Wed, 3 November 2021
For this week’s Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’re catching up with Cheryl Feldman, Director of Product Management, Authorization Experience at Salesforce. She’s focused on profiles, permission sets, and perm set groups. Cheryl is a former Salesforce MVP, now driving product innovation.
Join us as we talk about Cheryl’s career, her passions, and who her hero is.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Cheryl Feldman.
From Hairdresser to Director of Product Management
Cheryl started out, 20 years ago, working as a hairdresser. When she got injured, she ended up doing office work and turned out to be really good at it. The salon manager recommended her to a new job as an administrative assistant, where she started doing reporting. “I walked into my boss’s office one day and said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if all this stuff was in one system?’” He put her on a new project they had just started in their office, something called “Salesforce,” and the rest is history.
As Cheryl grew in her Salesforce career, she went through a number of roles, from admin to BSA to product ownership. Before she came over to Salesforce, she was running core CRM from a product standpoint at one of the largest banks in the role. “I made a decision that I wanted to be a product manager at Salesforce, very specifically in platform, working on something I’m super passionate about,” she says, “which is around user permissioning, user access control, and making it a better and more streamlined experience for admins.”
Permissions Are Her Passion
Since most of her Salesforce experience came in a highly regulated industry, Cheryl is super passionate about how to help admins manage all the different security, regulatory, and compliance requirements they might encounter. “Every admin has to use it—you can’t use Salesforce without it,” she says, “whether you’re at a two-person company or one of the largest banks in the world, you have to use permissions, permission sets, permission set groups, profiles, so how can we make that experience better?”
In her first month on the job, Cheryl met with a lot of admins, and she wants to talk to more folks. Seriously, reach out! “Every single admin that I spoke with is managing some sort of spreadsheet to organize personas,” she says, “or partner solutions from the AppExchange, or other Salesforce products besides the core platform.” So she’s set about streamlining the process for creating a new user. She also has made it her mission to make it easier for admins to answer the ever-present question: “Why can Joe do this and I can’t?”
There are some great new features coming down the pipe to help make things easier for admins overwhelmed with managing permissions, so be sure to listen to the full episode to hear more and stick around for Cheryl’s lightning round answers. There’s also a new feature in beta for setting expiration dates on permission sets and permission set groups that she’d love for admins to try, so give it a shot and let her know how it goes.
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Full Show Transcript
Mike Gerholdt: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast, where we talk about product, community, and career, to help you become an awesome admin. This week we're talking with Cheryl Feldman, director of product management authorization experience, which is profiles, permission sets and perm set groups. Cheryl is a former Salesforce MVP who is now driving product innovation here at Salesforce. It's a really cool time to chat with her as she just starts into this new career. We learn about things that she did in her past, how she's super passionate about Salesforce admins. I think the really fun part, we also get to find out who Cheryl's hero is. With that, let's get Cheryl on the podcast. Cheryl, welcome to the podcast.
Cheryl Feldman: Thank you so much Mike. Thanks for having me.
Mike Gerholdt: I think this is, what'd you say, the third or fourth time you've been on the pod?
Cheryl Feldman: I'm actually not sure. I think it's either three or four, but I've been on a number of times in the past.
Mike Gerholdt: It's got to be like the Tom Hanks, Alec Baldwin, you have to get that velvet robe like they do for SNL.
Cheryl Feldman: Yeah. Why don't we have that?
Mike Gerholdt: We should. That's what I'm going to spend some budget on. Let's get velvet Salesforce Admin Podcast robes.
Cheryl Feldman: Yeah. Make it a hoodie. Make it a velvet hoodie.
Mike Gerholdt: Velvet. Oh, velvet hoodie sounds wonderful. Because it's heading into fall, that could be fun. Anyway, we could talk probably all day about velvet hoodies. Let's catch everyone up. For anyone that's not familiar with Cheryl Feldman, where did you start and how did you get to Salesforce?
Cheryl Feldman: Sure. My story actually starts 20 years ago, now, if you can believe that. I was actually working as a hairdresser and I got hurt and ended up doing some office work in the salon I was working at, which I ended up being really good at. My salon manager recommended me to her husband to be his administrative assistant/secretary. I started picking up some reporting when I was working for him. This, fast forward to probably 2003, I was spending a week getting all of these reporting and analytics from all these different systems ready. I walked into my boss's office one day and said, "Wouldn't it be great if all this stuff was in one system and we could just run reports?" He said, "We're getting this thing called Salesforce, you should be on that project." The rest is history. That was almost 18 years ago.
Mike Gerholdt: That would explain the management authorization experience in your title.
Cheryl Feldman: Yes.
Mike Gerholdt: Just casually, one of BSA, for one of the largest banks in the world, just casually throwing that out. I love your backstory. I mean, obviously not every position's open at Salesforce, but why permissions and profiles?
Cheryl Feldman: I think it's something that I've been super passionate about. I think I had come up with a lot of different, good processes to manage this, especially coming from most of my career was spent in financial services, so very regulated industry. Using public cloud, Salesforce is in the public cloud domain, and how do you meet all of these compliance and security and regulatory requirements? A lot of them have to do with user access and some of it can be quite challenging. I had been working with a number of product managers at Salesforce when I was a customer talking to them about what we needed from a customer standpoint. The feedback I always got from product managers is, "You understand what customers want so well and are able to articulate it to us in a way that helps us build really good product." I started thinking, well, maybe I should just come to Salesforce and do that. I started thinking about, what am I really passionate about?
Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. Belinda is wonderful. She's done a lot of content for the admin team. I believe she's been on the podcast. I'd have to go back and double check. But if not, she's very familiar. I've worked with her on some Dreamforce presentations before. She very much understands the admin role. I can only imagine she's one of those cool bosses to work for.
Cheryl Feldman: She is awesome to work for, highly recommend.
Mike Gerholdt: Now, I will skip ahead because it feels like you've been at Salesforce for a long time, mostly because I was watching at home, Dreamforce and you are thrown a true the core question.
Cheryl Feldman: Yes. Actually yesterday was my three month anniversary, if you can believe that. I have not been at Salesforce that long. But yes, I think it was the third or fourth question that was asked, which is, what's going on with modify all data? And so I was lucky that I did have an answer for that and that is something that's in my domain and we are looking at how we can best split up some of what we're calling these super permissions. Modify all data, customize application, view setup and configuration, and view all data, because they control so many other things besides what those permissions are supposed to do.
Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. Because at the time when Salesforce was built, it was a life before permission sets.
Cheryl Feldman: Yes.
Mike Gerholdt: Boy, I could not envision being on the job three months and all of a sudden thrown in to a true the core session. With profiles and permission sets, obviously you came in with a lot of things that you had on your mind. Now that you've been in the role for three months, has something surfaced that perhaps wasn't on your radar, that the community has brought up?
Cheryl Feldman: Yes. What I made a point to do within my first month or two of being here, is I met with a lot of admins. Any admin I'm willing to meet, I posted on Twitter a bunch of times, I want to hear what you're doing, how you're doing it. If you're an admin listening to this, reach out to me, I would love to have a conversation. One common thing that I found, is every single admin I spoke with is managing some spreadsheet to manage, whether it's to manage personas when they set up new users, here's what a salesperson gets when they start. Sometimes our Salesforce admins, a lot of people think about they're just managing Salesforce, but a lot of times what I also found in my conversations, is they're also managing a number of partner solutions from the app exchange. They're also managing a number of other Salesforce products besides your core Salesforce. Sometimes that's Marketing Cloud or Quip.
Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, well that, I think it's for me and I'm guilty of this too, and I'm even back in the old school days before permission sets, of just keeping a spreadsheet of who can see what and who can do what. Finding that way that everybody can create a solution where they can see the data that they want to see in a way that they're wanting to see it.
Cheryl Feldman: Yep.
Mike Gerholdt: If that makes sense.
Cheryl Feldman: Yes, it totally does. The other thing I found is, admins are spending an extraordinary amount of time, an amount of time in their day, every day, with troubleshooting. A lot of that troubleshooting is, they get some user contacting them, "Why can Joe do this and I can't?" It's very hard to determine why Joe can do something and that user can't. It could be a difference in permissions. Could be something at the profile level, at the permission set level, or from a record access experience. There's a lot of different things that an admin has to check to really understand the difference between those two users. And then the question is, well, should that other person, or should this person that's contacting me be able to do what Joe does? I think that's another question that we also need to help admins answer and support from a governance perspective as well. I'm also looking at, how could we potentially bring some troubleshooting tools to admins to understand the difference between two users, to make it much easier to understand what your users actually have access to?
Mike Gerholdt: Oh my God. I will rejoin as a secretary of the Cheryl Feldman fan club, if you make that happen.
Cheryl Feldman: Well-
Mike Gerholdt: It's just what you're talking about is, I mean that was my every day, I literally would have two, either sales or service people that sat side by side that I set up the same, or did maybe one checkbox different on a profile or a field and they couldn't see it. You do screen shares and you go back and forth, and of course sometimes login as doesn't always give you the answer that you need either.
Cheryl Feldman: Yes. Speaking of login as, that actually ties to the modify old data question, because this is something that also comes up and this is something I wanted so bad when I was a customer. I used to get this all the time from the compliance post I worked with when I was a customer. Is that, right now in order to grant login as, you either need to grant new user modify all data, or you need to grant them access through delegated administration, which gives them access to do a bunch of things on the user record. And so what we're looking at doing is, how can we work with the team on [inaudible] actually create a permission for login as.
Mike Gerholdt: I'd be curious, last month in October I had the IdeaExchange people on, I'd Scott and Hannah, and they talked about the relaunch of the IdeaExchange. I have to envision, there's probably product managers that get two or three ideas that they have to pay attention to every month. And then there's you that probably gets two or three an hour to the people have ideas or up vote on, or want comments on. What's your strategy for, having been a customer I know you've put ideas into the IdeaExchange, wanting that feedback? Now you're on the other side where you're in a position that you can actually give that feedback or respond to it. I'd love to know your perspective of what it's like to be on that side, and also just how you manage it. How you get that communication out there.
Cheryl Feldman: Yep. Actually, I will be honest. I have not actually updated ideas for my product area yet, but it's actually something I'm planning on doing tomorrow. Depending on when this podcast goes live, some of them should be updated. But what my strategy is there, is I'm looking at some of the most requested ideas. I'm looking at how we actually do them or what features we actually build, because the most requested idea for my feature area is to have reporting on permissions on permission. That's an essentially the permission set assignment. When I actually read through, and this has, I think, like 60 some odd thousand votes. It's super popular and something we definitely need to figure out. From a product management perspective, when I look at that idea and I read all the comments, I'm not actually sure that just giving reporting on the permission set assignment will actually solve some of the challenges our admins need to solve and what they're trying to get at.
Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, no, that's great. I'm sorry. Go ahead.
Cheryl Feldman: Yeah. I think the other thing I'm doing is, I'm constantly reaching out for feedback, whether it's on the Trailblazer community and some of the community groups for my product area or on Twitter and seeking feedback. I'm trying to get feedback fast. And so what I'm doing is, ideas that I have based on things I'm hearing, reading, I want to know what admins think and what would help them. I consider myself the product manager to help admins managing the user access control, I want to make it easier for them. And so that means everything from assigning, managing, troubleshooting, and figuring out what's going to make things simpler. And so anytime there's admins that want to talk about this or reach out, I'm 1000%. I know it's not exactly answering your question, but I'm 1000% willing to have that conversation.
Mike Gerholdt: No. I mean, it's interesting to hear, because I think at the surface, and I was guilty of this, you put in an idea and you're like, I'm thirsty and a glass of water will solve this. As a product major, you have the ability to look at how many admins are saying they're thirsty and want glass of water. You're sitting there saying, okay, so here's how much glasses cost, here's how much it takes to put eight ounces of water in every glass to hand it to an admin. But is that their real problem or is water supply and the ability to get water anytime, really the thing that we should solve for? That's what I'm hearing in your question is, sometimes what we see, we the community as somebody that puts in an idea, doesn't understand the bigger picture is, maybe here's what we're trying to solve for. That might take a little bit of time, but the solution's going to be way better than just a glass of water.
Cheryl Feldman: Yep. It's also thinking about, so there's another idea which doesn't have as many votes, but I think it will. We are on the path, which I believe the person who was in the CP for me did some content with the admin marketing team on removing permissions from profiles. We are still on that path to make everything permission set driven. And so one of the features, if you think about when an admin is creating a new field, when you set that field level security, it shows you a list of profiles. One of the ideas out there, which I think has around six or 7,000 votes or points, that is a lower point idea. But I feel like once we really start pushing our customers to using permission sets, that's something that they're going to need. That's also what I'm thinking about, is what are we doing? Where's the platform going and what are admins going to need?
Mike Gerholdt: Creating a field, rather than Salesforce asking you what profiles should have access. It would ask you what permission sets-
Cheryl Feldman: Correct.
Mike Gerholdt: Should have access?
Cheryl Feldman: Yes.
Mike Gerholdt: See, and that makes total sense. I remember when permission sets first came out, they made no sense to me until I realized that you should really set up a profile to be as reusable as possible, and then layer in the permission sets to customize it for everybody. That made sense to me once we started talking that way. Unfortunately it felt like the rest of the product wasn't paying that attention.
Cheryl Feldman: Yes. And so what we're doing is we're also looking at everything that exists on the profile today and what actually needs to move to permission sets and to make it easy for admins. Because if you think of things like default record type or page layout assignment, that's very profile driven and doesn't exist on the permission set. But a user could have many permission sets, so how do we make it so the system is smart and you don't end up with conflicting defaults or conflicting assignments? We're looking at that now. I'm sure that's, when somebody hears this whole moving to permission sets, wait.
Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. Forward looking statement.
Cheryl Feldman: Forward looking statement. Of course.
Mike Gerholdt: I mean, I'm just listening to you thinking how cool it wouldn't be in a few years for Einstein to pop up and be like, "Hey, Cheryl, it looks like you're creating a new user. Is there somebody that this user should be like?" And then it guiding you through so that for that admin, that it takes an hour it. It could almost turn into a voice prompt, because I think of how many things in our homes right now, if you say, hey, whatever, doesn't it light up and tell you what the temperature is outside? It'd be so cool if Einstein did that for Salesforce.
Cheryl Feldman: Yeah. We're looking at stuff like that. Some stuff like that we're also looking at is a way to take some of these manual tasks away from admins and let them focus on the things that they need to do, is making their users more efficient. How can we make users set up something that admins can easily automate? Now, I know a lot of really experienced admins have maybe built flows and some metadata types to do these things. We don't really have anything in the platform to do this. And so we're looking at how can we make user set up? That means setting up from a permissioning, licensing, group access, how can we help admins automate this? And so they can set criteria, governance around it. Those are things that we're looking at, and I think there's going to be some stuff we can probably start showing about this forward looking statement in the next couple of releases. Because I think this will also help a lot with the migration from profiles to permission sets.
Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. Well, making the complicated, simple, is always very hard.
Cheryl Feldman: Yes.
Mike Gerholdt: I just got my new iPhone and it was two clicks to turn it on and make it work, versus in the old phone, just shut off. I was like, wow, there's so much thought that had to go into that because I remember when I first got a Nokia or whatever in 2004, and you'd have to go to the wireless place and they'd plug it into some computer, who knows what that person was doing to try and get the thing to work? And now it's like, tap, tap, "Welcome Mike." Like, oh, you know my name? That's amazing.
Cheryl Feldman: Yes. I'm definitely thinking that way. How do we make it simple? How do we make it easy?
Mike Gerholdt: Well, it's very much the Steve Job's way. If anybody can make something complicated, it's making things simple that's difficult.
Cheryl Feldman: Yes. That's the role. I think user access control, if anybody tells any admin it's easy right now, it's not, it's hard. It is really hard to manage and kudos to any admin who's doing it well, and not just giving everybody a system admin profile because-
Mike Gerholdt: Right.
Cheryl Feldman: It's hard.
Mike Gerholdt: I give up, you're all system admins.
Cheryl Feldman: Right. There's admins I spoke to now that just because they got so frustrated because they couldn't figure out why a user couldn't do something [inaudible], because they're what I like to call an also admin. They're also the sales op manager. They're also something else at their company and we need to support admins that are doing this full time as well as they also have another job.
Mike Gerholdt: Yep. Hundred percent. Well, Cheryl, to wrap things up, I've got some fun lightning round questions just to help people get to know you a little bit better. I stole these from other interviews that I've been doing over the years and compiled them. I think they're fun. We'll start off. First question, what is the best compliment you have received?
Cheryl Feldman: The best compliment I ever received was when I gave somebody some advice, it was career advice, and they went and took that advice, completely changed their career, and then essentially complimented me on pushing them to go to the next level in their career. Because I told them that they needed to focus and they weren't going to get where they needed to go unless they focused on the things that they wanted.
Mike Gerholdt: Wow. I would say that's a very good compliment. If you could only have one meal the rest of your life, what would it be?
Cheryl Feldman: Pizza.
Mike Gerholdt: Of course you're from New York. Any specific kind?
Cheryl Feldman: Plain. I like plain pizza.
Mike Gerholdt: Plain. Okay. Folded, right?
Cheryl Feldman: Yes.
Mike Gerholdt: Like a New Yorker?
Cheryl Feldman: Yep.
Mike Gerholdt: I would love to know, who is your hero?
Cheryl Feldman: Who is my hero? I'm going to have to go with, I think my mother is my hero. My mom is amazing and she raised four children, part of that time being a single mom, and still managed to be a badass and become a CFO of a company while she was raising four children.
Mike Gerholdt: Wow.
Cheryl Feldman: I just think that's really awesome. I'm really, really proud of my mom. My mom just announced that she's actually retiring soon. I think a lot of how driven I am in my career comes from watching her. Watching her just never take no for an answer and just going for it.
Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. Similar vein, but maybe a little bit different, if you could meet one person that inspires you, who would that be? They could be alive or they could have passed on.
Cheryl Feldman: I would want to meet AOC. AOC, if you're not familiar, she's a Congresswoman from New York City and she actually covers the district next to where I live. But I think she does really... I think she's pushing for a lot of the right change. I also really like her and I actually graduated from the same high school and we actually have the same birthday.
Mike Gerholdt: Oh wow.
Cheryl Feldman: Yeah. I-
Mike Gerholdt: Well, you got a nice breaker right there.
Cheryl Feldman: Yes. And so I just think she would be really interesting to talk to, especially because I'm a little bit older than her, but we're from the same area, we're both achieving things, pushing things in the right direction. I think it would just, she'd be really cool to talk to. I really have always felt that way.
Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. If you were stranded on an island, what album would you bring?
Cheryl Feldman: I would bring Pearl Jam, Ten.
Mike Gerholdt: Oh my God. You win. That is my choice.
Cheryl Feldman: That's one of my favorite albums, either that or Nirvana, Nevermind.
Mike Gerholdt: Yep. See, those are the albums you bring.
Cheryl Feldman: Yeah.
Mike Gerholdt: Last question. I'll let you off the hook. Five words that describe you.
Cheryl Feldman: Tough, nice, funny, fair, smart.
Mike Gerholdt: Fantastic. Well, Cheryl, thank you for being tough and sticking through this interview, and I appreciate you nicely answering my questions and being funny and fair in your responses.
Cheryl Feldman: While I'm still on here, could I actually give a shout out to something I have in Beta that I would love admins to try?
Mike Gerholdt: Oh yeah, absolutely.
Cheryl Feldman: We have a feature in Beta that I would love every single awesome admin to try. That is, we have a feature when you are managing assignments of promotion sets and permission site groups, you can now set an expiration date. For example, let's say you are a Salesforce admin, and maybe you are going on parental leave or you are going on vacation for a couple of weeks and there's going to be somebody temporarily taking over your admin work while you're out. You want to temporarily grant access to those maybe high level permissions like customized application, modify all data, manage users, things like that. You can create a permission set and then say, okay, I only want this person to have it for three weeks while I'm out. And then it would automatically shut off. We have that in Beta right now and I would love for admins to try it.
Mike Gerholdt: I will include that in the show notes. Is there a link or if they're interested in participating in the Beta, what do they do?
Cheryl Feldman: Yep. They can self enable the Beta under the user management settings and setup, and you can turn it on and I will send you the link from the help and training.
Mike Gerholdt: Okay. Perfect. Well, Cheryl, thank you so much for taking time out. I'm excited to have you onboard and overseeing how our admins are taking care of our users and setting up profiles and permission sets and guiding Salesforce down that path.
Cheryl Feldman: Yeah. It's really exciting. I'm really excited about it.
Mike Gerholdt: I appreciate it. I'm going to go listen to Pearl Jam Ten now. What a great conversation with Cheryl. If I didn't point it out already, I totally picked the same albums to be stuck on a stranded island, big Pearl Jam fan. Be sure to check out the show notes. I did include that link to the set expiration date for perm sets, the Beta feature that Cheryl talked about. Be sure to look for that. Of course, if you want to learn more about all things Salesforce admin, go to admin.salesforce.com to find more resources. There's new podcast swag in the Trailhead store and you know the holidays are just around the corner so think of how great it would be for all of your family to get a Salesforce admin's podcast or at least that's what I'd want under my tree. Be sure to pick up some swag. I'll include the link in the show notes.
Direct download: The_Future_of_Permissions_for_Admins_with_Cheryl_Feldman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:20am PDT