Implementing Success with Affinaquest + Salesforce with Jeff Shy and Melissa Kwilosz, Part 2 of In Conversation with John Taylor

Implementing Success with Affinaquest + Salesforce with Jeff Shy and Melissa Kwilosz, Part 2 of In Conversation with John Taylor
November 18, 2020 James Werner

I recently sat down for a conversation about advancement with two thought leaders in the advancement space- Jeff Shy, Founder and Chairman of Affinaquest and Melissa Kwilosz, Salesforce Consulting Director at Huron. 

The conversation went the full gamut of advancement, from CRMs to updates to implementation. We have split the conversation into three parts:

  • Part 1: Choosing a CRM
  • Part 2: Implementing Success with Affinaquest + Salesforce 
  • Part 3: Advancing into the Future of Advancement

Read on for part 2 to learn about all aspects of implementation. 

John Taylor: We already talked about general implementation strategies. In your experience, Melissa, I’d like to hear about your overall implementation process, both with Salesforce and Affinaquest

Did you implement Salesforce and Affinaquest at the same time? What was your overall experience like? 

Melissa Kwilosz: We started with our constituent facing functionality around events management, online giving, alumni directory and marketing automation. These were our first use cases moving off of our previous solutions into the Salesforce ecosystem.

We only had a handful of users who were managing those functions, but very quickly, we started to consider what it would look like to move to Salesforce as our system of engagement. We ultimately ended up with a phased approach for that implementation. 

That was largely because of the environment at the time, preparing for the public phase of a campaign and not really having an 18 month window to focus exclusively on this implementation.

Instead we moved our prospect and portfolio management functions into the Salesforce environment, linking our legacy system with our Salesforce org and Affinaquest and operating in that mode for quite some time before we ultimately launched our gift processing implementation. 

For us, it was a long implementation and we did a lot of that work within our organization. That’s not necessarily the path that every institution should take, but the approach to implementation can be adjusted based on needs and circumstance.

The space is a lot more mature and there are often good reasons to make that move all at once from your legacy system into the Salesforce environment.

John Taylor: For potential customers of Salesforce/Affinaquest, recognizing we’re talking about two different systems, two different implementations, what should they consider before they consider as far as a methodology or an approach for the actual implementation? 

If you were consulting somebody on an implementation, what would you suggest for them to consider as they stare a conversion in the face?

Melissa Kwilosz: If you’re looking at moving off of your legacy technology into a full modern advancement ecosystem, you’re probably going to want a combination of quick wins and a solid methodology to then be able to build upon. 

If you can do that conversion from your legacy system into Salesforce all at once, much like the conversion to the legacy system that you’re probably on right now, that’s likely the most effective and efficient way to go. 

That transition really provides the baseline and the foundation for all of the other features and functionality in the advancement ecosystem that you may want to tie to, like your marketing automation, online giving environment, events management and constituent engagement portals

The more you can focus on getting that foundation solid with your conversion from your legacy system into the Salesforce environment, the more that world opens up for you.

John Taylor:  I’d like to hear your recommendations as you go into an implementation, at what part or what time during this implementation should we be thinking about the cosmetics, the dashboard functionality and the reporting out of the data?

Melissa Kwilosz:  Begin thinking about the reporting out of the data early. Whether your institution is in the middle of a campaign and those dollars need to be accurate or that that data needs to tie to your financial system, beginning those data validation processes as early on as possible is important.

You need to be able to count those dollars. It’s part of what we do in advancement, we count a million different ways.

However, there are some differences with bio/demo and other categories of data. Institutions I’ve talked to tend to be a bit concerned about data cleanliness and data hygiene, and they feel there needs to be a lot of data cleanup before they could even get started. And that’s partially true. 

Certainly you want to be able to have clean data going in as much as possible, but there are a lot of tools in the Salesforce environment to help you with identifying and cleaning up inaccurate or incomplete data. 

Your data shouldn’t be preventing you from actually making that move into the Salesforce environment, because there were a lot of new opportunities and better ways to actually get to that data cleanliness and data hygiene on the bio/demo side of things. The gift accounting data though, yes – there’s a lot of work to do from the institution to ensure the accuracy of that data.

Jeff Shy: In fact, we’ve recently been building tools to check data for consistency as part of the conversion or to be applied just after the conversion is completed. 

To Melissa’s point, we don’t need to clean everything up before we move anything, because we’ll never move anything if we wait until everything is clean. There are a lot of tools that you can use for analyzing that data afterwards. 

On that reporting question, we think it’s important enough that we actually design or conceptualize the reporting of the data as we’re making changes to the data model. We don’t make any changes to the data model without considering how it impacts reporting in Salesforce. 

Salesforce reporting is different from reporting that we had in the old days. Not necessarily better or worse, it’s just different. It really is important to take that into account because the data structure in Salesforce has to be set up in a certain way to support the way Salesforce executes reports. 

Thanks for tuning into Part 2 of our conversation with Jeff Shy and Melissa Kwilosz. Don’t miss Part 1, where we discussed choosing the right CRM. Stay tuned for Part 3, where we will take a look into the future of advancement.

If you are ready to advance your advancement department with Affinaquest, reach out to us to learn how we can make your implementation run as smoothly as possible.

The Affinaquest Advantage

At Affinaquest, we know there have been differences between various generations of donors and how they interact with their schools in the past. However, many of those differences are now being stripped away as we embrace this new normal brought on by COVID-19. 

Comfort levels with technology are becoming stronger as more people acclimate to a more remote lifestyle. That’s why we’re proud to have our CRM built on the Salesforce platform. As Salesforce is constantly evolving to adopt new technology, our CRM continues to future-proof itself through this partnership giving you the tools to be adapt and succeed. 

Ready to secure better opportunities for advancement for your institution? Request a demo and see how Affinaquest can give you an advantage in creating an engagement score system that helps you create and nurture the constituent relationships you need to secure the funds for your school’s future. 

Connect with and cultivate your constituents in one powerful system.