The Power of Apps: Apsona
By: Sergey Erlikh, Netherlands Nonprofit User Group Co-Leader and Salesforce MVP
In post 3 of The Power of Apps series, we’re talking to Apsona Founder and Architect, M. A. Sridhar who tells us how the company’s suite of apps is helping nonprofits get data into and out of Salesforce, helping them streamline data management and better visualise and understand their data.
Nonprofit Discount: Eligible nonprofits can avail of 3 free Apsona for Salesforce licenses + discounts on all Apsona apps.
AppExchange Listing: Apsona for Salesforce
App Features: Multi-object reporting, cross-object searches, grid editing, import/update/export via CSV, calendar views, mass update/delete and more. Add-ons for document generation (Excel, Word, PDF), mail merge, and charting (dashboards, charts, pivot tables, batch gift entry
Tell us about Apsona and the origins of your apps?
We started in San Jose, Calif. in May 2008. The original idea was part research project, part pipe dream. We wanted to create a generic user interface for Web applications, one that would include all the features that a typical user would want: searching and filtering, data import/export and multi-table reporting. It would run in a Web browser and would use cutting-edge web techniques to be as quick and snappy as a desktop application. And it could be bolted onto any Web application so that even legacy Web app users could have all of these benefits available to them.
We created a prototype and successfully deployed it on four open-source shopping cart applications. We were surprised and delighted by the success of that attempt, so we started looking at other commercial applications and eventually targeted Salesforce in January 2011.
How did you step into the nonprofit arena?
When reading through the Salesforce nonprofit Google groups in 2011, we saw the difficulties users were having with data management. Even routine tasks like importing, exporting and updating data seemed very cumbersome and tedious, with elaborate Excel- and Vlookup-related hacks. Apsona seemed a perfect answer for such issues, since it does automatic cross-object lookups and therefore solves a key pain point.
Members of the nonprofit community are typically very focused and mission-driven. So their feedback about functionality and user needs tends to be directly relevant to day-to-day issues that they face, and has been invaluable to us in adding features and scaling our apps. Many of the features you see in the Apsona apps are requested by our users. Our Multi-step Reporting, Document Generation, Batch Gift Entry and Charting apps can all trace their origins to user requests.
The Nonprofit community has been extremely kind to us. We have over 1,000 nonprofits orgs using the Apsona apps, and each of them make amazing contributions to the world. We discount all our apps to Nonprofit organizations and we also donate 3 licenses of Apsona for Salesforce to qualifying nonprofits. It feels good to belong to this community.
Do you have any nonprofit success stories you’d like to share?
Our AppExchange reviews reflect the popularity of our apps. But here are two short pieces written by our users, that we feel aptly describe our apps and our company in general.
Eric Pitts, of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, writes:
In early 2015, we were starting to use Salesforce for real Contact, Account, Opportunity and Campaign management. Our Salesforce experience consisted of a custom form. My colleague, Chris and I, were Accidental Admins. Thrust into this world of terminology that no one else, or very few, in our organization had ever heard of. We were referred to Apsona by our Salesforce partner, Now It Matters. It was our understanding that Apsona would be a good tool for a Salesforce Administrator. We started to work with the Apsona staff to get our licenses and we were set to start learning. We are a nonprofit organization, and we are very thankful to have received a discount on the product, without sacrificing customer service. From our first interaction, the staff was always quick to respond, and helpful. The Apsona team does a fantastic job of being helpful, easy to work with, knowledgeable and flexible with our unique requirements. We started solve our need to make quick and bulk changes to records. It was very easy to learn, and the help documentation was incredibly helpful. Our organization started to find more business case uses for Salesforce and our needs for Apsona grew in ways we hadn’t thought of before. As they had before, Apsona worked with us to find out our requirements and create a solution for creating forms. For almost any project, there will be bumps along the way and times when things still need to be adjusted to accomplish the need of the business. The Apsona staff made themselves readily available to discuss and make changes. They do something that is invaluable when collaboration… They LISTEN. They don’t try to configure your needs to fit their product. It is their goal to accomplish the needs you present to them. And for that, we are very thankful. It has been our experience that we didn’t need to look outside of a product we already owned to solve some of the new challenges we face as we grow in Salesforce. The Email and Document Merge tool and the Batch Gift Entry were two features that were offered by Apsona. We didn’t need to search for the answer, we already had a product, and a great relationship, that would be able to work with us. We are very grateful for Apsona and whenever we can, we tell others about our positive experience.
Kevin Garibaldi of StoneyBrooke Christian Schools writes:
Salesforce is a fantastic product for marketing, communication with clients, reports, etc. – there really is no better CRM solution. The challenge we all face is actually getting data INTO Salesforce from other sources and then using it for simple communication such as emails and letters. Apsona is the absolute best add-on for Salesforce. It’s almost as if I sat down and wrote Salesforce a letter telling them all of the things I’d like their software do and “poof” along came Apsona. The importing and exporting features are unmatched. I have used every other solution for importing and nothing works as simplistically or straightforward as Apsona. Anyone who has every imported large amounts of data into Salesforce (or any other database for that matter) knows the pit-in-your-stomach feeling when you finally have the courage to click the submit button, worried that you are going to royally mess everything up and create more work for yourself to fix it. This doesn’t happen with Apsona. You have to try it yourself to understand. There’s no big build up and “Oh dear Lord, please work!” – it just works. I use it often with big and small amounts of data. The mail and email merge solutions are ridiculously simple yet have advanced options as well. Our school uses them to send out account statements, donation letters and similar items. I rarely use the expression “game changer” (it’s overused) but here it is – Apsona is a game changer. It makes the great CRM Salesforce even greater. It will put a smile on your face and save you tons of time in long run.
Why should ISVs should support the nonprofit community?
There are multiple benefits to gain when you target your products at nonprofit organizations: They are very meticulous in their use of the products they buy, so you’ll get lots of good feedback about your product’s strengths and weaknesses. Sales cycles – particularly with the smaller nonprofits, of which there are quite a number – are quite short, so you don’t have to wait around for results from five levels of decision makers, as you might have to with larger for-profit organizations. Nonprofits are very appreciative of the value that your products provide to them, so you’ll get a sense of fulfilment as a vendor In short: Do not think twice to enter this vibrant nonprofit community. You will immediately be a part of a large family who will look out for you. The fulfilment one gets in this community is second to none.
How can nonprofits get started with Apsona apps?
The Apsona apps are available to download from the AppExchange. We offer a 30 day free trial for the apps. You can also email us at [email protected].
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