How Perkins School for the Blind Journeyed to Salesforce

April 7, 2016 Jiordan Castle

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Perkins School for the Blind is the oldest school for the blind in the U.S. Of course, that doesn’t mean their technology should age along with their legacy. In order to move ahead with technology that can scale and evolve with their work, they enlisted Appirio to strategize a way to roll out the best solution. We spoke with David Nero, CIO of Perkins School for the Blind to discuss their business challenges and the ways in which implementing Salesforce can help.

What is Perkins School for the Blind’s mission and vision for the future?

DN: Perkins School for the Blind prepares children and young adults with the education, confidence, and skills they need to realize their potential. Founded in 1829 as the first school for the blind in the U.S., today we are a national and international leader in blindness education. We offer a continuum of specialized education programs — on campus and in the community — for children with blindness, visual impairment, and deafblindness, including additional disabilities. Our experts partner with families, schools and districts to help students navigate the educational journey and prepare for life as independent, engaged adults.

What were the business challenges you were experiencing before deciding to implement Salesforce?

DN: Primarily, we had departments/programs that were not using a system for their operations, or were using outdated or antiquated technology. These challenges continue, but we are starting to address them by implementing Salesforce.

Why Salesforce?

DN: Salesforce offers a cloud-based, accessible, configurable, affordable platform.

What did the Appirio team help you do and how would you describe the experience?

DN: The Appirio team helped us document a lot of our goals and aspirations around our use of Salesforce. They helped us think about how to best structure processes using the system’s out-of-the-box capabilities. The experience was great in that it allowed us to have access to experienced consultants who understood Salesforce capabilities and could help us understand how to best approach certain aspects of the system.

Do you feel confident that you now have an improved technology roadmap that will allow you to serve students even faster and better than before?

DN: Not yet, but we are getting there. We have really just scratched the surface on converging our student data, but we have made progress in key areas like admissions. It will be a long journey.

What are your recommendations for other nonprofit organizations looking to move some or all of their business operations to the cloud?

DN: My biggest recommendation is to develop internal priorities around data and operations first, then look to platforms like Salesforce to help develop structure and standards where possible. A cloud-based platform also takes most of the technology constraints out of the equation and allows the organization to focus on the business processes and system configuration — not servers, networks, etc.

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