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I Went to My First Open Source Community Sprint

The calibre of attendees is extremely high. From left to right: Keld Bangsberg, Senior Product Manager at; yours truly in a blue t-shirt (Greg Morris from Traction on Demand); Chris Clark, also in blue, Product Manager at Salesforce; Corey Snow (standing in grey), CRM Strategist at Harvard University.

I didn’t know what to expect at my first Open Source Community Sprint and was curious about the people I would be meeting in Detroit. Salesforce wizards with more certifications than you can count on both hands? Developer masterminds who can build complex code in their sleep? Well, maybe some of them were like that. But mostly, they were just regular folk like you and me: people in the industry who are knowledgeable about Salesforce products and care the most about improving them for all users.

Open Source Community Sprints exist to bring Trailblazers from across North America together to discuss, collaborate and build the future of Salesforce products, such as the Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) and Education Data Architecture (EDA). I highly recommend registering for the next one in Philadelphia from October 16-18, 2019. Attending a sprint was an unforgettable experience.

First Things First: Pick an Interesting Project

We started off the day brainstorming “big ideas” for improvements and additions to NPSP and EDA. Those ideas were whittled down to around 20 projects posted around the room. Participants were free to write suggestions, offer solutions and ultimately decide which projects they wanted to work on over the next day and a half. You can see a list of some of the projects the sprinters tackled in this GitHub post.

I joined the “accounting and gift locking” group and spent the next day and a half engaged in interesting, complex and rewarding conversations about how to extract data from Salesforce for accounting purposes.
There are times when projects are more focused on getting the data in to Salesforce (as with donor information, gift entry, moves management, etc.) and less concerned with pulling that data out. So the challenge before us was twofold:

  1. how to extract data that was often spread across multiple objects
  2. how to control access to records to ensure data couldn’t be changed during a review phase or after the data had been extracted and entered into an external accounting system

Luckily, we had a Salesforce product manager at the table to show us what they are working on with EDA’s Gift Entry Manager component and share their experiences. By the end of the session, we were able to put together some minimum requirements for a basic and an advanced accounting interface component.

My Traction on Demand colleague Victoria Tang explains the Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) data model to another sprint attendee and me.

I Came for the Ideas—and Stayed for the People

I was most impressed by the people around me. Where else could I sit around a table with other Salesforce partners, product managers and users, and shape the future of the platform I use every day? The other amazing thing that stood out to me was the sense of collaboration and camaraderie that lives within these sprints. Everyone there had one purpose—to work together and build something better. I think that really drives into the heart of what is and how it operates.

An Exciting Announcement

The release of the Open Source Commons was announced at the Detroit sprint. This is a major step forward in establishing trust and confidence in the development and application of open source solutions for products. Partnering with users to build and develop products has been at the heart of development from the start. The Open Source Commons now gives people access to a trusted repository of solutions. It also gives users a public venue to showcase their solutions and distribute them to the community as a whole. Some amazing things have been built, and now there is a place for everyone to see them.

We are extremely fortunate at Traction on Demand to have the opportunity to attend these sprints and other Salesforce events across the continent. We love sharing our experiences and learnings so sign up for the Tech Samaritan, our monthly newsletter, to keep up to date with the latest news in the nonprofit ecosystem. You can bet we’ll be seeing you at the next sprint in Philadelphia!

Written by Greg Morris, Business Solutions Consultant at Traction on Demand.

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