Is a Virtual Salesforce Administrator Right for Your Nonprofit?

Published on
May 25, 2017

Every nonprofit knows the tension and balance of devoting the highest possible percentage of donations to its purpose versus diverting those dollars to efficient operation of the organization. Most nonprofits closely monitor and control funds for administration, and a key factor in budgeting is maintaining the lowest possible headcount.Yet one of a nonprofit's essential tools is having a customer relationship management system (CRM), and a comprehensive CRM usually requires at least one or two full-time employees to maintain and support it. Fortunately, nonprofit organizations can control headcount and associated costs by opting for the services of a virtual Salesforce administrator.What Is a Virtual Salesforce Administrator?A virtual Salesforce administrator is a dedicated or shared resource who works remotely to maintain and support a Salesforce instance. Instead of paying a full-time salary and benefits, a nonprofit gets the exact level of support needed from a trusted Salesforce consulting services provider.A virtual Salesforce administrator’s responsibilities vary based on each organization's needs and could include:

  • Basic system administration tasks such as add, remove, change users, permissions, and passwords
  • Provide user assistance, training, and support
  • Understand user needs and make requested changes
  • Set up workflows
  • Tweak the user interface and layouts
  • Create custom fields and objects
  • Manage applications
  • Automate tasks with process builder
  • Migrate and clean data
  • Run reports and build dashboards
  • Install and maintain AppExchange packages
  • Complete tasks in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, CPQ, and Pardot

A virtual Salesforce administrator gives nonprofits access to an administrator with enterprise level skills for a flexible number of hours of dedicated support. Hours can be scaled up or down as needed, with no change in organization headcount.If a problem arises or the nonprofit wants to make changes to Salesforce, they have a team standing by. Depending on the nature of the problem or change, the project could be outside of the original scope of work, but the team can create a new one. Meanwhile, the nonprofit won't have to worry about finding Salesforce consulting services on a short notice—their virtual Salesforce administrator already knows their Salesforce instance.What Is the Process to Work with a Virtual Salesforce Administrator?Clients of virtual Salesforce administrators have a choice of engaging a shared or dedicated resource. It depends on the number of user licenses and the amount of admin work involved. While interviewing Salesforce integration partners for a virtual Salesforce administrator, ask if their personnel are Certified Administrators. Administrators who have completed the Salesforce ADM201 course will most likely be able to meet all routine Salesforce administration needs.The onboarding process varies as Salesforce implementation partners have their own processes. At AppShark, we assign an engagement manager who is responsible for the virtual Salesforce administrator’s work. We take the nonprofit's needs in consideration in assigning team members. For example, when an organization has a need for two full-time employees, we assign at least three Salesforce administrators to ensure two people are always available.After making the assignments, the team gets a complete walkthrough of the nonprofit's Salesforce instance. They also receive detailed information about specific changes and customizations already implemented, which helps them be more prepared to support those changes.Next, we’ll complete an onboarding process that includes:

  • Establishing delivery timelines and turn-around times for various types of requests such as low priority and high priority
  • Reviewing the SLAs
  • Introducing the team to stakeholders who are authorized to request and approve admin work
  • Agreeing on the scope and nature of work that requires additional approvals
  • Training the Salesforce administrator team
  • Creating a communication plan that covers method of contact, hours, and emergencies
  • Identifying recurring tasks
  • Setting up the nonprofit's users and reps on a ticket tracking system

After onboarding is done, authorized customer users and representatives can start requesting admin work through the agreed communication channels.

Working with a virtual Salesforce administrator helps contain costs because organizations avoid the financial commitments involved with hiring a full-time employee. Nonprofits can instead focus on serving their organization without worrying about supporting the nonprofit's Salesforce or driving up administration costs.

So is a virtual Salesforce admin right for a nonprofit? Yes, it's an excellent solution for most nonprofits. To see if it's a good fit for yours, please contact us at

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