Transcript: Integrating The Raiser’s Edge and Salesforce

On September 28, Heller Consulting and Omatic Software hosted and Expert Q & A session to discuss the possibilities and challenges of system integration. We shared a brief presentation on planning for integrated systems and then opened up the conversation to questions from participants. You can view the webinar here, and read the full transcript below.

Bryan: Hello everyone and thank you for joining us today for our webinar on Expert Q & A on Integration of Raiser’s Edge and Salesforce. We’ll be starting off today with a short presentation from Heller Consulting and Omatic Software, and then opening up the floor to your questions. Please put your questions in the Question Section of the Go To Webinar control panel so we can see them, and we’ll answer them as they come in. If we don’t get to your question in this presentation today, we’ll follow up with you directly afterwards. We will be recording this session and we’ll email a link to the recording and slides afterwards. Sandi, why don’t you get us started.

Sandi Reinardy: All right. Thank you very much, Bryan, and welcome everyone. We’ve got today, as he mentioned, this is an expert Q&A session. So we’re excited, after a brief presentation, to get to some of your questions about using Raiser’s Edge and Salesforce together, and integrating data between the two. We’ll start with a little introduction of our presenters and our companies.

My name is Sandi Reinardy and I am an account executive with Heller Consulting. I’ve been with the firm about 10 years with a little over two stints. I started out with doing finance consulting on Raiser’s Edge and worked through various roles including customization and integration, in management. Development and management is on with some solution engineering and sales work. In between there, I worked for the University of Wisconsin for three years as we implemented Blackbaud CRM for a full set solution at the university. I’m happy to be back at Heller and working with the nonprofit sector again.

Jennifer Thall: Hi everyone. My name is Jennifer Thall. I’m a senior consultant here at Heller. I’ve been with Heller about three and a half years or so. As a senior consultant, I’m usually playing the lead role on both strategy projects and implementation projects with our clients. So talking through whether to integrate systems, and how to integrate systems, and then implementing those integrations is a big part of the work that I do here. So I’m eager to hear your questions.

Cheri Carver: Hi everyone. My name is Cheri Carver and I am with Omatic Software. I am the consulting manager for professional services. I’ve been with Omatic Software now just over three years and have worked in a senior consultant capacity as well as management capacity, primarily focusing on implementing our products such as ImportOmatic’s list management, and SegmentOmatic, and several others… we have quite the laundry list… and also worked with our migration projects. So we work to migrate clients from Raiser’s Edge to Raiser’s Edge and other systems as well. So we developed that entire process and do the migration work ourselves as well. I came directly from Blackbaud, where I was there for seven and a half years. I worked in a senior consultant capacity there and also as a trainer. Prior to all that consulting life, I also worked in some nonprofit organizations in several capacities in Charleston, South Carolina, where we are currently based. I look forward to hearing your questions and I’ll pass it on to Stu.

Stu Manewith: Thanks Cheri. I’m Stu Manewith. I’m the director of professional services at Omatic Software. Professional services is another name for our implementation consulting practice. It’s the team of people that implement Omatic products as well as providing consulting supports, generally speaking, within the Blackbaud ecosystem. Prior to Omatic, like Cheri, I served time at Blackbaud. I was at Blackbaud for 13 years, working on The Raiser’s Edge and The Financial Edge, and later Blackbaud CRM. Prior to that, I was director of development at two nonprofits in the St. Louis area. I’ll pass it on to Shane.

Shane Norris: Shane Norris, I’m the director of product development at Omatic. I’ve been here almost seven years, worked with our team of developers and QA along with our product management to build the products such as ImportOmatic and the connectors that we’re talking about today. So I look forward to hear your questions. I, like Stu and Cheri, was at Blackbaud several years ago, both in product development and professional services. So we all have a wealth of knowledge on that side.

Sandi Reinardy: All right. Thank you so much. Let me tell you just a little bit about Heller Consulting. We are a firm of about 35 people who worked exclusively with nonprofits. We’ve worked with 1,500 clients on over 3,000 projects. So we’ve got people sprinkled around the country with offices in San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Boston and Austin. The work that we do is we work with nonprofit organizations to help them use technology, not only to be more efficient but to be more effective at carrying out there mission. We do this to services ranging from strategic technology planning and CRM roadmap development through implementation and user adoption. Can you advance the slide, please?

This one covers a couple of the things that we feature with strategic planning, technology planning, implementation, and fundraising and engagement, team alignment and change management. Great, so we’ll turn it over to Omatic for an introduction on your company.

Stu Manewith: Great, thank you. I will be brief because I know we want to spend as much time as possible on the Q&A.

So Omatic is… we started as a software company. It grew out of the Blackbaud ecosystem in about 2002 and became a Blackbaud technology partner in 2004. We are about 51 people that come from development background, fundraising development and IT development. Those mean two different things, depending on who you’re talking to, which I learned as a former working with the latter, as well as people who are deeply experienced in the nonprofit industry. As evidenced by our panelists today, a lot of us worked at Blackbaud before working at Omatic. Can you advance the slide, please?

As I said, we started out as a software company and so much of the work that we do is developing products for nonprofit organizations to use in marrying up different systems within the Blackbaud ecosystem to systems outside the Blackbaud ecosystem such as Salesforce. In recent years, in maybe the last eight or ten years, we’ve developed a strong professional services practices focused on working on Omatic products as well as other products within the Blackbaud ecosystem. Can you advance slide? Thank you.

This is a list of the Omatic product suites with… I would say that most of the people in the session right now are familiar or at least have heard of ImportOmatic, as well as some of the other products that Cheri mentioned during her introduction; SegmentOmatic, which is used for helping do more than Raiser’s Edge can do out of the box and very direct marketing; MergeOmatic for duplicate tracking and duplicate mitigation; ScoreOmatic for affinity scoring, etcetera; PostOmatic for posting to your general ledger. The newest member of the family is right in the middle of [0:08:18 their retrace], which is a super duper auditing function for figuring out who change records, who did what to which records and determining how those need to be mitigated if at all. Certainly, you can find out more about Omatic by going to omaticsoftware.com. Thank you.

Sandi Reinardy: Thank you, Stu. I just have to stay that stuff, all, is so cool and I… yeah. It’s a great list of tools. So for the agenda today, we’re just going to talk briefly a little bit. I’m going to talk a little bit about what changed in the technology industry, as well as the nonprofit sector, about why are we here today to talk about integrating Raiser’s Edge and Salesforce. Then, Omatic is going to show us a case study review from one of their clients and to talk about integration considerations in a real tactical standpoint, which is their expertise. Then, from there, we’ll get right into the Q&A. So let me advance the slide. There we go.

So this is my totally nonscientific fish diagram, that I’m using, just to map out what we what we’ve been seeing with our clients as a real shift in the approach that their taking to the task of building out a technology environment that works well for them. We’ve seen a shift back in the early to mid-2000s and especially when Salesforce came, made a big splash into the scene in the nonprofit sector. People started to really think like, “Can we have a single system that’ll give us a 360-degree view of our constituents from donors, to volunteers, to event attendees, to people that receive services and our beneficiaries of whatever our mission might be to carry out? Could we get this all in one system and wouldn’t that be amazing to not have to deal with all these other stuff?”

People really went in that direction for awhile and we’ve seen… and I think what happened is after a bit, we’ve all seen like, “Yeah, that might be too big of an ask,” that there’s different kinds of details that are needed from a fundraising solution that are needed from other types of work that you might be doing, and so it might just be asking a little bit too much of one system, and that’s okay. People have learned a lot and the software vendors have learned a lot in the same time, I think, as well. But we’re starting to shift back. The other thing that’s happened… and I’ll talk about this in a moment… is that the technology has changed and become… there’s been a lot of evolution, a lot of development, and a lot better to much more competitive market today for nonprofits than it was before. This has allowed people to start thinking more back toward best of breed. Can I have different solutions for the different things that we need to do and get that data married together so that it’s not super inefficient? In this is the reality. We’re seeing people go a lot more in that direction these days than we were six, seven, eight, ten years ago. So this is brings us to… the next slide, please.

What seems particularly with integration is that it has, actually, gotten easier. There’s a better, more affordable technology, that list of products that Omatic has developed. As I mentioned, those things are all tools that helps to keep this data clean, intact, moving, handled, and makes it manageable to do those. There’s a lot of tools like that. The other is the workforce is now better-equipped to manage that. When I started out consulting and working in nonprofits in the late ‘90s, early 2000s, when Raiser’s Edge suddenly came out, nobody knew how to really maximize and how to use it. Fast forward to now, there’s tons of people familiar with the Blackbaud ecosystem. So it’s much easier to hire and to engage with companies like Omatic for services you might need around those systems, so there’s much more there.

On the Salesforce side of things, their entire ecosystem, their model is designed around having people all over the world certify the end part of their community with lots of learning opportunities and other things. So you can hire both outsourced or in-house staff, who are certified and can handle some of the requirements of managing integrations more easily than you used to.

One last note on this side is just… that we did say it’s easier. We have talked about in both between… everybody on the call here, I think, has agreed that we don’t like to go around saying that integration is easy, just because we don’t want to set the expectation that it’s still… at the end of the day, they’re still human beings who are contributing to data that’s part of these integrations and there’ll always be certain things that we have to handle and account for. But it is easier than it’s ever been and I think very reasonable and manageable today. Next slide.

So the big opportunities here are you can, by integrating ranges such in Salesforce, is that you can improve both your efficiency and your effectiveness. Raiser’s Edge fundraising tools may work well for your organization. You may not see that there’s a really good alternate option for you directly; there might be. But that, at the same, Salesforce may offer to cover some gaps that you’re not able to do with Raiser’s Edge, particularly in the program management, some marketing areas, other things that Raiser’s Edge isn’t designed to do. So integrating allows you, in that scenario, to maintain efficiency with your demographic information, so you’re not doing duplicate entry and which keeps you able to utilize the systems more effectively. You’re not focused on that groundwork. Instead, you’re able to really dig into the real work at hand. Then, over time, you’re able utilize that data to develop useful insights into your constituent base to keep improving on that work. Next slide.

With that being said, the big thing is one of the things we always say is that careful planning is really key to pursuing integration of any of your systems or any technology project, really. With regard to integration, it’s really important to start with the big picture. What goals are you going to be able to achieve? What is it that you, as an organization as a whole, is going to improve for you and allow you… is integrating going to allow you to do? You should always be able to answer the question of, “By having this data integrated, I will blank. I’ll be able to do X, Y or Z, and have that real specific action item in mind.” Be honest about what does not need to go in both systems. Don’t just throw it all in and because you’re going to end up with some quite a lot more than to manage. So you do want to be strategic and realistic about what you’re going to use. Then also, culturally, thinking about and talking through how different departments who use each system are going to work together when they have a [0:15:33 shares] taken the data. That changes things for people sometimes. If there’s any territorial-ness, or competitiveness, or whatever it might be, those things have to accounted for when you’re making a change like this to just make sure that everybody’s onboard and looking toward the organization’s best interest as a whole.

So those are just some of our high-level thoughts that we wanted to share today before we get into the Q&A. I’ll turn it over the Omatic team to talk about their case study.

Stu Manewith: Great. Thank you very much. I’ll call this more of a user story than a case study and I’ll be brief. So earlier in the year, beginning of this year, Omatic introduced an ImportOmatic connector for Salesforce. One of our early clients, one of the first… one of our earlier clients that took advantage of that connector, actually, was a [0:16:30 radical] textbook case of the benefits of having the systems talk to each other. It was a faith-based organization, a fraternal organization that fundraised nationally, but they had chapters or interest groups all over the country. The client was using Raiser’s Edge for fundraising and they were using Salesforce to manage their members, and their chapters, and chapter group leadership, and marketing to those who might be interested in chapter activities, and in furthering the mission of the organization.

It was clear to them that they had people who were donors that were very much invested in the mission of the organization. But they were not involved in chapter activities as well as that they had chapter members and chapter leaders who, obviously, were physically and emotionally invested in the organization and had never been really cultivated as donors. So it was pretty… I want to say it was almost a no-brainer that the constituents in both systems should be meshed so that those who are donors could be cultivated to join the discussion groups and the chapters, and that those who are already in the discussion groups and the chapters could be cultivated as donors.

So again, a fairly straightforward example and a fairly simple example of that is, foundationally, what we see in working with organizations that use both Raiser’s Edge and Salesforce is that there are opportunities for people who are in Raiser’s Edge, constituents that are in the Raiser’s Edge system, to be taken advantaged of before what the organization is using Salesforce for and vice versa.

I know that we’re going to have questions toward the end of the session, but I think right now I’ll turn it over to Cheri. Cheri’s team, actually, is the team in Omatic that works with our clients that use both systems. So I’m going to ask her to talk about some more operational points to think about when we talk about interfacing.

Cheri Carver: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you, Stu. If we could just go and advance to the next slide, that’d be great. Thank you.

So with any integration, we always have considerations to take into account whenever we’re looking at utilizing, obviously, multiple products and potentially even our product to help us integrate as well. So one thing I do want to point out, as Stu mentioned in his client example, is that our client was using our Salesforce connector, and some of you may not be very familiar with that. At Omatic, we have developed a series of connectors over the past few years that help clients to integrate their data. So we actually use ImportOmatic, our primary product, as a foundation and we build connectors on top of that foundation for specific products, which allows us to integrate that data with a lot more hands-off, a lot less interaction from clients, and it also helps the data to be bidirectional as well.

So I want to give you a little bit of background on that because it goes very much into our key points of integrating this data and things to consider. Primarily, one of the things that we have to have questions around quite often when we’re talking about this integration is which is going to be the system of record. In the system of record, we typically look at as the one that is going to be most frequently updated with the contact information, the most up-to-date emails, the most up-to-date addresses or biographical information, names. So typically, we have a system that’s going to be a little bit more frequently updated than one or the other and that helps us to understand more what’s the primary, where that information lies more frequently. That may not be so cut-and-dry, but we try to find a way for us to be able to do that so that as we go forward, and we’re talking about integrating this data, it’s a little bit easier for us to understand what all needs to integrate, how frequently maybe it needs to integrate. I’ll talk about that more in just a second.

So there is also another consideration, which is the constituent record structure between Raiser’s Edge and Salesforce. So obviously, they are two different systems and they are structured very differently. Depending on how you structure Salesforce, there may be a different connection with your record types. So it could be that you potentially have accounts set up to connect to constituent records or you may develop accounts to be more household records, and the contacts are going to be more constituent relationship records. So that’s a very big understanding that we need to have between those two systems as we integrate them together so that we do have a successful integration.

Within those records, we also want to talk about what specific data will flow between the systems. So depending on how we’re utilizing Salesforce, there could be some data that maybe just needs to come to Salesforce to live within Raiser’s Edge or it could be that we do need data that come in from Salesforce and also go back into Salesforce from Raiser’s Edge. So understanding that flow, if there will be a bidirectional flow, there may be only one direction in some scenarios, we need to, of course, understand what’s going to work best for the organization and again achieving some of those action items that earlier, that Heller spoke about, in referencing these are the things that I can achieve. That will, of course, help us in understanding that flow of data.

One big thing that we find quite often in integrating systems is also looking at how those, both systems, are set up and potentially looking at auditing both of those systems. We know that not every database is perfect as much as we want it to be. So there are, sometimes, needs for us to audit the system to understand them a little bit better. There may be custom fields that we have developed within Salesforce or attributes within Raiser’s Edge, that we need to understand the usage of those and also the connection between the two systems for those. Audit can definitely help with that understanding and getting the organization on the same page between those systems.

Then lastly, one of my key points in any integration is going to be around the process. A lot of times the process, I do encourage documentation, which is nobody’s [0:22:56 missed fun] point by any means, but we know that with integrations, they may potentially change every time. The system may grow. We may change usage within the system. So therefore, documenting the process, especially the frequency, that’s always good to know, and how often we want to integrate. Is it going to be daily, weekly? And knowing, of course, to what data is going to be integrating. There may be some filtering of data. We may not bring overall contact information for all records. So we may filter it out as it exports back into the [0:23:27 inaudible] where imports and from the other system. So documenting all that so when go back as the systems grow and change, and understand what we are making changes to from a regional decision, and be able to easily make those are extremely important, so just some considerations for integration.

I think we’ll pass it over to Heller.

Sandi Reinardy: Yes, so it is now time for some of your questions. So please go ahead and add questions to the questions box part of your webinar. We’ve got some ready to go here.

So question, a bidirectional question, how does the flow back to the first system (Salesforce)… how does that work? In other words, how can we tell what’s been updated in Raiser’s Edge to send back to Salesforce? I think that one is probably a question for the Omatic team. If you’re looking at Raiser’s Edge data and something’s been updated, how do you identify those updates?

Stu Manewith: This is Stu Manewith. From the Raiser’s Edge standpoint, there are certainly tools within the Raiser’s Edge that you can use to determine if data has been changed. Again, Salesforce is not my forte, but I assume that there are similar tools that you can use within Salesforce to see when data has been updated. If the question is more complicated than that, then maybe it needs to be rearticulated.

Sandi Reinardy: Sure, yup, it seems that the… I’m guessing that it’s getting toward time stamping, date stamping of audit trails on certain fields. Certainly, from a Salesforce standpoint, you can set up audit trail tracking field, [0:25:2 field level] tracking on there that can be used in the query and pull the information over. Well, great.

We’ve got a question here. Can we use just the Salesforce email campaigns? Is there an automated link with RE query to create email lists in Salesforce?

So I think in… I’m going to say in this one is just a matter… I think this is probably a matter of trying to utilize or just populate, just use it as a source system for populating campaigns in Salesforce. So here’s an email list. Bring it in and have those people set.

Jennifer, what are your thoughts about doing that? So separate from a technical standpoint of getting the data over, what are your thoughts about what that would involve?

Jennifer Thall: Sure. I think the majority of it would be using an RE query based on whichever criteria, whether it’s giving information, or volunteer information, or certain attributes, or constituent codes. Building that query in Raiser’s Edge and bringing the resulting contacts into Salesforce or maybe updating them with a specific flag like that they are opted into your newsletter or opted into receiving event communications, whatever the purpose for that email list. Using that resulting list in Salesforce, you would basically just need a standing report that had that flag set to true and immediately adding those as campaign members in Salesforce. Once their campaign members of a campaign, you can either use Salesforce mass email or that can be connected to most of the email marketing tools that you might have hooked up on the Salesforce end, whether it’s Marketing Cloud, Pardot, or MailChimp, or any of the variety of tools on that side.

Sandi Reinardy: Great, another question. Can Salesforce be used to process donations and then import those donations into Raiser’s Edge?

I don’t know if this is specific for what this person is asking, but I could see a scenario where perhaps certain online donations or certain types of donations are being processed in one spot, and other fundraising activities are being handled in Raiser’s Edge, and having Salesforce as the conduit there.

Donation from the Omatic team? Bringing donations back into Raiser’s Edge, what does that look like from an integration standpoint?

Stu Manewith: The [0:28:17 inaudible] if I say something that is not at least be clarified. But right now, our connector will bring in, what in Raiser’s Edge is considered constituent information and gift information. Shane, I don’t think there is a limitation on the transactions that could come in from Salesforce, is there?

Shane Norris: That’s correct. Bringing data from Salesforce to Raiser’s Edge, we’re using a report-based approach. So anything that can be reported on in a tabular report can be pulled over to Raiser’s Edge. Then, using standard built-in IOM functionality can be mapped to any number of places within the Raiser’s Edge. So there’s no limitation there as long as you can report on it and get it out a tabular report from Salesforce. That includes standard entities as well as custom entities, custom fields, etcetera.

Cheri Carver:  I would just add that for that use case, I think the biggest challenge isn’t getting the data to move across the systems. It’s really just making the business process decisions to align the way that both tools track like a donation or a transaction. So for example if Raiser’s Edge needs a gift type, you want to make sure that Salesforce is tracking gift types as well so that that data can flow through accordingly.

Shane Norris: Yeah, that’s a good point. There’s also built-in tools within [0:29:41 inaudible] allow you to basically translate the data. So that’s a fair point and you can piggyback on this functionality. So if you have a value in Salesforce that may equate to a specific gift type or fund or whatever, maybe there are tools with dictionaries to be able to translate those values so that the two systems can be on equal playing ground with that.

Sandi Reinardy: Great. All right, we have a good one here. This is a really good use case that I think maybe a good one for several of you on the panel to chime in with your thoughts about this.

My organization is interested in using Salesforce as a platform for other APIs to plug-in to our various businesses within the organization for an animal shelter, the businesses of the adoption training, education, boarding, etcetera. How does this work in conjunction with Raiser’s Edge and does Raiser’s Edge then still remain our database of record? Currently, we use IOM to import constituent information from those other businesses into Raiser’s Edge, but it’s just a one-way communication.

So if we pull that apart a little bit, I would just say, first, that I think this is a lot of what people are thinking about doing in this… with this possibility of integrating the two systems is exactly that kind of thing, utilizing Salesforce for some of the program management and delivery, mission delivery pieces, and using Raiser’s Edge for fundraising.

So first, let’s start with the question of does Raiser’s Edge still remain our database of record. Who would like to…

Jennifer Thall: I can take a first crack, but I’d also love to hear if there’s additional comments. I think that when you’re determining what is the database of record it’s actually okay for that to be different for different departments. So for the use case that you’re describing, some of your program delivery departments, whether they’re a training department or the shelter managers, whoever they are, they might be doing 90% or more of their work in Salesforce all day, every day. Whereas, a fundraiser might be doing 90% or more of their work in Raiser’s Edge. So it gets back to those questions that Cheri mentioned on her side of literally making decisions about what data will help the people from the other system do their jobs better and in a more efficient and informed way. So you’re not talking about moving all of the data points from one system to the other because then you’re just… you have two Raiser’s Edges and you have two Salesforces. You’re really just duplicating everything and that’s more confusing rather than less. But if you decide these top 10 or top 20 data points are what’s really going to make both departments use their system in the best way, each of them might have a different database of record but with those key granules, those key tidbits that make them perform better.

Sandi Reinardy: Any other thoughts from that particular question?

Stu Manewith: Yeah, this is Stu. I work for Omatic. I don’t, at all, disagree with that. I would say that when we work with clients and that question comes up, and certainly there are organizations that have departmental systems which are the most important system for that department, the system of record tends to be the master system of the organization, where the most accurate data, where the most complete data for every constituent record is. We work with a lot of clients where Raiser’s Edge is not the system of record. It is the fundraising system and often data feed some big CRM. I have even worked with a Blackbaud CRM client, where Blackbaud CRM was not the system of record, as I just defined it. So I think it’s going to be different for, like the way that Raiser’s Edge and Salesforce are is configured. It’s going to be different for every organization. But to get back to the question that was asked, based on the scenario that you’re presenting, I wouldn’t see any reason why Raiser’s Edge could not remain your system of record if it is the master system that most organizational users go to if they want to know the most complete story or the most complete picture of their constituents.

Sandi Reinardy:  I’ve seen also… and again this goes with the theme of they are being different. Each organization has its own specific way that just needs to be worked out. So another variation of this that I think does not… it has its own drawbacks, but another variation is having constituent data. Demographic data, for instance, always flow through one system and into the other one. So it’s a matter of business process, and workflow, and where that goes. Sometimes that depends on resource revamping or availability to make sure that if that’s the way you go, the timing is worked out in such a way that it doesn’t have a negative impact on people’s work. So there’s a number of different ways that that question, I think, can be resolved for each organization, depends on what your resource availability is, plus your resources and the needs of a particular program, so degree of overlaps that there is between the two and the functions that you’re looking to carry out. So very good question. I think the other… this kind of question comes into play a little bit when you are considering those questions, just like the next step along the way, I guess.

In the integration, is there a review step so Raiser’s Edge is not being updated blindly with not so great data entry from the Salesforce user side? Excellent question.

Stu Manewith: Hey Cheri, you want to talk a little bit about ImportOmatic does that?

Cheri Carver: Yeah, absolutely. So we actually developed ImportOmatic to be an interactive ImportOmatic tool or import tool. Can’t always… so used to calling it ImportOmatic. But it is an interactive import tool. You can actually set the activity that you want to see and how actually, [0:36:42 inaudible], how interactive you want it to be. So we, I think, all came from backgrounds where we use the Raiser’s Edge import tool and we knew there was no… you kind of hit that import button, and crossed your fingers, and closed your eyes, and hoped it all turned out okay. So we actually developed an ImportOmatic, a way for our clients to be able to see as data comes in and trigger them to look at certain things. So it could be biographical updates. It could be address updates. It could be specific records. So if we wanted to look at just our board members that were being flagged as they come in and we want to look at every single field that’s coming in for them, there’s a potential for us to look at the majority of the information as it imports in. So yeah, there is definitely an opportunity for it to be interactive.

Jennifer Thall: I’ll also piggyback on that that there’s a lot of proactive steps an organization can make on the Salesforce and to make sure that users aren’t entering bad data. So whether that’s validation rules or duplicate rules to help enforce high quality data entry, but also since reports in Salesforce are what ImportOmatic uses to pull the data in, you can also add report filters to make sure that you’re only bringing in fields that meet certain criteria and only bringing in records that meet certain criteria. So there’s definitely both proactive steps that you can take on the Salesforce, and then as Cheri mentioned, kind of that review step or that interactive step on the Omatic, and to make sure that you’re not just feeding bad data back and forth, which doesn’t really benefit anybody.

Sandi Reinardy: Exactly, thank you. Couple of questions related to timing. So one, can these processes be automated and scheduled between Raiser’s Edge and Salesforce? Then, with a follow up to that, is there a frequency that works best with how often to send it back or is there a time that’s it too short or a time that’s too long to wait in between? The first question, I think, is pretty straightforward and then I’d like the people to [0:38:56 stress] on that a little bit. What are some of the considerations are for frequency?

Stu Manewith: So regarding automation, Omatic has a scheduler tool that will automate your import processing. The caveat with that is that we do not deploy to Blackbaud hosting. So if you are hosted by Blackbaud, our scheduler is unavailable. If you are hosted on premises or with a third party, then you can deploy our scheduler and it will automate those processes for you.

Jennifer Thall: I’ll add one of extra consideration for that, which is, oftentimes, I get clients who say that they want all integrations of everything in exactly real time for everything. While that sounds really nice, that’s not usually speaking about a specific business need coming from their users. Oftentimes, trying to achieve as the goal can either cost a lot in time, effort, resources. Where something like a scheduled job that happens, whether its hourly or nightly or whatever is appropriate for the data that’s being moved, that’s much easier to handle, technologically speaking, because in that way we can comply better with like Salesforce covering their limits. Things like that. Usually, that’s sufficient for getting staff, the data that they need in a timely manner. Really, the only consideration there is just training and communication, making sure that you’re transparent and that your staff understand when the data will be updated and whether it’s real time or not.

Sandi Reinardy:  All right. Here’s another question. Is it possible to use your own configured ImportOmatic profile internally to have the two systems exchange data?

Cheri Carver: Yeah, so even though that over the last few years… sorry, this is Cheri, Omatic. We have created several connectors to build on top of ImportOmatic. Our clients still have the ability to use ImportOmatic and be able to import files. So we created those connectors so that it gave our clients the ability to have a little bit more hands-off and also to set up more of a default environment for some of that data, it’s coming in and out, and have a quick connectivity to them. So if you are going to be using your own profiles that you’ve utilized, there’s still going to be more of a manual process of going in and pulling that data from whatever system it is that you’re working with. Pulling that data out potentially, hopefully not much, but may be change around that file a little bit to work with the profile you built out. Hopefully, you’ve been able to keep as most hands-off as possible. But yes, it is absolutely possible to still do that. It’s, again, not a requirement, but it makes life a lot easier, to utilize the connectors.

Sandi Reinardy: Great. Good question, why would there be a need to keep, to maintain, two separate databases with the capabilities having the same information? So maybe somebody can say a little bit about which information is commonly shared across these things.

Stu Manewith: This is Stu. I guess it depends on what you use each system for and what they’re best at. So certainly, Raiser’s Edge is tapping this class for fundraising activity and whether that’s using it for direct marketing or using it for special events, fundraising events or for membership systems that are fundraising based like at museums or zoos, etcetera. Raiser’s Edge has a lot of really developed functionality. Like the example I gave before, if you’ve got prospects in Salesforce who are engaged with the organization from Omatic standpoint, and he wants to use, and he wants to… invite him to an event, or something like a direct mail appeal, or see if they want to be a member or a volunteer or anything like that, it would be useful to bring that data into Raiser’s Edge and manipulate it using Raiser’s Edge features. But every organization is different and so I think that you’ve got a way out, what you use the two systems for, and whether there is merit in maintaining them separately or maintaining data in one over the other.

Jennifer Thall: I think that this approach really allows organizations to decide and to allow both Salesforce and Raiser’s Edge to play to their own strengths. So for example, people who have used Raiser’s Edge for a long time have probably taken for granted Raiser’s Edge’s batch data entry tool for entering gifts on [0:44:33 mouse]. It’s really good and it does what people need. So they fairly even think about it. Then, if they are coming to the Salesforce environment, they find that while there are batch gift entry tools, they might not meet the specific requirements that they had and that they were so used to having in Raiser’s Edge.

On the flipside, Salesforce has [0:44:57 really] just burst the doors open in terms of the flexibility for program management. So whether you’re doing policy and advocacy work, whether you’re doing job and workforce development, whether you’re doing animal welfare, whether you’re a cause and care organization that’s delivering counseling or other services, you have utmost flexibility to build those processes and that data structure out in Salesforce with very few limitations. But when you’re talking about something like, who are my most engaged constituents? That might look different if you’re in the fundraising database and you’re looking at what does their giving history look like versus being in Salesforce, your program’s database, and you’re either looking at who are my most active activists, or who are my most active volunteers, or who are the job trainers who are… they show up the most often.

So having that 360 view, where maybe you bring some of the giving history summary info into Salesforce, allows you to see that not only is this person a very engaged volunteer, but they’re also a great prospect for major giving. On the flipside, knowing that being able to bring in, that this is your most engaged activist, even if they have had maybe a small giving footprint and bringing that into RE, allows you to really cross-pollinate your data in a way that allows both departments to do their work more effectively and engage deeper with their constituents. So we’re definitely not trying to duplicate the work of either system. But again, it’s all about just getting enough data that helps inform staff to their jobs just a little bit better.

Stu Manewith: Also, exploiting each system for what its best at. So just to give you an example, we’ve had clients who call Salesforce their digital CRM for email, marketing and website activity. RE is their backend gift revenue financial system of record.

Sandi Reinardy: Exactly, and I think it’s really a… it is a good questioning. It also leads back to when we talked about picking out which information is most useful. It can go from the most basic benefits of efficiency of just not having to update addresses for instance in both systems in a manual fashion, all the way to being able to utilize these insights to improve both your fundraising and your program engagement across the board in a constituent experience, so. It’s exciting that it’s more accessible now.

What should we anticipate from an administrative standpoint from overseeing these integrations once they’re in place? What kinds of things should people plan for? What activities do staffs have to carry out when they’re managing those?

Cheri Carver: Well, I would say from the Omatic standpoint, when we are looking at… we’re handling multiple products. So there is going to be, obviously, some human interaction that needs to happen. One of the, I think, biggest things in integrating any systems is that, again, as I mentioned earlier, things do change over time, so dedicating the time to make sure that we have not only documented the integration that we’re doing, because some of you may take off to The Bahamas and not come back. If that does happen, we need to make sure that we can relay how these integrations are working between systems, how they’ve been set up, and the reasoning behind to integrating those systems in those specific fields. So that definitely gives us the ability to potentially hand that off as needed. So it may be in the beginning. It may seem a little cumbersome to do those things because anyone finds that documenting all of that can be a bit overwhelming in the beginning. So that is definitely some of the upfront administrative task that would need to happen.

With our connectors, we do like to, for the most part, get them set up and let them run on their own to where there is, again, very little interaction from the humans and not seeing no interaction because, again, there may be changes. So we may have to update ImportOmatic profiles. We may have to update things, maybe within Salesforce, if there’s a new field we want to track, we have a custom field that needs to be developed, and Raiser’s Edge may need to be updated for that as well. So it maybe also dependent on the frequency of how often your organization is changing with these systems. If you’ve had Raiser’s Edge for a very long period of time, there may not be a lot of change. When you’re new into Salesforce, you may be still growing into that, so there maybe change over time and how you’re maybe utilizing it or particular custom fields. So I think it can vary with every organization, but there should be some dedicated resources to be able to handle that administrated time. But over time, I would say that it would be fairly minimal. In the beginning, it might be a little bit much for some people.

Jennifer Thall: I’ll add on to that that with so many of this type of project or undertaking, actually, the hardest part isn’t the technical or administrative side. The hard part is just the decision-making as an organization and deciding, “What data do we want to move, and in which direction, and which is our database of record, and how do we want to work?” Those aren’t always easy. Sometimes, they are questions to answer and it usually takes bringing a lot of staff, not just admin, into the room to voice their opinions as stakeholders and as the ones who are actually doing the work and using the systems.

To piggyback on what Cheri was saying, documentation is always key and you want to make sure that it’s communicated out to staff so that they know what to expect from the behavior of both systems. A lot of it is just general maintenance and that might be as simple as making sure that the Salesforce report, that’s feeding into Raiser’s Edge, stays up-to-date if your business process has changed. So that might be a simple as tweaking a report filter periodically or it might be a little bit more complex like creating a brand new report to feed through ImportOmatic into Raiser’s Edge, which might need a custom report type in Salesforce.

But the decision-making is really the hardest part because it often requires bringing a bunch of people together and making sure that having everyone voice, a reason, or a justification, like a business case for having the data integrate. But once you have that and get the buy-in, the administration of this tool and of this connection is actually simpler than that.

Stu Manewith: And I would go so far as to add that both the Heller team and the Omatic team, if needed, could help you with that business process reengineering, if that’s something that you need.

Jennifer Thall: Definitely agreed.

Sandi Reinardy:  Maybe two or three of you can answer if you’ve got… what do you think is the biggest mistake? I mean, name one mistake that people make when they’re planning integrations, or overseeing them, or related to integration.

Cheri Carver:  Well, I think one of the biggest things that I found over time in working with several clients in migrating systems and integrating systems is that I have seen clients take it completely on their own and was… I don’t ever want to say that my clients couldn’t handle that. It’s more having a professional come in and assess through that process can mean a world of difference and just having another opinion, having another person there.

Working within the organizations, we have lots of personalities, lots of people to deal with, so having that one person that help herd the sheep a little bit or the cats. Maybe we’ll look at it that way. It can help in bringing them together, and help keep you on track, and help keep you on schedule. So we’ve had several clients who’ve embarked on some of these on their own and they found that they run into roadblocks, just having simple question or simple conversations with other people in the organization. Once we’re pulled in, we’re able to get through those a little bit more successful and a little bit quicker as well.

Jennifer Thall: I guess it’s a similar answer to Cheri’s, but I would definitely say that the planning is hardest part. As I mentioned, there’s a lot of just decision-making that needs to be done. The more that you can do that at the beginning rather than when you’re in the weeds and you lose sight of what our end goal is, we’ll just make things easier for everyone involved. That’s really, again, to her point, a good reason to bring in external help especially if you’re not an organization who has a lot of internal resources that can devote a good chunk of their time to just this project because we know that you all have your regular jobs that are usually 9:00 to 5:00 or beyond. Adding new technology projects into the mix can be really challenging for staff. So in deciding on who, internally, is going to be engaged in the decision-making and then testing is really big. So making the space for them to do that and to allow them to get feedback from the key stakeholders throughout the project is really a way to ensure success.

Stu Manewith:  The only thing I was going to add before was… and we [0:55:43 inaudible] to it a little earlier is clients who want everything in both systems because, I think… one of the panelist said, “If you have everything in both systems, why do you need both systems?” It’s like trying to borrow the ocean. Think about really which data need to live in the system that… in its [0:56:08 source] system… and which data truly are going to be beneficial and have merits being integrated with the other system. It should never be–

Sandi Reinardy: Okay, and I would add–

Stu Manewith: It should never be all of it. I would say all of it is always the wrong answer.

Sandi Reinardy: All right, exactly. I would just add, at a very tactical level, I would throw in there that I think not just keeping an eye on it from those things that we’ve talked about before, that your needs will change. So just remembering to keep an eye on it, build it, make it regular part of your systems to keep the integration in mind so that you don’t get too far out down the road without having everything accounted for.

So thank you all. Panelist, this is really great. I appreciate your participation and the thoughts that went into this. Thank you all for attending. We’re just about that time here. If we did not get to question, we’ll definitely reach out to you. We’ve got it as part of your webinar registration, and we’ll definitely reach out to you, and follow up offline.

I just want to close by saying [0:57:19 inaudible] Omatic. We’ve got some contact information there, if you want to look into the services and tools they provide, either be connected in ImportOmatic or system audits and development of these migration projects. We also offer assessments and in thinking about how you want to incorporate this integration, asking some of those big picture questions, and aligning them to your key strategy as well. So please [0:57:46 free to talk] and contact us if you’re interested in thinking more about integrating these two systems. Thank you very much and have a good day.

Stu Manewith: Thanks everybody. Thank you.

[END OF TRANSCRIPT]

About the author

Team Heller

Heller Consulting has been helping nonprofits establish and improve their communications, fundraising and mission management systems for 18 years. 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copyright © 2016 Heller Consulting.