Published Apr 5, 2021

How Integration Played a Pivotal Role in the CDC Foundation’s Digital Transformation



Digital transformation can be defined as “a radical rethinking of how an organization uses technology, people, and processes to fundamentally change business performance.” For the CDC Foundation, they started their initiative with the vision of becoming a technology leader in the nonprofit sector.

First things first, though – the Foundation needed to replace legacy systems that they had outgrown. In this article, learn how they successfully modernized their business processes and how your team can prepare for your own digital transformation.

A Journey Toward the Future

Created by Congress, the CDC Foundation has launched more than 1,200 health protection programs and raised over $1.25 billion to support the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s critical work over the past two decades.

As this independent nonprofit grew, their technology lagged behind. They felt the accumulated weight of their spreadsheets, colored-folder system, and other paper-based and manual processes. That’s why four years ago, the Foundation began moving their entire operations to the cloud.

When they adopted Salesforce, NetSuite, ADP, Concur, and other best-of-breed SaaS apps, they knew they also needed to find a way to properly connect them. They sought out an integration solution that was customizable, powerful, and worked well with their operations, while also being simple to build and maintain for the future.

Integration for the Unexpected

With Celigo’s integration platform (iPaaS), the Foundation utilized a mix of pre-built integrations along with custom development for the more unique aspects of their organization:

  1. First, the CDC Foundation built a highly-customized integration with Celigo between Salesforce and NetSuite.
  2. Next, they tackled integrating Concur to NetSuite for their expense management business process.
  3. Now, they’re automating their HR processes by integrating ADP to NetSuite.

As they completed their Salesforce-NetSuite integration, COVID-19 began affecting the world. Because of the CDC’s key role in addressing this pandemic, the Foundation saw its transaction volume increase fivefold within months. Last November, they launched the Crush COVID crowdfunding campaign, which has raised more than $50 million to support critical response activities.

“The Salesforce-NetSuite connection was overwhelmingly positive. It would be near impossible to manage that kind of volume before Celigo,” said Malcolm James, Senior Technology and Business Solutions Manager at the CDC Foundation, in this case study. “Celigo has cut down on our time to accomplish work tremendously. I mean, there was no area of our organization that wasn’t impacted positively by that connection.”

3 Digital Transformation Takeaways

If you and your team feel inspired to undergo your own “radical rethinking,” follow these next steps for initiating your digital transformation:

  1. Earn buy-in through change management. Moving their operations to the cloud was more than a shift in technology – it was also a major mindset shift. To align their team, the CDC Foundation’s CEO and senior leadership offered vocal, consistent support of this necessary transition. Training and guidance from Celigo also helped the CDC Foundation feel more empowered to manage their integrations with their current IT team of three full-time employees.
  2. Identify your data hubs to help you prioritize. For the CDC Foundation, their ERP and CRM were crucial to their operations, so they tackled that integration first.
  3. Start with incremental changes, and be open to making updates over time. Remember that this is a marathon – not a sprint. The CDC Foundation took a phased approach in implementing their changes, and they’ve discovered new areas of their operations that can be automated down the road.

Want to learn more about incorporating automation and integration into your organization? Then, check out this on-demand webinar, How the CDC Foundation Modernized and Automated Its Business Processes.

Plus, contact us to discuss how Celigo can help you automate your business processes.

Finally, join us in supporting the CDC Foundation’s Crush COVID crowdfunding campaign.