Happy New Year NTEN-ers!
I'm working on a strategic plan to overhaul some of our core business applications in the next few years and I have a big question that I'm wrestling with. As a non-profit, I can get both Sharepoint and Salesforce on the cheap, at least as far as licenses go, but both come with very real long term cost of ownership issues.
I am looking at these platforms because I have a well-defined need to build some custom application functionality that I haven't found provided (or provided adequately) elsewhere. Both Sharepoint and Salesforce are large-scale platforms with lots of plug-ins and modules that can be added on, so I'm going in with the belief that, I think given enough time and money, I could be successful with either platform. My question is...
Can anyone refer me to any good resources (or personal experiences) to help me determine which platform is the better long-term choice?
Can you provide more detail as to what type of applications and functionality you are trying to build? Both systems are more than capable, but generally in the nonprofit field fall under different categories and are not used for the same purposes. Yes, Sharepoint can be used as a CRM, but IMHO should generally only be considered for a CRM if 90% of your needs fall under collaboration and you only need a "CRM (very) lite". You can get COTS products that are fuller CRMs like Sharepoint Flex, but it sounds like you are considering building a CRM. Under almost all circumstances, I venture that building a CRM would be the wrong decision for you and your organization and is not the sustainable option.
------------------------------Dan Shenk-EvansDirector of ITCapital Area Food BankWashington DCdshenkevans@capitalareafoodbank.org202-644-9803
------------------------------Rob FoleyIT Director - The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis------------------------------
Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I am definitely not planning to build a full, custom CRM solution, and agree 100% with your comments about SharePoint in that regard. So let me try to explain a little better…
We use Raiser’s Edge and Financial Edge (Blackbaud), and for Donor management and Financials, both of those products are quite satisfactory. We have for a number of years also used their Education Edge product to manage our interest-free student loan program, and it has been “a square peg in a round hole” from day one. I am currently of the opinion that a better solution will be a custom one, because I haven’t found anything off-the-shelf that combines both excellent loan processing functionality, and excellent non-profit student success/outcomes functionality. I am familiar with at least one other non-profit who has done exactly what I’m describing using Salesforce.
I’m envisioning Salesforce or SharePoint as the platform where I can build (or plug in) a few select pieces of functionality and also integrate easily with our other databases to provide a complete student-centric view of our data that currently spread across several systems. I don’t think we have to replace all of those systems to achieve that goal.
Happy to receive any/all feedback on whether this approach sounds reasonable, along with opinions on whether SharePoint or SalesForce might be better suited to the challenge we face.
------------------------------Dan Shenk-EvansDirector of ITCapital Area Food BankWashington DCdshenkevans@capitalareafoodbank.org202-644-9803Original Message:Sent: Jan 04, 2017 15:24From: Rob FoleySubject: Sharepoint VS Salesforce?
Are you saying you are looking for a way to track your student constituents' academic successes...as well as process their student loans? Does Education Edge do the student loan processing?
I work with two orgs that provide student success tracking using Salesforce: College Forward and The Graduate Network. The former tracks students starting in High School, while GradNet focuses on folks who dropped out of college and want to go back.
Yes, that’s a good way to describe it. Education Edge is a product designed for school administration. So it has elements in the data model for students, and grades, and tuition payments - that we use BACKWARDS to track student loans. We’ve been making it work, but an unfortunate number of important pieces of data that we need to track can only be captured as free text attributes.
It really depends on what you want to do. Sharepoint is 100% free to nonprofits with your Office 365 grant. Plus if you utilize the grant and host your email thru office 365 it all becomes integrated. Also now with Azure Services grant you can create single sign on pretty easy with little to no maintenance cost. Their support for most issues is free to non profits and there is ton of free templates out there. Especially with them upgrading Sharepoint to the latest version. They either already have or its in the next couple of months dont recall. And if you are looking to do CRM Microsoft has theirs that you can add onto Office 365 for a small monthly fee and you can link between them.
Obviously Sales Force is the leader in CRM. They have a really nice starter pack for nonprofits. That has many basic nonprofit functions like donor management, volunteer management, campaigns etc. You get 10 users free after that you pay per user at a discounted rate. They offer no free support its all pay per user.
Both have plenty of programmers out there. But from what I have seen SalesForce will cost most in the long run. I know TechImpact does a great deal of work with sharepoint besides your for profit companies and contractors.
Honestly at the end of the day I think its about defining the core apps you want to create and use. Then see which will get you there, cost upfront and ongoing cost. I would sign up for Office 365 either way since its free. And sign up for your Salesforce.org 10 users. That way you can play with both.
If you decide to go forward with SharePoint, it is a good idea to make sure you keep an eye on the announcements in the Office 365 admin portal, this will make sure you are aware of any changes that may affect your application. SharePoint online is great in that it is always up to date, you don't have to upgrade your servers; problem with SharePoint online is that Microsoft is constantly upgrading it, adding new features and removing others, kind of a two edged sword.