London’s Calling, Not Dreamin’

We’ve just finished our second London’s Calling Community conference.  We’ve been asked a few times why the name London’s Calling and why didn’t we opt to go with the Dreamin’ name like the majority of the other conferences.

There is a simple answer to that, we’re not dreamin’.  If you’ve been to England, you’ll know it’s cold, damp and cloudy, especially in February.  This means that our conference has a bit of an edge.. You can thank the Vitamin D deficiency for that.

One of the things we try to do with this event is to infuse it with British culture.  Being in the interesting position of being an American living in London, I understand my own as well as theirs.  Where Americans would embrace the concept of Dreamin’.. The Brits might give you the side eye.  A little too optimistic for their taste.  So as part of our objective for London’s Calling, the event has to be reflective of the intersectionality of Salesforce and British culture.  One would say it’s no easy feat, but we make sure there are elements of both in everything that we do. We give you Ohana served up with a side of sarcasm.

Let’s start with the name, London’s Calling was the name that was tossed out whilst we were sitting and drinking gobs of champagne and my arm was being twisted into joining Francis & Simon on this adventure.  It was to be a placeholder name until we found something more clever.  Guess what folks, THAT never happened. We decided to stick with the name and got a theme song in the mix!  The next thing we did was tshirts.  If you’ve seen the design of our tshirts, you’ll see they cross whimsy and steampunk.  We know other community events are doing tshirts, so we’re not the first to do this, we just hope ours show our personalities.

The next part that we hope people notice is that we try not to take ourselves too seriously.  Yes, we want this to be a great event that people will come back to year after year but we know we’re not event planners and are doing this in addition to our day jobs, night jobs, school and a host of other things happening in our lives.  We’re not polished and we’re hoping that adds to our charm.  What we do take VERY seriously is our content.  We spent hours pouring over 150+ submissions for only a handful of sessions.  This meant that only 22% of submissions were accepted, which is good and bad and it’s hard to turn away fabulous content, but we have many user groups in London.  Definitely present your content there if you were not selected.

Other things we don’t do are confetti, dancing and karaoke*.  I think this may be a holdover from the fact that the UK hasn’t won Eurovision since 1998. Some are still sore about this and it’s better to just leave it alone.

At the end of the day what we want people to take away from our event is that we’re a ragtag but enthusiastic group of people that want to put on an event for the community that they’ll enjoy and want to keep attending year after year or until we run out of ideas.  We want it to reflect the culture here which we know is a bit different from event to event.  We’re hoping when you attend ours, you’ll see what we’re about.

Now that we’ve finished our second one, we’re hoping the vision is a little more clear.

*This is a constantly evolving list of things we don’t do but may do in the future.. Depends on our mood that year and how much its rained.

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5 Reasons Why You Should Join a User Group in 2017 (if you didn’t listen to me in 2016)!

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Not the catchiest of titles for a blog post, I know.  But as we’re careening towards to 2017 and not a moment too soon, I thought I would remind people why Salesforce User Groups are something you shouldn’t put off joining.  Last year, I wrote a post with 5 reasons why you should join a user group, but I’ve decided to refresh it based on the events of 2016.. in case you’re wondering this post will not talk about any of the negative events of 2016, so put your pitchforks away!

5. With thrice yearly releases, we know we have to stay current on our Salesforce skills, but the opportunity to learn new things doesn’t stop there.  With the platform and industries constantly evolving and changing, it behooves even the most seasoned of Salesforce experts to keep current.  By attending user groups that deal with different industries and products, it’s easier to expand your knowledge base.  This year, I’ve added to my understanding of nonprofit and public sector based on the content and discussions at these types of user group events.  It’s definitely worth stepping outside of your comfort zone!

4. We all know and love Salesforce, but how much do we know about some of the offerings available on the Appexchange to extend the functionality of Salesforce?  The ability to engage with product companies and learn more about different offerings is another benefit of user group meetings.  Oftentimes, these product companies will sponsor user group meetings and it’s an easy way to get more information and have informal chats about their offerings.  I will admit that my knowledge of many of the apps available was lacking, but over the last year, I have had the ability to engage with some partners such as Apttus, Taskfeed and Xactly to learn more about how their products and services can help my clients when planning out their Salesforce projects.  Added bonus is that you’re usually not being sold to and can ask open and honest questions.

3. With so much new stuff coming at us in terms of the release cycles for Salesforce and all of the new Lightning functionality, sometimes we have to go to the experts for advice and guidance.  Many user groups are able to do just that and bring the experts straight to you!  We’ve had some exciting roadmap discussions and fireside chats this year about a multitude of different areas as Salesforce continues to grow.  Salesforce Admins and Devs do a great job with webinars and highlighting experts in our community but being face to face and able to ask about your most challenging of use cases is really helpful!

2. There is such a diverse audience at user groups and I know I mentioned networking in the post last year, but I would be remiss if I didn’t also give examples of some of the incredible networking I’ve seen in action this year.  From one of our Women in Tech events in May, there was a topic around mentoring and out of that discussion, some of our WiT members ended up establishing informal mentorship relationships with some other members of the community.  Being able to get guidance and support from community members who have embarked on similar paths in their careers is invaluable.

1. It should not come as any surprise that Salesforce Ohana would be my final reason.  I don’t think there is anyone on earth that would disagree on 2016 being a challenging year for many many reasons.  I’ve seen members of our community come together to celebrate births of babies (we have added lots of little future community members this year), promotions, engagements, marriages and all kinds of happy events as well as some sad events this year.  We have dealt with loss in our community as well as illnesses, etc.  But what sets us apart from any other community is that we all want to share and connect with our fellow community members.  It’s truly an extension of my family and I feel so fortunate to have so many people all over the world, as well as my own city, if I need just a simple hello.  This community makes the world smaller and accessible by bringing people together, every day.  I cannot even begin to express my gratitude for everyone that has been there for me and everyone around me over the past year.

Wishing everyone a very Happy Holiday season!

BTW, I am not responsible if the last one made you shed a tear or two. 🙂

Why Salesforce Admins & Devs are like Peanut Butter & Jelly

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I’ve spent the majority of my Salesforce career firmly in Admin territory.  I’ve always liked it that way, it’s a world I understand.  The ability to transform business processes and challenges into solutions coupled with reporting are some things that I enjoy.  I also like solving problems, so it works for me.  Sounds nerdy, but there you have it.

However, in 2012 my world changed a bit.  I left my job on the client side, where I had worked up to leading a Center of Excellence to dip a toe into Salesforce consulting.  It wasn’t as tough of a transition because I went from working at an insurance company straight into an insurance project. Easy Peasy.  Fast forward two years and I had left Connecticut (if you’re not from the US, it’s between Boston & NYC) was living in London and being coerced into attending my very first Dev Meetup.  That was February 2014 and I’ve never looked back.

As you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking.. why would someone who said they are firmly planted in the admin territory get so much value out of a developer group?  Well, great question!  Going to a developer user group felt like I just added the other half of the puzzle pieces onto what I already knew.  Learning about the dev world was the jelly to my existing peanut butter sandwich.  (If you know me, you’ll know that I have an intense love of peanut butter, jam optional!)

What this all means is that I learned to expand my thinking and learn a myriad of new ways to solve problems.  I may not be able to write code well, but I have come away with a whole new appreciation for the technical challenges that devs face with writing code, integrations and being able to debug why something doesn’t work.  On top of this, I’ve extended out my network to meet so many more interesting people.  Those dev people are pretty brilliant, I’ve even become friends with a few!

All of this doesn’t mean that I’ve left the admin side and hung up my solution architect hat, but it does mean that I’ve learned about topics and concepts that I would never have been exposed to if I hadn’t stepped outside of my comfort zone.  When I get a great idea, oftentimes I will grab one of my favorite devs or architects who will brainstorm with me to make my great idea, amazing.

My favorite part of being in the London Dev User Group is that it’s welcoming to all.  Yes, many times it’s a bunch of guys talking about code and dining on Domino’s and Perroni but nobody has ever made me feel like I didn’t belong for not truly being dev.  They are inclusive of everyone which one of the reasons that our Women in Tech user group partners with them often.  Thanks especially to Keir Bowden, Anup Jadhav, Richard Clark and Francis Pindar for being some of our biggest allies.  You guys helped me get this group off of the ground in the early days and we have nothing but love for the devs!  Also important to mention our rockstar support from Salesforce, couldn’t do it without all of you!  You guys make this community open, inclusive and most of all, a lot of fun.

If you, dear reader, are scared to join a dev group cause you’re an admin.. don’t be.  They’re not as scary as they look!  Join and attend a meeting as soon as possible.  If you don’t like it, you can yell at me in the comments or on twitter. 🙂

 

What is a Center of Excellence and Why do I want one?

Recently (Southeast Dreamin’ & World Tour London) I spoke about moving from being a Solo Admin to creating a Center (or Centre) of Excellence (CoE).  The talk I did at Southeast Dreamin’ was a little different content wise from what I had spoken about at World Tour.  I’ve also summarized a fair amount of the important points in this post.  Now that you have a good background on how to quantify and qualify your time as well as ask for assistance, I am going to move into the next part of this topic.

What is a Center of Excellence?

A Center of Excellence leverages People, Processes, Knowledge and Technology to drive business value, encourage collaboration, socialize best practices and promote standards across the business.

This sounds fairly easy and straightforward, right?  Not really.  The devil is always in the details and in trying to figure out how to effectively leverage people, processes, knowledge and technology to drive business value.  It’s one of those sentences that sounds great on paper (or online) but means very little without some best practices to guide you through the creation process.

Core Pillars

Ok, well core pillars now sounds really official!  It sounds like we’re getting somewhere now, so let’s define the 5 Core Pillars that comprise a CoE.

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Governance:  This is the processes that ensures the effective and efficient use of IT in enabling an organization to achieve its goals.

Business Management: Empowering the business to know what to deliver, why it is important and the value to the business.

Change Management: The process to manage enhancements, timely delivery to market, prioritization and utilization of resources

Release Management: Ensuring the highest quality with structured processes and methodology.

Support Management: The ability to provide Subject Matter Expertise, responsiveness and education.

Now that you know what the Core Pillars are, why do you want to build a CoE?

Here are some reasons why building a CoE is the right thing to do to manage Salesforce effectively for your business.

  • Salesforce is unique and encompasses competing stakeholders within Sales, Marketing, Service across one or more businesses and/or regions
  • Delivering a quicker time to market with utilizing out of the box and easily configured features but discipline and process is essential
  • Managing the rapid change of pace as Salesforce has thrice annually releases in addition to ever changing business needs
  • Justifying license model and reacting to data management challenges by ensuring adoption is high, data is clean and trusted by the business to justify investment
  • Acting on complex org decisions such as single or multi org strategies due to organic growth or growth by acquisition in a firm.

In the next post, I will detail each of these pillars out more and with additional details.

Blazing the Trail from Solo Admin to CoE

Thank you to everyone that attended my talk in the Admin Theatre on 19-May at Salesforce World Tour London.  As promised, I am uploading my slides, along with some links to other relevant items that were mentioned during my talk.

Firstly, the slides: Blazing the trail from Solo admin to CoE

A previous blog post that explains a lot of the content from my talk: Blog post

The resourcing slide from Salesforce: Resources

And an overview on Premier Success: Overview

Solo Admins: Are You Spinning Plates?

 

balancing_many_things_800_11196A few weeks ago, I had the good fortune to be selected to speak at Southeast Dreamin’ in Atlanta.  The topic I chose was about moving from being a solo admin to creating a CoE (Center of Excellence).  I could not have been more pleased at how well the session went and the amazing questions that I got from the audience.  Since there seemed to be so much interest in the topic, I have opted to break down my talk into a few blog posts.

This first post is about understanding why solo admins are constantly in a state of spinning plates and how to to start to get ahead of the plate spinning activity and actually be effective in the role of solo admin.

  1. Lack of Understanding by Management on the role of Solo Admin

What were the original expectations of the role?  Yes, we know that roles tend to evolve over time but often the solo admin role is created off of the back of a small implementation, whereby the admin is responsible for creating new users, delivering some end user training and report building.  As the Salesforce needs grow, the solo admin tries to keep pace and starts taking on more functions.  Reviewing the expectations of the role against what the role currently encompasses is a good way to bring light to the additional duties and if there is a need, justify additional assistance if these are out of balance.  Salesforce also has document that recommends the amount of admins necessary to maintain Salesforce based on the number of users.  Consult with your AE or CSM to get additional up to date information.

When I started as a solo admin, I had a 450 license org for a few lines of business.  In the span of a year, I ended up with 1000+ licenses and 13 lines of business using the same org.  Ideally, it would be best to not get to the point where you drop all of the spinning plates.. which leads me to my next point.

2. Not Quantifying the Amount of Requests Received from Users

Requests come in from end users on a daily basis and these could be through email, chatter posts, phone calls and office fly bys.  Are you tracking all of these requests to adequately quantify your time and where most of it is being spent?  If you are not doing this now, begin immediately.  No, really.  Stop reading and go set this up!  You can finish reading the post later! There are a number of ways to track requests, I’ve used the Cases object and a special record type to record any requests from users.  I’ve heard of others using Chatter (less quantifiable), Ideas and the app exchange app, ChangeIt!  Feel free to leave others in the comments.  The reason why this is important is that it gives you justification for employing additional services, such as Premier Support, Managed Services or a consultancy partner.

3. Spending Time on Non Value Add Activities

Do end users call you for password resets? Do you feel like you spend all day doing things but not accomplishing anything?  By tracking what you’re doing (which you’ll be doing if you read #2 above..) you can see where your time is being spent.  Pluck out the items that bring the most value, such as project work or training and look to offload some of the more mundane tasks to other areas.  A solo admin is in their role because they are the heart and soul of the Salesforce org, so why have them spend time resetting passwords?  That is something that can either be offloaded to IT support or even Premier Support, as I have done in the past.  This all brings me to the fourth point.

4. Create a plan (and possibly a business case)!

Is your Salesforce org holding steady at around the same number of licensing or are you going to be adding functionality, business units or additional licenses?  Have you implemented a change management process and a fortnightly release cycle? (For non Brits, fortnightly is every two weeks!) All of these things will throw off any delicate balance you may have achieved with those spinning plates above.  If your org is holding steady with no changes, then you’ve won the admin jackpot!  But for the other 99.9% of the population, it’s essential to have a plan in place to manage current items in flight, items on the horizon and a block of time for production support.  By having data around production support items, it’s easier to identify the amount of time needed and balance it against the items in flight and on the horizon.  If the total of all 3 equals more than one person, you may need to use that plan to build out a business case.

5. OPTIONAL: Getting Assistance

 

If the outcome of the four steps above is that you need to take on additional assistance to be effective, don’t worry.  There are ways of doing this that will align nicely with your business case activities from step four.

Review the type of assistance needed and then align to a recommended approach.  Some of these include:

Production Support Assistance: Salesforce Premier Success offers a number of options with a 24/7 support line to assist with everything from password resets to actual development support such as writing apex code.

Project Level Implementation Support: Look to engage with a Salesforce Partner that can manage the requirements gathering, design, build and implementation of your Salesforce effort.  The Partner should also be ideally working with you in a knowledge transfer capacity so that you are aware and can manage the new functionality going forward.

Post Project Support: Most Partners can offer managed services support post implementation to support the functionality that was built as a result of the above implementation.

Hire Staff:  Sometimes it makes sense to onboard additional admins or begin to build a Center of Excellence.  More to come in the next post!

 

5 Reasons to Navigate the Salesforce Advantage Trail

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When I started working with Salesforce back in two thousand and mumble mumble (2004 – yikes!), I knew I liked what I was seeing and after sitting in on a demo, I was immediately hooked.  I thought it looked super cool and I wasn’t even that mad at my boss for dumping it on me!

The AE took us through the benefits and why Salesforce was a game changer, but like anything else, how much of what the AE was saying was real and how much was spin?  At that time you relied on what your AE and Sales Engineer were saying to get funding for licensing and implementation costs.  They were instrumental in giving you that first sip of Kool Aid to get you to buy, but what about after the purchase?  It’s now up to you to be able to clearly articulate why Salesforce is a game changer and the benefits for your different user groups.  In the old days, I leaned heavily on my AE, Sales Engineer and CSM to give me some of the literature to help me make my case, but now we have something new and BETTER.. TRAILHEAD!

Yes, Trailhead is excellent for learning Salesforce and how to actually use the tool, but how does it help me before purchasing licenses, you ask.  Simple.. keep reading!

The Navigate the Salesforce Advantage Trail is great because you can start using it beforehand to learn those important pieces about Salesforce to help you make knowledgeable purchasing decisions or build a killer business case to get funding for licensing costs.

So why should you complete the Navigating the Salesforce Advantage Trail? Here are my top reasons!

5. Getting to Know Salesforce. How many other companies have such detailed information in a fun and interactive learning environment?  This module lets you learn about the components of the Customer Success Platform.  Even after this first module you can be speaking about Salesforce in a knowledgable manner.  You’ll look like a star in no time!

4. Four Core Differentiators. Salesforce isn’t just a software company, it’s a culture.  Just attend a Salesforce community event and you learn how quickly how much of a culture it really is.  Salesforce combines it’s four core components that propel everything they do;  they consist of Customer Success, Innovation, Leadership and Giving Back.  Salesforce doesn’t just talk the talk, they also walk the talk on giving back with their 1-1-1 model. Want to learn more? It’s in the Introducing our Four Core Differentiators module!

3. Cloud Benefits. Going through this module helps you learn how to use cloud technology to your benefit and figure out what works best for you and your business needs.  The Succeeding with a Complete CRM and Propelling Your Business in the Cloud modules will give a good understanding to help you wow your management!

2. Salesforce Technology Basics. Understanding how Salesforce’s technology works in the cloud and in an multi tenant environment.  This module will help with understanding the basics of how it all works together to give you the power of Salesforce across all of your devices.  Plus, it’s a good jump start if you decide to become Admin certified!

1. Salesforce Ecosystem. One of the most powerful things about Salesforce isn’t Trailhead (although it’s pretty awesome) or it’s power, it’s the Community behind it.  I may be biased, but I have never seen such a powerful and awesome community.  Whenever I have a question, need help or just a friendly face at Dreamforce, the Salesforce Community is always there.

I have just given you (dear reader) 5 really important reasons why you want to complete this Trailhead Trail, but I will give you a bonus one.

YOU GET BADGES!

*mic drop*

Six Best Practices for Getting Started with Marketing Automation

Target-Market-300x236How can you optimise marketing activities to better support the business and drive new leads? For many organisations, the answer is marketing automation.

Adopting a marketing automation solution benefits the business by providing the ability to schedule marketing campaigns in advance, creating unique client groups for targeted messaging as well as consistency within email blasts or social media campaigns. These solutions can also improve reporting, which helps to further refine marketing efforts to increase effectiveness.

But before you can realise these benefits, you must first introduce an appropriate solution. So how do you get there? Here are six best practices for getting started with marketing automation:

1) ALIGN SALES PROCESSES WITH CRM

If your CRM system is not designed to support your sales process, marketing and sales will not be able to use the solution to target customers. Nor will they be able to take advantage of marketing automation to tailour the most appropriate message to the right audience. Nothing is worse than not knowing your customers and delivering the wrong message.

2) START SLOWLY

It’s important to start slow and use smaller campaigns to work out any flaws in the process before tackling much more complex drip marketing style campaigns. Keep it simple.

3) USE CONTENT TO CREATE KILLER CAMPAIGNS

Being able to deliver the right content is key. Clients want to be able to read white papers or summaries about why your products and services are great. Content is important and needs to be more than just a link to a website. Tailour blocks of creative and dynamic content in your tool to hit the mark.

4) TEST, TEST AND THEN TEST AGAIN

Ensure that the right client data is available, that the right content is being sent and which subject lines will be most effective. On non-date dependent campaigns, run A/B subject line testing to ensure that your emails are not the ones that get deleted without being opened. There are only so many chances to wow a customer in the sales process.

5) KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER

Use campaigns to figure out why certain segments of populations are not apt to sign up for your services or to find out at what point in the sales cycle clients are becoming disinterested. By reviewing the outputs of campaigns, you can use this type of trending to iterate on the types of campaigns being used and continue to build out client profile information.

6) CONTINUOUSLY MONITOR AUTOMATED CAMPAIGNS

Did IT change where the contact us email is routed? Has a product been retired? It’s important to make sure that campaigns are monitored to avoid forms, email addresses or content being incorrect. Inspect what you expect.

Post originally appeared on CloudSherpas.com