Thanks to all who joined the session co-presented by myself and Lucas Turpin on December 9 at the Extension Annual Conference. We were both pleased to see the turnout and today’s post is a look back at some of the big questions that arose. Here it goes!


Brief note: I chose not to include names of those who asked questions. If you see your own question here and hoped to hear even more detail or wish to share about the use case that led to your question, please comment at the bottom of the post! Thank you.


Q: I cover 6 counties in southern and western Oregon … I would love to have help with my email distribution list. With Endura, would I be able to send emails by county? I do that by hand right now.

A: Indeed, providing effective tools to manage email delivery is a big driver of the work in CRM development! A major focus is on transitioning folks away from overly manual processes, many of which can be retooled and improved with just a little thoughtful attention.

To explain a bit further, Endura is the current project code name for the distinct set of tools being developed inside the Salesforce CRM to bring high-impact efficiency tools to the work that we do in Extension. I gave it this name as a way to capture the perseverance and endurance we need to reach our goals.


Q: Will the Salesforce CRM work with Ideal-Logic?

A: Yes, that work is upcoming, but the plan is to use what’s called an “API” to allow the two types of software to connect and talk to each other behind the scenes. This connectivity allows the information from Ideal-Logic to be read and acted upon by the CRM. An example being an event or course registration is fully completed, and a set of customized messages can be sent, by email or SMS text message, to the registrant.


Q: Does CRM include text messaging feature?

A: Yes, Salesforce is capable of text messaging. The ideal scenario is to let an individual tell us their preferred communication channel. We can then queue our message to send out to our audiences and it may be a text message to some, email to others, depending on their personalized settings.


Q: For programs that have newsletters, but limited staff time to produce a newsletter, will Salesforce allow the production of one newsletter that targets a segmented portion of a contact list, customizing the newsletter to feature the content relevant to that segment?

A: I love the spirit of this question and yes, very robust and interesting “dynamic content”—just to introduce the buzz word for it at this time—is available as a feature of any message being sent out from Salesforce. The reality is that we’re just not quite there yet, but it is only a matter of time. The system can be made to query your contact list, immediately recognize specific attributes of individuals in that list, then right as the message is going out it will include or exclude content in the message based on those attributes. If two stories are in a newsletter and one is about cats while the other is about dogs, if we have a way of knowing who is a cat person, then they will only see the story about the feline.


Q: I think there is definitely potential here, we just need to be careful about the relationships behind the data. For example, if a fledgling relationship with a tribal member is entered in the system, and accessible to everyone, and someone else uses this “tribal member” contact because it is in the system, this could do damage. Just saying we should discuss this more around protocols. Trust in relationships is so important.

A: The engagement during the session on this topic was great! An ongoing emphasis on trust in our relationships is, of course, so very important. 100% of the thought process and planning around CRM development proceeds with this top of mind. I would share that the mere existence of an individual’s contact info in the CRM will not “entitle” just anyone in OES to use the contact info or reach out to that individual. Each program will be responsible for describing a justification—record of a specific workshop, direct engagement, etc.—to include that contact in an upcoming outreach effort.

The reality of this is that in regard to contact information itself, yes certainly that is data that would have been introduced to the CRM by a particular Extension program, no doubt. However, we know that the individual who’s contact information it is is a person who’s out there engaging with Extension in a variety of ways and we do that person a service by knowing who they are, what their distinct needs are, and the totality of ways in which many programs may be serving them.


Q: What is your project timeline goal? Will you be supporting individual programs at a time?

A: The complete breakdown of project timeline is forthcoming and I’ll be glad to share that with everyone in a future blog post. The primary work will be toward rolling out tools that empower and benefit everyone across the organization. ECTU team will play a role in providing training sessions and generally providing the support needed to encourage users to adopt CRM practices. Individual engagements with programs will happen and for some there will be little customization required, then there will be those for whom a deeper engagement on custom-tailored solutions will be warranted.


Q: Interested in knowing what my colleagues think of this, but would Salesforce allow us to connect across programs, a way to facilitate breaking down the silos.

A:  Absolutely. The goal is to get all of our programs and counties into the same system, then we can begin to see how individuals engagement looks across programs, counties, topics, etc. The Salesforce CRM comes with tools that do allow colleagues from various parts of Extension to communicate or collaborate together in the same space.


Q: Knowing that Salesforce is heavy on the developer end, how will the linkages be made between our current programs. As I understand [Outdoor School Program] has made significant investment in Salesforce FTE to develop this solution.

A: It is true that the Outdoor School Program encountered a situation for which they required a specific and targeted solution and using Salesforce to respond to that requirement made sense. Intensely customized work was done for them. For other programs, the mix of Salesforce tools they require may look very different. For the overall CRM strategy, the plan is to use my development time to roll out tools that provide powerful and efficient solutions that are broadly helpful for all those who choose to use them. This tool set will enable linkages between programs to better manage their relationships with constituents, some of whom cross boundaries between various programs, leading to improved experiences for them.


Q: And to be clear, you aren’t asking programs who are working with other CRMs like 4-H online, Open Campus HubSpot, PACE HubSpot, etc. to move to Salesforce, correct?

A: We cannot effectively support the organization and the customer if our engagement data is spread across multiple data silos. Once we are ready to offer a platform that represents an improvement from software a group is currently utilizing, then we will rely on strong collaborations to engage with you and help steward a migration to new tools.

With all of our customer data consolidated, the OSU Salesforce CRM will be the base on top of which to create high-impact tools and resources to help Extension employees and volunteers get work done. We will be able to take data from registration systems such as 4-H online and Ideal-Logic and make it actionable. Marketing and communicating to relevant audiences will be easier to do. Customers wishing to sign up for our newsletters and other messaging will be able to do so without aid or effort from employees.

Additionally, our upcoming work with OSU’s Office of Information Security (OIS) will ensure the data stored in the system is in alignment with the federal, state and university policies, reducing our risk for storing custom data. We have all seen data breaches on the news, and we are working hard to ensure OSU Extension doesn’t make the evening news… at least, not for that reason. Data can be very powerful, but with great power, comes great responsibility.


Presentation slide deck

Access our slide deck for the presentation here.

If you have any other or new questions, reach out to me to schedule a chat. I’m here to help. Thanks again to all of you who attended our session. We enjoyed showing you this information!


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