The Rabobank Foundation has been giving underprivileged and disadvantaged people a prospect of a better and independent life for over 40 years, at home and abroad. The Rabobank Foundation is one of the pillars within the Rabobank Group’s cooperative and sustainable policy. The fund was established in 1973 by the local Rabobanks as an independent foundation within the Rabobank organisation. The Foundation supports about 200 projects in 25 countries each year. Abroad, the focus is on cooperative organisations for micro financing and on agricultural producers’ organisations. In the Netherlands, the foundation supports national projects that improve the situation for people in a disadvantaged position. Over the past decades, about 3.5 million people around the world have benefited from the Rabobank Foundation’s projects.
In recent years, the Foundation has become larger and is using increasingly complex products. The employees used an old database for this. This database no longer satisfied the requirements and the legislation and regulations that apply to the Rabobank Foundation. “We decided that a new solution was needed to manage the data better,” says Martin Alderlieste, former interim manager of business management at Rabobank Foundation, now Director of Business Management at Rabobank Hoeksche Waard. “We looked at various solutions, but they all focused on banking applications. It would be complicated to convert such a system, and therefore take a lot of time and money.”
The IT department of the Rabobank Foundation started looking for a system that could help employees to work more efficiently and ultimately save costs. During the selection process, the IT employees considered three packages. CRMWaypoint stood out as the best with Salesforce in the cloud. The reason for this choice was the flexibility of the system. Users can modify activities in Salesforce themselves and set up certain fields. The decision to implement Salesforce was made at the end of 2011, and the system went live in May 2012. The system took quite some time to set up, because it had to be possible to review the processes and associated decision-making.
The Foundation consists of three funds and these all had to be organised within Salesforce. This system was the simplest to set up. “We then looked at what we wanted to enter into Salesforce from our old database,” continues Alderlieste. “It was decided to enter all the data into the system. However, we found that this was so much information that we ultimately chose to enter all the data as of 2012 and otherwise only active projects. If an old project is reactivated, this project is added to the system. All the data from 2013 are included in the system. All this took quite a lot of time, because we immediately cleared out all the files.”
Martin Alderlieste: “Salesforce is particularly useful for us to maintain an overview of the progress of projects and of relationships with participants in a certain project. For example, we deal with aid organisations abroad, Dutch partners and local Rabobanks that are working on a project. In Salesforce, it is easy to retrieve information, and the relationships between employees and organisations are very clear. Furthermore, all the activities can be logged and that has the advantage that all the information is easy to find. In the past, all this information was spread throughout email files from our 30 employees and on our server, with the result that certain files were sometimes difficult to recover. We now save a lot of time with looking for information, which ultimately also results in cost savings.”
Employees now have more insight into current issues and communicate with colleagues about their activities. “They encourage each other to keep the system up to date, so that they can keep using it,” says Alderlieste. “People are no longer confronted about the system, but about how they use the system. This greatly accelerates the process of acceptance. The decision making is also done through Salesforce, so if employees don’t enter information into the system, it is not possible to make a decision about a given project. Everyone benefits from working with the system consistently. Employees have access to the most current information at all times and wherever they are, which is very different to the old situation. Many of our employees travel a lot and can now consult the system from anywhere in the world.”
The Rabobank Foundation might want a link to the financial system in the future. This is currently not possible. The most efficient way would be if all the information that is present in Salesforce was also forwarded into the foundation’s other (financial) systems. This has nothing to do with the Salesforce system, but with the complexity and restrictions regarding the ICT infrastructure of the Rabobank Foundation. “We hope to be able to add a new fund to the system in the future,” concludes Alderlieste.