Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Cloud + Statistics + Membership Software = The Future Part Two

A couple weeks ago I was privileged to sit down with Brian Pickett of NorthPeak Solutions to discuss how he is working with Membership Management Services and their MM2000+ SalesForce® Program built off SalesForce®. He went into detail about where it is and where it is going. Today I sit down with Jim Gelles, President of Membership Management Services, to hear his thoughts on the subject of not just CRM's but SalesForce® in specific. Where is he now with the product? Where he is going with it? And how best it can help Synagogues.

Mike: Jim, thanks for taking the time to sit down and discuss this with me. With all the CRM's that are out there, why Salesforce®?
Jim: For the past couple of years we've been researching a number of CRM's (Customer Relationship Management). From CiviCRM to Sugar CRM, we looked at all of them. We at Membership Management Services came to the conclusion that the best way to go was with SalesForce®. There were a number of reasons that we went with SalesForce®, but the two big ones are as follows: SalesForce® is the most widely used CRM in the world. When large companies put their faith in SalesForce®, that says to me that SalesForce® itself will be around for a long time. Second, SalesForce® allows us to develop the modules which will turn it into a real Synagogue Software Package.

Mike: So SalesForce® won't work right out of the box?
Jim: Unfortunately not. There is a lot of fine tuning that must go on in order to make it work for Synagogues. The reason: SalesForce® is a CRM program. There is more to a Synagogue package than just contacts. We need to customize SalesForce® to suit the needs of congregations. Luckily that's exactly how SalesForce® has been built; it's very customizable.

Mike: What makes YOUR version of SalesForce® stand out above the rest?
Jim: Membership Management Services has been in business for over 27 years selling only to Synagogues. In that time we've learned what a Synagogue needs and what it takes to run one. We developed a package first for DOS, and then for Windows, giving us the opportunity to develop a program that is usable out of the box without having to go through the time-consuming necessity of working through the exploratory phase of creating specifications for each module. In other words, I've already been through this process.

Mike: So where are you currently with your SalesForce® Development?
Jim: As some of you read from our last post, we are working with Brian Pickett of NorthPeak Solutions, a SalesForce® Expert (specializing in non-profits). He is helping not only our clients, but me as well learn the Membership portion of SalesForce®. I've also already started building a Yahrzeit Module. It will be a completely standalone module, meaning that it won't just keep track of the death date, but send notices via email, print out a Rabbi's list, and export a Yiskor list for your Memorial Book & Letters. It will be in the SalesForce® App Store, and be an option (if you so choose) to download and use. Eventually all of our modules will be available to pick and choose a la carte from the SalesForce® App Store, including Accounts Receivable which is what I'm going to work on after the Yahrzeit Module. Once we get A/R running well, we will move onto the School Module.

Mike: You mentioned A/R, but what about Accounts Payable and General Ledger? Do you plan on creating modules for either one?
Jim: We don't have any plans to write an Accounts Payable, General Ledger, or Payroll Package. Synagogues select these based on their size. We work with Synagogues that range from 200 member families all the way up to over 3000 member families. A 200 member family Synagogue isn't going to use MIPS or MAS90, they are better suited for QuickBooks; just like a 3000 Member Family congregation isn't going to use QuickBooks. What we will do, however, is create journal entries so that they can be imported into different General Ledgers automatically, as we do now with MM2000.

Mike: Will a Synagogue ever be able to run SalesForce® as a standalone product, or will they always need MM2000?
Jim: The goal is to be able to run SalesForce® without MM2000, giving people an option to either run straight on the cloud or a server based system. However, it will take a lot of effort to complete all the modules that MM2000 currently has. For example, very few of our clients use our Cemetery Module or High Holiday Assigned Seating, and thus those are not a high priority for us at the moment; but my hope is that eventually we will get there.

Mike: Who would be a good candidate for SalesForce®?
Jim: SalesForce® is built to be able to track all contacts with each member on an individual basis. This includes connecting any emails sent to the member, as well as sending target mailings to specific members. If you're looking for a way to keep track of demographics that were never tracked before, or if you want to just communicate better with your members, SalesForce® is exactly what you and your Synagogue needs. MM2000 runs a Synagogue, but SalesForce® tracks everything about your members.

Mike: When will Membership Management's version of SalesForce® be available to other Synagogues?
Jim: Membership Management Services' version of SalesForce®, 'MM2000+', is currently available to our family of Synagogues. We now have seven Congregations online and transferring data between MM2000 and SalesForce®. Every few months we accept another 3-4 candidates into our MM2000+ program. If you are interested in becoming a MM2000+ user, we will be having another Webinar on Wednesday, March 26, 2014, at 11:00 AM Pacific Standard Time. To register, please follow the link below:

Mike: Jim, this was incredibly informative! Thanks for taking the time to sit down with me. Everyone is really excited about the future of MM2000+ and where Membership Management Services is going the future!

We know there are tons more questions; How does it work? What is the process like? Is SalesForce® as complicated as it sounds? Both Brian and Jim want to give you these answers. Brian will be holding a webinar on SalesForce® Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at 11:00 AM (PST) 2:00 PM (EST). Please click here to sign up. Space is limited and filling up fast! Have all your questions answered and realize how powerful MM2000+ truly is.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Cloud + Statistics + Membership Software = The Future

Last year Membership Management Services peered into the future in an interview with James Gelles (President) where we took an in depth look at where the Synagogue Software industry was heading. Over the past year Membership Management Services has received numerous requests for not just a cloud based program, but something that will be able to track and report on member contacts and involvement in a more robust way. With this in mind, Membership Management Services has come up with the answer to not just the question of the cloud, but how to track statistics that have never been tracked before.

MM2000+ is a new product brought to you by Membership Management Services; an integration between MM2000 and SalesForce®, the most powerful CRM on the planet. Eventually, MM2000+ will be able to replace MM2000, but in order to do so, modules specific for Synagogues must be built, all of which Membership Management Services is currently working on. Currently Membership Management Services has four Synagogues on SalesForce® already taking advantage of the reporting, communication details, and cloud capabilities of MM2000+.

Today we bring you another in our series of interviews: a sit down with North Peak Solutions President Brian Pickett, a SalesForce® Non-Profit CRM specialist. He is aiding Membership Management Services' move to the SalesForce® Platform.

Mike: Brian, thanks for taking the time to sit down and explore MM2000+ with me. Before we go any further, can you give me a little information on what a CRM is?
Brian: For nonprofits and membership organizations, "CRM" stands for "Constituent Relationship Management." These tools are designed to increase staff efficiency and improve member relationships by enabling best practices for engaging and involving members.

Mike: We've heard a lot about SalesForce® but are there any other CRM's out there in the world?
Brian: CRM's have been around for 25 years with an increasing number of businesses, nonprofits and synagogues leveraging them every year. The origin of CRMs is in the business world with the most well-known currently being SalesForce®, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Oracle CRM, SugarCRM, and CiviCRM. However, none of them come close to the power of SalesForce®.

In the nonprofit and membership management space, CRM products grew out of more limited donor management tools, such as with Blackbaud and DonorPerfect, or were adopted from the business world, as with SalesForce®.

The desire to use information flowing into and out of organizations to direct everyday actions or report on the successes and failures has made CRM applications a vital tool for efficient operations.

Mike: What do you think is the biggest asset that these CRM's offer to Synagogues?
Brian: The best way SalesForce® can help a Synagogue is through it's tracking ability. When I first met Jim (Gelles) he explained to me that Synagogues were looking for a way to track and report on every contact made; from email to phone calls to snail mail. Synagogues were looking for a way to better understand and analyze how and when to reach donors. With SalesForce®, Synagogues can take fundraising and member relationship management to the next level.

Mike: But SalesForce® is built for business isn't it? How does it translate to Synagogues, who don't have a traditional 'customer'?
Brian: It's true that members are not customers but in fact Synagogues place an even greater importance on member relationships than perhaps most businesses place on customer relationships. In that sense it's even more important for Synagogues to keep good records, stay on top of follow-up actions, communicate in a relevant manner and build a better understanding of member interests, skills and engagement.

Mike: How long have you been working with CRM products?
Brian: For 15 years, I have been working with CRM manufacturers and as an independent consultant finding and implementing the right CRM system for each client's needs. For the last 10 years I have focused 100% on serving nonprofit and membership management organizations with technology for CRM, websites, online transactions, email marketing, and advocacy.

Mike: Why SalesForce®? What makes SalesForce® stand out above the rest?
Brian: Quality and Value. As a CRM, SalesForce® is highly functional, reliable and cost-effective for Synagogues. Because Synagogues are Non-Profits, SalesForce® offers them 10 FREE licenses of their product. In addition, through the SalesForce® ISV (Independent Service Vendor) program, I have developed an application that makes SalesForce® specific to Synagogues at a cost that is much lower than configuring any other standard CRM for use at a Synagogue.

Mike: How are you working with Membership Management Services in developing MM2000+?
Brian: Peak Synagogue is a platform for engaging members. Participating MM2000 clients will be set-up with SalesForce® and have important MM data on member families, contacts and A/R appear automatically from MM2000. Staff will expand the profile on members including tracking interests, skills, relationships and events attended. Team members can easily communicate with one another, assign tasks or record notes in a shared environment (subject to appropriate permissions, of course).

The platform will be enhanced steadily for subscribing Synagogues. Subscriptions will include new features, ongoing training, client support and leadership on best practices.

We are also working on creating an Accounts Receivable Module as well as Yahrzeit and B'nai Mitzvah Modules. These Modules need to be built from the ground up, rather than pieced together through the SalesForce® App Store, as Synagogues run so much differently than any other non-profit organization.

Mike: How can MM2000+ with Peak Synagogues benefit Membership Management Services' Clients?
Brian: Synagogues will build better member relationships and operate more efficiently because they are sharing information easily, expanding what they know about members and tracking engagement efforts to know better what works and what needs improvement or scrapping.

Mike: Brian, this was great! Thanks for taking the time to sit down with me. We look forward to working with you in the future!

We know there are tons more questions; How does it work? What is the process like? Is SalesForce® as complicated as it sounds? Both Brian and Jim want to give you these answers. Brian will be holding a webinar on SalesForce® Thursday, February 13th, 2014 11 AM (PST) 2 PM (EST). Please click here to sign up. Space is limited and filling up fast! Have all your questions answered and realize how powerful MM2000+ truly is.

Next up, an interview with Jim to dig deeper into where Membership Management Services is going with MM2000+ and how to join the growing number of our Synagogue Clients taking advantage of our SalesForce® solution.