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Adoption and Training: Tools for Effective Change Management

Adoption and Training: Tools for Effective Change Management

At Salesforce’s Week of Learning Partner Expert session, Coastal Cloud’s Managing Director of Nonprofit and Education, Kathy Brown discussed key aspects of successful adoption and training for those in the nonprofit and education sectors. Whether yours is a small organization that is just starting out or one undergoing expansion, growth means change. “Adoption and training are about creating a positive perspective on this change,” says Brown.

So how do we create this positive perspective for effective adoption and training? According to Brown, it’s all about having the right processteam, and product. When an organization stays focused on these three elements, change tends to be smooth and communication clear, which feeds back into that positive perspective about the shift.


Having the right process means:

  • Bringing in stakeholders early on so they understand the vision and can stay apprised of any progress that is made 
  • Starting early with a standardized framework so that communication remains effective and goals remain clear

Even if stakeholders aren’t directly involved in implementing the change, they should be looped in on a consistent basis, which is essential to creating that desired buy-in. Starting early with a standardized framework, such as Salesforce’s V2MOM, will also pave a clear path to success. V2MOM, which stands for Vision, Values, Methods, Obstacles, and Measures, has been crucial to Salesforce’s upscaling successfully. Even if your organization doesn’t use V2MOM, the point is to have a simple framework that provides a map of where your organization is going and how it is going to get there, while keeping your team and your constituents in the communication loop. 

Defining your organization’s vision and value is also crucial to the process because what you are trying to achieve (vision) and what matters most to your company (value) helps clarify the methods you’ll use to meet your company’s goals (process). Understanding the obstacles your organization faces (budgetary and time restraints, for instance) also helps guide your adoption and training approach. (For example, if resources and time are scarce, you want to make sure you have accessible apps that are easy to update.) Lastly, you’ll want to define your organization’s definition of “done” (of having reached its goal), and have a consistent way to measure success.

People (the Team)

Within the context of adoption and training, the “team” is a somewhat malleable concept; it includes both internal teams and partnerships between organizations and consulting companies. For example, when Coastal Cloud partners with a nonprofit client, they make sure that their own team understands the clients’ end-user perspective, as well as that of the broader set of client stakeholders and sponsors. That way, Coastal Cloud has a full picture of how they will help the organization establish an adoption and training process that is easy to scale. 

In addition, a company like Coastal Cloud helps ensure that your organization has the right team in place to begin with (a core set of users, subject matter experts, and an executive sponsor). When the right teams are operating from the get-go, Brown explains, everyone is on the same page with regards to vision and goals, moving things forward, and adjusting the approach as things evolve throughout an implementation. Having the right team is also about bringing in the appropriate people at the appropriate time in the process for the client and consulting partner, lending flexibility that helps ensure success for your organization.


Having the right product is about making sure that the tools you are implementing (whether a Salesforce platform or another app) make sense for the client. The right product is a solution that makes sense for the size and goals of your organization, with room to scale. 

Another way to think about a product is in terms of modes of communication, delivery of information, and overall engagement with your organization. It is important to communicate in multiple ways so that people can process information in a way that makes sense to them, whether external constituents or internal team members. If you are providing training videos, for example, you might think about having short video clips for those who learn best in an audio-visual format, an interactive demo for your hands-on learners, and an open-forum Q and A for those who still have questions. If you are communicating with external donors for an upcoming fundraiser, you might consider using both short texts and tiered emails for your updates. The key is to keep people engaged in a variety of ways.

Adoption and Training for Scale

Even when you have the right process, team, and product, being able to scale your adoption and training is crucial, and yet it can be overwhelming when simultaneously managing sudden growth or change.

This is where breaking the process down into bite-sized pieces is highly effective. Brown suggests making a list of functions, programs, and pain points, and then prioritizing tasks within each category so that teams can approach new challenges in an orderly, efficient way.

Sometimes, scaling might mean expanding in just one area, such as fundraising. Let’s say a nonprofit has been doing corporate giving only, and now wants to include individual giving. This expansion can first be broken down and prioritized into these smaller pieces:

  • How do we adapt our marketing strategy for individual giving?
  • How do we make it easy for individuals to donate?
  • How do we record these adaptations and track our progress?
  • How do we follow up with donors to cultivate a long-term rapport?

By addressing each aspect of change, teams can assess urgency and resources and map out a plan to execute the change in a way that is manageable and savvy. This is particularly helpful if you have a small organization or limited resources, but it is beneficial for anyone who is examining their adoption and training model.

Final Tips 

Having the right process, people and product are keys to successful adoption and training, and breaking big tasks down into manageable pieces ensures a smoother ride. Creating easy-to-use assets helps ensure successful change, so think of short training demos on specific topics for your teams, and quick follow-up texts and emails for your constituents. Assets that are easy to digest and not too time-consuming are especially useful in the educational and nonprofit sectors, where there are often fewer resources and smaller work teams. 

At the end of the day, you want to retain people’s focus and harness the excitement that comes with change. Even as your organization grows, keeping a simple, clear strategy at the core of your approach is an effective way to help your organization reach its goals.


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