Release Readiness Resources

Three times a year Salesforce releases new features and updates so it’s important to keep up.  Every release I find myself overwhelmed by the quantity of resources from Salesforce and the community about the upcoming release.  Frankly, it’s too much information to handle and process.  These are a few of the resources I’m focusing on this release.

#1 Readiness Webinars

There are several webinars hosted by Salesforce to help prepare users, admins, and developers for the awesomeness they are about to release.  These webinars are worth the time to attend.

#2 Release Notes

I’m not gonna lie, I’m not a huge fan of reading hundreds of pages of material but the Summer ‘16 Release Notes are really the best place to get all the release information in a complete and accurate form.  Downside is it’s a lot to get through, especially if there are parts of Salesforce that your instance doesn’t currently use.

#3 Blog

In case you haven’t found the time to read all of the release notes, or maybe you want a quick overview before reading through the notes.  Jennifer Lee has an amazing blog that walks through some key highlights of the release.   I love it!  Thank you Jennifer for the time and effort you’ve invested in this blog series.

#4 Release Readiness Success Community

Umm….only the best place to keep up with the release conversation.   In the Release Readiness Success Community you’ll find information on key dates, documentation, and posts from people like you!

#5 Trailhead

So there’s not a Trailhead module for Summer ‘16 yet but I’m hoping the amazing team over there will keep the tradition alive since the Spring ‘16 Module was so amazing.  Until it’s published, I’ll be here, holding my breath.

Happy reading and studying up on Summer ‘16, Salesforce has some exciting things coming for us.  Next week I’ll touch on just a few of the Ideas that are part of the Summer ‘16 release AKA our dreams coming true in the form of Salesforce features and updates.

Stay tuned for the Summer ‘16 release pinterest board on the Saasy5 Pinterest page.

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The Not So Saasy5 – Choosing Diversity

Okay, so Saasy5 is all about 5 things Salesforce each week.  Well, this week I’m struck by one thing, one huge thing.  I’m shocked by the inequality in my community and my privileged perspective on a daily basis.  The other day something hit me and I just can’t think about 5 things specifically about Salesforce.

So here’s what happened the other day:

While sitting at an airport Chili’s getting a snack before my flight, I see a group of about five African-American men heading out for a bachelor trip sitting across the bar.  They’re all laughing and having fun with the customers around them about their celebratory trip to Vegas.  The scene actually made me smile for a second because of the “diversity” of it all; their server was Hispanic, there was a white couple on one side of the group and an Asian businessman on the other.  Everyone seemed to really be enjoying this moment.  Then the white couple purchased the group a round of beers to celebrate the groom and a few minutes later she pulled a cellphone with a confederate flag phone case out of her purse. My mind twisted and my heart sunk because I didn’t understand.  How could the same woman give the same group such a kind gift and then display such a symbol of hate toward them?

I like to say I believe in diversity and inclusion but the truth is I rarely put myself in a position to stand up for that belief.  I am actively working on that though, I’ve joined the Slalom Houston D&I team to learn more.  I’m finding that more often I’m putting myself in diverse groups of people with different backgrounds and beliefs.  I think to really understand another person’s perspective we have to put ourselves near them.  We have to try to see the world through their eyes with their perspective.  I think that’s how we bridge the gaps between our differences.  I’m thankful for my friends (mostly in the Salesforce community) whom I trust to ask the awkward questions about the parts of all of this that I just don’t understand.  By understanding where those that are different from me are coming from and allowing that new knowledge to influence my daily life, my mindset changes.  The way I approach things changes.

I’ve always done good things for the community around me; helped at homeless shelters and built houses on summer mission service trips in high school (if you need a new roof, I’m your girl) but that’s different from actively seeking diversity in my daily life.  One is helping those in need who often look different than me and the other is actively seeking those who are different than me and exposing myself to their perspective of the world.

There’s something not so unique about me; I’m a smart brunette female who’s worked hard in school and her career to get where she is.  I’m a little preppy and like to route for my college sports teams (Go Jackets!!).  I’m a stereotype.  I hate that because in as many ways as I’m the stereotype I am NOT the stereotype.  No one expects that I can do the things I can do with technology.  No one expects that I am actively working on myself in the ways that I am.  No one expects that I struggle with something inside me that wants to be the housewife who cooks dinner every night in a beautifully kept home while balancing the overwhelming desire to have an extraordinary and impactful career. No one expects that of me but no one holds me back either.  No one holds me back, that’s the difference.

I cannot imagine what it feels like to drink a beer given to me by a person who is blatantly displaying a symbol of hate towards me.  A symbol that is a reminder of a time in history where my stereotype was accepted as less than the rest of the community around me.  It’s probably something like drinking a beer bought by a guy wearing a shirt that says “Women belong in the kitchen” or “Women can’t code”, only far worse I imagine.

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I would love your help building out resources on the Saasy5 Pinterest board.  Here is what I’ve got so far.  What resources do you recommend for those wanting to learn more about Diversity and Inclusion?

Helping Customers Succeed

So here we are in our last week of the Saasy5 Favorite Things series (it’s okay to feel sad).  Along the way, people have asked me what is it about working with Salesforce that I find fulfilling?  And, thankfully that’s an easy question for me to answer.  For me, knowing that I can help my customers solve business problems with Salesforce and help people understand their businesses, customers, and employees in a new or better way is incredibly fulfilling.  Here are some of the things that go into making those relationships and projects successful.

#1 Ask Questions

Weather you’re part of a company’s internal Salesforce team or a consultant a company has hired it is critical to understand the business need and why it is important before starting to work.  By asking questions that start with “why” or “how” we’re able to dig deeper into a problem and work towards the best solution.  I was on a project once where the client asked that I build them a section on the Contact Layout of about 10 besides this being bad practice I realized I needed to understand what these checkboxes would be used for first.  When I started asking “How will you use these checkboxes?” and “Why do you think checkboxes are the best way to go?”  I realized they really just wanted a way to categorize the Contacts and create lists or reports on those categories.  We created a picklist that consolidated the checkboxes to one field and meet all of their reporting needs.  

#2 Stay focused on the goal

Once I’ve met with clients or internal employees and we’ve agreed on a goal or set of deliverables for the project, it’s important to stay focused on that goal and not get distracted by all the cool things Salesforce can do for us.  It’s easy to get off track here and lose sight of what’s important to the success of the project.  By staying goal focused we’re able to make sure a client achieves the results they are looking for which results in a happy customer.

#3 Metrics and Dashboards

Without effective metrics and dashboards it’s difficult to prove the impact and effectiveness of a project.  Building useful dashboards is great but dashboards become most impactful when they change the way management and their teams view their organization by giving access to information that wasn’t available to them before.  To achieve that it’s important that we design Salesforce with metrics in mind.

#4 Process Automation

Process automation is really about the success of the end user.  It ensures data quality and makes a user’s day easier because they no longer have to think about repetitive tasks, the system can do this for them.  This increases user acceptance and makes change management easier since the user has less to remember to do during their already busy day.

#5 Relationships

I am a huge believer in the power of a relationship.  Without the relationships I’ve built with clients and colleagues I would not be where I am today doing what I love.  It has always been important to me to build connectections with clients that are strong and trusting with clients and co-workers.

While these ideas are not specific to Salesforce they do allow me to have successful projects and relationships with my clients.  That success causes me to be fulfilled and find so much enjoyment in my career.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again here, the most fulfilling and exciting thing for me is to see the excitement on someone’s face when something is made possible in Salesforce that wasn’t possible before.  That moment could be the result of anything from a key metric that could never be measured to a System Admin learning how to use a new piece of Salesforce or a user realizing that a set of tasks that used to take them an hour now takes 5 minutes.  In my opinion that is what makes Salesforce work fun! Check out the Saasy5 Pinterest board for more information.

Visit Saasy5 on Pinterest, each week I’ll have a board with pins to the resources I used to write the blog.  Here’s this week’s board. Since the Salesforce world is HUGE let me know if I missed something that should have been pinned and I’d be happy to pin it.

Dreamforce, the Best Week of the Year!

So, we’re in week 4 of Saasy5’s favorite Salesforce Things series and its Dreamforce!!!

You might be thinking it’s a little early in the year to start getting excited about Dreamforce, wait, NO!  It’s never too early in the year to get psyched about Dreamforce.  In all seriousness though, it is the right time to start talking to your employer about it.  This gives you time to build a case for why you NEED to be there, because you need to be there.  It gives you time to make a plan and budget to present to your company for approval.  The sooner you start preparing yourself and your employer for your trip to Dreamforce the more you’ll be able to get out of the party, I mean conference.

#1 Sessions

There are so many of them to choose from.  If this will be your first time at Dreamforce I suggest picking one of the product or role tracks and attending as many sessions as possible on that track.  This will help you know what to register for because there are thousands of session options which can be  a little overwhelming. Two more quick tips – start researching sessions as soon as they are posted and register for sessions as quickly as possible, they will fill up fast.  

#2 Keynotes

This is where Marc and the team will announce new products and changes to Salesforce.  You’ll also hear from large business owners about their experiences with Salesforce.  There is usually a surprise musical guest and of course some other ridiculousness from the team.  Keynotes are great!  Go!  Don’t get too stressed about getting in early and getting a good seat (unless you want to or you’re a huge fan of one of the guests) because many of the keynotes will be broadcast in other places around Dreamforce.  My personal favorite is to find a bean bag in Dream Park and enjoy some sunshine with the keynote!

Dream Park

#3 The Zones

Are you an Admin? A developer? A partner?  There is a zone for you!  The various zones are full of resources, swag, games/challenges, and content.  I recommend attending a session in a zone that interests you and then planning to spend an hour or so walking through it to participate in games and get to know some of the experts and Salesforce employees in the area.

#4 Your Network

Dreamforce is your opportunity to meet clients and potential vendors for your company.  But, for me, the real benefit of Dreamforce is the ability to build your own network.  I make sure to take the time to connect with the people around me throughout the conference.  I’m uncomfortable striking up conversations with strangers but at Dreamforce it’s so important to suck it up and meet new people.  The nice thing about Dreamforce is everyone there will have an answer to a few questions to start a conversation.

  1. How do you use Salesforce?  For how long?
  2. How did you get started with Salesforce? – This is a personal favorite of mine because the stories here are just so great!

The first year I went to Dreamforce I was so nervous to talk to people because I didn’t know much about Salesforce but I quickly found out that there are as many newbies at Dreamforce as there are experts so I was in good company!  I also made the mistake of not mastering my “elevator pitch”  before the conference and fumbling through it in front of some pretty influential people.  Master that “elevator pitch” before Dreamforce, you never know who you will meet.

#5 Parties

Yes, there are lots of them.  Salesforce will sponsor some parties but so will partners and apps.  You will have plenty to do every night after the sessions end.  There is no shortage of food or drink so load up on coffee and if you get the chance to take a 30 minute break midday do it.

Dreamforce Gala

Yes, you will learn more than can fit in your brain, meet so many new people, but really, if you’re a Salesforce addict like me, you’ll have the most fun ever.  An old manager of mine said “Salesforce knows how to throw a party, Dreamforce is legit!”, he’s right.  As always, there’s more information on the Saasy5 pinterest board.

Visit Saasy5 on Pinterest, each week I’ll have a board with pins to the resources I used to write the blog.  Here’s this week’s board. Since the Salesforce world is HUGE let me know if I missed something that should have been pinned and I’d be happy to pin it.

Blazing the Trail!

We’re halfway through our little series!  This week is all about blazing a trail and leaning Salesforce for the fun of it.  The Trailhead team at Salesforce has done a phenomenal job (and it gets better all the time) of creating Trails, Modules, and Projects to teach business users, admins, and developers all things Salesforce.  Trailhead is a huge resource for me as I’m learning to code.  I love the whole idea and here’s why….

#1 Customize Your Training

Trailhead users can customize their learning to meet their needs.  Not only can Trailhead users select the way they use Salesforce by selecting Business User, Admin or Developer; they can also select from a list of Products and Tags to learn.  These filters limit the Modules, Trails or Projects that a user sees so they they are only concerned with what is important to them.

Customize Filters

#2 Trails

Trails are guided training set up by Salesforce, they walk users through a set of Modules so that their learning progresses in a logical way.  Some of the developer trails have been HUGE for me learning code.  It’s nice that the Trailhead team has taken the time to think about how people new to a particular role or Salesforce should learn and created free training for us.

Trails

#3 Projects

I use Projects to test the skills I have learned with Trail.  Projects are great because they combine several Salesforce skills to reach an end goal, kind of like projects in the real world! The neat thing about Projects is that they have step by step guided instructions for users while Trails have more background information.

Projects

#4 It Feels Like Playing a Game

+500 PointsSo, the best part is that while users are learning they are earning points and badges that they can display in the Developer Community or Success Community for bragging rights.  Trailhead feels more like playing a game then it does training.  On top of that, sometimes Salesforce will have challenges that earn users swag.  And who doesn’t like swag!?

 

TIP: Work on Trailhead using login for developer org we talked about in the Communities blog so your badges and points on the same user you’re using in the community.  

#5 How Salesforce Does Business

There are several Modules and Trails centered around how Salesforce does business, which is awesome because why wouldn’t we want to know how a company like Salesforce is run.  They’re obviously doing something right and after completing those modules I can see why!  Thanks for the insider information Trailhead Team!

trailhead_trail_equality

All of Trailhead is equally as awesome I wasn’t going to call out any particular one but I changed my mind half way through this post. (Drum roll please….) Cultivate Equality at Work!  Here
the Trailhead team took it up a notch, they stuck their necks out in the business world and said that all people are equal and should be treated that way no matter what makes them unique.  Then they give us a few ideas about how to accomplish that in our own workplaces.  This Trail is one that anyone at any level of any business using any platform should take the time (it’s not much time) to complete.  I think we will all learn a few things!  I know I did.  More than anything I’m mindful of the times when I am could do better in this area of my life which is a large part of the path to improvement.

Check out some of my favorite modules, trails, and projects along with other blogs and articles on Trailhead on the Saasy5 Trailhead board!

Visit Saasy5 on Pinterest, each week I’ll have a board with pins to the resources I used to write the blog.  Here’s this week’s board. Since the Salesforce world is HUGE let me know if I missed something that should have been pinned and I’d be happy to pin it.

The Power of Clicks!

As you know we’re in the second week of my favorite Salesforce things series. This week we’re focusing on my love of all the things we can do without code!  

I’ve been learning to code the past few months but I haven’t always been so open to learning this skill.  I spent the first 5 years of my Salesforce life terrified of writing a line of code because I somehow thought I might break the whole thing if I got something wrong.  Or maybe I felt like it was a foreign language that was just too advanced for my brain.  Well, I’ve found that neither is really the case and slowly but surely I’m learning to code.

Anyway, I fell in love with Salesforce because I could do so much without knowing one thing about queries and loops.  With Salesforce I had the power to help my teammates and one day customers without code! (More on this in 3 weeks)

#1 Process Automation

 

Automation
Process Builder that creates Project Milestones based on the Project Type selected at creation.

Salesforce give us so many tools to automate processes; Workflows, Approvals, Visual Flows and Process Builder.  These tools give admins the power of a developer to create records, update fields, or send/post notifications based on a set of criteria. With these tools admins are able to automate standard processes to save their users time and make sure that organizational processes are followed correctly.

#2 Formulas and Validation Rules

Thanks to formulas and validation rules it’s a little easier for system admins to maintain clean data.  

  • Formulas help us make sure that standard data manipulation is done correctly and automatically.  
  • Validation Rules help admins insure that users are updating records to meet data standards for the organization.  

I think it’s pretty sweet that that I can help ensure data quality with the use of these tools!  It’s even better that I can set it up once and leave it until the business criteria change, which should be rare.

#3 Page Layouts and Record Types

Page layouts and record types are a bit boring but so freakin’ powerful to the savvy admin.  With page layouts and record types admins can make sure that their users have the best user experience for their job role or they can use them to change the available information based on the type of record.  Let’s say I have a Sales Rep and a Customer Service Rep; I can set up two different Case page layouts based on each user’s specific needs so that their view is not cluttered with information.  I can take it one step further with Record Types; for example I can differentiate between Internal Cases and Customer Cases and have separate page layouts for each.Record Types

#4 Reports and Dashboards

Pipeline
Opportunity Pipeline by Stage and Amount

So your VP of Sales says they want to see the data on the Opportunity Pipeline that the Sales Team has been working on…this may sound like a daunting task no, it’s not.  If the time has been invested to enter data in Salesforce (this is what the Sales Team should be doing) and our admin has put some effort to ensure users are enter quality data (see #1 – #3 for a few options)  that report for your VP of Sales will take no time to make.  One of my favorite things to do in Salesforce is to help managers and business leaders see their business in a new and different way, one way I’m able to do this is with reports and dashboards.

#5 Apps

AppExchange-logo-with-apps-7System admins can build apps using button click techniques to give their users access to only what is appropriate for their job role. But wait it gets better, admins can also install apps the from the AppExchange!  These are apps that are developed by other companies or by Salesforce themselves.  Between the AppExchange and everything I mentioned above the creative admin can do most anything.

It was hard to keep this post to the point so I may just have to revisit each of these topics in their own blogs with examples(maybe 5 examples)!  Hmm…I may have just come up with the next Saasy5 series!  What are your favorite clicks not code features of Salesforce and why?

Make sure to check out the Saasy5 Pinterest boards for this post for more.  Get ready!  Next week is all about Trailhead!

Visit Saasy5 on Pinterest each week I’ll have a board with pins to the resources I used to write the blog.  Here’s this week’s board. The Salesforce world is HUGE so let me know if I missed something that should be pinned and I’d be happy to pin it.

 

Community! Community! Community!

I’m a little overwhelmed getting started so I thought a series on a few of my favorite things (cue Sound of Music soundtrack) would be a good start. Over the next 5 weeks I’ll dig into my favorite Salesforce things!  It was hard to keep this list to 5 but I can’t go breaking my own rules on my first blog posts.  Here’s what you can expect:

  1. Community! Community! Community!
  2. We can do so much WITHOUT code.
  3. Blazing trails and learning for fun.
  4. Dreamforce, my favorite week of the year.
  5. Helping customers succeed!

So, let’s get down to it.  Community!  What is this magical thing and how can you be part of it?  Good news, it’s easy!  Get involved in a way that interests you, don’t worry I’ll walk though a few ways to get started.  The Salesforce Community has been vital to my Salesforce journey and is part of my daily life now.  It’s exactly what a community should be yet nothing like anything I’ve been part of before.  

#1 Success and Developer Communities

The Success Community recently reached 2 million members!  This means there are 2 million people connecting, sharing and helping each other just because they love Salesforce. I absolutely love the Success Community Groups, there are groups based on common geography, skills, industry, goals, interests, causes….the list goes on.

Salesforce Success

The Developer Community is very similar but focused on the development side of Salesforce.  This community has resources, training, and forums too!  In 2 weeks I’ll be posting an entire blog on Trailhead, a free learning resource from Salesforce and one of my favorite things!

Developer Community

To get connected I recommend setting up a developer org on your own, not through your employer.  This will allow you to keep your community history and connections if anything ever changes with your employer. (It’s a huge pain to start over when you change positions, I’ve done it!)  Using that org, start checking out forums, blogs and collaboration groups that interest you.   Then start following your favorite contributors and join conversations.  It’s that easy!

#2  MVPs – Our Knights in Shining Armor

knight-in-shining-armorA Salesforce MVP is someone who is recognized for contributing to the community in an impactful way.  They are awarded MVP through a nomination process that starts with US.  That’s right!  MVPs are not appointed by Salesforce executives with a sword across their shoulders in Marc Benioff’s office like a knight in shining armor.  WE get to nominate them for their outstanding contributions!  The amazing thing about MVPs is their willingness to constantly help the community.  

#3 Idea Exchange

Idea ExchangeThink you can help Salesforce product teams build a better product?  That’s what the Idea Exchange is for.   We get to share Ideas with Salesforce and the community to make the platform better.  The community votes and Salesforce product teams review and implement our Ideas.  This is a real thing! Ideas I’ve voted for have been implemented.  How cool is that!? (There’s a little more to it but those are the basics).

#4 Local User Groups

So all the virtual connections are great but maybe you still believe in the value of face-to-face interactions.  Join a local User Group, Women in Tech, or Developer Group.  To start finding these groups go to Featured Group tab in the Success Community or the Developers Meetups.  They meet to enjoy eachother’s company and learn about Salesforce.  So perfect, so simple, so fun.  

#5 Twitter

Twitter_logo_blueI got a Twitter account a few years back because a colleague said she uses Twitter to stay in the loop with Salesforce blogs and announcements.  So I joined the Twitter world and started following some of my community favorites, now my Twitter feed is basically all Salesforce!  I love it!

Don’t spend too much time worrying about the details, just get involved in ways that interest you and the connections, followers, retweets and good friends will come!  

Check out the Saasy5 Pinterest boards for this post for more.

Check out Saasy5 Pinterest boards, each week I’ll have a board with pins to the resources I used to write the blog.  Here’s this week’s board. Since the Salesforce world is HUGE let me know if I missed something that should have been pinned and I’d be happy to pin it.

My 5

Saasy5 is a blog of all things Salesforce, only I’m doing it by 5s. Each post will feature 5 things about a specific Salesforce topic and overtime I’d like to get you involved.  Along with the posts, links to Saasy5 Pinterest boards will be included with information that was useful while researching for the blog post.  My hope is that this space is beneficial to the community so your feedback is important to me.

Anyway, I figure it’s only appropriate to start with 5 things about yours truly (in no particular order)….

#1 I am a self taught Salesforce Developer. 

I learned Salesforce through the blogs and help articles on the internet.  Without the help of the community and few pushes along the way I would not know what I know today.  I’ve been in the Salesforce space since 2010; I started out implementing Salesforce for a small startup and grew into a system admin and now a developer for a consulting firm.  I love to learn so I’m always looking for the next thing to tackle.  If you want to know more about my Salesforce journey, check out Lauren Jordan‘s Girly Geek of the Week post.

#2 I am a co-chair of the Houston WIT User Group

As one of the leaders of the Houston Women in Technology group I’ve  become so much closer to the Salesforce community.  This group of people is so special to me, not only do they support and help me on my career journey but they have become true friends.  My recommendation, get involved in the community; you’ll expedite your learning, make new friends, and grow your network (all good things).

#3 I dream big.  Really big.

I want make a difference in any community I’m part of.  I want the way that I spend my time to drastically affect those around me in a positive way.  I’m not trying say that I think this little blog will change the world, what I really mean is that, for me, it’s more the hope that doing good for a few people each day (in my work, at home, at the store, in my church) will generate change that trickles way beyond me.

#4 I am working to get back in shape

Ok, so maybe this is a little personal, but I think it might also keep me accountable…  Over the last few years I’ve spent far too much time behind a screen and at Salesforce and/or company related happy hours (imagine that).  So, I’m spending more time moving and less time behind a screen.  I’m planning healthy meals so that I can enjoy those happy hours without guilt!  It’s interesting because I’m finding with just 30 minutes of motion a day I’m getting more work done in less time.  I’m also finding that I’m more creative and most of my best ideas come when I’m working out.  (The picture on the right is the trail that I run/walk!  Who wouldn’t want to spend a few minutes a day there?!)

#5 I love my family

I live with my husband and our two crazy cats in Houston.  We live across from a park and love spending time walking the park trail or seeing shows at the outdoor theater.  We also enjoy traveling to new places; near and far!

I hope you enjoy my blog!!!  Your feedback really is important to me, please please please let me know what I can do better or if there are topics you want to share your 5 about.