The article’s title, “Salesforce Change Management: A Guide + Steps for Success,” next to someone typing on a laptop.

To maintain your nonprofit’s long-term success and fulfill your mission, you must continually adapt to evolving regulations, technological innovations, and the latest trends in giving. That’s why understanding the process and best practices for effective change management is so important, especially when implementing new technology, software features, or updates.

Salesforce is one of the leading CRM platforms for nonprofits looking for a flexible, scalable solution to manage their programs, build a 360-degree view of their supporters, and gather insights for improving their strategies. Whether you’re adopting Salesforce for the first time or preparing for changes to your existing system, we’ll walk you through the Salesforce change management process in the following sections:

Change can be intimidating, but with a thoughtful and calculated approach, it can usher your nonprofit into a new stage of growth and success.

Click through to learn how Beyond the Horizon can support your nonprofit throughout the Salesforce change management process.

Salesforce Change Management FAQs

Before you begin developing a change management plan for your Salesforce platform, let’s walk through some frequently asked questions to provide you with the foundation you need to get started.

What is change management?

Change management refers to the process of guiding your organization through changes in its processes, operations, or technology to meet your goals while minimizing disruptions among your staff, volunteers, and other stakeholders.

A definition of change management, as mentioned above.

Everything from determining your need for change to assessing the success of your change falls under the umbrella of change management.

Let’s say your nonprofit wants to start leveraging more of Salesforce’s automation features in your staff’s workflows. To enhance, rather than hinder, their current processes, you must plan for which areas of your operations could benefit from automation, determine which individuals will be affected by these improvements, and decide how you’ll train users.

Why is Salesforce change management important?

When you’re migrating to Salesforce or enhancing your existing configuration, having a dedicated change management plan in place ensures that you make the most of your efforts while saving time, energy, and resources.

The following statistics illustrate just how important change management can be for nonprofits:

Statistics that highlight the importance of an effective Salesforce change management process, which are included below.

  • The top donor data and engagement challenges among nonprofit leaders include not capturing the correct data (28%), not having a centralized CRM (23%), and primarily using spreadsheets to track data (20%).
  • When it comes to adopting technology for successful data usage, 72% of nonprofits consider the overall knowledge and skill level of their staff to be a major challenge. However, 34% plan to migrate to a new CRM in the near future.
  • 42% of nonprofits do not have an established policy for decision-making related to technology.
  • 73% of change-affected staff members report experiencing moderate to high stress levels and perform 5% worse than their peers.
  • Employees who receive tools, such as dashboards and project plans, to support them through changes are 3.8 times more likely to report that their organization outperformed peers.

These numbers make it clear that, while change is necessary for your nonprofit’s growth and sustainability, you need to effectively manage change to unlock its benefits for your staff, volunteers, program participants, and donors.

However, that doesn’t mean your nonprofit has to go it all alone, especially if you’re new to Salesforce or change management methodology. There are plenty of experienced consultants you can turn to for support in customizing your Salesforce system and preparing your technology strategy for lasting success.

What are some examples of Salesforce change management?

There are many occasions that may call for Salesforce change management. Depending on your specific goals and circumstances, you might be preparing to:

  • Adopt Salesforce for the first time.
  • Upgrade to a newer version or migrate to another edition of Salesforce.
  • Integrate Salesforce with another software solution.
  • Develop and roll out a customized Salesforce system.

For instance, your nonprofit might decide that it wants to adopt one of Salesforce’s analytics tools, so staff members can better report your impact to stakeholders and glean more meaningful insights from your data. Creating a detailed Salesforce change management plan will facilitate their transition from their current reporting and analytics processes to the new, more streamlined approach you’re hoping to implement.

Click through to learn how Beyond the Horizon can support your nonprofit throughout the Salesforce change management process.

5 Steps in the Salesforce Change Management Process

While many factors can influence your Salesforce change management process, such as your goals, size, resources, and leadership, you should generally follow these steps to set your nonprofit up for success:

Essential steps in the Salesforce change management methodology, described in more detail below.

1. Prepare for change.

Planning, managing, and executing change within your nonprofit is no solo endeavor. Once you’ve recognized a need for change within your Salesforce environment, or decided that switching to the CRM is the right option for your organization, create a project team to oversee the initiative.

Then, as a team, you should:

  • Examine your current CRM workflows and business processes.
  • Determine the scope of the desired change.
  • Identify which stakeholders will be affected by the change.
  • Pinpoint potential challenges that may crop up.
  • Assign individual project roles and responsibilities.

Conduct a change readiness assessment, evaluating your nonprofit’s resources, culture, staff attitudes toward change, and other relevant conditions to find out if you need to take any preliminary actions to prepare for the change. For example, if you’re preparing to migrate to Salesforce from another system, you might take steps to cleanse your data and ensure that everything is accurate before you proceed.

2. Set a SMART goal.

Start putting together a Salesforce change management plan by using the SMART framework to define your overall goal:

  • Specific. Be clear as to exactly what you want to accomplish through your Salesforce change, so staff members and other affected stakeholders can better understand and support the initiative.
  • Measurable. Attach relevant metrics to your goal, so you can assess whether your change management efforts are paying off and make adjustments to your plan as needed.
  • Achievable. While your goal can be ambitious, it should ultimately be realistic. Use your change readiness assessment findings to inform your goal-setting.
  • Relevant. Specify how your Salesforce change will benefit your nonprofit’s mission, improve your programs, and amplify your impact on the community.
  • Time-bound. Set a deadline for completing the change so you can prioritize which steps and activities you need to take to meet your goal.

For example, if your nonprofit is planning to migrate to Salesforce, you might set a SMART goal like: “Within five months of migrating to Salesforce, we will reach 100% user adoption among our staff and volunteers to streamline our program management and improve our impact reporting. To accomplish this, we’ll host monthly training sessions and publish educational resources in staff-facing materials.”

3. Implement and track all changes.

Once you have your goal, you need a more detailed roadmap, along with Salesforce change requests describing the specific changes you’d like to make, the rationale behind them, and their deadlines.

If your team would like a little more guidance to carry out your plan, work with a consultant to discuss your goal and figure out how you’ll empower all of your users to make the most of the upcoming changes. For example, at Beyond the Horizon (BTH), our nonprofit technology specialists will walk you through every step of the implementation process, including:

  • Assembling your team, communicating expectations, and securing buy-in.
  • Identifying the processes and pain points you want your Salesforce changes to address.
  • Developing and customizing your Salesforce platform to meet your specific needs.
  • Testing the new or updated system to ensure that everything functions properly.

Once your system is up and running, we’ll continue supporting your team by providing a training schedule and resources to all your end users. This way, you can ensure that everyone can jump right into using the platform effectively and efficiently.

4. Communicate changes and train users.

After successfully executing your planned changes, ensure that your efforts are worthwhile by incorporating these changes into your nonprofit’s culture, staff processes, and training materials.

Some basic ways you can communicate your change and support users include:

  • Broadcasting the change in various ways, such as emails and staff meetings.
  • Communicating the rationale and benefits associated with the change.
  • Hosting training sessions, sharing pre-recorded tutorials, and publishing user guides.
  • Recognizing staff members and volunteers for embracing the change.

58% of employees prefer to receive communications about the personal impacts of change directly from their supervisors. Help them feel individually supported by providing them with opportunities to share feedback on their experiences with the platform, either through surveys or your staff portal.

5. Analyze your results.

To improve your future Salesforce change management efforts and make necessary adjustments to support users following your most recent change initiative, ask your team these questions:

  • Did our Salesforce changes align with our initial goal?
  • Are we experiencing the benefits we expected from our new Salesforce configuration?
  • How are users engaging with the new system? Did any issues crop up?
  • How can we better communicate Salesforce changes to stakeholders moving forward?
  • Did our Salesforce changes deliver a positive return on investment (ROI) for our nonprofit?

Use your answers to these questions to identify what your team handled well and whether you should make any additional improvements to your change management process. Doing so ensures that your nonprofit can continue to innovate how it runs its programs and reports on its impact.

Explore real case studies to learn how Beyond the Horizon has helped other nonprofits succeed in their Salesforce change management journeys.

Best Practices for Salesforce Change Management

To get the most out of your Salesforce change management process, incorporate these best practices:

  • Identify the right change leaders. When assembling your change management team, involve passionate, communicative, and respected leaders at your nonprofit. Including the right change leaders allows you to build and maintain momentum throughout the process, so everyone remains on the same page at all times.
  • Prioritize user and stakeholder feedback. Your nonprofit’s staff members and volunteers are the ones who will be using your Salesforce system to manage your programs, inform their marketing activities, tailor their fundraising strategies, and more. Make it easy for them to share their input so you can ensure that you’re making the right changes and taking the right steps to meet their needs.
  • Reach out to nonprofit experts as needed. Migrating to Salesforce or making changes to your existing configuration can be a time-consuming, intensive journey. That’s why many organizations turn to nonprofit technology experts for support. When conducting your research, look for consultants who specialize in working with nonprofits. They’ll already have an understanding of your specific priorities and pain points when you begin your partnership.

At BTH, our consultants combine in-depth Salesforce expertise with extensive nonprofit experience to help organizations of all shapes and sizes build a long-term technology roadmap to achieve their goals. When it’s time to carry out your Salesforce migration or platform changes, we’ll be your expert implementation partners. We’ll support your project through these key phases of our implementation process:

Phases of the BTH implementation process, which details how our consultants can support your nonprofit on your Salesforce change management journey.

  • Preparation. We’ll host preliminary meetings to secure executive buy-in, establish project responsibilities, agree on expectations, and develop communication protocols for your change management process.
  • Discovery. Your dedicated Implementation Consultant will meet with each of your nonprofit’s teams or departments to understand the most pressing needs to address. Based on stakeholder feedback, they’ll start brainstorming which Salesforce solutions are the best fit for your organization.
  • Requirements Review. We’ll turn your stakeholder feedback into specific requirements that your Salesforce change should meet, then review them all with your change management team for approval or updates.
  • Development and Data Migration. We’ll jump into customizing your Salesforce system and migrating your data through a flexible data migration schedule that minimizes disruption to your staff and volunteer workflow.
  • Testing and Quality Assurance (QA). A select group of your nonprofit’s users will test out your new Salesforce system to ensure that everything works as expected before opening up access to everyone.
  • Go-Live. Once it’s time for all of your users to start interacting with your new Salesforce configuration, your Implementation Consultant will either train them directly or train a select number of “Power Users” who will become helpful resources for their peers.
  • Ongoing Administration. Even after the end of your Salesforce change management journey, our team will engage in regular check-ins with your users to ensure that they’re comfortable with the changes and collect any feedback relating to their experience with the CRM.

Whether you’re about to embark on a Salesforce implementation project or looking for some ongoing assistance to fully leverage your platform, reach out to our team to learn more about how we can help you meet your goals! We’ll set you up with a practical, user-friendly, and on-budget Salesforce solution to make your operations more efficient and effective.

Maximizing the Value of Your Salesforce Platform

With a reliable, efficient CRM system on your side, your nonprofit will be better equipped to conduct its programs, collect data on program participants, and share its impact with donors. If it’s time for your organization to adopt an innovative platform like Salesforce or upgrade its existing setup, having a thoughtful change management strategy ensures that you make the most of your efforts.

At BTH, we’re here to help you harness the power of technology to the fullest. Contact us today to start planning your path to success!

For more tips and best practices on how to improve your nonprofit’s technology toolkit, check out these additional resources:

Contact Beyond the Horizon to discuss how our experts can help your nonprofit with Salesforce change management and improve your technology strategy.