatshirt with the Trailhead logo and badges by completing ten badges in a week.  I plan to take the Administrator exam in April, and will complete many more modules in Trailhead between now and then. I enjoy the real-world use cases that Trailhead provides. If you seek to gain more knowledge in Salesforce, log onto so you can begin to earn badges, gain points, and have more experience with the Salesforce database.

Great Opportunity for our Nonprofit Clients

Have you heard?

The Sprout Fund is offering $100K in grants to local organizations for new projects during the First 100 Days of Trump's presidency. Many of our nonprofit clients work with us to create and implement new innovative ways to conduct or enhance programming and administration, so this grant opportunity sounds like an ideal fit to get these projects off the ground! 

For more information, check out this Next Pittsburgh article.

Using Data to Get the Word Out

If you structure your data properly and create the tools to collect and report on that data in meaningful ways, there is no limit to how you can leverage that information to further your cause.  Take the Keystone Innovation Zone Program run by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, for example:  WIN consultants worked with DCED to build a data collection and reporting portal on the platform that tracks the impact of their services for startup companies across the State.  Now, impact measure data for KIZ Program staff are at their fingertips.  This data includes how many companies they have helped, how many jobs have been created, how much money has been delivered, and how much public and private investment has been attracted because of these programs.  The data is used to demonstrate success, ensure compliance to program’s legislative requirements, secure future funding and recruit new startup companies to targeted PA communities.   

To learn more about Keystone Innovation Zone and use their interactive data map, click here.

How could you use performance measure data?  We can help you think through it.

CONTINUED: Challenges of Salesforce Certification

Last week, my colleague Rich blogged about the challenges of becoming Salesforce certified. In his view, a person is more likely to be successful at becoming certified through experience over studying. In my (admittedly much shorter) experience working with Salesforce, I tend to agree that experience is a more valuable certification tool than studying. However, as a newbie, I’m in the process of studying for my administrator certification now, so I thought I’d share some of my key thoughts about it:

I have taken so many practice tests and quizzes, from Salesforce Ben, Focus on Force, Certified on Demand, and Chicago SFDC, to name a few. To validate Rich’s point, I’ve passed my practice exams … but failed the actual exam recently when I gave it a try (I’m already working toward re-taking it). I think that, as many other bloggers have mentioned, the content of many of these exams and quizzes was accurate and helpful - but the question structure did not match the question structure of the exam. Therefore, to help myself prepare better for my retake, I’ve been trying to take exam and quiz questions and flip them on their head -- in other words, trying to find the questions from the answers. Also, I've been doing a lot of Trailhead modules (and superbadges) ... hopefully these strategies move me toward certification success!

One of my biggest challenges in becoming Salesforce certified is my background as a nonprofit program evaluator. While I have a strong grasp on data management and analysis, my business acumen is fairly specific to the nonprofit sector - and in particular, the small, community-based organization type of nonprofits. So, questions on the exam that have examples related to “Support Teams” and “Sales Tiers” get me immediately freaked out. I’m trying to make useful examples for myself on various topics - even fairly straight-forward for-profit topics such as quotes and orders - but I’m looking forward to a day when the Salesforce exam includes examples from a variety of industries, since so many industries are already SF users!

The Challenges of Salesforce Certification

As someone who has held the Salesforce certified Developer and Salesforce certified Administrator certifications for a number of years, I have become quite familiar with the study, examination and maintenance process for these certifications.

In my opinion, an individual’s chances of passing a specific exam depend heavily on the amount of real-world experience possessed by him or her. For example, it would be extremely difficult for a Salesforce user with no administration experience to pass the Administrator 1 exam, even if that user had studied for the exam thoroughly and passed every mock exam available online. There are several reasons I have come to this belief:

In preparation for both Administrator and Developer exams, I leveraged many of the free mock exams and study guides available on the Internet. Although they seemed helpful, upon completing the actual exams, I realized that none of the study guides adequately captured the breadth of the questions that were on the exam. The core concepts were mostly there but the exams will throw huge curveball questions at you that may or may not have been in the study guide. One example that comes to mind are questions about multilingual Salesforce Orgs. Nowhere did I find sample questions on this topic; however, the topic was present in the Administrator exam. This is why months or years of real-world experience and a very strong grasp of the exam’s core concepts are critical to success. In fact, the Salesforce Admin exam guide states:

“…the candidate should have six or more months of experience as a Salesforce Administrator and should be able to successfully perform the tasks outlined in the exam objectives.”

Another complexity of the exam that may cause some difficulty (it did for me) is the structure and wording of the exam’s questions. The exam will not only test your knowledge of Salesforce but also your ability to deal with tricky, possibly deceptive questions. Here’s an example taken from the exam guide:

4. Which statement about custom summary formulas in reports is true? Choose two answers.
a.     Reports can be grouped by a custom summary formula result.
b.     Custom summary formulas can reference a formula field within a report.
c.      Custom summary formulas can reference another custom summary formula.
d.     Custom summary formulas can be used in a report built from a custom report type.

The piece to take note of here is the “Choose two answers” requirement. This will be a common theme throughout the examination. I personally came across questions where there appeared to be only a single correct answer and others where there were three or more possibilities but the specific question wanted two and only two responses.

These are the reasons I believe there is no amount of studying for the Salesforce exams that can override a lack of experience in actually using the product. The exam will throw oddball questions at you on top of a potentially tricky exam structure.

Learning Salesforce from the Ground-Up

Throughout my life, I’ve traveled many different career paths. I went from being a cashier at McDonald’s, to a sales representative for Macy's, to doing green work with Student Conservation Association (SCA), and even to pursuing a career in Massage Therapy. I was searching for something that could sustain my financial situation, while matching my intellect and work effort. That determination and persistence to be successful eventually led me to Salesforce.

I was first introduced to Salesforce through a community outreach education program, which was a joint effort from World-Class Industrial Network (WIN), and Glen Hazel Community Resident Management Corporation (GHCRMC). It was the first of its kind to come to the Hazelwood Glen Hazel community, where I grew up and still live. Part one of the curriculum was a six month training course in administering Salesforce. During that time, we learned many topics including: Microsoft Excel essentials, Salesforce CRM essentials, Salesforce Foundation’s Nonprofit Starter Pack, Salesforce Data Entry, Salesforce Usability Audits, and Process Documentation. It was very effective having classmates and the instructor to study with and learn from.

During the salesforce training class, we were fortunate to also learn Wealth Building Skills, Soft Skills, and Professionalism. Part two of the curriculum was a three month internship. At my host site Urban Innovation21, I was able to put my knowledge and skills in Salesforce to the test. During my time with Urban Innovation21, I assisted with getting their Salesforce instance set up. This included: learning their business practices, identifying important information in their current data model, helping with the Quick Start planning phase, and building custom fields and objects in a Developer Edition.

I graduated top of my class on June 24, 2016.  A few months after graduation, I was offered an entry level position at World-Class Industrial Network (WIN).  On September 12, 2016, I joined WIN as their Technology Analyst Assistant. My first project was to continue working with Urban Innovation21 on transferring data to the same Production instance that I helped develop and design during my internship. I’m  so thankful for this opportunity to advance my career in Salesforce, while I continue to learn from others who have over ten years of experience in Salesforce Administration.

Salesforce for Nonprofits?

People who have known me as a long-time volunteer and nonprofit employee are surprised to hear about my new job, as a consultant at World-Class Industrial Network (WIN), until I explain how I got here. I’ve decided, therefore, to take advantage of this blog posting to explain why I’m excited to be at WIN - not in spite of my background with nonprofits and volunteering, but because of it.

After I graduated from Muhlenberg College (Allentown, PA) with a Bachelor’s in Psychology, I decided to attend Villanova University (Villanova, PA) for a Master’s in Psychology. Together, I long expected these psychology degrees to help me to pursue a career that built on my volunteer work at multiple youth-serving organizations. Specifically, I planned to explore how intersecting identities (e.g., race and gender) impact the experiences and relationships of individuals, especially adolescents. While one obvious path could have been pursuing a PhD in psychology focused on that research area, I decided to shift my focus to utilize the skills I’d gained through my education to make a social impact among organizations that were already doing “the work.” Thus, I moved to Pittsburgh to earn my MSW from the University of Pittsburgh; I intentionally focused my classwork, research, and internships on the “behind-the-scenes” elements of the social service sector, so that I could most effectively integrate my research skills into the sector where they were most needed. After graduation, I conducted independent program evaluations for a number of local youth-serving organizations and served as the Program & Evaluation Director of Amachi Pittsburgh, a local nonprofit serving children of the incarcerated. Each of these opportunities enabled me to connect my academic background and skills with the needs of charitable organizations as they aimed to collect program data, analyze it, and share their results broadly with the community to raise awareness about their important work.

While at Amachi, I was engaged in a project working closely with WIN consultants to implement Salesforce as a data management system and quickly became excited about the many opportunities it held for nonprofit organizations. In addition to the Salesforce Foundation grants that enable small nonprofit organizations to access sophisticated Salesforce tools at little to no cost, Salesforce is highly customizable and integrates with a myriad of applications that many organizations already use, such as Google and Constant Contact. As a program evaluator, I saw how inadequate, inefficient tools hinder data collection and waste time for many organizations; Salesforce can address these problems. I recognized that, like any system, Salesforce would take time and effort to configure and would require some staff training. But, overall, I felt compelled to join the WIN team so that I could bring Salesforce - paired strategically with my program evaluation experience - to a broader network of social service organizations. I’m excited to help organizations reach more people, make a more lasting impact, and tell their story better… please reach out to me any time at to learn more about why Salesforce can help your nonprofit grow.