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Five Steps to Achieving Advancement Success with Salesforce

By Keri Fadden February 25, 2019

Five Steps to Achieving Advancement Success with SalesforceUsing Salesforce to achieve your goals in Advancement is as easy as defining your goals and mapping out the path to get there with Education Cloud. But where do you start? Here is a guide to the first five steps in achieving Advancement success:

1. Create a “Big Picture” Project Plan

Define a clear purpose for your initiative. What are you trying to accomplish by using Salesforce for Advancement? Take time to engage with key staff and collaborate on goals. Ensure each team member has approved the Advancement plan before moving forward on the project.

How to be Successful: Answer the following questions: What are the processes you’re trying to improve? What are the problems you’re trying to solve? How do you know if you’ve been successful? The answers to these questions bring you to the next level of questioning: What will you be able to do better after implementing Salesforce? Some example answers to this question may be: receive real-time information, build and maintain long-term relationships, or use Salesforce every day to communicate. Because project planning is a personal process, your answers will be unique. Take the time to document your team’s priorities and vision of success.

2. Draft Major Activities and Process Flows

After you have created the vision of your project, you are now ready to talk about the details that emerge from that “blueprint.” Take the high-level vision of your work and begin to drill down a level deeper. Define the steps that need to be completed to accomplish your goals.

Example of a Bubble Diagram
Example of a Bubble Diagram

How to be Successful: Consider creating a Bubble Diagram. What and where do the activities associated with your advancement project take place? How do they relate to each other? Highlight which activities are most important to keep you on track.

Example of a Process Map
Example of a Process Map

Now think about what steps it takes to do the work in those “bubbles” by creating a Process Map. Process Maps are great to visualize interactions and artifacts (emails, forms, reports) involved in this project and quickly identify pain points that automation could solve. Once you have sketched out your current process flows, think about how or if these processes can be improved to meet your goals better. Consider ranking them in priority order, with the ones that are mission critical at the top of the list.

Teamwork for successful higher ed advancement

3. Assemble Your Project Dream Team

While you don’t need a large team to run your project, you do need the right team. It’s critical to get team members working in the same direction. Each team’s structure will look different depending on the size of the project or your organization. Many colleges and universities utilize a Center of Excellence to govern Salesforce projects on their campus, while others create a one-time project team. The most important part of either approach is understanding and assigning distinct responsibilities to members.

How to be Successful: Assign roles for your team. Some team members may wear multiple hats and serve in overlapping roles, and that is okay! There are four key positions at the core of the team: Project Sponsor, Admin, Project Owner, and Users. The Project Sponsor is the one providing strategic guidance, supporting the budget, and removing roadblocks. The Admin is the intermediary between end-users, developers/IT staff, and Salesforce. The Project Owner is the driver; the one who is entrusted to get all of the processes up and running to keep the team moving in the right direction. Lastly, the Users (Power Users and End Users) are the ones giving the team real-time feedback on what is needed to do the work and what ideas they have to improve their workflows and processes.

4. Define and Measure Success

In Step 1, we defined our success vision. Now, determine how to measure the results of your efforts; you deserve to know that you’ve been successful after an implementation project. The success metrics are unique to your project and organization.

How to be Successful: Have a metric for every problem you are trying to solve, and know how to measure that outcome. Let’s say one of your goals is to increase alumni engagement. To measure that goal, you could report on things like percent increase in volunteerism, event attendance, or giving rate. For each goal, define how you will measure the success.

5. Connect with a Salesforce Expert

Even the best projects run into obstacles. Depending on the scale of those challenges, you may consider aligning with a Salesforce expert to keep things running smoothly.

How to be Successful: There are numerous options for you to consider.

  • Implementation partners are ready to work with you to customize and set up your Advancement solution (all are Salesforce certified).
  • There are also amazing product partners who have built a product on top of the Salesforce platform, and their solutions can be found on the AppExchange. Product partners take the highly customizable Salesforce platform and create something unique that does not come out of the box with Salesforce.
  • A Customer Success Architect is a Salesforce and industry expert who works to help your organization get the highest return on your Salesforce investment. CSAs start by aligning your teams on your overall vision and working with key stakeholders and partners to make sure your vision is executed effectively. They bridge strategy and execution and provide actionable guidance to help you innovate faster.
  • Strategic Services consultants are a part the Customer Success Group. Working with Strategic services, customers implement highly impactful solutions that are built to scale and optimized for both the business and IT.

While there may be many different ways to implement Education Cloud, its core capabilities make it an excellent platform for the functional areas of Advancement, like alumni relations & engagement, fundraising & growth, and data & insights. Even better, you get to decide which pieces of the Advancement puzzle are most important to your institution as you begin to build.

To learn more about planning for success, download the recording of our recent webinar below. If you’re interested in other areas of Advancement, our Getting Started with Advancement webinar series on the Power of Us Hub covers other topics as well, such as alumni relations & engagement, fundraising & growth, or data & insights.

About the Author
Keri FaddenKeri Fadden is a higher education professional with a passion for using technology to improve business practices, manage projects, and achieve goals. Prior to her work at, she spent 18 years at Allegheny College in multiple roles, including student activities, academic affairs, and advancement and alumni engagement. Connect with her on LinkedIn.