Mike Kennedy MDA CFO Discusses 5 Things to Know When Implementing FinancialForce.

Mike Kennedy and Stephanie Picardi

In Part 1 of our Case Study, we discovered why the Muscular Dystrophy Association trusted VFP Consulting with their integrated technology solutions. We also discussed what the NFP organization stood to gain from implementing a cohesive ERP software strategy across their 84 offices.

In Part 2, we examine the Salesforce and FinancialForce implementation process itself. What does a go-live actually look like for a company like the MDA? What can a company (and its team members) expect during a cross-country roll-out…and how long does it take to see the benefits?

Mike Kennedy of the Muscular Dystrophy Association carved out an hour to talk to me a week after the roll-out of their FinancialForce and Salesforce software. In that time he broke down five key tips for CFO’s about the implementation process.

Tip 1:  Involve your team from day one: they’re the people moving you forward.

How is your team feeling a week in?

Really, factoring in the entire implementation process, we’re 7 months in– but that has been an incredible time of transformation for us. I got a load of comments last week, after the official go-live. I’m still getting feedback from the team. It’s important to involve your team from day one: they’re the people moving you forward. We knew the systems would help us achieve our goals– that came as no surprise. The surprise was how happy and empowered the team was across the entire organization. They had the tools they needed to do their job better– and they have.

As the CFO of an organization with a 64-year history, how are you feeling about the new tech?

If you are a people-driven organization, it’s more than just technology. It’s culture, and it’s also ownership.

Everybody wants to be on a winning team, and it’s clear that our team feels like the FinancialForce implementation is giving them a chance of being on a winning team. As a leader, you want to give your team the best tools available, so they can feel that they are doing their job in the best ways possible. I didn’t fully anticipate the elated response.

Tip 2: Embrace change. Involve your team in not only accepting, but continually improving the way you work.

When did you start noticing the excitement building? Did it take a while to get everyone on board?

For something like this to work, it’s crucial that every person involved is excited to embrace change. That excitement really showed up as we built up steam in the final two months of the roll-out– once we could actually see the software, and the reality of its potential first hand. The final few weeks came out strongly. During the go-live, you could feel it in the room. All our teams were on video from around the country. There was a different tone in everyone’s voice, a completely different mood. Everybody seemed so capable and empowered, and they still do. Our culture has changed thanks to the way VFP helped us design and implement our solution–  and I feel better about that than I do the amazing data and results at my fingertips. Of course…those are very nice, too.

Tip 3: Roll with the punches (and expect some interesting findings and adjustments through UAT).

What does this software mean for you as a leader?

As with any new concept, you encounter problems that you don’t know how to fix. But the team isn’t afraid to bring issues forward. They know that they’re not on their own, and they know that they don’t have to tolerate broken systems, wasted time, or things that should only take 2 hours taking 2 weeks. Ever again. We had to roll with some punches after UAT [User Acceptance Training]. Anybody implementing a system like this will. But those adjustments are only going to make things better.

What I bring in with my role is leadership in terms of how to think with this new tool. I need to keep encouraging it, and nurturing that cultural shift in what our workforce sees as attainable. New ideas are coming up that we hadn’t expected before. I have a new base with FinancialForce that’s making every connector be reevaluated. And my team is so engaged. There’s a new feeling in the air. Now that we’ve done something tremendous in only 7 months, everybody knows that we can do tremendous things.

Tip 4: Set a clear vision and stick to it.

So, what comes next?

Step 2! As big as Step 1 was, now we need Step 2 to really go after the front-end systems– for running events, and other processes of that nature. You need a clear vision; we’ve got one, and we’re ready to keep making it happen. We have a plan to replace cumbersome front-end processes with Salesforce-driven products– like a marketing cloud, and state-of-the-art donation tools. It’s going to absolutely redefine our potential.

Once we’re able to dig into donor tools– to quickly go into those systems and determine what’s generating X revenue, or what X will cost– we’re going to be able to streamline our processes even further. Then, the final stage will be the top-tier FinancialForce platform; it can go one more step, and it’s clear to me already that we’ll benefit from it.

Fully committing to Salesforce and FinancialForce is going to allow us to efficiently manage our events so we can get the best use of our dollars. Having financial control opens the door to thinking more broadly about where our efforts are, and where we’re focused. A good part of 2019 will be spent using this data to look at the organization holistically. Is it set up to maximize revenue generation– at the most effective cost? How are we improving the delivery of our mission to these families? We couldn’t even start to think about that without a single source of data and infrastructure.

Tip 5: Finding the right partner is critical.

What can you say about the experience of having an implementation partner?

The success of the FinancialForce implementation, and how we did this all– how the system was brought in, accepted, and how quickly we managed to do it– is shared with a lot of people. Paul and Stephanie’s partnership was a critical part in that. They are two of the greatest, nicest people I have worked with. Overall with this project, we had an incredibly aggressive timeline. I had a lot of vendors that I could have worked with, but VFP was the only one willing to leave ego at the door and adapt their methodology for us.

We needed a consultant who could take that step back to understand what needed to be done, and then jump in and get started. VFP understood the vision and joined me in a partnership. It’s an easy word to say– but that type of relationship is the only starting point when you’re trying to create an architecture like the one we have. They pushed through the noise and were flexible enough to truly own the project. They would raise issues that I wasn’t necessarily thinking about. If we went off-road, they pulled it back. Paul had an additional role at UAT, and he ran it the same way. People thought that he was an MDA employee– that’s how invested he was in getting us the right tool.

This is not a common vendor relationship; VFP has the right mindset on how to build relationships. It’s why I don’t hesitate to recommend them. They proved to me that I can work with partners in a different way. Which is nice, because it’s the only way I want to work. Unless you co-own the vision, you’re not really a partner. The outcome looks like we delivered a system. But it’s much more. I have a whole slide for the board delivering the benefits of partnering, and vendor partner excellence.

Final insight for CFOs

Any final words of advice for other CFOs, CIOs– or NFPs?

You have to do it. That’s the best advice I have– especially for Non-Profits: they’re not nearly as accustomed to these processes. You have to go do it. The days of dropping in modules are over. The days of repeating steps are over. Every dollar used inefficiently is one less dollar that gets to your mission. You have to understand the importance of an investment like this. We have a truly centralized service center. We’re able to see precisely where the effort is. Everything flows.

Some Non Profits may not be able to afford to get it implemented all at once. Stephanie and Paul tell me this is something that can be built over three years if need be. There’s nothing like FinancialForce on the market right now, so don’t waste your time trying to recreate it. You won’t be happy if you just replace General Ledger– you’ll be left with the same problems. Just faster. You have to think broadly. You have to commit to removing repetition. If it’s still slow, the process isn’t right.

Raul Acosta

Sales Director

As an agile, focused and collaborative team player Raul strives to consistently take a holistic approach and make an impact with each networking experience and partnership forged.


With 15+ years of experience in sales strategy, application sales, and relationship management, he excels at solving complex business challenges through data-driven insights, superior customer service, and relevant Salesforce expertise.


As a former trusted advisor at Certinia and Salesforce, Raul has successfully implemented strategies that drive revenue, align business units, engage target audiences, strengthen brand image, maximize productivity, develop people, transform processes, and improve overall customer experience, showcasing his commitment to clients, partners, and colleagues.

Michael Kelly

Engagement Director & Head of Project Management

Michael, with a background in project financial management and analysis, has spent over a decade in various project management roles. Leading clients, project teams, and fellow project managers, he ensures successful project deliveries and implementations. Michael’s PMP Certification enables him to stay current with the latest industry standards and project management practices.


Passionate about his field and role, Michael finds fulfillment in successful projects, tangible results, and meeting client needs.


Throughout his experience in engagement management Michael has successfully led over 25 clients, projects, and go-lives. He has overseen a project budget portfolio of $25 million per year, managing 21 separate project engagement efforts concurrently for his client base. In his career, Michael has hired, trained, and personally managed a team of over 50 project managers.


He has also contributed to the development and training of new agile project methodologies in multiple companies.


Currently, at VFP, Michael has played a crucial role in implementing the new agile methodology across all active projects for their client base in 2023.

Greg Plaisance

Managing Consultant

Throughout his career at VFP, Greg has progressed from the role of Consultant to Senior Consultant and currently serves as a Managing Consultant.


With 15 years of experience in the financial services industry, Greg possesses a diverse skill set that spans Retail Banking, Post Audit, and Consulting. He holds 3 Salesforce certifications and 2 Certinia certifications, showcasing his expertise in areas such as Accounting, Revenue Recognition, Billing, and leadership strategy. Greg’s extensive background equips him with a deep understanding of financial processes, enabling him to offer valuable insights and guidance to clients within the industry.


Passionate about process improvement, efficiency, and leadership he helps companies by managing the systems that support their core objectives, allowing them to focus on their key goals.


Greg aims to build VFP into a premier consulting firm that is highly sought-after by both clients and professionals as a desirable place to work.

Kristin Hubbard

Managing Consultant

Kristin, a seasoned Salesforce and Certinia professional since 2011 specializes in Financial Management, specifically focusing on areas such as Billing, Revenue, and Accounting.


With a degree in Accounting, Kristin began her career as a Billing Specialist, where she actively contributed to the implementation of Salesforce and Certinia, showcasing her problem-solving skills and passion for process improvement.


Recognizing her abilities, she transitioned to the role of Certinia Administrator, playing a crucial role in the system’s global rollout. Later, as a Business Systems Manager, she assumed responsibility for the entire Salesforce platform. Motivated by her love for the job and a desire to help multiple organizations, Kristin pursued consulting, specializing in Certinia ERP and leading consultant teams for approximately eight years.


Since 2018, she has played a vital role in planning and executing the Florida Dreamin event. Recognized as a Salesforce MVP in 2023, she holds 7 Salesforce and 1 Certinia certification, demonstrating her expertise and dedication to growth.


Kristin understands the value of embracing technology and streamlining processes to reduce costs and enhance profitability. With expertise in Salesforce and Certinia, she guides organizations to implement efficient systems, optimize operations, and achieve financial success.

Ty alibhai

Managing Consultant

Ty is a seasoned consulting leader who has focused his experience over the last 15 years on the Salesforce platform and solutions in its ecosystem. He brings 20+ years of business knowledge, consulting experience, and a knack for successful Salesforce and Certinia implementations in the quote-to-cash space. Ty has successfully implemented technology solutions such as Salesforce and Certinia to over 100+ customers over his career and has led/managed consultant teams of 5-10 people.


Graduating from UC Berkeley’s Haas Business School and with a strong background in Computer Science, he launched his career in technology consulting. He focused his career on the Salesforce platform after experiencing success at Salesforce in the early 2000s and growing that knowledge with consulting partners the latter half of his career. His knowledge spans multiple industries, solutions, and market segments from SMB to Enterprise level experience.


As part of his role at VFP, he effectively manages a team of consultants, empowering them to achieve their career objectives. He also leads project teams and ensures the seamless adoption of technology, thereby driving client success at VFP.


Driven by a strong desire to make a positive impact on customers’ lives by simplifying their experience with new systems he excels as a leader, mentoring consultants and guiding project teams to successful outcomes.

Nick Anderson

Managing Consultant

A global Salesforce and Certinia consulting and implementation leader, Nick is an expert in his field with more than 8 years of experience on the platform, specializing in Quote to Cash and Professional Services Automation best practices.


With a focus on mid-market and enterprise accounts, Nick brings a deep knowledge of best practices to all aspects of client projects including change management, business process documentation & improvement, system configuration, revenue recognition and managed services.


With an extensive background in International Business and PSA solutions, Nick is the driving force behind the VFP consultants, helping the team tap into their full potential in order to deliver excellent results.


Never one to back down from a challenge, Nick embraces his ever-changing environment and encourages customers to do the same as a way to drive further success down the road. He stresses the importance of clear communication and building strong working relationships in order to effectively articulate a vision for the future of a business.


Using his own years of consulting experience as a touchstone, Nick’s focus is on developing talent and ushering in customer success for the VFP team across the board.

Doug Johnston

Chief Operating Officer

Building scalable large-capacity services teams in enterprise environments for more than 25 years, Doug is focused on operational excellence and builds high-quality and high-growth companies and teams.  

As COO, Doug’s responsibilities encompass overseeing all facets of customer services including a Project Management team, internal operations, and a team of expert consultants. His primary focus lies in fostering a high-performing team and culture, guiding its development, providing support, and offering coaching to optimize efficiency.

Doug’s diverse experiences in industries including software services, government, private sector, medical, and beyond have led to the development of a global team, overseeing projects ranging from small initiatives to multi-million dollar implementations and long-term relationships with clients.

With unwavering determination, Doug strives to establish a top-tier consulting firm in collaboration with VFP’s CEO, Stephanie Taylor. Together they shared a vision that transcends software implementation, aiming to provide value, challenge conventions, and leverage expertise for optimal outcomes. Though strategies shift with growth, the core objective of building an exceptional company remains a constant in Doug’s journey. 

Doug joined VFP in its infancy, with a goal to grow the team and scale the operation – which is now doubling year over year, based on a passion for people matched with a deep sense of purpose. With 2x INC5000 placements under 1000, team growth of more than 10,000%, high customer success ratings and stability within the team, his leadership has proved vital to positive growth and long term stability for VFP. 

Stephanie Taylor

Chief Executive Officer

A sought-after leader with a 20+ year history working with global Fortune 500 companies, Stephanie is a business process expert with a deep and well-recognized expertise in the Salesforce and Certinia ecosystems, with a focus on Quote-to-Cash, ERP, CRM, and Financial Management.


Stephanie founded VFP Consulting to offer companies with access to a 360 approach to not just implementing but managing their technology investments over time, from aligning people, process and product needs to long term management that maximizes the investment and fuels growth and business needs over time. 


Front-line experience overseeing 100+ projects and relationships with diverse clients, from mid-market enterprises to billion-dollar enterprises, Stephanie’s expertise spans high-growth businesses, private equity, mergers and acquisitions across various industries. Her leadership at VFP places a premium on the core values behind the name – Vision, Focus, and Passion.