The Dallas Developer User Group (#DallasSFDC) has participated in Dallas Give Camp for the past three years. During Give Camp 2015, the Dallas Developer User Group set up two non-profits this past year. This was our most ambitious effort and successful Give Camp to date. This article outlines our experiences and what we’ve learned over the past few years.
Dallas Give Camp is something our members find very satisfying and seem to greatly enjoy. It brings our members together in a unique way, creating camaraderie and bonding unlike any of the other events and activities we hold. I can’t say enough good things about what it does for local charities and for our DUG through our members having participated in the event as a group.
I’d like to help others get started in doing the same thing, whether it be with the involvement of organizers like Give Camp, or entirely on their own.
Discovery Part I
Each year, Dallas Give Camp has prospective charities complete a form where they provide some basic information about their charity which includes some of the following information:
Who has either authority or significant vested interest in the outcome of this project?
- Describe the way that your organization serves the community.
- Describe what you would like to get out of GiveCamp. Why?
- How will it benefit your organization?
- What are the three most important things you’d like to walk away from the weekend with?
- How will you define success for this project?
Database Project Requests
- What are you hoping to learn, understand or track about your organization?
- How do you operate without this today? Describe any workarounds or manual processes that you use.
- Who will be using this application?
- How will the data be entered?
- Describe life in your organization after successful implementation.
- How will this improve your community impact?
Discovery Part II
The form above is what we receive from Give Camp that’s been completed by the charity. The real discovery begins for us from there.
Typically at least a couple of our members will meet with a representative of the charity to do additional fact finding. We review the material we received through Give Camp with them and try to help the charity begin focusing on their actual processes to help us begin establishing expectations for the project and narrow the scope.
This is an issue we run into each year, trying to determine how much we can actually do for a charity over the course of a weekend, especially when it’s not clear exactly what their processes are. Each year, we’ve set primary objectives we saw as the minimum targets we intended to meet for the charity. We’ve then set secondary objectives according to the charities “prioritized wish list” coupled with what we know are things we can realistically do for them over the course of a weekend. If we see that things are going smoothly, we’ll then assign people to one or two of those secondary objectives. We met several of those during the course of this year’s Give Camp.
Group Meeting: We invite the charity to a regular meeting with our members to make a presentation about their charity and their needs. That’s when everyone who’s present can ask questions, giving them the opportunity to learn about how discovery takes place as an ERD, along with potential alternatives, is collaboratively discussed and created at the meeting.
Additional Pre-camp Discovery/Planning Meetings: The Team Leader and other key group members will meet with the charity to continue to define project processes and refine the ERD prior to Give Camp. We’ve not always had Scope fully established prior to Give Camp, nor have we had processes as clearly defined as we did this year. That’s been detrimental to the success of our implementations. This year we were much better prepared in that regard and had a fairly detailed work plan going into Give Camp for Kids-U.
Collaboration and Leadership
One of the things we’ve excelled at each year is collaboration. Our teams have worked well together. We especially did a great job of that this year. That was instrumental to our success with taking on two different charities at the same time. We have experienced leaders in our DUG who want to make the weekend a great learning experience for everyone involved who also understand we’ve made a commitment to complete a project using volunteers that will reflect both on our organization and what we do for a living.
Both charities benefited immensely from our strategy to combine forces from both teams. We put people together to work on tasks that were common to the needs of both charities. That allowed us to churn out templates, reports, and workflow much faster and more efficiently for both than would have otherwise been possible had we done it separately. We used the same approach to initial set up of Volunteers for Salesforce. Doing that benefited one of the charities where that was on their “wish list”, but not in the actual plan for what they were to receive.
The same can be said for reports and email templates in terms of both. Both charities received more of each than we’d expected to provide because of the synergy we achieved. Although we shared knowledge and experience gained, the data from each charity was too unique for data loading to be shared. The same can be said for page layout customization. Clearly, this strategy of combining team efforts to focus on similar tasks helped us make the best use of our resources. It also allowed the team leaders to be available to more people at one time than either would have otherwise been able to support.
One of the places we’ve fallen short, particularly during this year’s Give Camp is not taking enough time during Discovery to inspect the existing database to see that it’s ready and prepared for import. That applies to both of the Charities we worked with; the data from one of the charities was a larger issue for us more than the data from other, but the same issues truly applied to both. We simply “lucked-out” that Kids-U had a small database compared to the other charity.
In the future, we need to do things differently when it comes to preparation of data for import prior to Give Camp. We need to see all the databases, the fields on them, map them to standard Salesforce fields, identify where custom fields will need to be created, identify which fields can be archived and in what format, then have the client cleanse the database to prepare it for us prior to the start of Give Camp.
We learned a great deal this year about the new NPSP Data Import Object. It’s imperative that our people who will be doing data loading fully understanding the Import Object and how to use the Import Template with it. We had issues in that regard with our developers not having read the documentation and only having downloaded the templates, then not understanding how to use them. Education in a group setting is going to be an essential component of future success to ensure learning takes place.
Training on NPSP for Developers
We utilized the Trailhead Non-Profits Path extensively to train our developers and staff members from the Charities involved. This was extremely helpful for those who participated. The devs who hadn’t gone through the Trailhead modules appeared to have difficulty understanding and following the “NPSP Contacts first then Households” paradigm as opposed to the “Standard Salesforce Account first then related Contacts.” They also had difficulties understanding why they needed to use the “Manage Households” feature along with why it exists.
In the future, it would be helpful to make completing the Trailhead Non-Profit Path mandatory for any devs who want to participate in Give Camp. A lot of time and energy was expended repeating the same instructions to individuals who hadn’t completed the Trailhead modules on the NPSP. The first year we did Give Camp, MVP Juli Martin arranged for all of our team members to participate in a webinar on the NPSP as a group. We found that very helpful and I think that would be a good supplement to what Trailhead currently offers.
Charity Staff Training
Training the non-profit staff members is something we try to do as part of Give Camp as we’re working with them on building their solution. They get to see us working with Salesforce’s point and click features; something we try to teach them how to use as opportunities present. This year, we had them go through the Non-profit Trailhead modules to help them understand how their package worked. This was extremely helpful to them. They were also provided with the NPSP workbook. Our objective was to make them familiar enough with how Salesforce worked that on Monday morning they would be able to log-in to their org and have some idea of where and how to begin doing their tasks they were expected to do using their org. While they definitely needed additional training, I feel we were pretty successful at teaching them enough basics for them to be able to find their way around on Monday morning.
Hand-Off & Follow-up
We do a transfer of the org at the end of the weekend, clearing out all logins and credentials for our volunteers. At that point, the org belongs to the charity. We’re no longer responsible for what happens inside it. A clean hand-off of the org at the end of the weekend is essential. It delineates where our responsibility ends. At the same time, that doesn’t mean we’re leaving them to “sink or swim”.
We understand that making arrangements for the staff members of the charity to receive additional follow-up, support and training is essential to a successful implementation of the SF NPSP. That’s something we do, including connecting them with the Salesforce Community where they can find other resources. It’s not unusual for us to hold post-Give Camp meetings with a charity and also arrange for training with a local Salesforce Trainer as soon after Give Camp as possible. We also introduce them to resources like The Power of Us Hub, Trailhead and the local Non-profit User Group.
We don’t want all of our hard work to go to waste simply because the charity’s staff members don’t know how to use what we’ve created for them.
Giving back to our community through participating in Give Camp is a very rewarding experience for the members of the Dallas Developer User Group. It allows our members to socialize, share their knowledge and learn from one another while providing their services to charities that otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford their services.
Several levels of discovery occur where our DUG members work with a charity to gather information, understand their processes, set project scope, develop an ERD and create a work plan for setting up and configuring the charity’s org plus importing their data over the course of a weekend. We also include doing some training of their staff, arranging for additional follow-up training after the weekend stand-up, plus connecting the charity with the various support resources available to them locally and in the Salesforce ecosphere as part of our implementation plan.
The areas where we feel we could improve would be in training our devs prior to Give Camp on the NPSP, discovery with respect to data quality of existing databases plus requirements for mapping existing database field to Salesforce standard fields along with identifying data that can be concatenated and mapped to archival fields. As always, gathering sufficiently accurate details during discovery to understand a charity’s business processes and define workflow prior to Give Camp is a challenge; something we’ve found to be essential towards defining and setting limits on the project’s scope.
We recognize that what we need to do is begin discovery earlier to allow more time for discovery to occur and to set scope. This would allow us to have a detailed project definition sign-off prior to the start of camp that included detailed workflow definitions, plus have all database cleansing and field mappings completed ahead of time. We’d easily be able to make Trailhead modules mandatory for participants by holding a “NPSP Trailhead Night” prior to Give Camp.
With each camp we participate in we continue to improve, having learned lessons from our experiences at the previous year’s Camp. Perhaps next year we might feel as though we have the resources and the knowledge to take on standing-up three orgs in one weekend. Then again, we may decide that we’ve gained the knowledge to recognize we can only do so much.
About the Dallas Salesforce Developer User Group
The Dallas Salesforce Developer User Group usually meets the 4th Wednesday of each month (except December) in Addison, TX. Membership and meetings are free, including dinner, dessert and occasionally swag. You can follow #DallasSFDC on Twitter or join the 880 plus member group when visiting the link to their Meetup Page.
About the Author
Cal Smith is an independent contractor and certified developer in Lewisville, TX. He has a passion for learning, wanting not just to learn the steps needed to “do something”, but also to reach a deeper understand of when and how to apply them. He’s grateful for the many people who’ve helped him on his journey through life and strongly believes in “passing it forward”. You’ll frequently see him helping others on Salesforce.StackExchange as user crmprogdev.