Salesforce.org is moving into program management and impact management with intentionality, and that is big and welcome news for all of us who work in the social change information systems ecosystem!
A key promise of the Salesforce platform is that it enables a nonprofit organization’s ‘whole agency’ strategy, where all key business processes are creating useful information in one integrated system. This is such a departure from the more typical proliferation of data silos that it is hard to understate the importance of this platform. And this is what makes the Salesforce platform such a compelling improvement over legacy point solutions like Blackbaud and all the other smaller fundraising, marketing, and communications systems.
This increased focus on program management also opens up the door to social impact measurement, monitoring, and management. Impact – social impact, impact on a community, impact on a neighborhood – is achieved by changemakers in the nonprofit sector who design and deliver great programs and great program outcomes to their participants. Extending the power of the Salesforce platform to this indispensable part of an organization’s social mission will also enable increasingly sophisticated and real-time connections and analyses between ‘what works’ and ‘what it costs’.
Dreamforce 2018 provided a wealth of experiences and announcements where this focus on program and impact was evident.
In the Salesforce.org Product Roadmap for Nonprofits session, SFDO’s Lori Freeman, who leads nonprofit product management, unveiled the roadmap for Salesforce.org across three domains: fundraising, engagement, and program. Shelly Erceg, the program management director, then focused on the program roadmap. And while it is certainly early in its development, it is clear to see that the emerging framework starts to pick out vital capabilities, like case management, program management, services management, and impact measurement (all of which are part of Exponent Case Management (ECM), natch!), in addition to volunteer management, project management, and call center capabilities. A key takeaway is that program management is now finally given equal billing with the traditional strengths of the Salesforce platform in fundraising and engagement. And that is a welcome development indeed.
The tone was set with the nonprofit keynote – Become an Impact-First Nonprofit. There were more sessions focused on program management than at previous Dreamforces, especially in the human and social services domains. Considering that these types of organizations represent more than one-third of the nonprofit sector, this is good to see. Just among Exponent Partners ECM clients, we had great representation. Sandy Allen of United Way Bay Area demonstrated her organization’s deep knowledge of program management, evaluation, and impact in her talk on planning for systems change. Kai Harris at California Human Development talked about using program data to go beyond backward-looking reporting and to start looking forward with data through diagnosis and prediction. Program and impact were everywhere.
The new capabilities in Einstein Analytics and Einstein AI are directly supportive of the work of program management and impact management. Analytics are vital in describing, building shared understanding, and working to continuously improve ‘what works’ in programs (i.e. what social interventions are effective for what participant). Einstein AI will enable machine learning applied to our clients’ program management data sets, and tease out the learnings and insights about which interventions should be applied to which participants in what situations and contexts. This ability to provide predictions and prescriptions right within program staff’s case management application represents a leap forward that other point solutions just cannot match.
These are early days in program management for Salesforce.org, but all the signs above are incredibly encouraging and point to a bright future for salesforce.org, our partner ecosystem, and especially for the nonprofit organizations which look to us to help build their social impact and program success! Onwards and upwards!