Posts tagged ‘Idea Exchange’

October 5, 2012

Dreamforce Debrief

Two weeks later, and I feel like I’m finally back in a routine. That’s what Dreamforce does to me. The weeks leading up to it are filled with anticipation and excitement, and then afterwards, it takes me two weeks to digest and absorb everything that I learned. It’s a bit crazy if you think about it.

So what did I learn?

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February 3, 2012

Your Number’s Up

This week’s scheduled post about Spring ’12 will be seen at a later time due to this breaking news interruption.

OK, not breaking news, but that was my best impersonation of the¬†announcer¬†when they¬†interrupt¬†the show you’ve been looking forward to all week to tell you about something you don’t care about it. If you cared, you’d probably be watching the news. But I digress…

For anyone who has been using Salesforce reporting for any significant amount of time, you’ll know the analytics options leave much to be¬†desired. And if you’ve been watching the IdeaExchange or had attended the roadmap sessions at Dreamforce, you’ll know that big changes were coming soon. And you’ll also probably know how shocked & disappointed we all were when the release notes came out & all the awesome analytics functionality we had been waiting years for was listed as a paid add-on (and not a cheap one either). Cries of “Foul!” went up across the internet.

So what happened next?

No “corporate spring” as Benioff had warned companies against.

No reliving what happened to Netflix.

No repeat of what happened to Bank of America.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rn51PR1vNnM

What did Salesforce do instead? They practiced what they preach. They listened to their customers.

They listened to us, and included the analytics functionality in the core product. And they didn’t do it in the way that would be easiest to them (giving it to Unlimited Edition users only), they gave it to Unlimited AND Enterprise edition. This covers a majority of their customers, including the non-profits that get licenses for free. That’s huge!

There is no denying that Salesforce is eating their own dog food. They made a mistake, they heard it form their customers, and they fixed it (probably even better than we expected them to). And by doing so, they bought a ton of goodwill with their customer base. And the icing on the cake for Salesforce? They gave PE users just once more reason to upgrade.

S.O.C.I.A.L.

S.O.C.I.A.L.

March 18, 2011

Let’s make some magic…

Throughout my time using¬†Salesforce.com, I’ve been lucky enough to have tons of¬†opportunities¬†to network with other customers. One of the many patterns that starts to emerge is from new customers who are¬†struggling¬†to find a starting point. They hear others talking about all the cool & fun stuff they are doing, but have no idea how to have that ‘magic’ in their org.

Now, there are a lot of places to start, but one in particular has a “oooooo” factor in my opinion that gives it a real ‘magic’ feel – validation rules! These nifty little things hold a special place in my heart because they were the subject of the presentation I did the first time I was asked to speak at Dreamforce. (If you want to see that, it’s here – and I sound so totally terrified. How embarrassing!)¬†The great thing about validation rules is that they are fairly simple to set up, have that wow-factor & most importantly, it touches on one of the biggest problems that all databases experience – data quality!

One of my most¬†dreaded¬†projects was when we did territory alignment, but our address data was so messy. My first venture into validation rules took a stab at cleaning that up. Here are some of the first¬†validation¬†rules that I created way back when…

Short & sweet, but it prevents people from marking deals as won with a closed date in the future. (Conversely, if you wanted to prevent people from marking closed won deals in the past, all you need to do is flip the > sign.):

AND((ISPICKVAL(StageName, "Closed Won") ),(CloseDate > TODAY() ))

Another simple one that was a huge win for us was the first step in rolling out approval processes. We had a roll-up summary field that calculated the maximum product discount. If that was over the allowable amount for our sales reps (10%), a checkbox that was only editable by managers must be checked. It was a very simple solution to a complex problem, but it was our first step in the right direction.

AND(Discount_Max__c > .1),(Approved__c = False))

One word of caution – validation rules make data loads & fast testing a pain in the butt. I found this out as we started heavily using them, and I asked Salesforce for a bit of assistance fixing this issue. I understand why my idea is problematic, so I came up with a solution on my own. SAFE HARBOR – use this at your own risk!

I added a field to the User record that is only editable by Sys Admins, called Exempt from V Rules. Then I appended all of my validation rules with the following:

$User.Exempt_from_V_Rules__c = False

Obviously these are a very small sampling of validation rules. A majority of the time, these are something really simple that have big wins. Since these first initial rules, the validation rules I’ve written have gotten more complex, and I always have to be aware that end users will search for ways to game the system, but they are a really great tool in the fight against bad data.

Special thanks to Michael for help with the formatting of this post!

February 11, 2011

Why I love Salesforce.com

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d take the time to express my love for Salesforce. Now, being someone who has a blog, a Twitter handle, several email addresses & countless swag devoted to Salesforce, this post could potentially go on for awhile. But instead of focusing on all the great things about the product, I wanted to share why I love Salesforce, the company. And even when I think about the company – how they have the best user conference of all time, the engaging & wonderful employees, the 1-1-1 model that is so inspiring – that list can go on for awhile too.

Yet, even as I think about all that, there is still one reason that means more to me, and I think it was best said by a Salesforce employee that I was recently on a call with: “Our customers and our community create the brand.” They allow us, as customers, to have a voice in the discussion. And more than that, they truly care about what we say.

Did someone say prove it? You got it! They have the IdeaExchange, where suggestions from customers are heard, responded to, and very frequently¬†implemented¬†into the product. There’s the community site, where users can post questions & have discussions to really get the most out of their org’s instance of Salesforce. And the User Groups, which are a fantastic forum for face-to-face networking and brain-storming. If you’ve never attended one, it’s a must. I have even attended several unofficial Salesforce meetups, and made good friends because of this company. Salesforce really encourages their users to help each other. In 2009, they launched the Give Forward program for super users to volunteer their time & skills to help out non-profit organizations.

This all culminated at Dreamforce this year, with the first ever Community Conference – a half-day conference-within-a-conference to recognize what a fantastic community we have. Erica Kuhl, the Community Manager, announced the creation of the Salesforce Community MVP program to recognize important contributions to the community. (You can see the video here & yes, I am bragging a bit since I was one of them.) But I think it all goes to show what a great community there is, and how much Salesforce supports the growth of that community.

So Salesforce, I love you because you love & respect me. Will you be my Valentine?

Thanks to Kevin for the Force candy!

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?

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