What Nonprofit Admins Need to Know About Salesforce Lightning

Salesforce Lightning for Nonprofits

A whole new user interface for Salesforce: Lightning Experience. Any announcement of this magnitude brings with it both excitement and dread for the community of Salesforce Administrators who are responsible for keeping systems running and data flowing. From reports to executives, functionality for front-line staff, and the mission delivered to constituents, everyone connected to your nonprofit depends on everything working right the first time, every time. No matter how good they may look in video demos and stage presentations, sudden interface changes without warning and preparation are sure to cause immediate and emphatic feedback.

But don’t worry. While changes are coming, you are still in control of how quickly they arrive, and I’m sure that one day you’ll wonder how you ever got along without them. Remember, Salesforce hasn’t always looked the same. It has been evolving since the very beginning, and will continue to evolve as will our needs and expectations of any user interface. Take a look at how it has changed since 1999 in this video from Salesforce.

An amazing progression, right? And each change faced the same fear and user adoption curve that this new user interface will face. The key to success within your organization is to understand what is coming, and how to prepare for it. Here are a few key facts to help you get ready.

When will Lightning be released?

Winter ’16 will be the first appearance of the Lightning User Interface, but rest assured, it won’t be activated by default. Admins will have complete control over whether to activate the changes or not, even down to a user-specific level. It’s not all or nothing, you’ll be able to set up custom profiles to control who will get to see any changes. Plus as Beth Breisnes explains in her excellent post these changes are just the first set of updates to the interface, focusing mostly on Sales Process and Opportunity Management. Each functional area will be addressed in time, and rolled out as they are completed.

What is changing?

The Lightning Experience is more that just an update to the visual display of Salesforce data, it is also revamping the underlying code structure to make customizing and developing useful interfaces easier for developers. In this post AdminHero Brent Downey outlines visual features he feels will have the most impact. New list views, dashboards, setup interface, opportunity management, and even basic page layouts all have been updated to make the experience more productive, a key feature for a business-enabling application.

For more details on specific changes and what they mean to you, Salesforce has provided a series of Trailhead modules that start with the basics and progress through rolling it out to your organization. For even more specific advice, Belinda Wong has a helpful video talking about how to decide if it is right for you, and if it is, how to migrate.

For developers, Salesforce offers the Salesforce Lightning Design System (SLDS) to provide an open-source toolkit for ensuring that what is developed will blend seamlessly with the Salesforce UI. Developers can build mobile apps using Lightning components and the Lightning App Builder, which allows them to build an App that will work across multiple operating systems. With the variety of devices rapidly expanding every year, this translates to a huge time-savings, as well as a consistent and predictable user experience no matter where you are.

Where do I find out more?

Salesforce has a lot invested in this update now and going into the future, so they aren’t holding back when it comes to providing resources. In fact, they have provided a full in-depth site for admins and developers to take a deep dive into the Lightning Design System, including tutorials, best-practices, and downloads. Lightning Design System site.

To make the release even more special, the Lightning Global Preview event was held independently only a few days before the big show of Dreamforce, and Salesforce pulled out all the stops to make sure it has its own splash. Watch it all here.

Questions about Lightning?

If you have any more questions about the changes coming in the Lightning Experience and how they could impact your organization, please ask in the comments or contact us directly. Change is coming, but it’s going to be just fine. In fact, things are getting better all the time.

About the author

Team Heller

Heller Consulting has been helping nonprofits establish and improve their communications, fundraising and mission management systems since 1996. Our distinctive methodology comes from our hands-on experience with the technology AND strategies utilized by today’s successful nonprofits to build rewarding constituent relationships.

Copyright © 2018 Heller Consulting.