What’s missing in Salesforce Nonprofit Starter Pack?

While there’s healthy discussion happening in the Nonprofit Salesforce.com Practitioners user group, an area that isn’t highlighted enough is new ideas for the Nonprofit Starter Pack.  I don’t mean just feature ideas for fundraising, donations, case management, etc.  I’m talking about bug reports, bug fixes, documentation, tutorials, translations, and more.

With such a great community of users and implementers, this seems like a missed opportunity.

During chats at the Nonprofit Developer Sprint in DC this week, Salesforce Foundation staff  made it clear that they welcome community support in a variety of contexts, including ideas that can make the software itself better.  Hence, the Foundation’s fantastic support of events like this week’s sprint.  The challenge, it seems, is that there hasn’t been a path to community engagement in the form of cultivating new feature ideas, bug fixes, documentation, etc.

As part of my contribution at the sprint, I’ve been focused on thinking about ways the community can contribute in a more meaningful way to the Nonprofit Starter Pack (NPSP), and strategizing how the community can make it easy for the Foundation to find those diamonds in the community that can best be utilized within the NPSP.  I still recommend those of us contributing to the open source NPSP to consider it an act of gift giving.  Let’s do our best to avoid the “I’m only doing this because I want it in the NPSP, and if you don’t include it, I’ll be upset,” type of contributions.

In that spirit, I think there’s a great opportunity right now (thanks to a shifting marketplace) for the community to increase sharing opportunities for itself.  What’s missing in the NPSP might not be features, but increased opportunities for us in the community to share amongst ourselves.

The reality is that the Force.com platform doesn’t make it terribly easy.  How can individuals easily share cool reports they’ve created?  How can an organization share data schemas without building unmanaged packages to quickly and public ship information to the community. While there are ways to do this, none are particularly easy, fast, or accidental-techie friendly.

The NPSP project has a very unique opportunity to be a model of open source software success in a decidedly proprietary platform.  The ability for our community to easily share functional ideas is the first step in the right direction, and lowers the barriers to entry for community contributions.  Until new tools are developed to make the contribution and sharing process easier, one thing practitioners can do is document a set of best practices to sharing, no matter how windy the path might be.

To get things started myself, I’ve been working on a document that outlines a way in which folks can share their favorite Salesforce reports with others in the community by extracting and posting their report’s XML file.  It’s open to editing, so please, hack away!

As the Foundation continues to organize, lead, and grow the community, there’s a great opportunity for those of us in the community to start sharing more feature ideas, code, bug fixes, documentation, translations, and more.  What’s missing in the Salesforce Nonprofit Starter Pack today can be found by tomorrow’s community members if we can work together to start the process of sharing more effectively.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 5th, 2012 at 7:38 am and is filed under CRM, Salesforce.com. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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