A View from the Summit


by Dennis J. Morris

I love Salesforce. I am a Salesforce fanboy. I am not ashamed.

Salesforce is the primary reason why I am here at William & Mary. When the notification wizards delivered the CRM Business Systems Analyst job posting into my email folder, I knew serendipitous vibes were afoot. As I proclaimed my excitement over the possibility of new employment to my friends and family, I continued to receive pretty much the same response:

Salesforce at William & Mary? Why would a university need an application built for sales?”

I understood their confusion, though did not share the sentiment.

My prior experience with Salesforce was with a smallish marketing firm in Glen Allen, Virginia. As an integrator/administrator/optimizer of the platform, it was my job to customize the application to help the company do one thing, increase sales. It was in the early stages of implementation when I realized that Salesforce wasn’t a magical solution in itself to boost sales. It takes great sales people to accomplish that feat. What Salesforce can do, is increase efficiencies to make accomplishing tasks and goals easier, faster, and more visible.

Salesforce is essentially a tool to capture, modify, view, report, import, export, and overall have an intimate relationship with your data and Salesforce makes it super secure, easy and intuitive to accomplish any of these tasks.

Why wouldn’t a university use an application like Salesforce?

Last week Salesforce hosted a conference in New Orleans called Higher Ed Summit. The Summit’s purpose was to bring together a community of higher education professionals to explore all of the amazing possibilities of using Salesforce through a use case lens of higher education. The Summit provides multiple keynote-y presentations, vendor booths, and a myriad of choose-your-own-adventure learning sessions. I have attended a handful of similar Salesforce events in the private sector and though I find all of these offerings beneficial in some regard, I find the real strength of these events in face-to-face impromptu conversations with administrators, developers, and end users. The reason I find these random meet-ups extremely valuable is because Salesforce isn’t perfect.

That’s right. No matter how much I love Salesforce and believe it to be the answer to many organizational woes, it is not without its opportunities. It is through this community of attendees that I’m able to not only prove that misery loves company, but also discover invaluable tips, tricks and relatable solutions users have implemented to optimize their individual Salesforce experience. As strong of a solution Salesforce is for any business or higher education organization, the strength of the platform is based on its commitment to its community of users.

Salesforce realizes the power in its community and through online communities such as its Success Community and its Power of Us Hub (for non-profits and higher education). Salesforce is continually able to harness user submitted content and feedback in order to improve its functionality. In effect, it’s growing its customer base. In its 4th year, the Higher Education Summit brought together a higher education community of over 1,200 attendees, an attendance increase of 60% from last year. That’s not only a promising trend but a whole bunch of people I needed to meet.

Though I was not able to meet everyone, almost always, the biggest takeaway I bring back from these conferences is a renewed vigor to help implement new techniques or utilize knowledge in order to optimize user experience. I get excited about using Salesforce.

Upon my return from the summit, the whirlwind of energy I amassed spun into a week of demonstrations and requirement gathering meetings for our large enterprise Salesforce implementation. The timing couldn’t be any more perfect. Every day this week, I have been motivated to unravel the many manual operational processes that are going to be lifted off the shoulders of our staff here at William & Mary through the power of Salesforce. Exterminating these manual processes and adding some new radical functionality is going to breathe new life in our everyday careers and enable us to focus on a creating a streamlined and more productive ecosystem for prospects, students, alumni, donors, friends, faculty and staff.

I’m pretty sure that when all is said and done, I will not be the only Salesforce fan in the Tribe.


About the Author:

dennisDennis J. Morris is a CRM Business Systems Analyst here at William & Mary. He is a certified Salesforce Administrator and in his free time enjoys experimenting with sleep deprivation and its effects on video game playing performance. He does not have this much hair IRL.

Building Bridges – Construction is underway!

by Mike Dyer

The roadmap is complete. The laborers are in place and the stakeholders are all in.

Let me introduce myself, my name is Michael Dyer. You can call me Mike. Everyone else does. I joined the William and Mary IT group back in January as a CRM Business Systems Analyst. My role will be working with the ACF Solutions, Salesforce, Target X teams and the W&M stakeholders to facilitate the implementation of the Salesforce CRM. My focus will be on admission/student applications but not exclusively. My colleague, Dennis J. Morris, will be working primarily on marketing and advancement functions. We’ll have each other’s back during this implementation.

My experiences to date have all been in the private sector. Mostly in financial services for such companies as Citigroup, Fiserv, Instinet, Capital One. To name just a few. The world of academia is new to me and I am very excited about the challenges that lie ahead. As a business analyst, it’s my job to learn your job. So you can expect to hear from me in the not too distant future as we continue to ramp up for this project.

So where are we today? The implementation roadmap has been published. (For more specific information regarding the roadmap you can refer to the following page: CRM Implementation Roadmap). Requirements gathering is underway for those schools that are designated in phase 1, as well as Advancement. A number of demos have been presented to the project team and the stakeholders. Data samples are being put together. The CRM team is learning the ins and outs of the CRM. Licensing requirements are being ironed out and third party vendor arrangements are being made. Lastly, the TargetX team will be on campus in April for the official phase one admission project launch.

Building bridges takes time. So does implementing an enterprise CRM solution. Would you cross a bridge that was built in a day? I might but I would let you go first. Unfortunately, “Big Bang” implementations do not exist in the IT world. Over the next eighteen months, the CRM project team will be taking a methodical approach to ensure the CRM implementation goes smoothly and all the end users are comfortable with using the CRM.

Alright, I can now say I have blogged. My bucket list just got shorter. What shall I do next? A selfie, perhaps? Anyways, the CRM project team is here to answer any questions or concerns you have regarding the CRM project. Please feel free to email the team at CRM@wm.edu. We will do our best to keep you updated on the project status.

A Beautiful Banana for a Belated Brunch

by Bernadette Kenney

I love alliteration and I love the letter B.   I am certain the beginning of my love for the letter B is directly related to my name and, well, it’s a nice above average letter.   My love for alliteration comes directly from the behavioral and, perhaps, genetic influence of my mother. An English teacher by training, she always instilled a love for language and expression in our daily lives. Alliteration was among one of her loves, too. I remember fondly a time when I was in junior high taking a required home economics cooking course (back in the day when girls, and only girls, were required to do this. — I know, right?). I was required to do a dessert project at home without supervision. After assessing available ingredients, I decided to bake a banana. I did so quite successfully and after taste approval from my mother, she provided the needed documentation explaining that I had capably completed my assignment.   This is what she wrote: “Bernadette baked a beautiful banana for a belated brunch.” I think of this every time I enjoy a banana, every time. When I see a picture of a banana, when I smell a banana, when I write the word banana, my mind repeats, “Bernadette baked a beautiful banana for a belated brunch.” If not for the alliteration of my most cherished letter, I might not hold bananas in such high regard. The unintended consequence of my mother’s silly moment has forever etched a positive banana experience for me.

So, you can imagine how excited I became when we settled on the CRM project name as Building Bridges. Notwithstanding the silly moments in that process (no bananas involved that I recall), my beloved B was ultimately used in an admirable alliteration of a most important university undertaking.  In line with the university’s strategic ideal to improve and expand the engagement of our constituents by breaking boundaries, the CRM initiative will broaden our reach and personalize the experience of everyone who has a connection to our universe. As we experience successes throughout the project, both small and large, it’s my hope that we automatically repeat to ourselves, “Building bridges, we’re building bridges.” As we learn from each other, as we take down our walls, as we reach out to those who matter to us, let’s identify the connections we make, the bonds we create, and the spans we cross.   Let us etch the positive. Boundaries, be damned; we are building bridges.