Archive for January, 2011

January 31, 2011

Are you ready for some football?!

Wait – there’s something wrong with that. Let’s try again…

Are you ready for some CHATTER?!?

There that’s better, although given the recent news, either title is really appropriate. Salesforce is gearing up for the primetime & plans to introduce the whole world to Chatter. And what better timing for me to do a Chatter post, seeing as my org just went live with it one week ago.

Probably the trickiest part about Chatter is that it’s an all-or-nothing features, and it’s a visible one to boot. We had to make sure that we did the proper prep work for go-live. And since our execs were already excited about Chatter Free, we really needed the initial rollout with the current Salesforce base to go well.

So how did we do it? First, we used our UAT sandbox to do some beta testing & gather reactions. This accomplished two things – we actually got the feedback (a lot of which was useful), but it also helped to build a buzz around Chatter & got people excited about what it was.

Secondly, we made a go-live plan. First, we decided to turn Chatter on over the weekend. This is mostly due to the fact that it’s a significant change to the UI & we didn’t want people freaking out. (You know how antsy end users get when just a field moves, heaven forbid a whole new section being added.) The weekend rollout also gave us time to add some meat to the bones of Chatter. We created some groups to mimic teams & pre-populated them with members. We also had team leaders & users involved in the beta log in & update their profile. This way, when all the new users logged in, they got a sense of what they were supposed to be doing.

Finally (which we actually did before the other two parts), we had a quick over view and Q&A session the Friday before go-live. These was more to prepare everyone for the change rather than to train them. (Let’s face it, Chatter is pretty intuitive.)

One tip that I think has help us immensely – We created a few general groups that we added everyone to (Chatter Feedback and Getting Started with Chatter). These have had a ton of traffic, but the great thing is that the Salesforce Experts are not the ones answering the questions here. Users are helping users, which is exactly what Chatter is about.

Have you gone live with Chatter? And if you have, what lessons about you learned? What would you have changed about your rollout?

January 24, 2011

Thoughts on Learning Salesforce

I was lucky enough to get my first Salesforce job as a transfer over from Sales, working for someone who had been using Salesforce since 1999. An OG is the Salesforce world for sure. The majority of my initial training came from her. I also started attended User Group meetings & learning from the folks I met there.

The true test came when the certification exams were announced. Would my ad-hoc education suffice? Answer: yup! I passed both the Admin and Dev Exams with no formal training. However, the subsequent exams that follow each release has definitely kept me on my toes.

And lastly, this past summer, I got to a point where I had to reach beyond what I could learn along my way, and I attended an offical training class – Getting Started with Object-Oriented Programing. This class was incredible, and you can read all about it over on Mike’s blog. I would encourage all button-clicking admins out there to take this class.

So what’s the answer? For me, the mixed approach was ideal. What was your approach? Did you do formal Salesforce training, or did you learn it all on the job? What would be your perfect training world?

January 10, 2011

Top Five of 2010

And while on popular new years topics, I thought a “Best Of” list was appropriate.  As Fergie sang in a song blaring as Dreamforce, this year’s event was “the best one yet.”  And while there were a lot of ‘best’ this year, I’ll focus on what I consider to be the best features release this year. (Disclaimer — obviously this list will be skewed by what my company uses & my skills as an Admin. By no means is am I downplaying other cool stuff, just my opinions.) So here goes…

5. Rich Text (Spring 10) – Very often, we want to call out specific things on a record. This was a simple & easy way to have rich text display on a page. We also use it on the user record to populate a personalized URL into everyone’s email signature!

4. Test Email Templates (Spring 10) – This one seemed like an obvious addition that had been missing for awhile that most of us admins had just found a work-around for (add internal users to your database & send the email to them). Having this is fantastic & being able to test from the template screen is a bonus!

3. Filter on lookup (Summer 10) – A huge win for both productivity & data quality!

2. Empty Chatter Emails (Winter 11) – For a tool that was touting productivity & reduced email clutter, the sending of empty Chatter emails was a huge turnoff. I think a lot of people were happy to see that they fixed this in the latest release.

1. Dashboard productivity (Summer 10) – Ok, I cheated a bit because I wrapped together the drag-and-drop, the grand totaling and the dynamic dashboards all into one. The drag-and-drop was the biggest win for me. Often getting tasked with building dashboards, the WYSIWYG interface was long overdue (now if only it was supported in Chrome). The ability to have totals on a table was a huge win. For too long, we had all been using the metric work-around, but that always ate up an extra element on the dashboard. Having it available to be included is awesome! As far as dynamic dashboards go – I haven’t implemented them yet, but I have a plethora of places I want to use this functionality. I wonder when we will get more than 3 of them.

What did I leave out that was a huge win for you?

January 3, 2011

Admin Resolutions

It’s that time of year again, when we think about how we can do better in the upcoming year. While I haven’t yet com up with a list for my personal life, the list for my Salesforce life was much easier.

  1. Remember that end users aren’t admins, nor should I expect them to be. – I struggle with this one a lot. It is all too easy for me to forget that while I ‘get’ data & think that everything Salesforce is easy, most people are not like me. I need to be more patient with them & remember that if they were as good as I want them to be with Salesforce, then I wouldn’t have a job.
  2. Roll out Chatter & get people excited about it. – I have been wanting to do this one for a long time. Following the announcement of Chatter Free, there was a lot of buzz around rolling it out at my company. I think this could be a huge win for my company & for me personally, exposing such a large audience to Chatter & the Salesforce platform.
  3. Share what I’ve learned – I guess that I have already started on this resolution (although to be fair, I should have finished this current post before the new year). I’ve learned so much from my other virtual co-workers, that I have to start paying it forward & sharing my lessons learned over the past 5+ years.

As a Salesforce admin or end users, what are your Salesforce resolutions?

(PS – 237 days until Dreamforce ’11)

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