Is Salesforce the new Access?

I’ve noticed in the past few years that more and more associations are using Salesforce as one of (if not the only) database of record in the organization. I assume this is happening, in part, because Salesforce offers ten free licenses to qualified 501c3 organizations, which many associations qualify for. So the temptation to get a very powerful database software for free is understandable. But there are inherent risks in doing this.

I’ve written in the past about the dangers of associations defaulting to using Access as their primary database. There’s nothing wrong with using Access, per se, but as the linked article explains, all Access gives you is a platform upon which you will have to design and maintain your AMS. The same is true for Salesforce.

Although Salesforce as a CRM tool is far more powerful than Access, it’s still just that; a CRM tool. It is not an AMS out of the box (though to be clear there are AMS packages built on top of Salesforce). So the challenges inherent in using Access as your AMS obtain with the use of Salesforce, as well.

My fear is that Salesforce is becoming the new Access. “Hey, this software is powerful and FREE. Why don’t we use it as our AMS?” The reason is the same for why you shouldn’t use Access or any other database program to build your own software.


About Wes Trochlil

For over 30 years, Wes has worked in and with dozens of associations and membership organizations throughout the US, ranging in size from zero staff (all-volunteer) to over 700. In that time Wes has provided a range of consulting services, from general consulting on data management issues to full-scale, association-wide selection and implementation of association management systems.

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