Wed, 27 February 2019
On this episode of the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we talk to Sam Dorman, co-founder of the Build Tank, to find out how to properly resource your Salesforce team.
Join us as we talk about how Sam’s years of consulting have informed how you can properly implement Salesforce and resource a team to make that implementation last and be successful.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Sam Dorman.
More than just getting the keys to the car.
Like many, Sam is an accidental technologist. He noticed that a lot of organizations he respected were on the platform, so he talked someone into implementing it at his business. “To be honest, it was a big failure,” he says, but it started him down the path towards helping organizations do what they need to do to have a successful implementation.
“We’re at a different level now with the way we approach technology. You can’t just hope someone sets it up for you and tosses you the keys, it’s this big complex machine that takes a lot of strategy, time, effort, patience, and focus,” Sam says. At the Build Tank, they focus on helping companies build the internal capacity they need in order to implement cutting-edge technology.
The triangle that should guide implementation.
Sam and Build Tank put out a white paper to explain some of the common issues they see when people struggle with implementation. “When I first started consulting on Salesforce,” Sam says, he noticed that everything went well, “but only when I had someone internally that I was working with that could own all of the strategic decisions, that could communicate with people internally, and follow up on work.” Other times, they’d build great things only to come back six months later and find out that nobody’s using it, or the data collection is bad.
So initially, Sam’s work was all about making the case that the organizations he worked with needed to hire someone if they were going to implement new technology like Salesforce. But as an implementation continues to grow, “you see this great cycle of improvement start happening where people’s eyes start opening about what this system is capable of, how it can help them every day, and new ideas start coming out of the woodwork,” he says. Ultimately, technology like Salesforce can be transformational for every piece of the business and organization if that process is allowed to happen.
One way that the Build Tank conceptualizes what needs to happen is with a triangle of the three different areas of work: technical, human, and leadership. When you’re taking on a major tech project, you need to make sure that you have all three sides covered. As a Salesforce admin, you may find that you’re straddling more than one side of the triangle. The trick is to find someone to help you with the skillsets that you don’t have. That might be a new hire, or that might be someone already in your organization.
Outsourcing and insourcing.
Another way that you can help supplement your leadership is to look for things to outsource. In the white paper, Sam gets into six areas you can look at: database administration, architecture and development, user support and training, tools and integrations, data guardianship, and product management and leadership.
Database administration and data guardianship should eventually be internal, “but if you’re in a situation where your time is limited, those can be done off of a ticketing queue,” Sam says. You’ll want to own those eventually, but you can get by with outsourcing them for a little.
On the other hand, there are some things that you can’t outsource. User support and training need to be something you own. “It’s just not good enough to have a firm give everyone two trainings and then say good luck,” Sam says, “and if you’re at the scale where you can have people full time on that that’s some of the best investment you can possibly make.” Similarly, there’s no way you can ask someone externally to do everything they need for product management and leadership. That comes down to diplomacy and internal relationships, which simply can’t be outsourced.
Love our podcasts?
Subscribe today or review us on iTunes!
Full Show Transcript
Gillian Bruce: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast, where we talk about product, community and careers to help you become a more awesome Salesforce admin. I'm Gillian Bruce. And today folks, we've got another really fun, kind of best practices-themed episode for you. We talked to Shannon Greg, last week about a lot of things, but mostly about change management and adoption. And today on the podcast, we're kind of following up that theme. We're talking about how to properly resource your Salesforce team and in order to explain more about that and what it means and some great methodologies behind it, we are welcoming Sam Dorman to the podcast.
Gillian Bruce: Now, Sam is an amazing individual. He is super great person to know. He's the co-founder of The Build Tank, and he's done a lot of work with Salesforce organizations over the year as a consultant and has learned a lot of lessons about how to best set your organization up for success as you implement Salesforce. So wanted to get him on the podcast to share some of the things he's learned and have a good conversation. So without further ado, let's welcome Sam on the podcast. Sam, welcome to the podcast.
Sam Dorman: Oh thanks. Very good to be here.
Gillian Bruce: Thanks for coming to HQ on this rainy day to record with me. I appreciate it.
Sam Dorman: Yeah, it's fun. Nice. I'm glad to be here.
Gillian Bruce: Excellent. Well, I wanted to introduce you a little bit to our audience. And I do that with the same question that I asked all of our new guests. Sam, what did you want to be when you grow up?
Sam Dorman: Yeah. What did I want to be? I think there was a moment when I wanted to be second baseman for the Oakland A's. That's kind of good in a way that's good for a little kid, thinking he could be a professional athlete and it's a little bit mediocre too.
Gillian Bruce: When you think of the A's.
Sam Dorman: Well, yeah. Thanks a lot. No not just the A's but the second base thing. It's not like even shortstop would have been more respectable or center fielder, pitcher but I don't know what little kid wants to be the second, it's just a little bit of if you're going to pick a position, it's a little mediocre.
Gillian Bruce: I played second base for five years in softball, so I am partial to second base.
Sam Dorman: Me too, so I kind of just insulted us both but since I was in on it, I think it's okay.
Gillian Bruce: There we go. Okay so how did you go from wanting to the second baseman on the Oakland A's to now working in the Salesforce ecosystem? Tell me a little bit about that path.
Sam Dorman: That's sort of a depressing way to put it ... When did your dreams get ... Oh, no, it's inspiring, right? I don't know. How did I get into this work was, I was I think an accidental technologist. Like a lot of people. I was working with organizations and you had to figure out, do your technology and actually there was people that I respected that were on Salesforce and so I sort of haggled someone down and we implemented it. And to be honest, it was a big failure because we didn't do it justice, and we didn't staff it and whatnot. So that was the beginning of a long progression that really led towards helping organizations approach projects like this with with the capacity it needs, and with the kind of robust effort that it needs to be successful.
Gillian Bruce: Okay, so technology crossed your path because you were doing other things and trying to accomplish big things, and now here you go, "Oh, I need technology to make this happen." And then you try Salesforce for the first time and you have a big lesson. So tell me a little bit more about that.
Sam Dorman: Right. Well, that's not unique to Salesforce. Every technology undertaking takes a good amount of focus and time and yeah, and so that's, that's what we do now, what we help organizations do is just sort of realize that we're at a different sort of level now with the way we approach technology. It's no longer something that ... You can't just hope someone sets it up for you, tosses you the keys, it's as big complex machine, right? And it takes a lot of strategy. And it takes a lot of time and effort and patience and focus. So yeah, I think it's a lot of hard, hard earned, hard learned lessons to get there.
Gillian Bruce: Okay. So tell me a little bit about who is we, what are you doing now? What organization you're working with, and tell me a little bit more about the work you do.
Sam Dorman: Right. We are called The Build Tank, we are a consultancy, we help groups build really good high quality technology but with an extra focus on the internal capacity, building that kind of internal capacity saying, "We're past the point now where you can think of technology as something that you do off the side of somebody's desk or that you give to someone else." I mean, I guess this is the right podcast to be talking about this because this is probably the choir to be preaching to. But for a while it was a real fight, just to say, you need an admin, if this is going to work, get an admin.
Sam Dorman: And nowadays we've gone way past that, which is this actually can ... As your ambitions grow, and as what you're trying to do with the system grows and as the return on investment grows, you're going to need more capacity and more different types of capacity to support that. And there's an incredible return on that investment of those staff people, but sometimes there is an education in trying to get organizations to approach it in that way.
Gillian Bruce: Excellent. So one of the things that crossed my path when I was first introduced to you is this amazing white paper that you helped put out, not too long ago, and it was about kind of exactly this, kind of resourcing capacity, kind of how you set up your organization for success with namely Salesforce. So I'd love to dig into that a little bit. One of the high level things that came out to me originally is keynote, you've already kind of touched on this. We already know you know, we've been through the, "Hey, if you're using Salesforce, you do need to actually hire an admin or label someone as your admin." But now it's beyond that. So tell me a little bit more about kind of dedicating a resource and how you talk to leadership, how you talk to organizations about making that a priority.
Sam Dorman: Yeah. And maybe this is to your earlier question a little bit, too. When I first started consulting on Salesforce, you'd really notice there was a group I was helping in particular and there would be times when everything would be going great. And it was when I had someone internally that I was working with, that could own all the strategic decisions and could communicate with people internally and follow up on work. And there are other times where we're building great stuff and handing it over and then six months later, you come back and no one's using it, or they're using it wrong and the data is bad. And I think every one who does consulting can relate to those kinds of experiences and a lot of people that use it internally in their organization. So I think you start to see these patterns after a while and really in the old days it was, the old days is only-
Gillian Bruce: Just a few years.
Sam Dorman: A few years back, yeah. But it really was about making the case for a single person. And that used to be the pitch when I was helping consult with groups I would say, "Yeah I'll help you but you gotta hire someone, because I don't want to build something and I don't want to help you do something that just doesn't achieve its mission."
Gillian Bruce: Yeah, it's got to be very unfulfilling.
Sam Dorman: Yeah exactly. And then of course there's lots of blame to go around too when something doesn't work. That's not fun from anybody's point of view. So really it became about saying ... So initially it was about making that case and then as the organization ... You see this great cycle of improvement start happening where people's eyes start opening about what is this system capable of and now it's starting to help everybody do their work in better ways every day and every week and then new ideas start coming out of the woodwork, and when you really limit our capacity, then you'll just limit on your own ability to innovate and take advantage of those opportunities, and eliminate those frustrations and eliminate those places where staff are repeating work or doing things in a duplicative way.
Sam Dorman: So we really sort of learned working with a lot of organizations over time how to increase that capacity a little bit proactively when possible, so that the organization didn't have to slow down on its own innovation cycle. So many times systems like Salesforce have the super chargers, these technologies, super chargers, right? Where they affect ... It's not really just a technology thing, it affects every piece of the business and every piece of the organization around it, if you can let that cycle happen. And so after having helped enough organizations do that kind of thing. But you know, we've stayed small as a consultancy sort of on purpose. And so people would be asking us, how do we structure this? You help that group, you help this group and so we the purpose of the white paper was really about can we put these resources out so more people can take advantage of them more than a couple groups we can work with at any given time?
Gillian Bruce: Right? Because yeah, you have limited capacity.
Sam Dorman: Right. That's right. Yeah. I guess I should be taking my own medicine on that one. But-
Gillian Bruce: Well, you're scaling by sharing-
Sam Dorman: There you go, yeah, well done.
Gillian Bruce: So another aspect that you kind of covered in the white paper was that it's beyond just the technical skill set and kind of building those other skill sets as well. So knowing technology, knowing Salesforce, and how it works is great, It's very necessary, but that's like one level and one layer to all of this. Can you talk a little bit more about some of the other things that you've kind of come across in terms of what are really important to help you increase the capacity and the resources?
Sam Dorman: Yeah, absolutely. There is in the white paper, which I should say you can download for free at thebuildtank.com. That's thebuildtank.com.
Gillian Bruce: It's also in the show notes.
Sam Dorman: Oh, there you go. In the show notes, people. There is a triangle diagram that shows the three different areas of work covered and people said, "This is very helpful for them to get their minds around." So a lot of times, we think about the admin role. And we think about tech capacity in general as very technical. And by all means, that's a piece of it, that's a piece of the capacity needed. But that's just one side of the three sides of this triangle. The other two are human, meaning all the support and training and re-support and retraining that people need on an ongoing basis, right? And then the third is leadership. And that's all the diplomacy and the communication that has to happen around the organization. And budgeting and a strategic roadmap to say, "This is where our investments are going to go, the highest value return on our time and our effort and our money."
Sam Dorman: So really, it's those three sides of leadership, the technical and the human, you have to cover all of them and you can outsource some pieces and you have to in-source other pieces. But the point is, all three of those sides have to be covered or you're going to be in trouble at one of them.
Gillian Bruce: And that's a lot. I mean, we talk about that, Salesforce admins are often at the intersection of all these things at a company. And so you may be super well-versed and process builder, and writing flows and all of those things. But if you don't have that element of understanding how to connect to your users, and to your stakeholders, and kind of get buy in, and adoption, all that stuff, that is kind of that secret admin magic that we like to talk about a lot.
Sam Dorman: That's so well said. And my partner Chris Zezza who comes up with a lot of the most brilliant stuff that I get to talk about, he wants sort of said, just out of nowhere, he said, "Everybody likes to geek out on something." And that's really true, but often it's not the ... Sometimes you get the same person who wants to do two sides of this triangle or maybe even three, but more often you have some people who just they'd love to be under the hood fixing the car full-time, and that's their strength.
Sam Dorman: You have some people who are great trainers, and they love training and they love supporting and they don't see that as a burden or like a ticket queue they have to fear, they're like the best investment the way they'd love to spend their time is looking over someone's shoulder and saying, "Yeah, here's how you do that. Yeah, no problem. I'll show you again." And that's where the value of that is incredibly sky high.
Sam Dorman: And then you have some people who just get the big picture, and that's what they want to do. They want to sort of say, "Okay, I don't need to know all the details under the hood, but I know where we're headed." And so let me help us get there. And let me try to get rid of hurdles before they come and get buy in from people and leaders around the organization. So what we found is when you know that you're trying to cover these different sides of this triangle that helps you really form the roles and hire for it. So you're not just hiring all technical people for what are non-technical positions and vice versa.
Gillian Bruce: Absolutely. Because, I mean, there are so many ways to build up those skill sets, right? And a lot of times, I find a lot of really, truly awesome admins. Rockstar admins, actually kind of learned Salesforce as the last piece of that, right? They kind of already have some of those other skill sets either the kind of the strategic vision stuff or wanting that drive to be able to help and enable others and then they layer on top kind of learning Salesforce as they go and oftentimes that kind of sets them up for being the most successful.
Sam Dorman: Yeah, that's such a great point, and it reminds me that often when we're working with groups we'll say, a lot of times you can find great talent, just latent talent in your organization. Because the primary thing that you're looking for a lot of these types of positions, this is not true across the board, but a lot of positions, the primary thing you're looking for is not a ton of depth with the Salesforce platform. That can be learned, that's one of the great things about the Salesforce platform. If someone gets the bug, they can train themselves up, they can experiment with this. They can get a developer account or whatever they want to do-
Gillian Bruce: Got Trailhead for that-
Sam Dorman: Trailhead. Yeah, exactly. I mean there's so many resources. So every organization we've ever worked with, there are one or more people who are just sitting there in a job that's not using them as well to their potential, who are just excited about, it just clicks for them, and you can recruit them into this, and oftentimes it's a promotion for them or a learning opportunity for them. And they know the organization and they have relationships and they know who to talk to, and they know what the organization is trying to do. And that can be so much more effective sometimes. So that's the first place we'll start when we're looking to hire, we'll do job listings and we'll help organizations screen people, who are brand new and you can get great people that way too, but we'll often just start by just trying to find who's in here, who's an untapped superstar in waiting.
Gillian Bruce: That's a really excellent point, because I literally have heard hundreds of stories of people like that who are in an organization where they were in a role but not really using all their skill sets and then they kind of get this opportunity or it gets presented to them or they seek it out themselves of taking on Salesforce and then boom, their career just completely takes off. -
Sam Dorman: Yeah, you see a left and right and so you figure ... And there's such a ... Salesforce talent is so in demand. So if you're always waiting for the person who proved themselves with their last job, we figured it out at their last job or two jobs ago, it's a lot harder and you're paying a lot more, and they're worth it, I should say that. But at the same time there's people left and right who could become those next stars for you, who they're happy to be learning and you probably get a little bit of a deal on their salary, at least initially. And then once they're superstars then you really got to pay them well to retain them.
Gillian Bruce: Well, you get to help them grow their career.
Sam Dorman: That's right. Right, as long as you don't continue to take advantage them, right admins?
Gillian Bruce: Exactly. I'm sure we have lots of people saying, "Yeah."
Sam Dorman: I probably said something poorly there, but I meant well.
Gillian Bruce: I think it came across all, we got the good part. So one of the things you kind of mentioned was outsourcing specific task or specific type of work. Can you dig in a little bit more to that because we talk about kind of looking for the things that help make a Salesforce implementation successful, we talked about kind of the different skill sets. When can you figure, you've got a tight budget or you got take resources, how do you figure out what to outsource, what not to outsource?
Sam Dorman: Yeah. The white paper has these three sections, one talks about the essential areas of work. The second session is what you can and can't outsource exactly. And then the third section is about how the ... Actual structure for how the team can grow. And so I think people are sometimes surprised by this piece of what you can and can't outsource. The six areas just to fly through them real quickly are the database administration, that's the sort of setup menu stuff, you've got architecture and development, all the building and making sure that it's on a solid foundation, user support and trainings already talked about, tools and integrations, all those amazing tools you can plug in, but somebody's got to be the expert on those. Data guardianship, make sure you have data integrity and then the on I talked about already, product management and leadership.
Sam Dorman: So then we say, "Okay, well, what are the things you can't outsource?" Well, there's a couple of them that people really ... They often do outsource which are the architecture and development, usually groups will pull in a partner for a good reason because you want someone that's just got a lot of depth on the platform has seen a lot of different things and will have that lockdown.
Gillian Bruce: It's a nice way to build the thing, right?
Sam Dorman: All the best practices, exactly. And we'll struggle through all that learning so that you can get the benefit of it. And tools in integrations is in the same category. You want to ask the partner, "What are my choices for my needs for mailing tools?" Or whatever the things might be. Then there's another category we call semi-outsourceable. And this is I think where a lot of admins first start but we actually say this is sort of semi-outsourceable, which is database administration, all the Setup Menu stuff and data guardianship. And some people will be like, "No, we have to be internal with that stuff." And it's true you should eventually bring that stuff internal.
Sam Dorman: All that, so many stuff and making sure that the data has integrity. But if you're in a situation where your time is really limited, those can be done off of the ticket and queue. You can pull in a partner, that's a really good partner, and you have good communication and you're managing that and they can execute that kind of stuff, even if it's as simple as setting up new licenses for somebody or customizing those pieces.
Gillian Bruce: That's a really interesting point. Because yeah, I think, I mean, I've never thought of those as things that you would have an external person do.
Sam Dorman: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: But I mean, to your point, those are things that any external person you hire is going to know how to do and if it takes some time off of your huge list and you can focus on more kind of important things. It's a great perspective, I'm really proud of that.
Sam Dorman: Yeah, well, and I think in an ideal world you would bring those in. So even if you have those externally, it's not going to make sense for very long. But the only reason you would outsource those is because there's a cut ... The other two areas you are not outsourcable, or absolutely cannot be outsourced. And those are two things. One is the user support and trainings. It's just not good enough to have a firm give everyone two trainings, and then say, "Good luck." Because this is not how human beings work, right?
Gillian Bruce: People do that all the time, right?
Sam Dorman: People do that all the time, which is, it's sort of like we're checking the training box on some checklist somewhere. But it's not how human beings learn. You learn by someone shows you and you're like, "Okay, it makes sense." Then you go back to your desk, and if you're lucky, you do it that day, but probably don't do it for a few days or maybe weeks. And then you're like, "How did this happen again? How does this work?" And so you need someone you can turn to and say, "Hey, can you show me how to do this again?" And they come over, "Share it here. Let me show you how to do it again." And as many times as it takes. That's how humans learn. And once they do it as part of their day-to-day, then they start to get it. And so if you're pretending everybody should just come to a training once or twice and then get it you're asking for trouble. You're asking for people to either make mistakes in how they use it or just eventually bail out and keep their own shadow systems.
Sam Dorman: So user support and training is just something that we say, "That's got to be managed internally." You got to have people whose job it is. And if you're at the scale where you can have people full time on that, that's some of the best investment you can possibly make. And the second part is the leadership piece, product management leadership. There's no way you can ask someone externally to do all of the diplomacy, all of the communication, have the really relationships with leadership, be arguing for budget, being able to create a product roadmap that takes your priorities, your organization's priorities into account, it's just asking too much. So those are the top two things that cannot be outsourced. And everything else relative to that can be outsourced.
Gillian Bruce: So it's like, prioritize those things and then kind of continue down the list if you can. One thing that popped up for me is, we talked in the beginning about the different skill sets and so it seemed to me that those last two we talked about the ones that absolutely cannot be outsourced are those human and strategic skill sets, and that technical skill set can kind of ... There's pieces, you can definitely kind of outsource especially as you're getting up and running.
Sam Dorman: That's exactly right. And I think that's what's really ... It's unintuitive to people initially and just like myself, when I started it was it's the technical pieces that I was all excited about doing. I would just want to geek out on ... In the setup menu and whatever else.
Gillian Bruce: Totally, it's super fun, yeah.
Sam Dorman: Yeah, that's where the fun stuff is. And so we certainly wouldn't discourage anyone from doing that. But I think for organizations that are setting up new it definitely is a mind shift to say the highest order things that we can manage internally are the leadership pieces and the human-to-human support and training. And the technical stuff, there are so many resources to outsource that and you do want to bring it in at some point. As soon as you have even three people on a team you have one leadership, one technical, one human, that's great. So it's not that it's unimportant, it's the most outsourceable out of the three sides you have to cover.
Gillian Bruce: Well, and I think when you think of an organization, the technical skills, those are pretty similar. You could be a Salesforce admin and have an admin certification and, you know all those skills, you could apply them to many different types of organizations. But when you're talking about that human element, and that strategic, that leadership element, that's going to be really different, depending on which organization, right? Because it's about the human connections and the different relationships and things like that.
Sam Dorman: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, the human piece, we're constantly sort of sending out write ups, we'll sort of think through things by writing. So if people want to sign up for our updates, you can go to thebuildtank.com and sign up.
Gillian Bruce: I like the plugs, this is good content.
Sam Dorman: Yeah, I've got to, working on that. But, we were just talking about this human piece as technology in service of right? And this idea of get off from behind your ticket and queue. There's this sort of traditional mentality, which is people need things, users need things and that's a burden on my time. It's like okay, "Enter the thing in the ticketing system, I'll get to when I can." And what we're trying to say is, there's a whole shift in mind-frame that can really supercharge your organization. And that is to say, let's get out from behind that ticket and queue and get out there and help people that need help with the system. Because your best advocates, your best users, your best ideas are all out there. And if you get out there and mix it up with them, that's when you start to see the cycle improvement really start take off.
Gillian Bruce: So there's a term that we have talked about a few times over the years and it's called SABWA. It's a abbreviation of Salesforce Administration by Walking Around.
Sam Dorman: Nice.
Gillian Bruce: Mike Gerholdt, our original Salesforce admin evangelist, came up with this and he's like, "Yeah." He said, "You can get stuck behind your ticketing system, but if sit down and have a cup of coffee with your user and ask to see how they're logging a call that does so much more to improve your relationship with that user, improve your understanding of user experience and then you understand as an admin had a better build and customize too, enhance their experience."
Sam Dorman: Amen. I love that, SABWA.
Gillian Bruce: SABWA.
Sam Dorman: I like it.
Gillian Bruce: Or you see like a machete movement when you do that, SABWA.
Sam Dorman: SABWA. They can't see that on the recording. But Gillian does a nice little motion along with that. They can't hear it, right?
Gillian Bruce: Totally.
Sam Dorman: Or in tweeting it.
Gillian Bruce: Absolutely. Everyone do SABWA as you're listening to the podcast.
Sam Dorman: Right. I wonder how many people just did.
Gillian Bruce: I want a photo or video of that.
Sam Dorman: Yeah. Tweet it or something.
Gillian Bruce: Exactly. Well, Sam, I so appreciate you taking the time to chat with us. I feel like we could talk for probably hours about all this stuff.
Sam Dorman: I'm down. Let's keep going.
Gillian Bruce: Hey, we told you-
Sam Dorman: Two-hour podcast.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah, we will definitely have you back. Don't worry, we'll do part two. But before I let you go for this one, I have to ask you lightning round question.
Sam Dorman: I don't know what that means. But I'm up for it.
Gillian Bruce: Excellent. First thing that comes to mind, no right or wrong answer. All right, so it is winter time here in Northern California. What is one of your favorite wintertime activities?
Sam Dorman: Oh, okay I love walking in the rain with my daughters.
Gillian Bruce: Walking in the rain?
Sam Dorman: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: Tell me more.
Sam Dorman: Well, because I feel like with kids you can either sort of model that you're scared of something like, "Oh we have to hide from the rain." Or you can just sort of embrace it. Our house started to flood that wasn't at first very fun and I'm sitting out there because the storm drain backed up so, I'm sitting out there scooping bucketfuls of water into the garbage can. I look in the window and they're looking at me with this sort of like there's a crisis face, this worried crisis face and I was like, "Oh yeah, this could be fun." So then we made a game out of it. They came out we're all getting wet and scooping bucket fulls of water into the trash can to wheel them away into the street. So it just like you get those opportunities to make some fun out of something challenging.
Gillian Bruce: That's awesome, that's great. I'm envisioning lots of great rubber rain-boots, and splashing of puddles.
Sam Dorman: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: Good times.
Sam Dorman: Exactly, yeah.
Gillian Bruce: That's great.
Sam Dorman: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: Cool. Well, thank you again so much for joining us.
Sam Dorman: Thanks for having me.
Gillian Bruce: I'm really happy to have connected with you and I'm excited to keep connected with you and get you back on the pod and not too long.
Sam Dorman: Likewise, I enjoyed it. But what did you want to be when you were growing up?
Gillian Bruce: Oh man, I wanted to be She-Ra, Princess of power.
Sam Dorman: Oh, nice.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah.
Sam Dorman: And it came true.
Gillian Bruce: Well, that's nice.
Sam Dorman: No, no, no.
Gillian Bruce: You're the owner of SABWA!
Sam Dorman: Nice.
Gillian Bruce: All right, Thanks again so much Sam.
Sam Dorman: Thanks Gillian, yeah, bye.
Gillian Bruce: Well, that was fun. I had a great time chatting with Sam. He has so much expertise to share with us from all of his years in consulting and helping organizations implement Salesforce and learn how to properly resource a team to make that implementation last and be successful. Some of the top highlights I got from our conversation were first this idea of this magic pyramid, this admin magic pyramid, if you will, there are three sides to it. The technical side, you have to understand how to technically use the platform and build on it.
Gillian Bruce: Secondly, the human side which involves a lot of support and training, and that is ongoing. And then thirdly, this leadership side about diplomacy and communication, things like budgeting, setting a vision, all three of those are really key to making your Salesforce implementation work. One of the terms he used was that Salesforce can be a technology supercharger for your organization, which is a really powerful way to view what Salesforce can do. But it can only do that if you give it the proper resources and you set your organization up in a way to really take advantage of the power of the platform.
Gillian Bruce: Now, when we think of those three sides, some of the things that Sam pointed out was think of those three sides as you're hiring your Salesforce team. So find people who like to specialize and maybe one of those three things. Maybe they like to get really knee deep in the technology. Or maybe you have someone who's a very great people person, loves to help people solve problems. Or maybe you have someone who is very much about the big picture and setting that strategic vision.
Gillian Bruce: Now, if you could get all three of those in one person, fantastic. But as your Salesforce organization grows, you're probably going to want to make that a more robust team and make sure that you've got someone to fulfill each side of that pyramid. Now, the other great conversation we had was about outsourcing versus non-outsourcing. Now you can find all of this in the white paper. Of course, I've linked to it in the show notes that he wrote. But just as a quick high level overview, there's kind of three categories of outsourcing, stuff you can, stuff you kind of can outsource, at least in the beginning, and then stuff that you absolutely cannot. It has to be internal. And then that first bucket of stuff that you can outsource, things like architecture and development, tools and integrations, those are absolutely things you can use a partner for.
Gillian Bruce: Now that semi-outsourceable bucket, at least in the beginning is interesting because these are things that you maybe not would typically think that you can outsource. But you absolutely can, especially if you're just trying to get up and running. Now those are things like database administration, data guardianship. Now I know a lot of organizations get a little nervous about outsourcing that, but think about it as a great way to kind of get up to speed, so that you have your implementation in place. Because that last bucket of stuff, you cannot outsource things like user support and training, product management and leadership. Those are the most important pieces, that kind of human element to making sure that your Salesforce implementation is successful.
Gillian Bruce: So lots of great stuff from Sam's conversation. As you heard us say, we could probably talk for hours about all of this. I hope it was really helpful for you. If you want to learn a little bit more about some of the things I chatted with Sam about in this episode, we've got lots of resources for you in the show notes. First of all, go check out Sam's organization thebuildtank.com. You'll find the white paper there resourcing, your product team. And we've got content on trailhead that talks all about implementation. So check out the innovation solution module and the Sales Cloud rollout strategy module. Both of those links are in the show notes as well. Great places for you to get started as you're thinking about kind of putting together your teams and rolling out Salesforce.
Gillian Bruce: As always, please remember to share this great episode and the podcast with your friends, your Salesforce Ohana. Anybody who's interested in learning more about being a more awesome admin or maybe getting into the Salesforce ecosystem. Make sure you subscribe to get the latest and greatest episodes delivered to your platform of choice the moment they are released every Thursday. As always, you can find more great content on admin.salesforce.com, including blogs, webinars, events, and even more podcasts. You can find us on Twitter @SalesforceAdmns And you can find our guest today, Sam @Samdorman, pretty easy Twitter handle and myself @gilliankbruce. Thank you so much for listening to this episode and we'll catch you next time in the cloud.
Fri, 15 February 2019
On this week’s Salesforce Admins Podcast we’ve got Shannon Gregg, President of Cloud Adoption Solutions and author of It’s About Time. We discuss the ins and outs of adoption from her unique position as both someone who consults in it and also as a researcher studying it for her Ph.D. dissertation.
Join us as we talk about what you can do as an admin to position Salesforce in your organization to make it successful and help your users become more efficient.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Shannon Gregg.
That feeling when you fall in love with Salesforce.
Shannon first encountered Salesforce because she was running the Sales department of her company. “They were like, ‘Here you go, you run sales operations, therefore Salesforce comes along with it,’” Shannon says. “Once I started digging around inside of it, I was instantly hooked,” she says. A lot of the work she was already doing used Excel to track things like RFIs and pricing volumes, but Salesforce took that to the next level.
The organization Shannon was working for was acquired by another company, which didn’t have a true Sales Operations department. “When I got to work for that company, I came in and said, ‘Now let’s look at the power Salesforce can give us for collaboration, for communication, and find the best way for us to sell,’” she says. That approach worked great, and as the business continued to grow and make more acquisitions, Salesforce use just kept growing and growing. “Our board of directors just loved it,” she says, “they loved the ability to look at their phone at 2 o’clock in the morning as see what’s happening with their business.”
How a governance committee can give you support for broader adoption.
“One of the things I love the best about adoption is opening somebody else’s eyes to help them see the power of the platform to help them be more efficient and effective in their workday,” Shannon says. If you want someone to commit themselves fully to Salesforce, they need to understand what’s in it for them. It’s a simple goal to shoot for, but takes a lot of effort and thinking to make it happen.
Beyond that, establishing a governance committee can be a big help towards encouraging broader adoption in your org. Shannon recommends figuring out which executive ultimately is responsible for the Salesforce spend at your business and getting them involved. Get them on Chatter, help them get the Dashboards they need, get them to better understand the platform and they’ll be a big mouthpiece for you. Look at people in Sales, Finance, Project Management, the people who are involved in Salesforce every day or who require the outputs, and meet regularly to go over what’s working and what’s not.
Balancing your Awesome Admin goals.
Managing all of the demands on your time as a Salesforce Admin is tricky. “You could be doing this job 24 hours a day, and many of us would like to because we love it that much,” Shannon says, “but for me, I like to say what am I managing by metrics and what am I managing by objective?” Look at your own metrics as a Salesforce Admin to make sure that you’re getting your bigger goals done, and find a way to visualize it, whether that’s Calendar View, the Kanban Board, or a custom Dashboard.
The research Shannon is doing on adoption.
“My Ph.D. dissertation is really focused on engagement and time-to-mission,” Shannon says. She’s looking at how nonprofits use Salesforce to allow them to improve productivity while also being more controlled with what they’re doing day to day. She’s working closely with nonprofit user groups to learn the challenges of engagement and implementation, which ultimately affects how effectively they can reach their goals.
Shannon’s research combines IT theory, change management theory, and adult education theory, all three of which combine to create engagement. “Engagement is so fantastic for us internally,” she says, “because it gives us time for critical mission work; and it’s also so important for communities because so many people are using Salesforce in an external way as well.” It’s that special mix of technical tools that help organizations get their real-world goals done better that makes Salesforce magical.
Love our podcasts?
Subscribe today or review us on iTunes!
Full Show Transcript
Wed, 13 February 2019
Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast we have another great PepUp Tech story from Sasha Manford, Salesforce Admin at Carl Marks Advisors. We get a chance to hear her amazing career story and how she moved from a power user to a full-blown admin.
Join us as we talk about building your career, Selina Suarez’s amazing mentorship, and the entrepreneurial spirit you need to be a great Salesforce admin.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Sasha Manford.
The Salesforce Princess.
Like many admins, “my journey to Salesforce started accidentally,” Sasha says. She was working at a company that really invested in employee training and happened to use Salesforce to keep track of everything. “I remember the first day of orientation I was so enamored with the platform,” she says. She took to it quickly as a user, and when the previous admin left she took over the role. It came with a great new nickname: the Salesforce Princess.
As a new admin, Sasha needed a lot of help to get started, “but that’s the great thing about the Salesforce ecosystem—everybody wants to help you out,” she says. Between Trailhead and user groups, she felt fully supported by the community as she grew into her new role. Her company had major struggles with Salesforce, however, so after about a year, she had to leave her position. Before that, however, Sasha attended a Women in Tech User Group meeting where she met Selina Suarez.
The amazing mentorship of Selina Suarez and PepUp Tech.
As soon as Sasha told Selina her story, “she immediately was like, ‘Here’s my number, text me, come to the Word Tour and find me.’” When she went to that event (on her birthday!), Selina took her around and introduced her to just about everybody. “It was the most magical day of my life,” she says, and just like that Sasha was signed up for the Spring semester of the PepUp Tech Bootcamp.
Sasha actually got a job before class had even begun, in part thanks to a book Selina recommended called Knock ‘em Dead. Even though she had a Salesforce position, the bootcamp was super valuable. “I was able to learn a lot of stuff I never knew I was able to do on the platform,” she says.
Currently, Sasha is a Salesforce admin at Carl Marks Advisors, a financial services firm. When she was interviewing, she was nervous because she only had a year of admin experience under her belt. Throughout the process, however, Selina was like a guiding angel. “I told Selina that they’re wary of me because I don’t have my certification,” she says, “and Selina was like, ‘Who cares? Read the book, study up on the company, and knock ‘em dead.’”
The keys to being an awesome admin (it’s not just your tech skills).
“Being a Salesforce admin I feel like I’ve grown so much—it’s helped me have a voice,” Sasha says. “Being an admin, you really have to have an entrepreneurial spirit,” she says, “you’re in charge of the platform, you are the guru, you are the expert.” Because of that, you’re in charge of your own work and responsible for your own growth. “People look to me for help, and to me, that’s the biggest achievement ever,” she says.
After getting the job, Sasha started immediately looking for problems that needed to be solved to prove that they hired the right person. She fixed her company’s Box integration, created custom dashboards for a user, and generated a timeline to clean up their instance.
Moving forward, Sasha is focusing on the finer points of being a great admin. “A lot of people think that being an admin is technical; it’s technical but you also have to have really great people skills,” she says. “You’re going to be dealing with a lot of people who have different personalities who don’t want to use the platform, and you have to persuade them.” It’s challenging, but it also means that there’s something to look forward to every day at work.
Love our podcasts?
Subscribe today or review us on iTunes!
Full Show Transcript
Gillian Bruce: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins podcast where we talk about product, community, and careers to help you become a more awesome Salesforce admin. I'm Gillian Bruce. Today we have another great PepUp Tech story for you.
Gillian Bruce: This story is from Sasha Manford, who I got the opportunity to meet and chat with at the world tour in New York City in December. She has an amazing story to share. She has an incredible career story that I'm excited to get her on the podcast to talk more about, to help inspire all of us listeners, but also some really good tips about how to be a great admin. So without further ado, let's get Sasha on the podcast.
Gillian Bruce: Sasha, welcome to the podcast.
Sasha Manford: Are we recording?
Gillian Bruce: Yes, we are. You are live.
Sasha Manford: Thank you for having me.
Gillian Bruce: Oh, my pleasure. Thank you so much for coming up and taking the time to chat with me.
Sasha Manford: Of course, of course.
Gillian Bruce: We are here in New York City, which ... I'm here for the world tour, and this is where you work and call home. That is awesome. Yeah. I wanted to get you in the podcast because you've got a great story and I want to definitely dig in and just start sharing that with our listeners. But before we get into all that, I'd love to start with the question, Sasha, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Sasha Manford: When I was little, I was really fortunate to go to really good public school. One of my favorite teachers was my fourth grade teacher, Ms. Derulo, and her teaching style ... I looked forward to going to her class all the time and I wanted to become a teacher because of her.
Gillian Bruce: Oh, that's awesome. That is great. So you wanted to be a teacher, and now you are working in the Salesforce ecosystem. Connect the dots for me. Tell me a little bit more about your journey.
Sasha Manford: My journey to Salesforce started accidentally. I was working at this startup company called [On the Roam. 00:00:02:09] The bread and butter of the company is presentation training and public speaking. But I love that they had a message that they wanted to train everybody to be confident and to basically get over themselves and realize that in life, it's not all about you. It's about what kind of message you're delivering.
Sasha Manford: I was there, and they used Salesforce to track different deals that they were working on; different clients they were working on. I remember the first day of orientation I was so enamored by the platform, I said, "Wow."
Sasha Manford: While everybody else was stumbling, I was able to pick up on how to enter an account, had to enter a contact. My favorite part to this day is running reports. I love running reports and creating dashboards is especially enlightening. It's just, for me, a magical experience.
Sasha Manford: When the admin left at that company, I kind of took on the role. I started learning through Trailhead, and also going to different user groups as well, meeting with different peers who knew the platform so well and were willing to help me out.
Sasha Manford: That's the great thing about the Salesforce ecosystem. Everybody wants to help you out. Nobody is like, "Oh no, I'm not going to teach you. You're going to steal my role." No, it's not like that at all. Everybody is super friendly and willing to help you out.
Sasha Manford: I was there for about a year. It was challenging because the adoption was hard, and of course you run into issues like data integrity. Because it was such a small company, they found Salesforce to be a beast, a monster, so unfortunately I got let go around January of this year actually.
Sasha Manford: But before that, I met Selina at a women in tech user group.
Gillian Bruce: Selina Suarez?
Sasha Manford: Selina Suarez, yes, the founder of PepUp Tech. Before I went to the user group meeting, I did my research on her and I did my research on PepUp Tech. I'm like, "Wow, I wish this was around when I was learning Salesforce."
Sasha Manford: But of course with Salesforce, you never stop learning. There's so much to learn.
Gillian Bruce: So much. It's a huge platform.
Sasha Manford: It's a huge, huge platform. When I went there, I met her. I told her my story. She immediately was like, "Here's my number. Text me, come to the world tour. Look for me at the world tour." And I did, I went to the world tour. I remember it was on my birthday last year. It was the most magical day of my life.
Sasha Manford: Selina immediately grabs me by the hand and was like, "Here, this is x, y, z. This is this person. Get to know this person." She just took me in. She told me like, registration for the spring class, "We'll be opening up soon and you should register for it."
Sasha Manford: A couple months went by. She also recommended a book called Knock 'em Dead, which also helped me land my job, my current role, actually. I read that book through and through, and it helped me do really well at my current job, because I went through six rounds of interviews and three technical tests.
Gillian Bruce: That's a lot of hoops to jump through.
Sasha Manford: Yeah, a lot of hoops. Because you know, they don't want to just hire anybody. They really wanted to make sure I knew my stuff. Through that process I had spoke to Selina. She helped me out, and I was able to land the job before I started PepUp Tech class.
Gillian Bruce: That's great.
Sasha Manford: I kind of did it backwards. I did PepUp Tech. I did the boot camp while I was a newbie at my job. Through the boot camp I was able to learn a lot of stuff that I never knew I could do within the platform.
Gillian Bruce: That's great.
Sasha Manford: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: That's great. So, you started basically as a user of Salesforce.
Sasha Manford: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: I love that as a user you were already in love with running reports and using dashboards, because I always feel like that's ... If you see a user who's like really about that, it's like, "Oh, that's a sign. Maybe they want to be an admin someday."
Sasha Manford: Exactly, yeah. It's something else. The platform is really something. There's so much you can do with it, and the fact that you can customize it ... I know if I was a sales manager using Salesforce, I would be totally motivated to use it every single day.
Sasha Manford: I would be curious to see how my teammate is doing, and that would motivate me to bring in more deals.
Gillian Bruce: Right, and just have that, be able to bring in all that data. Oh, I totally get you. And the little competitive side inside of me would be like, "Are they getting more deals? Oh, I'm going to get more. Let's track it every day." Right?
Sasha Manford: Exactly. Let's track it every day. Let's run a report. Let's do pivot tables afterwards. I love that stuff. It makes me excited. I love data and I just love Salesforce. It's the greatest thing ever.
Gillian Bruce: I see the stars in your eyes.
Sasha Manford: The stars really aligned for me because when I graduated from college, I wasn't landing anything ... Not substantial, but I was very stagnant. It was like support roles and assistant roles.
Sasha Manford: I wasn't growing, I wasn't learning anything. But with this being a Salesforce Admin, I feel like I've grown so much, and it's helped me have a voice as well. I'm just so grateful, I can't believe. Sometimes I wake up, I'm like, "Wow, this is my life."
Gillian Bruce: That's awesome. So tell me ... You just said. It helps you kind of have a voice as well. Tell me a little bit more about that.
Sasha Manford: Yeah, so I feel like being an admin, you really have to have an entrepreneurial spirit, because you're in charge of the platform and you are the guru, you are the expert. You have no one to rely on to teach you stuff. People come to you to teach you. I feel like it's ... For so long I've been looking for a role that could help me grow and take on my own tasks and stuff.
Sasha Manford: I basically create my own day and my own week, and it makes me feel like I'm accomplishing something. Also, I get to help people and kind of teach people, in a way, kind of. I'm a teacher. People look to me for help. To me, that's the biggest achievement ever.
Sasha Manford: When I am teaching someone new in the company how to use Salesforce and their eyes light up like "Oh my God, you can do that?" To me, that feels amazing.
Gillian Bruce: Well, I mean it goes back to what you wanted to be when you grew up back in forth grade, getting inspired by that teacher.
Sasha Manford: My teacher in fourth grade, she was amazing and she always told me, "Yeah, grades are important, but that doesn't measure your smartness and your ability to do well in life."
Sasha Manford: And she always told me, she's like, "I know you're going to do all ..." Because I did struggle with math a little bit, but she always encouraged me all the time. She is the best.
Gillian Bruce: That's awesome. I mean I love how somebody that early in your life can really ... Still you carry that with you and it's helped empower you to basically take on this career.
Sasha Manford: Yeah, she definitely empowered me. She did.
Gillian Bruce: Tell me, I want to dig in also a little bit more to the piece of your story of how you got this job even before you had completed the PepUp Tech bootcamp. You had kind of been figuring out Salesforce on your own with Trailhead, after you moved into that admin role. Actually, I may even want to go back to that too.
Gillian Bruce: So, you were a super user essentially at your organization. The admin role opened up. How did you get that role? Did you ask for it? Did you seek it out? Tell me a little bit more about that.
Sasha Manford: Yeah, when I found out that the admin was leaving, it was kind of like ... Sasha will take it on. I heard conversations about it, but I'm like, "You know what? I'm going to take it on. I'm going to be the admin. I'll do it. It seems really, really easy to use."
Sasha Manford: Then within like two months, everybody's like, "Yeah, that's the Salesforce princess there."
Gillian Bruce: Oh, I love that.
Sasha Manford: That was my nickname, the Salesforce princess. People came to me for everything.
Gillian Bruce: That's fantastic. I'm envisioning a little Salesforce tiara.
Sasha Manford: Yeah, yeah. One of my coworkers, she Photoshopped the picture with on with me on it with like the Salesforce cloud crown, and she put it in the refrigerator in the kitchen.
Gillian Bruce: That's great.
Sasha Manford: I was like, "Okay, then I really have to take this on."
Gillian Bruce: Well that's great, because another thing that we kind of talk about, especially as you're growing your career is like putting, making, creating your brand, making people aware this is like ... You want to be tied to Salesforce. You want to be a Salesforce admin.
Gillian Bruce: That's really cool that that happened kind of organically within that organization.
Sasha Manford: Yeah, it manifested big time.
Gillian Bruce: Talk to me about getting your ... What do you do now?
Sasha Manford: Right now I'm a Salesforce admin at Carl Marx Advisors. It's a financial service firm. They deal with all types of companies that are going through bankruptcy, restructuring, wealth management. It's just a whole cycle of things that they do within the financial industry.
Gillian Bruce: I bet that's a lot of complex systems and processes to manage.
Sasha Manford: Yeah, a lot of financial vocabulary that I'm still like, "What is that? What is CRO? What does 363 mean?"
Gillian Bruce: Well, that on top of the Salesforce jargon, so you've got two languages. You're trilingual.
Sasha Manford: Yeah, exactly. I've always wanted to learn different languages, and this role is allowing me to do so.
Gillian Bruce: That's great. You said that you got this role even before kind of going through the bootcamp and all that. Tell me more about that. You mentioned a little bit about the Knock 'em Dead and how that helped you. Tell me more about that process.
Sasha Manford: I feel like if I didn't meet Selina in December and she didn't guide me and recommend that book, I don't know if I would have landed this role. I mean, even though I didn't do the bootcamp, even though I got the job first, then the bootcamp, I feel like she was my guardian angel carrying me before I took the classes.
Sasha Manford: I actually had a recruiter that reached out to me and she was just like, "Here's a great role for you. It's located in New York. It's in the financial service industry. They are a little like wary because you only have a year under your belt."
Sasha Manford: But I literally read that book. I told Selina like, "They are wary of me because I don't have my certification. I only have a year under my belt. And she just was like, "Who cares? Read the book, study up on the company, and knock 'em dead. You got this."
Sasha Manford: She guided me. She really did guide me. If it wasn't for a guidance, I don't know where I would be right now.
Gillian Bruce: That's amazing. Because I mean, it takes a lot of courage to kind of go for that, and knowing that you're being like ... Maybe a little extra scrutiny, but yet you got it.
Sasha Manford: I did it.
Gillian Bruce: Congratulations, by the way. Very cool.
Sasha Manford: Thank you.
Gillian Bruce: I imagine you probably felt a fair amount of pressure starting the job, right? Trying to prove yourself and kind of get things going. What are some of the first kind of quick wins, or things that you were able to get done to kind of say, "Hey, I got this." To show to everyone that they hired the right person.
Sasha Manford: Right. They had issues with the Box integration. It wasn't showing up in the Salesforce records. I noticed that within day two. I was like, all right, I'm going to tackle this, and I'm going to fix it. So I called up Box, they guided me through it, and I was able to fix that.
Sasha Manford: Another user was having issues with showing that he's actually going to different clients and he's meeting with them, but they wanted to see what's going on.
Sasha Manford: I was able to create this beautiful dashboard for him.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah, I love those dashboards skills coming in handy.
Sasha Manford: Yeah, dashboard skills came through. I created that for him and they were just like, "Wow, that's amazing." Then also I kind of assessed the entire platform, identified the issues, what needs to be done, and a timeline for them as well.
Sasha Manford: I think that's a win. Fully assessing ... Obsessing ... Assessing the platform.
Gillian Bruce: Well, you obsess over the platform and then it lets you assess correctly.
Sasha Manford: Right. Obsess and that assess.
Gillian Bruce: It's just a good one, two, one, two right there. That's really great. I mean, what I hear when I hear you say that is that you came in really trying to look for problems that needed to be solved and talking to users and figuring out kind of some misses there.
Gillian Bruce: I mean I think that's one of the qualities that makes an amazing admin, is being able to identify problems and connecting with users.
Sasha Manford: Exactly.
Gillian Bruce: And then having the curiosity and the tenacity to go out and figure it out and implement the solution.
Sasha Manford: Exactly, yeah. A lot of people think like, "Oh, being an admin is technical." It's technical. We also have to have really good people skills.
Gillian Bruce: Absolutely.
Sasha Manford: Because you're going to be dealing with a lot of people who have different personalities who don't want to use the platform, and you have to persuade them, and you have to be flexible too, that is key.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah. I think that's a really good point because adoption and training is one of the hardest pieces of this puzzle.
Sasha Manford: It's really hard, and I'm still dealing with it, but it's exciting because there's something to look forward to everyday at work.
Sasha Manford: I have this one user who's just like anti Salesforce. I'm just like ... He excites me because he makes my job challenging, but that's a good thing. I'm convinced that I will convert him next year. That's on my goal. He's going to be converted.
Gillian Bruce: I love that. Well, let us know. We will cheer along with you.
Sasha Manford: Me too.
Gillian Bruce: That's awesome. Okay, so you're now in this role. You are rocking it as a Salesforce admin. What's next for you? What's the next step in your plan?
Sasha Manford: My next step is to continue to learn the platform inside out, be a complete expert. Then hopefully I would love to get into the developing side, because we have ... I'm dying for us to go to Lightning, but a lot of our components in Classic don't transfer to Lightning, and I just don't want to rely on the developer. I want to be the developer. I want to be the one stop shop for everything. I would love to get into development.
Gillian Bruce: We got plenty of resources to help you do that. That's exciting. I love that though. Yeah. I mean to be able to be completely independent and be able to make those changes and really own the platform end to end.
Sasha Manford: Yeah, it's important. Not only are you learning how to code and owning the platform, you ... I want to own it. I want it to be like, that's my baby. It's my baby now, but I want it to be completely my child.
Gillian Bruce: I love that. I want to own all of it.
Sasha Manford: Like, "That's mine." I love it. I love that people come to me if they have a Salesforce question. They come to me in distress and I'm just like, "Calm down. It's going to get fixed." Then I fixed it and they're like, "Okay, we get it. Thank you-"
Gillian Bruce: Because you're the Salesforce princess.
Sasha Manford: Yes, I am the queen.
Gillian Bruce: The queen. Yeah.
Sasha Manford: I own it. Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: I love that. I love that. Well, Sasha, you've done some amazing things. I'm super excited to see what's next for you. I want to know, what is some advice you have for folks who are maybe early on in their Salesforce career, or looking for that for Salesforce job, because you've been there. What are some tips you have for people in that position?
Sasha Manford: I say don't only sit behind your computer and Google stuff. Go to user group meetings. Go on Linkedin. Find someone who's in the ecosystem. Invite them to coffee. Have informational interviews. Go out there. Be proactive. Network.
Sasha Manford: I think networking is a huge thing because if I didn't ... I talk about this a lot. If I didn't go to that women in tech event, I don't know where I would be right now.
Gillian Bruce: It was those connections that helped you get to ...
Sasha Manford: Definitely, definitely. Because a lot of people say they're self made. We're really not self made. There was somebody or some someone that helped us get to where we are.
Gillian Bruce: It's like that saying, it takes a village.
Sasha Manford: Yeah, exactly. It takes a village. And don't be afraid to lean on people and ask questions. No question is dumb. I love when ... I ask questions all the time and I don't care if it sounds silly, I'll still ask it.
Gillian Bruce: Well, it's ... I mean if nothing else, even if you're asking a question that you realize, "Oh I knew the answer to that." It just validates that what you know.
Sasha Manford: Exactly.
Gillian Bruce: I think one of the things we see in the community a lot is people love to help answer questions, because it actually helps them learn too.
Sasha Manford: Exactly. Exactly. It helps them learn a lot. Yeah, I know it helps me learn when somebody asks me a question and I don't have the answer. I'm like, "Well, let find that out. Let me research." It's like, "Wow, I didn't know that."
Gillian Bruce: Yeah. That's great. Well, I want to thank you so much for sharing with us on the podcast. I feel like we could talk for hours, which I'm sure we will continue to do.
Sasha Manford: Yes, we will.
Gillian Bruce: I want to check in with you in a year or two and see where you're at and what other skills you've got going on.
Sasha Manford: Yes, of course. I would love that. This has been so much fun. I love it.
Gillian Bruce: That's great. Okay, but before I let you go, I have to ask you a lightning round question. There's no right or wrong answer. First thing that comes to mind. We're doing in New York themed lightning round because we're in New York this week recording with so many amazing people. Okay. So your lightning round question is, what is one thing you recommend for people visiting New York to go check out or do?
Sasha Manford: Oh, wow. I highly recommend people go to Rockefeller Center. It is so magical there. Even if you do not know how to ice skate, you should still try to ice skate, especially during Christmas time. It's the most euphoric feeling ever. Seeing the Christmas tree just makes you so happy, and just ice skating and just feeling the cold wind slap you in the face. It hurts. But just being ... There's nothing like New York City during Christmas time. It's the most magical place in the world. So definitely Rockefeller Center.
Gillian Bruce: Well thank you. I agree with you. I just got to go walk by the other day and I was like, "Oh my gosh, this is so cool." I mean just the whole ... Everything's lit up, all the decorations. The tree is amazing. The vibe is amazing. People are just happy.
Sasha Manford: It's the only time in the year where people are happy here.
Gillian Bruce: Well, good. I'm a huge fan of holiday time in New York.
Sasha Manford: Exactly. And Central Park. Central Park is nice.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah, that's awesome. Well, Sasha, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me. I look forward to seeing what's next.
Sasha Manford: Yes. Thank you so much.
Sasha Manford: It was amazing getting to chat with Sasha. She is incredibly inspiring. She has just really got a great energy to be around, in case you couldn't tell over the waves coming out of your earbuds or over your speakers.
Sasha Manford: She has such a fantastic career story. I really liked how she described, she found Salesforce, immediately was enamored with the platform. She loved, as an end user, running reports and dashboards, especially in Lightning.
Sasha Manford: There's where that magic started to hit her. Then she voiced how she wanted to become the admin at the company that she was at when the admin left. We talked about that several times with other guests on the podcast, about making your intentions and your desires clear.
Sasha Manford: There is so much value in that, because that really set her in this trajectory. She then met Selina, found PepUp Tech, signed up for the boot camp. But even before she was able to start the boot camp, she landed her first official Salesforce admin job, thanks in part to this amazing book that Selina recommended to her, Knock 'em Dead.
Sasha Manford: We talk about Selina Suarez a couple times. She's a great resource, but she really is a symbol for what the Salesforce community does to help amplify and promote each other. I put the link to the book, Knock 'em Dead in the show notes.
Sasha Manford: The idea is you basically go for it. Don't be scared, study up, do the work, be aggressive, go for those opportunities that you want to get, and you could be like Sasha, ending up in this role, learning a whole new industry, whole new type of jargon. Now she is absolutely loving being a Salesforce admin. I love how she described how being a Salesforce Admin, you have to have an entrepreneurial spirit.
Sasha Manford: She was always searching for a way to kind of create her own role, create her own change and impact. Now she's able to do that as a Salesforce admin, because she gets to help and teach people. Sasha wanted to be a teacher when she grew up. Now she's doing that every day in her role as a Salesforce admin.
Sasha Manford: I also really liked how she mentioned that you have to have very good people skills in order to be a great admin. You need those technical skills in order to know how to use the platform, but having those people skills is really what's gonna make you a great admin, because you have to understand how to talk to your users, understand their needs, and help them solve problems.
Sasha Manford: Also, reach out and be proactive about networking. That is how you are going to open doors for yourself in the Salesforce ecosystem, so don't hesitate. Don't be afraid. Take some tips from Sasha and really get out there. Be aggressive, go for opportunities that you're interested in. Don't get that self doubt thing going on in your mind and let that take you down.
Sasha Manford: If you want to learn a little bit more about some of the things that Sasha mentioned, as always I've got great links in the show notes for you. There's a Trailhead module about navigating your Salesforce career. Put that link in the show notes. It's a great way to kind of understand what opportunities lie in the Salesforce ecosystem and how you can kind of get your career plan going and in place.
Sasha Manford: As always, please make sure that you share this podcast with your friends, with your other Salesforce Ohana. If you subscribe to the podcast, that makes sure you get the latest and greatest episodes delivered to your platform or device of choice the moment they are released.
Sasha Manford: As always, you can find more about being an awesome admin on admin.salesforce.com where you'll find more blogs, webinars, events, and yes, even more podcasts.
Sasha Manford: You can find us on Twitter @SalesforceAdmns, no i. Our guest today, Sasha, is on Twitter @SashaManford, and you can find myself at @gilliankbruce.
Sasha Manford: Thank you so much for listening to this episode, and we'll catch you next time in the cloud.
Thu, 7 February 2019
Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast we’re talking with Shannon Hale, Senior Director Product Management at Salesforce in charge of Flow. We find out about this amazing declarative automation tool and the changes coming up with the Spring ‘19 release.
Join us as we talk about Shannon’s journey from the music industry into product management, how her team has made Flow easier to use, and where we’re going next.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Shannon Hale.
From indie music to software development.
Shannon is an OG guest of the original ButtonClick Admin Podcast with Mike and Jared. When she flunked out of her engineering degree, she started getting involved in the music scene, taking pictures and writing about bands “for really obscure indy rags that you’ve never heard of,” she says. She went back and did a writing program at 27, but “I could not find a writing job to save my life. I had a really fabulous CD collection but I could not pay my rent.”
Shannon ended up working as a secretary for an engineering firm in a very small office. “I’d always liked computers and had access to them from an early age,” she says, “and so I started doing things like putting the hard drives in the computer or taking the CD-ROMs out.” They saw her interest and offered to sponsor her for classes in programming. “I ended up accidentally moving into tech,” she says, moving into teaching and eventually user experience, which led her to Salesforce. “A good part of it is just saying yes to opportunities, even if you don’t necessarily have all the skills but you know that you have some of them and are pretty sure you can get the rest,” she says.
The magic of Flow.
A lot of the time we identify a business problem that we want to solve as admins, but we don’t necessarily know what tools to use to do that. “Wanting to solve the problem is 75% of the battle,” Shannon says. That’s why working on great tools like Flow is so valuable—it puts powerful solutions in the hands of problem solvers.
If you have a business process that is complicated or idiosyncratic, it can be hard to make sure that all the correct forms and fields are populated 100% of the time. Flow can help by providing validation to make sure that happens. “But Flow is also a little bit more powerful than some of our other tools,” Shannon says, “it has more code-like aspects to it.” It makes it easy to take people screen-by-screen through a business process and only ask them for the information that they have at that time.
Flow can string things together across records in a single operation, rather than having to go through three different places to get it.
Exciting new changes for Flow in Spring ‘19.
Flow has had a lot of power, but there have always been some elements of it that maybe made it intimidating to the average admin. For Spring 2019, Shannon and her team are trying to make the experience match other aspects of Salesforce, like Process Builder and Lightning App Builder. That makes even the more complex aspects of Flow feel more familiar.
“I have this phrase that I use periodically called, ‘Our programming is showing,’” Shannon says, “places where the complexity of the technology is really showing in the user interface but doesn’t necessarily make sense to people who aren’t writing the technology.” Spring 19 has represented an opportunity to clean a lot of that up and make it more approachable. That also includes adding options for larger text and better contrast.
Just some of the things you can do with Flow include being able to quickly enter information that is going to appear in three different records. You can also delete child records when the master is closed, but you probably want to be careful with your implementation, Shannon recommends. Coming up in the future look forward to undo/redo and copy and pasting elements, along with more usability improvements. As more and more Salesforce teams like Field Services and Einstein are working with Flows, expect even more innovations.
Love our podcasts?
Subscribe today or review us on iTunes!
Full Show Transcript
Gillian Bruce: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins podcast where we talk about product, community, and careers to help you become a more awesome Salesforce admin. I'm Gillian Bruce. And today, listeners, we have the return of a much anticipated guest. A guest on the original Button Click Admin podcast many, many years ago, and a boomerang returning back to us here at Salesforce. We have the one and only Shannon Hale. Now Shannon Hale is a senior Director of Product Management here at Salesforce. She is now in charge of Flow. Flow is a very powerful automation tool. It is declarative. It is one of these amazing admin tools that we have to truly make us an awesome admin and I'm very happy to have Shannon on the podcast to talk more about Flow, some of the amazing innovations that have come with the Spring '19 release. Hint, hint, admins. If you've ever been intimidated by Flow, now is the time to dive back into it because it has a whole new look and feel that looks way more familiar. And if you can use other builders, you can use Flow. All right. Without further ado, let's welcome Shannon.
Gillian Bruce: Shannon, Welcome to the podcast.
Shannon Hale: Thank you. I'm super excited to be here.
Gillian Bruce: Oh, I am very happy to have you on the podcast. It has been a long time coming. I think the last time you were on the podcast, it was a podcast by a different name. The Button Click Admin podcast.
Shannon Hale: Yup.
Gillian Bruce: And you were on when Mike and Jared were the hosts.
Shannon Hale: I feel like it was 2012, 2013.
Gillian Bruce: Just a few years ago.
Shannon Hale: It seems like a really long time ago.
Gillian Bruce: It's a really long time ago. Well, that's great. Well, we're so happy to have you back on the podcast and happy to have you back at Salesforce.
Shannon Hale: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: Now for listeners who may not recognize your name, I'd love to introduce you a little bit to them. Shannon, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Shannon Hale: That is a funny question because when I was a kid, my dad was an engineer. My dad worked in software engineering in ... I'm kind of old. This was like in the late 1960s. My dad worked in software, which just wasn't a thing back there right? He had a physics degree. So it was just always assumed I was going to be an engineering student. I would go into engineering. And I went into engineering and I flunked out my first year.
Gillian Bruce: Whoops.
Shannon Hale: Whoops. We did not plan for that contingency. And so I ended up kind of getting involved in music, not playing it, definitely not playing it. But I was writing about bands and I was taking photographs and stuff. And eventually reached a point where I was doing a lot of magazine article writing for really obscure indie music rags that you never heard of. Also because it was a really long time ago.
Shannon Hale: And I ended up going back and doing a writing program at 27, and then I could not find a writing job to save my life. I had a really fabulous CD collection, let me tell you, but I could hardly pay my rent.
Gillian Bruce: Do you still have the CD collection?
Shannon Hale: That's a whole other story. When I moved to California, I actually took all the CDs out of the cases and put them in little paper sleeves and I brought them down in a suitcase because you can get rid of a lot of weight if you do it that way. But I digress.
Gillian Bruce: Alright. So you went back to get to-
Shannon Hale: I went back to school and I couldn't find anything for writing and so I ended up working as a secretary for this engineering firm. And it was a really small office and I always liked computers. I had access to them from an early age, which was unusual at that age, simply be by nature of my dad's interest in them.
Shannon Hale: And so I started doing things like putting the hard drives in the computer or repairing the seat, like taking the CD-ROMS out. And this was in the very early days of offices where networks, which is a thing we take for granted now was not really a thing then. So I helped set up Windows for work groups, which is, you know, probably hopefully ringing a bell on more than one person. I can't be the only one. And they said "Well, gee, you seem really interested. Maybe we can give you some more work to do with if you want to take a coding class or something, we can do that." So I took like a night school class in C and I started working on ... They had a proprietary UI building tool, which was not declarative that point. And so I was learning how to make that work.
Shannon Hale: And I ended up really kind of accidentally moving into tech. I was 30 by the time it actually happened and I started out sort of doing tech writing and system administration. And I moved into technical training. And it was at this point where I was like teaching people who weren't programmers how to write object oriented programming languages and doing these massive Unix system administration things. And I just kinda kept going on and taking a class here and there. And then I got really interested in user experience and why the product for the company I was working for was so hard to use. So I was like, well that's interesting and this was 2001, so UX was still a fairly nascent thing. And so I was like I'll just go and learn everything I can about UX. And then I got to Salesforce as a UX designer in 2008.
Shannon Hale: It's a little longer to go this path, right? You don't necessarily have the I graduated with a degree that says I know how to do code or non code or business administration or whatever. You just kind of happened to be lucky and caught luck more than once and here I am.
Gillian Bruce: It's just luck though. I mean you kept finding things you're interested in and finding ways to learn about them and kind of gain a skill sets. Right? I mean you were at a company where you were able to do that, but-
Shannon Hale: Yeah. So-
Gillian Bruce: Made it happen.
Gillian Bruce: Time capsule.
Shannon Hale: So a good part of it is just saying yes to opportunities, even if you don't actually necessarily have all the skills, but you know that you have some of the skills and you're pretty sure you can get the other skills. And that's kinda what I love about declarative is that you can get the skills, you don't necessarily have to go off and take like an entire semester of C programming to understand how to make it work, right?
Gillian Bruce: And exactly. And I think one of the things that I hear at Premier Story is that you came at it from a hey, why doesn't this work the way that I think it should work? And why does this work this way instead of oh, I want to learn this discipline. I want to learn this because it will get me a job.
Shannon Hale: I want to solve the problem that I have. And sometimes I solve it in a very weird way and I'm like okay, I probably could have solved that better. And sometimes I go well, maybe I'll use this as an excuse to learn this random esoteric thing. I've done that once or twice too. But most of the time, like it's really more a matter of ... And I see this so often are admins, right? Like every time I have a conversation, it's like we have this business problem that we're trying to solve. And I can see a way to solve it using these tools. Or I really want to solve it, but I don't necessarily know which tools to use for it, which is a thing which I've always felt we could help a little bit more with. And I think Trailhead is going a long ways to sort of help make the distinction in some cases. But you know, wanting to solve the problem is 75% of the problem. Or not the problem, but-
Gillian Bruce: Of it., right?
Shannon Hale: Of it, right.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah, totally. Well that's-
Shannon Hale: You're going to edit that part out, aren't you?
Gillian Bruce: Oh, completely. Sure. So I think what's really cool, Shannon, is that I didn't know this story about you. And here you are, you are a senior Director of Product Management here at Salesforce now in charge of one of our most awesome products Flow, which has got a major revamp, which is what we're going to talk about in just a little bit. But knowing that you came into the technology space a little bit later in your career, and made that transition and kind of maybe unintentionally found yourself in that path is really cool. And I think a lot of our admins can really relate to that because most of the admins I talk to did not set out going to college and say "Hey, I want to be a Salesforce admin when I grow up." And then they find themselves exposed to this technology, whether it's in a secretarial role or in some other like, you know, a sales role or anything.
Shannon Hale: Executive Director of a nonprofit.
Gillian Bruce: Exactly. Yeah. And then they kind of come across this technology and like, ooh, this is something that I'm kind of interested in. I can see how it can help people. I can see how it can solve problems and they pursue it. So thank you for sharing that. I thought that was very cool.
Shannon Hale: Yep.
Gillian Bruce: Very cool.
Shannon Hale: Yeah. People either say, depending on who I'm talking to, I will either say that I've had a self-directed education, in which I figure out I need to learn something and I learn it or I say I have a short attention span. It depends on how honest I want to be. I think it's a little bit of both.
Gillian Bruce: I think they work well together. You know? Gives you the flexibility to go learn what you want to learn. Right?
Shannon Hale: Like right now I'm taking an essentials of business class.
Gillian Bruce: There you go. I like it.
Shannon Hale: Because why not?
Gillian Bruce: Why not? Always be learning.
Shannon Hale: Exactly.
Gillian Bruce: I think that's a [crosstalk 00:10:41]. Always be learning.
Shannon Hale: Yep. She's not wrong.
Gillian Bruce: She's not wrong. She's not wrong. So speaking of always be learning, I'd love to learn a little bit about the amazing revamp that Flow has just gotten and Spring '19 release has got a whole bunch of buzz around it. I know our admin community is very excited. Before we get into that, can you just give us a high level overview of what is Flow?
Shannon Hale: So Flow is one of the process automation tools that we have at Salesforce. A lot of the time when we talk to people, to companies, it's like, well, we have this thing where our sales people always have to do X when they're in the middle of a deal. Or we have a thing where it's like I want them to do this, but they never do it because they forget things like validation rules, things like even just adding required markers on the field when you build up the data model or adding a process so that something always happens when someone changes the value in apparent field. Those are all examples of process automation and it can really just be a way to enforce certain business processes, right?
Shannon Hale: But Flow is also a little bit more powerful than some of our other tools. In many ways, it has more code like aspects to it. There were things like decisions and there's options on doing database updates and so on. And one of the things that often gets used for as well is when we talk about enforcing a business process, actually walking people through a screen and taking them step by step and only asking for the information that they have at that time, which really lets them focus on the task at hand for people like me with a short attention span. And also make sure that they put the right data in at the right time because you know, our page layouts can get kinda long. And a lot of the time you're only really dealing with a few things on that page at a given time.
Shannon Hale: So there's something very powerful, and quick actions was a great example of this. Like it made it possible for you to create a thing that just updated the address, but Flow can go even further and sort of string things together from multiple records because we're not always just dealing on one record, right? Sometimes you will want to update something on the account and the contact and the opportunity and this custom object that's really important to you as well. And Flow will let you do all of that in a single operation rather than having to go to three different places to do it. So it's super powerful.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah. And I mean, I think, you know, that idea of that visual flow of walking someone through, that was my first exposure to Flow and I was like, oh, I get it. This is really cool. Okay. So this is a way to kind of really guide your users along a certain process. Right? And for me, Flow has always been a little intimidating because when you open up Flow and you get in there and you're putting these little boxes on the page, and then you've got to like figure out all the variables. And I was a little overwhelmed. I figured out a little of it by using Trailhead and doing some projects. But now Flow looks a little more friendly.
Shannon Hale: Yes, Flow is definitely ... So if you don't know about Flow, Flow actually started at Salesforce through an acquisition back in 2010-ish. And it started out as a desktop application. It was actually built in Java and it was a whole desktop thing. And so when we moved it into the cloud, we first built it in Flash and the Flash builder largely echoes the original builder. It was a very much advanced tool. And some of the interactions were a little bit awkward, maybe not as web-like is we would like. And 2010 was a really long time ago-
Gillian Bruce: Just a few years ago.
Shannon Hale: For some of us. And so, you know, technology has changed a lot in the last nine years. I mean Flash is on its way out. And so we were thinking about a lot of those things, like all of the stuff that we had heard over the years, it's kind of hard to tell what different elements are because they're all little gray boxes on the screen.
Shannon Hale: I personally am of an age where tiny fonts are very hard for me to deal with at this point. And so I always found it very hard to read anything on the page, and contrast as an issue for me as well. So, some of the things that we're really thinking about were how could we mitigate some of those ... Take advantage of those lessons that we learned, right? And then the other thing that we were thinking about is, you know, our admins, we don't want them to be intimidated by Flow. We don't want it to be scary. And like I said earlier, it's got a lot of code-like features, which I totally understand are kind of hard to wrap your head around initially.
Shannon Hale: But we have a lot of other tools in Salesforce that we've established usability and patterns around that people are familiar with and by pulling a lot of those patterns into Flow Builder, when you come in now and you look at, it's like, oh, I get it. This is a lot like Process Builder or this is a lot like Lightning App Builder. And when you go into build a screen, it's a lot like Lightning App Builder. And so even the more complex aspects of that can really feel more familiar, right? And then a lot of the other stuff we did was areas where we ... I have this phrase that I use periodically called our programming is showing. Places where we have technology that's just the complexity of the technology is really showing in the user interface and it doesn't necessarily make sense to people who aren't writing the technology.
Shannon Hale: And so we're always looking for places to address that, right? And sometimes we just can't, but we always want to find places where we can address those things and make it a little bit easier to understand. Flow does have a lot more power than some of our other tools. And as a result, well, the power is in its flexibility and flexibility equals complexity. So there's definitely some challenges there. But if you can come into it and go well, I know what this does, right? I know how to build a screen because I know how to use Lightning App Builder. And I know how to fill in this field because I've done it in this other thing. And I know how to do a decision because I've done it in Process Builder. I can do validation because I've written validation rules, right?
Shannon Hale: So if you've used those other tools, you can come into Flow Builder and hopefully figure out the other parts. And we have a long ways to go still on that front and making it easier and doing maybe a little bit better integration between what you see on the page and what it's actually gonna look like at run time. All of those are things that we talk about and we'll be working on as we move further.
Shannon Hale: My favorite use case for Flow is being able to quickly enter information that's going to show up on three different records, right? I want to change someone's phone number and I actually have it in three different places, which is probably not the smartest thing to do, but sometimes you have to, right? Sometimes you just have to. Or if you want to potentially delete something related to a record, like that's one thing that you can do in Flow that you want to be careful about.
Gillian Bruce: Yes, very careful.
Shannon Hale: Very careful about. But if you do have something where you want to delete all of these child records or something when the master is created or closed, right? Maybe you want to once it's closed, do you want to just archive all that? You can basically create a Flow that when that occurs that it goes off and it loops through those individual records and it deletes them or it closes them or does something else.
Shannon Hale: I'm definitely hearing an earful about a couple of missing things, which I want to reassure you are coming in the next release which are undo-redo because I totally understand it is a big pain in the butt when you delete something by accident and then you realize you hadn't saved it and you have to go back and basically re-build the whole thing. And then the second one is being able to copy and paste elements on the page. So when you have a screen and you have another screen that's got a lot of the same stuff in it, being able to just copy and paste it rather than having to build the whole thing manually again. I can really understand why this is like an efficiency win, right?
Shannon Hale: And it's not that we didn't intend to build that functionality or anything. It's simply that we ran out of time to do all of the things that we want to do. We still have a few things that we have left and we really wanted to get Flow Builder out with all the good that it does have in the current release and then finish up the stuff that we knew is still outstanding and is coming in the next release. So that's one or a couple things that are really big right now.
Shannon Hale: The other thing that we're thinking about is we're still thinking about ways to make things easier and more efficient. We have some ideas. We hit a round of usability testing a few weeks ago and one of the comments that came out is someone said "I feel like I'm naming things all the time." Having to create variables for everything or thinking of ways that we can sort of streamline that and not have to go through that very manual effort. Anywhere where we can sort of trim off the multi-step aspects of the building tool and make it a little bit more efficient are all things that we're winning, that are sort of winning moves.
Shannon Hale: And then the third thing we're really thinking about is the kind of things that people are asking for when they're building Flows. People are using Flows for other use cases, even inside Salesforce. Field services or are looking at Flows and bots are looking at Flows. And Einstein Next Best Action is doing stuff with Flows. And so all of these other teams are coming to us and saying "Gee, it would be really nice if we had a little bit more control over the layout." The very old Flow stuff before Lightning runtime was super bare bones. Here's the field. And here's some radio buttons. And they were very, very basic HTML markup kind of stuff with not a lot of fancy styling related to them at all. You don't really have a lot of options of where to put stuff on the page.
Shannon Hale: And so want a lot more flexibility about how they build the page, and ways to make that a lot more efficient for their users. And so we're looking at a lot of things related to those. I'm not going to go too much further on that one because it's very, very safe harbor at this point. So you're going to have to wait a little bit longer.
Gillian Bruce: That's awesome. That's a lot of cool, great innovations. I mean your team must be very busy.
Shannon Hale: I have three.
Gillian Bruce: Oh, three teams.
Shannon Hale: Three teams.
Gillian Bruce: Well that makes sense. There's a lot of work happening, a lot of work to do.
Shannon Hale: Yeah. And that's not including the actual Flow engine team, which Jason Teller handles, which handles sort of the actual guts of the stuff after you can figure it. So.
Gillian Bruce: That's amazing. Well, one of the things that I think is so amazing about you and your teams is you really, really do pay attention to feedback that people provide via the community or otherwise about-
Shannon Hale: Twitter.
Gillian Bruce: About and Twitter, yes.
Shannon Hale: I'm spending a lot of time on Twitter this last couple weeks.
Gillian Bruce: Well, you're easy to find. That's part of it.
Shannon Hale: That would be Shannon Sans, S-H-A-N-N-O-N-S-A-N-S.
Gillian Bruce: Oh, don't worry. Your Twitter handle will be in the show notes as well.
Shannon Hale: I'm sure it will.
Gillian Bruce: So, Shannon, I just wanted to say thank you so much for all the work that your team does. And this new design of Flow Builder is really exciting to me because I'm going to get my hands more dirty with Flow Builder. And I think a lot of admins now will be more inclined to kind of go in and play around and see what they can do. And, I mean, gosh, roadmap. I mean, I imagine if we ... When we talked to you at Dreamforce, it will be a whole 'nother world.
Shannon Hale: It will be a whole 'nother world.
Gillian Bruce: It's so exciting. So, before I let you go, I'm going to ask you a lightening round question. So lightning round question is the first thing that comes to mind. There's no right or wrong answer. It's a by-community demand. If I don't ask a lightning round question, I get into trouble.
Shannon Hale: So no right or wrong answer, but you're going to judge me for the rest of eternity.
Gillian Bruce: Absolutely. As will everyone listening to this podcast.
Shannon Hale: I thought you liked me, Gillian.
Gillian Bruce: Of course. I like you. This is how I show you that I like you. All right. So Shannon, your lightning round question. So since you've been in the Salesforce ecosystem for awhile, I'm going to have some fun with this one. So tell me what was one of your most memorable Dreamforces?
Shannon Hale: Gosh, I've been to like 10 of them. I mean the first one, the very first one was really amazing. It was 2008. I just started at Salesforce that year and I don't think I really understood how big Salesforce was. And this is kind of funny because I'm pretty sure back in 2008, our attendance was probably like under 10,000 people or around 10,000 people.
Gillian Bruce: Oh, I'm sure it was less than that. Yeah.
Shannon Hale: It was not what it is now. And we had, you know, Moscone South and we might've had a conference room in Moscone North. We didn't have West. And I went to pick up my badge the day before and there were Salesforce banners everywhere and there was people all around and the excitement was really palpable. And I was walking there and I was going I work for a really big company. That was kind of an eyeopener for me because working in Landmark as we were at the time, we had 25 people on the UX team at the time when I started. You know, engineering was a few hundred people. It was-
Gillian Bruce: You only had a few floors in the building, right?
Shannon Hale: We only had a few floors in the building. And so even though I knew there were more because I was working very specifically on platform, it did not seem that big. And yet I was starting to see people coming around and being really excited about being there. And I went to the keynote and I was like, holy crap.
Gillian Bruce: There's a lot of people here.
Shannon Hale: There's a lot of people here. And they're really excited and that's something that has never failed to surprise me about Salesforce. You know, when it came out at one of the Salesforces that I had been the person who was behind the setup tree thing, which for those of you who haven't been in Salesforce that long, that little setup tree on the left hand side of setup, only actually came out in 2011. But in 2009, I built it as a grease monkey script and we totally released it anonymously. I'm probably not even supposed to tell you this now. Might have to kill you.
Gillian Bruce: The secret's out.
Shannon Hale: The secret's out. The news was published after the real thing was finally shipped. I had people walking up to me at Dreamforce that just were like ... Like Matt Lamb hugs me. I'd never met him before at that point. And he was like "Thank you." I was like "Okay." I love the fact that people get excited about things. I love the fact that they're not shy about giving me feedback and telling me when they don't think I did a good job or like they think that we're doing something wrong, like the true to the core stuff. I go through Idea Exchange and I actually like ... I'm doing that right now because it's been a lot of new ideas since last time I did this before I left Salesforce in 2015.
Gillian Bruce: 'Cause you're boomerang, right?
Shannon Hale: I left and I came back, and I came back to the foundation or Salesforce.org for a year and before I came back to core to take over Flow Builder. And so, lots of things where it's like most of the time I look at him like yeah, yeah, we should fix that. And sometimes it's not as easy as doing it like in ... It's never as easy as everyone thinks it is, unfortunately. And sometimes it is. And then it's just like, we'll just do it. Sneak that in.
Gillian Bruce: Make a lot of people happy.
Shannon Hale: Make a lot of people happy. Sometimes the things that you sneak in are the things that are ... You know, they're not necessarily the thing that sells the product, but as a day to day user, they're definitely the thing that makes it a whole lot easier to get things done with.
Gillian Bruce: Well, I mean that's one of the things we love highlighting, especially for Admins, right? Are things like, oh you can pin the list. Oh, you can adjust the column width on a list view and I mean those are the simple things that we don't make a big deal usually about releases and we're like, hey actually this is a big deal.
Shannon Hale: Right.
Gillian Bruce: It's great.
Shannon Hale: This is huge.
Gillian Bruce: Especially for productivity.
Shannon Hale: This is game changing. People go "This is game changing", and sometimes you think really? But I mean even the pinning thing, how long have I wanted to be able to like not have to hit recent items when I go back to the list view.
Gillian Bruce: Exactly, exactly. Exactly. Well Shannon, thanks again so much for taking the time to talk with us and for all the great work you're doing. We are so happy to have you back. And I know that there is even a theme song now that you have, created by the one and only WizardCast. So-
Shannon Hale: You're not going to play that, are you?
Gillian Bruce: You know, we might have to sneak that in at some point. So we'll see.
Shannon Hale: Thanks WizardCast.
Gillian Bruce: Well, thank you so much for joining us and we look forward to seeing what else you got up your sleeve.
Shannon Hale: Yeah, I'll see you at Dreamforce.
Gillian Bruce: Oh, it was great chatting with Shannon. We could have chatted for probably another two hours, so be prepared. We will definitely have her back on the podcast throughout the year to talk about the further innovation she mentioned that are coming to Flow. But you know, I thought it was very fun to learn about her trajectory, her path to Salesforce because it had some very striking similarities to a lot of the admin stories we've heard on the podcast. You know, she failed out of engineering school and she thought that's really what she was going to do when she grew up. It didn't work out. And then she found herself doing music writing and then going to school. And then finding herself as a secretary, who had a knack for systems and networking. And then taking what she's learning, doing that to teach others, and then diving into user experience. And then found herself in product management here at Salesforce.
Gillian Bruce: So I think a lot of the things that we heard in Shannon's story, this idea of always being curious, wanting to solve problems, learn new things. That's something that we all have as awesome admins and it's a very important trait. So celebrate that, dive into that, enjoy it. It's really something that will help power your career as an awesome admin.
Gillian Bruce: When we're talking about Flow, she shared some amazing things that are happening in Flow Land, the lovely land now because now it looks like our other builders. If you can use Process Builder and some of the other declarative tools in Salesforce, you're now going to be able to use Flow Builder a lot easier because you're going to see things that look more familiar. There's been a lot of innovation to make it easier to use and there's a lot more coming. So one of the fun use cases I think that Shannon mentioned was the idea of being able to update multiple records at the same time by taking a single action.
Gillian Bruce: That's just one of the many examples of the things that you can do with Flow. So make sure that you take a new look at Flow, if you haven't used it before, it's a great time to figure it out. We've got some amazing resources to help you do so. So make sure that you take another look in to Flow. Oh, and fun fact, in case you missed it. Shannon was the one who actually built the original setup trait in Salesforce. So that was a fun little tidbit she shared towards the end. So I hope you didn't miss that. Very cool.
Gillian Bruce: So I want to definitely make sure that all of you now, listeners, dive into Flow. We have some great resources for you to do that. We have a fantastic blog we put out on the Salesforce Admin blog called Get Started with Flow Builder. That's at admin.salesforce.com, link is in the show notes. So make sure that you check that out. There's a series of videos from Alex Edelstein who is our product manager, really in charge of a lot of the Flow items, works very closely with Shannon, dives deep into some use cases that you can do as a beginning Flow user. So make sure you check that out.
Gillian Bruce: There's also some great content on Trailhead coming very, very soon. So stay tuned to the month of February and beyond. They're just going to be some updates to existing Trailhead content as well as some new ones, so we'll make sure that we share those as they come out. And if you want to check out the episode of the WizardCast that we mentioned, Shannon has her own theme song. If you want to reach out to Shannon on social, please do. She pays a lot of attention to the feedback that users like yourself provide. So you can find her on the Salesforce Trailblazer community. There's a whole group on Flow and the Charles Salesforce Trailblazer community. You can also reach out to her on Twitter. So she shared her twitter handle is @ShannonSans. That's S-H-A-N-N-O-N-S-A-N-S. So you can find her there.
Gillian Bruce: You can also find all the latest and greatest from the awesome admin team at Salesforce admins No I. You can find myself @GillianKBruce. As always, remember we've got more great content. Blogs, webinars, events, and yes, even more podcasts at admin.salesforce.com. Also, please remember to share this podcast with your fellow Salesforce Ohana. We've got a lot of great episodes coming every single week, so we want to make sure that you don't miss a single episode and you do that by hitting the subscribe button on whatever platform you use to listen to podcasts. We are there. Thank you so much for listening to this episode and we'll catch you next time in the cloud. Oh, and stay tuned for a little sneak peek of Shannon Hale's custom theme song created by the one and only WizardCast.