My computer had crashed for the 8th time for the day and I was just about ready to lose it. Was it really too much to ask to be able to run the handful of programs I had open without it crashing once an hour? A few days later I was switching a license from one user to another within Salesforce… again. I needed to make a better case for purchasing new technology. It can be painful for a nonprofit or small business to make an investment in technology. Even larger corporations can be reluctant to write the check for new tech. But with the right explanation, you can make a case for the new products.
After spending a couple of hours reviving a file from near death, I had had it. I started pulling together data to make my case. Spoiler Alert: I was able to get my requests approved. Here’s how I did it.
To make my case I had to work through a number of steps, but it was worth it:
- Specs/Requirements – It was critical to put together the minimum specs required or a detailed and specific list of requirements for the work to be done. During this period, I spec-ed out a basic computer and sent out RFQs for new consultants to replace that dying program. If you are like me and have no idea what the difference is between RAM and memory, this can be a time to enlist some help to ensure that you aren’t going based exclusively on price. Salesforce doesn’t publish detailed minimum specs to make your life easier. When I was working on the RFQ, I spent a good bit of time working on the details of what was going to be needed. This requires process mapping, working with your co-workers to understand their jobs, and more. Really a topic for another time.
- Cost to Purchase – Once I had the specs put together I could start researching costs. For most apps on the appexchange or new Salesforce licenses, it is as simple as sending an email to your Account Executive for that product. If you are an NPO, don’t forget to ask about NPO discounts when dealing with Salesforce AppExchange products. Many of them offer free or discounted licenses. Computers can be a bit more difficult as there are numerous brands and types but with your specs in hand you can start getting a price range. I tried to gather multiple options, even for things like Salesforce licenses. For instance, I would get the price for a full licenses, a Chatter Plus license, and a Chatter Free license. Make sure to note the differences between the products that you have costs on. In some instances you may just need to provide a range or an average, a computer with these specs falls between $400 and $500 typically as opposed to it is $50/month for a full license, $20/month for a Chatter plus and free for a Chatter Free license*.
- Cost of Not Purchasing – This is probably the most important part of the process. If my computer crashed 12 times in a week and it took 20 minutes each time to restart my computer and get back to work, that was 4 hours lost to the crash alone. Then, because each crash cost me whatever I was working on, I estimated that at another 10 hours of lost productivity to redo work a second time. At this point, in a 40 hour work week, I was losing 14 hours of work to computer crashes. When you multiply that times an hourly salary of $20/hour, you get $280 a week that was being lost. For the app licenses, it was a little harder to make the case but I looked back at how often I was being asked to switch the licenses around, the average length of time it took me to get to the request, and then the 15 minutes that it took me to stop what I was doing, change the licenses and then return to what I was doing. I used this to calculate the lost productivity. Ultimately you need to figure out what is being lost in productivity in not having that piece of technology or product. In other instances, it may be a bit more abstract but you may be asked to make a case for the increased revenue. For instance, you may be asked to look at the numbers around how much could be made by sales managers being able to find potential nearby opportunities when on the road or how a product could allow for a user to expand what they are able to do in a day. With these types of estimates, work very hard to be realistic; don’t over promise. Chances are that the product or app will not double your efficiency.
Once you have the cold hard data it is time to put together the case. In some instances that may mean a formal written document. In others, it may just be bringing your data to the decision maker in a meeting. Regardless, look to the data to help you make your case. It is harder to argue against cold, hard data, especially when that data shows that money is being wasted or opportunities are being missed. Hopefully that next request gets the greenlight and you are on your way to being and Accidental Admin hero to you Org.