The Salesforce.org Commons Community Sprint at Dreamforce 2022
For Dreamforce 2022, Salesforce.org held a special event known as the Commons Community Sprint, which brings together a handful of Salesforce experts along with nonprofit and education leaders, to collaborate in real time for one day to create solutions to solve challenges faced by the Salesforce.org community. The Open Source Commons program is an opportunity for leaders to solve problems so they can create and share solutions. Others can then benefit from their work, making it easier for nonprofits and schools to maximize their investment in Salesforce. This was the 24th Sprint organized by Salesforce.org since 2020, but the first one to coincide with Dreamforce. On Thursday, I had the opportunity to join this special group at Salesforce Tower and contribute to this year’s Sprint.
There were a few different types of challenges or groups. There were 3 established Commons projects represented. These project teams have been well defined from previous Sprints and included projects such as the Grassroots Mobile Survey team (more on that later), Sticky LWC search widget team (whose first demo was at the May 2022 “Birds of a Feather” session), and Nonprofit Salesforce How-To Videos. One option for Sprint participants was to be recruited into these existing teams.
Prior to the conference, the event organizers solicited ideas from Sprint participants for new initiatives, and these options were represented as additional possible teams to join. The group was given time to brainstorm to clarify or critique these ideas and notes were expressed with sticky notes attached to the walls representing the various concepts. Participants could also still express new ideas and attempt to gather interest to attract team members. Ultimately, the various ideas were given priority votes so that the most prominent ideas could emerge as possible teams. Participants then self-selected which team to join.
I was impressed with the work done so far by the Grassroots Mobile Survey (GRMS) team, and saw opportunities to contribute to the development and product direction, so I joined this team. The GRMS app is designed to meet the needs of organizations who have field workers that need to collect standard types of data, but may need to do so in areas without an internet connection. It’s also designed to support known and repeated contacts such as with healthcare case work, or disaster response scenarios. The custom mobile app syncs with Salesforce, and keeps a cached copy of the survey structure on the device, as well as cached sets of survey responses when conducting the surveys in the field.
The GRMS Sprint activities consisted of a backlog review and prioritization, and a brainstorming session for new features. After this, I was able to provide a new pair of eyes by installing the app from the Appexchange listing onto my own sandbox and setting up Heroku for the service layer hosting. I know from experience that document setup and installation is critical for adoption, and having direct feedback from a new perspective is critical to keep things fresh.
Towards the last few hours of the Sprint, I had the opportunity to switch and collaborate with another team. This team had formed around wanting to improve or clarify the data model for the Salesforce Program Management Module or PMM. PMM is relatively new, with the 1.0 beta released in 2020, and was designed to support the needs of community organizations that run recurring programs and activities. The group at this Sprint had had some previous real world experience with implementing PMM, and it was clear there were some common struggles or friction that could be addressed. This team was focused on collecting stories, and explaining the reason for friction so that this information could be shared with the Salesforce Product Manager for this product. This is a great example of how an in person gathering can lead to results that can’t be replicated over email or support tickets. The group was made up of strong architects and consultants who had direct hands on experience with the product under discussion, and the passion for using this type of technology to advance community missions was apparent all around. The end product of the Sprint was a list of specific issues and rationale for why they matter, as well as some suggested paths forward.
Other teams at the event had similar results. Teams shared their outcomes which consisted of items like definition of a structure for helping students match to scholarships, initiatives to provide a standard data model for locating food banks, and providing recipes, examples, and QuickStarts for setting up Salesforce Flows.
The whole week at Dreamforce was special, especially for the Salesforce.org community. From the Salesforce.org reception on Monday Night, to the keynotes at the event including interviews with humanitarians and activists like Bono or Al Gore, through to the Commons Sprint to close out the week, the themes of using technology for good were ever present throughout the week.