How to Select the Correct Data Structure in Salesforce for your Nonprofit: Individual Account (NPSP)
As we discussed in our first post of this series, Salesforce is an extremely pliable database, which allows for a number of different configurations across multiple industries. In our first post we took a look at using the Account to Contact structure for your nonprofit, discussing the pros and cons. Today we will be looking at the Individual Account (NPSP). As we said before, Salesforce has limitations which are dictated by the architectural “structure” you choose.
Individual Account (NPSP)
The Individual Account Structure is utilized with the Nonprofit Starter Pack designed by Salesforce. It was built with the intention that an organization could just start from the word go — reducing the need for consulting support. As you will see below however, that is rarely the case. Essentially, the NPSP is code on top of the pre-installed Account to Contact template with the very significant difference of adding the Household object and the “Individual bucket account”.
Data Entry and Usability
If data entry is done correctly, this structure provides the greatest view of your constituents. It reveals contacts associated to Households AND Organizations simultaneously. Data entry is faster with an Individual Account than with the Account to Contact structure, but the user must be attentive as to how they are entering their respective data in order to ensure that the correct relationships have been established.
Reporting is prebuilt in this structure so you already have a starting point. If you wish to add more reports, though, it can be challenging due to the addition of the Household object and the “bucket account” called Individuals.
Arguably the most challenging of the three structures. Due to the addition of the Household object and the “bucket account” called Individuals, the consultant must parse and concatenate data much more extensively in order to provide a proper data migration.
Roughly 60% app integration. Any application associated at the contact table should integrate effectively with this structure. Contact table integration would include apps such as surveys, mail merges (in some cases), mass email and event tracking. However, if you are looking to integrate with the Account table as well, you will find it very challenging to do so. Account table integration would include apps for services such as bookkeeping, ecommerce, online donation integration, etc.
The majority of NPOs utilize this structure largely due to the fact that it is a template that is provided by Salesforce. Reporting can be a struggle at times due to the Individual account and Household objects, but overall it is the most dynamic structure of the three for managing the relationships that must be tracked by a nonprofit. Though it is excellent for managing relationships, it falls short on app integration. That can be challenging if an NPO wants to utilize apps that don’t “play well” with this structure.
So really why should you care? You should care because the data structure you leverage will have an impact on what apps you can integrate which means how much you can scale your CRM to meet your business process requirements. In addition there are only certain data structures that play nice with certain integrations (i.e. quickbooks). If you select the incorrect one you may find that you are limited to what third party solutions your CRM can “speak” too. Ultimately, you need to know which data structure you have selected so you can plan accordingly.
What questions do you have about this data structure or what to look for when selecting an option in Salesforce? Let us know in the comments below!