Salesforce Admins Podcast

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we talk to Khushwant Singh, SVP, Product Management at Salesforce.

 

Join us as we talk about his role heading up all things Experience—not just Experience Cloud but Experience Services, too.

 

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Khushwant Singh.

The Experience dream team

Khushwant, AKA “Khush”, heads up Experience at Salesforce. If that term is a little nebulous to you, you’re not alone, but Khush breaks it down for us. Experience Services brings a few teams together: the UI Platform team, the Experience Cloud team, the Mobile team, and the Mobify team. “We’re responsible for all things Experience, and it helps us build a common product strategy across the board,” Khush says, “whether you’re building an experience for an employee, a customer, or partner.”

 

Lightning Experience has really changed the game for Admins in terms of stepping up in their thinking about design, but Khush points out there’s also a bit of a divide there. “If you build a component for the App Builder, it may or may not work in the Experience Builder,” he says, “but as a Salesforce Admin or Developer, you want your investments to go across all of your various endpoints.”

Re-architecting to improve scaling, performance, and customizability

Experience Cloud is a very flexible tool that you should really look into if you haven’t yet. You can use it build out a simple marketing website, a self-service destination like a help center or account management site, or even a channel reselling portal or commerce storefront.

 

While Lightning and Aura have done a lot to enable Admins to build out things they never thought possible with low code and fast time to market, Khush admits we seem to have hit a wall from a performance, scale, and customizability point of view. To address that, they’ve been re-architecting to let you build new things more easily at a consumer-grade scale.

What’s next for Experience Cloud

One thing that will be going live soon (forward looking statement) is a major performance boost to public-facing apps and sites. They’ve revamped the out-of-the-box CDN (Content Delivery Network) to allow public aspects of your site and mobile apps to be cached at endpoints closer to the consumer, enabling much faster delivery. One other change is adding dynamic image resizing so the same image looks equally good on mobile, desktop, and tablet. The best part is these and many more improvements are enabled by default, so you get the performance boost without having to lift a finger.

 

Looking forward, Khush and his team are revamping the Salesforce Content Management System (CMS) to make it more robust, powerful, and responsive. They’re breaking down the barriers and rolling out the advanced version of Salesforce CMS to all customers for free, and you can get access to the new-and-improved JSON-based CMS 2.0 beta with an opt-in.

 

Khush also gives a preview into what he and his team are working on to make improvements to data to, for example, bring Dynamic Forms to all standard objects, and even more goodies for desktop, mobile, and everything in between. Make sure you listen to the full episode to hear what’s coming your way soon.

 

 

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Full show transcript

Gillian Bruce: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast, where we talk about product, community and careers to help you be an awesome admin. I'm your host today, Gillian Bruce, and we have a really fun episode lined up for you. We are talking with Khushwant Singh, AKA Kush, who's SVP of Product Management here at Salesforce, in charge of all things experience. And I mean all things experience, not just experience cloud, but Experience Services. And if you're wondering what all that means, don't worry, he's going to answer that for you. So without further ado, let's get Kush on the pod. Kush, welcome to the podcast.

Khushwant Singh: Thank you, Gillian.

Gillian Bruce: It's wonderful to have you on. I am very much looking forward to our discussion because we are talking about something that might be a little nebulous to some of us, especially if you've been in the Salesforce ecosystem for a while. We have experience cloud, Experience Services, experience all the things. Kush, clarify for us what all of that means.

Khushwant Singh: Well, Gillian, I wish I got that question, or rather I wish I had proactively answered that question at the recent TDX. So just a bit of a sidetrack, a little, for those of you who attended the recent TDX, we had a true to the call session where a few of us were up on stage and I introduced myself as, "My name's Kush, I'm a product manager and I work on all things experiences." Now, I honestly thought that I would be inundated with questions, but I realized that I actually got zero questions, and I realized that people just probably didn't get what all things experience means. So I'm going to learn from that, and be very clear in our conversation over here. So taking a step back, when we say, we just recently realigned some of our teams internally, and we've created this group internally called Experience Services. And what Experience Services is, is that it brings together a few teams together.
First and foremost, we have our UI platform team. And so from a UI platform perspective, think of it as all things web runtime, whether it's Aura, Lightning Web Runtime, LWC or Lightning Web Components. It includes things that all of the good components you have in Lex, so the record forms, lists, performance, et cetera, so that's the UI platform team. Then we also brought the experience cloud team, which really is, takes all the goodness that we have in Lex, and manifests it to customers and partners, external facing customers and partners. We do have instances where it's also facing employees as employee intranets, but it takes all of that goodness. We also brought together our mobile teams. So whether that's the Salesforce Flagship mobile app, whether that's our mobile SDK, whether that's taking an experience cloud side and creating a hybrid mobile app out of it through Mobile Publisher, we brought the mobile team together as well.
And then finally, we brought the MobiFi team, which some of you may know as the managed runtime offering to build out these progressive web apps for commercial use cases. So in a nutshell, this Experience Services team brings together the UI platform, brings together experience cloud, brings together the mobile teams and brings MobiFi together. So what we can do now is collectively, we are responsible for all things experiences, and it helps us build a common product strategy across the board, whether you're building an experience for an employee, a customer, or a partner for that matter.

Gillian Bruce: So that was really helpful, it helped me understand this because again, experience is one of those words that, especially as a Salesforce admin, we're always thinking about our end users experience. That's our whole goal is to make it seamless and make it really useful. But as you just described, experiences is so many things. And I really appreciate that you have explained how the teams are uniting under this umbrella, to really think about the holistic picture when it comes to these different experiences pieces. UI, designers' mindset, is one of the core admin skills that we have because it's always thinking about how is my user experience in this? How can I maximize that experience, make it more efficient? And when you talk about Lightning experience that, God, talk about something that changed the game for admins.

Khushwant Singh: I know, it did. It did entirely. It changed the game, but it also in full transparency, we added a bit of a divide as well. So if you take examples where you build a component for the App Builder, it may or may not work in the Experience Builder. You have a set of record components that look gloriously well on Lex, but they may not surface all of the capabilities, the actions don't surface in the Experience Builder or vice versa, the branding, the themeing, the mobile web responsiveness aspect of things that show up on Experience Builder, don't show up in the App Builder side of things. And so we have introduced this divide, which actually has made our... Well, each team has done a phenomenal job in going deep in their use cases, it's been at an expense of a divide where, as a Salesforce admin, as a Salesforce developer, you want your investments to go across all of your various endpoints. You might be a Salesforce admin for a company that is using Salesforce for their employee experience. For example, the service agents.
Similarly, within your same company, you may have an endpoint, a customer help center, which is customer facing, or you might be selling products through channels, which is also partner facing, and you want your investments to be able to run across ideally. So again, all teams have done great in their specific areas, but by bringing us together, we are really hopeful that we can deliver more value for our Salesforce admins and our developers as they manage all of these various endpoints.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. I think as a company, for someone who's maybe been in the ecosystem for a long time, this is a familiar road, is that we develop something really close. One team goes down and develops this new way of doing something and then we have shadow examples of it happening all separately within the company. And then, hey, let's bring everybody together, let's make this a more cohesive, holistic experience for our admins, for our developers. And it's exciting to bring all those really smart brains together to work together versus everyone working in a silo.

Khushwant Singh: Indeed. And I think it's also indicative of trying to complete what we start. I think we've heard from admins, just this recent TDX, I mean, and at every TDX or any Dreamforce we do, any through the core session or any feedback we get from our MVPs and our admins out there, developers. They'll give us feedback, which is actually quite true. We start something, but we don't complete it. We say something that we will deliver something, but we, at times, don't deliver it. And so I think by bringing all of our teams together, that manage experience, I think it really... Organizational differences should not be the reason why we are not able to complete what we start or deliver what we say we will deliver. And so we are really hopeful that we'll be able to actually address those two key areas.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. I've always heard the joke. We don't want to let our org chart show.

Khushwant Singh: Exactly. Across both desktop and mobile for that matter.

Gillian Bruce: Totally. Yeah. So Kush, before we get a little bit further, I mean, clearly you've got a big undertaking that you and your teams are doing. Can you tell me a little bit about you and how you got here? How long have you been at Salesforce because all of these works have been in progress for a long time. You mentioned when we released Lightning experience. Tell me a little bit about your background.

Khushwant Singh: Oh yeah, sure. So I've been at Salesforce, I think, May sometime this month is my seventh year anniversary.

Gillian Bruce: Congratulations.

Khushwant Singh: Thank you. And I have truly enjoyed every single day of my time here at Salesforce. If you look at my background, I rarely spend more than five to six years in a company. And the fact that I'm here for the seventh year and still super challenged, just speaks towards what Salesforce offers from a challenge, point of view. There's always something new, there's always a new challenge for us to work on. And I've actually spent probably six and a half or six and three quarters of that seven years working on Experience Cloud. And so most of my background is from a B2C side of things. I spend some time at eBay, at Microsoft, at a startup called Mozi, working on a number of B2C oriented products. And I wanted to build products in an enterprise setting for enterprise, but I didn't want to veer too far away from the consumer side of things, the B2C side of things. And Experience Cloud really helped me walk that fine line where you're building these digital experience products that are used by enterprises for their customers, for their partners. So it really gave me a good middle ground.
That said, Experience Cloud is a, it's a platform upon the overall Salesforce platform. And so over the last six and a half years or so, I've had the opportunity to work with some immensely dedicated individuals on the platform side of things as well. And so that bring a lot of the goodness that we see in Lex and Experience Cloud and Mobile to life. And so bringing the teams together was like bringing a group of old friends together.

Gillian Bruce: I love that, getting the band back together, that's good.

Khushwant Singh: There you go.

Gillian Bruce: Okay. So let's talk a little bit about what's currently going on in Experience Cloud. So I know there were some good announcements at Dreamforce last year, at DBX this year. Can you talk a little bit about where we're currently at with Experience Cloud and why maybe an admin who hasn't yet dabbled in Experience Cloud might consider it?

Khushwant Singh: Sure. So again, just to level set, one more time, a customer uses Experience Cloud for a number of use cases. You could use Experience Cloud to build out a simple marketing website, corporate website. You could use Experience Cloud to build out a self-service destination, so that self-service destination could be a help center, where you want to surface your knowledge base articles, where you wish to surface chat bots, where you wish to, for example, give your customers the ability to log in and manage their account, manage their profile for that matter. Similarly, you could use Experience Cloud to build out a channel reseller portal, where you may not be selling direct or you may be selling direct, but you also sell through your various channels and you need a way to manage your channels. You could use Experience Cloud to build a commerce storefront, whether it's a B2B commerce storefront, a B2C commerce storefront, et cetera.
So Experience Cloud, you can use it for a variety of different customer facing, partner facing use cases. In fact, I should also mention employee facing use cases. You could build out a company intranet for that very matter as well. And so over the last years, last few years with introduction of Lightning and Aura, for that matter, it really revolutionized the ability for our customers to build all of this out in a very low code, fast time to market aspect of things. And we've seen phenomenal adoption, super humbled, by the adoption, we've gotten North of 70,000 odd sites. I think our MAU is around, our monthly active usage is maybe about 40 to 50 million. We have a daily active usage of about five to 6 million. And so, I mean, again, super thankful to all of the customers and the admins and the developers out there who have invested so much of their time in Experience Cloud.
That said, as with every technology, there comes a time where you've hit a bit of a wall and we hit a wall with Aura, from a performance, from a scale, from a customizability point of view. Where you can see that as you are trying to build out these next generation consumer grade experiences like storefronts, like websites, even these consumer grade portals, where you expect an iPhone like Experience, whether it's employee facing or customer facing experience. So we hit a bit of a wall with Aura. And so over the last, I would say 18 months, we've been, for lack of a better way to put it, somewhat silent in terms of our feature deliverables. Sure, we've been delivering a few features here and there, but like our MVP, we have a really passionate and amazing MVP out there. His name is Phil Weinmeister-

Gillian Bruce: Yes. We know Phil very well.

Khushwant Singh: Exactly. And so I think many of you must have seen his post where he's actually tracking the number of features that Experience Cloud launches. And he showed this bar graph, that showed the decreasing number of features over the last 18 months. And I replied to him and again, huge respect for Phil. And the fact of the matter is that we've had to go under the hood and rebuild from ground up using Lightning Web Runtime, using Lightning Web Components, so that we can actually deliver this consumer grade scale and performance and customizability, whether it's a B2B, B2C or B2E type of use case. And so we've been "silent for a while" but I'm super excited at what's coming in this summer release, and what's going to go. A lot of it going to go generally available this winter release. So again, long story short, we have been re-architecting for consumer grade across the entire customer journey.
So whether you're looking at an awareness use case, whether you're looking for an acquisition use case, a service use case, a loyalty use case, you want to deliver consumer grade across the board. And with Lightning Web Runtime, with Lightning Web Components, we do believe that we've got the right foundation upon which we can actually deliver these experiences. So that's the overarching area where we're headed.

Gillian Bruce: I mean, that's impressive. I mean, we talk, especially even as admins, we have our own technical that we accrue over many years of admining a specific org. And sometimes you do, you got to just go back, peel back the covers and go in and make sure everything, the foundations are updated and running better. And hey, if you got a system that's not working for you, you got to invest the time and pause on the new stuff for a minute. Let's make the core stuff really work and function so that we can continue to build. So I love that transparency. I think it's really useful to help our admins and everybody understand what all of the hard work that your team is doing. And yeah, I mean, hey, now that we talked about all the hard work that you've all been doing, let's talk about some of the shiny new fun things that you have coming down the page.

Khushwant Singh: Yeah, of course. So now I think on that note, I do also want to underscore that we have so many, all of that adoption stats that I talked about, they're all visual force or mostly Aura investments. And I want to underscore that we're not just leaving Aura or VF behind. And so there are many aspects that customers on Aura or customers on VF would also be able to benefit from. So let's dive into those shiny aspects of things. So I think if we think of this as maybe a stack diagram, maybe we'll start at the lowest level of infrastructure. What are we doing from an infrastructure point of view to help deliver that consumer grade type of experiences? So, first and foremost, we've invested a fair amount of time and effort to deliver performance. And so, one of the things you'll start to notice is, our out of the box CDN, so behind the scenes we work with Akamai, and what that does is that it allows, it just provides customers an out of the box CDN that they can actually choose to use.

Gillian Bruce: So Kush, before we go forward, what is a CDN? Let's break down that.

Khushwant Singh: Sure. It's a content delivery network. What that does is it allows your public aspects of your site, of your mobile app to be cashed on these endpoints, which are closer to the consumer, and so that allows for faster delivery. And if it doesn't change, if that public information doesn't change very much, it's served out of cash versus another round hub back. So again, at the end of the day, it's about better delivery of, faster delivery of the experience. Now this used to be a bit of an opt in thing and so what we have done now is as of spring and summer and winter, what we're doing is behind the scenes, we are rolling out as part of the secure domains effort, as secure domains is being enabled across all net new sites and existing sites. We are just enabling the default CDN by default, so it's an opt out versus an opt in.
So from that perspective, we are trying to ensure that everyone gets a phenomenal performance from the get go. Now, similarly, another thing that we are really excited about is, and the teams working on it, is as part of the out the box, CDN from an infrastructure point of view is being able to get more capabilities out of that, out of CDN. Now, have you gone to a site where the images look really weird, wonky, feels like this is a desktop site they're trying to throw onto a mobile or a tablet?

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. Everything's out of perspective. And you got to try and scroll weird ways. Yeah.

Khushwant Singh: Exactly. So another thing that if you use the out of the box CDN, another thing that our customers can look forward to is dynamic image resizing. So when you are the same image renders well on a mobile, a tablet, a desktop, and similarly, if you are an admin, you may inadvertently upload a, I don't know what? 20 MB file, image, and then say, "Look, why is my site loading so slowly?" And so what we're trying to do is also correct that, where you may upload a 20MB file, please don't, but what we'll do on our side, on the CDN side of things, we'll resize that and ensure that we are delivering a more optimized image to the customer. So that's another thing that we are really excited about, from an infrastructure point of view. So lots of good work happening from a perf point of view.
Now, then there is scale. So from a scale point of view, we have aspects like concurrency. So concurrent user scale, so how many users can you support on that portal? Concurrent read scale, so how many requests are coming in concurrently? And before the site just says, "Look I can't handle this." And concurrent rights. So for example, you may be running a promotion and that promotion, you may advertise that on Twitter or on Instagram, and then you suddenly have this massive surge of folks coming to your site and they all want to sign up to know when it's going to be made available. How do we ensure that those rights don't kneel over and just fall over? So again, a lot of the work that we are doing around infrastructure, whether it's performance and scale, are things that we have been rolling out slowly over the last few releases. And then we really look to bring it home over the course of the summer and the winter releases, so that's from an infrastructure point of view.

Gillian Bruce: Nice.

Khushwant Singh: Now, as we move up the stack, we can talk about things like data and content. Now, let's start off with content Salesforce in general, has had a bit of a content management gap for a little while. And we have customers using third party content management systems, et cetera, to compliment the data investments that they have in Salesforce. Now, probably I would say 24 months back, we introduced Salesforce CMS, which was, for the very first time a content management system from Salesforce. Now, what we've come to realize over the 24 months is that boy, do we need a lot more improvements to it. And so over the last, I would say 18 months, we have been actually re-architecting the content management system from ground up. It is going to be JSON based. So very standard point of view.
JSON also would allow our customers to model many different types of content, whether that content is a blog, an email et cetera. Very extensible, so from that point of view, if we don't offer something out of the box, you can add a sidebar extension that allows you, like Grammarly that would say, "Hey, look," while you're typing this thing, it's telling you, you should add X, Y, and Z, et cetera. We also, 24 months back introduced two versions of the content management system. One was a free version, included version I would say, I shouldn't say free, the included version, and the other one was the paid version. What we realized really was, you know what, it's just artificial. Our customers really, they're coming to Salesforce for a variety of different use cases and content really should be something that supports and brings those use cases to life.
And so what we have done is as of the summer release, we have basically provided the paid CMS, which we have gotten rid of, and just given it, included it as part of all experienced cloud licenses. In fact there are so many licenses out there at Salesforce that use Experienced Cloud licenses. And so as of this summer, all of our customers will get the advanced version of content management. And at the same time, they will get access to the beta version of this new, what we call CMS 2.0 internally, we call that the JSON based. They'll get beta access to that as well, without any sort of opt-in, there's a check box, they have to check and they'll be able to take it for a spin. But we look to make that CMS 2.0, our next version of CMS generally available in the winter timeframe as well. So that's another massive uplift and improvement that we're doing from a content management point of view. And democratizing content altogether.

Gillian Bruce: That's great. I mean, I know admins are going to be very excited to be able to access that great capability without having to jump through any additional hoops to get it. So thank you.

Khushwant Singh: Exactly. Now, let's talk about data. Now, when we think about the data side of things, this is where a lot of our investments, at least from an Experience services point of view is that we have teams that are experts in records, Dynamic Forms, lists, and they're doing a lot of good work to expand. For example, Dynamic Forms today it's only available in custom objects, why? It should go across all standard objects. That's something that the team is working on. I'm really glad that we are going to stay really true to the fact that when we start something, we are going to end it and we are going to go all the way, at the same time this team is also working to bring all of that goodness across to not just employee facing experiences in Lex but also to customer facing, partner facing experiences via Experience Cloud.
And so that's one example where, as one unit Experience Services, it really brings benefit across all of the various endpoints, whether it's Lexio Experience Cloud or mobile for that matter. So that's something that we are really looking forward to. And then over on top of that, the ability to surface that data, but represent it in different visualizations. So you may want to show a list view in the form of a grid or in the form of a certain set of tiles. Because again, you want to do that because it's customer facing, it's partner facing, you have to apply your style guide on it, et cetera. So that's all the goodness that you can expect to see over the course of the next two releases from a data point of view.

Gillian Bruce: I mean, that's major stuff. I know that Dynamic Forms is one of the top favorite admin feature overall. And so being able to bring that to standard objects will be huge. So thank you. Thank you on behalf of all admins everywhere.

Khushwant Singh: It's a shout out to all of the good teams that are working on that front. So we touched about infra, we touched about content, we touched about data. Now, let's touch about the UI run time itself, which is Lightning Web Runtime and Lightning Web Components. Clearly the degree of, out of the box components for Aura, there are a lot more out of the box components for Aura than they are for LWCs, no doubt about it. And so what we're trying to do is we are trying to catch up to a certain degree, but catch up in a way that is addressing the most important use cases from out the box component point of view, but at the same time, not sacrificing customizability. And so from an LWR point of view, a few things to call out.
One is, I'll start off first with, when you build a site with Experience Cloud and with LWR and LWCs, search is always a use case that comes up. And by search, we tend to just think maybe at times CRM search, but really our customers are thinking of it as site search. They want to be able to cut across whether it's a CRM, whether it's site meta information, like the page title, the site title, or something that's in a text, a rich text component, whether that's CMS content, whether those are products or any other objects, they want to be able to search the entire site.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. They don't know the differences between that, they just want to find what they need.

Khushwant Singh: Exactly. And so for them, this is complexity that we should abstract from them. And so again, this is something that our customers can expect to see in beta, in the summer timeframe. And all goes, well, we're going to take the hood off and generally make it available in the winter timeframe, starting with site meta information and CMS content as part of the index. And then we're going to expand that to CRM and to other objects for that matter.

Gillian Bruce: All right. So just a reminder to all listeners, forward looking statement applies to everything that Kush just said, this is what happens when we get excited in product information. Yeah.

Khushwant Singh: Exactly. And that too, as well. Yes. So I think, again from an LWR point of view, there's just so much more maturity that customers can expect to see with LWR and Experience Cloud. Because whether it's out of the box components for content, for data, whether it's search, whether it is even the ability to deliver these dynamic experiences. So one of the things that our customers really appreciate in Aura is the ability to personalize the experience using CRM information. So show me this content, this data, if user.account equals to X, Y, Z, et cetera. And so the ability to deliver that type of personalization is key, but at the same time, they want to be able to do things like real time personalization. So using, for example, Evergage or interaction studio for that matter.
So as you're browsing the site or portal, you're able to get relevant information that's on the fly generated. So those are another aspects of LWR that we are investing in very heavily. So whether it's infrastructure, whether it's data, whether it's content, whether it's the UI framework and the various personalization aspects of things, lots of investment happening. Now, all of this has to translate and manifest on mobile. And so that's the other dimension that we are heavily investing in. So whether you are customizing the experience in design time, as an admin, to say, "Hey, look, you know what? I want to show this image on desktop, but another image on mobile, or I want to have this font you applied in mobile versus on desktop. I want to be able to take my LWR site and use Mobile Publisher to create a mobile app that I can deploy via the app stores." Those are all areas that we are working on over the course of the next two releases as well. So again, lots of excitement as we work across this entire site.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. Lots coming. Well, Kush I so appreciate you taking the time to chat with us here on the podcast about all things, Experience Services, Experience Cloud. I know I got a lot of questions answered. I'm sure a lot of people listening are very happy to hear all of the things that you and your team are working on. And I'm sure they will have many more questions. So I'll include links to some of the great trailblazer community groups that you have set up for Lightning Experience and for Experience Cloud, for people to submit feedback. And thanks again for all of the work that you and your team do. And I look forward to checking back in with you after a couple releases here and coming back to what you all have done and hearing about what is even next from then on.

Khushwant Singh: For sure Gillian. I mean, I truly appreciate the opportunity. And again, to all our Salesforce admins, you are our eyes and ears out there. Feedback is a gift, please keep it coming. And we're so appreciative of all that you do for us.

Gillian Bruce: Huge, thanks to coach for taking the time to chat with us. He and his team have been so busy working on really important foundational improvements to both Experience Cloud and Experience Services. And it's so great to now understand what Experience Services mean because for us admins, it means a lot of the stuff that we use every day. So, hey, I don't know about you, but I'm excited about Dynamic Lightning pages coming for standard objects. Woo, woo. Again, forward looking statement, but I look forward to getting Kush back on the podcast to ask him about that once it has been released in a few releases. So if you want to learn more or you have more feedback about anything, Experience Cloud or Experience Services, Kush, and his team pay close attention to the trailblazer community. So go to the Lightning Experience group or the Experience Cloud group on the trailblazer community and put your feedback in there, put your questions in there. He's got an amazing team of very talented people.
And if you want to learn anything else about how you can be a successful Salesforce admin, go to my favorite website, admin.salesforce.com. There you can find other great podcasts, blogs, and videos to help you in your Salesforce admin journey. I also encourage you to check out the new Salesforce admin skills kit, which we just launched last month. And it is right there on the admin@salesforce.com webpage. Check it out, let me know what you think, we're going to do some great podcast episodes about that, coming up here real soon. If you want to follow my guest today, Kush, you can find him @Kush_singh. You can follow me @Gilliankbruce. And you can follow Mike, my amazing co-host @Mikegerholdt. You can follow everything awesome admin related @Salesforceadmns, no I, on Twitter. With that, I hope you have a great rest of your day and I'll catch you next time in the cloud.



Direct download: Experience_Cloud_with_Khushwant_Singh.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PDT

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we talk to Khushwant Singh, SVP, Product Management at Salesforce.

 

Join us as we talk about his role heading up all things Experience—not just Experience Cloud but Experience Services, too.

 

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Khushwant Singh.

The Experience dream team

Khushwant, AKA “Khush”, heads up Experience at Salesforce. If that term is a little nebulous to you, you’re not alone, but Khush breaks it down for us. Experience Services brings a few teams together: the UI Platform team, the Experience Cloud team, the Mobile team, and the Mobify team. “We’re responsible for all things Experience, and it helps us build a common product strategy across the board,” Khush says, “whether you’re building an experience for an employee, a customer, or partner.”

 

Lightning Experience has really changed the game for Admins in terms of stepping up in their thinking about design, but Khush points out there’s also a bit of a divide there. “If you build a component for the App Builder, it may or may not work in the Experience Builder,” he says, “but as a Salesforce Admin or Developer, you want your investments to go across all of your various endpoints.”

Re-architecting to improve scaling, performance, and customizability

Experience Cloud is a very flexible tool that you should really look into if you haven’t yet. You can use it build out a simple marketing website, a self-service destination like a help center or account management site, or even a channel reselling portal or commerce storefront.

 

While Lightning and Aura have done a lot to enable Admins to build out things they never thought possible with low code and fast time to market, Khush admits we seem to have hit a wall from a performance, scale, and customizability point of view. To address that, they’ve been re-architecting to let you build new things more easily at a consumer-grade scale.

What’s next for Experience Cloud

One thing that will be going live soon (forward looking statement) is a major performance boost to public-facing apps and sites. They’ve revamped the out-of-the-box CDN (Content Delivery Network) to allow public aspects of your site and mobile apps to be cached at endpoints closer to the consumer, enabling much faster delivery. One other change is adding dynamic image resizing so the same image looks equally good on mobile, desktop, and tablet. The best part is these and many more improvements are enabled by default, so you get the performance boost without having to lift a finger.

 

Looking forward, Khush and his team are revamping the Salesforce Content Management System (CMS) to make it more robust, powerful, and responsive. They’re breaking down the barriers and rolling out the advanced version of Salesforce CMS to all customers for free, and you can get access to the new-and-improved JSON-based CMS 2.0 beta with an opt-in.

 

Khush also gives a preview into what he and his team are working on to make improvements to data to, for example, bring Dynamic Forms to all standard objects, and even more goodies for desktop, mobile, and everything in between. Make sure you listen to the full episode to hear what’s coming your way soon.

 

 

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Full show transcript

Gillian Bruce: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast, where we talk about product, community and careers to help you be an awesome admin. I'm your host today, Gillian Bruce, and we have a really fun episode lined up for you. We are talking with Khushwant Singh, AKA Kush, who's SVP of Product Management here at Salesforce, in charge of all things experience. And I mean all things experience, not just experience cloud, but Experience Services. And if you're wondering what all that means, don't worry, he's going to answer that for you. So without further ado, let's get Kush on the pod. Kush, welcome to the podcast.

Khushwant Singh: Thank you, Gillian.

Gillian Bruce: It's wonderful to have you on. I am very much looking forward to our discussion because we are talking about something that might be a little nebulous to some of us, especially if you've been in the Salesforce ecosystem for a while. We have experience cloud, Experience Services, experience all the things. Kush, clarify for us what all of that means.

Khushwant Singh: Well, Gillian, I wish I got that question, or rather I wish I had proactively answered that question at the recent TDX. So just a bit of a sidetrack, a little, for those of you who attended the recent TDX, we had a true to the call session where a few of us were up on stage and I introduced myself as, "My name's Kush, I'm a product manager and I work on all things experiences." Now, I honestly thought that I would be inundated with questions, but I realized that I actually got zero questions, and I realized that people just probably didn't get what all things experience means. So I'm going to learn from that, and be very clear in our conversation over here. So taking a step back, when we say, we just recently realigned some of our teams internally, and we've created this group internally called Experience Services. And what Experience Services is, is that it brings together a few teams together.
First and foremost, we have our UI platform team. And so from a UI platform perspective, think of it as all things web runtime, whether it's Aura, Lightning Web Runtime, LWC or Lightning Web Components. It includes things that all of the good components you have in Lex, so the record forms, lists, performance, et cetera, so that's the UI platform team. Then we also brought the experience cloud team, which really is, takes all the goodness that we have in Lex, and manifests it to customers and partners, external facing customers and partners. We do have instances where it's also facing employees as employee intranets, but it takes all of that goodness. We also brought together our mobile teams. So whether that's the Salesforce Flagship mobile app, whether that's our mobile SDK, whether that's taking an experience cloud side and creating a hybrid mobile app out of it through Mobile Publisher, we brought the mobile team together as well.
And then finally, we brought the MobiFi team, which some of you may know as the managed runtime offering to build out these progressive web apps for commercial use cases. So in a nutshell, this Experience Services team brings together the UI platform, brings together experience cloud, brings together the mobile teams and brings MobiFi together. So what we can do now is collectively, we are responsible for all things experiences, and it helps us build a common product strategy across the board, whether you're building an experience for an employee, a customer, or a partner for that matter.

Gillian Bruce: So that was really helpful, it helped me understand this because again, experience is one of those words that, especially as a Salesforce admin, we're always thinking about our end users experience. That's our whole goal is to make it seamless and make it really useful. But as you just described, experiences is so many things. And I really appreciate that you have explained how the teams are uniting under this umbrella, to really think about the holistic picture when it comes to these different experiences pieces. UI, designers' mindset, is one of the core admin skills that we have because it's always thinking about how is my user experience in this? How can I maximize that experience, make it more efficient? And when you talk about Lightning experience that, God, talk about something that changed the game for admins.

Khushwant Singh: I know, it did. It did entirely. It changed the game, but it also in full transparency, we added a bit of a divide as well. So if you take examples where you build a component for the App Builder, it may or may not work in the Experience Builder. You have a set of record components that look gloriously well on Lex, but they may not surface all of the capabilities, the actions don't surface in the Experience Builder or vice versa, the branding, the themeing, the mobile web responsiveness aspect of things that show up on Experience Builder, don't show up in the App Builder side of things. And so we have introduced this divide, which actually has made our... Well, each team has done a phenomenal job in going deep in their use cases, it's been at an expense of a divide where, as a Salesforce admin, as a Salesforce developer, you want your investments to go across all of your various endpoints. You might be a Salesforce admin for a company that is using Salesforce for their employee experience. For example, the service agents.
Similarly, within your same company, you may have an endpoint, a customer help center, which is customer facing, or you might be selling products through channels, which is also partner facing, and you want your investments to be able to run across ideally. So again, all teams have done great in their specific areas, but by bringing us together, we are really hopeful that we can deliver more value for our Salesforce admins and our developers as they manage all of these various endpoints.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. I think as a company, for someone who's maybe been in the ecosystem for a long time, this is a familiar road, is that we develop something really close. One team goes down and develops this new way of doing something and then we have shadow examples of it happening all separately within the company. And then, hey, let's bring everybody together, let's make this a more cohesive, holistic experience for our admins, for our developers. And it's exciting to bring all those really smart brains together to work together versus everyone working in a silo.

Khushwant Singh: Indeed. And I think it's also indicative of trying to complete what we start. I think we've heard from admins, just this recent TDX, I mean, and at every TDX or any Dreamforce we do, any through the core session or any feedback we get from our MVPs and our admins out there, developers. They'll give us feedback, which is actually quite true. We start something, but we don't complete it. We say something that we will deliver something, but we, at times, don't deliver it. And so I think by bringing all of our teams together, that manage experience, I think it really... Organizational differences should not be the reason why we are not able to complete what we start or deliver what we say we will deliver. And so we are really hopeful that we'll be able to actually address those two key areas.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. I've always heard the joke. We don't want to let our org chart show.

Khushwant Singh: Exactly. Across both desktop and mobile for that matter.

Gillian Bruce: Totally. Yeah. So Kush, before we get a little bit further, I mean, clearly you've got a big undertaking that you and your teams are doing. Can you tell me a little bit about you and how you got here? How long have you been at Salesforce because all of these works have been in progress for a long time. You mentioned when we released Lightning experience. Tell me a little bit about your background.

Khushwant Singh: Oh yeah, sure. So I've been at Salesforce, I think, May sometime this month is my seventh year anniversary.

Gillian Bruce: Congratulations.

Khushwant Singh: Thank you. And I have truly enjoyed every single day of my time here at Salesforce. If you look at my background, I rarely spend more than five to six years in a company. And the fact that I'm here for the seventh year and still super challenged, just speaks towards what Salesforce offers from a challenge, point of view. There's always something new, there's always a new challenge for us to work on. And I've actually spent probably six and a half or six and three quarters of that seven years working on Experience Cloud. And so most of my background is from a B2C side of things. I spend some time at eBay, at Microsoft, at a startup called Mozi, working on a number of B2C oriented products. And I wanted to build products in an enterprise setting for enterprise, but I didn't want to veer too far away from the consumer side of things, the B2C side of things. And Experience Cloud really helped me walk that fine line where you're building these digital experience products that are used by enterprises for their customers, for their partners. So it really gave me a good middle ground.
That said, Experience Cloud is a, it's a platform upon the overall Salesforce platform. And so over the last six and a half years or so, I've had the opportunity to work with some immensely dedicated individuals on the platform side of things as well. And so that bring a lot of the goodness that we see in Lex and Experience Cloud and Mobile to life. And so bringing the teams together was like bringing a group of old friends together.

Gillian Bruce: I love that, getting the band back together, that's good.

Khushwant Singh: There you go.

Gillian Bruce: Okay. So let's talk a little bit about what's currently going on in Experience Cloud. So I know there were some good announcements at Dreamforce last year, at DBX this year. Can you talk a little bit about where we're currently at with Experience Cloud and why maybe an admin who hasn't yet dabbled in Experience Cloud might consider it?

Khushwant Singh: Sure. So again, just to level set, one more time, a customer uses Experience Cloud for a number of use cases. You could use Experience Cloud to build out a simple marketing website, corporate website. You could use Experience Cloud to build out a self-service destination, so that self-service destination could be a help center, where you want to surface your knowledge base articles, where you wish to surface chat bots, where you wish to, for example, give your customers the ability to log in and manage their account, manage their profile for that matter. Similarly, you could use Experience Cloud to build out a channel reseller portal, where you may not be selling direct or you may be selling direct, but you also sell through your various channels and you need a way to manage your channels. You could use Experience Cloud to build a commerce storefront, whether it's a B2B commerce storefront, a B2C commerce storefront, et cetera.
So Experience Cloud, you can use it for a variety of different customer facing, partner facing use cases. In fact, I should also mention employee facing use cases. You could build out a company intranet for that very matter as well. And so over the last years, last few years with introduction of Lightning and Aura, for that matter, it really revolutionized the ability for our customers to build all of this out in a very low code, fast time to market aspect of things. And we've seen phenomenal adoption, super humbled, by the adoption, we've gotten North of 70,000 odd sites. I think our MAU is around, our monthly active usage is maybe about 40 to 50 million. We have a daily active usage of about five to 6 million. And so, I mean, again, super thankful to all of the customers and the admins and the developers out there who have invested so much of their time in Experience Cloud.
That said, as with every technology, there comes a time where you've hit a bit of a wall and we hit a wall with Aura, from a performance, from a scale, from a customizability point of view. Where you can see that as you are trying to build out these next generation consumer grade experiences like storefronts, like websites, even these consumer grade portals, where you expect an iPhone like Experience, whether it's employee facing or customer facing experience. So we hit a bit of a wall with Aura. And so over the last, I would say 18 months, we've been, for lack of a better way to put it, somewhat silent in terms of our feature deliverables. Sure, we've been delivering a few features here and there, but like our MVP, we have a really passionate and amazing MVP out there. His name is Phil Weinmeister-

Gillian Bruce: Yes. We know Phil very well.

Khushwant Singh: Exactly. And so I think many of you must have seen his post where he's actually tracking the number of features that Experience Cloud launches. And he showed this bar graph, that showed the decreasing number of features over the last 18 months. And I replied to him and again, huge respect for Phil. And the fact of the matter is that we've had to go under the hood and rebuild from ground up using Lightning Web Runtime, using Lightning Web Components, so that we can actually deliver this consumer grade scale and performance and customizability, whether it's a B2B, B2C or B2E type of use case. And so we've been "silent for a while" but I'm super excited at what's coming in this summer release, and what's going to go. A lot of it going to go generally available this winter release. So again, long story short, we have been re-architecting for consumer grade across the entire customer journey.
So whether you're looking at an awareness use case, whether you're looking for an acquisition use case, a service use case, a loyalty use case, you want to deliver consumer grade across the board. And with Lightning Web Runtime, with Lightning Web Components, we do believe that we've got the right foundation upon which we can actually deliver these experiences. So that's the overarching area where we're headed.

Gillian Bruce: I mean, that's impressive. I mean, we talk, especially even as admins, we have our own technical that we accrue over many years of admining a specific org. And sometimes you do, you got to just go back, peel back the covers and go in and make sure everything, the foundations are updated and running better. And hey, if you got a system that's not working for you, you got to invest the time and pause on the new stuff for a minute. Let's make the core stuff really work and function so that we can continue to build. So I love that transparency. I think it's really useful to help our admins and everybody understand what all of the hard work that your team is doing. And yeah, I mean, hey, now that we talked about all the hard work that you've all been doing, let's talk about some of the shiny new fun things that you have coming down the page.

Khushwant Singh: Yeah, of course. So now I think on that note, I do also want to underscore that we have so many, all of that adoption stats that I talked about, they're all visual force or mostly Aura investments. And I want to underscore that we're not just leaving Aura or VF behind. And so there are many aspects that customers on Aura or customers on VF would also be able to benefit from. So let's dive into those shiny aspects of things. So I think if we think of this as maybe a stack diagram, maybe we'll start at the lowest level of infrastructure. What are we doing from an infrastructure point of view to help deliver that consumer grade type of experiences? So, first and foremost, we've invested a fair amount of time and effort to deliver performance. And so, one of the things you'll start to notice is, our out of the box CDN, so behind the scenes we work with Akamai, and what that does is that it allows, it just provides customers an out of the box CDN that they can actually choose to use.

Gillian Bruce: So Kush, before we go forward, what is a CDN? Let's break down that.

Khushwant Singh: Sure. It's a content delivery network. What that does is it allows your public aspects of your site, of your mobile app to be cashed on these endpoints, which are closer to the consumer, and so that allows for faster delivery. And if it doesn't change, if that public information doesn't change very much, it's served out of cash versus another round hub back. So again, at the end of the day, it's about better delivery of, faster delivery of the experience. Now this used to be a bit of an opt in thing and so what we have done now is as of spring and summer and winter, what we're doing is behind the scenes, we are rolling out as part of the secure domains effort, as secure domains is being enabled across all net new sites and existing sites. We are just enabling the default CDN by default, so it's an opt out versus an opt in.
So from that perspective, we are trying to ensure that everyone gets a phenomenal performance from the get go. Now, similarly, another thing that we are really excited about is, and the teams working on it, is as part of the out the box, CDN from an infrastructure point of view is being able to get more capabilities out of that, out of CDN. Now, have you gone to a site where the images look really weird, wonky, feels like this is a desktop site they're trying to throw onto a mobile or a tablet?

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. Everything's out of perspective. And you got to try and scroll weird ways. Yeah.

Khushwant Singh: Exactly. So another thing that if you use the out of the box CDN, another thing that our customers can look forward to is dynamic image resizing. So when you are the same image renders well on a mobile, a tablet, a desktop, and similarly, if you are an admin, you may inadvertently upload a, I don't know what? 20 MB file, image, and then say, "Look, why is my site loading so slowly?" And so what we're trying to do is also correct that, where you may upload a 20MB file, please don't, but what we'll do on our side, on the CDN side of things, we'll resize that and ensure that we are delivering a more optimized image to the customer. So that's another thing that we are really excited about, from an infrastructure point of view. So lots of good work happening from a perf point of view.
Now, then there is scale. So from a scale point of view, we have aspects like concurrency. So concurrent user scale, so how many users can you support on that portal? Concurrent read scale, so how many requests are coming in concurrently? And before the site just says, "Look I can't handle this." And concurrent rights. So for example, you may be running a promotion and that promotion, you may advertise that on Twitter or on Instagram, and then you suddenly have this massive surge of folks coming to your site and they all want to sign up to know when it's going to be made available. How do we ensure that those rights don't kneel over and just fall over? So again, a lot of the work that we are doing around infrastructure, whether it's performance and scale, are things that we have been rolling out slowly over the last few releases. And then we really look to bring it home over the course of the summer and the winter releases, so that's from an infrastructure point of view.

Gillian Bruce: Nice.

Khushwant Singh: Now, as we move up the stack, we can talk about things like data and content. Now, let's start off with content Salesforce in general, has had a bit of a content management gap for a little while. And we have customers using third party content management systems, et cetera, to compliment the data investments that they have in Salesforce. Now, probably I would say 24 months back, we introduced Salesforce CMS, which was, for the very first time a content management system from Salesforce. Now, what we've come to realize over the 24 months is that boy, do we need a lot more improvements to it. And so over the last, I would say 18 months, we have been actually re-architecting the content management system from ground up. It is going to be JSON based. So very standard point of view.
JSON also would allow our customers to model many different types of content, whether that content is a blog, an email et cetera. Very extensible, so from that point of view, if we don't offer something out of the box, you can add a sidebar extension that allows you, like Grammarly that would say, "Hey, look," while you're typing this thing, it's telling you, you should add X, Y, and Z, et cetera. We also, 24 months back introduced two versions of the content management system. One was a free version, included version I would say, I shouldn't say free, the included version, and the other one was the paid version. What we realized really was, you know what, it's just artificial. Our customers really, they're coming to Salesforce for a variety of different use cases and content really should be something that supports and brings those use cases to life.
And so what we have done is as of the summer release, we have basically provided the paid CMS, which we have gotten rid of, and just given it, included it as part of all experienced cloud licenses. In fact there are so many licenses out there at Salesforce that use Experienced Cloud licenses. And so as of this summer, all of our customers will get the advanced version of content management. And at the same time, they will get access to the beta version of this new, what we call CMS 2.0 internally, we call that the JSON based. They'll get beta access to that as well, without any sort of opt-in, there's a check box, they have to check and they'll be able to take it for a spin. But we look to make that CMS 2.0, our next version of CMS generally available in the winter timeframe as well. So that's another massive uplift and improvement that we're doing from a content management point of view. And democratizing content altogether.

Gillian Bruce: That's great. I mean, I know admins are going to be very excited to be able to access that great capability without having to jump through any additional hoops to get it. So thank you.

Khushwant Singh: Exactly. Now, let's talk about data. Now, when we think about the data side of things, this is where a lot of our investments, at least from an Experience services point of view is that we have teams that are experts in records, Dynamic Forms, lists, and they're doing a lot of good work to expand. For example, Dynamic Forms today it's only available in custom objects, why? It should go across all standard objects. That's something that the team is working on. I'm really glad that we are going to stay really true to the fact that when we start something, we are going to end it and we are going to go all the way, at the same time this team is also working to bring all of that goodness across to not just employee facing experiences in Lex but also to customer facing, partner facing experiences via Experience Cloud.
And so that's one example where, as one unit Experience Services, it really brings benefit across all of the various endpoints, whether it's Lexio Experience Cloud or mobile for that matter. So that's something that we are really looking forward to. And then over on top of that, the ability to surface that data, but represent it in different visualizations. So you may want to show a list view in the form of a grid or in the form of a certain set of tiles. Because again, you want to do that because it's customer facing, it's partner facing, you have to apply your style guide on it, et cetera. So that's all the goodness that you can expect to see over the course of the next two releases from a data point of view.

Gillian Bruce: I mean, that's major stuff. I know that Dynamic Forms is one of the top favorite admin feature overall. And so being able to bring that to standard objects will be huge. So thank you. Thank you on behalf of all admins everywhere.

Khushwant Singh: It's a shout out to all of the good teams that are working on that front. So we touched about infra, we touched about content, we touched about data. Now, let's touch about the UI run time itself, which is Lightning Web Runtime and Lightning Web Components. Clearly the degree of, out of the box components for Aura, there are a lot more out of the box components for Aura than they are for LWCs, no doubt about it. And so what we're trying to do is we are trying to catch up to a certain degree, but catch up in a way that is addressing the most important use cases from out the box component point of view, but at the same time, not sacrificing customizability. And so from an LWR point of view, a few things to call out.
One is, I'll start off first with, when you build a site with Experience Cloud and with LWR and LWCs, search is always a use case that comes up. And by search, we tend to just think maybe at times CRM search, but really our customers are thinking of it as site search. They want to be able to cut across whether it's a CRM, whether it's site meta information, like the page title, the site title, or something that's in a text, a rich text component, whether that's CMS content, whether those are products or any other objects, they want to be able to search the entire site.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. They don't know the differences between that, they just want to find what they need.

Khushwant Singh: Exactly. And so for them, this is complexity that we should abstract from them. And so again, this is something that our customers can expect to see in beta, in the summer timeframe. And all goes, well, we're going to take the hood off and generally make it available in the winter timeframe, starting with site meta information and CMS content as part of the index. And then we're going to expand that to CRM and to other objects for that matter.

Gillian Bruce: All right. So just a reminder to all listeners, forward looking statement applies to everything that Kush just said, this is what happens when we get excited in product information. Yeah.

Khushwant Singh: Exactly. And that too, as well. Yes. So I think, again from an LWR point of view, there's just so much more maturity that customers can expect to see with LWR and Experience Cloud. Because whether it's out of the box components for content, for data, whether it's search, whether it is even the ability to deliver these dynamic experiences. So one of the things that our customers really appreciate in Aura is the ability to personalize the experience using CRM information. So show me this content, this data, if user.account equals to X, Y, Z, et cetera. And so the ability to deliver that type of personalization is key, but at the same time, they want to be able to do things like real time personalization. So using, for example, Evergage or interaction studio for that matter.
So as you're browsing the site or portal, you're able to get relevant information that's on the fly generated. So those are another aspects of LWR that we are investing in very heavily. So whether it's infrastructure, whether it's data, whether it's content, whether it's the UI framework and the various personalization aspects of things, lots of investment happening. Now, all of this has to translate and manifest on mobile. And so that's the other dimension that we are heavily investing in. So whether you are customizing the experience in design time, as an admin, to say, "Hey, look, you know what? I want to show this image on desktop, but another image on mobile, or I want to have this font you applied in mobile versus on desktop. I want to be able to take my LWR site and use Mobile Publisher to create a mobile app that I can deploy via the app stores." Those are all areas that we are working on over the course of the next two releases as well. So again, lots of excitement as we work across this entire site.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. Lots coming. Well, Kush I so appreciate you taking the time to chat with us here on the podcast about all things, Experience Services, Experience Cloud. I know I got a lot of questions answered. I'm sure a lot of people listening are very happy to hear all of the things that you and your team are working on. And I'm sure they will have many more questions. So I'll include links to some of the great trailblazer community groups that you have set up for Lightning Experience and for Experience Cloud, for people to submit feedback. And thanks again for all of the work that you and your team do. And I look forward to checking back in with you after a couple releases here and coming back to what you all have done and hearing about what is even next from then on.

Khushwant Singh: For sure Gillian. I mean, I truly appreciate the opportunity. And again, to all our Salesforce admins, you are our eyes and ears out there. Feedback is a gift, please keep it coming. And we're so appreciative of all that you do for us.

Gillian Bruce: Huge, thanks to coach for taking the time to chat with us. He and his team have been so busy working on really important foundational improvements to both Experience Cloud and Experience Services. And it's so great to now understand what Experience Services mean because for us admins, it means a lot of the stuff that we use every day. So, hey, I don't know about you, but I'm excited about Dynamic Lightning pages coming for standard objects. Woo, woo. Again, forward looking statement, but I look forward to getting Kush back on the podcast to ask him about that once it has been released in a few releases. So if you want to learn more or you have more feedback about anything, Experience Cloud or Experience Services, Kush, and his team pay close attention to the trailblazer community. So go to the Lightning Experience group or the Experience Cloud group on the trailblazer community and put your feedback in there, put your questions in there. He's got an amazing team of very talented people.
And if you want to learn anything else about how you can be a successful Salesforce admin, go to my favorite website, admin.salesforce.com. There you can find other great podcasts, blogs, and videos to help you in your Salesforce admin journey. I also encourage you to check out the new Salesforce admin skills kit, which we just launched last month. And it is right there on the admin@salesforce.com webpage. Check it out, let me know what you think, we're going to do some great podcast episodes about that, coming up here real soon. If you want to follow my guest today, Kush, you can find him @Kush_singh. You can follow me @Gilliankbruce. And you can follow Mike, my amazing co-host @Mikegerholdt. You can follow everything awesome admin related @Salesforceadmns, no I, on Twitter. With that, I hope you have a great rest of your day and I'll catch you next time in the cloud.



Direct download: Experience_Cloud_with_Khushwant_Singh.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PDT

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we talk to Khushwant Singh, SVP, Product Management at Salesforce.

 

Join us as we talk about his role heading up all things Experience—not just Experience Cloud but Experience Services, too.

 

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Khushwant Singh.

The Experience dream team

Khushwant, AKA “Khush”, heads up Experience at Salesforce. If that term is a little nebulous to you, you’re not alone, but Khush breaks it down for us. Experience Services brings a few teams together: the UI Platform team, the Experience Cloud team, the Mobile team, and the Mobify team. “We’re responsible for all things Experience, and it helps us build a common product strategy across the board,” Khush says, “whether you’re building an experience for an employee, a customer, or partner.”

 

Lightning Experience has really changed the game for Admins in terms of stepping up in their thinking about design, but Khush points out there’s also a bit of a divide there. “If you build a component for the App Builder, it may or may not work in the Experience Builder,” he says, “but as a Salesforce Admin or Developer, you want your investments to go across all of your various endpoints.”

Re-architecting to improve scaling, performance, and customizability

Experience Cloud is a very flexible tool that you should really look into if you haven’t yet. You can use it build out a simple marketing website, a self-service destination like a help center or account management site, or even a channel reselling portal or commerce storefront.

 

While Lightning and Aura have done a lot to enable Admins to build out things they never thought possible with low code and fast time to market, Khush admits we seem to have hit a wall from a performance, scale, and customizability point of view. To address that, they’ve been re-architecting to let you build new things more easily at a consumer-grade scale.

What’s next for Experience Cloud

One thing that will be going live soon (forward looking statement) is a major performance boost to public-facing apps and sites. They’ve revamped the out-of-the-box CDN (Content Delivery Network) to allow public aspects of your site and mobile apps to be cached at endpoints closer to the consumer, enabling much faster delivery. One other change is adding dynamic image resizing so the same image looks equally good on mobile, desktop, and tablet. The best part is these and many more improvements are enabled by default, so you get the performance boost without having to lift a finger.

 

Looking forward, Khush and his team are revamping the Salesforce Content Management System (CMS) to make it more robust, powerful, and responsive. They’re breaking down the barriers and rolling out the advanced version of Salesforce CMS to all customers for free, and you can get access to the new-and-improved JSON-based CMS 2.0 beta with an opt-in.

 

Khush also gives a preview into what he and his team are working on to make improvements to data to, for example, bring Dynamic Forms to all standard objects, and even more goodies for desktop, mobile, and everything in between. Make sure you listen to the full episode to hear what’s coming your way soon.

 

 

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Full show transcript

Gillian Bruce: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast, where we talk about product, community and careers to help you be an awesome admin. I'm your host today, Gillian Bruce, and we have a really fun episode lined up for you. We are talking with Khushwant Singh, AKA Kush, who's SVP of Product Management here at Salesforce, in charge of all things experience. And I mean all things experience, not just experience cloud, but Experience Services. And if you're wondering what all that means, don't worry, he's going to answer that for you. So without further ado, let's get Kush on the pod. Kush, welcome to the podcast.

Khushwant Singh: Thank you, Gillian.

Gillian Bruce: It's wonderful to have you on. I am very much looking forward to our discussion because we are talking about something that might be a little nebulous to some of us, especially if you've been in the Salesforce ecosystem for a while. We have experience cloud, Experience Services, experience all the things. Kush, clarify for us what all of that means.

Khushwant Singh: Well, Gillian, I wish I got that question, or rather I wish I had proactively answered that question at the recent TDX. So just a bit of a sidetrack, a little, for those of you who attended the recent TDX, we had a true to the call session where a few of us were up on stage and I introduced myself as, "My name's Kush, I'm a product manager and I work on all things experiences." Now, I honestly thought that I would be inundated with questions, but I realized that I actually got zero questions, and I realized that people just probably didn't get what all things experience means. So I'm going to learn from that, and be very clear in our conversation over here. So taking a step back, when we say, we just recently realigned some of our teams internally, and we've created this group internally called Experience Services. And what Experience Services is, is that it brings together a few teams together.
First and foremost, we have our UI platform team. And so from a UI platform perspective, think of it as all things web runtime, whether it's Aura, Lightning Web Runtime, LWC or Lightning Web Components. It includes things that all of the good components you have in Lex, so the record forms, lists, performance, et cetera, so that's the UI platform team. Then we also brought the experience cloud team, which really is, takes all the goodness that we have in Lex, and manifests it to customers and partners, external facing customers and partners. We do have instances where it's also facing employees as employee intranets, but it takes all of that goodness. We also brought together our mobile teams. So whether that's the Salesforce Flagship mobile app, whether that's our mobile SDK, whether that's taking an experience cloud side and creating a hybrid mobile app out of it through Mobile Publisher, we brought the mobile team together as well.
And then finally, we brought the MobiFi team, which some of you may know as the managed runtime offering to build out these progressive web apps for commercial use cases. So in a nutshell, this Experience Services team brings together the UI platform, brings together experience cloud, brings together the mobile teams and brings MobiFi together. So what we can do now is collectively, we are responsible for all things experiences, and it helps us build a common product strategy across the board, whether you're building an experience for an employee, a customer, or a partner for that matter.

Gillian Bruce: So that was really helpful, it helped me understand this because again, experience is one of those words that, especially as a Salesforce admin, we're always thinking about our end users experience. That's our whole goal is to make it seamless and make it really useful. But as you just described, experiences is so many things. And I really appreciate that you have explained how the teams are uniting under this umbrella, to really think about the holistic picture when it comes to these different experiences pieces. UI, designers' mindset, is one of the core admin skills that we have because it's always thinking about how is my user experience in this? How can I maximize that experience, make it more efficient? And when you talk about Lightning experience that, God, talk about something that changed the game for admins.

Khushwant Singh: I know, it did. It did entirely. It changed the game, but it also in full transparency, we added a bit of a divide as well. So if you take examples where you build a component for the App Builder, it may or may not work in the Experience Builder. You have a set of record components that look gloriously well on Lex, but they may not surface all of the capabilities, the actions don't surface in the Experience Builder or vice versa, the branding, the themeing, the mobile web responsiveness aspect of things that show up on Experience Builder, don't show up in the App Builder side of things. And so we have introduced this divide, which actually has made our... Well, each team has done a phenomenal job in going deep in their use cases, it's been at an expense of a divide where, as a Salesforce admin, as a Salesforce developer, you want your investments to go across all of your various endpoints. You might be a Salesforce admin for a company that is using Salesforce for their employee experience. For example, the service agents.
Similarly, within your same company, you may have an endpoint, a customer help center, which is customer facing, or you might be selling products through channels, which is also partner facing, and you want your investments to be able to run across ideally. So again, all teams have done great in their specific areas, but by bringing us together, we are really hopeful that we can deliver more value for our Salesforce admins and our developers as they manage all of these various endpoints.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. I think as a company, for someone who's maybe been in the ecosystem for a long time, this is a familiar road, is that we develop something really close. One team goes down and develops this new way of doing something and then we have shadow examples of it happening all separately within the company. And then, hey, let's bring everybody together, let's make this a more cohesive, holistic experience for our admins, for our developers. And it's exciting to bring all those really smart brains together to work together versus everyone working in a silo.

Khushwant Singh: Indeed. And I think it's also indicative of trying to complete what we start. I think we've heard from admins, just this recent TDX, I mean, and at every TDX or any Dreamforce we do, any through the core session or any feedback we get from our MVPs and our admins out there, developers. They'll give us feedback, which is actually quite true. We start something, but we don't complete it. We say something that we will deliver something, but we, at times, don't deliver it. And so I think by bringing all of our teams together, that manage experience, I think it really... Organizational differences should not be the reason why we are not able to complete what we start or deliver what we say we will deliver. And so we are really hopeful that we'll be able to actually address those two key areas.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. I've always heard the joke. We don't want to let our org chart show.

Khushwant Singh: Exactly. Across both desktop and mobile for that matter.

Gillian Bruce: Totally. Yeah. So Kush, before we get a little bit further, I mean, clearly you've got a big undertaking that you and your teams are doing. Can you tell me a little bit about you and how you got here? How long have you been at Salesforce because all of these works have been in progress for a long time. You mentioned when we released Lightning experience. Tell me a little bit about your background.

Khushwant Singh: Oh yeah, sure. So I've been at Salesforce, I think, May sometime this month is my seventh year anniversary.

Gillian Bruce: Congratulations.

Khushwant Singh: Thank you. And I have truly enjoyed every single day of my time here at Salesforce. If you look at my background, I rarely spend more than five to six years in a company. And the fact that I'm here for the seventh year and still super challenged, just speaks towards what Salesforce offers from a challenge, point of view. There's always something new, there's always a new challenge for us to work on. And I've actually spent probably six and a half or six and three quarters of that seven years working on Experience Cloud. And so most of my background is from a B2C side of things. I spend some time at eBay, at Microsoft, at a startup called Mozi, working on a number of B2C oriented products. And I wanted to build products in an enterprise setting for enterprise, but I didn't want to veer too far away from the consumer side of things, the B2C side of things. And Experience Cloud really helped me walk that fine line where you're building these digital experience products that are used by enterprises for their customers, for their partners. So it really gave me a good middle ground.
That said, Experience Cloud is a, it's a platform upon the overall Salesforce platform. And so over the last six and a half years or so, I've had the opportunity to work with some immensely dedicated individuals on the platform side of things as well. And so that bring a lot of the goodness that we see in Lex and Experience Cloud and Mobile to life. And so bringing the teams together was like bringing a group of old friends together.

Gillian Bruce: I love that, getting the band back together, that's good.

Khushwant Singh: There you go.

Gillian Bruce: Okay. So let's talk a little bit about what's currently going on in Experience Cloud. So I know there were some good announcements at Dreamforce last year, at DBX this year. Can you talk a little bit about where we're currently at with Experience Cloud and why maybe an admin who hasn't yet dabbled in Experience Cloud might consider it?

Khushwant Singh: Sure. So again, just to level set, one more time, a customer uses Experience Cloud for a number of use cases. You could use Experience Cloud to build out a simple marketing website, corporate website. You could use Experience Cloud to build out a self-service destination, so that self-service destination could be a help center, where you want to surface your knowledge base articles, where you wish to surface chat bots, where you wish to, for example, give your customers the ability to log in and manage their account, manage their profile for that matter. Similarly, you could use Experience Cloud to build out a channel reseller portal, where you may not be selling direct or you may be selling direct, but you also sell through your various channels and you need a way to manage your channels. You could use Experience Cloud to build a commerce storefront, whether it's a B2B commerce storefront, a B2C commerce storefront, et cetera.
So Experience Cloud, you can use it for a variety of different customer facing, partner facing use cases. In fact, I should also mention employee facing use cases. You could build out a company intranet for that very matter as well. And so over the last years, last few years with introduction of Lightning and Aura, for that matter, it really revolutionized the ability for our customers to build all of this out in a very low code, fast time to market aspect of things. And we've seen phenomenal adoption, super humbled, by the adoption, we've gotten North of 70,000 odd sites. I think our MAU is around, our monthly active usage is maybe about 40 to 50 million. We have a daily active usage of about five to 6 million. And so, I mean, again, super thankful to all of the customers and the admins and the developers out there who have invested so much of their time in Experience Cloud.
That said, as with every technology, there comes a time where you've hit a bit of a wall and we hit a wall with Aura, from a performance, from a scale, from a customizability point of view. Where you can see that as you are trying to build out these next generation consumer grade experiences like storefronts, like websites, even these consumer grade portals, where you expect an iPhone like Experience, whether it's employee facing or customer facing experience. So we hit a bit of a wall with Aura. And so over the last, I would say 18 months, we've been, for lack of a better way to put it, somewhat silent in terms of our feature deliverables. Sure, we've been delivering a few features here and there, but like our MVP, we have a really passionate and amazing MVP out there. His name is Phil Weinmeister-

Gillian Bruce: Yes. We know Phil very well.

Khushwant Singh: Exactly. And so I think many of you must have seen his post where he's actually tracking the number of features that Experience Cloud launches. And he showed this bar graph, that showed the decreasing number of features over the last 18 months. And I replied to him and again, huge respect for Phil. And the fact of the matter is that we've had to go under the hood and rebuild from ground up using Lightning Web Runtime, using Lightning Web Components, so that we can actually deliver this consumer grade scale and performance and customizability, whether it's a B2B, B2C or B2E type of use case. And so we've been "silent for a while" but I'm super excited at what's coming in this summer release, and what's going to go. A lot of it going to go generally available this winter release. So again, long story short, we have been re-architecting for consumer grade across the entire customer journey.
So whether you're looking at an awareness use case, whether you're looking for an acquisition use case, a service use case, a loyalty use case, you want to deliver consumer grade across the board. And with Lightning Web Runtime, with Lightning Web Components, we do believe that we've got the right foundation upon which we can actually deliver these experiences. So that's the overarching area where we're headed.

Gillian Bruce: I mean, that's impressive. I mean, we talk, especially even as admins, we have our own technical that we accrue over many years of admining a specific org. And sometimes you do, you got to just go back, peel back the covers and go in and make sure everything, the foundations are updated and running better. And hey, if you got a system that's not working for you, you got to invest the time and pause on the new stuff for a minute. Let's make the core stuff really work and function so that we can continue to build. So I love that transparency. I think it's really useful to help our admins and everybody understand what all of the hard work that your team is doing. And yeah, I mean, hey, now that we talked about all the hard work that you've all been doing, let's talk about some of the shiny new fun things that you have coming down the page.

Khushwant Singh: Yeah, of course. So now I think on that note, I do also want to underscore that we have so many, all of that adoption stats that I talked about, they're all visual force or mostly Aura investments. And I want to underscore that we're not just leaving Aura or VF behind. And so there are many aspects that customers on Aura or customers on VF would also be able to benefit from. So let's dive into those shiny aspects of things. So I think if we think of this as maybe a stack diagram, maybe we'll start at the lowest level of infrastructure. What are we doing from an infrastructure point of view to help deliver that consumer grade type of experiences? So, first and foremost, we've invested a fair amount of time and effort to deliver performance. And so, one of the things you'll start to notice is, our out of the box CDN, so behind the scenes we work with Akamai, and what that does is that it allows, it just provides customers an out of the box CDN that they can actually choose to use.

Gillian Bruce: So Kush, before we go forward, what is a CDN? Let's break down that.

Khushwant Singh: Sure. It's a content delivery network. What that does is it allows your public aspects of your site, of your mobile app to be cashed on these endpoints, which are closer to the consumer, and so that allows for faster delivery. And if it doesn't change, if that public information doesn't change very much, it's served out of cash versus another round hub back. So again, at the end of the day, it's about better delivery of, faster delivery of the experience. Now this used to be a bit of an opt in thing and so what we have done now is as of spring and summer and winter, what we're doing is behind the scenes, we are rolling out as part of the secure domains effort, as secure domains is being enabled across all net new sites and existing sites. We are just enabling the default CDN by default, so it's an opt out versus an opt in.
So from that perspective, we are trying to ensure that everyone gets a phenomenal performance from the get go. Now, similarly, another thing that we are really excited about is, and the teams working on it, is as part of the out the box, CDN from an infrastructure point of view is being able to get more capabilities out of that, out of CDN. Now, have you gone to a site where the images look really weird, wonky, feels like this is a desktop site they're trying to throw onto a mobile or a tablet?

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. Everything's out of perspective. And you got to try and scroll weird ways. Yeah.

Khushwant Singh: Exactly. So another thing that if you use the out of the box CDN, another thing that our customers can look forward to is dynamic image resizing. So when you are the same image renders well on a mobile, a tablet, a desktop, and similarly, if you are an admin, you may inadvertently upload a, I don't know what? 20 MB file, image, and then say, "Look, why is my site loading so slowly?" And so what we're trying to do is also correct that, where you may upload a 20MB file, please don't, but what we'll do on our side, on the CDN side of things, we'll resize that and ensure that we are delivering a more optimized image to the customer. So that's another thing that we are really excited about, from an infrastructure point of view. So lots of good work happening from a perf point of view.
Now, then there is scale. So from a scale point of view, we have aspects like concurrency. So concurrent user scale, so how many users can you support on that portal? Concurrent read scale, so how many requests are coming in concurrently? And before the site just says, "Look I can't handle this." And concurrent rights. So for example, you may be running a promotion and that promotion, you may advertise that on Twitter or on Instagram, and then you suddenly have this massive surge of folks coming to your site and they all want to sign up to know when it's going to be made available. How do we ensure that those rights don't kneel over and just fall over? So again, a lot of the work that we are doing around infrastructure, whether it's performance and scale, are things that we have been rolling out slowly over the last few releases. And then we really look to bring it home over the course of the summer and the winter releases, so that's from an infrastructure point of view.

Gillian Bruce: Nice.

Khushwant Singh: Now, as we move up the stack, we can talk about things like data and content. Now, let's start off with content Salesforce in general, has had a bit of a content management gap for a little while. And we have customers using third party content management systems, et cetera, to compliment the data investments that they have in Salesforce. Now, probably I would say 24 months back, we introduced Salesforce CMS, which was, for the very first time a content management system from Salesforce. Now, what we've come to realize over the 24 months is that boy, do we need a lot more improvements to it. And so over the last, I would say 18 months, we have been actually re-architecting the content management system from ground up. It is going to be JSON based. So very standard point of view.
JSON also would allow our customers to model many different types of content, whether that content is a blog, an email et cetera. Very extensible, so from that point of view, if we don't offer something out of the box, you can add a sidebar extension that allows you, like Grammarly that would say, "Hey, look," while you're typing this thing, it's telling you, you should add X, Y, and Z, et cetera. We also, 24 months back introduced two versions of the content management system. One was a free version, included version I would say, I shouldn't say free, the included version, and the other one was the paid version. What we realized really was, you know what, it's just artificial. Our customers really, they're coming to Salesforce for a variety of different use cases and content really should be something that supports and brings those use cases to life.
And so what we have done is as of the summer release, we have basically provided the paid CMS, which we have gotten rid of, and just given it, included it as part of all experienced cloud licenses. In fact there are so many licenses out there at Salesforce that use Experienced Cloud licenses. And so as of this summer, all of our customers will get the advanced version of content management. And at the same time, they will get access to the beta version of this new, what we call CMS 2.0 internally, we call that the JSON based. They'll get beta access to that as well, without any sort of opt-in, there's a check box, they have to check and they'll be able to take it for a spin. But we look to make that CMS 2.0, our next version of CMS generally available in the winter timeframe as well. So that's another massive uplift and improvement that we're doing from a content management point of view. And democratizing content altogether.

Gillian Bruce: That's great. I mean, I know admins are going to be very excited to be able to access that great capability without having to jump through any additional hoops to get it. So thank you.

Khushwant Singh: Exactly. Now, let's talk about data. Now, when we think about the data side of things, this is where a lot of our investments, at least from an Experience services point of view is that we have teams that are experts in records, Dynamic Forms, lists, and they're doing a lot of good work to expand. For example, Dynamic Forms today it's only available in custom objects, why? It should go across all standard objects. That's something that the team is working on. I'm really glad that we are going to stay really true to the fact that when we start something, we are going to end it and we are going to go all the way, at the same time this team is also working to bring all of that goodness across to not just employee facing experiences in Lex but also to customer facing, partner facing experiences via Experience Cloud.
And so that's one example where, as one unit Experience Services, it really brings benefit across all of the various endpoints, whether it's Lexio Experience Cloud or mobile for that matter. So that's something that we are really looking forward to. And then over on top of that, the ability to surface that data, but represent it in different visualizations. So you may want to show a list view in the form of a grid or in the form of a certain set of tiles. Because again, you want to do that because it's customer facing, it's partner facing, you have to apply your style guide on it, et cetera. So that's all the goodness that you can expect to see over the course of the next two releases from a data point of view.

Gillian Bruce: I mean, that's major stuff. I know that Dynamic Forms is one of the top favorite admin feature overall. And so being able to bring that to standard objects will be huge. So thank you. Thank you on behalf of all admins everywhere.

Khushwant Singh: It's a shout out to all of the good teams that are working on that front. So we touched about infra, we touched about content, we touched about data. Now, let's touch about the UI run time itself, which is Lightning Web Runtime and Lightning Web Components. Clearly the degree of, out of the box components for Aura, there are a lot more out of the box components for Aura than they are for LWCs, no doubt about it. And so what we're trying to do is we are trying to catch up to a certain degree, but catch up in a way that is addressing the most important use cases from out the box component point of view, but at the same time, not sacrificing customizability. And so from an LWR point of view, a few things to call out.
One is, I'll start off first with, when you build a site with Experience Cloud and with LWR and LWCs, search is always a use case that comes up. And by search, we tend to just think maybe at times CRM search, but really our customers are thinking of it as site search. They want to be able to cut across whether it's a CRM, whether it's site meta information, like the page title, the site title, or something that's in a text, a rich text component, whether that's CMS content, whether those are products or any other objects, they want to be able to search the entire site.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. They don't know the differences between that, they just want to find what they need.

Khushwant Singh: Exactly. And so for them, this is complexity that we should abstract from them. And so again, this is something that our customers can expect to see in beta, in the summer timeframe. And all goes, well, we're going to take the hood off and generally make it available in the winter timeframe, starting with site meta information and CMS content as part of the index. And then we're going to expand that to CRM and to other objects for that matter.

Gillian Bruce: All right. So just a reminder to all listeners, forward looking statement applies to everything that Kush just said, this is what happens when we get excited in product information. Yeah.

Khushwant Singh: Exactly. And that too, as well. Yes. So I think, again from an LWR point of view, there's just so much more maturity that customers can expect to see with LWR and Experience Cloud. Because whether it's out of the box components for content, for data, whether it's search, whether it is even the ability to deliver these dynamic experiences. So one of the things that our customers really appreciate in Aura is the ability to personalize the experience using CRM information. So show me this content, this data, if user.account equals to X, Y, Z, et cetera. And so the ability to deliver that type of personalization is key, but at the same time, they want to be able to do things like real time personalization. So using, for example, Evergage or interaction studio for that matter.
So as you're browsing the site or portal, you're able to get relevant information that's on the fly generated. So those are another aspects of LWR that we are investing in very heavily. So whether it's infrastructure, whether it's data, whether it's content, whether it's the UI framework and the various personalization aspects of things, lots of investment happening. Now, all of this has to translate and manifest on mobile. And so that's the other dimension that we are heavily investing in. So whether you are customizing the experience in design time, as an admin, to say, "Hey, look, you know what? I want to show this image on desktop, but another image on mobile, or I want to have this font you applied in mobile versus on desktop. I want to be able to take my LWR site and use Mobile Publisher to create a mobile app that I can deploy via the app stores." Those are all areas that we are working on over the course of the next two releases as well. So again, lots of excitement as we work across this entire site.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. Lots coming. Well, Kush I so appreciate you taking the time to chat with us here on the podcast about all things, Experience Services, Experience Cloud. I know I got a lot of questions answered. I'm sure a lot of people listening are very happy to hear all of the things that you and your team are working on. And I'm sure they will have many more questions. So I'll include links to some of the great trailblazer community groups that you have set up for Lightning Experience and for Experience Cloud, for people to submit feedback. And thanks again for all of the work that you and your team do. And I look forward to checking back in with you after a couple releases here and coming back to what you all have done and hearing about what is even next from then on.

Khushwant Singh: For sure Gillian. I mean, I truly appreciate the opportunity. And again, to all our Salesforce admins, you are our eyes and ears out there. Feedback is a gift, please keep it coming. And we're so appreciative of all that you do for us.

Gillian Bruce: Huge, thanks to coach for taking the time to chat with us. He and his team have been so busy working on really important foundational improvements to both Experience Cloud and Experience Services. And it's so great to now understand what Experience Services mean because for us admins, it means a lot of the stuff that we use every day. So, hey, I don't know about you, but I'm excited about Dynamic Lightning pages coming for standard objects. Woo, woo. Again, forward looking statement, but I look forward to getting Kush back on the podcast to ask him about that once it has been released in a few releases. So if you want to learn more or you have more feedback about anything, Experience Cloud or Experience Services, Kush, and his team pay close attention to the trailblazer community. So go to the Lightning Experience group or the Experience Cloud group on the trailblazer community and put your feedback in there, put your questions in there. He's got an amazing team of very talented people.
And if you want to learn anything else about how you can be a successful Salesforce admin, go to my favorite website, admin.salesforce.com. There you can find other great podcasts, blogs, and videos to help you in your Salesforce admin journey. I also encourage you to check out the new Salesforce admin skills kit, which we just launched last month. And it is right there on the admin@salesforce.com webpage. Check it out, let me know what you think, we're going to do some great podcast episodes about that, coming up here real soon. If you want to follow my guest today, Kush, you can find him @Kush_singh. You can follow me @Gilliankbruce. And you can follow Mike, my amazing co-host @Mikegerholdt. You can follow everything awesome admin related @Salesforceadmns, no I, on Twitter. With that, I hope you have a great rest of your day and I'll catch you next time in the cloud.



Direct download: Experience_Cloud_with_Khushwant_Singh.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PDT

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we talk to Andrew Russo, Salesforce Architect at BACA Systems.

 

Join us as we talk about the amazing app user management super app he built and how you can approach building apps to be an even more awesome Admin.

 

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Andrew Russo.

Ramping up a Salesforce org

Andrew, like so many people we interview on the show, started out as an accidental Admin. He started out needing to pull more and more things from Salesforce to support his company’s email marketing efforts, which put him in the position to get his Admin cert when they wanted to roll out Service Cloud. Now, the entire business is run on a massive org, and Andrew’s main challenge is making sure it’s scalable to handle everything that might come down the pipe.

 

Now that they’ve brought their entire manufacturing department onto Salesforce, they needed to take a second look at how they handle user requests. “Before it was as simple as sending an email or a text and we could have a quick chat,” Andrew says, “now, we have to manage a lot of users and also document it so people can do their jobs well and also make requests for features to help them do their jobs even better.”

Managing user requests and scaling up

When the user requests started flooding in, they knew they needed a plan to handle the large increase in volume. The first step was switching over to cases, but they needed to do a lot of customization to account for the different ways they handle internal vs. external cases. The biggest bottleneck they identified was when they had to ask for more details, so creating a structure for both the person filling out the request and the team member looking at it helped immensely.

 

Specificity around requests is really important because you need to understand the business need that’s driving it. For example, they could be asking for a checkbox because they want to run a report when there’s an easier way to do that. Instead, Andrew and his team send users a link to fill out a user story. “Then when we go back in a year and are trying to figure out why we made something, we have a record of why it was created,” Andrew says, so they’ve built in their documentation process.

 

At the end of every Flow they build there’s a sub-flow that runs at the end. It tracks every time the Flow runs and compares it to how long it took them to build and how long the previous process took. What they end up with is a lot of specificity around how their team is saving everyone time throughout the organization which is a powerful and effective way to prove RoI.

Andrew’s tips for user management

Andrew’s main tips for improving user management in your org are pretty simple to understand but hard to master. For one thing, learn when to say no. Some user requests are going to be unreasonable and learning how to work with them to uncover the real business need can help you find a solution that fits.

 

For another, if you can find core Salesforce functionality that gets you 90% of the way to a solution, it’s far better than building everything from scratch. “Custom equals it’s yours and you own it,” Andrew explains, “not only do you own the development of it—you own the problems could have in the future with it that you can’t foresee.” Less is more.

 

Finally, keep curious. Always keep learning and follow your curiosity because you never know where it will lead you. Salesforce has so many amazing resources and you never know when something you were browsing or an issue you helped someone with will suddenly give you your next great idea.

 

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Full show transcript

Gillian Bruce: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast, where we talk about product, community, and careers to help you be an awesome admin. I'm your host today, Gillian Bruce, and we are going to talk about how to create a user management super app.
So, a few weeks ago, you may have seen a blog post that we put out on the Admin site talking all about how you can create an app to manage your users. Well, one of the amazing, awesome admins that I met in that process is Andrew Russo. He's a Salesforce architect at BACA Systems. I wanted to have him on the podcast because the app he built is just next level. It's awesome. There are so many elements of it that I think we could all use at different parts of what we're building as admins at our own organizations. So I wanted to get him on the podcast to share a little bit about his overall strategy of how he approaches building apps like that, and in general, how to be an awesome admin. So without further ado, let's welcome Andrew on the podcast.
Andrew, welcome to the podcast.

Andrew Russo: Yeah. I'm happy to be here. I think this will be awesome, to be able to talk about some of the stuff we've built for our company and see how other admins can learn from what we've done.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. So let's talk a little bit about you first, before we get into some of the app building advice and great strategy that you have to share. Tell us a little bit about what you do and a little bit about your Salesforce journey.

Andrew Russo: Yeah, so I started doing Salesforce stuff as an accidental admin. So in college I was working for a company and I started helping with some of the website stuff. And then that transitioned into email marketing, which involved getting email lists from Salesforce. And it slowly kind of climbed into working more and more on Salesforce stuff. So that was about 2016. And then in 2017 and '18, we started looking at rolling out Service Cloud, which is really when I started to go into learning a lot more about Salesforce.
And then once we did the Service Cloud, I really took over as the main admin and started learning more and more and I got my first Salesforce certification, I think it was about 2019. And then I have grown more. Now we have a massive org where we have an entire business that's fully on the Salesforce platform, which became really challenging to learn from. We have a small, just very basic, standard, out of the box org to now having to manage complex user requests, documenting stuff, and really creating something that's scalable since the entire business depends on everything running properly.

Gillian Bruce: So, how many users do you support?

Andrew Russo: Right now, we have about 70 users inside of our Salesforce org. If you asked that same question in Fall of last year, we had about 30. So we brought on our entire manufacturing, which is really where we started to have to look at, how do we handle user requests? Because before it was as simple as an email or just sending a text and we could have a quick chat. Now we have to manage a lot of users and also document stuff properly so people can do it, do their jobs and make requests for features to help them do their jobs easier.

Gillian Bruce: Well, okay. So, clearly you are an awesome admin plus. I think it's really interesting that you only got your first start a couple years ago, I guess three years ago, 2019 seems like forever ago, but it's not, and how you've been able to grow so much in your knowledge and your abilities within Salesforce. I mean it sounds like a lot of it was kind of hands-on experience, any other external sources or what kind of things really helped you hone that skill so that you can really build, I mean the massive growth that your organization has had just within the last six months?

Andrew Russo: Yeah. I think that really where the big thing, and it's really weird to say, but I think becoming a Master Googler has really helped. And I think that's a skill that's almost vital because there's so many resources out there. You've got the Trailhead community, which there's a lot of questions that get answered on there. There's a lot of information with even guides. There's thousands of different admins who have blogs that have stuff generally who joined the Salesforce team with all of her flow blogs. There's all the different resources out there. So becoming a Master Googler to think, "Okay, how do I want a Google link to get the response of what I'm looking for?" And you can get a lot of different resources, that really helped.
I think though Trailhead was the other thing. I've done a lot of trails in Trailhead, the super badges are super helpful. And then really when I go to try and look at taking another certification exam, Focus on Force is pretty helpful for that last little bit of studying and thinking, "Okay, where do I need to focus some effort towards?" To see where you're lacking, because you don't really know what you're lacking until you take a test, but the Trailhead's really where I do it and hands on, I think where I've learned most of this stuff is trial and error in a sandbox of our current org. If it doesn't work, start over and try another way.

Gillian Bruce: Okay. Well, that's great. We want everyone to use sandboxes. So let's talk a little bit more about specifically some of the solutions that you've built. Now, I know you, thankfully, helped me out with a blog post we did not too long ago about how to build a kick ass management app, which you demoed some of what you've built and shared some of that in our blog post. Can you talk to us a little bit about your approach to building that app and how you think about how to best structure it? Because you got a lot going on there. There's a lot of complexity and clearly, I mean it kind of blew my mind when you were sharing all of the details that you had involved in that, but it also sounds like it is incredibly helpful to you and your team as you're building. So talk to us a little bit about an overview of that app and then how you approached building it.

Andrew Russo: Yeah. So it was something that we had thought about earlier this year of, we need a better way to handle internal user requests because they started off as emails and then we would lose track of emails. If it doesn't hit your inbox for the day, you kind of forget about the request, even though you might have needed to do something. So that started throughout the year and we're like, "We really want to look at cases." And then I posted on the Trailhead screen, has anyone done... Actually it was on Reddit I posted and I just asked if anyone's done cases internally, just to get an idea of it. People responded, "Okay. Think about record types." And I was like, "Okay."
So I let a couple weeks go by and I started to think about it more. And then really once we started to get an inbound rush of emails with different requests that we needed to handle, we're like, "We need cases to do it." So we refreshed one of our full sandboxes so we had everything that was in production. And then we really built out in a matter of a week, we changed all of our current processes that were based on our external service that we use Service Cloud for our customers, we had to customize all of the processes and automations we already had to not apply to our internal cases because it's two different ways that we handle internal cases versus external. There's different fields that we want to track. But we also want some similar things like the status or the case type that are default fields, we want to keep those as the same so we don't have two status fields to report on inside of Salesforce because that doesn't feel right.
So customizing that and really separating it out was that first step. And then we looked at, how do we want to help our users? And what are the different things that we want to track from a reporting standpoint later? Because you can't report on stuff that you don't actually capture. So the first thing that we rolled out was just pretty simple, we're going to use Email-to-Case and we're going to use cases with record types and we added some different fields, like steps to reproduce and expected outcome, actual outcome, things that were helpful for us to right away be able to troubleshoot without having to ask for more details, because that was the biggest thing that we would have through email is they would send one request, not give enough detail because there's no structure to it.
So giving that structure for them to record their request and guide them through, it was really helpful just for that initial problem. Versus we really, in the beginning, we keep it as just, "What do you want?" We don't distinguish. There's an area that they can choose if it's a new feature versus a support case, but past that, it's the same stuff that they're recording and then we can handle the case once we start to look at it.

Gillian Bruce: So, let's pause right there for a second. So you said putting some structure around the ask. What do you mean by that? Because a lot of people will be like, "Oh, can you just add a checkbox to this page?" And I'm sure you have a little bit more structure to help coach them out of that kind of ask. Can you talk a little bit more about that?

Andrew Russo: Yeah. So we used the case initially to gather the, "Hey, I want a check box," because a user just looks as it as, "I want a check box to record this," because they got some type of request from their boss and they need to show something, but then once we are able to review it, it might be, "Oh, that's already there." Or, "Oh no, that's something that's new. We need to gather the requirements. What is the business case supporting it? Why are we trying to do this?" To make sure it's not overlapping with something else or it's not a one-time thing where they want to go make a check box on records and then run a report of the check boxes, because seen that recently a few times where it's like, "Oh, we want to see all accounts with this so let's add a check box," which is not the right way for us to handle that.
So, gathering those type of things, we created a flow that's called a user story and we're able to send out a link from Email-to-Case to the user. When they click on that link, it actually launches the flow in Salesforce and they're able to, it'll kind of prompt them, "Hey, here's a trail you can go take from Trailhead if you don't know what a user story is." It's not required, but it's recommended. Then they're able to go through the steps and do the as a role, I want to, blank, so that I can, blank.
And then we also have another field of, how do you know that this is there and successful? So we can measure the actual outcome of it and say, "Yes, this is successful. No, we were not able to meet what the requirement was." And we like to get that for a single field from really anyone who that touches, not just the person requesting it in their role. So if accounting wants a field, we also might want to look at having sales do a user story that if it impacts the sales or the service side of it to get a full picture, because then when we go back and we look at why did we make this in a year? We have something to support why it was created.

Gillian Bruce: You built in the documentation. Yeah.

Andrew Russo: Exactly. So we have documentation gathered right away while we're building, which is super helpful.

Gillian Bruce: That's awesome. So I mean, what I really like about this is you built it so that it helps you be successful as things are being built, right? You built documentation into the process, you built the coaching of like, "Hey, this is how you properly make a request. This is what a user story is." And I love the promotion of Trailhead in there, I think that's great. But what are some of the other things that you've built into the app that help you and your team be successful? I know one of the things that you had mentioned to me before is having some metrics of the impact of some of the apps and some of the features that you've built. Can you talk to us a little bit more about that?

Andrew Russo: Yes. There's actually two really awesome things that we have done with it. So one of which is for measuring the impact of automations, we have a couple different objects that run. So inside of any of the flows that we build, we add a sub flow that runs at the end and what it does, it tracks every time that the flow runs and then there's a master record that's created that we're able to see, "Okay, this is how many times it ran." We can put in how many hours it took us to build and how many minutes the previous process that was getting used is, so it actually calculates how many hours and minutes are saved by users running it. So if it used to take 10 minutes to do a process and it took us three hours to build it, we can see at what point has the breakeven been met that, "Hey, we've actually just saved the company time?" And then in the future we can say, "This is how much time we've saved with the automation on an ongoing basis."
So that's one of the things that we did to track really the ROI that we bring to the company for our performance. So when you go to look at, Hey, what did I do the last quarter? How did I perform? Yeah, this is the money that we've actually brought and saved the company. So I think that's one of the things. And the other is about tracking the time on cases, because we started to realize, a lot of these cases for internal people make it, then they get busy, they stop responding, and it doesn't look good on us if we want to report on our metrics of, "Hey, how long did it take for this issue to get resolved?" So we actually built out a custom object called Case Time and every time that a case changes status, it records how long it was in that status.
So when a case enters a new status, it creates a new record for that status with a start time. And when it leaves, it puts the end time and it creates the new record for the next status that it's in. So we can go back on any case and look at how much time it spent in statuses. So we can say how much is waiting for the customer, our internal customer, and how much is us working on it, which really is helpful for reporting on our metrics.

Gillian Bruce: Okay. So those two ideas are amazing and I feel like every admin is going to want to implement those in their own org. I mean the fact that you have real, tangible hard metrics on the ROI that you bring to the organization in terms of time saved, I mean you can directly link that to basically money saved. That's awesome. And then the second one about like, "Hey, a lot of people track how long it takes to resolve a case, but it's not always on us." It's actually, "Hey, you make this request, we're waiting for you most of the time on this." So I think that's really, really amazing tips for how to break down and really put hard data and metrics behind the work that you do as an admin or building apps.
So talk to me, I want to learn how to think like Andrew. Because you have come in and clearly, very quickly learned about how to master lots of parts of the Salesforce platform, how to really take that mastery and use it in a very effective way in your organization. What are some overall strategies that you think have really helped you and that maybe some other admins can glean from what you've done and what you've learned?

Andrew Russo: Yeah. I think that really, it's a couple things. One of the things that I think is really important and some people really have a hard time doing is learning to say no, because there's some requests that you get that you just have to say no, and put your foot in the sand and say, "I'm not going to do this. This does not make sense. It's not best practice." Really implementing a strong governance.
It doesn't have to be a written governance over Salesforce, but having this ability and empowerment to say no to some request, to say, "No, that doesn't make sense." Having that, I think is really one of the important things, because I do have to tell users, "No, we cannot do that. No." Today even, I've had a user request to get the ability to modify the homepage layouts on apps and I say, "No, if you'd like to, we can do a working session and in a sandbox we can make the changes to push to production, but I can't just give you access to change the home pages," because that comes with a lot of other access that they don't need to have as an end user. So really learning to say no and be willing to say no is one of the things.
The other is thinking about less is more, I think is one thing. And maybe it's kind of that architect mindset that architects are supposed to have where thinking, does this already exist somewhere in Salesforce that's core functionality? It might not be 100% exactly what I want, but if it gets to 98% and it's already standard functionality, use that rather than trying to build something that's perfect custom fit, but custom equals it's yours and you own it, so not only do you own the development of it, you own the problems that you could have in the future with something that you don't foresee.
So just thinking about less is more, being willing and able to say no, and also spending time researching different Salesforce stuff that you're just curious and interested in. That's where I started to learn different things, that just go build some fun stuff, might be related, might not even bring value, just on your own learning Salesforce has been super helpful for that.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. So those are three great tips. The ability to say no and hold the line. And then less is more, I think that architect mindset is super important. And then I think that last one you talked about, researching and just basically playing with Salesforce is really important. And it's that learner's mindset idea, right? Is that there's always something to learn. And so, "Hey, if you're curious, go try it out, go build it, go build an app for some one-off use case that isn't necessarily part of your job."
I think that's one of the things I've seen be very successful in the community is folks that are especially looking to demonstrate their skills to maybe even get their first Salesforce job or demonstrate that they have a higher level of mastery to catapult themselves into a different more senior role, building an app that they purely have built to demo to potential employers or to show off what they know. I think that is one of the strongest things you can do. It's like the ultimate Salesforce admin resume, right? "Cool, so I can write all these words, but look what I can show you. This is what I built. This is why and this is how it works."

Andrew Russo: Yeah. Building on that too, one of the things that I think is super helpful is because in my org, I see what I see. We don't use, for example, CPQ at all. We don't use other... We don't use Marketing Cloud. We have Pardot, but we don't have full Marketing Cloud, so thinking about some of these different areas that we don't really use, but understanding them is really helpful. So one thing that I think really helped open my eyes to see different areas is going on the answers and actually helping other users because it exposes you and you can look at a question someone else has that could come to you in the future and you can help answer their question. You might even have to research. You might not know the answer, but being able to see different use cases in other orgs from other people, answering their questions helps to expose you to new ideas and things that you've never looked at, but now when you come across it in the future, you already have an idea of it.
Because like me, I learned from experience, really that is the best way. So if I can go and do that, the amount of flows I've built for other users that want to see stuff, and then I actually have implemented some of those internally after I saw that on the thing of, "Hey, I want to do this. When an inbound email comes in on a case, I want to change the case status," I helped someone build that and then I was like, "We want that." So I built that for our org after. So, those kind of things really help to open your eyes and see different things.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. Okay. I mean, so now I'm also going to out you for something you told me that you were doing and I know that you are in the midst of it, you had a goal of becoming one of the top answerers in the answers community, I believe. And tell me a little bit more about that. Clearly, I understand why, you've learned about things that then you're putting into your own org, but what is it about doing that that drives you? Or why do you want to do that?

Andrew Russo: I think it's just fun, honestly. So during COVID I got bored and I started answering stuff when I was working from home doing it. And that was 2020 March and I did a good amount of questions and answer stuff, and it was kind of fun doing it. And then two weeks ago I just got bored and I just was like, "You know what? I'm going to go answer them." And then it's kind of addicting because people reply to them and then it draws you back, you go and you help while you answer the questions. The amount of things that... It's a satisfaction you get.
It took me 15 minutes to respond to someone, but they would've spent an entire day trying to learn that thing. So, for me to give 15 minutes and it's going to make their day or their week, it's an awesome feeling doing that, but it also helps me learn more. So it's a mix of both and I ended up in a matter of probably about 20 days moving somewhat high up from not having answered a question over a year or two in the top five in the answer community, so...

Gillian Bruce: That's awesome, Andrew. Okay. So that's the vibe that I love about the admin communities. Everyone just loves to give back and help each other. And here's the thing, clearly you are passionate about solving problems and helping other people solve problems, both in your actual day job, and then clearly this is just part of who you are, because you're doing it externally out of your normal day job for the broader community as well, which is so great, so awesome. You're inspiring me. I'm like, "Maybe I should go try and answer some questions." Don't worry, I'm not going to threaten your leaderboard status, I promise. I have a long ways to go, but that's great.
So Andrew, before we kind of wrap up, I would love to hear if you have any overall tips for someone who's really looking to flex their admin skills or get a little bit more experience under the belt. We heard already some great stuff from you about strategies when you're building apps, about governance, about less is more, about going and tinkering and researching different parts of the platform. Talk to us a little bit more about maybe some of the things that you would tell someone who's maybe a brand new admin or looking for their first admin job. What is the number one or two things that you'd recommend to them to help them beef up their skills and get prepared so they can get that awesome role?

Andrew Russo: Yeah, I think that really some of it, I think there's two different parts of it. There's that new admin and then there's that current accidental admin who works at a company that became the accidental admin. For a new admin, I think really Trailhead is a really great place to start, and then moving over to trying to apply to jobs where they might be a small org with Salesforce that doesn't really have an admin and come in as not an admin, but become the accidental admin. Because I think the accidental admin is a really great place to start because you start to learn a lot of little different things that help you grow.
And then for someone who becomes an accidental admin, I think one of the biggest things, which is actually where I started during COVID and I got experience was, go on different platforms that you can do some small just freelancing stuff after hours at night, stuff that exposes you to other companies, orgs in different areas. I know I've done a big project for a nonprofit that does acupuncture for low-income senior citizens. And we built out an entire community in six different languages. So I did that during COVID. That was massive with a lot of flows in six languages. It was crazy, but now that's really where I became a flownatic, I guess, having massive flow.
So doing that and just getting some experience. It doesn't have to be big projects. Sometimes companies just need help with reporting and being able to help them with reporting, you could make someone on the side do it, but it opens your eyes to see more stuff, because if you don't see stuff or have experience, sometimes it's hard to understand the different things that you don't even know exist. I learned new stuff in Salesforce exists I've never seen almost on a daily basis. Like, "Oh, that's there?" For example, 15,000 character limit for formulas. No one realized it was there, but overnight we all found out on Twitter that it was there.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. Oh gosh, Andrew, this is great. I so appreciate your time. I think it's so cool that you are so generous with sharing what you know and what you've built. I will, for sure, put a link in the show notes to that great blog post that you contributed a lot to and showing some of the different elements of the part of your user management app. And I really appreciate you imparting your wisdom with the admin community and answering so many questions. I can't wait to see you on the top of the leaderboard. Let's just be clear, we'll have a little celebratory "Andrew made it" and then the next person will try and dethrone you. It'll be great.

Andrew Russo: It'll be Steve Mo who comes to dethrone. We already know it.

Gillian Bruce: I mean he does have a very long history of answering most of the questions.

Andrew Russo: The second that it's a formula question, I'm always hesitant because I know that he's going to step in and he's going to have a better formula way. And it's also cool to see, "Okay, this is how I would've answered and done it. Oh, this is what Steve Mo thinks about it." And generally Steve Mo comes with pretty clean formulas that are really well thought out and work super well, so...

Gillian Bruce: Well, and that's the advantage of participating in the community, right? Is you see all these different ways of attacking the same problem. So I love that. That's great. Well, Andrew, thank you so much. I really appreciate your time and I appreciate everything you do to give back and thank you again for sharing all of these amazing pieces of wisdom with the community.

Andrew Russo: Yeah. Thank you. I think this was really fun.

Gillian Bruce: Well, huge thanks to Andrew for taking the time to chat with me. I don't know about you, but I am definitely inspired to go tinker a little bit more and maybe go answer some questions of my own on the answers community. Now, some of the top takeaways from my chat with Andrew, I hope that you heard these as well, but first of all, it's always good to say no, have some kind of governance strategy when you are building apps. You got to set some boundaries, you got to set up some structures that enable you to actually build something that is effective instead of just building everything that people ask you for.
Next, less is more. I love that he talked about that architect thinking, right? Let's use the existing functionality before we create something super custom because it's a lot easier to maintain something that is on core functionality, because if you build it yourself, then you are also responsible for making sure that it works for the rest of its life. So, let's take some of the load off there.
And then finally, tinkering, researching. Go play with the platform, build something. I think that is one of the best ways to learn and there's an easy way to do that, as Andrew pointed out, by answering all those questions on the community. So if you have not delved into the answers community, do it. It's trailhead.com. You can access all of it there. If nothing else, it's a really good place to hang out and just see what people are asking so that you get a sense of the breadth of the platform and the kind of problems that people are solving using Salesforce.
All right. Well, if you want more great content, you can always find that at admin.salesforce.com where we've got blogs, videos, and more podcasts. You can find our guest today, Andrew Russo, on Twitter @_andrewrusso. You can find me @gilliankbruce, and my co-host, Mike Gerholdt, @mikegerholdt. Hope you enjoyed this episode, stay tuned and I'll catch you next time in the cloud.



Direct download: Create_a_User_Management_Super_App_with_Andrew_Russo.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PDT

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we take the show on the road, live from TrailblazerDX.

Join us as we talk about how we put on events like these, what it’s like to go to a live event for the first time, and tips from a vet about why networking is so important.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversations.

The man behind the Trailblazer magic

First, we caught up with Kavindra Patel, VP, Trailblazer Events & Digital Experiences at Salesforce. In short, he runs the show, putting together TrailblazerDX as well as Trailblazer events at Dreamforce and all the World Tours. If you spot someone at an event sporting a cool ranger hat, come say hi to KP.

An admin’s first time at TDX

Next, Mike bumped into Grace Villier, an Admin and sales and marketing specialist at her very first TrailblazerDX. One takeaway she has from the event is to make sure to block out time each week to re-up on your knowledge and keep up with all the content coming out on Trailhead. While she looked at the schedule ahead of time, Grace urges you to really focus in on what will maximize value because these events are always shorter than you think they are going into them.

Tips from a Salesforce veteran

The great thing about a live event like TrailblazerDX is that you have a chance to talk to folks with a wide range of experience and backgrounds. Mike went from talking to a first-time attendee to a real vet when he met up with Lauren Dunne Bolopue, Lead Salesforce Evangelist at DocuSign. She’s super psyched for the upcoming Slack integrations and how that will transform the way we work. She also emphasized just how important the networking you do at events is, and how the people you meet can help you grow and get through roadblocks you might run into along the way.

 

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Full show transcript

Speaker 1: Welcome to the Salesforce Admin's podcast. And we are live, here today, at TrailblazerDX. So, I'm going to walk around the event and get some audio snippets, in case the audio's a little bit different. But I want to kick off our TrailblazerDX special episode with Kavindra Patel or KP, as I know. Kavindra is, kind of, my go-to person for the events. KP, what do you do at Salesforce?

Speaker 2: Well, I run Trailblazer events for Salesforce. We do TrailblazerDX. Trailblazer is a Dream Force, as well as, Trailblazers, and all the world tours.

Speaker 1: So, trailblazers are your thing.

Speaker 2: They are my thing, and I love trailblazers.

Speaker 1: So, let's talk about TrailblazerDX. What is an exciting thing that you brought this week, or that you got to plan, or be a part of?

Speaker 2: So, the exciting part is bringing the Slack, Tableau, Mulesoft, as well as all the Salesforce developers, Admins and architects, all together under one umbrella. So, they can learn from each other, connect with each other, and take themselves to another level.

Speaker 1: Cool. If somebody were to see you at an event, you're kind of hard to miss. Where did the hat come from?

Speaker 2: Yeah, I try to hide myself, but it doesn't work really. I've got my signature hat from the old days of Trailhead, when we really brought Trailhead experience, which is the vibe we have, the fun outdoor vibe, and bringing that into events. And at that time, I bought myself an amazing hat, and you will see me on Twitter all the time, with my hat on. And so, that's where it came from. And it has a ranger, a pin, because I am a ranger.

Speaker 1: Because you're a ranger.

Speaker 2: Because I earned it. And so, that's where it comes from. And people find me, and I love talking to the Trailblazers, and just seeing how I can help them.

Speaker 1: So Kavindra, you're on Twitter, people can see your picture. What's your Twitter handle?

Speaker 2: My Twitter handle is @kavindrapatel.

Speaker 1: Perfect. I'll put a link in the show notes. So, we're going to walk the floor and see who else I can run into. Kavindra, thank you for being our first guest.

Speaker 2: You're welcome. Have a nice day, Mike.

Speaker 1: All right. So, we just finished up our interview with Kavindra. We found out cool things that are happening at the event, but I am standing here with Grace, who's a first-time attendee. Grace, can you introduce yourself?

Speaker 3: Yes, my name's Grace Villier. I work for a Construction Aggregate company, and I am our Sales and Marketing Specialist.

Speaker 1: And Grace, I think this is your first TrailblazerDX.

Speaker 3: It is, yes.

Speaker 1: Okay, so tell me what you're taking notes on, because you've been in a ton of sessions.

Speaker 3: So I, like you said, I've been in quite a few sessions. I've been trying to go to as many Admin sessions that I can go to, as well. Because that is my focus, at my job, is being the best Admin I can be for our users, but I've also gone to a couple sessions on the developer side. So, learning more about Apex, just because, as an Admin, we are involved with Flows, and automation. So, I thought the apex could be helpful too. So, trying to get in as many different areas, and sessions, that I can learn about, throughout these couple of days.

Speaker 1: So, you're on your second day, how many notes pages have you filled?

Speaker 3: I actually counted, and it is up to about eight now.

Speaker 1: Wow, eight.

Speaker 3: They're all the sessions.

Speaker 1: That's a lot. That's a lot. What session stood out to you, as like, "Wow. I had no idea I was going to learn that."

Speaker 3: I think the Admin Best Practices, because one of the things I learned about, was this podcast. Because I didn't realize that it had existed before.

Speaker 1: And now you're on it.

Speaker 3: Exactly. So, I think, little things like that, and learning about best practices, and what you can do on a routine basis, as far as getting feedback from your users. What's working, what's not, because I do ride-along's with our users, every so often. So, just to reinforce that... And it was talked about, coffee hours. So, I think, kind of, combining those because when I do my ride-alongs, it's a whole day, which is awesome. But also combining that with coffee sessions, and just reaching out to people on a more regular basis, I think could be good too.

Speaker 1: So, how long have you been in Admin?

Speaker 3: So, I started my Salesforce journey, let's see, January 2020. So, about-

Speaker 1: That whole time period is a little fuzzy for all of us.

Speaker 3: Yes, or excuse me, 21. About a year and a half ago.

Speaker 1: Oh, good.

Speaker 3: Excuse me. Yes.

Speaker 1: In the pandemic.

Speaker 3: '21, yes. Yes, so, and I went through a training program in sales, and then the opportunity, got to be our Project Lead for implementing Salesforce in December 2020, and then actually started with that in January 2021. So, hadn't seen Salesforce before. And I actually got my Admin certification last October. So I've learned a lot, in that period of time.

Speaker 1: Congrats. Congrats.

Speaker 3: Thank you.

Speaker 1: What is one thing you're going to do different, when you get back to your desk?

Speaker 3: I think getting back to my desk, specifically, I think adding blocks to my calendar, and because I think it's always important to keep learning. And as I was studying for my Admin certification, I was so focused on Trailhead, and doing modules, and realizing that those modules, more and more come out, and they're updated. For example, with Flows, that's the way things are going now with automation. So, just to continue those modules, I think we'll be good in blocking out an hour or two each week, just to stay up-to-date on things throughout Trailhead.

Speaker 1: Now, one of the cool things is, since yesterday, when I saw you in a session, you've also built your entourage, which I think is very cool. So, you've also networked with other people at this event. What was the common factor, for you finding someone else to hang out with at TrailblazerDX?

Speaker 3: So, we're actually in the same general area of the country. Within the Southeast, which was cool. And-

Speaker 1: Oh, you're not from England. I thought I heard an accent there. I was going to say Wales, maybe.

Speaker 3: I know, I sound very, very British, yeah.

Speaker 1: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. New Zealand maybe, right?

Speaker 3: Yes. Yes. So, that was a common factor. And just, having been fairly new to Salesforce, within the past year and a half, it was good to meet somebody new. Like you said, make those connections.

Speaker 1: Okay. So, what is one thing, as we kind of wrap up, what is one thing you'll do different the next time you go to a Salesforce event?

Speaker 3: That's a good question. Because I did look through all the sessions before, and kind of, factored in what will bring the most value. And I think, honing in more on that, just because it is only a two day conference. Really looking into what sessions are going to bring the most value. What can I learn the most from? So like I said, I try to combine some of the Admin sessions, and developer sessions, to learn more about that, too. So, I think, just continuing to do that. And then also, networking more, just because there are so many people here. Working on networking, even more next time, to grow my Salesforce community, people that I know.

Speaker 1: Your eco-system, yeah. Well, you have one now, you have two more with us. Thank you, Grace, for being on the podcast.

Speaker 3: Thank you, I appreciate it.

Speaker 1: Best of luck. I'm sure we'll connect, maybe at Dreamforce.

Speaker 3: Yes. Thank you very much.

Speaker 1: Okay. So, we just came off that fun interview with Grace, who is a first time event TDX. And I happened to run into... You walk around TDX, and you run into friends and family you know. So, I found a veteran, we'll say veteran.

Speaker 4: Oh, I like that term better.

Speaker 1: Okay, veteran, TDX attendee Lauren, can you introduce yourself?

Speaker 4: I'm Lauren Dunvalvue. I'm lead Salesforce Evangelist at DocuSign. And this is my second TDX, but my eighth Salesforce big conference.

Speaker 1: Wow. You keep track of the big conference. Okay.

Speaker 4: I do, like my life depends on it.

Speaker 1: But first back, it feels like we're starting all over again.

Speaker 4: Yeah, I've missed people. I'm a people person. And just being able to see people that I see, on a tiny little screen, every week, or every month, at Meetups, and stuff like that, it's just, I'm like, "Oh my God, you're tall." Like people I've met for the first time in the lockdown. And now they're... I'm meeting them in person. I'm like, "I didn't think you were not tall. Okay, I feel really short now." It's just nice to be able to have that, in-person connection. That is something I have definitely missed, definitely missed.

Speaker 1: Yeah. So, now that we're back in person, what was something that surprised you at TDX this year?

Speaker 4: I am loving the Slack API Integration thing. My ears, straight away went off, as soon as it was announced in the keynote. And I was like, "I need to know more." So, as soon as I was able to get to the Slack area, I was like talking to people. I was like, "Tell me more, how do I get involved? How do I get information?" And I was like a little too excited, I think I scared them just a little. But I was like, "I have these people now, in front of me, that can't run away or you know, mute me." I'm like, "I get to talk to people and tell me all this stuff." So, that's something I'm definitely excited to play with, is that API connection. Because Slack is... We all live and work on Slack, like there's the Ohana Slack, just-

Speaker 1: Or we will.

Speaker 4: Well, yeah, true.

Speaker 1: If you're not already.

Speaker 4: Well, if you're not already, there's Ohana Slack, there's the Ohana Coffee Slack, there obviously Work Slack. There's so many different Slack channels now, for the community. And it's just, I'm looking at it in terms of being able to implement it into work, and how I can boost more productivity. And even for the DocuSign side of things, being able to have that product evolve. Because we have an integration, but I'm like, as soon as I saw it, I was like messaging. I was Slack messaging, believe or not, our Product Manager. And I was like, "We need to get on this. We need to do this. Here's our information we need." He is like, "Okay, you need to calm down." I'm just so super excited about it.

Speaker 1: So, it's interesting you bring up connections. It seems to be a theme. Kind of, this podcast, because we just talked with Grace, who made a connection with somebody that was attending first time solo, just like her solo. She was solo, person she met was solo. And we were just talking, before I pressed record, about how you were taking pictures of people's badges, and connecting with somebody. Can you go more into that?

Speaker 4: Sure, there's so many people that are like, "I'm new to the ecosystem, or I don't know where to start." Or, "I've been here, I started Salesforce a couple years ago and I just... What should I do? Should I take my certification exam? Where should I go?" And on a personal level, people brought me into the Ohana and nurtured me, and grew me, and helped me. And I'm like, "Okay, I'm going to connect with you on LinkedIn. I'm going to follow you on Twitter." I'm like, "I want to help you. If I can't help you, I know people who can." And that's the whole point of the community, is helping people grow, and I've missed it. I've done it throughout the lockdown, but having this, like seeing people and go, "Oh my God, thank you so much." And it's, I just... I can't explain it. Having the in-person has really meant so much more than being on a screen.

Speaker 1: So, I'll ask the question I think everybody's thinking about. I didn't make it to TrailblazerDX. Besides the in-person, and oh, by the way, your feet hurting.

Speaker 4: Oh yeah.

Speaker 1: Your feet.

Speaker 4: I forgot.

Speaker 1: That's a new thing. I haven't stood for more than, a little bit of time. I walk my dog, I do stuff, but standing on hard concrete floors. What is something you're surprised that you didn't realize you were missing, by showing up?

Speaker 4: Well, I'm going to do you one better, actually wearing jeans.

Speaker 1: Oh, yeah.

Speaker 4: I lived in pajama pants for two years.

Speaker 1: Yeah, I did those athletic, slicky things.

Speaker 4: No, the jeans, I'm like, "I might need jeans."

Speaker 1: I need jeans. Yeah. We all had to buy different sizes, by the way.

Speaker 4: Yeah, same here.

Speaker 1: None of the jeans fit.

Speaker 4: Yeah. And like, I haven't walked around, the last two days. I think my jeans might be a little loose now, I'm hoping.

Speaker 1: Yeah. Good. Good.

Speaker 4: But one thing about... It's the Trail. Just seeing the excitement of people, and the learning, and you forget, because when you're doing the online stuff, you're not seeing all different areas. I saw the Flow Matics thing and I was like, "That looks really interesting." Whereas if I saw it on an agenda, I would've have been like, "Oh." Whereas I go over, and I'm learning more about that. I'm like, "That's cool." I've never touched Flow. My role, I don't get to play very much with Salesforce. But you know, I'm like, "Okay, I need to learn Flow. This is something I have to..." I'm feeling really encouraged, and inspired, to learn more. And I'm super excited to watch back stuff on Salesforce Plus, as well. Because, obviously, I can't clone myself. I haven't been to everything.

Speaker 1: It could be everywhere.

Speaker 4: I wish I could, but I couldn't. But being able to watch stuff back, that's what I'm excited for, to go back and learn even more.

Speaker 1: So, as a veteran, long-time attendee of TDX.

Speaker 4: That's me, yes.

Speaker 1: As somebody looking ahead at future events, we've got some World Tours coming up, we have a Dreamforce coming up. What would you advise people to, kind of... How should they approach some of these online events, attending. I just talked to my boss. What should I set? Why should I go?

Speaker 4: One thing is, I always tell people, Salesforce is constantly evolving, and you'll never know everything. And that's why having a network is so important. So, going to these events and I'm not a part of specialist, I'm now getting into the marketing cloud side of things, and I don't know where to start. So, I've actually put it out on Twitter and I bumped it to a few people and I'm like, "Where do I start?" And being able to have that person go, "Oh yeah, I was in the same boat. Here's what you need to know."
So if I was to say to my boss, or anyone else trying to say, "Hey, I need to go to an event." It's the connection. So, networking is super, super, important in this environment, especially because we're such a big community. But also, the learning. Roadmaps are talked about in these events, and they're not published anywhere. And it's so important to know where Salesforce is going, in your learning, in the career, what interests you. And I said, "I'm going to go back to it, the Slack API. Learning all these new tools and being, like, "I was in to True to the Core. True to The Core, oh my God.

Speaker 1: Tell me about it.

Speaker 4: If you have, that's the only session. If I couldn't do any others, I was so glad I did True to the Core.

Speaker 1: Why? If I'm new to the platform, why, what is True to the Core?

Speaker 4: I don't want to say it, but it's all the Product Manager's and Parker Harris, are held hostage. They can't squirm out of, "Oh, I'll get back to you on that." They're sitting on a platform, and it's not rehearsed. It's random people coming up from the audience, and asking them pointed questions. And it's like, they're in the hot seat. And, there's nothing terrible. It's like, "Hey, we need accountability for this, and we need this." And it's nice to have that access to Product Managers, to executives, to people who work in Salesforce. That's another selling point for going to these events is having someone... Being able to walk up to someone in the Trailblazer Certification Program and go, "Here's where I'm at, where should I go? Should I go down the developer route? Should I go down the consultant route? I don't know where I want to..."
And having that conversation of, "Well, what you want to be when you grow up?" You can have those kind of conversations, but having a real in-depth, I have no idea what I want to do. Here's what interests me? What would you advise? Having that connection, more than just an email, or a tweet, or a back-and-forth online. So, that's another thing I'd encourage anyone, if you do get to go, the Salesforce events, the Dreaming events, World Tours, I'm excited for World Tours. Just being able to have the access to Salesforce employees is huge.

Speaker 1: So, maybe you've already answered it, but I've been to all this stuff. I can just watch it on Salesforce Plus.

Speaker 4: No, it's a different experience.

Speaker 1: You've been to a bunch of these events. Why do you still keep coming?

Speaker 4: People. The learning, as I said, it's constantly evolving. You don't know what you don't know, until you walk around. And you're like, "Oh, that looks kind of cool." Or, "Oh, I know nothing about this subject, so I'm going to sit there and listen." And having developers who are giving presentations, like in the Parker Harris keynote, there was Stephan Garcia-Chandler. He was demoing his stuff. And then I got to sit at one of his talks and I'm like, "This is a guy who is demoing at a Salesforce keynote. Teaching me his stuff, his knowledge." And I'm like, "This is amazing." Being able to see the experts, and learn from the experts. So, that's what keeps me coming back, is seeing the people, learning from the people, and the excitement, you recharge your batteries when you're talking to the people. Sorry. I'm all about the people. I love people.

Speaker 1: That's good. It's good.

Speaker 4: I miss the people, the last couple years.

Speaker 1: Speaking of people, if people want to follow you on the Twitters.

Speaker 4: Yup. On the Twitter verse, I'm @laurendon__c. Yeah. You get it.

Speaker 1: Double underscore.

Speaker 4: Double underscore. Yeah.

Speaker 1: Because you're a custom object, gotcha.

Speaker 4: Oh, I'm very custom. I'm unique.

Speaker 1: I like that. Thank you Lauren, for being on the podcast.

Speaker 4: Thanks you very much. Very, very, very welcome. Thank you for including me.

Speaker 1: So, we just heard from Lauren on, what it's like to be at TrailblazerDX, as an expert, or a long-time attendee. To wrap up our podcast, I got Gillian, the co-host, back, because she had so many hosting duties at TrailblazerDX. Gillian, why don't you, kind of, put a bow on this episode, in the event for us?

Speaker 5: Sure. So, this was really special. This is our seventh ever TDX. And it's amazing that the first one was back in 2016, both our product and our community have exponentially grown and changed in so many ways. It's been amazing to reconnect in-person for the first time, and meet so many new people. I would say almost everyone that I met at this event was a brand new Salesforce person. Has first event, first time exposed to Salesforce, or very earlier in their Admin career. So all of you who are listening, who are wondering, 'Hey, what should I do to amplify my career, grow your career?" Connect with your local community group, go to a local Dream In event, try and come to Dreamforce, if you can.
There is no replacement for being in an in-person event and meeting Trailblazers, face-to-face. That's the magic of our community, and advents. It's the reason the awesome Admin community is so special. It's the reason that so many Admins are successful, by giving back, connecting with each other, trying to enable and mentor others. If you've got something to help somebody else with, I'm full. All the Trail Hard is real, right now.

Speaker 1: No, it's good. Because when we talked with KP, the goal of this was to make people connect, get people back together. We talked with Grace and she had tons of notes, tons of notes, eight pages. And found a new friend, and Lauren said the same thing, too. And we saw this when we did a ton of sessions too, it's cool to just present, and see people get excited for something.

Speaker 5: Oh, my gosh.

Speaker 1: And clap.

Speaker 5: Yeah. And to get the actual instantaneous feedback of, "That was useful, or, 'I've used that," or, "Hey, I can see how that could be used." Or "Hey, have you thought about this?" I mean, it's so invaluable.

Speaker 1: And I love the... So, one thing Lauren said, was just the unintentionality. Just walking around, seeing vendor booths, running into people, and being like, "Oh, I never would've stopped here if it was on my schedule, but I'm here now. And maybe I can explore this." So, another reason to come back.

Speaker 5: Learning about a new product, a new cloud. Maybe you're like, "Oh, you'll stop Composer. There's somebody right here I could talk to about that. That's great."

Speaker 1: I have a question.

Speaker 5: Yeah, what is this? And how can I use it?

Speaker 1: Exactly. Well, this was a fun TrailblazerDX. We tried to do some kind of different episodes. So, we won't do this all the time, but hopefully we caught some of the energy, and some of the reason, for coming to an event like this. Of course, if you want to learn more about all things Salesforce Admin, go to admin.salesforce.com to find more resources, including any of the links that I mentioned. I don't think I mentioned any links.

Speaker 5: I think salesforce.com is a link.

Speaker 1: Yeah, I'll mention that link. How's that? We'll also have a full transcript there, too. Of course, you can say up-to-date with us on social. I'm sure you've seen some of the picks from TrailblazerDX. We are @SalesforceAdmns, no I, on Twitter. Gillian is @gilliankbruce. And of course, I am @MikeGerholdt on Twitter. So with that, stay safe, stay awesome, and stay tuned for the next episode. We'll see you in the cloud.



Direct download: Live_from_TrailblazerDX.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:12am PDT

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’ve got the Monthly Retro for April.

 

Join us as we talk about all the great Salesforce content from April, including some World Tour travel content and we have to say: we’re really excited to see people again.

 

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation from our Monthly Retro.

Salesforce World Tour

Mike and Gillian recap all of the exciting World Tour stops that have been happening this month, including Sydney and DC. If you haven’t yet been to an in-person Salesforce event, now is the time, especially with Dreamforce coming up in September.

Blog highlights from April

“The Salesforce Admins Skills Kit is basically a way for us to put really concrete data and language behind the nontechnical skills that make a Salesforce Admin successful,” Gillian says, things like problem solving, business analysis, and communication. While we’re really good at telling you all of the parts of the product you need to understand to be a good Admin, we’re looking at how we can help you build those soft skills that create that legendary Admin magic. We also wanted to highlight an article Gillian wrote about how different Admins have built to better manage user requests.

 

Video highlights from April

As Mike says, this might be the coolest thing we’ve done since starting the podcast. Jennifer Lee is now doing a live session on YouTube we like to call Automate This. “It’s like a cooking show, but for building Flows,” Gillian says.

 

Podcast highlights from April

 

We think you should check out our episode with Antoine Cabot, who is in charge of building Orchestrator. It’s the Flow of Flows. Multi-user workflows started as a dream a few years ago and to see everything that we’re able to do is truly thrilling.

 

 

Podcast swag

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Full show transcript

Mike Gerholdt: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast in the April monthly retro for 2022. I'm your host Mike Gerholdt and in this episode, we're going to review the top product community, careers content. Hey, you know what? Just going to make a quick edit and say world tour travel content too, that we did in April, because we're so excited to say that. And of course to help me do that, the very familiar voice of Gillian, Bruce. Hello, Gillian.

Gillian Bruce: Hey Mike, happy to join, it's good to be back with you again. It's fun getting back in the swing things because we actually have been able to see people as you hinted with the world tour teaser in your opening.

Mike Gerholdt: I know, seriously, I got a plane and took a cab somewhere and ate at a restaurant and saw humans.

Gillian Bruce: I get to stay at a hotel away from my family, it was awesome.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. Oh, when they bring back room service. I've never been more excited for room service.

Gillian Bruce: So my hotel didn't have room service. It was modified room service. There was a dropped it at the door kind of thing.

Mike Gerholdt: Fine. Actually that's better as an introvert, that's even the perfect room service. Just "Knock, knock, knock. Your food is at your door." Oh, perfect. I don't have to interact with you. "Nope, have a nice day."

Gillian Bruce: Anyway, we're back. Everyone's coming back slowly. It's really exciting and gosh, well it really was a world tour, because the first stop was not even on this continent that we are both on right now.

Mike Gerholdt: And neither of us went.

Gillian Bruce: Nope. But that's okay.

Mike Gerholdt: Yes. Down under.

Gillian Bruce: Down under.

Mike Gerholdt: So World Tour Sydney happened and shout out to Judy Fang who you've seen at Trailblazers Innovate back in 2020.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, Judy's awesome.

Mike Gerholdt: She was, it's a shame I didn't get down there. And Philip for presenting admin content in the Trailblazer theater down there in Sydney. We would love to hear your thoughts if you went.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. We want to hear everyone's thoughts from of any of the events that are happening, especially the event that's happening right now as you're probably listening to this because TrailblazerDX is happening right now, today.

Mike Gerholdt: You could be listening to this as you're walking up Market Street, headed to Moscone West.

Gillian Bruce: There you go. Yep. To see people so exciting. But then our next stop on the tour was one of my favorite cities, D.C. And Mike, you and I got to be there together, it was so fun,

Mike Gerholdt: And present, I got to get a badge. A credential to hang around your neck. It sounds weird but virtual events we didn't get the little thing and it was dangling and it felt important.

Gillian Bruce: I had to think about what to wear on the bottom half of my body, because it wasn't just from the chest up.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. Shoes, oh man, shoes. Break your shoes in. Hey, you know what I forgot to do? Break my shoes in. Broke my feet in. Let me tell you.

Gillian Bruce: D.C. was amazing. Not only did we get to physically be in person at an event, but we got to see community members there. There is a very vibrant D.C., Maryland, Virginia community. I think there were five community groups that were all presenting big time there, so it was great to reconnect with folks. And what was really great, Mike, is that not only did we get to present three times in the Trailblazer theater with great, amazing admin content, but we also got to feature local Trailblazers and part of our presentations.

Mike Gerholdt: And who were they Gillian? Because you found them.

Gillian Bruce: I did. I feel like I struck gold. It was great. We literally and I did. Brittany Charles, she joined us. She's been working with the Salesforce platform for a long time but she's just now getting involved in the community and she has a lot to share in terms of how you can really hone your awesome admin skills, about the different kinds of instances that she's worked with. Keep an eye on her, follow her. She's got a lot to offer the community.
And then, we also featured Carmel James and when I say I struck gold, so Brittany well for sure, she's a golden, amazing, wonderful member of our community and she's got a lot to offer. But Carmel literally was award in the Golden Hoodie. She has lot to share, she's turned into a consultant so she's working with many different kinds of Salesforce instances, but she is an admin at heart and has so many great things to share. In fact, you are going to hear her or you have heard her on the Podcast.

Mike Gerholdt: You've already heard her, she was last week. Yeah, April 21st. I just had to look that up because we wrangled the Golden Hoodie.

Gillian Bruce: We wrangled her, yes.

Mike Gerholdt: Onto a Podcast.

Gillian Bruce: Yes.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. That was cool. We also had in addition to the theater sessions... Which by the way I thought I had presented in, I've done stuff in front of the camera and whatever. Oh no, it's standing up again, clicking a clicker.

Gillian Bruce: The energy is back.

Mike Gerholdt: Whole different new realm of like, and people are looking at you and you say something then they laugh at your joke and you're like, "Oh my God,"-

Gillian Bruce: Or they don't,

Mike Gerholdt: "This is great." Or they don't, that's fine. I'm used to that too. We had demo station, I want to thank Nick, Justin Anne and Morgan for staffing that. That was amazing. And hopefully you had a chance to stop by the demo station. I saw there was a lot of people hanging around, questions all the time.

Gillian Bruce: We did hand out a bunch of stickers and pins, there's always that swag.

Mike Gerholdt: You did. Yeah. If you were at world tour D.C, you could have got a Salesforce admin podcast sticker.

Gillian Bruce: Those are hot items people.

Mike Gerholdt: I bet if you're listening this now and you find us at TrailblazerDX, you could probably get something too.

Gillian Bruce: I'm pretty sure it's not the way it's going to happen.

Mike Gerholdt: Probably walk around with stuff in our pockets. I wrote down another thing that was fun. I got to do a selfie at World Tour D.C.

Gillian Bruce: Selfies are back.

Mike Gerholdt: I just remember somebody was like, "Oh, I don't know how..." I like, "Just give me the phone, I know how to do it. it's like riding in a bicycle."

Gillian Bruce: Just came right back to you.

Mike Gerholdt: Just came right back to me. So yeah, I got selfies. I Get selfies with a podcast listener too. I tweeted it out.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, it was really great. I think what's really fun about these Salesforce tours is that they're very localized, right? So it's like, a specific community, they're free, so you can come. You get a lot of people who have never been to a Salesforce event before, especially given the last couple years at these events. And so I met so many new people and we're like, "Hey, welcome. Welcome to this really fun community. And I am so happy that this is your first event and I get to talk to you and I get to welcome you in."
And there were so many people that made connections at the event. Listener, if you're picking up what I'm putting down, go to a Salesforce event because it is such a valuable way to make connections, to learn, to get stickers, because that's also really important. But yeah, come to an event, there's plenty of opportunities. The tour is going to all kinds of different cities in the next few months. And then we have a little something called Dreamforce that's happening in September.

Mike Gerholdt: Oh, it's going to be awesome. Yeah.

Gillian Bruce: It's epic. Okay. There's more than just, this amazing vibe of we're going to see people in person, events are back.

Mike Gerholdt: But we are really excited for that.

Gillian Bruce: We are very excited, but we also did a lot of other really cool things this month for the community. So Mike, can you give it's a little recap of some the cool things.

Mike Gerholdt: So when you say we, we really mean the Royal we of admin [inaudible]

Gillian Bruce: Very Royal,

Mike Gerholdt: The Royal we, if you know me, you know that joke. So the one thing I want to highlight that I think is just one of the coolest things we've launched since maybe the Podcast, Genly now doesn't automate this session. It's a live video on YouTube.

Gillian Bruce: Live,

Mike Gerholdt: Live. You're sitting around and you're like, "Man, wonder how Genly would build this flow. Let's just watch it live.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: I'll just give you a moment to gather your head, has it exploded. Because all of the amazingness, and so we'll link to a blog post where you can watch the recorded version of the live.

Gillian Bruce: Replay.

Mike Gerholdt: Butthat Blog post has all the information, so you can tune in and watch all the automated this. It's so exciting. This is such a neat idea.

Gillian Bruce: It's so cool. It's like a cooking show, but for building flows and automations you're watching it happen in real time, you can follow along, you can watch the replay, so you can go replicate it and follow along in your own pace. But just getting that live brilliance directly from Genly is just chef's kiss to continue the metaphor.

Mike Gerholdt: That also gives me a really fun idea for Dreamforce. It'd be fun to do live flow building and then have Genly on the side commentary. You ever watched that food network where like, "He's shaving the radishes, which will give a-

Gillian Bruce: Like Iron chef.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, like that kind of thing, that'd be fun to watch.

Gillian Bruce: She could be the, what is it? The Alton Brown?

Mike Gerholdt: Alton Brown. Yeah.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. And you could be the sideline reporter in the kitchen being like-

Mike Gerholdt: I'd just be the guy that's relief. That sounds really cool.

Gillian Bruce: "Looks we're retiring a workflow here and,"

Mike Gerholdt: Right. Yeah. All this stuff you'll see at TDX today, I promise you're going to see how to turn a workflow into a flow at TDX today, if you're listening this on April 28th.

Gillian Bruce: Guaranteed. Yes.

Mike Gerholdt: Like you should. We'll do a full TDX wrap up next month because it's literally happening right now. Oh, it's like multiverse, you could be listening to this Podcast now and then standing across from me or you. And we wouldn't even know it. It's like, "Whoa," wonder what that's going to say.

Gillian Bruce: Really in the Salesforce matrix there.

Mike Gerholdt: I just thought of that, makes no sense.

Gillian Bruce: But yeah. Well, I'm launching a little something right now at TDX.

Mike Gerholdt: A lot of something.

Gillian Bruce: A lot of something. We've been working as a team on a really big project for the last year and it's super important and it's very timely. And we are launching the Salesforce admin skills kit at TDX. And you may be saying, what is the skills kit you think of? Well, the skills kit is basically a way for us to put really concrete in data and language behind the non-technical skills that make a Salesforce admin successful. We're talking about things problem solving, business analysis, communication. We've done so much work over the last year between serving actual admins in the community, talking to workforce development organizations, employers, experienced admins, job seekers about how we can really help, beef up.
We're really good at telling you all of the different parts of the product that you need to know to be a really good Salesforce admin, but we've been lacking in that business skillset that you also need. To me, that's the admin magic, right? That's what makes so amazing. So we have this amazing, very robust skills kit that goes through all of these different skills that you will absolutely benefit from. If you are looking to grow your Salesforce admin career, if you're looking for your first Salesforce admin role or if you're looking to hire a Salesforce admin. It's huge, it's awesome. You can go to admin.salesforce.com/skills kit, and you can find all of the great resources there.
We've got expertise from different community members that we're talking about each different skill, showing you examples of how you represent this on a resume, how you would represent this in a job out description and then also resources for how you learn, how to develop that skill further. So I could go on and on about it. I got a whole session at TDX about it. I will be talking about this for probably the rest of my tenure at Salesforce. This is really important stuff. And I cannot wait to see what the community does with it, because it's a great resource.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. And more to come when you join us at Dreamforce this year.

Gillian Bruce: Ooh. So much more. This is just the beginning, everybody. There's a little much more.

Mike Gerholdt: Just the smidge, just the corner. You think you know, you have no idea. A couple pieces of content I want to point out and then we'll wrap up so that you can get on your way, on the road to TDX. Should we say [inaudible]

Gillian Bruce: On the road from TDX? Is it the last

Mike Gerholdt: Maybe they're taking a car, rail car. Why can't I think trolley?

Gillian Bruce: A cable car.

Mike Gerholdt: Cable car. Why is that such a thing?

Gillian Bruce: Well it's-

Mike Gerholdt: The Mr. Rogers neighborhood thing came to mind.

Gillian Bruce: That was technically a trolley, that was not a cable car. It's different.

Mike Gerholdt: Okay. No. Yeah. There we go. Now nobody's listening. Two things to point out, one, there's an amazing Podcast. Gillian, you did this Podcast with Antoine Calvet, who is the PM for Flow. Is he?

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. He and his team are basically the ones who build orchestrator, which is the Flow of Flows thing. I love talking to Antoine because also I'm getting back up to speed with everything that happened while I was on parental leave, and talking to him was so fun because it's like we had this concept a year ago, two years ago, and now it's really happening where you can really take those multi-user workflows, all these processes that involve different departments, maybe external internal users and you can put all of that into one beautiful process automation using orchestrator.
You don't have to rebuild each individual Flow, you don't have to link them together and external things, you have one beautiful representation. It was really great to talk to him about what he and his team have built, where it's going, what they're excited to share at TDX, which is happening now. Yeah, it was a really fun episode to record if you haven't listened to it. Go listen it.

Mike Gerholdt: Go back and listen. And Gillian you highlighted an article that you wrote too.

Gillian Bruce: Oh, okay. I can't take full credit for this article. This is really like I put a question out on Twitter and got overwhelmingly awesome responses from the community. I was talking to a colleague like a month ago and I was like, "Hey, don't we have a good example of an app that someone's built to manage users?" And for some reason I thought that this content already existed, I couldn't find it. So what do I do? I just post on Twitter, "Hey, does anyone have a good example of how they've built an app to manage user requests?" Okay. The responses I got were incredible. I got some amazing examples of really robust and really powerful apps that people have built to better manage user requests and go read the posts. There's actual screenshots in there and actual outlines of different parts and features of these apps that people have built, so many great things you can learn and incorporate.
Things like how to really get real data on your ROI of the things that you have built to really track the time to some best practices in terms of capturing requests, in terms of forcing people to fit into the structure of a user request. It's great. Check out the post. I'm sure you're going to get something out of it that will help you as an admin, be more efficient and help you and your team deliver more powerful results and just show how amazing you are. So read it. And huge shout out to all the collaborators that contributed to it. Because let me tell you, I just put the quest out there and then just put all of their great info in there.

Mike Gerholdt: You just put the legos together, you didn't build the bricks.

Gillian Bruce: Exactly.

Mike Gerholdt: Right. Cool. Well that was great. We will do a wrap up of TDX in May, hang out for that because we've also got some stuff that we're going to try and record live there. We'll see how that turns out. But if you want to learn more about all the things that we just talked about, the Podcast and that really cool article, go to admin.salesforce.com to find those links and many more resources. You can stay up to date with us on social for all things admins. We are at Salesforce admins. No I on Twitter. I am on Twitter @MikeGerholdt and of course Gillian is @Gilliankbruce. I bet there's a few selfies going on our Twitter right now.

Gillian Bruce: Oh, yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: Just because it's TDX. So with that, stay safe, stay awesome and stay tuned for the next episode. We'll see you in the cloud.



Direct download: April_Monthly_Retro_with_Mike_and_Gillian_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PDT

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we talk to Karmel James, Senior Associate at Dupont Circle Solutions.

Join us as we talk about how to ask good questions and why failure is a Record Type of Success.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Karmel James.

The Life of a Salesforce Consultant

Karmel is a Salesforce consultant: “My day is filled with asking questions and wondering what my clients are going to want today and then going through and figuring out how we’re going to deliver that to them.” Along the way, she has conversations about business processes and automation to help her get clarity on how to execute on those big ideas.

Along the way, Karmel has picked up on some best practices for solving problems quickly and efficiently. She really relies on her sandboxes to keep everything organized, and recommends you do the same.

Find the right tool for the job

“Being willing to learn and ask questions is one of the first key skills that I would say that everyone needs,” Karmel said, “but you need to be able to evaluate.” You’ve got so many tools available to you, from Process Builder to Flow and Triggers, so choosing the right thing for the right job is crucial. “What makes an Awesome Admin awesome is knowing how and when to use each,” she says.

When comes to figuring out what the right questions to ask are, Karmel recommends leaning on those high school journalism skills and asking the five Ws and an H: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. You need to clearly hear what the problem is so you can engineer a solution, whatever that may be. And while there are a lot of ways to solve something in Salesforce, if you don’t understand the problem you haven’t got a chance to make an impact.

Failure is just a Record Type of Success

“Sometimes things fail, but failure is just a Record Type of success,” Karmel says, “you can’t succeed if you don't know how to fail.” And when you need help, come to a live event and ask questions because everyone there wants to help you succeed.

There are so many people working to build the community and make people feel at home, so if you’re new then look for places where you can learn more and get in touch with people who want to help. Start with your Community Groups first and go from there, and remember that everyone is there to learn no matter what your level of experience.

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Full show transcript

Mike: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins podcast, where we talk about product community and career. We're live this week, Gillian, at the Salesforce World Tour, DC.

Gillian: Yeah, do y'all hear that? You hear that noise in the background?

Mike: It's people.

Gillian: People in-person. Ah, that's so exciting. So exciting.

Mike: It was fun. So Gillian, you've done a couple presentations in the theater.

Gillian: And so have you.

Mike: I did. We just came off it. It was great. I presented to people and got facial feedback.

Gillian: Yeah, that isn't just on a screen. You actually could see body language.

Mike: Right, and the excitement when you say their names.

Gillian: You could ask people to raise their hands and you could actually see some hands on the air.

Mike: And then they raise their hands. Yeah, they don't just say they did in chat. I raised my hand. We're not sitting here alone. We're sitting with some shininess.

Gillian: Oh, we got some trailblazer royalty here with us today.

Mike: Please introduce our trailblazer royalty, Gillian.

Gillian: All right, listeners. I have a very special treat for you. We have the most recent golden hoodie winner. Karmel James, joining us. Karmel, welcome to the podcast.

Karmel James: Thank you, Gillian and Mike, this is amazing. While this is very shiny and very nice, I'm just in awe that I'm sitting here with you. I mean, this is just a dream come true.

Gillian: Aw, well that's sweat.

Mike: That's very nice. I'd like to think people are like, "Hmm, Golden Hoodie podcast. I don't know."

Karmel James: It's hard. I feel like they're somewhat equal some days. And then you're just like, you know what? Everything about Salesforce is great. So I'm just going to take what I can get. And this is awesome.

Mike: I hear that Lego movie song in my head. Everything's awesome.

Gillian: Everything is awesome.

Mike: Right?

Gillian: Yeah, well that was our theme song many, many moons ago for a long time now. We should bring it back.

Mike: It's never gotten out of my head. It's stuck now.

Gillian: Karmel, let's talk a little bit about who you are and what you do, and then we'll talk about Golden Hoodie and all the things. So what do you do in Salesforce World, and how long have you been doing it? Tell us a little bit about your story.

Karmel James: Yes, all the stories. I am currently a Salesforce consultant at a boutique company here in the Arlington area. And my day is just filled with asking questions and wondering what my clients are going to want today. And then going through and figuring out how are we going to deliver that to them, and having some really great conversations about business process, automation. All of the things that awesome admins are always wanting to do, that is my job 24/7.

Mike: Wow, I like that. It sounds cool.

Gillian: I think it also sounds like she has a lot of good wisdom to share.

Mike: Have a feeling.

Gillian: It could be [crosstalk] to the community.

Karmel James: All of the wisdom, all of the things. One, Sandboxes, yes. Hands down, every time.

Mike: You should have one?

Karmel James: You should have one. You should live by it. You should want three of them at all points in time. You got to test in multiple. Yeah, it's a whole deal.

Mike: Just to be clear, we're three minutes into the pod and she's already dropping wisdom on you.

Gillian: See, and this is why we have-

Mike: There's no breaks.

Gillian: Yeah, no.

Mike: It's coming at you like a wonder wall.

Gillian: That's what happens when you get everybody together in person, everyone gets excited.

Mike: I know, we have to talk, do things.

Karmel James: I thought that was the point of the community, to share knowledge.

Mike: Well, let's talk about the community. So I think what you described in your intro as like, "Oh, I did this and then I listen to the customers." Yeah, people do that in a lot of jobs. What's different about being in the Salesforce ecosystem for you?

Karmel James: Oh, that is a hard question to answer.

Mike: We're brutal on the podcast.

Karmel James: You are. I think what's different for me is, you can hear a lot of people say, do X, do Y, right? It's all there, but it's about finding what's right for you. So you take all of this information, you hear people say, "I think you should try this." And then at least in my experience, I've always said, yes to trying something once, right? I can't know if I'm going to hate it unless I try it first. And then after you try it, evaluate. Does that make sense for you? Is it still right for you? And I think that even with how you show up in the community, even how you do your job, whatever it is in the Salesforce ecosystem, it's not just about, I know this and this is great and I want to use it. It's an also questioning and saying, but is it right for me? And should I continue to do it? Do I still get that value from it?

Gillian: Okay, so that is definitely Golden Hoodie worthy wisdom there. And I think one of the things that is interesting is one of the reasons we were working with you on some of our presentations we shared today is, you really embody a lot of those admin core skills that we're talking about. We talked about, we've got the skills kits that we're about to launch, and you really embody a lot of that. And the reason we talk about the skills kit is because a lot of people can learn how to do Salesforce. A lot of people can learn how to customize a field, how to build an app. And that's great and it's important that you know that, but that admin magic is when you combine those business skills and those skills that you are hinting at. So can you talk to us a little bit, especially about in your role as a consultant, tell us a little bit how you envision that combo and how that has worked for you and how that helps create the magic that you've been able to propel your career with.

Karmel James: Yeah, no, I think being willing to learn and ask questions is one of the first key skills that I would say that everyone needs, but to your point, yes, you need to be able to evaluate. So when you're coming together and you're thinking, "Okay, I have this solution," you've got all these different tools in front of you, right? If we're thinking about process automation, you've got workflow rules, you've got process builders, you've got Flows, you've got Triggers, you've got external systems connected with an API and it can send things. You've got everything in a toolbox.
But what makes an awesome admin awesome is knowing how and when to use each. It is critical to know that these things exist. But then again, taking that step back and really thinking about, but why do I want to use it in this scenario? How is it going to be better than... How is Flow better than process builder? Well, because Flow is going to be the thing. It is the wave. Process builder is going away. Workflow rules are going away. So really taking the time to say, "Do I understand Flow? Have I tried it? Did I test this in my Sandbox?" And then going through. And once you do have that, again, asking yourself, "Is this right? Did it solve my problem?"
Because I agree. There are so many different tools that you can use in the ecosystem and you can learn it all, yes. But what makes someone super cool, super amazing, super great at what they do, is knowing in to use one over the other, and being willing to defend that or change. If you're like, "Oh, something new has come up. Actually I did want to use Flow, now actually I think I need a trigger because the business process has changed." Right? So it's being adaptable and flexible and just asking a lot of questions and evaluating.

Mike: Okay, so to go a little bit further, because I want to get some of that Karmel goodness out. I hear that a lot, oh, you got to ask questions. You got to ask a lot of questions. And then I listen to a podcast like this and I'm like, "What are the questions? What should I be asking?" As you've evolved in your career, you've gotten better at asking questions. What are questions you ask now that help you clarify one tool versus the other or one process versus the other? Or do I build an object versus the other? What's that next level down answer that an admin needs to like, "I listen to Karmel. I'm going to go in tomorrow and I'm going to ask this type of question rather than just a question and then try and figure out Flow builder."

Karmel James: I would say it's about going back to the basics. So I remember in elementary school you learned about the five Ws. Who, what, when, where, why, and then an H, how. Those are all the questions that I need. I always think about, "How can I phrase this in an open ended question, just so that I can hear what the problem is." I'm not really worried about a solution because I know that there's a solution out there, but what I really need to know is, what is going on in the business? Why is the business doing it this way? What happens if you don't get it? What's the result of that? And really trying to understand the entire picture, right? It's about, if you're thinking about a painting, you want to know what you're painting first, some artists don't and that's totally okay.
But if you want something that's structured, that's consistent, that's going to give you longevity, and it is going to mean that your users are extremely happy, that they're like, "This is amazing, you've changed my life," then it's about understanding the whole picture before building the solution. And that's a really hard skill to learn. I mean, it's something that has taken me years to really develop. It's like, yeah, I know I can use Flow with it, but first I need to know, well, what part and where am I going to put in the Flow? And I can only do that if I start asking who what, when, where, why and how. And if I can't ask any of those questions, I then question, why can't I ask any of these questions? I need to go back and rethink how I can frame this in an open-ended way so that someone can just give me all of the information, and then I can process it and really critically think about what is going to be the best solution to get us to the end goal.

Gillian: So it's funny. I actually saw you do the little bits in action just 10 minutes ago after the presentation, because of course you got swarmed after the presentation with everyone wanting to ask you questions.

Mike: I mean, it happens with the goal.

Gillian: And the Golden Hoodie, it's like saying-

Mike: It's so subtle.

Gillian: It's blindingly amazing. And so someone came up and asked you and said, "Hey, I'm trying to solve this situation. I have this form that I need people to fill out and then I got to capture it." And my first thought was like, "Oh, so maybe, probably sounds like a screen flow. I don't know." And you were like, "Hold on, let me ask you some questions. What type of form is this? What type of data is it gathering?" And it was like, we just saw you just immediately spring into action. And so that's that thinking in practice? I loved seeing that.

Karmel James: Oh yeah, no, absolutely. And it's something that I use as a consultant every day. I'm very happy to build any solution that my client wants, but I also am a consultant. I'm not going to be using the solution every single day. I'm not going to know when it goes wrong. I'm not going to understand that. And so in order to make sure that I'm building the best thing, I like to try and figure out what are the questions to get me the information to put myself in somebody else's shoes. I need to picture this as if I am the user. I need to picture this as if I am the admin who's going to receive this.
I need to picture it as if I am the manager, who's going to be receiving the complaint about their coworkers are like, "I hate this. This is horrible." Right? It's all about that user perspective. And so asking those questions makes it a lot easier. And also, I can't tell you what a link is going to do, unless I know what tool are we using and why are we using that? And can we use something different? And again, it's just who, what, when, where, why, how, it's my favorite.

Mike: So I've worked with consultants as an admin, and we can get into that as a whole other... That could be a whole podcast.

Karmel James: That's a whole podcast.

Mike: But I think one thing that you probably run into that admins, I'm going to say, don't run into, when a consultant comes in. I think the company culture, the mindset has gone to, we are ready for change, because Salesforce is a change product, right?

Karmel James: Yeah.

Mike: You don't just get at net zero cloud and then not recycle paper, right? For example, or not install solar panels. You have to commit to the change. As you would advise for admins, what is a thing that they can do? What are questions they can ask that would help bring about that culture, that process change in addition to the technology change?

Karmel James: Ooh, change management, Mike. You are diving in deep.

Mike: I'm both feet. We're back live in person's hard question time.

Karmel James: It is. Well, considering the fact that before I was a consultant, I was an accidental admin. I was working by myself at a small nonprofit, not understanding. What I would say is that what I've learned from starting out seven years ago in that position of I've got this system, of course I want my users to use it. I know about all of these cool features. Now as a consultant where my job is to come in and help other people understand that value, I think it's also positioning and understanding who is your audience. So yes, if a company buys Salesforce, of course, you're like, well obviously you should use Salesforce. Of course, you bought it, you want to use it. But it's about understanding what is the value of the executive director using it? What value to the manager who is using it? What is the value to your customer who's going to be interfacing with whatever site you put up, especially if you're using experience cloud?
It's about putting yourself in the other person's shoes and trying to imagine what is the value of the thing that you want to change. So if you want to introduce a whole new application, right, you got a whole new set of tabs. It's got all these automated things, you get all these cool buttons. Well then, my question to you is, how are you going to describe how that functions in your users everyday life? Is that going to mean that they no longer have to click through eight things? Really putting the, so what, the why, in front of them and showing them, Salesforce can do almost anything, but what we really want to make sure is that it's going to give you what you want. So is this what you want? Is this really cool? Is this going to make you excited to save time and money and effort?
And so, if you're looking for change management, start with, what are the problems? Can't change anything if you don't know what the problem is. And then once you do, understand well, what is the solution that they want? And can I deliver that solution and just keep going through? This is what you wanted, you told me you had this problem, I'm solving the problem. But again, it's just being able to ask those questions and really understanding your audience is really key into all of it. It's very hard, but you can do it.

Gillian: So yeah, actually one of the things that popped up for me, you're saying it's very hard. What happens when you have a situation where someone's either not giving you the info or you're having combative, "Hey, why is it this site?" "Well, it just is." What happens when you hit those walls? Because I can imagine when you're digging deep and asking all the questions, so you might encounter somebody who's defensive or who doesn't think you need to know, or how do you deal with something like that?

Karmel James: Well, I would stop and assess my situation of, what is the environment that I'm in. Am I in front of a lot of people or is this one-on-one? Because I think that's definitely going to change how you approach that person. But let's just go ahead and say it's one-on-one, right? I personally like to reset. If I met with a little resistance, I like to reset as why we're here today. Right? And remind them that my job is to help you. I'm not here to just come in and make change just to make change. If this is a process that you want to keep, that's totally fine. I have ideas on how I can make it easier, but it's not my job to just make things easier to make them easier. My job is make sure that if it's going to be easier for you, it's actually going to add value.
So again, it's going back to understanding your audience. And again, if it's on one-on-one reset, restate that you're here to help. And if that's something that they don't want help on, ask, "Well, what do you want help on? Tell me what are your problems? How can I help you?" With my clients I tell them, "I'm not worried about what the solution is going to be. We will find a solution. Salesforce here at World Tour, there's a million solutions out on the floor. We can see all of them, but none of that means anything if we don't understand how it's going to bring us value. So I would say, reset with that person, make sure they understand that you're just there to help them. And then say, "Remind me again, what are your problems? Tell me, show me, let me in on this so that I can maybe find something that's really cool and possibly demo it for you so that you get to decide if you want it or not."

Mike: Wow. I've met with that a few times. So you mentioned we're at an event. Let's talk about that. Finish this phrase for me, as a new Salesforce admin, I should go to a World Tour event because...

Karmel James: Because you don't know what you don't know. That is something that someone told me a very long time ago, that I don't know, know what I don't know. And so you should come here to meet with other people and say just that. I came here and I have no idea what this is about. And let someone else tell you about it. Let someone else show you the value, because everyone who is here at World Tour or at any Salesforce community event, we're all there to just drop knowledge. We want everyone to be successful in Salesforce. And yeah, sometimes things fail. But failure's just a record type of success. So keep showing up, and-

Mike: Oh, man, quote of the pod right there.

Gillian: Quote of all.

Mike: I want that on a shirt.

Karmel James: Right? It's good. But come to these events so that we can hear what you've been working on, especially those failures. Because you can't succeed if you don't know how to fail, right? And just being able to talk with other people and ask them questions. Questions, again, asking, it's my whole theme of everything. But this is really truly a place where you know people are going to be talking about Salesforce. They are bought into Salesforce. Salesforce is the only thing that they really are doing here and wanting to talk about. So this is the place to just hear what we're talking about, see what the Koolaid is, see if you want to try it. And if you do say, "Hey, I don't know what this is. Can you explain it to me?" And I swear, you'll get 10 people flock to you instantly. "I can show you this. I can show you this. Have you tried this? Did you look up this help.salesforce.com article? You haven't? You need to read this. Take a minute, process, then come back to me."

Gillian: I think that's really important because a lot of, I would say 90% of the people that I saw in our sessions today, when I asked you, I would say, "Hey, is this your first sales source event?" All the hands went up. And I think that's one of the really special things about these World Tours is that, A, it's free. We want everyone to come, but it's the perfect opportunity if it's your first exposure to Salesforce or you're about to... I talked to someone today who's like, "My organization is getting ready to implement Salesforce. So they sent me here so that I can start getting my mind all around it." And I was like, "That is awesome. This is perfect.
We're going to give you all the exposure you need, help you understand what you're looking at and how you envision how this is going to work at your organization and start getting your mind wrapped around it." And so that is exactly what these events are perfect for. And also, I mean, you're in the community you get to... And I am so excited, too. Reconnecting with people in-person in this local community is amazing. I mean, there are so... Especially the DC, Maryland, Virginia area, I mean, there's a very vibrant community here.

Karmel James: We have so many user groups, we've got the admin group. We have the women in a tech group. There's a developer group. There's a nonprofit user group. We have all of the community events. And yes, in the D.C. Area, we are all about community. And if I'm thinking about my own journey in Salesforce, World Tour is one of the first events that I went to when I was an accidental admin where I was like, "I don't know what this means. I don't know Salesforce. I am a chemist. You want me to do what? What is this thing? I don't know, sales. I got nothing." And when I was starting out, I did, I looked for places where I could just go and learn more about this thing called Salesforce, and World Tour was one of them.
And I distinctly, and I've told it to you many times today, Gillian, I distinctly remember sitting in one of your sessions about admins. I think it was an accidental admin talk or whatever. And I was like, "I feel this. I feel it so bad." And I went and I sat and I listened. And I remember watching you, and I was like, "Oh my God, I want to be like that." That sounds like everything I want to do. And here I am now at World Tour wearing this very shiny piece of apparel. And it feels very good, but this place has the power to change everything. I would not have guessed this for myself, but coming to community events and again, being willing and it's hard. It is scare having to say what you don't know, but it also gives you a chance to show what you do know. And we all want to see that just as badly.

Gillian: Well, I'm going to say I enjoyed watching you on stage today. So full circle.

Karmel James: It's so nice. It's like a dream come true.

Gillian: That's awesome.

Mike: So as we wrap up things, we talked about World Tour. You dropped a whole lot of knowledge, and I swear I'm going to buy a shirt.

Gillian: Yeah, I think we should make them for Trailblazer DX or Dreamforce, at least.

Mike: That's what I was thinking.

Karmel James: Yes, failure is just a record type of success.

Mike: Isn't that cool. It fits right. It'll fit. It'll look cool. Admins that are listening to this. We have Trailblazer DX coming up, or yes, I think it came up.

Gillian: April 27th to 28th.

Mike: Right. We'll have Dreamforce. We have other World Tours. We also have community groups. What is a new admin, somebody that's listening to this podcast, what would you tell them to do?

Karmel James: I would say, start with your community groups first, get your feet wet. Right? You just have to show up. You can sit, you don't have to talk to anybody.

Mike: But I mean, it could be two hours.

Karmel James: No.

Mike: Maybe I'm not all into that.

Karmel James: Oh, well that's fair.

Mike: Because that's what people tell me. Right?

Karmel James: Yeah.

Mike: Like I don't...

Karmel James: I know.

Mike: This is a whole lot of...

Karmel James: It's a lot of talking. It's a big investment.

Mike: Do I have to do all of the-

Karmel James: Yes.

Mike: Okay.

Karmel James: Yes, you have to. You have to do all the things.

Mike: Because that's what they're saying.

Karmel James: And that's fine, but they're going to miss out on the power of Salesforce.

Mike: I mean, if you live in the Midwest, there's usually some sort of meatloaf or a hot dish at user group.

Karmel James: Yeah, I mean at D.C.-

Mike: I don't know what you do our east.

Karmel James: We always had food at the end of ours. Yeah, absolutely.

Mike: Out west they'd usually do drinks.

Gillian: I feel like every time I've joined a D.C. user group, there's been bourbon involved in some capacity.

Karmel James: Yeah, usually at the end.

Gillian: Yeah, that's usually Toya's fault.

Mike: But so I guess what I'm getting at, you can kind of be your own little introvert self.

Karmel James: Yes, absolutely.

Mike: And hang out.

Karmel James: Yeah.

Mike: And you don't have to be a rock star up on stage.

Karmel James: Nope, you can just sit and listen.

Mike: And you cannot know stuff, right?

Karmel James: Oh my God, please not know stuff. Let us teach you.

Mike: Please not know stuff.

Karmel James: Yeah, no, we are more than happy, right? And just sitting and watching gives you this space to have ideas, right? There's there is no expect you have to talk to us, right? In the keynote, I said, if you were to look in the dictionary and see the word extrovert, my face is next to it. I am 100% that person where you were like, "Who is she and why?" That's too much energy. I can't be around it. But you don't have to be that way, right? You can just show up and we want to see you anyway. Even if you're just sitting there and you're just listening. That is it. That is all you have to do. That is step one to being in the community, is just showing up. Then step two comes with time and feeling comfortable.
Then it's talking about what your challenges are, sharing what you've learned and where you're like. "Hmm, no, I don't understand what this is. I got nothing. Can someone help me?" So showing up is just the first start. And it's a really low barrier. And yeah, it's two hours of your life, but it's two hours with a lot of people who are very happy to see you. And even if you're not going to talk to us, that's totally okay. We're just going to be like, "Well, please eat the food because we don't want to take it home."

Mike: Nobody wants to take food home.

Karmel James: No, never.

Mike: Not a hot dish.

Gillian: Unless you've got one of those-

Karmel James: I mean, unless it's Mac and cheese.

Mike: I did, so favorite. Okay, fun time. Favorite user group food. I'll go first. I one time to a Twin City's user group. And it was middle of winter, December when it's negative a gabillion below. Everything's froze. And it was over the lunch hour. They did the intro, and they're like, "In the back's lasagna, meatloaf and mashed potatoes."

Karmel James: That sounds like-

Mike: "And then after that, we're going to do break out birds of the feather." I love the Twin City user group. It was everything and a bag. Gallons of Mountain Dew got me home that afternoon because I finished eating and all I wanted to do was just snooze. Can we all just have nap time?

Karmel James: Yes, I would love to bring siestas to the Salesforce.

Mike: So Mac and cheese would be your preferred-

Karmel James: Yes.

Mike: That's what?

Karmel James: Well, I had Mac and cheese yesterday, so that's why it's on my mind.

Mike: You, can have Mac and cheese today too, by the way.

Karmel James: There was Mac and cheese?

Mike: Mac and cheese can be an everyday kind of food.

Karmel James: It should be an everyday type of food.

Gillian: [crosstalk] is the official food of the Salesforce Admin podcast because I do it.

Mike: I don't know. We should have a poll.

Karmel James: Is it going to have bacon in it? Can we add bacon?

Mike: Oh, it's got to have bacon.

Karmel James: Got have it.

Mike: Yeah.

Gillian: See? This is where I have a problem.

Mike: Gillian doesn't like bacon, she's weird.

Karmel James: That's totally fine. We still love you anyway.

Mike: I mean, it's okay but it's weird.

Gillian: Can you keep it on the little crumbles on the side.

Karmel James: Yes.

Mike: You can put it on. It's like a Mac and cheese bar.

Karmel James: It's a toping, yes.

Mike: Have you seen that? I saw a thing on Food Network. They have a Mac and cheese bar.

Karmel James: Well, see, this is why I like noodles and company, because I can go and I can get all the Mac and cheese that I possibly want.

Mike: There you go. With bacon crumbles.

Karmel James: With nothing else. Yeah, bacon crumbles, that is my entree. Mac and cheese. But no, I would say the women in tech group here in D.C., we do lots of sandwiches. And so these san-

Mike: Finger sandwiches look little?

Karmel James: Yeah, no, they're really good meaty sandwiches.

Mike: Will gel.

Karmel James: You're going to get a meal out of this. And we usually always have leftovers. And so, I either would pick them up and would take them home. And in some cases I could eat all of them, which was great, or I would actually give them away to people. And so, they're just like in... I know that this theme for this World Tour is gratitude. And so, I always go into all of these user groups thinking, "I'm very lucky to be here. This is very exciting." And a lot of it is per chance, right? And so, if we have the opportunity to have leftover food, I personally like walking the streets of D.C. Being like, "Hey, we can't take all this home. There's no way." And sandwiches make it really easy for someone else to be like, "Yes, I actually, I will take a sandwich."

Mike: Yep. We did that at my first Trailhead, it's now called Trailblazer DX. We had leftover food in the employee lounge and we all took a plate, and then the first person that we ran into on the street.

Karmel James: Yeah.

Mike: Yeah, I get a soft spot if they have a dog.

Karmel James: Yeah.

Gillian: Yes.

Mike: Yeah.

Gillian: Karmel, thank you so much for joining us.

Mike: Yeah, this was fun.

Gillian: You've done an amazing job today in all of the things that we've asked you to do for Salesforce.

Mike: Really.

Gillian: You did an incredible job during the keynote and you well earned Golden Hoodie, and thank you for joining us on the podcast today, and dropping those wisdom bombs on us. And I can't wait to see your Salesforce nomad life come to life over the next few months because I know that you're just hopping between Salesforce events all over the world, which is very exciting.

Mike: Should go to more Salesforce events and we will.

Gillian: She will.

Karmel James: Yeah. Oh yes, we got Southeast Dreamin. We have Dreaming in Color, Midwest Dreamin'/Witness Success. We have all of them.

Mike: Yeah, we'll be at Midwest Dreamin'.

Karmel James: Ooh, okay. Well then I will see you there.

Mike: I might know the keynoter.

Karmel James: Oh right, yeah, that's happening.

Mike: I won't. I won't make you eat a hot dish, not in summer. Not in Minneapolis.

Karmel James: No, not in July.

Gillian: [crosstalk]

Mike: Shandy, yeah.

Karmel James: We're not doing that in July, no. But Florida Dreamin', it's First [Landia] right? In Portland? First Landia?

Gillian: First Landia.

Karmel James: I've been told about that so I've got to consider.

Mike: Have you thought about making a tour shirt? I could see that. That would be, see Karmel James, and then the dates on the back.

Karmel James: Right? That'd be pretty cool.

Mike: That'd be boss.

Karmel James: With my travel, what's really nice is I kind of don't plan it so far in advance where I know where I'm going. But for conferences, I absolutely know when I'm going to those. Okay, I got to go make a shirt now.

Mike: I'd do a tour shirt, that'd be cool.

Gillian: That would be very awesome.

Mike: See me at the following event.

Karmel James: Yes.

Gillian: Well, thank you so much for joining us and we cannot wait to see what's next for you. And yeah, keep letting us ask you to do things.

Karmel James: Excellent. Well, thank you, Gillian and Mike, this has been so amazing. I am just overly happy that I get to share, who, what, when, where, why? Oh, don't forget how.

Mike: And how.

Karmel James: Yeah, don't forget how.

Mike: If you want to learn more about all things Salesforce Admin, go to admin.salesforce.com to find more resources, including all the links if we mentioned any in today's episode, as well as the full transcript.

Gillian: That's going to be a good one to read.

Mike: I know, I can't wait. They usually-

Gillian: Have fun with that, transcribing.

Mike: I will. Yep, here we go. You can stay up to date with us on social. We are at Salesforce admins, no I on Twitter. Gillian of course is on Twitter @Gillian K Bruce. Our guest today, Karmel.

Gillian: She might as well be a host.

Mike: I know, a guest host. Coming soon to a podcast new year.

Karmel James: Thank you.

Gillian: Yeah, right?

Mike: Karmel James is on Twitter at...

Karmel James: A-R-M-E-J-A-M, 44.

Mike: Or armejam as I almost introduced her. I, of course, am on Twitter @Mike Holt. So with that, stay safe, stay awesome. And stay tuned for the next episode. We'll see you in the cloud.



Direct download: Live_from_Salesforce_Tour_DC_with_Karmel_James.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PDT

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we talk to Antoine Cabot, Senior Director of Product Management at Salesforce working on Orchestrator.

Join us as we talk about what Antoine and his team have learned since Orchestrator went GA in February and all the cool things they’re looking forward to sharing at TrailblazerDX.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Antoine Cabot.

Looking forward to TrailblazerDX

Orchestrator is a new product, introduced in February, to support multi-user workflows by adding one more layer to the Flow tooling already in place, accommodating more sophisticated business processes for customers.

At TrailblazerDX, they’ll get into the nitty-gritty of what a multi-user workflow is and why you’d want to use them. “Orchestrator is not only a tool our customers can use out-of-the-box and build their own Orchestrations—it’s also a tool that can be used by partners and startups to create products and sell them through AppExchange,” Antoine says. They’ve invited some of these businesses to share what they’re working on so you can see what Orchestrator is capable of.

What is Orchestrator?

Flow is already a powerful tool with a lot of capabilities: screen flows for user interactions, recall trigger flows to update records, and more. There’s a reason we encouraging folks to transition to it and deprecating older ways of doing things.

“Flow is great when you have some kind of recall-centric process,” Antoine says, “but Orchestrator is great for user-centric processes.” You can assign work to the right person at the right time, which is a godsend for multi-user or multi-department processes where you have to support parallel work.

One of the best things is that working is Orchestrator uses all of the skills you’ve already learned for Flow. “If you know how to create a Flow, you will know how to create an Orchestration,” Antoine says.

What’s next?

As far as what’s coming up, there’s a lot to look forward to. They’re looking to make some major gains in how they do reporting on tasks completed in Orchestrator. The goal is to build something that lets you analyze processes to figure out how specific steps are going and where you can make improvements.

Antoine has one message for folks listening in: “Please start measuring how much time it takes for a process to go from the beginning to the end.” When you want to prove the ROI for what you’re doing, you need to know how things were going before you put new automations in place. It really makes a difference when you’re talking to leadership, and Orchestrator is going to make a big impact.

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Full show transcript

Gillian Bruce: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast, where we talk about product, community and careers to help you be an awesome admin. I'm your host, Gillian Bruce. And today I am joined by Antoine Cabot, he is product manager working on Orchestrator here at Salesforce and he and his team have some awesome enhancements that they're really excited to talk about at TrailblazerDX coming up here in just I think, a week away. Oh my goodness. So I wanted to get him on the podcast to talk a little bit about what their team has learned since Orchestrator went GA in February, and about some of the exciting things they're going to talk about at TrailblazerDX. Including some amazing use cases that customers are doing and building. So without further ado, let's get Antoine on the podcast. Antoine, welcome to the podcast.

Antoine Cabot: Thank you for having me.

Gillian Bruce: Well, we're excited to have you, we're getting ready for a little something coming up in a few weeks. TrailblazerDX, and I know that you are getting excited to share some fun news about the products that you're working on at TrailblazerDX. Do you want to give us a little overview about what your team works on first?

Antoine Cabot: Yeah, absolutely. So I'm the product manager for a product called Orchestrator. That is part of the automation platform at Salesforce. Orchestrator is a new product that we introduced back in February this year. And the idea is to support multi-user workflows. So adding one more layer to the flow tooling that we already have, to support more sophisticated business processes for all our customers.

Gillian Bruce: That's awesome. So just a little tiny feature that no one wants to use, right?

Antoine Cabot: It's basically a new category for Salesforce, so that's a big deal.

Gillian Bruce: It's a huge deal. And I know admins absolutely love any automation they can use and Orchestrator is a game changer. So let's talk a little bit about some of the things that you and your team are going to be presenting at TrailblazerDX. Let's talk about this multi-user workflow. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?

Antoine Cabot: Yeah. So we'll have one session specifically about multi-user workflows and that session will be very interesting because, we'll have some partners there. We'll invite startups to talk about how they use Orchestrator to build apps for their customers. Orchestrator is not only a tool that our customers can use out of the box and build their own orchestrations. It's also a tool that can be used by partners and startups to create products and sell them through app exchange. And we have this great example coming from Full Solution, which is a company based in the Netherlands, that is building an amazing approval process right on top of Orchestrator. That will give you a great example of how Orchestrator can be used as a platform tool for everything you want to do in Salesforce.

Gillian Bruce: That's awesome. So, I think that's like next level of thinking of Orchestrator, right? Because it's not just building it for your own platform, but the fact that now partners can use it to create solutions that admins might be interested in using.

Antoine Cabot: Exactly.

Gillian Bruce: So can you tell us a little bit more about what makes this exciting, especially for admins? Aside from the fact that, hey, now their partners can build solutions that admins can use. Can we talk a little bit more about the differentiator between this and maybe some of our other process automation options?

Antoine Cabot: Absolutely. So, if you think about Flow, I'm assuming that some of you on this call are familiar with Flow. Flow is a great technology, you can do a lot of things like screen flows if you need user interactions, recall triggered flows if you want to update things in your Salesforce records. It's a great tech. We have been pushing for it for 10 years, we are also kind of deprecating all the technology like process builders and workflow rules. So now we are moving on to flow, we want all our customers to use flow as much as possible. Flow is great when you have some kind of record centric process, you want to do something on a specific record, make sure that the data is accurate, validate the data, update a discount percentage or things like that. This is great for that.
Orchestrator on the other side is great for user centric process. You really want to assign the right work to the right person at the right time. That's exactly what Orchestrator is great at. When you imagine a process like a simple case management process, that's usually the simplest example I can go with. This case will be created by a customer and then will go through a queue and then would be assigned to an agent. This agent will eventually escalate that will go to his manager. And then eventually the case will go to a different... out of the organization. Like a different department, different business unit. That's exactly where Orchestrator is targeted for, that's when we can say, "Okay, the agent will complete the first step, but then the next step will be done by the manager."
And the next step will be done by someone that is in a very different part of the organization. And Orchestrator to combine all this step together, making sure that this process is executed without any problem and in timeless manner, so that you don't lose time between end offs. That's where Orchestrator is great at. So think about a process that involve multiple user or multiple departments, might be some parallel works that you have to support, things like that's where. That's where Orchestrator is just providing a lot more value than what flow already provides.

Gillian Bruce: So I think that's really interesting because I think in the past, an admin would have to set up a separate flow for each of those steps. Which would, as you said, take more time and also require a lot more work. And there just opportunities for things to fall through the gaps. Your use case is perfect, that really helps I think understand how this plays in. How different is it to use Orchestrator and think about these multi-user workflows than creating a typical flow, is it something that is much more complex or is it something that, if you've created a couple flows, you can also do this?

Antoine Cabot: Yeah. So, that's one of the great thing about Orchestrator, is that we are reusing all the skills that you already have with flow. If you know how to create a flow, you will know how to create an orchestration. It's the same builder, same components, while just adding two additional elements called stages and steps, but it doesn't really... I mean, it's not complicated. And for example, if you are concerned about the scale of Orchestrator for example, Orchestrator is based on flow. So it's based on our flow engine and it scales very well. Like we're running billions of flow every month, you will be able to run billions of orchestration also on the platform. So in terms of skill set, many of our customers actually say, "Hey, are you compatible with BPM? And I ingest some BPM diagram into Orchestrator?" That will come probably one day, it's actually on my roadmap, but-

Gillian Bruce: Safe harbor.

Antoine Cabot: ... today. Yeah, safe harbor. But today it's really, we are betting on the skills that our Salesforce Admins already have. They know how to create flows, many of them knows how to create flows. They will know how to create an orchestration without knowing anything about BPM. And that's really our bet on the market today.

Gillian Bruce: That is great. Because I mean, I think that's one of the beautiful things about the Salesforce platform, right? And especially, hey, awesome admins. This is the unique thing, is we can build these very complex processes without having to use code or have to know all of these other systems necessarily that maybe someone who's been working as a system admin on other platforms, would have that skillset. With Salesforce, you can do it all in Salesforce, you don't have to work with all these other things. But if you do understand these other systems and these other processes, it's easily translatable and you can use that as well. I think that's huge. That's what makes Salesforce so special.

Antoine Cabot: Absolutely. And you mentioned one thing Gillian, about connecting flows together. It's definitely doable, everything you can do in Orchestrator, you can potentially do it with flows. That you would have to write a bunch of apex codes to manage the assignment, manage the connection between two flows et cetera, et cetera. So there is nothing that we are really inventing there, but what we are really bringing to the customer is the ability to do that in a low code manner. You don't have to write any single line of apex code to run an orchestration. You just drag and drop your different flows, you say this flow will run first, this flow will run second. This is the condition between those two. You want to get the output variables from one flow and ingest them into the second step. That's doable. All of that without writing again, a single line of code.

Gillian Bruce: Hooray for awesome admins everywhere. This is awesome. So Antoine, one of the things that we'd love to talk about on the podcast and especially with admins is, some of the cool use cases and stories and maybe some interesting things that you and the product team have seen admin or customers in general do. Now I know you talked about the partner story that you're going to share at TrailblazerDX, which is super exciting. Have you had any other fun, little pieces of feedback or examples that you've seen people use Orchestrator for so far in the community?

Antoine Cabot: Yes, absolutely. And I would talk about one customer specifically called [Agrar Solar 00:21:42] , which is a German company. They will actually be at TDX also, giving some feedback about the product. I think this would be during the main keynote, which is great. So Agrar Solar, it's a so panel company. They install solar panels in Germany and they have this very nice process that is happening when and a customer wants to install solar panels on their roof, they talk to them and then they created an opportunity. And when this opportunity is created, they have to go through a bunch of steps internally to verify that the house is suitable for installing the solar panels. And it goes to many technicians internally. And then on point in this process, they also need to gather information from the customer like photos, more information about how the house has been built, what's the roof looks like and everything.
So they had this very specific need of saying, "Okay, it's great to have Orchestrator because I can connect all the internal steps. But what I want now, is be able to ask my customer to also be part of this process so they can upload photos and provide more information. And then when it's done, go back to my internal process and move on with the next steps in the process." This is something I haven't thought about when we were shipping the product GA back in February, but this is really something that was really cool. And we said, "Oh, now we can enable this with Experience Cloud." We have Experience Cloud websites running on top of Salesforce. Nothing actually prevents us to say, "Hey, let's put this survey on a website and ask the customer to go on that survey link and complete the survey."
So, that's what we are building now. We are making sure that you can create an orchestration that is running both internally and externally. That's where you see that all this Customer 360 experience come into play, where you can have your entire process from beginning to the end, including internal people and also your customers, all your partners.

Gillian Bruce: Ugh. That's so great. I'm just envisioning the hurrah moment when you realize, "Oh, I can build this entire process in Salesforce." And I mean, I'm thinking about all of the steps that we're just saved, right? Having somebody reach out to the customer for every single request and shepherding all of the internal processes along, and then someone having to bring all of those together. I mean the hours saved, days, weeks probably saved by that process. Awesome.

Antoine Cabot: The ROI is huge, it's huge for... When you think about a company like Agrar Solar, so which is like 200 employees, it's already significant. So think about like AT&T or a very large company out there, it's millions of dollars that they can save in just connecting the dots in their process and making sure that we always present the right work, to the right person, at the right time.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. Well and you know who builds those things to save all the money it's admins, right? So admins, this is a huge ROI. Talk about a bullet point to put in your performance review every year, right? Like, "Look what I did, I saved the company this much money." That is huge. So Antoine, tell us a little bit more. You mentioned there were... you already did a little sneak peek on some stuff that might be coming on the roadmap. What other roadmap things might you be willing to share with me today? Again, forward looking statement for everyone who's listening.

Antoine Cabot: So there is definitely Experience Cloud, which is a big thing. The other big that we will be working on in our next cycle, which would be like for the summer of '23 release is reporting. We want to make sure that we not only... So what we capture today in an orchestration run is everything that happened in this run, right? How much time it take for one person to go into that step, complete that step et cetera. So we have that information in the format of a log, we log all these operations, but there is no way to do reporting on top of that. There is no way to create graphs that say, "Hey, I want to analyze for this specific step, how much time it takes over hundred thousands of iteration." That's not exposed today. So that's what we'll be building in the next six months, that will be available by the end of this year. The ability to create Salesforce reports on Orchestrator objects. And that will include work items, runs, step and stages.

Gillian Bruce: Oh, I love that. I mean, that's totally related to what we just said. This is a bullet point to put on your performance review, like look at how much time this is being saved. You now have a report you can run to show how useful your orchestration is and how many people are actually adopting it and using it within the organization. I think that's awesome.

Antoine Cabot: Yeah. So I have one thing to mention here is that, if you haven't done... So please start measuring, please start measuring how much time it takes for a process to go from the beginning to the end. Because usually when we want to prove the ROI, we need to know what happened before automating it. So if you really want to see a difference, start measuring now, build the orchestration and then run the orchestration and see the difference.

Gillian Bruce: Oh yes. I love that. I mean, you got to be able to tell the difference, right? Come on.

Antoine Cabot: Yeah.

Gillian Bruce: I love it. That's great. So Antoine, any other fun little pointers or recommendations that you have for admins who are like "Okay, this orchestration thing sounds like it's for me." Clearly, we're going to put some resources in terms of where you can go to learn more on Trailhead. What else do you have in terms of maybe strategically thinking about what would be a first step that someone would take to start building an orchestration?

Antoine Cabot: Yeah. Maybe let me give you my one more thing for today. Slack, Slack is usually fun. You probably all know that Slack is now a part of Salesforce. So we're thinking a lot on how we can actually leverage Slack with Orchestrator. And something that we are building that will be huge, is the ability to do work directly in Slack using a screen flow that will be kind of started from Orchestrator. So think about an interactive step that you create in your orchestration, it means that you will have some kind of human interaction. This person will have to go through a Salesforce record and complete a few screens in Salesforce. Now imagine that you don't even need that person to go to Salesforce. This person would just be notified on Slack, they will see, hey, please complete that work that is assigned to you now.
You click on that button and then everything happen in Slack. You see the screen flow render directly in Slack, natively in Slack, you complete the work and done. You have never been on the Salesforce Instant. You are maybe not even a Salesforce user at the end, you are just Slack user or Slack is the place you go, where you work every day, that's where you complete the work. That's where this association of Slack plus Orchestrator is huge. And that's coming up at the end of this year.

Gillian Bruce: Oh, I love that. That is so smooth because like you said, there may be a lot of users who never really need to be in Salesforce. They're just doing their work in Slack, so let's bring it there. I mean, that is that's slick. I like that, that's going to be amazing.

Antoine Cabot: And for Salesforce Admin who might be like, "oh, I don't want to support Slack, I don't want to create specific flow for Slack." You don't have to. We will actually make the easy lifting of converting your screen flows in the Slack format, which is called Block Kit. So you just build your screen flow in Salesforce and we do everything for you to render it in Slack and make sure that your user has the best possible experience, desktop and mobile on Slack.

Gillian Bruce: That's cool. That's really great. Again, save an admin's work. That's even better than admins saving end users work. That's great.

Antoine Cabot: Yeah. I mean, we want to keep them focused on what adds value, right? So there is no need to rebuild all your screen flows for Slack. We really want to save time on that.

Gillian Bruce: That's fantastic. So any kind of parting words of wisdom in terms of how to admin strategically think about where to start with Orchestrator?

Antoine Cabot: Yeah. Great question. Think about one of the most painful process you are facing in your organization. Usually it's a process that involves multiple individuals. You have to constantly ask them to complete the step that they have to do. That's usually a good start when you start building an orchestration, think about a very painful process that you are experiencing pretty much every day or two days. If you are from IT for example, like in a provisioning scenario where you have to provision laptops for example, is a great example. It has multiple people involved and that's very, very easy to build in Orchestrator. So start simple, start with something that is really painful and you will see the value very, very quickly.

Gillian Bruce: I love that. Well Antoine, thank you for all the amazing work that you and your team do to make-

Antoine Cabot: Thank you.

Gillian Bruce: ... admins look like rock stars because this is literally one of those tools that truly make admins awesome, and really makes a huge difference in the efficiency of the organization. So keep on doing the good work. Thank you.

Antoine Cabot: Thank you. We will.

Gillian Bruce: Huge thanks to Antoine for taking the time out of his day to talk to me about all things, Orchestrator and multi-user workflows. Wow. I just got to tell you for Admins, this is a game changer, because think of all the individual flows that you can now tie together in one seamless orchestration. Think about the external and internal use cases you can combine into one big process. I mean, the example of that solar company and how they connected an external survey using Experience Cloud all within one big orchestration. I mean, that is really, really powerful. And talk about the time you can save your organization, the money, the resources and demonstrate your value as an awesome Admin. So definitely admins check out Orchestrator. If you're coming to TrailblazerDX, I hope you are able to join Antoine's session. I'll put a link to the session in the show notes, and you're not going to want to miss it.
It's all about multi-user workflows. And if you're not able to join us at TrailblazerDX, don't worry. There's tons of great content on Orchestrator out there for you to get skilled up and ready to really make a big impact in your organization with this powerful, powerful tool. Now, if you want to learn more things about anything we talked about in this podcast or other podcasts, or otherwise you just want to skill up on being an awesome admin head on over to admin.salesforce.com, where you'll find amazing resources, blogs, videos, more podcasts, anything you need to help you be an awesome admin. You can find out at admin.salesforce.com. You can also stay up to date with us on the social medias by following @SalesforceAdmns no I on Twitter. And you can follow my guest today Antoine, @antoinecabot on Twitter, as well as myself, @gilliankbruce. My co-host, Mike Gerholdt, is @MikeGerholdt. And with that everyone, I am looking forward to seeing you at TrailblazerDX and I'll catch you next time in the cloud.



Direct download: Road_to_TDX__Multi-User_Workflows_with_Antoine_Cabot.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PDT

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we talk to Karen Fidelak, Senior Director, Product Management at Salesforce.

Join us as we talk about some exciting announcements she’s got about DevOps Center coming up for TrailblazerDX.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Karen Fidelak.

Why we’re psyched about the beta for DevOps Center

We’re really excited about DevOps Center, and there are going to be tons of exciting announcements at TrailblazerDX so we wanted to talk to Karen to give pod listeners a little preview. The biggest news is that an open beta is coming this summer, with a GA planned for the Fall.

“We’re excited about where we’re at and we’re excited to show it at TrailblazerDX,” Karen says, “DevOps Center is all about change and release management and introducing DevOps best practices to our entire community, regardless of where you fall on the low-code to pro-code spectrum.” The goal is a tool that provides easy-to-use change management, source management, push-button deployments, and, overall, will allow hybrid sets of users to work together more easily.

Lessons from the pilot program

“We hear a lot of Admins and low-code developers who really want to be more involved in these DevOps practices that include things like source control but haven’t had the experience or tools to easily adopt and feel comfortable using them,” Karen says. They want to give you what you need to do just that and work with other members of your team that may already have adopted source control and other change management best practices.

Their pilot program introduced a number of features to help create an end-to-end, declarative flow around lifecycle management. One thing they added was automatic change tracking, so any changes made in the developer sandbox are added to a list where you can select which ones you want to move forward. It’s a big upgrade over Change Sets, and they’re looking to make even more improvements going into the beta.

A sneak peak at TrailblazerDX

Karen and her team will be at their spiffy dedicated booth at TrailblazerDX, so be sure you stop by if you’re attending. They’ll also be doing some theater sessions to get you up to speed with DevOps and DevOps Center. Finally, there will be a breakout session where Karen will present with a Salesforce partner and a customer to show DevOps Center in action.

They’re really excited to hear from real customers and get any feedback they can to make DevOps Center even better, so don’t be a stranger. If you can’t make it, be sure to check in on the Trailblazer Community group (link below) to get involved.

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Full show transcript

Gillian Bruce: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins podcast, where we talk about product, community and careers to help you be an awesome admin. I'm your host today, Gillian Bruce and we are joined by Karen Fidelak, who is going to talk to us about DevOps center. Why? Well be because they've got some exciting announcements they're going to be sharing at a little party we're throwing later this month called TrailblazerDX. That's right folks. We are having an in-person event. It's going to be so exciting.
Trailblazer DX, April 27th and 28th here in San Francisco at the Moscone Center. You're not going to want to miss it. And to get you excited. I decided to pull together a few of the product managers who have exciting things they're going to be talking about at that event. And Karen is one of them. Now last we talked to Karen about DevOps Center, which is what her team is working on, was a while ago. And since then she and her team have been working very, very hard to get this product ready for prime time. So let's check in with Karen and hear about all the goodness her team has been working on and get excited about what she and her team are going to be doing at TrailblazerDX. Karen, welcome to the podcast.

Karen Fidelak: Hi, I'm glad to be here. This is exciting.

Gillian Bruce: Well, it's been a while since you and I chatted. In fact, I think this is my first official podcast I'm hosting since I've come back and I think you were the last product managers I've worked with before I left. So it's like nothing has ever happened.

Karen Fidelak: Boy. Welcome back.

Gillian Bruce: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I wanted to check in with you Karen because you and your team were working on something really awesome and amazing for admins. DevOps sent her. And I wanted to check in with you because we're coming up on a little something here in just a couple weeks that we're getting excited about. TrailblazerDX. And I know that you and your team have some exciting things you're going to be sharing and talking about related to DevOps Center. So can you give us a little update, catch us up about where we're at with DevOps Center?

Karen Fidelak: Sure. Yeah. So we, I think last we talked, we were running a pilot. We ran a pilot from about last May through the end of the year. And then early this year in February, we started what we're calling a Closed Beta, where we added some more users, added some more functionality and that's what's happening right now. We're kind of in the middle of our Closed Beta period. Then we're planning in around June to release an open beta. And so we'll open that beta up to all users in the summer timeframe. And then the plan is around fall to go out with the GA. Now this is all sort of safe harbor everything in the future, but that's our kind of plan right now. And we're really excited about where we're at. And we're excited to show where we're at, TrailblazerDX in just a few weeks.

Gillian Bruce: Well, yes, again like safe harbor forward looking statement. We always have to reiterate that when people are going to be like, "Oh my God, I'm going to get this then." We always, we need a little safety there. So, all right. So we talked about, you have gone a long ways through this development cycle with this product so far, which is very exciting. Can you tell us a little bit more about some of the details of that? So you said pilot is, we're kind of wrapping up the pilot phase, getting ready to go to beta. What happened during the pilot phase? What did you and your team learn? And actually before we get there, can you just remind us kind of a high level, what is DevOps Center?

Karen Fidelak: Sure. Yeah. So DevOps Center is a new product that we're building. It's all about change and release management and introducing DevOps best practices to our entire developer community, regardless of where you fall on that sort of low code to pro code spectrum. So the idea here is to bring easy to use change management, incorporate things like source control, really nice, easy to use experience, provide push button deployments and allow teams that involve, like I said, mixed or hybrid, what we call hybrid sets of users to work together, to manage their applications' entire life cycle. So we're trying to really bring those modern best practices around DevOps, to everyone in a really easy and accessible way.

Gillian Bruce: And that I think is the key, right? Because this is where admins are like, "DevOps Center is something that I should pay attention to," because you said this hybrid model of the pro code developers, the low code developers, which admins, that's you. So this is where they kind of play a role. And this is why DevOps Center is going to be really awesome for admins.

Karen Fidelak: Yes, absolutely. We hear a lot of admins, low code developers who really want to be more involved in these DevOps practices that involve things like source control, but really haven't had the experience or tools that have allowed them to easily adopt and feel comfortable using them. And so that's really our goal here is to bring to you a tool that lets you really easily incorporate those into your overall flow and allow you to participate now with those other members of your team that may have already adopted source control, but you haven't been able to be part of that yet. And so this is going to allow you to just jump right in and take advantage of those really, like I said, modern best practices around DevOps that everybody really does want to adopt.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. And change management is definitely one of the core Salesforce admin skills that we have ... We're actually going to be focusing quite a bit on some of these. We have 14 core admin skills that we're going to be focusing and for the rest of the year. And we talked about it at Dreamforce last year, but change management is a big, big piece of that. And this tool, this DevOps Center is going to be such a really great way to kind of get a handle on change management and really kind of give yourself as an admin, a leg up in that arena. So Karen, you told me about this pilot that is now coming to a close. Can you tell us about some of the things you and your team learned during that pilot phase?

Karen Fidelak: Yeah, so the pilot was really all about bringing to bear this fully declarative experience. Like I said, we're trying to incorporate this whole end to end flow around lifecycle management. And so some of the features that we introduced there were like automatic change tracking. So when you make changes in your developer sandbox now, we're automatically tracking those and you can see those in a nice list within the application. You can select which ones you want to migrate forward in your flow and just at the click of a button, you can move those changes forward. And as part of that, we're doing a nice integration behind the scenes with source control and allowing you to then through clicks, promote or deploy those changes through the various stages of a pipeline. And so some of the things that we learned through this pilot was that first of all, people really appreciate that overall experience.
So overall it was really, I would call it a success. The source tracking capability that we have was really loved by people. So just that automatic tracking of the changes was a super nice convenience and really an improvement over our current declarative change management, which is change sets. Any of you who are using change sets probably know it's not the easiest to use. And so we've learned that this is really an improvement over that. We learned that the source control integration is generally, it's good, right? Like people, while they might have a bit of a learning curve, when it comes to source control systems, we've made it really easy. You don't really have to ever go into the source control system. Basically, all you have to do is create an account and then we handle all of the integration to move those changes into a source control system.
We manage the branches there. You really don't have to get into it at all if you don't want. And so that was positive. I think that the people were able to adopt that and appreciated the integration that we were providing there. We also learned some things that from a usability standpoint, we need to improve and we're working on those right now. Some things that I would say are sort of UI usability enhancements, which we knew going into the pilot. We didn't have all of that in there. That's why we kind of put the pilot out there, get people using it, understanding the overall basic flows and then figuring out where it is we really need to add those enhancements to make it really usable and adoptable. And so things just like list management, like sorting lists, filtering lists seems pretty basic.
And we understood that those were the kinds of things that needed to come along. We also added in our, as a result of pilot feedback and as we went into the beta, better, we call it activity history views where we're seeing a full history of everything that's happened within DevOps Center. So that gives you a nice sort of auditability trail and visibility into everything that's happened and better error tracking. So just sort of like that second level debugging capability, error management, history management, those are some of the things that we layered in to our beta and then some things around like how do we handle the cases where things don't go kind as planned. Maybe you're moving some changes forward and they're failing to deploy. We want to make sure that we handle those use cases reasonably well. And so we've added some features as we move into our beta to be able to kind of pull those changes back, start over.
If you get into kind of a situation where you've got some failed deployments that are sort of partway through the pipeline. We've provided a better way for you to kind of start over with those. And these were all based on feedback that we got as part of that pilot. So I would say overall, it's very positive for us. I think we're definitely moving in the right direction. We've got kind of our core use cases that we're working on toward RGA. And then we're layering in these sort of usability and kind of secondary I would call use cases to those primary use cases. And that's based on the feedback that we're getting.

Gillian Bruce: That's awesome. You know what, I always love hearing from product teams about how they really incorporate the feedback from these pilot phases, because I think it's one of the amazing things we get to do here at Salesforce is being like, "Hey, we know it's not perfect. If you want to play with us, come on in and play and then tell us what you think and we're going to make it better."

Karen Fidelak: Yep.

Gillian Bruce: I love hearing about that process. One of the things that I heard you say a few times, a theme that kind of came out is really this availability to get a better visibility into what's happening and where it's happening and when it's happening and being able to control when it's happening, which I guess it's one of the core tenants of DevOps Center, I think all admins will definitely appreciate that. I think every admin is a little bit of a control freak. It's kind one of our core tenants, I would imagine. So that's really great. Karen, you're also doing a lot of stuff at TrailblazerDX, which is coming up here soon on April 26th and 27th. I'm sorry, the 27th and 28th in my head, it's a day early. Can you tell us a little bit about some of the amazing content that you and your team will be sharing TrailblazerDX?

Karen Fidelak: Absolutely. So we've got quite a few different places and sessions that you can come hear more about what we're doing and see it in action. So first we have a booth demo. So on the floor where all the demos will be happening, we will have a dedicated booth dedicated to DevOps Center. We'll have team members there. So we really encourage you to come take a look at what we've got and talk to members of our team who are building this product. They would love to talk to you and get your feedback there as well. We also have on the floor there a few theater sessions where we'll be covering DevOps and DevOps Center. So the first one is called Getting Started with Salesforce DevOps. And this is we're going to be talking sort of about general principles of DevOps and things that you can start doing now to start laying a good foundation for adoption of DevOps Center when it's available.
So even if you aren't part of our beta yet, or you can't get your hands on it just yet, there are things that you can be doing now to prepare yourself really well, to be able to quickly adopt it when it's available and just think about sort of general best practices around DevOps principles. So that's going to be a fun one. We also have another theater session called DevOps for Salesforce Developers. And this is where we'll show the product. We'll also talk about how we on our team are building it, using some of these practices. So we'll talk a little bit about general DevOps practices and show the product. And then there's another one called What's New at DevOps for Architects, and that's going to be focused on tailoring the DevOps experience to an architect role, and we'll be covering packaging as well as DevOps and DevOps Center there.
So it's another opportunity to see it. And then finally, there's a breakout session that's called DevOps Center Practical Use Cases, and this is going to be a really fun one. I'm really excited about this one. I'm going to be presenting with a partner and a customer. And the customer has been using the DevOps Center product from the pilot and into the beta. So they'll be able to speak firsthand about their experience using it and how it's providing value to their business. And then also have a partner who is building an integration, building an extension to their own package that they provide through our app exchange. They're providing an integration to DevOps Center. So that's really cool to see that it's getting out into our ecosystem and we're going to see, I'm hoping, more and more of these partners being able to build extensions, to incorporate like, sort of the best of their product and the best of the DevOps Center experience and bring those two things together. So that could be really fun.

Gillian Bruce: So you're going to be really busy at TrailblazerDX, is what I'm getting.

Karen Fidelak: I mean, it'll be busy. And we will see if these sessions actually get scheduled such that I can be in all the right places at the right time. But yeah, I'm excited.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. Well, I mean, so here's the great thing about TrailblazerDX and listener, if you've never been to a TrailblazerDX or a TDX, this is a great reason for you to come is because not only are you going to get access to all of this great information that Karen and her team will be sharing, but you're going to get access to Karen and her team directly. And visiting that booth, that DevOps Center booth will be so, so fun because seeing the product in action and asking your questions and getting them specifically answered. I personally am really excited about that theater session about how you prepare basically for DevOps Center, because I think that's going to be really key for any admin persona to know whether you actually get into adopting DevOps Center or not. Those best practices will serve you well beyond just this specific product, I would imagine. So yeah, everybody, if you can come join us in San Francisco for TrailblazerDX, do it, come, play with us, it's going to be really fun.

Karen Fidelak: Yes. And I would just like to add that a lot of times it's me or members of my team that are out talking about this product. I think what's really exciting about this event is that we're getting the rest of my team here, out there and able to present and talk to you, the customer. And that's really exciting for both me and for them. So they're really excited to be able to hear from real customers maybe who have been using the product already or who are excited about seeing the product and what we have coming and to see all their hard work because we've been working really hard on this for multiple years now, but to see all that hard work really become real and something that customers can actually start using really soon. So that's very exciting for us.

Gillian Bruce: Yes, there's nothing more reward than actually talking to someone who's using what you've built and seeing, hearing how it has impacted what they do every day. So agreed. That's awesome. So Karen, if people want to learn more about TrailblazerDX, I'm going to share links to your sessions that you mentioned in our show notes. If they want to learn more about DevOps Center in general and you know, how they can participate in the beta, where should they go?

Karen Fidelak: So the best place to go, we have a public Trailblazer community group it's just called DevOps Center. So if you go out in our Trailblazer community and search for DevOps Center Group, you'll find it. And that's where we post resources. We've got some things like FAQs out there. We've also got some links to some product demos. We have just a forum for community discussion. And it's also where I will post updates on our product releases. So like for instance, when our open beta is available, we'll make an announcement there so everybody can go get their hands on it as it's being released. So that's where I would recommend that you go.

Gillian Bruce: Excellent. Well, I will put that link in the notes as well. Karen, thank you so much for the work that you and your team do. I think this is going to be a hugely important and very powerful tool for admins to use, especially as they try to focus on that change management core skills. So thank you on behalf of the community and we're really excited to see what people start doing with this.

Karen Fidelak: You're very welcome. Thanks for having me. Always happy to talk more about this product and get the word out there that it's coming. So thank you.

Gillian Bruce: Excellent. All right, well, I'm sure we'll have you back before long. So good luck getting ready for TrailblazerDX and we'll see you there.

Karen Fidelak: Awesome. Excited.

Gillian Bruce: Well, huge thanks to Karen and her team for all the hard work that they've done to make DevOps Center a reality and thanks to Karen for sharing her time with me today. I know everyone's busy getting ready for the event. Now we talked about quite a few things on this podcast that I think is going to get every admin excited for not only TrailblazerDX, but DevOps Center, which is a huge, huge game changing tool that's going to help all of us be better change management professionals. So a few of the highlights I want you to pay attention to, if you didn't catch it the first time around, DevOps Center is here. It's coming. The beta will be opening up in June. If you want to be a part of it, you can join the Trailblazer community group called DevOps Center Group. You can find that very easily and put it in link here in the show notes, and you can find it on the Trailblazer community yourself.
Now, a few things about DevOps Center that I think are really, really key to us as admins is it enables a hybrid change management model. That means your developers can be working in the CLI and you as an admin, who's maybe not working in the CLI can still track and see all of the changes that they've been making right there in DevOps Center. You'll be able to sort through it, you'll be able to filter through it. Those list views that Karen mentioned, she and her team got feedback on improving are going to be improved. And this really enables you to make declarative changes alongside your developers who are making code changes. So this is really, really a powerful tool. Want you to check it out, make sure that if you're coming to TrailblazerDX, which I hope you are, you join some of these sessions.
I think the biggest, most important session for every admin to attend in terms of DevOps Center will be that theater session that Karen mentioned getting started with Salesforce DevOps, steps you can take now to start preparing yourself for DevOps Center and join the breakout. I mean, to hear how Karen has been working with a partner and a Salesforce customer about how they've been using DevOps Center, I think that's going to be a really awesome breakout session.
Okay. So make sure that you join both of those. I'll put links to them in the show notes so you can get excited about them. If you can't join us for TrailblazerDX in person, don't worry. You can join the broadcast. Now you're not going to get access to all of the amazing things that Karen mentioned, like the demo booth and the theater sessions. But I do believe that breakout session will be available after the broadcast ends or after the event, sorry. During the live broadcast, you'll be able to join a lot of the super sessions and the main show. You may see me on there as another MC because you know, it's TrailblazerDX and it's kind of what I do.
Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed this episode. It's so wonderful to be back and I hope see you at TrailblazerDX. If you want to learn more about anything we mentioned on today's podcast, please go to admin.salesforce.com and you can stay up to date with all of the fun, awesome admin happenings on Twitter. We are @SalesforceAdmns, no I. You can find our guest today, Karen Fidelak, @KarenFidelak, very easy Twitter handle to find. And you can find my co-host the one and only, Mike Gerholdt, @MikeGerholdt and you can find myself @gilliankbruce. All right, everybody. I hope you have a wonderful rest of your day. Hope to see at TrailblazerDX. And if not, I'll catch you next time in the cloud.



Direct download: Road_to_TDX__DevOps_Center_with_Karen_Fidelak.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PDT

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we talk to Karen Fidelak, Senior Director, Product Management at Salesforce.

Join us as we talk about some exciting announcements she’s got about DevOps Center coming up for TrailblazerDX.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Karen Fidelak.

Why we’re psyched about the beta for DevOps Center

We’re really excited about DevOps Center, and there are going to be tons of exciting announcements at TrailblazerDX so we wanted to talk to Karen to give pod listeners a little preview. The biggest news is that an open beta is coming this summer, with a GA planned for the Fall.

“We’re excited about where we’re at and we’re excited to show it at TrailblazerDX,” Karen says, “DevOps Center is all about change and release management and introducing DevOps best practices to our entire community, regardless of where you fall on the low-code to pro-code spectrum.” The goal is a tool that provides easy-to-use change management, source management, push-button deployments, and, overall, will allow hybrid sets of users to work together more easily.

Lessons from the pilot program

“We hear a lot of Admins and low-code developers who really want to be more involved in these DevOps practices that include things like source control but haven’t had the experience or tools to easily adopt and feel comfortable using them,” Karen says. They want to give you what you need to do just that and work with other members of your team that may already have adopted source control and other change management best practices.

Their pilot program introduced a number of features to help create an end-to-end, declarative flow around lifecycle management. One thing they added was automatic change tracking, so any changes made in the developer sandbox are added to a list where you can select which ones you want to move forward. It’s a big upgrade over Change Sets, and they’re looking to make even more improvements going into the beta.

A sneak peak at TrailblazerDX

Karen and her team will be at their spiffy dedicated booth at TrailblazerDX, so be sure you stop by if you’re attending. They’ll also be doing some theater sessions to get you up to speed with DevOps and DevOps Center. Finally, there will be a breakout session where Karen will present with a Salesforce partner and a customer to show DevOps Center in action.

They’re really excited to hear from real customers and get any feedback they can to make DevOps Center even better, so don’t be a stranger. If you can’t make it, be sure to check in on the Trailblazer Community group (link below) to get involved.

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Learn more

Social

Love our podcasts?

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Full show transcript

Gillian Bruce: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins podcast, where we talk about product, community and careers to help you be an awesome admin. I'm your host today, Gillian Bruce and we are joined by Karen Fidelak, who is going to talk to us about DevOps center. Why? Well be because they've got some exciting announcements they're going to be sharing at a little party we're throwing later this month called TrailblazerDX. That's right folks. We are having an in-person event. It's going to be so exciting.
Trailblazer DX, April 27th and 28th here in San Francisco at the Moscone Center. You're not going to want to miss it. And to get you excited. I decided to pull together a few of the product managers who have exciting things they're going to be talking about at that event. And Karen is one of them. Now last we talked to Karen about DevOps Center, which is what her team is working on, was a while ago. And since then she and her team have been working very, very hard to get this product ready for prime time. So let's check in with Karen and hear about all the goodness her team has been working on and get excited about what she and her team are going to be doing at TrailblazerDX. Karen, welcome to the podcast.

Karen Fidelak: Hi, I'm glad to be here. This is exciting.

Gillian Bruce: Well, it's been a while since you and I chatted. In fact, I think this is my first official podcast I'm hosting since I've come back and I think you were the last product managers I've worked with before I left. So it's like nothing has ever happened.

Karen Fidelak: Boy. Welcome back.

Gillian Bruce: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I wanted to check in with you Karen because you and your team were working on something really awesome and amazing for admins. DevOps sent her. And I wanted to check in with you because we're coming up on a little something here in just a couple weeks that we're getting excited about. TrailblazerDX. And I know that you and your team have some exciting things you're going to be sharing and talking about related to DevOps Center. So can you give us a little update, catch us up about where we're at with DevOps Center?

Karen Fidelak: Sure. Yeah. So we, I think last we talked, we were running a pilot. We ran a pilot from about last May through the end of the year. And then early this year in February, we started what we're calling a Closed Beta, where we added some more users, added some more functionality and that's what's happening right now. We're kind of in the middle of our Closed Beta period. Then we're planning in around June to release an open beta. And so we'll open that beta up to all users in the summer timeframe. And then the plan is around fall to go out with the GA. Now this is all sort of safe harbor everything in the future, but that's our kind of plan right now. And we're really excited about where we're at. And we're excited to show where we're at, TrailblazerDX in just a few weeks.

Gillian Bruce: Well, yes, again like safe harbor forward looking statement. We always have to reiterate that when people are going to be like, "Oh my God, I'm going to get this then." We always, we need a little safety there. So, all right. So we talked about, you have gone a long ways through this development cycle with this product so far, which is very exciting. Can you tell us a little bit more about some of the details of that? So you said pilot is, we're kind of wrapping up the pilot phase, getting ready to go to beta. What happened during the pilot phase? What did you and your team learn? And actually before we get there, can you just remind us kind of a high level, what is DevOps Center?

Karen Fidelak: Sure. Yeah. So DevOps Center is a new product that we're building. It's all about change and release management and introducing DevOps best practices to our entire developer community, regardless of where you fall on that sort of low code to pro code spectrum. So the idea here is to bring easy to use change management, incorporate things like source control, really nice, easy to use experience, provide push button deployments and allow teams that involve, like I said, mixed or hybrid, what we call hybrid sets of users to work together, to manage their applications' entire life cycle. So we're trying to really bring those modern best practices around DevOps, to everyone in a really easy and accessible way.

Gillian Bruce: And that I think is the key, right? Because this is where admins are like, "DevOps Center is something that I should pay attention to," because you said this hybrid model of the pro code developers, the low code developers, which admins, that's you. So this is where they kind of play a role. And this is why DevOps Center is going to be really awesome for admins.

Karen Fidelak: Yes, absolutely. We hear a lot of admins, low code developers who really want to be more involved in these DevOps practices that involve things like source control, but really haven't had the experience or tools that have allowed them to easily adopt and feel comfortable using them. And so that's really our goal here is to bring to you a tool that lets you really easily incorporate those into your overall flow and allow you to participate now with those other members of your team that may have already adopted source control, but you haven't been able to be part of that yet. And so this is going to allow you to just jump right in and take advantage of those really, like I said, modern best practices around DevOps that everybody really does want to adopt.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. And change management is definitely one of the core Salesforce admin skills that we have ... We're actually going to be focusing quite a bit on some of these. We have 14 core admin skills that we're going to be focusing and for the rest of the year. And we talked about it at Dreamforce last year, but change management is a big, big piece of that. And this tool, this DevOps Center is going to be such a really great way to kind of get a handle on change management and really kind of give yourself as an admin, a leg up in that arena. So Karen, you told me about this pilot that is now coming to a close. Can you tell us about some of the things you and your team learned during that pilot phase?

Karen Fidelak: Yeah, so the pilot was really all about bringing to bear this fully declarative experience. Like I said, we're trying to incorporate this whole end to end flow around lifecycle management. And so some of the features that we introduced there were like automatic change tracking. So when you make changes in your developer sandbox now, we're automatically tracking those and you can see those in a nice list within the application. You can select which ones you want to migrate forward in your flow and just at the click of a button, you can move those changes forward. And as part of that, we're doing a nice integration behind the scenes with source control and allowing you to then through clicks, promote or deploy those changes through the various stages of a pipeline. And so some of the things that we learned through this pilot was that first of all, people really appreciate that overall experience.
So overall it was really, I would call it a success. The source tracking capability that we have was really loved by people. So just that automatic tracking of the changes was a super nice convenience and really an improvement over our current declarative change management, which is change sets. Any of you who are using change sets probably know it's not the easiest to use. And so we've learned that this is really an improvement over that. We learned that the source control integration is generally, it's good, right? Like people, while they might have a bit of a learning curve, when it comes to source control systems, we've made it really easy. You don't really have to ever go into the source control system. Basically, all you have to do is create an account and then we handle all of the integration to move those changes into a source control system.
We manage the branches there. You really don't have to get into it at all if you don't want. And so that was positive. I think that the people were able to adopt that and appreciated the integration that we were providing there. We also learned some things that from a usability standpoint, we need to improve and we're working on those right now. Some things that I would say are sort of UI usability enhancements, which we knew going into the pilot. We didn't have all of that in there. That's why we kind of put the pilot out there, get people using it, understanding the overall basic flows and then figuring out where it is we really need to add those enhancements to make it really usable and adoptable. And so things just like list management, like sorting lists, filtering lists seems pretty basic.
And we understood that those were the kinds of things that needed to come along. We also added in our, as a result of pilot feedback and as we went into the beta, better, we call it activity history views where we're seeing a full history of everything that's happened within DevOps Center. So that gives you a nice sort of auditability trail and visibility into everything that's happened and better error tracking. So just sort of like that second level debugging capability, error management, history management, those are some of the things that we layered in to our beta and then some things around like how do we handle the cases where things don't go kind as planned. Maybe you're moving some changes forward and they're failing to deploy. We want to make sure that we handle those use cases reasonably well. And so we've added some features as we move into our beta to be able to kind of pull those changes back, start over.
If you get into kind of a situation where you've got some failed deployments that are sort of partway through the pipeline. We've provided a better way for you to kind of start over with those. And these were all based on feedback that we got as part of that pilot. So I would say overall, it's very positive for us. I think we're definitely moving in the right direction. We've got kind of our core use cases that we're working on toward RGA. And then we're layering in these sort of usability and kind of secondary I would call use cases to those primary use cases. And that's based on the feedback that we're getting.

Gillian Bruce: That's awesome. You know what, I always love hearing from product teams about how they really incorporate the feedback from these pilot phases, because I think it's one of the amazing things we get to do here at Salesforce is being like, "Hey, we know it's not perfect. If you want to play with us, come on in and play and then tell us what you think and we're going to make it better."

Karen Fidelak: Yep.

Gillian Bruce: I love hearing about that process. One of the things that I heard you say a few times, a theme that kind of came out is really this availability to get a better visibility into what's happening and where it's happening and when it's happening and being able to control when it's happening, which I guess it's one of the core tenants of DevOps Center, I think all admins will definitely appreciate that. I think every admin is a little bit of a control freak. It's kind one of our core tenants, I would imagine. So that's really great. Karen, you're also doing a lot of stuff at TrailblazerDX, which is coming up here soon on April 26th and 27th. I'm sorry, the 27th and 28th in my head, it's a day early. Can you tell us a little bit about some of the amazing content that you and your team will be sharing TrailblazerDX?

Karen Fidelak: Absolutely. So we've got quite a few different places and sessions that you can come hear more about what we're doing and see it in action. So first we have a booth demo. So on the floor where all the demos will be happening, we will have a dedicated booth dedicated to DevOps Center. We'll have team members there. So we really encourage you to come take a look at what we've got and talk to members of our team who are building this product. They would love to talk to you and get your feedback there as well. We also have on the floor there a few theater sessions where we'll be covering DevOps and DevOps Center. So the first one is called Getting Started with Salesforce DevOps. And this is we're going to be talking sort of about general principles of DevOps and things that you can start doing now to start laying a good foundation for adoption of DevOps Center when it's available.
So even if you aren't part of our beta yet, or you can't get your hands on it just yet, there are things that you can be doing now to prepare yourself really well, to be able to quickly adopt it when it's available and just think about sort of general best practices around DevOps principles. So that's going to be a fun one. We also have another theater session called DevOps for Salesforce Developers. And this is where we'll show the product. We'll also talk about how we on our team are building it, using some of these practices. So we'll talk a little bit about general DevOps practices and show the product. And then there's another one called What's New at DevOps for Architects, and that's going to be focused on tailoring the DevOps experience to an architect role, and we'll be covering packaging as well as DevOps and DevOps Center there.
So it's another opportunity to see it. And then finally, there's a breakout session that's called DevOps Center Practical Use Cases, and this is going to be a really fun one. I'm really excited about this one. I'm going to be presenting with a partner and a customer. And the customer has been using the DevOps Center product from the pilot and into the beta. So they'll be able to speak firsthand about their experience using it and how it's providing value to their business. And then also have a partner who is building an integration, building an extension to their own package that they provide through our app exchange. They're providing an integration to DevOps Center. So that's really cool to see that it's getting out into our ecosystem and we're going to see, I'm hoping, more and more of these partners being able to build extensions, to incorporate like, sort of the best of their product and the best of the DevOps Center experience and bring those two things together. So that could be really fun.

Gillian Bruce: So you're going to be really busy at TrailblazerDX, is what I'm getting.

Karen Fidelak: I mean, it'll be busy. And we will see if these sessions actually get scheduled such that I can be in all the right places at the right time. But yeah, I'm excited.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. Well, I mean, so here's the great thing about TrailblazerDX and listener, if you've never been to a TrailblazerDX or a TDX, this is a great reason for you to come is because not only are you going to get access to all of this great information that Karen and her team will be sharing, but you're going to get access to Karen and her team directly. And visiting that booth, that DevOps Center booth will be so, so fun because seeing the product in action and asking your questions and getting them specifically answered. I personally am really excited about that theater session about how you prepare basically for DevOps Center, because I think that's going to be really key for any admin persona to know whether you actually get into adopting DevOps Center or not. Those best practices will serve you well beyond just this specific product, I would imagine. So yeah, everybody, if you can come join us in San Francisco for TrailblazerDX, do it, come, play with us, it's going to be really fun.

Karen Fidelak: Yes. And I would just like to add that a lot of times it's me or members of my team that are out talking about this product. I think what's really exciting about this event is that we're getting the rest of my team here, out there and able to present and talk to you, the customer. And that's really exciting for both me and for them. So they're really excited to be able to hear from real customers maybe who have been using the product already or who are excited about seeing the product and what we have coming and to see all their hard work because we've been working really hard on this for multiple years now, but to see all that hard work really become real and something that customers can actually start using really soon. So that's very exciting for us.

Gillian Bruce: Yes, there's nothing more reward than actually talking to someone who's using what you've built and seeing, hearing how it has impacted what they do every day. So agreed. That's awesome. So Karen, if people want to learn more about TrailblazerDX, I'm going to share links to your sessions that you mentioned in our show notes. If they want to learn more about DevOps Center in general and you know, how they can participate in the beta, where should they go?

Karen Fidelak: So the best place to go, we have a public Trailblazer community group it's just called DevOps Center. So if you go out in our Trailblazer community and search for DevOps Center Group, you'll find it. And that's where we post resources. We've got some things like FAQs out there. We've also got some links to some product demos. We have just a forum for community discussion. And it's also where I will post updates on our product releases. So like for instance, when our open beta is available, we'll make an announcement there so everybody can go get their hands on it as it's being released. So that's where I would recommend that you go.

Gillian Bruce: Excellent. Well, I will put that link in the notes as well. Karen, thank you so much for the work that you and your team do. I think this is going to be a hugely important and very powerful tool for admins to use, especially as they try to focus on that change management core skills. So thank you on behalf of the community and we're really excited to see what people start doing with this.

Karen Fidelak: You're very welcome. Thanks for having me. Always happy to talk more about this product and get the word out there that it's coming. So thank you.

Gillian Bruce: Excellent. All right, well, I'm sure we'll have you back before long. So good luck getting ready for TrailblazerDX and we'll see you there.

Karen Fidelak: Awesome. Excited.

Gillian Bruce: Well, huge thanks to Karen and her team for all the hard work that they've done to make DevOps Center a reality and thanks to Karen for sharing her time with me today. I know everyone's busy getting ready for the event. Now we talked about quite a few things on this podcast that I think is going to get every admin excited for not only TrailblazerDX, but DevOps Center, which is a huge, huge game changing tool that's going to help all of us be better change management professionals. So a few of the highlights I want you to pay attention to, if you didn't catch it the first time around, DevOps Center is here. It's coming. The beta will be opening up in June. If you want to be a part of it, you can join the Trailblazer community group called DevOps Center Group. You can find that very easily and put it in link here in the show notes, and you can find it on the Trailblazer community yourself.
Now, a few things about DevOps Center that I think are really, really key to us as admins is it enables a hybrid change management model. That means your developers can be working in the CLI and you as an admin, who's maybe not working in the CLI can still track and see all of the changes that they've been making right there in DevOps Center. You'll be able to sort through it, you'll be able to filter through it. Those list views that Karen mentioned, she and her team got feedback on improving are going to be improved. And this really enables you to make declarative changes alongside your developers who are making code changes. So this is really, really a powerful tool. Want you to check it out, make sure that if you're coming to TrailblazerDX, which I hope you are, you join some of these sessions.
I think the biggest, most important session for every admin to attend in terms of DevOps Center will be that theater session that Karen mentioned getting started with Salesforce DevOps, steps you can take now to start preparing yourself for DevOps Center and join the breakout. I mean, to hear how Karen has been working with a partner and a Salesforce customer about how they've been using DevOps Center, I think that's going to be a really awesome breakout session.
Okay. So make sure that you join both of those. I'll put links to them in the show notes so you can get excited about them. If you can't join us for TrailblazerDX in person, don't worry. You can join the broadcast. Now you're not going to get access to all of the amazing things that Karen mentioned, like the demo booth and the theater sessions. But I do believe that breakout session will be available after the broadcast ends or after the event, sorry. During the live broadcast, you'll be able to join a lot of the super sessions and the main show. You may see me on there as another MC because you know, it's TrailblazerDX and it's kind of what I do.
Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed this episode. It's so wonderful to be back and I hope see you at TrailblazerDX. If you want to learn more about anything we mentioned on today's podcast, please go to admin.salesforce.com and you can stay up to date with all of the fun, awesome admin happenings on Twitter. We are @SalesforceAdmns, no I. You can find our guest today, Karen Fidelak, @KarenFidelak, very easy Twitter handle to find. And you can find my co-host the one and only, Mike Gerholdt, @MikeGerholdt and you can find myself @gilliankbruce. All right, everybody. I hope you have a wonderful rest of your day. Hope to see at TrailblazerDX. And if not, I'll catch you next time in the cloud.



Direct download: Road_to_TDX__DevOps_Center_with_Karen_Fidelak.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PDT

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’ve got the Monthly Retro for March. Not only that, but we’re putting the dynamic duo back together as Gillian is back!

Join us as we talk about all the great Salesforce content from March and everything we have to look forward to at TrailblazerDX.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation from our Monthly Retro.

Blog highlights from March

We’re really excited about Slack, and Gillian is excited about J.’s post about creating custom emojis for Slack. Why not make it more fun? She also recommends taking a look at the new compilation of Flow videos, now updated with the latest and greatest.

Video highlights from March

Gillian is a fan of LeeAnne’s and Kara Callaway’s video about how to build a great technical demo. The amount of technical expertise and know-how in one room when these two women get together is something you just can’t miss.

Podcast highlights from March

As more and more Admins find themselves in charge of multi-cloud orgs, make sure you check out our episode with Kate Elliot about her journey and the best practices you need to know.

Get Ready for TrailblazerDX

April 27th and 28th, we’re getting thousands of our closest friends together in Moscone West to do our first in-person event in a long time. Make sure you register now and listen to the podcast to hear about all the things you won’t want to miss.

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Full show transcript

Mike Gerholdt: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast in the third monthly retro for 2022. Hopefully, everything is turning up green for you. I'm your host, Mike Gerholdt. And in this episode, we'll review the top product, community and careers content for the month of March. And to help me do that, I'm joined by a very familiar voice. Is that Gillian Bruce?

Gillian Bruce: Well, hello, Mike. Hello. I am so happy to be back. It's been a while.

Mike Gerholdt: Welcome back to the pod, Gillian.

Gillian Bruce: Thank you. I am very, very happy to be back. I missed the podcast. I listened, but I missed being on the podcast.

Mike Gerholdt: And everybody missed you.

Gillian Bruce: Aw, that's sweet. Well, I'm back. And now you're not going to be able to get rid of me ever again.

Mike Gerholdt: Well, that's the plan. Get ready for a whole bunch of Gillian episodes.

Gillian Bruce: It's coming. It's happening. I've got them all stored up. It's been a while.

Mike Gerholdt: I can already see Twitter being happy, "Yay, Gillian's back." So Gillian, it's our retro episode, a perfect time for you to come back and kind of look back at some of the stuff that we did in March and anything that stood out for you that we really feel our admin should pay attention to. And then of course, we'll give a sneak peek of that one cool thing that we're doing in April. So stay tuned for that.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, Mike, I have to say that coming back into the fold of everything, my goodness, there's a lot of content for admins out there. And so I'm very happy that my first podcast back is to recap some of the latest, goodest, and greatest things. Is goodest as a word? I don't know. I think I just made it up.

Mike Gerholdt: It is now.

Gillian Bruce: Just for this month, there's a ton to talk about.

Mike Gerholdt: We've been busy typing, we're burning up keyboards.

Gillian Bruce: Well, speaking of keyboards, the one post that I really enjoyed was one of my easy getting back into the fold of things was Jay's post on how to make a custom emoji in Slack. Because Slack, let me tell you, the amount of email I have is near zero. So I am Slack all the things and those custom emojis just make it even more fun and engaging. So I enjoyed that post very much.

Mike Gerholdt: I think it's really cool. And I'd be curious, so you should tweet at us and let us know, what is the funnest, coolest emoji you've seen in your Slack feed for your organization? Because I totally think the amount of fun custom emoji level in your organization Slack really speaks to the culture.

Gillian Bruce: It does. For example, so I am coming back after going on parental leave, which is an amazing experience. But I got to actually go into update my status and I found a flashing GIF emoji that just says I'm back and it's rainbow flashing colors. And I'm just like, "Oh, this is perfect." It's loud in your face, "Hi, don't forget about me. I'm here now."

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. Yeah. I know almost all my messages have to have some sort of emoji in them, right?

Gillian Bruce: Oh, yeah. You've got to make it fun. Who wants to just read a whole bunch of text?

Mike Gerholdt: I'm sure somebody does. Not me. What about on the video front? Did you find any videos? I refer to you because all of the content I've seen probably. It's good to get your fresh take on it.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. So there's one video in particular that I was so excited to see, and really it's because it's two just really incredible, technical women sharing how they are such amazing technical, wonderful people and how they share that and basically made a career out of it. I'm talking about the Expert Corner that LeeAnne did with Kara Callaway. So Kara Callaway is a legend at Salesforce. She literally has helped design and execute some of the biggest demos you've ever seen on any main stage or main presentation. She's an excellent resource and she's awesome. So if you have not had a chance to check out that video, it's a way that you can think about putting together your technical demonstrations. So whether you're talking about presenting to your executives or your end users, or trying to share an idea. It's a great Expert Corner. I highly recommend you check it out. It's a great conversation. Just as much Kara as you can consume, I highly recommend it.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. If you think about it, when you were last at a Salesforce event or even watching a Salesforce event online, part of it is what you hear, but most of it is what you see. And it's no different when you're an admin presenting to a room full of executives or a room full of users. Part of it's like what you say, "Oh, they're kind of with you." But then you turn the screen on and then you walk them through the demo and the demo sells it, right? Think of it like when you buy a car. It's part reading the brochure, but the other part's driving the car.

Gillian Bruce: Well, yeah. You really have to see it to believe it. Especially, I'm more of a visual learner, I need to really see the thing before I actually kind of get it. And demos are a very powerful tool for that. And as admins, hey, the more help you can get to improve your demo skills, it will pay off greatly as you continue to progress your career and whatever else you do. So check that video out. The other video related thing this month that I wanted to highlight was that there was a blog post that I think Derry did about how there's all these updated videos for Flow. So Flow is amazing. We have Jen Lee now on the team, who is giving us some incredible Flow content. And there's a sneak peek of it. There's more amazing stuff coming on the way from Jen about Flow. But it's great because there are all these just simple videos to get you going on Flow that are now updated with the latest and greatest. So another good video resource or videos resource for you to check out.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, it's a lot and it's so neat. Speaking of a lot, I love the pod that Jay did with Kate Elliot on multi-cloud administration. I hate to say that we don't pay enough attention to it, but sometimes in our universe you can think of this perfect single instance that solves everything. When in reality, admins manage multiple instances or multiple clouds as well.

Gillian Bruce: Well, yeah. Our platform just keeps growing and growing. And I think a lot of admins are finding themselves in a position where, "Okay, I have Salesforce that works for this part of the business." Oh, maybe there was an acquisition, so you're bringing in another additional Salesforce instance or you're wanting to expand into another cloud. There are all different types of business units you want to bring the magic of Salesforce to. A multi-cloud admin is a very prevalent thing these days, I believe. I think a lot of admins are finding themselves in that seat. So it was really great to hear how Kate thinks about that and does that in her journey.

Mike Gerholdt: Very much so. Now, speaking of journey, it's like we didn't lose-

Gillian Bruce: Don't stop believing.

Mike Gerholdt: ... a beat because that's a perfect little segue to talk about our journey to this big event that we're doing in April.

Gillian Bruce: Event in April? Hey Mike, you're hosting a welcome back party for me? Thank you.

Mike Gerholdt: Yes, yes. We decided to get a few thousand of our closest friends together at Moscone West, just for you Gillian.

Gillian Bruce: I so appreciate it. I have missed people so much.

Mike Gerholdt: You should.

Gillian Bruce: I'm really excited to just get in there and see people and hug people and see below the shoulder level that you see on Hangouts and Zoom calls. So this is making me very excited. What is this party all about? I know it can't just be about me.

Mike Gerholdt: Well, we kicked around some names. The welcome back Gillian party was one of them.

Gillian Bruce: Not bad.

Mike Gerholdt: But no, it just didn't feel Salesforcey, so we decided to go with Trailblazer DX.

Gillian Bruce: Oh, I like it.

Mike Gerholdt: Yes. And the DX stands for welcome back, Gillian.

Gillian Bruce: Clearly, clearly. It's one of the best acronyms we have at Salesforce.

Mike Gerholdt: Right, exactly. Yeah. So April 27th and 28th, if you haven't already registered, you should. And you should register because I'm putting a link to all of the amazing... Not even all. Scratching the surface on the content that we have for admins at Trailblazer DX.

Gillian Bruce: It's a lot. I can't even tell you. I'm so happy that we're doing an in-person event again. Now, if you can't join us, you are welcome to join the broadcast. We will definitely be able to broadcast quite a bit of the content. But if you can join us in person, come on, come play with us in San Francisco.

Mike Gerholdt: Make it happen. Yeah. I was just there. Oh, it's great. And the food, there's so many places to eat in San Francisco.

Gillian Bruce: And you know what? We are one of the safest cities. Throughout this whole last two years, we've had very, very great leadership in the city to keep everybody safe and everybody adhering to the science and making sure that we're doing what we need to do to have the least impact from the pandemic. And we've done really well. And it's really fun because the city's coming alive again, and we're all starting to reconnect. And so you should come and be a part of it.

Mike Gerholdt: Meet your fellow Trailblazers.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: See things in person.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: It's exciting. I went to a movie a couple weeks ago.

Gillian Bruce: Oh, what'd you see?

Mike Gerholdt: The Batman.

Gillian Bruce: Oh, did you like it?

Mike Gerholdt: Of course. Oh, my God. It's wonderful. Not as wonderful as Trailblazer DX though. That sounds forced.

Gillian Bruce: Well, that's an in-person experience versus an in-movie. It's more than that.

Mike Gerholdt: Batman's very much an in-person experience. Let me tell you. It very much is. Very, very much.

Gillian Bruce: Okay. But Mike, you mentioned we have a bunch of specific sessions and content for admins. Can you tell us a little bit more?

Mike Gerholdt: I do. I'll call out some big stuff that I think is obviously worth going. There's obviously going to be a big keynote and a true to the core session. So for veteran listeners of the podcast, those of you that have been around for the last nine years, you know that the true to the core is where you get to ask product experts questions about roadmap stuff. And I think that's really neat. We also have some great breakout sessions. So if you know people like Jeanne Velonis is working on a session she's going to do about study tips for Salesforce credentials. Ooh.

Gillian Bruce: Ooh. That sounds like a very handy session.

Mike Gerholdt: I know. That feels cool. Cheryl Feldman is heavily involved in a lot of the TDX content. She is an admin best practices for user management. There's also a record access roadmap that Larry Tung is hosting. I think that's going to be really cool. We're also doing something where, as of right now, we're calling it Campfire sessions. And they're kind of unique sessions where... Gillian, do you remember that first Trail? At the time we called it Trailhead DX? Where was it? It was across the street from The Warfield. What was that place called, do you remember?

Gillian Bruce: Oh gosh, I forget the name of it. But yeah, it-

Mike Gerholdt: I know.

Gillian Bruce: ... was this kind of tiny, little, tech warehousey kind of space.

Mike Gerholdt: It's exactly how to describe it. But anyway, downstairs, we had these little fake fire pits. I'm not explaining it correctly.

Gillian Bruce: No, they were fake fires pits.

Mike Gerholdt: This sounds like a war room. It's not that. But we had these little campfires and you sit around the campfire. And so we're bringing that essence back again, a little bit bigger. I think I heard like 20 or 30 people campfires. And Jay Steadman, who you've heard on the podcast, is doing a lot of the management for the admin campfire stuff. But there's some really great content that they are putting together, like build stakeholder trust through governance. There's going to be one on the configuration kits that they launched earlier this year. So you can sit around and talk about those.

Gillian Bruce: Which are amazing. Yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. Oh Gillian, you're doing a theater session on the new skills stuff.

Gillian Bruce: I am. This is going to be, I think our official kickoff and launch of these amazing... All this content that we've been working on for the last year. Well, the team has been working on in my absence as well. And putting together a lot of great, useful things for both people looking for Salesforce admin jobs and people looking to hire Salesforce admins. And so we have boiled it down to 14 key skills. We're going to have a whole bunch of amazing content and resources that we are releasing at Trailhead DX. I'm sorry, Trailblazer DX.

Mike Gerholdt: That's okay. I made the same mistake.

Gillian Bruce: Trying to get with the times here. So you are definitely going to want to, if you can, join the theater session. And if nothing else, pay attention to Salesforce admins on Twitter and pay attention to our website because we have all of that content that we are going to make available at Trailhead... At trailblazer DX and beyond. So yes, that's what we're going to be talking about in my session.

Mike Gerholdt: That'll be cool. We also have a meet the admin relations team campfire. So we're going to sit around a campfire and you can chat with us.

Gillian Bruce: Ask us all the questions.

Mike Gerholdt: Ask us all kinds of questions.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. I think one of the cool things about this Trailblazer DX, this event, is it's not the grand scale of a dream force or something that you may have remembered in the before times. So it is a chance to really get access to people like the product managers and the evangelists and the different leaders within the Salesforce ecosystem that'll be there. So you can actually ask questions and have conversations. And this campfire format is really great because it's a little more intimate. It's not just a huge keynote room, which we will still have for our main show and some other bigger presentations. But this is a great opportunity to really connect and get more deeper knowledge about the products and get insights into where things are going and connect with others. I miss that. I'm so excited to connect with others.

Mike Gerholdt: I know. It's kind of interesting because I think back to, Gillian, you and I worked the first at time Trailhead DX, now Trailblazer DX, but-

Gillian Bruce: We were working the booth.

Mike Gerholdt: We were stuck at a workflow process. No, process builder booth.

Gillian Bruce: That's right.

Mike Gerholdt: Stuck. I mean we worked, we stood and smiled at a lot of people at a process builder booth because process builder was new then. I mean the event was super small, but I felt like the people level that year, or actually the following year, was it 2016? We kind of got it right when we got in Moscone West. And I think this is going to harken back to that. The right number of people so that you don't feel crowded and you can walk around and kind of experience that Salesforce magic again. I'm looking forward to it.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. It's going to be really amazing. So again, please join us if you can, in San Francisco, April 27th to 28th. It's going to be amazing, if you can't make it, don't worry. We will still have great content available to you during the live broadcast and then some content available after. But if you can make it in person, please come see us. Please come see us.

Mike Gerholdt: Yep. And we'll probably do in April wrap up about TDX.

Gillian Bruce: I would guess. So it's kind of a big deal during April. So that's kind of what we're working on.

Mike Gerholdt: Could be a theme. Could be a theme. Anyway, if you want to learn more about all things we just talked about in today's episode, please go to admin.salesforce.com to find so many links and so many more resources. But specifically, the ones we mentioned today. You can also stay up to date with us on social for all things admins. We are @Salesforceadmins. No i on Twitter. I am on Twitter @Mike Gerholdt. And Gillian is on Twitter as well @GillianKBruce. So with that, stay safe, stay awesome. And stay tuned for the next episode. We'll see you at Trailblazer DX.



Direct download: March_Monthly_Retro_with_Mike_and_Gillian.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PDT

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we talk to Bear Douglas, Senior Director of Developer Relations at Slack.

Join us as we talk about how the powers of admins and Slack combined have the potential to change how all of our users work within our organizations for the better.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Bear Douglas.

Why more channels can help with information overload

Bear and her team write Slack’s API docs, creates SDKs and developer tools, and runs programs for their app directory partners and customer developers—including Admins who may be building custom integrations for their team. “I felt like Slack had the potential to nail what it was going to be like to actually transform work,” she says, “so five years ago, I joined Slack because the platform team was the one talking about how we are going to integrate all of your tools to create an enriched experience.”

One thing they’ve found is that, for most organizations, it’s better to have more channels than fewer. “The more specific you can make a channel, the easier it is to decide whether or not you need to pay attention to that channel and at what cadence,” Bear says, “you can pick and choose what you need to be informed about in a much more granular way that actually can help with information overload.”

Slack’s best practices… for Slack

To get started, Bear recommends having a good template that every team can roll out for their own team channel. This helps create a clearer understanding of how to best take advantage of the platform.

At Slack, they have an announcement channel for each team, both for the people on it and anyone who might want news about the team and what it’s up to. Pinned there, they have their quarterly OKRs, any sort of roadmap deck to show what they’re working on, and a career ladder doc. There are also links to the common tools the team uses on a daily basis, both as a point of reference and for anyone who works with multiple teams across the organization.

Bear also suggests creating a user group for just your team so when you @channel you’re reaching them and not any lurkers you may have. 

Taking advantage of Workflow Builder

One other channel that Slack uses for each team is the “plz” channel, which is for any kind of request for help. They’ve used Workflow Builder to create a way to manage these requests. You can restrict the channel to only accept input from a request form, giving you a structure to determine things like context and the level of urgency.

The Admin Evangelism team at Salesforce uses something similar to field pitches for new content, with a public form that spits out posts to a private channel where they vote on suggestions with emojis. It gives them an easy link to give out in meetings and a clear process for how to manage feedback from around the organization.

“We are a friendly bunch and we really want to hear from Trailblazers and Admins about what they need that we might not have heard from our customers before,” Bear says, so if you have an idea, hop in the Slack community channel or reach out to the Customer Experience team, and stop by to say hi at TrailheaDX.

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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. Now this week, we're talking with Bear Douglas, who is the senior director, developer relations for Slack. Who's Slack? So Bear has the same passion for the Slack platform that we all share as Salesforce Admins for the Salesforce platform. Let me tell you, it comes through, she is one of the coolest people that we have had on this podcast. I'm so glad that she had time out of her day to spend it talking with Salesforce Admins. I think the potential for us to really change how all of our users work within our organizations with Slack is something that admins can drive. Let me tell you, I'm just super pumped for all of the amazing information that Bear shares with us in this episode.
But before I jump into that, of course, you've probably listened to the podcast. So you know that the news I have, "Is that available now on Trailhead? Is it the new module, the essential habits for admin success?" That's right. If you've been around in the ecosystem for a while, the webinar, the Trailhead Live, all the in-person event presentations that we've been doing around essential habits for admin success is now on the Trailhead platform, as a learning module, the link is in the show notes. So after you listen to this episode, head on over the Trailhead, be one of the first Salesforce Admins to get the essential Trailhead badge. If you look at my Trailhead profile. I have a badge, so you should get yours, but now without further ado, let's get Bear on the podcast. So Bear, welcome to the podcast.

Bear Douglas: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Mike Gerholdt: So we're excited for Slack. I love Slack. We've been using it at Salesforce, and I want to make sure that you are on the podcast, so you can talk to all of our Salesforce Admin community, because I mean, I'm a user, but I see so much potential in everything that we do and literally every conversation I've had with you on Slack. I can feel the passion just seeping through that you share for Slack, that we share for the platform, and I feel like it's a really cool thing. So let's get started with kind of where you got started, how you got introduced to Slack, and how you came on board to be the... Is it developer advocate at Slack?

Bear Douglas: Yes. So I'm the senior director of developer relations, and I lead our team developer relations, which Slack encompasses. The group that writes all of our API docs on apidocs.slack.com, where the group that makes our SDKs and developer tools, and then we also run programs for our app directory partners and customer developers. So that's people like admins who are building Slack integrations just for their team, not for any commercial distribution, but that can be really impactful for the organizations that they work for. So we are here to help all of them be successful on the platform and also be their voice back to the product team when they have feature requests, when they have things that they want to see from us and be embedded in the process so that we can be their representatives.

Mike Gerholdt: Wow.

Bear Douglas: Yeah. So that's what we do. I've been at Slack for about five years. Before I worked at Slack. I used Slack. I was at Twitter for a few years before that. In every job that I had had leading up to Slack, we did have some means of internal chat and communications, but Slack felt like a user experience step change that I got really excited about using definitely from IRC or of any other products that really only supported direct message type chatting. A funny story, my older sister, who I very much look up to was the PMM for Google Wave. Do you remember Google Wave?

Mike Gerholdt: I do. I totally tried Google Wave, too.

Bear Douglas: Yeah, and Google Wave was really cool, and I got to be an early beta tester because I had my inside connection to get an account. It was a really cool preview back then in 2010 of what more work communication could be like and how rich it could be and how centralizing communication around topic thread is in many ways, much more powerful than centralizing communication around groups of people, because groups of people have different sets of things that they need to talk about on any given day. If you're trying to find the record of the time, you talked with a given five people that might be your immediate team, it can be very difficult to find things and to have it rich with context about the discussion that you had and so on and so forth.
So there was this promise in those days of what Google Wave could have been to really transform work, and when I got to be using Slack and I learned about the platform vision, which is about bringing tools that you use every day in a lightweight way for quick contextual types of actions, not like you should be creating a Figma design inside Slack that's like a weird, layered, embedded experience, but more like you should be able to discuss the contents of the Figma file and see a rich unfurl. So you don't always have to bounce out to a design doc to be able to discuss whether or not you think something is captured accurately in there, right? So this vision that I had of like, there was a better way to work, and the user experience that we had at Slack was kind of one-two punch of this felt right, and I felt like Slack definitely had the potential to nail what it was going to be like to actually transform work through small incremental changes, through more approachable user experience of how you bring all these things together.
So five years ago, I joined Slack because the platform team was the one talking about, right, how are we going to integrate all of your tools to make this enriched experience? It's been a wild ride so far, and I think we're getting closer and closer every day to making this a reality, not just for the people who are power users of Slack and know all the features and all the details, but people who are having a more average use experience. Because we want to change this for everybody, not just the people who are [inaudible] on the secrets.

Mike Gerholdt: Right, right. No, oh, man, Google Wave. I have not heard that. Sorry to be stuck on that, but I haven't heard that in forever. I remember trying it and thinking to myself, "Oh, email ruined us. We're forever ruined by email," because if you think about it, I'm of the generation that went to the high school library to get online. So I remember pre-computer and post-computer as I was growing up, but I don't ever remember writing letters. You wrote letters every now and then, but I never had a business context for that, and that's what email was meant to be. Then suddenly it's meant to be this electronic version of it, right? Well, now really, the way we use it is just quick one-off notes to each other that since I've started 20 years ago, working in an office, the expediency at which you're expected to answer email is crazy, right?
So I bring that into contact because I feel like the same shift also happened when I went from Word to Google Docs. You would open up Google Docs, and it was just kind of this white sheet. There's no parameters as opposed to Word. The same, I feel is with Slack, right? Like it's this white area that allows for more free communication and collaboration, right? The idea of centering people around a subject or a topic as opposed to, "Well, I have to email these five people," and then there's this whole gross email thread, and then you're like, "Oh, but you forgot so, and so." Then you tag somebody in, and you've seen that, and it's like, "Ah, there's no history here. How do do we get up to speed?" There's not threaded discussions, and then people can't add in a document to really collaborate around it. So, sorry, I just had to nerd out with Google Wave, but I still feel that.

Bear Douglas: But for those of us who experience this other poor way of working, have, I think really grown to appreciate how much easier things are in that type of context. One thing that's very counterintuitive about Slack, or can be counterintuitive if you haven't worked in a larger organization, is that more channels can actually be a better way to work than fewer. Sometimes people think, "Channel overwhelm is going to be absolutely terrible and so we should have a maximum say, 15 channels for this group of 30 people working together." But the more specific you can make a channel, the easier it is to decide whether or you need to pay attention to that channel and at what [crosstalk].

Mike Gerholdt: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Bear Douglas: So for any given project at Slack, we generally have a develop channel, which is for all the engineering chatter. We have a GTM channel, which is about all of the go-to-market activity that might be relevant for it. We have feedback channel, which is meant to be a open forum for people in side the company to pass on product feedback, then the PM can pay attention to in triage, and a few other prefixes for the designs for a given project. So if you search the project name, you'll see all of the different channels that are relevant. But if you are part of the marketing team, maybe you want to be part of the GTM channel and you might want to be part of the design channels, but you're less interested in being in the engineering team daily chatter about what's going on with the development. So you can pick and choose what you need to be informed about in a much more granular way that actually can help with information overload.

Mike Gerholdt: I mean, I think you're 100% right, and that has to be the biggest eye-opening thing that you tell anybody when they start using Slack is, "No, don't limit the number of channels." Because I could 100% foresee any of my previous employers being like, "Well, as an admin, can you set it up so that people can't create more than X number of channels?" I could see that as the first question, as opposed to thinking like, "No, let's have it be as many as they need," because then you can get as granular as you want.

Bear Douglas: Yes, and we also don't charge by the channels. So there's no objection on the grounds of, "You got to limit the number of channels you-"

Mike Gerholdt: Right.

Bear Douglas: The flip side, though, is that you do have to be diligent about archiving channels once they're done. That, I think is something that can fall by the wayside if no one remembers, "Oh, I guess we are done with this project. It's time to spend everything down." Sidebar sections have also been a real game changer for things organized. I think, do you use them?

Mike Gerholdt: We can do an entire podcast on my [inaudible] sections. Full transparency, we got this amazing deck when we went all in on Slack. I think the one thing I navigated to was our team prior to this had been using... Was it Google Messenger or whatever? I think the hardest transition we had was part of our team was on one and part of the rest of the teams that we work with was on something else, and so my Slack was just kind of a whole list of channels and they didn't make any sense.
Then when I saw sections, that changed everything for me and you can use emojis in sections. I love sections. You can clap sections, you can mute all of the channels in a section. That's the best part of it for me, because I was going through today, I was like, "Oh, I got added to three more groups." And I was like, "Well, this is kind of like..." It's like budget and budget planning and sounds, payable stuff. So I just made a whole section of money bags. That's what I called it. Just like money. That's the fun part, is it can be as much of your personality as you want. Whereas some of these other messaging platforms, which we talked about briefly before I pressed record, was like... I don't know. It's like you shoot each other a message, and there's no real context or there's no real good way to share, or you can't find something, but sections are my jam. I probably have too many sections, but maybe not enough. I don't know.

Bear Douglas: Maybe it's like channels. Maybe you just need to be able to know which ones you can mute and how you most easily information. I think it's very individual, and I think our product team did too, which is why sidebar sections are always a user setting and not something that your admin can pre-allocate for you. We got long requests from admins who are interested in having some company-wide sections. So it's a user utility. So you decide, and you can put your money bag emoji wherever you want.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. I think the hardest switch for me coming from just... We'll say, email was the... Maybe I'm one of those few people, but the need I feel to burn down my inbox, right? It's like a task list, and then you go over to Slack and there's all these channels and they're all lit up and you're like, "How am I going to get through this all?" And you're like, "Oh, no, wait. This is just information for you to consume on demand." So anyway, we got a little off, we got a little on the sidebar, but so we talked messaging platforms. I think one of the things that really struck me... This was kind of early days of social, and Salesforce still has chatter, was the idea of, I believe it was intelligence.
I don't mean like Einstein. I mean, context plus content, right? Equals intelligence. So you're able to have the discussion in the relevant context so that everybody gets the relevant content. To me, that's where Slack just is so useful. I would love to know from your perspective, because you've been doing this a lot better than I have. I'm fooling around. I'm still trying to stop the VCR from flashing 12. I feel like some days. If we're helping Salesforce, admins get their teams up on Slack, what is the first thing to kind of help them roll out like, "Here's a good, best practice to get started with channels or sections"?

Bear Douglas: I would think that having a good template that every team can roll out for their own team channel would be helpful. So here's what we have in my team channel. It's called Team Devereaux, and it is the channel that we think about for both our team and also people who might be public consumers of news about our team and what we're up to. So that's our announced channel, and things that we have pinned to that channel are things like our quarterly OKRs, whatever goals you have for the quarter, any sort of roadmap deck so that people who are interested in what we're working on can come and browse what's there and also as a point of reference for people who are on the team. We have our career ladder doc posted up in there so that people have that as a handy reference as well, and then we have a few links to common tools and tips that folks on the team are using on a daily basis.
So if for example, you're in the type of role where you have to help our partners dig into any issues they might be having with our API. It might be a short list of common queries that will help you diagnose issues for partners. So all of that information being pinned to a channel can help people who are sort of casually housing, "What is it that your team does?" Get up to speed, but it's also a handy reference for everyone inside the team as well. It's also very useful to create a user group for your team, so that if you need to @mention people who are just on your team, but you need to make sure that they see a notification instead of having to @channel, a public channel that might be full of lurkers and interested folk, you can really just keep it to your team, and having that kind of template so that people don't have to wonder, "Well, what is the correct structure for a team channel and what should be discussed in there that would be helpful?"
Another common convention that we have at Slack that I wish more people knew about too, is we have that team channel and then we have a Plzease channel prefixed PLZ, and that's for when people come in with any kind of request that they want our help on, whether it's, "I would love to bounce an idea off somebody that I'm not sure is technically feasible." Or, "My customer had this question that I could really use help answering." We have a workflow that we've created in Workflow Builder, and if any of you have not used a Workflow Builder before you can find it in the upper left menu, click down, there's a section called tools and Workflow Builder.
What you can do with Workflow Builder is create a way that people put structured input into the channel. So you can say, "Give us a priority tag." So people aren't coming in with urgent things, that'll get marked as urgent or on the flip side, with no context about something that can really wait for two or three weeks that they've popped into channel, and you can ask them to fill out a form to get help and have that post inside the channel.
You can actually set up a given channel so that the only inputs are from that workflow. So you can really make sure that you get structured input from other teams about the help that they're asking you for, and between having the general team communication channel and this sort of Plzease interface for other people inside the company. It can really, really streamline how people can define the way that they should behave with internal teams. And it goes a long way to have these templates.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. So you mentioned workflows, which is another thing that I found and my team just went nuts on. We love it. So we have a public channel that we let anybody from the company in, and if they have ideas, the biggest problem we had was a bottleneck of getting information to us, right? Or, "I have an idea for a blog post," or, "So and so wants to be on the podcast," and they didn't know how to do it. So they would find somebody on our team, email them or find somebody on our team, DM them, right? So we had too many front doors.

Bear Douglas: Yes.

Mike Gerholdt: We set up a workflow in our public channel that allows them to submit an idea and that actually goes to a private channel that then everybody on our team can review. We have a little voting system that we use emojis for, and then we have a dedicated person that follows up on it. It's so cool.

Bear Douglas: That is cool.

Mike Gerholdt: It changed everything for us, right? We promote it in all of our meetings like, "If you have an idea, go here, click the lightning bolt and select submit content," right?

Bear Douglas: Yep. That's awesome.

Mike Gerholdt: I think, I bring that up because it was so freeing, the amount of visual things you can do to a message to enhance it, I'd love. Right? You can add gifts and there's emojis and reactjis. You can really spice things up as opposed to just sending somebody like, "Hey, do you want to go get coffee?" Right? Kind of thing.

Bear Douglas: Have you ever used the Block Kit Builder to send a beautifully formatted newsletter or-

Mike Gerholdt: I use Block Kit Builder every Thursday to promote the podcast internally.

Bear Douglas: Amazing.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah.

Bear Douglas: That's like a power user pro tip, that I feel like-

Mike Gerholdt: It is, and I'm hoping we can get it a little bit more admin-friendly, because right now I kind of just know the lines of code I can edit, but a little more drag and drop, but that aside. Workflows to me were kind of that aha moment of, "Oh, yeah, this is cool. I really like this." I had the same thing with the Salesforce platform. So I'm curious for you having been at Slack for five years. I would love to know what your aha moment was. What was that moment that you're like, "I am all in on Slack. This thing is going to change work"?

Bear Douglas: Interesting. I don't know that I had one aha moment because at the point that I joined five years ago, I was already sold, and I think it was the cumulative user experience, nice touches that made it feel very friendly, like everything from the hilarious release notes to the moment when you're done reading all your messages and it says, "You're all done. Here's a pony." There was a friendliness to it and an approachability that I loved, but one of the things that I'm definitely most excited about over time is workflows and also some of the UI and UX improvements that we've made that make it really possible to parallelize tasks inside Slack. So recently-

Mike Gerholdt: Tell me more.

Bear Douglas: ... [crosstalk] recently. I mean, two years ago we released a product called models, which are popup overlays inside Slack, and you have to have a user interaction trigger for a developer to pop that up. Meaning I have to click a button or I have to launch a slash command. You can't just pop something up in Slack for me randomly, it's not the web circa 1997. You have to have a reason, and then we made those pop-over models pop outable so that you could have multiple Slack windows at any given time.
So if you were trying to complete a task that was a survey for a recent all-hands or filling out feedback for something that you knew was pending your feedback, you could keep Slack open and not be distracted by that task. You could go do it in another window, and I'm not sure I'm explaining myself all that well, to be honest, but that was a pretty transformative moment in the platform for me, which was the ability to not just have to interact with apps in the channel context. So they could have this separate space where you could take care of tasks.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, that's neat. Mine was, I was an admin in 2006, and I remember setting up my first dependent pick list, and rolling it out and everybody like, "Oh." So you select something at the top, like Apple, Microsoft, or Linux, and then below would give you then... It was dependent on your first selection. So you couldn't select Microsoft iOS 5 or something. Right? I remember setting that up and like rolling it out, and people are like, "That's really cool. That must have taken you forever." I was like, "Yep, sure it did." But just the power of like, "You know, I made a thing that normally looks like it would take code and I just deployed it right away and I could just easily edit it." It just felt super, super powerful. The same with like some of the Slack stuff that we do, it's you can almost kind of have a shorthand, right?
I think that's where I see a lot of this going is CRM 14 years ago when I started was how fast can you get a salesperson to update data records? Now the data record is updated through other systems and/or other interfaces based on contextual information put into something like a Slack. That's a future of CRM, right? It's not, "Did the person go in?" CRM 2007? Was, "Did you update your lead from new to first call?" Please, if you're doing that, you're so far behind. You should be, "No, the salesperson had a Slack conversation with the team about it, and Slack is updating Salesforce on all of these minor data points because the contextual conversation is happening in a collaborative space that moves that forward," right? The reporting in the CRM data is just how we look back and show progress, but the conversation's happening somewhere else. That's where I feel the next five years of CRM is going.

Bear Douglas: Absolutely, [inaudible] more. You can make that an automatic process instead of creating overhead where people have to report back or send information from one space to another, the more successful you are at keeping everything in sync. That's one of the big promises of Slack, is keeping everyone on the same page because everyone has the same view to a channel's data and conversation, and that helps keep everybody aligned.

Mike Gerholdt: As we kind of wrap up, because I want to make sure that [inaudible] cognizant of time. Can I just say I'm so glad that no one's Slack alert went off. That seems like a thing that shouldn't have to happen, but anymore coming out of the pandemic and spending two years on Zoom and GoToMeeting calls. I even saw it on a couple of documentaries about Silicon Valley. You could hear the Slack notification in the background.

Bear Douglas: Yeah. Luckily, I have my pres presenter mode notes about things that I have to turn off and on. So yeah. I'm glad that nothing got picked up, but the work was still happening in the background.

Mike Gerholdt: No, absolutely. Absolutely. So sending admins off, hopefully they enjoyed this episode. We brought up Google Wave. I think that might be the first Google Wave discussion. From your advice and your deep technical knowledge, we have Trailblazer DX coming up. Why, or should admins be thinking about Slack?

Bear Douglas: I'm curious to hear what they're curious about, and I know that's kind of a cop out, but I've given you some of my top tips for channel design. Some of the top tips for creating templates to set teams up for success. So they know what's expected of them, and what good team behavior looks like in Slack. But we are a friendly bunch and we really want to hear from the trailblazers and the admins about what they need, that we might not have heard from our customers before. So I want to make everyone aware of a few channels where they can reach us.
Obviously, if you're going to be at Trailblazer DX, please come and say hello, because there'll be plenty of us there to chat with. But you can also find us at the Slack community in general, which is community.slack.com. We love to talk about Slack and our tips and tricks and how we can make it better. We also have an absolutely awesome customer experience team who are friendly and love working with admins on making their experience better, and you can reach them at feedback@slack.com. I know that that sounds kind of impersonal, like an email address, but we're around constantly on email and on Twitter, and we're really excited to talk to you. So do reach out.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. Well, you've got to start somewhere, right? I mean, I remember that my first giving Slack feedback and the response I got was like, "Oh ,wow. You're like a real human that read it." And kind of figured out where I was coming from and was like, "Yeah, we really should have that, and we're probably working on it. We just don't have it right now." I was like, "Oh, my God, who are you people?" So akin to getting these plain vanilla responses right? From when you submit feedback to other companies, and this is like, "No, this is genuine. That's a really good idea. We should be doing it."

Bear Douglas: Yeah. Yeah. We have an awesome team, and a lot of people jump in at various different points. I enjoy helping out in the queue. I haven't done it in some time, but when we launched the redesign, which you might remember was right around spring of 2020, there was a lot of feedback coming in about that absolutely, and so more of us were on deck, and it was a great moment to have that direct connection with customers.

Mike Gerholdt: Well, Bear, I appreciate you being on the pod, and I look forward to hearing about all of the feedback that you got and we should do a follow-up podcast on that.

Bear Douglas: Sounds great. Thank you so much for having me.

Mike Gerholdt: You bet. So it was great to have Bear on the podcast. I look forward to her coming back and speaking more as the Slack platform continues to evolve and empower Salesforce Admins. If you are going to Trailblazer DX in April, find Bear, find the Slack team, hit them up. Start asking questions, because some cool tech that it's really going to help everybody in the organization, and it's just fun, new stuff to learn. So if you want to learn more about all the things Salesforce Admins, go to admin.salesforce.com to find more resources, including any of the links that I mentioned in the episode, as well as a full transcript, of course, you can stay up to date with us on social, we are @SalesforceAdmns. No I on Twitter.
You can follow my co-host Gillian Bruce. She is back. Gillian K. Bruce on Twitter. Of course I'm on Twitter as well, give me a follow. I am @MikeGerholdt. I promise you my Twitter feed will ensure you don't miss a single cool article and/or maybe a fun picture of my dog, worth a follow. Anyway, let's stay safe, stay awesome, and stay tuned for the next episode. We will see you in the cloud.



Direct download: Slack_Best_Practices_for_Admins_with_Bear_Douglas.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PDT

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we talk to Jeff Berger, VP, Director of Salesforce Operations at Academy Bank.

 

Join us as we talk about what’s happened since his last time on the pod and what he’s learned about how to be proactive as a tech leader in your organization.

 

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Jeff Berger.

From solo Admin to Director of Salesforce Operations

The last time we talked to Jeff, he was a Salesforce Admin who needed to quickly implement an app to help with the Payment Protections Program (PPP loans). For those of you keeping track at home, that was August 2020. “It was really a watershed moment for Salesforce at Academy Bank,” he says, “it shifted the mindset of leadership and they started to see Salesforce more as a platform on which you could develop custom applications like this.”

 

The biggest implication of all this is that Jeff has gone from a solo Admin to the head of a Salesforce Department. They’ve moved from sitting in IT to being a part of the Commercial Lending Group and Jeff has a fancy new Director title. “Things have really changed a lot since I was sitting in my house over a weekend frantically building custom objects,” he says.

Show, don’t tell

 

With a new title comes new responsibilities and for Jeff, that also means taking responsibility for everyone’s ability to get the most out of the platform. “If you’re going to have a Salesforce license at Academy Bank, I have to make sure you can do 100% of your job on the platform,” he says, “and conversely, if I can’t get you to do 100% of your job on the platform, I’m interested in learning how to make it so you do 0% of your job on the platform.” This all-or-nothing approach minimizes the need for associates to do any context switching when they have to jump from app to app.

 

One thing that has really helped is getting leadership to buy in but getting to that point means finding a way to show, not tell. “You can have a lot of conversations about what a tool like Salesforce could do for an organization,” Jeff says, “but until leadership actually sees it in action I don’t think you really understand.” Delivering a fully-featured custom dashboard on a 3-day-old deployment really opened a lot of eyes.

How to be a tech leader in your organization

 

“When you’re a younger Admin, you can let the business define the technology,” Jeff says, “but in 2022 technology can be a driver of the business and not the other way around.” At a bank, for example, executives are reading things about the financial industry and digital transformation, but they don’t necessarily know what’s out there or what the tech they already have can actually do.

 

As a product owner of the platform, it’s really important to have a vision for the future. You need to demonstrate to the organization what you could do with the tool that you already own and it’s your job to push the business a little bit. “There’s this really constructive friction between the technology and business,” Jeff says: the business thinks they know how they want to do things but that’s usually informed by how they’ve always done it. It’s your job to learn new ways to improve on business processes and push your organization to be better.

 

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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 Jeff Berger, VP Director of Salesforce Operations at Academy Bank. Now, if you recall, it wasn't but a couple years ago that we connected with Jeff when he was a Salesforce admin at Academy Bank about how he built an app in just a few hours and deployed it over a weekend. Now it's two years later, and I thought, "Hey, let's catch up with Jeff and see what he's been up to." And, wow, let's get a little insight into that new title, Director of Salesforce Operations. I like that.
But before we jump into that, I have some exciting news, of course. If you haven't seen it on Trailhead, there is a new module for the Essential Habits for Admin Success. That's right. The webinar Trailhead Live/Presentation, you have loved and listened to is now available as a learning module on Trailhead. The link is in the show notes. So after this episode, I want you to head on over to Trailhead and be one of the first admins to get that new Essential Habits Trailhead badge. If you check my profile, I already have it. So now let's get Jeff on the podcast. So Jeffrey, welcome back to the podcast.

Jeff Berger: Thank you. It's so great to be back, Mike.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. And I say back because the last time we spoke was April 23rd, 2020.

Jeff Berger: A lifetime ago.

Mike Gerholdt: Two lifetimes ago.

Jeff Berger: Yeah, yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: But I'll put a link in the show notes. The reason we spoke, you had this, you gave this great presentation at a user group, and you talked about how you created an app in just a few hours over the weekend because if we rewind the clock, there was a lot of things changing in the world in March and April of 2020. One of them was, I believe it was called the Paycheck Protection.

Jeff Berger: Yeah. Paycheck Protection Program. That's right.

Mike Gerholdt: Program. That's the third P.

Jeff Berger: Yes. Yes.

Mike Gerholdt: I always want to say "Act," and I'm like, "No, it wasn't. It wasn't at Act."

Jeff Berger: I've said PPP enough in the last two years that it's definitely drilled into my brain. But yeah, you're right. I work in Academy Bank, and as a bank, there was a lot of pressure on us to help get funds out into the world for the folks who were stuck at home and the businesses who were suffering because of the early days of the pandemic. And I really appreciated you reaching out and pulling me out of the podcast to share my story. I had a chance to talk a little bit about leveraging Salesforce as a platform for this brand new program that had never existed before, and I got to share that on the user group, like you mentioned, with my co-leader Dale Ziegler, shout out to Dale.

Mike Gerholdt: Oh. Hey, Dale.

Jeff Berger: Yeah. I love it. And things have really progressed since then. So it's great to be back on the pod to share what I've been up to.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. So that's exactly why I wanted to have you back. I feel like we do a really good job of finding these great stories and then, "Cool," we blast them out into the universe and we just, "Hey, onto the next one." I was like, "Yeah, but there's all kinds of cool stuff that happened." And so I wanted to find out from you ... So that happened, and then we've gone through two years of a pandemic, but the world didn't stop. So what have you been up to?

Jeff Berger: Wow. What haven't I been up to? I think this whole paycheck protection program journey and building this app on the platform, it was really a watershed moment for Salesforce at Academy Bank. Before that, I think the platform was really viewed as one application in the tech stack. It was something alongside all the other apps, and it did one very specific thing for us, in our case, commercial lending. And I think when I was able to jump in with Salesforce and stand something up as quickly as I did and start bringing in applications right away, I think it really shifted the mindset of the leadership at Academy Bank, and I think they started to see Salesforce more as a platform on which you could develop custom applications like this. And it's really, really opened up the hearts and minds of leadership, and I think put more pressure in a positive way on myself and my new department, Mike. I think that's one of the most exciting things to share.

Mike Gerholdt: Well, I mean, last we spoke, you were the department.

Jeff Berger: That's right. I was the department. I was over in IT on an island. Didn't really fit in with the rest of the product support managers. And now I'm over in the commercial lending group. So that's a big change, and I was able to hire a couple of associates. So I'm not a team of one. I'm a team of three now, which is really outstanding, and kudos to Academy for investing in the platform. And I've got a fancy new director title. So things have really changed a lot since I was sitting in my house over a weekend, frantically building custom objects.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. So I envision right now, if I was listening to this podcast, which I would, if I was mowing. We live in the Midwest, and I think it's going to snow until July.

Jeff Berger: Oh, gosh. Yeah. I'm more likely to be plowing than mowing right now.

Mike Gerholdt: Don't say that. But if I was an admin, I would say, "Okay, wait a minute. So back in 2020, Jeff built this app. He was in the same position I was." Every time I talk to you, I'm like, "I remember when my career was at that point."

Jeff Berger: Totally.

Mike Gerholdt: So what happened after the podcast? I mean, what tactically were some of the conversations that you feel you had that were instrumental in getting leadership to think of, just one, Salesforce as a platform that you can build on? Because to be honest with you, we put that messaging everywhere, but it's like when you buy those non-stick pans at the mall, in those demo stores. You're like, "Yeah, whatever. They're not non-stick." And then the guy puts melted caramel sugar-

Jeff Berger: Yes. Show, not tell, right?

Mike Gerholdt: And it slides right off. You're like, "Oh, I absolutely need one of those now."

Jeff Berger: Yes. I totally agree. I always say one of the things people at work have heard me say this a million times, Salesforce is a really expensive application, but it's a really cheap platform. And my job, I feel like I really have a fiduciary responsibility to manage the platform effectively, and that means figuring out ... If you're going to have a Salesforce license at Academy Bank, I have to figure out how to make sure that you can do 100% of your job on the platform. And conversely, if I can't get you to do 100% percent of your job on the platform, I'm interested in learning how to make it so that you do zero percent of your job on the platform, right? Because what we don't want is to create an environment where our associates are contact switching and jumping around from app to app.
So back to your original question about what specific conversations do we have, your point about the non-stick pans in the store I think really hits home. You can have a lot of conversations about what a tool like Salesforce could do for an organization, right? But until you actually see it in action, you being a leader of that organization, I don't think you really understand. It wasn't so much the conversations that I had in that moment or directly after that moment. It was, "Hey, we've been live for three days and I can give you a fully featured dashboard with drillable reports where you can hit the little refresh button and see applications flowing in every single day." I mean, there's nothing that executives ...
I always joke dashboards and reports are a gateway drug, and executives just eat that stuff up, right? So showing how the platform is impacting the organization and leveraging the platform itself to do that spotlight is just mission critical, right? I think I talked about this last time I was on the podcast, but I would just reiterate. If you are not taking advantage of the reporting and dashboarding capabilities on the platform to showcase the automation that you're putting in place, you're really doing yourself and the platform a disservice because it's really difficult for especially non-technical executives or executives who maybe think more in terms of dollars and cents.
When we start talking about things like flow and process builder and things like that, their eyes glaze over, right? But if you can translate that into dollars and cents, or minutes and hours saved, "Hey, I built this automation and I have it right to a custom object that tracks the time that it saved every single time that the automation runs, and now I can put in black and white on a report page that we've saved you hundreds and hundreds of minutes since we put this in place," that is a huge win. And that's something that you can take right to the bank.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. Oh, nice metaphor there. Take it to the bank.

Jeff Berger: Thank you. Yes. I try to get it in.

Mike Gerholdt: Oh, I see what you did. But I love what you said because I think it's analogous to how tech and maybe the whole Silicon Valley movement is, is you've done a thing. Now what's next?

Jeff Berger: Sure.

Mike Gerholdt: You wake up and you hustle the next day, the next day, the next day. I mean, it's not you just put this thing out, sat back, "Cool. I built this app. Look at how awesome I am."

Jeff Berger: Right. Right.

Mike Gerholdt: What can we do next? What can we conquer next? And I think that ferocity of just going after things and not sitting still.

Jeff Berger: Sure.

Mike Gerholdt: It's analogous to how people can really go about their career. There was a time in place in the US where you graduated from college and employers knocked at your door. Now they don't. They don't.

Jeff Berger: No they sure don't.

Mike Gerholdt: You've got to go to them, right? You've got to hustle, or you go back home and live in your parents' basement.

Jeff Berger: Yep.

Mike Gerholdt: It's the same with you. I think because a lot of the questions that I would envision having as an admin, "Oh, I built this thing. Now what do I do next?"

Jeff Berger: Yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: What are you doing next? Right? What is your vision? And it sounded like your vision was, "I've got to do this thing. I've got to find these pain points."

Jeff Berger: Right. Vision is such an important word, Mike. I would say when I think back to an earlier part of my career, I was probably more satisfied with doing what I was asked, I guess, and I'll explain what I mean. When you're a younger admin, a more junior admin, you take projects as they come, and the business really defines the technology. And one of the things that I think I've learned as I've grown and matured is in 2022, technology can really be a driver of the business and not the other way around. And what I mean by that is, again, executives are leaders.
I'll use the bank as an example. The types of materials that leaders are consuming at a bank like Academy, they're reading banking magazines and they're watching banking YouTube videos. And yes, there are many conversations in banking, like in all industries, about digital transformation and about technology, but they don't necessarily know what's out there, and they don't even know what's right at home that they already own. Right?
And so I think as an admin, or to put it more broadly, as a product owner of the platform, I think it's really important that you have a vision for the next six, 12, 18, 36 months, and that you help demonstrate to the organization, sometimes in real practical terms, and sometimes in more esoteric potential terms. But I think you need to demonstrate what you could do with the tool that you already own. And I think you need to push the business a little bit. There's this really constructive, I don't know, friction between the technology in the business, right?
The business thinks they know how they want to do stuff. A lot of that has probably been informed by how they've done it in the past. And that's not inherently a bad thing, but getting somebody who could be a little annoying coming in and poking the bear and saying, "Hey, have you thought about this? Hey, I did this cool trail on Trailhead that taught me about how the best companies do service, and I noticed that we are not doing service that way. So what if we try to do service more like these other companies?" Right?
So yeah, vision is really, really critical. And being able to communicate effectively that vision to the key stakeholders in the organization and rally the troops, it's all really critical. I always say that my secret weapon is my theater background and my ability to read a room and really have empathy for the stakeholders that I'm working with. It's really easy in those types of conversations to write off folks like, "Oh, that's just how you've always done it, and they don't know anything, and whatever, whatever," but I think you just have to stay positive and understand that everyone in the organization is doing the best that they can. And it's about getting everyone rowing their ores in the same direction on a boat built out of Salesforce.

Mike Gerholdt: Well, there's a lot of metaphors to impact there. That's-

Jeff Berger: Yeah, yeah. I'm Mr. Metaphor.

Mike Gerholdt: I think one thing that I'd be curious to know how you addressed and what came out of it and maybe what you'll change or not, do different, is we talked shortly after it felt like the world went into lockdown, and you and I had a great discussion of just how we even unpack groceries because that was a thing.

Jeff Berger: It was.

Mike Gerholdt: Forever, different generations will be marked by things they did. My grandparents saved all the butter dishes. I never went to school with Tupperware. I always had a butter dish with my sandwich in it.

Jeff Berger: Your Country Crock, yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, yeah. Everybody ate stuff out of Country Crock. And I feel like, I'll call it my generation, is going to be marked by, "Oh, you're the generation that wipes down its groceries."

Jeff Berger: Oh, yeah. I was putting them in sinks full of soapy water.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. I know. We all were.

Jeff Berger: It's wild.

Mike Gerholdt: We all were.

Jeff Berger: Crazy.

Mike Gerholdt: But along with wiping down groceries, we also went into, I'll call it virtual office mode. So everything was a hangout or a GoToMeeting or Zoom or whatever. As you went through those two years, obviously, you were successful because you got promoted, but you had to do user training, user acceptance, user feedback. That was all virtual. When we started to record this pod, you were in the office.

Jeff Berger: Yeah. yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: A lot of people are going back in the offices. Truth be told, we know that some people never really left.

Jeff Berger: Right.

Mike Gerholdt: And some people couldn't. The people that had to work in the grocery stores and stuff, they didn't really have an option to work from home.

Jeff Berger: That's right. That's right.

Mike Gerholdt: What did you find will you keep as habits or as things that you picked up during the pandemic that actually were effective, and what are you excited to you go back to?

Jeff Berger: That's such a great question. I think one of the things that I'm going to retain is the empathy of engaging with somebody in a new environment, like we all were. Right? I think when you think about doing end user training, for example, or collecting user feedback, in the before times, I think there was a lot of assumptions being made or, I don't know, you took for granted the fact that folks were a cube away or an office away, and if somebody needed help, they would just get up and walk and ask you, right? But the reality is they weren't. They weren't doing that, even though you thought they would.
And the pandemic and doing everything virtually forced me and others to make a concerted effort to reach out and get in front of people and say, "Hey, I haven't seen you in three weeks. And I know when we were in the office, you would stop by my office once a day and ask me a quick Salesforce question, right? Well, now that's not possible. So I have to carve out time to, and I want to carve out time to sit with you, whether that's one on one, whether that's office hours, or however you want to frame it." But you really have to put the user front and center in a way that I think it was easy to forget about when we were all physically in the same location. So I would say that I'm going to be better in the future, whether I'm in the office or not, about engaging my end users in a proactive way and less of a reactive, break/fix case management type way. And I hope others do the same.
I think it's been really powerful to see the feedback roll in on the types of office hour sessions that I've been having. People who have been using the application for a long time are reaching out and saying, "Hey, I love that you did this. I love that you're doing more of these. I'm learning things that I didn't know were possible, and I thought I knew everything about Salesforce." So that's just been really exciting. And I would say the other thing, too, is being more open to bringing in folks from outside your traditional footprint. Again, I want to say kudos to Academy. I was recently going through the process of hiring an associate and very, very typically, I think, our bank has stayed focused on our physical footprint in Denver, in Phoenix, in Kansas City. But this time they said, "You know what? We get it. Go cast the net wide. Go national. See if you can find the best fit for our organization in Montana or in New Hampshire or Florida."
So that's been really awesome to see, and it's not just in my department. I think it's really opened up the bank, more generally, to being flexible, even as we're returning to work, right? I guess it's a little bit of a two sides of the same coin. So I would say keep it open and have empathy, right? And be proactive in the way that you reach out to those users and engage them, maybe in a way that you didn't before.

Mike Gerholdt: I think that's amazing because the ability to bring staff on that are from other parts of the United States, or world, depending on where you want to go, just adds such variety to brainstorming and creative problem solving that helps enhance the experience for everyone, right? It makes it more fun to come to work.

Jeff Berger: Sure.

Mike Gerholdt: It makes for better solutions. I do agree. Boy, there for a while, I think we were a little bit spoiled with ... I'll say spoiled with online user groups because I could just pop two, three user groups off a day and-

Jeff Berger: Oh yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: And user groups that I could hit maybe a Sydney in the evening. I could hit a New York in the afternoon, and it was perfect. And physically, I could never make those.

Jeff Berger: Sure, sure.

Mike Gerholdt: It was so interesting to join and have people on. I believe I was on the Springfield, Missouri user group, and I was on there because I still have connections from when Zac Otero was down there.

Jeff Berger: Oh, sure. Yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: And we were speaking and talking, and they had people on from different parts of India. They had a couple people on, I forget, from different countries. And it was so interesting because you know that maybe that never would've happened.

Jeff Berger: Yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: Right? Like, "Hey, let's get on a plane and fly 23 and a half hours from India to go to the Springfield, Missouri user group."

Jeff Berger: Absolutely.

Mike Gerholdt: [crosstalk]

Jeff Berger: I think it's helped to, I know in your role, you're always on the hunt for new stories to tell, and I think for better or for worse, I think for better, it's really opened our eyes to some folks that were ... They were doing great work, but we didn't know about it.

Mike Gerholdt: Right.

Jeff Berger: I'll shout out Terry Miller, recent MVP. He was doing some awesome stuff, but I don't think the admin community, writ large, would've known about it if we didn't all get forced online and had to scour for materials. And then there was Terry with all sorts of great learning sessions and content. So I think it's really neat. It's been certainly a silver lining to the move online. And I think the same is true in our day-to-day jobs as well, right?
It opened up the conversation to include more folks because it was easy for anybody anywhere to jump on a Zoom. When maybe, traditionally, those same meetings would've been a little more closed off. That would've been limited to the people on that floor or in that building or in that region. And now it's really easy to pull in branch managers from across our entire network and share best practices. And we're all comfortable and familiar with that motion in a way that we weren't 24 months ago.

Mike Gerholdt: So speaking of "ago," we did a Dreamforce, and we'll do another one this year. They keep popping up. But one thing that we rolled out that I thought was really cool, and we're working to expand on this. So more to come. But I would love to get your take on we added Salesforce admin skills in our Dreamforce keynote, and I'll put a link in the show notes so you can see those skills. But this was a lot of research done by the team gathering feedback. We sat in on focus groups. We did a lot of stuff with various analysts to hone down, "What are those skills that admins need?" And we did that because, to be honest with you, some of the other tech personas are to the point that they're stereotypes. I mean, that in a positive way. The way that I always put is ... I'll change up my story. You can go to the grocery store and the cashier, pending you get a cashier, because I love self checkout. But-

Jeff Berger: Oh yeah, I'm a self checkout guy.

Mike Gerholdt: Depending on your cashier, "Oh, hit. Did you find everything okay?" "Yep." Blah blah. "So what do you do?" So in other industries you could say, "A bus driver. I'm a tow truck operator, a welder, a construction manager, or plumber," and they know what you do.

Jeff Berger: Sure.

Mike Gerholdt: They have an idea of what you do. In the tech world, there's a lot of different roles, a lot of different identities, but you could say, "Oh, I'm a software developer or just developer," and they, "Oh, okay. Probably writes code." Right? They would mostly, depending on the generation, either have like some crazy Sandra Bullock internet movie in their head or a computer hacker, right? But for the most part, it's like write code. But if you say Salesforce admin, they just look at you.

Jeff Berger: Oh, yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: Right? And so we put this out so that we have a common language of skills. All that to say, if you're still listening, I would be curious to know over the last two years you went from Jeff Berger, "I create apps over the weekend," to director. What of these skills did you lean on harder, and what skills are you looking to grow?

Jeff Berger: That is an incredible question. Salesforce admin has always been a tricky name, right? It's a tricky role to nail down. It means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. And the answer to what skills I leaned on, I think it's important to call out. They may not be the skills that you need to lean on out there, listening right now, because as a Salesforce admin and somebody, like myself, who's bounced around from company to company and seen different orgs at different levels of maturation, I think you learn really quickly that every Salesforce story is different. Every org's journey is different. Every company's journey with the platform is different. And so I just want to put that caveat out there that one size does not fit all, and depending on how long ago your implementation was, how well your implementation went, how bought-in your executive leadership are, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, your results may vary.
So definitely take a look at the skills that Mike's going to put in the show notes, because I think they're all spot-on for different parts of the Salesforce org lifecycle. But for me, I'll say one of the first things that comes to mind is change management, change management, change management. Change management is such a challenge. And obviously, for me, it first reared its head in the context of this very specific app, right? This very specific, "Hey, we've got a new paycheck protection program and we need to train everybody not only on how to push the buttons to make the computer do what I wanted to do, but also the ins and outs of the actual program itself."
At the end of the day, we were underwriting loans, basically. Right? And so that's not something that you can just immediately jump in and do without any prior knowledge or any tools on the platform that can help guide you. Right? So I would say change management, both for that specific app, and then ongoing as I continue to try to tackle more use cases and bring more lines of business onto the platform. It's just been paramount. I'll share that over the last month, we've added another 25 to 30 users. And for the first time, we've started to engage our retail banking centers and our retail banking center managers. Up until this point, the platform has been commercial lending only, really. And that's been really exciting. But boy, has it really required a lot of change management training documentation to support this new user group who didn't have Salesforce experience for the most part, certainly didn't have Salesforce experience that was specific to our org and all of its idiosyncrasies.
So I'll say one more time, change management has just been paramount. And then I think to get to change management, to get to, "Okay, what are the things that I'm actually implementing, and how do I need to skill up my users to be able to use these tools?" To me, it's learner's mindset and designers' mindset, right? Learner's mindset has been relatively easy for me because I was new to banking when I joined the bank in 2019. So I've been forced to have a learner's mindset since I got to Academy Bank. But accepting that you don't know everything, no matter how many times you've built the same flow at five different stops, it might be a little different the sixth time, and you have to keep that in mind, right?
And then I think the designer's mindset is really critical because it's really easy to get, and I will say I'm the first one to admit I've done this. It's really easy to get caught up in the exciting tech aspects of Salesforce. Like, "Ooh, look at the cool thing I can build with Flow. Ooh, let's use orchestrator and build something awesome. Wow, look at the amazing things I can do with lightning app builder." And sometimes, and again, I've been guilty of this, sometimes it's easy to lose sight of what you're really designing for, which is an end user, a business user, a specific task or job to be done.
And so really thinking about it, putting the customer front and center, customer here being your internal users, but I guess if you're dealing with experienced cloud, also your external users, and taking a step back and going, okay, let's pretend for a second that I don't know anything about Salesforce and I'm a new retail banking center manager who has to figure out how to engage my customers on this platform for the first time. What can I do as an admin or an app builder or a developer to design a user experience that is intuitive and that helps me, certainly, accomplish a given task with as few clicks as possible in the most efficient way possible, But also while teaching along the way, to a certain extent, leveraging the guided nature of what's available within the toolkit, whether that's a display text in a flow, whether that's some of the in-app guidance that's available now.
But you really have to make the platform be the one-stop shop for that end user. And having them jump out to some policy document or some process document that's saved over here on SharePoint, it's just going to increase friction and make it more challenging for that user to serve your customers. So I would call out those three, the change management piece, the learner's mindset, and the designer's mindset as the ones that I've really leaned on a lot over the last 24 months as I've continued to build my Salesforce empire and bring on more lines of business. But every single one of these skills, I think, is critical. And I use every single day, whether I'm consciously acknowledging it or not.

Mike Gerholdt: Well, that was a loaded question anyway, but I appreciate your answer. And I think you really nailed it by saying everybody's journey is different and the skills that I leaned on might not be the skills you need to lean on. Right?

Jeff Berger: Yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: So-

Jeff Berger: Absolutely.

Mike Gerholdt: That was great. Jeff, I appreciate you taking time out of your day to fill us back in on what's been going on the last few years. Hopefully, we don't go two years before we check back in.

Jeff Berger: Oh yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: At this rate, you'll be-

Jeff Berger: I'd love to be back.

Mike Gerholdt: ... president and CEO or something.

Jeff Berger: I'm coming for Brett's job.

Mike Gerholdt: So if that happens, let me know. It'd be fun to interview you.

Jeff Berger: Yeah, thanks. Appreciate it. This was a real blast. Thanks again for having me. And I just want to thank you and everything that the admin team does to support all the admins out there. And I think the steps you're taking with things like putting these skills out here, they're going to go a long way towards the admin community staking their claim again within the Salesforce ecosystem. So thanks for that.

Mike Gerholdt: I appreciate it. Thanks, Jeff.
It was great catching up with Jeff. I always appreciate hearing how admins are succeeding in their role. Jeff has a whole crew of people in two years. That is very exciting. That is the power of constantly staying focused on your career, focus on the skills that you need to succeed, and building really cool apps. I bet there's some really neat stuff there. And shout-out to the Kansas City user group, Dale Ziegler. Of course, if you're in Kansas City, Dale is the person to connect with.
Oh, and totally go and have barbecue. Man, I mean, that sounds cliche, but that was one of the best times that Dale and I had. So I'm going to have to get down to Kansas City again and have barbecue with everybody. But if you'd like to learn more about all things Salesforce Admin, go to admin.salesforce.com to find more resources and links to everything that we mentioned in this episode, as well as the full transcript. You can stay up to date with us on social. We are @SalesforceAdmns, no "I," on Twitter. My co-host Gillian Bruce is @GillianKBruce, and of course I am @MikeGerholdt. So with that, stay safe, stay awesome, and stay tuned for the next step episode. We'll see you in the cloud.



Direct download: How_Salesforce_Admins_Can_Be_Business_Leaders_with_Jeff_Berger.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PDT

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we talk to Scott Beeler, Lead Solution Engineer at Salesforce.

Join us as we talk about using Slack for sales and how Scott uses it on a day-to-day basis to process his job function.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Scott Beeler.

Why Slack and sales go hand-in-hand

“My job as a Lead Solution Engineer is to be the conduit between our customers and Salesforce to ensure that whenever we enter into a new sales motion we have the appropriate specs for the customer and align the Salesforce specs accordingly,” Scott says. He comes from a Sales background, starting out as an Account Executive calling leads, but he heard about the work that the Solution Engineers several floors above him were doing and the role sounded perfect for him. When he had an opportunity to interview for it, he did a lot of hard work and got a lot of help from his network to ace it.

Doing the job involves coordinating between a number of folks spread out across different areas and levels of the Sales organization. Scott’s talking to the Account Executive, technical folks from Enterprise Architecture, Sales support, folks who manage post-sale, contracting, procurement, security, and more. He used to rely on Chatter so the transition to Slack was tough, “but the more that we as an organization forced ourselves to use Slack the better it became to collaborate with my colleagues to stay organized and get everyone together on the same page to progress the deal effectively,” he says.

Slack best practices to keep everyone in the loop

One of the best practices Scott and his team learned from Slack is to make account-specific channels to maintain organization. It gives you one place to go to get all of the information you need to begin working on an opportunity. Scott also recommends checking on bookmarks, where team members can pin key resources at the top of every Slack channel. You can also take advantage of threading to have, for example, a thread for a specific meeting that hosts all of the deal prep, dry runs, and even conversations during the presentation.

The result is kind of like a radio station you can tune into about the account that can dramatically speed up the ramp time to get a member of your sales team involved in the conversation. And tools like threading cut down on the notifications unless you need to be involved in specific conversations, with mentions allowing you to assign work and questions appropriately.

Better transparency through Slack

The real question, Scott says, is “how can Slack empower sales organizations to be more effective in their role?” At the end of Salesforce’s fiscal year, Scott’s manager created Slack channel dedicated to the deals currently set to close. At the end of each day, their sales reps had to input the status of the deal and any resources they may need to move it along and close it. There was more transparency but, more importantly, it empowered folks like Scott’s area Vice President to bring in the resources needed to close those deals.

When Scott had a demo instance break minutes before a big presentation, he was able to jump into Slack and use global search to look through keywords in specific channels for that demo org. He was able to find someone who had his exact issue and learn how they resolved it.

There’s so much in this episode, to be sure to listen to the whole thing for Scott’s tips on rolling out Slack and why it’s important to let people make mistakes so they can learn how to make it work for them.

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Direct download: On_Using_Slack_for_Sales_with_Scott_Beeler.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PDT

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we sit down with Kate Elliott, Senior Manager of Success Strategy and Global Programs at Salesforce.

 

Join us as we talk about her perspective on being a multi-cloud Salesforce Administrator.

 

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Kate Elliott.

How Kate became a multi-cloud expert

 

As time goes on and businesses continue to expand and explore new products, the likelihood that you may be the Admin for multiple clouds increases, so we wanted to talk to Kate. She’s 10 times certified, a five-time 5-star ranger who started in the education field, jumped to a consulting firm where she learned how to implement Marketing Cloud, and then became an accidental Admin. She learned everything she knows from Trailhead and eventually worked as a Success Guide to help Salesforce.org customers with Marketing Cloud, the majority of them being multi-cloud customers.

 

When J. met Kate, she was the only Salesforce.org nearby, and also the only Marketing Cloud expert. “Every time I think about a career advancement, a lot of it was from learning what other people do and truly taking an interest,” Kate says.

Why terminology gets confusing in multi-cloud 

Marketing Cloud is very different from other platforms. “When I went from an end-user of CRM to implementing Marketing Cloud I remember being shocked,” Kate says, “there are a lot of terms that are the same word but mean something completely different in each cloud.”

 

Thinking about her end users and who she was building things for helped ground Kate. “I thought about what they wanted and how they wanted to do their jobs,” she says, “at the end of the day, my end users that I’m building for on both platforms want to be able to see what they need to do clearly, understand the steps as simply as possible, and make sure that they don’t do anything that will harm their relationship with their end-users.”

Take a step back from the technology

While Kate would build her priority list from what she was hearing from end-users, her best piece of advice is to make sure you’re translating from what they’re asking for to what they actually need. You run into this even more in cross-cloud work because many different industries use the same terms but they mean different things, especially with regards to reporting.

 

“What you are hearing from end-users or leadership or both, potentially, requires so much translation and parsing back what these terms mean in this context from the person who’s telling you it,” Kate says. Even more problematically, you can end up with solutions one cloud platform but not the others. By stepping away from the technology and prioritizing business operations, you can better implement and configure the technology.

 

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Full show transcript

Jay: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins podcast where we talk about product, community, and career to help you become an awesome admin. This week, we are talking with Kate Elliott, senior manager of success strategy and programs at Salesforce, about being a multi-cloud admin. But before we jump into that, I have some exciting news. Available now on Trailhead is a new module for the essential habits for admin success. That's right. The webinar/Trailhead Live/presentation, you have all loved and listened to is now a learning module on Trailhead. The link is in the show notes. So after this episode, head on over to Trailhead and be one of the first admins to get the new essential habits Trailhead badge. Now let's chat with Kate.
Hello, you wonderful admin. Welcome back to another episode of the Salesforce admins podcast. I'm very excited because I'm joined by a colleague that I've had the pleasure of working with for a number of years here at Salesforce. I am joined by Kate Elliot, who's a senior manager of success, strategy and programs here at Salesforce, but that is not what we are going to talk about. We're not talking about her current role. We're talking about her perspective on being a multi-cloud Salesforce administrator. As time goes on and admins like yourself continue to explore new products and your business continues to expand, the likelihood that you may be admining multiple clouds continues to increase. We want to make sure that you are reflected and your interests are reflected in our conversations. So Kate, could you say hello and give yourself a little bit of an introduction to those folks out in the Salesforce ecosystem who have yet to learn who you are?

Kate Elliott: Sure. Thanks, Jay, and thanks for having me. It's nice to meet you all, meet you wonderful admin. My name is Kate Elliot, as Jay said. I'm based in Indianapolis. I currently work for the salesforce.org success strategy and program team. I am 10 times certified. I'm a five time, five star ranger. So big fan of all of our enablement here at Salesforce. I actually started my Salesforce career as an end user in the education field and then I jumped to a consulting firm, so to a partner, where I learned how to implement Marketing Cloud. From there, because I had been an end user for CRM, I became the accidental admin for this partner and I learned CRM all through Sales Cloud CRM, all through doing Trailhead. That's the entire way that I learned how to do it. I have a lot of experience with doing marketing cloud implementations, being the CRM admin, helping cross-cloud folks kind of get their bearings. And where I met Jay, at first, was working as a success guide, so helping our Salesforce.org customers with Marketing Cloud and the majority of them being cross-cloud admins. So I guess the high level overview of who I am and why I'm here.

Jay: That is part of who you are and you are so much more, just like all human beings. You are your job and a million. You contain multitudes. That's what I'm saying here. Okay. So you brought up a really good point, I think, in where you and I started to interact with one another. We talk a lot with Salesforce admins specifically about the power of Salesforce administration by walking around. It's a little acronym that we call SABWA. Mike [Gerholdt] coined the term a number of years ago, and this idea of interacting with the people that are using the system that you are administrating. And in our case, we were colleagues that were sitting on the same floor, but we were kind of in different functional groups. If I recall correctly, you were the only salesforce.org individual that was sitting in the [clumps] nearby. It was also true that you were the only marketing cloud expert in the clumps that were nearby. Correct me if I'm wrong, but that seems right. Yeah?

Kate Elliott: Yeah. Yeah. That's absolutely correct. When I first joined Salesforce, speaking of us containing multitudes, what was really funny is my daughter was six months old, so everyone thought I had just come back from maternity leave. So they were like, "How did I miss you before?" I was like, "I'm brand new." I was the only salesforce.org success person who was office-based in Indianapolis. We had, I think, a couple people in various roles that were remote, but yeah, I was the one who came into the office and it was so amazing. Honestly, I love that acronym. That is, I would say, probably how I have advanced, every time I think about a career advancement. A lot of it, even before Salesforce, was just because of that, of learning what other people do and truly taking an interest. You just learn so much about yourself and about them and how you can help. It's always just led to really cool things for me.

Jay: Yeah. We talk a lot with our admins about this idea of having a learner's mindset and being curious and spending time with the people that are around you. What I like about the story between you and I and the other folks that we worked with, I'm now in Chicago, I'm no longer in Indianapolis, and the same is true for a number of the people that we used to work with, but I remain in touch with many of my former colleagues from the success guide group, what I enjoyed was, there was no functional reason for you and I to have a conversation. There was nothing related to the work that I was doing, or the work that you were doing, that necessitated either of us having a conversation with one another about anything professional whatsoever. But we got into this mode of like, Hey, here's a new employee.
You were interested to learn what we were doing. We were naturally curious and wanted to talk to you. We started to learn that there were some gaps in knowledge for people on the floor, myself, yourself, so we started having these conversations about what's it like in marketing cloud, what's it like in our core sales and service clouds and CRM. This conversation, I think, really enriched the work that everyone was able to do. For those out there, if you, dear admin, are unfamiliar with a success guide, this is a post-sale role. Our job is to meet with Salesforce customers after they've made a purchase and make sure that they're getting as much value out of the product as possible.
Based on the training that we were receiving at the time, it could be really difficult to advise someone if they were a multi-cloud customer, because you'd have a core engagement. Then, if they wanted to do something with marketing cloud, we had to kind of pump that over the fence. Even having conversations to figure out where we needed to connect our customers to help them be successful was very, very difficult and it was a huge boon to have Kate available to have conversations about not only her CRM experience, but also her marketing cloud experience. And then, as somebody who's been out there in the wild, working in a business, how did a business use both?
It's important to note that Sales Cloud technology, Service Cloud, anything that we refer to as core, that technology, while integrated with Marketing Cloud, or potentially integrated, depending on your particular implementation, you can have Marketing Cloud by itself, you can have Sales or Service Cloud by itself, you can also use both of those clouds together via a connector or integration, but that doesn't mean that admining, those two products is the same by any means, or even that functionally what you're trying to achieve is the same, or even there might be some settings that are key differences.
So Kate, you called out that you started as an end user of CRM, and then you moved into a role where you were doing a Marketing Cloud implementation, and then from there, you kind of had to backpedal into understanding CRM implementation, as well. I was wondering, for the purpose of the conversation with the admin that is listening in right now to this podcast wondering, "Okay, there's another cloud over there. How can I start to understand its purpose," what was your journey? Obviously you had that end user experience, but how did you, beyond Trailhead, start to engage with this idea of marketing automation, as well as customer relationship management? What was the process that you used to get there?

Kate Elliott: That's a great question. For learning Marketing Cloud, I read everything I could get my hands on. So Marketing Cloud and learning it is quite different from learning CRM. I think if you start with CRM and you start as a CRM admin, I actually think there's a little bit of a disadvantage when you're trying to learn Marketing Cloud because it's governed so differently that it's shifting the mindset, really. How I really approached it when I went from an end user of CRM and then when I got to the job, when I was suddenly implementing Marketing Cloud, I remember being shocked because the first day, when I was looking at Marketing Cloud, I was reading all the documents that they'd given me and I was expecting it to look just like CRM or the core product.
So then, when I actually dove into Marketing Cloud, it took me a while to orient myself in terms of, "Oh, when we say data here, this is what we mean when we say it. Here, this is what it means over here." And there are a lot of terms that are the same word, but they mean something completely different in the different clouds. So that took me quite some time to kind of wrap my head around to say, "Oh, when you mean campaign, for example, in Marketing Cloud, this is what they are. In core, this is what they are."
So I really took the approach of just having, to learn Marketing Cloud, to having to throw out almost all of my preconceived notions of what this would be and just learn it as something new and make the connections where I could so that I could see the similarities and the differences. Then, when I went back to being a CRM admin, it was honestly building on some of the fundamentals that I learned being a Marketing Cloud admin, because that was the first platform where I had been an admin, and then really trying to play to the strengths of the different platforms with how I approached just the role of the admin. I can go on and on about those features, but I'll pause there. Is that getting at your question in terms of the approach?

Jay: Yeah, I think it does. You've explained that there are some common fundamentals. There are two things that I kind of want to expand on in what I've heard you say. The first is, I'd love to know a little bit more about these common fundamentals. You had mentioned this idea of taking the preconceived notions that you had about one tech stack and just leaving it over there so that you can really understand what this thing is over here and then you started to make connections between them. So what were some things that you found to be fundamentals or some common skills that were necessary between CRM and marketing, for example?

Kate Elliott: So one big common theme, I suppose, that really drove me when I was learning both platforms and trying to make the connections was that in both platforms... So I guess background about me in terms of we all contain multitudes, I started my career in education and I was a teacher. So that's the context for of this, as being an admin and being in charge of both of these tech stacks. When I was thinking about the end users, when I was thinking about the systems that I was setting up, it was so clear to me that in both systems, what everyone wanted was it to be simple. Everyone wanted to know exactly who they were reaching out to. In both systems, having duplicates is not a great thing, but we handle them very differently. So it was a lot of what the similarities were to me were thinking about my end users, thinking about who I was building this for and really what they wanted in terms of how they wanted to live their lives and do their jobs.
That really changed my mindset in terms of how I would train people on both platforms, how I would think about how to prioritize what to build, was really just on, at the end of the day, my end users that I'm building for, they want to be able to see what they need to do clearly, understand the steps as simply as possible and make sure that they don't do anything that will harm their relationship with their end users, so having duplicates or reaching out to the wrong person at the wrong time. I think it holds true for CRM and Marketing Cloud. I just think that theme is there in both tech stacks, but if we get technical, I mean, I would say at the end of the day data structure is a big one, which the Marketing Cloud data structure functionally is very different than CRM, just in terms of how it works, but just this concept of knowing what is, if you do a one to many relationship, what's your one, when you think about parent records and just sort of how you would structure something in a Visio chart or something like that, I really saw a lot of similarities and comparisons with the data model that more naturally comes in the core platform and what people wanted to build in Marketing Cloud. It just made a lot of sense to me personally.

Jay: Yeah. I love this. So what I'm hearing is that you've got these kind of functional blocks to focus on, like data quality is what I consider a functional block or a concept. The users of CRM. Again, we have to think about purpose. This is a conversation that I have with admins very frequently and the internal team here and audience relations and admin evangelism. I'm really purpose driven. Why are people using the systems? Customer relationship management or CRM sales or service, it's all about knowing who your customer is, the behavior that they've taken, so that you're able to either sell to them or serve them and make sure that you're resolving their issues. Same thing is true for the platform, for the most part. If you're making custom platform apps, typically you've got some kind of customer component you're going to be interacting with.
When we look at marketing, we're thinking about the same thing. How are we communicating with people? We need to make sure that data is fresh, that it's up to date, that it's not duplicated, because at the end of the day, if we are ill-informed as Salesforce end users, in other words, if that data is incorrect and we fire that data off to somebody in an email template in Sales Cloud, or in a journey in a mass email over in Marketing Cloud, what we've just done has stubbed our toe and kind of frustrated the customer. Nobody likes an email that says, "Dear First Name." And no one likes an email that says, "My name is Jay," which is really, really unusual. I will often get emails that are just made up names, like, "Dear, Justin," and I know that it came from some kind of marketing automation. So this idea of data quality, that's an idea that seems to be in common across these clouds. We need that data quality so that our users can trust that the systems are going to deliver the value that they're looking for. Does that sound accurate to you?

Kate Elliott: Absolutely. And just to build on it a bit more, I think what data quality sometimes is, definitely, I think very admin focused, admin centric sort of language, but to your example with having the wrong first name, what it really means to the people that you admin are serving, your customers, what it really means is that you know who they are. I can't tell you, and I notice it more because I work in email marketing, so I notice all the various email things, but it is very frustrating when you feel like you have a relationship with someone or a brand or a company or an institution, then they communicate with you as if they don't know who you are, especially if that's something that you feel is very important to you. It can be incredibly frustrating to not have your wishes or your needs or who you are respected.
So to me, I just think so much of what it comes down to and what it comes down to with data quality is just really keeping that really just front and center of almost everything in either platform and again, how you handle it is very different, but it's just that trust, it's just that it's the building block of the relationship, it's the building of the marketing campaign. Yeah, it's a really key topic that was just pretty clear to me, especially as I became a more experienced admin, especially as I've helped more and more Marketing Cloud customers with what they're trying to do. It really comes down to that at the end of the day.

Jay: I think you covered that really well in saying that for you, whether or not you were trying to put a feature into Sales or Service Cloud, or if you were trying to bring some value on Marketing Cloud, it was the business prioritization of the business value of that feature that would really determine what you were going to deliver. You were connected to the needs of your end users and that is what created your burn list in order. A number one feature for your end users is the number one feature that you are going to try and build into the system, whether that is Sales Cloud or Service Cloud or any other cloud.

Kate Elliott: Yeah. So much of it is also interpreting what people really mean when they say things because so many-

Jay: Ooh, talk more about that. Talk about translation.

Kate Elliott: Yeah. I think, as a cross-cloud admin, that becomes your number one skill to develop is the translation, because I will talk to cross-cloud admins, especially in my previous role, I've talked to them all day, and it would be questions like, "Oh, my end user says that they want this campaign, but I built it in core and it's not reporting in Marketing Cloud," is a very specific example, "So I must be doing something wrong in all these things." What it came down to is, well, that's not how that feature works in Marketing Cloud. When they said campaign, what they really meant was that they want to understand how this particular initiative is doing over time. They were using the word campaign because that is what marketers use. That's how marketers talk and speak, especially in particular industries. And we have technical features that are called campaigns, but they're not necessarily the same thing.
You run into that so much with cross-cloud, because reporting's a big one. Which cloud doesn't make sense to pull out the data, which cloud doesn't make sense to do segmentation and all these things. When you are hearing from your end users or hearing from leadership or hearing from both, potentially, it just requires so much translation and really parsing back, "What do these terms actually mean in this context, from the person who's telling me it?" Because oftentimes, especially with certain buzzwords, I've worked with many admins and I've been guilty of it myself, where you build out this beautiful thing and you're like, "This is it. I did the term that you said. This is right," and then you kind of show them or you do a check-in and it's not what they meant at all. It's just especially true with cross-cloud, in my opinion.

Jay: It feels to me like, I'm taking a couple of notes here on the side, and this idea of what you're talking about is a time investment. To translate is to sit down with someone, understand what they mean, maybe take that back to your desk, think about it, consider it, and then that starts to form into a new idea that you can use and apply to technology. All of that costs time. As our admins out in the ecosystem can tell you, and as you know from your own experience, spending time, that is often our most restricted commodity. The resource that we have the least of is time. If we had infinite time, we could give everyone everything. But what I love that you've laid down here is that the value of spending that translation time, it is directly correlated to the quality of the solutions that you are configuring, and that gives you end user value. So that time in translation directly contributes to the impact that your marketing journey or your lead management in CRM, those things become more valuable because you're spending time translating. Is that accurate?

Kate Elliott: Yeah, I think absolutely. Just to build on it, what you run into with cross-cloud admining in terms of the translation and it being worth the time spent, there are some situations that you run into that honestly are a little bit counterintuitive with just how the platforms can work together. Without kind of taking that time and taking a step back, I've worked with cross-cloud admins who have heard feedback from various end users about a particular topic, and they were like, "Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. We handled it, we handled it, we handled it," and then it was like six or eight months later and as it turns out, they handled it in one platform and not the other, so they were actually sending emails to the wrong group of people because of this.
Where it gets tricky in my mind, in terms of the time investment, because I completely agree with you, time, oh, if only we had an extra hour in each day, I hear that, I hear that so deeply. I think you do kind of get this with the repetition and with understanding the people who you're working with and how they communicate with you. You eventually sort of learn the things that, if something's kind of bothering someone for a while, it might be worth a second look. It may not be the full process, but I think you eventually kind of get into what's worth a small investigation, a medium, or a large investigation to kind of see what's going on. But I will say, within the marketing platform especially, we used to say all time, a lot of times the marketing platform can be the expression of the core issues, because-

Jay: Ooh, interesting. Yeah, because it's downstream, right?

Kate Elliott: Yeah.

Jay: So folks, the issue here is, if we've got an integration between Sales Cloud or Service Cloud... Well, let me go simpler. If we've got Sales Cloud and we're trying to do lead generation or we're trying to manage conversions, getting people to purchase, we'll have data in Sales Cloud that will then move over to Marketing Cloud. If somebody's purchased, we might kick information back over to Service Cloud. We might even have email communication that goes out based on those service experiences, so we could go back to Marketing Cloud again. So when I'm hearing this idea of the expression of CRM, we have this phrase, garbage in, garbage out. If CRM sales is full of garbage, then you are automating and marketing that garbage in Marketing, which might put more garbage back in Service, which might put more garbage back in Marketing, which sounds like a whole lot of garbage.

Kate Elliott: It really is true. That's exactly what can happen. That's where it is very hard when you have that burn list, when you have all these things to develop and you have these different platforms, because if you get to the point where you're like, "Oh. No. I did whatever, a contact cleanup in Marketing Cloud yesterday. We should all be fine." Well, with the sync, unless if you fix some things on the other side, that may all be wiped out 20 minutes after you did it. That's where you start getting into these issues with, again, translating what people are really saying, trying to understand what they're seeing on the reports and how they're interpreting it, because I have worked with admins who have built entire reporting suites to try to solve the kind of quote unquote, reporting problem, but it was really a data problem and the report were actually right. Because the numbers were skewed, they thought that they had to be wrong. It wasn't. It was a problem with how the two platforms were working together and some of the fixes that they made on one didn't translate to the other. So that's where it can be very helpful to just read all the signals.

Jay: Something that I'm hearing in the way that you're describing this, I think, is perhaps a really valuable approach or piece of advice for the admin who's listening in right now. We're talking about technology, which is true. Salesforce makes Sales Cloud, we make Marketing Cloud, that's technology. But we're also talking about truly business workflow. And when we say business workflow, that's agnostic of technology. Business workflow is, as a sales rep, I need to receive a number of warm leads from marketing. I then need to touch those leads by sending emails, phone calls, in-person appointments, in the hopes of selling them something. We map all of those things into technology with a variety of tools. What I'm hearing you explain is, by prioritizing the business workflow or the way in which people do things, operations, I am better able to understand what I should do in the technology. So taking a step away from the technology can actually help you better implement and configure the technology.

Kate Elliott: Yeah, that's exactly it. I think, with cross-cloud, it's just especially important to do, because you are touching different technologies that work in different ways, that work in concert in some ways and in other ways there's tweaks you have to do on either side. You really have to understand what you want that business process to do to ensure that it's happening everywhere it needs to happen. I can't tell you how many panicked calls or emails I've gotten from admins because all of a sudden they realized a new technology feature and they're not sure how it fits into the business process because they're not actually sure what the business process is.
A lot of times what the help and the guidance that I would give as a success guide was actually taking three steps back from the technology to figure out, what did you actually want it to do? And how did you want it to be expressed within the Marketing Cloud platform versus your core platform and is that what's actually happening? And then from there we can go on into enablement and making sure how can we build structures to kind of keep these processes locked down? But it all has to start with, what do you actually want to have happen and where? And from there, you can kind of-

Jay: Yeah. What is actually happening, right?

Kate Elliott: Yeah. Yeah.

Jay: That's a huge distinction, as well. What do you want to happen and where do you want it to happen? Do you think it's happening right now? And is it actually happening right now? I love that. And I love that it's true, regardless of cloud. I have a question, as we're approaching the end of our time here, to those that say, "Eh, learning more than one technology is just too demanding and I don't think that it's possible," what do you say?

Kate Elliott: I say that it is demanding. I will not deny that learning multiple technology platforms is demanding. But it is certainly not impossible. I think everyone can do it. I graduated college a political science major. I taught in K12, I did college recruiting and then I ended up doing implementation, and then I ended up being a CRM admin, and then I ended up working at Salesforce. I think we all take such interesting career paths to get to where we are. But more than that, I think learning other platforms helps you understand the first platform, because it helps you understand where their capabilities or functionality that I really wish this platform had, and for me, it just increased my curiosity. It increased my curiosity to understand why I could maybe do something here and not there. And then I'd understand, "Well, how do people do it over here? And how do people do it over here?"
You can just start comparing and contrasting, and that is really where a lot of the deep learning comes in. If we think about again, showing my teaching roots, Bloom's taxonomy, that's really where you get to the deepest level of learning is where you start getting into comparisons, evaluations, and synthesis. And to me, that is what is so cool about Salesforce, is that we have all these different platforms. They all have their nuances and everything else. To me, what it does is it sharpens my awareness of what's happening on other platforms because you have something to contrast it with. So you have other ways of thinking, you have other priorities that you can learn from, and this is all still one happy Salesforce product family, so they all work together in different ways. To me, it really sharpened my knowledge and I think it made me a lot more analytical about what I was doing and it also deepened my empathy so much with my end users when I was learning a new platform, because it made me remember, "Oh yeah, I also remember when I didn't know what this word meant and this is a new term."

Jay: I love that. If I were to put bullets of most important things, using multi-cloud exploration as a way to deepen your empathy for end users, to me, feels like a great thing for admins to consider. That's something that I think we can all sit down and think about a little bit. Is there a way that I can explore this technology that I've been tasked with or that I have the opportunity to investigate and how can that deepen my understanding of what my users need and what their user experience is? And that's particular compelling to me because I've interviewed a number of the most recent guests that've been on the pod. Almost all of them have brought up this moment where they could opt into doing something at an implementation moment or not.
What I'm finding uncommon from a lot of our guests, yourself included, is like, "All right, great. Well, if I have this opportunity to learn this technology, I will dive into it using my unique perspective." You brought up being a teacher. We've had musicians and we've had people who've worked in gym operations recently on. It's really interesting to hear how those things start to inform your perspective as you're approaching new technologies. So I love that you're trying to educate your end users and to do that you need empathy, and so you're using your exploration of various clouds to bring that empathy to the table for them. Well, Kate, this was fantastic. I always love chatting with you and I really appreciate the time that you spent talking with me today and talking to the admin community. I'm curious, would you be willing to share some marketing cloud resources with me outside of this recording so that I can put them up on our blog?

Kate Elliott: Sure, sure, absolutely. Yeah. There's a lot of really great marketing cloud resources out there. As I said earlier, some of it looks different, it feels a little different in terms of the content and the approach, but there's a lot of really cool resources out there.

Jay: Awesome. Well, thanks again, Kate. Really appreciate you coming onto the pod and can't wait to talk to you sometime soon. Maybe we'll I'll give you another invite to have you come back and talk about another brilliant idea.

Kate Elliott: Anytime, Jay. Anytime.

Jay: All right, we'll see you.

Kate Elliott: Thanks.

Jay: If you want to learn more about all things Salesforce, go to admin.salesforce.com to find more resources, including all the links we mentioned in this podcast, as well as a full transcript. You can stay up to date with us on social. We are @Salesforceadmns, no I, on Twitter. Gillian is @Gilliankbruce. Mike is @MikeGerholdt. I am @Jay__mdt. Stay safe, stay awesome, and stay tuned for the next episode. We'll see you in the cloud.



Direct download: On_Multi-Cloud_Administration_with_Kate_Elliott.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PDT

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’ve got the Monthly Retro for February. Mike and Lead Admin Evangelist J. Steadman. We’ll review all the top product, community, and careers content for February so you don’t miss a thing.

 

Join us as we talk about Block Kit Builder, how to ask the right questions, and Albuquerque, NM.

 

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation from our Monthly Retro.

Blog highlights from February

Mike was a huge fan of J.’s video about how to reuse Block Kit templates in Slack. He wants the world to know he’s a big Block Kit Builder nerd and he’s not afraid to show it. They can save you a serious amount of time! February was also the month of Release Readiness, and if you’re a fan of automation you just can’t miss the Einstein Automate piece on that topic. “If you do automation in any way, doesn’t matter if you’re using Workflow Rules, or Process Builder, or Flow Builder, check this out,” J. says.

 

Podcast highlights from February

 

  1. podded up a storm while Mike was off on vacation. One conversation that stood out was with Austin Guevara on product design. If you’ve ever wondered how we make the products you use every day from a design and user experience perspective, give this a listen. J. also had a chat with Susannah St-Germain on what it’s like to be an Architect. Her career journey from starting out convinced she would be a professional viola player is truly fascinating and inspiring.

 

 

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Full show transcript

Mike Gerholdt: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast in the second Monthly Retro for 2022. I'm your host Mike Gerholdt. And in this episode, we will review some product community career content for the month of February. And to help me do that, a very familiar voice on the pod. Welcome back, J. Steadman.

J. Steadman: Oh, hello. Thank you for the warm welcome. I'm glad to be here.

Mike Gerholdt: Well, thank you for pitch hitting while I was out in January, taking a little time off.

J. Steadman: You deserve it. And I am so glad that you had the opportunity to take some time off. And I have no limit of words that I'm capable of saying. So this is a great fit.

Mike Gerholdt: That we know. One highlight of taking time off, for the first time, and probably, I don't know, I might do it again, but for the first time I drove through Albuquerque, New Mexico. And if you're a fan of a certain AMC show about a certain chemistry teacher, oh man, let me tell you, there's a whole Google Map you can download of filming locations.
And Mike might have gotten up super early in the morning so that I arrived in Albuquerque, New Mexico, at a reasonable time to drive around their fair city and take pictures, and completely nerd out at the fact that I was standing right in front of certain people's houses and locations and car washes.

J. Steadman: Did the house still have a pizza on top of it?

Mike Gerholdt: No. Interestingly enough, you should Google that.

J. Steadman: They took if off the roof?

Mike Gerholdt: Well, so I don't have a famous house.

J. Steadman: Uh-huh (affirmative). Uh-huh (affirmative).

Mike Gerholdt: But if you go on TripAdvisor and you Google some of that, they have erected an eight foot non-scalable fence around their house.

J. Steadman: Oh, wow.

Mike Gerholdt: To the curb.

J. Steadman: Wow.

Mike Gerholdt: So I actually feel sorry for those people that own that individual's house, because fans were breaking in and throwing pizzas on the roof or jumping in the back pool. And I'm like, "I love ..." By the way, I went to all the filming locations of a certain 1977 Burt Reynolds movie that was filmed in Georgia. I nerded out over that, man. That was really cool. But some of it's on private land.

J. Steadman: Yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: And you'd just be like, that's their place. And so it was me and a friend and we very respectfully parked a block away in a legal parking zone on the street, walked on a public sidewalk. And then we stopped about, I'd say about a quarter of a block from the house and got a nice picture, but it's private property, people. Look, just have your moment, but also be respectful that it's not yours.

J. Steadman: This is good advice. I lived in Los Angeles for a number of years and LA folks want to see all of the famous places that they've seen. Most movies are filmed in Los Angeles so there's huge film history. There's a way to do it that is non-obtrusive, and then there's the throw-a-pizza-on-someone's-house way. So I love that you didn't throw a pizza on someone's house. Thank you, Mike.

Mike Gerholdt: No. No. I did go to the collectible store. Some enterprising individuals have opened a collectible store. I may have bought a couple bobble heads and some rock candy.

J. Steadman: I was just going to ask if they had some blue rock candy.

Mike Gerholdt: Yes, they did. And I have it. I'll probably never eat it, so I should probably eat it, but it's totally on my credentials. But, yeah.

J. Steadman: Wonderful.

Mike Gerholdt: Anyway, fun stuff you do while you're on vacation. But we're here to talk about cool stuff that we produced in February and everything that you need to listen to, I think. I'm going to kick it off. J., you did a blog post, and embedded in the blog post is a video on how to reuse Block Kit templates in Slack. And I picked it for the sole fact that I am a huge Block Kit fan, because it looks like code if I put it up on screen, but I know what I'm doing.

J. Steadman: Yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: And it produces an amazing Slack post.

J. Steadman: Yes. It seems just a little bit silly that the content of the video is so straightforward, but I really love Block Kit Builder as well. In fact, if I've got any kind of significant communication that I want to send out to teams in Slack, Block Kit is really the way to do it. But I really don't like recreating the Block Kit that I create.
So little URL reuse allows me to quickly and easily get in there into that JSON payload, which is a JavaScript object notation, for those of you out there interested in acronyms like me, and you can just very easily tweak the parts that you want, but you keep all of that fantastic structure that's been put together.
And for those of us that are sending out regular communications, you and I sit in a larger marketing org, we save a lot of time by reusing Block Kit templates.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. It'd be great if somebody named Jason started a moving company that they called payload.

J. Steadman: I like that. Yeah. That's-

Mike Gerholdt: Need to move? Call JSON Payload.

J. Steadman: Yep.

Mike Gerholdt: And then everybody in the Valley would call him and then all the rest of us would be like, huh.

J. Steadman: Yeah. It would need to be a Bay Area moving company.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. Right.

J. Steadman: Yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. Maybe Austin, Texas. I think Austin.

J. Steadman: Yeah. Austin would do it too. Indianapolis.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah.

J. Steadman: Maybe Chicago.

Mike Gerholdt: Yep.

J. Steadman: There are a number. New York, everywhere.

Mike Gerholdt: It's hubs.

J. Steadman: All of the places. I don't want to live [crosstalk].

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. Let me just go out on a limb. Kearney, Nebraska? Probably not going to pick up on it.

J. Steadman: We are going to get a direct email.

Mike Gerholdt: Greensburg, Kansas? Not happening.

J. Steadman: We're going to get a direct email now. Someone is going to be like, "I created JSON and I live in this town."

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah.

J. Steadman: Mike, I thought February was the month of Release Readiness and Release Readiness Live. And for all of the right reasons, it's really popular content. So dear Admin listening in here, make sure that you check out the pieces of Release Readiness that are relevant to you. But specifically, if you're anyone that's using automation at all, which I imagine is the vast majority of our Admins, the Einstein Automate Release Readiness Live, I thought was particularly power.
We have been really innovating quickly for flow builder and the other Einstein Automate solutions, and the new addition of collection filters which greatly reduce the complexity of the flows that you want to build. You now are able to add sections into your screen flows. There is the new flow trigger explorer and flow ordering for record triggered flows. All of these things are game-changers. And in the Einstein Automate Release Readiness video, which is now available on demand, they've got a fantastic demo that highlights all of those features all together, in a really understandable way.
And we also talk about a new best practice for how you build and construct your flows. Diana Jaffe breaks it down in a really nuanced way that recognizes a lot of the history of previous best practice, in terms of how we architect our automation. So if you do automation in any way, doesn't matter if you're using workflow rules or process builder or flow builder, check this out because it has content that I think you need to see.

Mike Gerholdt: And even if you're not, I think the future is automated. The more time that you're saving yourself or your coworkers or your company, is more time that it frees them up to do what they do best.

J. Steadman: I think this is a really good call out and something that I probably shouldn't have overlooked initially. The content in the Einstein Automate Release Readiness Live, there's no barrier to entry. If you're familiar with the products, great. You're going to get a lot of value out of that. But if you're unfamiliar with those products or solutions, you should not avoid the content.
No one's going to be speaking above your head or over your head, or anything like that. Instead, what you're going to get is a really nice overview of how you can automate stuff. And if anything, you'll probably leave with a bunch of ideas about how you can automate things in your own work.

Mike Gerholdt: Now, J., you did some pods.

J. Steadman: I did. I did a couple of pods.

Mike Gerholdt: A few.

J. Steadman: I did a few. There are a few more that may ... I got busy while you were gone. I was like, "How many pods can I put on his back?"

Mike Gerholdt: There's 24 hours in a day and it takes about this long to record a pod, and I need this long to microwave a sandwich.

J. Steadman: Yes. Can I highlight a couple of the pods that I thought were particularly-

Mike Gerholdt: This is your introduction to do such.

J. Steadman: Okay. Well, so there are two pods that came out in February that I think deserve your attention. Listen to all of our pods, they're great, but I was really happy to talk with Austin Guevara about product design and how he designs products here at Salesforce. It gives a great sneak peek to anyone out there wondering how we produce the products that we produce, from a design or a user experience perspective.
And Austin also had these really fantastic perspectives on how we engage our users, how we ask questions of our users. So we talk a lot about Salesforce Administration By Walking Around or SABWA. We've really drilled that information into our essential habits content. And this is a great way to hear from a designer, the value of those conversations. So I definitely encourage you to listen to the On Product Design with Austin Guevara podcast.
And then also, I talked with Susannah St-Germain on what it's like to be an architect and her journey to an architect position. And I think that there's a lot of value in this podcast because Susannah is in a role that many people consider to be the height of technical accomplishment in the ecosystem. An architect, that's a serious role in terms of the technical responsibility that goes along with that.
When we think about the role architect in that way, it can create a ceiling. It can separate the idea of the role from who we are and where we are at. And what I love about Susannah's story is it is a series of decisions that she made to pursue her interests. And currently, that step has her sitting in this architect role. So she was not always an architect.
She used to be a viola player. She still plays I'm sure, but she was a classically trained violist that was going to school for music. And she started to make a series of steps into nonprofits, and then into technology, and then deeper into configuring that technology, and then deeper into structuring that technology, which I think is really fantastic.
And it's important for us to realize that our careers are always evolving and that there's no one linear trajectory that is the right way or the wrong way to career. So those are the two pods that I was super excited about in Feb and I think deserve particular highlight for those that are listening in.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. When we came back, I was toying with some of our promotional tools that we use for the pod. And I was scrolling through the transcript of the Austin podcast. I stumbled upon the part of the conversation where you were speaking about the nuances of how you ask a question. And I found it fascinating, just thinking through the way questions are framed so as to elicit a certain answer, or so as to pigeonhole the respondent in answering in a certain way, when that's really not your intent.
And so I will leave that as the teaser, but I probably read that part of the transcript like 10 times. Because the way in which you asked the question and the words in which you use are sometimes overlooked as the easy part of getting feedback, when in fact, it's some of the most critical

J. Steadman: Absolutely. And I won't give any spoilers on the conversation that we had specifically with Austin, but I'd say for yourself, myself, and for our listener, we have to be very conscious that oftentimes, I'd argue all times, when we're interacting with people, we have things that we want from them. And we often bias the way that we talk to people toward the things that we want.
This comes from my actor background, but we're always trying to get the things that we want in the world. And Austin was a great foil to that, and he's got great perspective on how you can short circuit that impulse in yourself. Because at the end of the day, confirming your own beliefs is of limited value. Confirming the value that your users need is of much greater value.

Mike Gerholdt: Well, that is a great way to end our February Retro pod. So if you want to learn more about all things that we just talked about in today's episode, go to admin.salesforce.com to find those links and many more resources. You can stay up to date with us for all things social, on Salesforce Admins at Salesforce Admins. No "I" on Twitter. Fun fact, we did a podcast about that, too.
I'm on Twitter at Mike Gerholdt, and Gillian, who is currently on leave right now, is on Twitter at Gillian K. Bruce. Of course, J., don't forget to give J. a follow. You can follow them on Twitter at J__MDT. I think I got that right.

J. Steadman: You did.

Mike Gerholdt: I did it from memory. Sweet.

J. Steadman: That's right. I love it.

Mike Gerholdt: So with that, stay safe, stay awesome. And stay tuned for the next episode. We'll see you in the cloud.



Direct download: February_Monthly_Retro_with_Mike_and_J.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PDT

For this episode of the Salesforce Admins Podcast we’re chatting with Gloria Ramchandani, Senior Director of Strategy and Business Operations at Copado. 

Join us as we talk about what DevOps does and how working over a holiday weekend on production deployment set her up for the career she has today.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Gloria Ramchandani.

The Essential Habits for Admin Success, now on Trailhead

If you haven’t checked out The Essential Habits for Admin Success on Trailhead, make sure to give it a look. We’re really excited for this new Trailmix.

What is DevOps?

“The term ‘DevOps’ was coined in 2009, to better describe better ways of collaborating between Developers, who actually build new capabilities on a platform, and Operations, who maintain existing production systems,” Gloria says, “and so the term DevOps is really a combination of Developer and Operations and bringing those two concepts together.” It’s people, processes, and tooling combined together into one role.

In tech, there can be certain concepts that can be really fuzzy—even when we’re trying to avoid gatekeeping and keep things inclusive. The problem is that many of these conversations are experts talking to other experts.

A misconception about DevOps, for example, is that it’s only for Developers and not for Admins. Gloria tells us the tale of her first production deployment. It was over 4th of July weekend, “and instead of hanging out with the rest of the family I was up in my father-in-law’s office,” she says. They had to do so much planning and coordination among their team and it was the first time her eyes were opened to the world of DevOps. “It was less about the ANT scripts themselves and the tooling, but it was more about the organization of the work and the team we had to support it,” she says, “that’s what so beautiful about DevOps: it’s not just the tooling at face value, it’s all the planning that comes with it and the processes and procedures and how you collaborate together as a team.”

How we can end release days

Nowadays, Gloria works at Copado, an organization focused entirely on Developer Operations. “DevOps is just as much art as it is science,” she says, “so trust your instincts and share what you’ve learned from others because the whole purpose of DevOps is collaboration and working together to continuously improve.”

“If I hadn’t spent those nights and weekends doing all of these releases, I probably wouldn’t be where I am right now,” Gloria says. That’s why she works in an organization whose mission is to end release days. “The better you can get at DevOps and working together as a team, the more time you can have back with your family and with others so you don’t have to spend a weekend doing a release,” she says.

Listen to the full conversation about the Toyota system, why if you’re an Admin you already have the skills to be a product manager, and how DevOps is like getting a perfectly cooked pork chop and a cool crispy salad to hit the table at the same time.

 

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Direct download: On_DevOps_with_Gloria_Ramchandani.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PDT

For this episode of the Salesforce Admins Podcast we’re chatting with Gloria Ramchandani, Senior Director of Strategy and Business Operations at Copado. 

Join us as we talk about what DevOps does and how working over a holiday weekend on production deployment set her up for the career she has today.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Gloria Ramchandani.

The Essential Habits for Admin Success, now on Trailhead

If you haven’t checked out The Essential Habits for Admin Success on Trailhead, make sure to give it a look. We’re really excited for this new Trailmix.

What is DevOps?

“The term ‘DevOps’ was coined in 2009, to better describe better ways of collaborating between Developers, who actually build new capabilities on a platform, and Operations, who maintain existing production systems,” Gloria says, “and so the term DevOps is really a combination of Developer and Operations and bringing those two concepts together.” It’s people, processes, and tooling combined together into one role.

In tech, there can be certain concepts that can be really fuzzy—even when we’re trying to avoid gatekeeping and keep things inclusive. The problem is that many of these conversations are experts talking to other experts.

A misconception about DevOps, for example, is that it’s only for Developers and not for Admins. Gloria tells us the tale of her first production deployment. It was over 4th of July weekend, “and instead of hanging out with the rest of the family I was up in my father-in-law’s office,” she says. They had to do so much planning and coordination among their team and it was the first time her eyes were opened to the world of DevOps. “It was less about the ANT scripts themselves and the tooling, but it was more about the organization of the work and the team we had to support it,” she says, “that’s what so beautiful about DevOps: it’s not just the tooling at face value, it’s all the planning that comes with it and the processes and procedures and how you collaborate together as a team.”

How we can end release days

Nowadays, Gloria works at Copado, an organization focused entirely on Developer Operations. “DevOps is just as much art as it is science,” she says, “so trust your instincts and share what you’ve learned from others because the whole purpose of DevOps is collaboration and working together to continuously improve.”

“If I hadn’t spent those nights and weekends doing all of these releases, I probably wouldn’t be where I am right now,” Gloria says. That’s why she works in an organization whose mission is to end release days. “The better you can get at DevOps and working together as a team, the more time you can have back with your family and with others so you don’t have to spend a weekend doing a release,” she says.

Listen to the full conversation about the Toyota system, why if you’re an Admin you already have the skills to be a product manager, and how DevOps is like getting a perfectly cooked pork chop and a cool crispy salad to hit the table at the same time.

 

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Direct download: On_DevOps_with_Gloria_Ramchandani.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PDT

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’ve got Susannah Kate St-Germain, Lead Evangelist, Architect Relations at Salesforce.

 

Join us as we talk about music theory as tech philosophy and the skills of an architect.

 

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Susannah.

The Essential Habits for Admin Success, now on Trailhead

 

We’re really excited about The Essential Habits for Admin Success on Trailhead, and we think you should be too. Jump on board and be one of the first to grab that shiny new badge.

Second fiddle to no one.

If you enjoyed our conversation with Stephan Chandler-Garcia about the spectrum of Salesforce roles. This week, we’re getting up close and personal with Susannah to get to know what it’s like to be an Architect. But before her Architecting adventures, Susannah started things out as accidental Admin, and before that started her masters in viola performance.

 

“I thought I’d be playing viola in an orchestra somewhere but life took me a different way,” Susannah says. She started out working for an orchestra registering gifts and records in a database, which lead to her changing careers and going into fundraising. When she tried out being an Individual Gift Officer, she realized she was much more interested in working with the reports than anything else.

 

“I realized I wanted to always be that person who was always able to give the person who ended up doing the frontline work the information they needed in the format they needed without too much back and forth,” Susannah says. Shortly thereafter, she started working with Salesforce and got her Admin certification.

The road to becoming an Architect.

Over the years, Susannah picked up some skills. It started with trying to get to the bottom of how to make a trigger work as intended and ease the load on a Developer stretched too thin. This led to her participating in RAD Women Code. “It’s the bridge between being a really great Admin and being able to consume and take things away from the Developer documentation,” she says, “RAD Women makes you code literate so you can work with your Developers more effectively.”

 

One theme that comes up several times in Susannah’s story is applying for roles where she didn’t necessarily meet all of the tech requirements but had other experience that would make her effective in the position. She still applied for those roles, made her case, and, in both instances, got the job she was after. Her path to becoming an Architect was similar—when she started, she had a frank conversation with her manager about how her career could progress and what it would take to get there.

 

“The first time I applied to be an Architect, I actually didn’t get the role,” Susannah says, “but I had a wonderful support system that wanted to help me fill the gaps that I had in my background in order to be ready for when there was another role opening.” Again, it comes back to clearly communicating her career goals and getting people invested in helping her succeed.

 

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Full Show Transcript

J Steadman: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast, where we talk about product, community, and career to help you become an awesome admin. This week, I'm talking with Susannah St-Germain, lead evangelist architect relations about music theorist tech philosophy, and the skills of an architect. If you enjoyed my chat with Stephan Chandler-Garcia, I think you'll enjoy today. But before we jump into that, I have some exciting news. Available now on Trailhead is a new module for the essential habits for admin success. That's right. The webinar/Trailhead live/presentation you have all loved and listened to is now a learning module on Trailhead. The link is in the show notes. So after this episode, head on over to Trailhead and be one of the first admins to get the new Essential habits Trailhead batch. Now, let's get to podcasting.
So let's just get cracking here. Everyone, welcome to another wonderful episode of the Admins Podcast. I am J Steadman, lead admin evangelist. I am your host today filling in for Mike Holt while he enjoys some very much deserved time off. And I'm very excited about our conversation. Today. We are joined by Susannah St-Germain, who is a lead evangelist in our architect relations team. And I want to build on some of that conversation that we had with Stephan a few weeks ago, where we discussed the spectrum of Salesforce roles, like admin, developer, architect. Talk about the skills that correspond to those roles, where some skills may overlap. But also just have a person to person conversation with somebody who has been in an architect role for some time and who has that architectural perspective to share that with you, you wonderful human being or beings that is listening today. So, that is a bit of intro from me. Susannah, would you mind introducing yourself and talking a little bit about your path into technology, into Salesforce and into architecture-dum?

Susannah St-Ger...: Absolutely J. Thank you for having me and thank you for probably bearing with my dog barking in the background. I think the mail man just came, which is always exciting. But I'm here today, yes, to chat about my background, my architect background. And like you I believe, and probably many of you who are listening, I came into the Salesforce world not on purpose. I came into the Salesforce world as an accidental admin, actually. I studied-

J Steadman: We love to hear it.

Susannah St-Ger...: Oh yes. I love accidental admins. Yes. So I started out my career thinking that I was going to be an orchestral musician. We have something in common there, I know.

J Steadman: Wonderful. Yeah. That's awesome.

Susannah St-Ger...: You're a musician as well. So I went to college and did my masters, well part of my masters, in viola performance. So viola, for those of you who might not know, is like a violin but just a little bigger and has slightly different strings. It makes a little bit different lower sound. But that's what I thought I'd be doing with my life. I thought I'd be playing viola in an orchestra somewhere or in a quartet or something like that. But life took me a different way. And I actually the truth is I got burned out a little bit doing my masters in music, and wasn't really seeing a path forward for myself. I wasn't really seeing where I would be in my career. It was a bit of a funny time around 2006.

J Steadman: Oh yeah, that was a very funny time.

Susannah St-Ger...: Yeah. And did what I never really thought I would do and I dropped out of my masters. I took a leap and ended up temping around Boston. I was living in Boston at the time and had this random opportunity to go work at an orchestra in Colorado for the summer and be their fundraising intern. And I took that opportunity and I moved out to Colorado for three months and was doing fundraising, which as it turns out involved working with a database, which I ended up absolutely loving to do. I was entering records for gifts and people that attended events and things like that in a software system called, I'll have to remember, I think it was eTapestry. It wasn't Salesforce, but-

J Steadman: It sounds great.

Susannah St-Ger...: Yeah. I'm not sure that it's around anymore. But just the concept of learning about a new piece of technology and working with it and entering data and running reports was just something that I loved. And fast forward quite a bit, I loved it so much that when I went back to Boston I decided that I wanted to get a job in fundraising because I enjoyed my internship experience so much, and worked at an organization called the Celebrity Series of Boston. It's an organization that puts on concerts in really famous halls, like Symphony Hall in Boston. And there, I ended up also working with a database, still not Salesforce, but we did database migration. And I was the lead of that in addition to doing my fundraising work. Wearing my fundraising hat, holding it on one hand, and then on my other hand I had my database hat.
And I thought, okay, I love this so much, I guess I'm going to be a fundraiser. I guess I'm going to do that for the rest of my life. And being, I don't know, the diligent person that I am, I was like, well, what's the best way to be the best fundraiser that you can be? And in my mind, that was to become what's called an individual gift officer. So sort of like a salesperson, the person who goes out and asks for gifts. And I went out and I got myself a job doing just that at the Museum of Science in Boston. And instantly after I started the job, I say instantly, it was within the first week, I realized that I had made a terrible mistake. Yes.

J Steadman: So I'm laughing there, and I've got some questions about the stuff that we've covered previous to this, but I'm laughing because I think it's an experience that we've all had. I think it's funny to hear that. You take the new role, you're stoked about the new role, you're diving into it and it is just totally wrong. So how did you know it was wrong? And what was wrong about it for you?

Susannah St-Ger...: Well, I knew it was wrong, so I was at my desk and they were like, "Here's your one report. Here's the report that you get on all of the prospects that you need to work with." And I said, "Oh, well, I'd love to know how I can customize this report and how I can put filters on it or get a different view." And the answer was, "You don't, you're not responsible for that. You're supposed to just take the report and go out and raise money." And at that moment, I was like, well, I want to know how this report works. I want to be able to customize it. I'm more interested in figuring that out than necessarily being on the front lines and talking to people and doing all of that work.
So I realized that I missed the back of house efforts and I really missed working with the database. And I realized that I never wanted to give that answer of you can't customize a report to someone. I wanted to always be that person who was able to give the person who ended up doing the frontline work the information that they needed in the format that they needed, without having too much back and forth. So I realized what I was missing when I wasn't able to get that customer report that I wanted without going to a different team and working with them and all of that. So, that's how I realized I had made a terrible mistake.

J Steadman: So what you're talking about, I think, is an experience that most of us as admins we're really to trying to avoid. I'd actually argue that like all of us as admins, very rarely do we want to [styne] anyone's curiosity about the thing that they're trying to explore. Of course there are things like compliance or DevOps procedures or whatever that we might have to follow. Our backlog the amount of time that we've got in a day, those are limitations that can offset what we're able to deliver to people. But rarely do we want to be in a position where we're desiring to say no to someone especially if it sounds like you were the kind of user that was really the reason you were interested in slicing and dicing that data was because you wanted to ask questions of it. You wanted to gain insights from it, so that presumably you'd be more effective in your job as that gift officer.

Susannah St-Ger...: Exactly. Yeah. So I had a lovely experience of having to cobble together multiple Excel spreadsheets because I couldn't get what I wanted out of, again, still not using Salesforce yet, but the database that we were using. And I was like, this is not okay. I want to know how to solve this problem. And it's because of that reason that I made the choice to go and try and find another job that was focused more in operations. I was like, well, maybe I'm not in this frontline fundraiser role. Maybe I want to find a role in development, what's called development operations.
So I actually went out and again, found myself a job at an organization called Citizen Schools, it's based in Boston as well. And it was there that I had to convince someone to hire me, even though I didn't have Salesforce experience. So Salesforce was on the job description and I frankly didn't know what it was at the time, but I knew it was a CRM database. That's about as far as I knew. And I had to convince someone that my transferable skills of all these other jobs that we've covered already were enough. And my desire to learn was enough to hire me as a director of development operations at this education nonprofit.

J Steadman: This is fantastic. And I have to interject because I'm too excited not to, my apologies. I think you who have just given me the most perfect layup. In terms of the kind of content that we talk about in this podcast, or that I've been particularly interested in exploring with our guests most recently, there's this conversation about skills. How skills apply to technical roles or roles that we call technical and how we can have a conversation with folks about this is where I came from and here is how the skills that I developed being a violist, working in fundraising as an intern, being the gift officer and all of the skills that I'm talking to you about, this is how they'll apply to the role that I am looking for right now. And having that conversation when it might not be on the job description.
And what I like about you introducing this concept is, I've been joting down a few notes as I've been listening to your story, and the first thing that I think is very interesting is you played the viola. And for those of you that are listening out there, and of course Susannah I'm open to your correction here, but my grandmother was a violist, I actually started playing upright bass. That was how I got into music. So what's interesting about the viola as an instrument, its purpose is one of harmony.

Susannah St-Ger...: Exactly.

J Steadman: It's very rare that you have a viola that's playing the melody. And for those of you that are just totally not into dissecting music, totally respect that melody is that thing that we all listen along to. It is the lead line of music. It's what people are singing. That's typically the melody.
The harmony is something that other instruments layer into that melody and support the melody. It's very rare that somebody who's playing a harmony is taking center stage. But if you remove the harmony from a piece of music, that melody can feel very empty, it can feel very flat. And so I find this fascinating because it's my perspective that this concern with harmony is actually interlaced throughout all of these Salesforce jobs, but particularly the architect role where you have to look at an entire organizations' implementation of sales source and other systems and ensure that they are harmonious with one another.

Susannah St-Ger...: 100%. Exactly. I've never thought of it that way.

J Steadman: Yeah. So first, I think that that is super fantastic. Second, I think the thing that is really interesting to me is, like our conversation with Stephan, you had this opportunity of a system migration to really push you to a decision point of how you wanted to interact with systems. Then it led you to this place where you got a report and you were in charge of soliciting some gifts and you realized that you were constrained. So this idea of harmony as your experience as an end user, suddenly there is no harmony. You're given the sheet music, play exactly what's written here, there are no other parts, it can't be changed in any way and have fun. And that's where it seems like you drew back a little bit and you said, well, okay, I need to make my own solution, which creates what I think is something that many admins deal with on a regular basis, which is a shadow application or shadow IT.
You were given a report that was produced by your company, and you were asked to work from that report. But to get the value you needed, you had to drive yourself into a spreadsheet that was probably private or shared amongst a small number of people at your organization. It was not in one of those official IT applications. It's very that your spreadsheet didn't exist in the CRM application that your nonprofit was actually working in. And then that leads to bigger problems with the system.
Now we don't have that what we call at Salesforce that 360 degree view.

Susannah St-Ger...: 100%.

J Steadman: And from working in that way, you have then decided, you know what? This sucks. Pardon my lack of a more elegant way to say it. Let me see if I can have a broader impact and strengthen this experience. I don't want other people to have this kind of limited experience where they become frustrated with the system and are driven out of it. Let me start to get into developer operations at Citizen School. So everything kind of came together for me there. I know I just shouted everything out, but that really seems like your experience.

Susannah St-Ger...: It has been, it absolutely has been my experience. And I got that role where I could affect change, where I could actually make those reports that people wanted. And I was able to do that because we were using Salesforce. And it brought that experience of not getting the type of customer service that I wanted to get, not getting the data that I needed. I remembered that experience and was able to provide a better experience to my colleagues in this new role that I was working in and also happened to be using Salesforce. And it was at Citizen Schools where I got my admin certification. I fell in love with Salesforce. I dove into the deep end and I'll fast forward a little bit. I worked there for a number of years and got a couple more certifications, went to my first Dreamforce while I was there and that completely blew my mind

J Steadman: For context. What year was that? Do you remember?

Susannah St-Ger...: This was 2010.

J Steadman: Yeah.

Susannah St-Ger...: Yeah. So a while ago.

J Steadman: A while ago.

Susannah St-Ger...: A while ago.

J Steadman: Pre... No, it was post-Trailhead, but not by much.

Susannah St-Ger...: It was pre-Trailhead, actually.

J Steadman: No. Yeah, you're right. It is pre-Trailhead.

Susannah St-Ger...: Pre-Trailhead. We had the workbooks. So when I studied for different things, there was on how to build a dashboard and the laminated cheat sheets on yep. Limits and things like that. But it was a great time. I was able to learn a lot. As I mentioned, I absolutely fell in love with Salesforce. And over the years, decided that I wanted to learn a little bit more about the development side of the house. So at that time that was learning more about visualforce and things like that. I just missed S controls. I didn't have the joy.

J Steadman: Dodged a bullet there.

Susannah St-Ger...: Yeah. The joy of learning that. But I-

J Steadman: If I could pause you for a second, I'm interested. So you started to take interest in developer stuff a little bit more, what was the trigger for that or the cause for that? If there is one that you can identify.

Susannah St-Ger...: There is one and it's great. It was a trigger actually. So I was working in a relatively, I don't know, a midsize nonprofit. We had one developer in house and there was this trigger on our opportunity object that was doing things that I didn't want it to do. And I didn't want to have to rely on our one developer who was stretched too thin. I wanted to understand how it worked and I wanted to understand how to make the logic work for me. So that was definitely my impetus to learn more about Apex in particular and then also visualforce, just because I knew that it was a thing that existed and I was curious.

J Steadman: Yeah. So one thing that I've heard in common from the conversation with Stephan and in the conversation here with you, and I think is also a big frequent point of conversation is, I'm out there talking with admins in our community, this idea of understanding how things work and curiosity. And the reason that I'm highlighting this learner's mindset is because I find it valuable to and how Salesforce professionals can work with one another across roles. And to understand that devs like Stephan, architects, like yourself Susannah, admins like me and so many others, that we share a curiosity to understand how things work. And often when things aren't happening, for example, you weren't able to get the changes that you wanted out of the trigger. You called out the developer was stretch too thin. And Stephan also had a similar conversation.
So there are these opportunities where if we feel so compelled, we find that there's a bottleneck, our curiosity can lead us into greater understanding, enhance some of our existing skills and bring us what we need to get that next role. So just wanted to highlight that for the admins before we continue, because whether it's trying to understand how a complex flow works or you're cracking into a trigger and trying to understand how that trigger works, or you're looking at the entire system layout that you might be interacting on a day to day basis, including integrations and the upstream downstream effects of data choices, all of this can be approached through this lens of I really want to know how this works. I'm really curious. I want to improve things.

Susannah St-Ger...: Absolutely. And my curiosity in learning more about development led me to participate in a wonderful organization called RAD Women Code.

J Steadman: Yes.

Susannah St-Ger...: Yeah. You've heard of them before?

J Steadman: Yes, I have. Why don't you give us, if you had to give a 30 second pitch to someone out in the audience who hasn't heard of RAD Women Code, how would you pitch it?

Susannah St-Ger...: I would pitch it as RAD Women is the bridge between being a really great admin and being able to consume and take things away from the developer documentation. Because there's a big gap there in being great at customization and being able to read and teach yourself how to code. So RAD Women makes women in the ecosystem who know how to config really well, it takes them and makes them code literate, I would say, so that they can read code and they can work better with their developers, sort of the challenge that I had. And they do that through a 10 week program that's free and is led by two wonderful coaches in the ecosystem. And it really, again, just bridges that gap. That would be my elevator pitch.

J Steadman: I love that pitch. And focusing on this idea of literacy and in increasing your communication skills across roles, again admins, I've talked to you for a while now about this idea of how we communicate with one another and great to know that this is a resource that exists. RAD Women are out there, you can find them on Twitter. We'll make sure that we throw a link to RAD Women as well in the podcast notes, just so if anyone's interested and wants to know more, you can check it out.

Susannah St-Ger...: Absolutely. So I participated in this wonderful program and around the same time I took a solo admin role at a larger organization, which is an interesting move.

J Steadman: Yeah, that's an interesting setup.

Susannah St-Ger...: Yep. It was an admineloper, now we have that lingo, we didn't at the time. But I was their sole Salesforce resource. It was for a larger nonprofit. And I took it because I was interested in the area that the nonprofit was working. It was in global health and public health arena. So again another fork in the road, it was at that role where I realized I'm still doing fundraising stuff 60%, if not 70% of my time. And I'm only spending 30% or 40% of my time on Salesforce. And I would see the people that worked in the IT department at my company and I would think I really want to work in IT I think. There's something missing. I don't want to be doing this fundraising work anymore. I want to be in Salesforce 100% of my time.
And it was that realization that led me to do something that I always like to share because I think it says a lot about networking and getting jobs in this, in, in this current time. But I went on the Trailblazer, well it wasn't called the Trailblazer community at the time, it was the Success community. I went on the Success community in the Boston Mass jobs board. And there was someone who had posted a job for an organization called Boston Scientific. I'd heard of them I think, but I had to Google. I was like they're a medical device company, interesting.
And I saw that posting and they were posting for a business analyst, a business analyst in Minnesota. And I thought to myself, huh? I read through the job description. And I was like, this sounds like something I could do, but it's in Minnesota. So let me reach out to this person who posted the job and ask if they would accept someone in the role in Boston, because they posted it in the Boston group and it had Boston in the name I was thinking I'll reach out and not just write it off.
So I reached out directly to this person and they said, "Oh yeah, of course we'll accept someone in Boston." So they said, "Send me your details." So I sent them my cover letter and resume and they said, "Okay, great. I'll forward it on to the hiring manager." Whatever. 100%, or maybe 99%, but 99.9% sure that I would not have gotten past the automatic screen for this job, because I had never worked in an IT department. I have this weird musical nonprofit background. I've never worked at a for-profit company before and I didn't have a business analyst certification or anything like that. But I was able to make a connection with this person through the community and bypass that blind screen that filters so many folks out when you're trying to make a bit of a pivot in your career.

J Steadman: Yeah. I need to interject a little bit here, I suddenly became it again and you'll have to pardon me. So, sometimes we get into conversations about language here, language is really important to me. And dear listener, you may have listened to a previous conversation with Renee and I as we talked about shifting our thinking from the word problem to the word challenge. I love that you brought up your background and this is something that I talk a lot about as well, because I've got what I call an untraditional background, an unusual background. I come from acting and music and what have you. And when you described your background, you said you have this weird background.
I just want to highlight that because the conversations that I'm having with people out there, I am finding that there aren't... This is my experience. Your mileage may vary listener. Your mileage may vary as well. But this idea of the weird background, especially as we look at Salesforce jobs. I think as long as you do some of the things that you've done here in your story, Susannah, I feel like weird isn't applicable anymore. You have a background and that background is varied and multifaceted and I would argue rich. But weird, to me, and I don't mean to call you out, but weird I think this is an opportunity for us to... Weird? No. Interesting.
And the reason that I say that is what you've embodied in your approach to this conversation as you talked about it is you weren't assuming no. And this is a concept that I think is really important if you're a Salesforce admin that is out there that is trying to get your first role or if you're a junior and you're trying to step up a level or if you're a BA and you want to move into a more technical role. Really anywhere that you're at, taking the time to pause, look at what's being asked on that job description, see if there's a way that you're able to talk to that hiring manager or recruiter, and then reach out with your well thought out and well structured query. Know who the company is, know where they're based, know what they're asking of you, but then come to them and say, actually, here's what I have to bring to the table. Are you cool with that?
Asking the question, not assuming the no. Maybe having, I hesitate to say courage. But it can be scary to reach out to somebody when, as we all know when we look at Salesforce roles, the job descriptions are like, "I need a junior Salesforce admin with eight years of lightning web component development experience." It can be hard because those screeners, they can actually remove a lot of really valuable candidates. So I just needed to interject. I have all of these notes now, I can give you a whole document on your story so far. To me, this is a great background and you have been constantly curious about the technology that you're acting with, but also curious about where you go with that technology. And not assuming no has been a great ally to you. It's allowed opportunities to be opportunities, which I think is just fantastic.

Susannah St-Ger...: 100%. And it's been asking for what I want, without necessarily feeling like I have to know 100% that I'm right. Knowing that you can try something like I did in my individual gift officer job. And it's okay if you try it and you realize you don't like it, because then you realize more about what you do enjoy. And I think that carries over nicely into, I promise we're going to get to my architect background in just a second, that leads me to again asking for what I think I want. And that's what I did in my new role when I arrived at Boston Scientific. It was, again, my first for-profit role in an IT department, I never worked in an IT department before.
And I sat down with my manager who happened to be wonderful, I'm very thankful for that, and I asked about my career path. We had an upfront conversation about what career paths looked like at this organization. And she told me that there are two paths. There's the managerial path where you go from BA to junior manager to manager, et cetera. And then the other path that is the more "technical" path, that goes BA, technical lead, architect, senior architect, et cetera. And I thought to myself, well, I've been waiting to work in an IT department this whole time and work with Salesforce 100%, I want to follow that technical path. And I told her that, and she was like, "Great, well, we'll find ways to get you down that path."
And I was promoted without a lot of fanfare eventually, after a year or so working there, to technical lead. And then I have a, I don't know if it's a fun story but it's a true story, about making that final leap to architect. Because I was an internal candidate, I was told we have an architectural opening and we're interviewing some folks externally and we want to interview you internally as well. And I got all ready and I did those awkward interviews with people that you know, that you work with. And I did my rounds and I got the call and I got informed that I actually didn't get the role the first time I applied to be an architect. And my ego and my first reaction was, well, I'm just going to have to go find another or organization to be an architect at. Or I'll just find another role and maybe they'll appreciate me or something like this. It was this very bruised ego initial reaction.
And I'm so happy that after I licked my wounds, I was able to take a step back and know that there was going to be another role because of the type of organization we were because of how big we were, that there was going to be another opportunity. And that I still had this wonderful support system that wanted to help me fill the gaps that I had in my background in order to be ready for when there was another role opening. And-

J Steadman: I have to pause you there please. I think you've talked on something or you've brought up a topic that I think is really important and is probably vital to this specific experience that you've brought up, which is when you joined the organization, first, you sat down and you had a really transparent conversation with your manager about what your career could progress into. You were very specific about choosing which path was most appealing to you. And then it sounds to me like you moved to achieve what you needed to achieve to get the promotions to lead you to your goal. Right?

Susannah St-Ger...: Exactly.

J Steadman: But beyond that, when you took a chance at something and your desired outcome didn't occur, you mentioned in passing that you had a group of people around you that really cared about you and your growth goals, that understood that there might be places that you could develop a little bit further to achieve those goals.
The reason I'm highlighting these things is as we're looking at roles out there, regardless of the title that we hold, if we're trying to get a job somewhere, the things that Susannah is outlining are culture. This is culture. And having a culture of people around you that cares about your goals, that asks about your goals, that tries to lift you up and send you to the place that you want to be and cares about identifying areas where you continue to develop in the positive way, that to me is an organization worth investing in.
So, as you're looking at roles out there, keep in mind that this is a part of culture. It can be a part of your or interview process as an admin trying to find a new gig, asking questions about this, what is the career progression for this role? How do you support people when they're looking to continue to grow their skills? How often do we receive feedback on the way in which we're performing and what kind of feedback is that? Can I talk to other people on the team who have received feedback? I'd love to learn their experience. These are all things that I want to highlight, because I think that they are just so valuable as you're going through your experience. And I didn't want to lose the opportunity to bring that up to our audience, Susannah.

Susannah St-Ger...: 100%. And one of my personal rules for myself now, having been in the job market for quite some time, is I won't go and pursue a role or accept a role unless I have talked to someone who works there to talk about that culture piece. Because like you said J, that's so important. Other than knowing who your manager's going to be is also an important piece. But just knowing the company culture is absolutely vital to, like you said, being set up for success. Because even if you do the best work of your life, if you're at an organization that doesn't appreciate you, or isn't going to lift you up, you're you're going to have a bit of a hard time. So 100% agree.

J Steadman: To your point, culture is not only the ads that you'll see about working at a company or the employee experience website that you could see for some larger companies. Culture can shift from team to team. And so to your point Susannah, actually having a conversation with people that are doing your role that are on or adjacent to the team that you're hoping to join and really hearing about that microculture and seeing whether or not it lives up to your expectations or your needs. I think that needs is probably the best word here. We all have a need. There's a certain kind of culture that we all crave or that we all hope to work in, that we need to thrive. And this is a great tip. I appreciate you reviewing that idea with us.

Susannah St-Ger...: Of course. And that's how I ended up becoming an architect. That was my first role as an architect. And I was, again, lucky enough to be working on a team where I had some senior folks that I could learn from. It was around the time of the first Trailhead architect boot camps that existed around TDX. So I was able to do some skilling up there and really the rest is a bit of history. I have now, what, something like 23 certifications. Worked as a customer architect and worked at an ISV as an architect as well. And now I'm here in Salesforce working as an evangelist.

J Steadman: And important to highlight this idea that you've had, to me... I'm drawing all of these parallels. I've got the thread and the board with the thumb tacks and the map, I'm drawing all-

Susannah St-Ger...: The string.

J Steadman: Yeah, all the string. That constraint that you experienced as an end user with a report. As you transition from being a Salesforce architect customer into becoming a part of the architect relations team, the ability to impact your end users presumably has increased. Now what you're doing is you're trying to identify other people who have that similar curiosity that you have toward system design, application design, and the entire landscape of how an enterprise might structure things. You want to make sure that people that are doing that job don't feel constrained like you did as the end user. At least in our limited conversation here, that's how it seems to me.

Susannah St-Ger...: Absolutely. So I want to make sure that the folks who are helping define the architectures and the structures that will allow people to make good reports, that those people have the resources and the tools and the knowledge that they need to do their job well. And that's something that I'm incredibly passionate about. And to your point, I think it does probably tie back to that that bad experience that I had. I want to make sure that no one feels like they don't have the tools that they need to do their job, especially as an architect or as an admin or as a developer.

J Steadman: Yeah. I think that this is a wonderful place for us to conclude the conversation. I think my final thought on this idea of making sure that people don't feel limited. To me, when I look at your story, I see it just... Are you familiar with the Grinch Who Stole Christmas?

Susannah St-Ger...: I am. Yes.

J Steadman: So I'm not saying you're the Grinch in any way, but at the end, the Grinch's heart is very tiny and then it grows a bunch of sizes. I feel the same way about your curiosity and your interest in freeing people from walls. It started at the size that it was at, and over the course of your career it has grown and grown. And it has brought you broader and broader vision. From a report, to an application, to the entire system, to how are we structuring the architecture for a company. So you've got this curiosity and this interest in removing barriers of entry to people that has just gotten larger and larger. You are not a Grinch, but you have growing curiosity, like the Grinch had a growing heart.

Susannah St-Ger...: I love it.

J Steadman: Cool. Well, thank you so much Susannah St-Germain, lead evangelist of architect relations here at Salesforce for joining us today. This has been a fantastic conversation and I hope to have you back again soon. I had some other are questions that I'd really love to get your perspective on.

Susannah St-Ger...: Anytime. Thank you, J.

J Steadman: If you want to learn more about all things Salesforce admin, go to admin.salesforce.com to find more resources, including all the links we mentioned in this episode, as well as a full transcript. You can stay up to date with us on social, we are @SalesforceAdmns, no I, on Twitter. I am @J__mdt and Susannah is @sunnydalelow. Stay safe, stay awesome, and stay tuned for the next episode. We'll see you in the cloud.



Direct download: On_Becoming_an_Architect_with_Susannah_St-Germain.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PDT

The Salesforce Admins Podcast is back atcha with Austin Guevara, Senior Platform Product Designer at Salesforce. He has a great conversation with J. about how he goes about testing prototypes and getting user feedback.

Join us as we talk about how Flow Builder is designed, the importance of user feedback, and the value of accessibility in design.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Austin Guevara.

The Essential Habits for Admin Success, now on Trailhead

If you haven’t already, check out The Essential Habits for Admin Success on Trailhead. Become one of the first Admins to get the new badge!

The basics of product design

Austin is a product designer working on Flow Builder, which means he spends a lot of time “trying to understand the problems related to automation that our Admins encounter. [I] think about how we can help them be more efficient, effective, and delighted when they’re doing what they do,” he says.

As a product designer, his job is to understand deeply what the user experience is like for Admins, what challenges they face, and how they can help solve those problems. That means a lot of conversations with folks like J. to understand what things feel like right now and what other Admins are saying. They also spend a lot of time talking to everyday customers, getting feedback and working through prototypes to figure out what will work best.

How you can use prototyping in your design process

 

Austin spends a lot of time working with different types of mock-ups of the product he’s designing. Sometimes they’re built in HTML to rough out what the finished product will look like, sometimes (if they’re far along in the process) it’s something with a lot more bells and whistles, sometimes it’s as simple as a sketch on a piece of paper. What matters is getting the idea in front of people in a way they can understand and talk about.

This kind of process can be useful no matter what you’re building. Figure out the simplest way to get your ideas out there—usually, it’s pencil and paper—and then put them in front of someone to see if they make sense. “The best thing about creating a cheap prototype,” Austin says, “is that you didn’t put a ton of time into it. The goal is not to be the solution, the goal is to help get more information that will get you to a better solution.”

User research with the help of SABWA

The important thing is to keep getting more information and keep iterating. “Admins are designers: they are designing solutions that end users are going to interact with one way or the other,” Austin says, “and what helps me as a product designer is realizing there’s no black and white about what is the best solution. But with more information and more craft you can create a better solution that most optimally addresses the problem you’re trying to solve.”

SABWA: Salesforce Administrating By Walking Around is a key skill to get a sense of what’s working and what’s not. The important thing is to have a learner’s mindset. Observe what’s going on so you can learn how to make things better. One technique Austin suggests is to sit down with users and have them teach you how to do something in Salesforce. Ask them to talk through what they are doing and explain why they are doing it that way. This can help you understand the thought process behind their workflows and where you can give them a helping hand.

 

Austin has a lot more great advice about how to ask productive questions that don’t lead the responder, where to learn more, and why accessibility benefits everyone, so be sure to listen to the full episode to learn more.

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Full Show Transcript

J.:
Welcome to the Salesforce Admins podcast, where we talk about product, community, and career to help you become an awesome admin. This week, we are talking with Austin Guevara, senior platform product designer at Salesforce about how Flow Builder is designed, the importance of user feedback and the value of accessibility in design. But before we jump into that, I have some exciting news.

J.:
Available now on Trailhead is a new module for the essential habits for admin success. That's right, the webinar slash Trailhead live slash presentation, you have all loved and listened to is now a learning module on Trailhead. The link is in the show notes. So after this episode, head on over to the Trailhead and be one of the first admins to get the new essential habits Trailhead badge. Now let's get Austin on the podcast.

J.:
Hello, you wonderful admins out there. I have a great guest here. Hi Austin. I am joined by Austin Guevara today, who is a senior product designer for the Salesforce platform. Austin, you and I have known each other for quite some. We've worked together pretty consistently during that time, but that is not true for everyone that's listening out there. Could you introduce yourself to the awesome admins who are listening today? Tell them a little bit about who you are, what you do.

Austin Guevara:
Yes. I would love to. Hi admins. It's great to be here. Thank you so much for having me, J.. Like you said, my name is Austin and I am a senior product designer. And the team that I work with is platform automation, which means that I am lucky enough to be a designer for Flow Builder.

Austin Guevara:
That is the majority of what spend most of my time thinking about and trying to understand the problems related to automation that our admins encounter, and think about how do we help them be more efficient, more effective, and just be more delighted when they're doing what they do.

J.:
Yeah. Could you just describe to our listeners the way in which you and I work together?

Austin Guevara:
Yes, absolutely. So just a little bit. If you're not familiar with, I guess, my title is product designer, you might also hear UX designer or user experienced designer used somewhat interchangeably. And what that means is that I work with our wonderful product managers and our engineers and our content experience folks. And my job is to understand deeply what is the experience, the current experience like for our customers.

Austin Guevara:
What are some of the challenges that they are facing and then think holistically about how do we go about solving that problem. That stems everywhere from what is the set of concepts that we present in Salesforce. But it also comes down to, all right, what do the actual, what do the things look like, what does it feel like to build a Flow for example.

Austin Guevara:
And so if we're working on a new feature, and let's say that that feature is related to how you manage your record triggered Flows, for example. And this is a real example because J. and I talked about this recently. In order to understand those problems in order to really empathize with what challenges people are encountering, I need to talk to people.

Austin Guevara:
And since I can't actually live someone else's experience, the only way to do that is to ask them questions and understand their experiences. So J., and I have talked many times about... Love to come to you as someone who is both experienced as an admin yourself, but also who knows and talks to a lot of other admins to understand what are the real world challenges.

J.:
Yeah. To take a step back and kind of make this really explicitly clear to anyone who's listening. If we take a look at Flow Builder for example, Flow Builder didn't always look and feel the way that it looks and feels today. When I started as an admin, blushingly I have to confess it's been about 10 years now, since I started using the Salesforce platform, we had what was called, I believe Cloud Flow Designer.

J.:
And even that was not the first iteration of Flow Builder. To my understanding this predates me. I believe that there was actually an application that you had to download and then you'd create a Flow and you'd upload that Flow. And then you could use the Flow on the platform.

J.:
I could be getting that wrong by the way, because again, that was not my personal experience. But if we take a look at the difference between the Cloud Flow Designer and Flow Builder, which we're using today, the experience is pretty significantly different. The look of it. I like to call the older version Cloud Flow Designer, it felt very much like a program from the eighties, right?

Austin Guevara:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

J.:
It was just, it was incredibly functional, lots of power behind it, but it didn't look as though it was created with the experience of the user first and foremost in mind. Whereas, when we look at the current Flow Builder, it is much clearer today than it once was how to use it, what you can do with it, how you should interact with it.

J.:
And so anytime that you're trying to modify that look and that feel, you go out and you talk to a number of people. And it just so happens, I'm one of the people internally at Salesforce that you speak with. But who are some other folks that you interact with on a regular basis or that your team would interact with on a regular basis to collect some more feedback, to understand how users interact.

J.:
Right? Because that difference between the two versions of Flow Builder that we're talking about, that's just an example, but it's a really significant difference. And obviously, you didn't make those choices or the team didn't make those choices in a vacuum. So who do you approach? How do you approach them? How often do you approach them? What's your relationship with the audience that is using the stuff that you make?

Austin Guevara:
Yeah. So there's a number of different ways, depending on what point in time that we are going to try to talk to the real people using the thing and understand, all right, how do they go about using it. Of course, as wonderful it is to be able to talk to someone like you J., who is just a Slack message away and who we can spin up a video call at any point in time and just chat about something.

Austin Guevara:
We also really want to talk to customers, to people who are using Flow for their job every day. So there's a few different ways that we might do that. We have a whole Salesforce user research recruiting team. So oftentimes they will actually go through the recruiting process for us. We'll tell them, these are the types of people that we want to talk to because of the, whatever the feature is that we're working on.

Austin Guevara:
And we will get users to be able to talk to that way. Sometimes we send out surveys to ask for feedback. Other times we will send out a self moderated test where you will click through a prototype and be able to like speak aloud about what you're seeing. And in other times we might reach out directly to members in the MVP community who are very, very eager and excited to share their opinions.

J.:
Yeah, absolutely. You brought up prototype, which is something I'm really fond. The interaction that we have are great no matter how we're interacting.

Austin Guevara:
Yeah.

J.:
I think you're a very fun person, but I think the thing I enjoy most is when I actually have a prototype to click through, is we can have a conversation about it as we're doing.

J.:
So can you talk a little bit about your prototype process and as you're working with folks on the product side, and you're developing a prototype, and that starts to become an interactive thing that people can touch and provide feedback on, what tools are you using and how rapidly are you designing?

J.:
How quickly do changes go from an idea, a conversation to product, into a prototype that you get feedback on and then ultimately get deployed. So kind of a few questions bundled together there, but go ahead and take a crack at them.

Austin Guevara:
All right. Yes. I mean, I love talking about prototyping because it's one of my favorite things that I do. And that's one of the reasons that I'm a designer is I love creating something that is sort of like a simulation of what the final thing is going to be, and then figuring out, using that as a way to have a clearer conversation with somebody or to just get a sense for yourself of how this thing is going to work.

Austin Guevara:
And the thing about prototypes, as a word prototype, I think you can describe so many different things. For me, and maybe the thing that comes to mind for you as well is something that looks a lot like the real thing, and maybe even as interactive and that you can click on and get a feel for how it actually works. But prototyping is really something that you use throughout the entire design process.

Austin Guevara:
And it doesn't just have to be something that you would create in really what we call, high fidelity. In other words, looks really close to the final thing. So we do, we spend a lot of time in Figma, which is a design tool, which you can actually start using for free if you wanted to, if you wanted to play around with it. Or maybe even code and HTML, and that will create a really high fidelity prototype.

Austin Guevara:
But typically, if we're doing that level of high fidelity prototype, it means we're pretty far along in the process. And before we've created that prototype, we have many others that are of much quote, "Lower fidelity" that we've created first.

Austin Guevara:
So that could be everything from literally sketching with pencil on a paper, boxes and text that just kind of describes what we're thinking about to maybe some wire frames. Literally think about like pulling up MS Paint or PowerPoint and drawing some boxes. But what I love about that is it's as much as there's this specific skillset of using these, of using HTML or higher fidelity tools, anybody can draw a picture on a paper as a way to help communicate with other people.

J.:
If I can interject here for just a second.

Austin Guevara:
Yes.

J.:
What I like about what I'm hearing, and what I think is particularly relevant or valuable for the admin community, is you a professional designer who makes UX changes and UI changes to a tool that is used by millions of customers around the world, you're talking about getting a piece of paper and just sketching some stuff down or throwing some stuff together in PowerPoint or in MS Paint.

J.:
The reason that I like that you're talking about this is I'm a huge fan of the design phase of any kind of Salesforce administration work. Right? Which means oftentimes when I'm advising folks in the Pathfinder program where I mentor or elsewhere, I'm often talking about closing the computer for a little while.

Austin Guevara:
Yeah.

J.:
And just going over to a whiteboard or opening up a journal or whatever you have in front of you, and really starting to kind of sketch out your ideas, whether that is the data model of the thing that you're trying to build, whether it's the screens that you'd like on a Flow, whether it's the lightning page that you would like to have for a record and spend some time with that design first. And in fact, the thing that I'm kind of like a broken record with this. I'll tell people to go and sketch your first idea, show it to someone, take all the feedback that they give you and then your first sketch away.

Austin Guevara:
Yeah.

J.:
Start a second sketch fresh from that feedback. Right?

Austin Guevara:
Yes.

J.:
And it sounds to my ears, Austin, that you're talking about something very similar here, right? Where we don't need something that is what you're calling high fidelity, or for admins listening out there, I would just say, you don't need something that's incredibly fancy or complicated to convey the initial ideas of your design. And does that sound right to you?

Austin Guevara:
Yes. What I love about what you said there is that you have-. I guess, I think of sketching on paper as a really cheap way to get your ideas down. And I love what you said about take it to somebody, show it to them, get feedback and throw that away. Because the best thing about creating a cheap prototype or a cheap just design, quick way to get your ideas out is that you didn't put a ton of time into it. And ultimately, the goal of it is not to be the solution in itself. The goal is to help you get more information that is going to help you get to a better solution. So yeah, that's a great way of describing it.

J.:
Awesome. So we've got this idea of coming to a better solution, iterating, moving from a low fidelity to a high fidelity solution, prototyping. At what point in your process do you or your team members say, "Okay, I'm going to let this fly and let's deploy."

Austin Guevara:
Yeah. I mean, we try to work with the different roles that we collaborate with in a more agile fashion. Which means we try to avoid the typical waterfall approach of, "All right, I'm the designer. I'm going to come up with what the design looks like, and then I'm going to send it off to the engineers to go build." Ideally, we are involving engineers throughout that entire process.

Austin Guevara:
Not only to be able to kind of check what we are trying to do technic, but also because they're great ideators and they have a lot of wonderful ideas about how we can address problems. So we work closely with them. And I guess, to answer your question, sometimes it's hard to say exactly when things are quote, "Done" because you kind of continue to work on them. And so we know that at Salesforce, we have our three releases a year.

Austin Guevara:
And so over each of those release periods, you can kind of think about each four month period as like a cycle. And so near the very beginning of that cycle is when we are more open-endedly trying to think about what is the specific problem that we're trying to solve. And that's when we're going through with our sketches and trying to get our ideas out there and try to refine to a more specific, this is the feature that we are trying to address.

Austin Guevara:
So then over the course of, let's say a six weeks, we're refining down to a more specific, "Here's the designs. Here's what this feature could look like." Maybe a prototype that shows like this is what the interaction will look like. And then at that point, we are working with engineers then to break that down to figure out, all right, how much effort is this going to take.

Austin Guevara:
How much is it going to take to develop this? And then we're working with them side by side as they are working on that, to help answer questions as they come up. So that kind of answered your question, that kind of didn't. There's no real end. Because the other thing is even after the release goes out, there's very few things or very few features that I've worked on where it goes out and then we're done with it. It's typically something that we're continuously evolving.

J.:
Let me ask-. Actually I want to interject on that because.

Austin Guevara:
Yes.

J.:
It's a question that I've had that I've been interested in across all of our products. And I don't think I've ever actually really asked the question. You said that most things aren't ever finished, you're always tweaking and enhancing them, has there ever been anything that you've been working on where it's just been, "Okay, yes, that's done. Let's step away. And let's focus all of our efforts on something else."

Austin Guevara:
It does happen sometimes. I would say at some point we've all experienced this. There's some products where we say, "Hey, there's something new that we believe is going to be the better way to address this problem area going forward." And so at that point, oftentimes that means, hey, this thing that we've iterated on this product we've iterated on for multiple years, we're not going to invest new effort in because we're putting all that new innovation into another area.

J.:
Yeah. So what I'm hearing is outside of things that end up kind of being sunset or going end of life, or we announce another product that may be the future of that same kind of functionality, we really keep tweaking until we decide, all right, cool. There's a better way to do this. Let's put our efforts over there.

Austin Guevara:
Yeah. I think what's interesting about design and something that I've come to terms with the more time I've spent in my career is that there is no such thing as a perfect solution. And so I'm sure that, I mean, I would say the admins are designers, right? They are designing solutions that your end user are going to interact with one way or the other.

Austin Guevara:
And I, as a product designer, often try to... Am stuck in this mindset of, "Oh, I've got to find the right answer, the right way to do this." And what helps me sometimes is realizing there's no yes, there's no black and white about this is the best solution. But with more information and more craft, you can create a better solution that most optimally addresses the problem that you're trying to solve. So that, I think if you think about things that you keep iterating on, that's why, because we keep finding ways to improve things.

J.:
I am really glad that you mentioned that because one of the things that we really try and focus on with our admins, there are a lot of skills that we talk about is the Salesforce admins. There's a bucket of skills that we think are really, really important. There are core responsibilities that you have as a Salesforce admin that correlate to those skills.

J.:
But one of the things that we really emphasize in the audience relations team or the admin evangelism team is continuously going back to your users, riding side by side with them, or visiting them where they're working and kind of understand their day to day, observing them, seeing how they interact with the applications that you've configured or developed on the platform. And then basically take notes, right? A lot of the recommendations that we make, as we're talking with admins that are out there in the awesome admin community, we talk about you don't have to ask any leading questions.

J.:
If you just sit next to somebody and you witness how they're interacting with the thing that you've put together, if you've got a learner's mindset very often, you'll start to observe things that need to be tweaked. And need might be the wrong word, maybe it's things that could be tweaked, right? Are we able to eliminate a click? Are we able to highlight or bring into focus, something on the screen that has been previously overlooked?

J.:
And it sounds to me like we're kind of saying the same thing there. And I really enjoy that because I agree with you. Not only do we have a new certification for user experience, design, but I think that we've been doing this as admins for a very long time from page layouts to record pages to the way that we even assemble a report or a list view, the way that these things look and feel. Even if they're within a certain visual vocabulary, they still have impact.

J.:
And the choices that we make are never really finished. And I've found in my experience as an admin, that it was very similar, right? I'd have a release schedule, maybe once a month, we would have things that we were collecting from the business that needed to be implemented. But we'd also be thinking about those things that they needed a little bit more attention and Finesse because people are using them every day and they're observing things that cause them friction or cause them displeasure.

Austin Guevara:
Yes. There's plenty of that. And I guess, I have a few thoughts or words of advice. I love the, going to where people are using the thing and observing them using it is one of the best ways you could possibly learn about how to make things better.

Austin Guevara:
And something else you might try that is similar to that is you can sit down with them and say, "Pretend like you are teaching me how to do this."

J.:
Yeah.

Austin Guevara:
"And just speak out loud through what are you doing and why are you doing it? And I might jump in with questions to ask why you're doing something." That way you cannot only see how they're doing it, but also understand their thought process behind it.

J.:
Well, would you agree as you're doing that, that it's important to just focus your questions around the purpose of the action that the user is taking without trying to lead them to a solution that you think is the most appropriate?

Austin Guevara:
Absolutely. But that's definitely one of the biggest skills related to, I guess, doing user research. That definitely takes some practice. But as much as possible, not structuring leading questions. For example, instead of asking, "Why was that difficult for you?"

Austin Guevara:
Right? You might ask something like, "How would you describe your experience with that?"

J.:
Right.

Austin Guevara:
So thinking about the neutral language that doesn't lead them to, oh, something that is definitely negative or something that is positive, but just, "How did you experience that?"

J.:
Yeah. So on that note, right? What I'm hearing is if I ask somebody, "How difficult did you find that?" What's being emphasized, there is difficulty. And in fact, the way that the question is structured, there is no room to give an alternate answer within the confines of the question, right?

J.:
I have to tell you how difficult something was. I can tell you that it wasn't very difficult, but you're still getting a difficulty answer as opposed to, "How would you describe that experience?"

Austin Guevara:
Right.

J.:
I am now free to use difficult, I can use easy. I could use other words that the designer may not have thought of at.

Austin Guevara:
That is absolutely true. And something else, anytime I'm opening up a conversation, either an interview or contextual sort of study where I'm watching somebody as they do something, I always try to cue them with, "Tell me you're very honest and open feedback? There's no hard feelings here. I'm not testing you. Whatever you have to say is valuable."

Austin Guevara:
Because I think people tend to sometimes be overly nice. They might soften their actual experience because we work with a lot of, which is great, but sometimes what you really need is the honesty. And to be able to take that. And not take it personally, but just see it as an opportunity to make the thing that you are working on even better is will take you really far.

J.:
I'd say also in my experience as I'm going through that same encouraging folks to be as honest about their experience as possible, I have found in my own personal life, sometimes I also have to remind myself to take what folks are saying with some grace, right?

Austin Guevara:
Yeah.

J.:
Because as you are working with users, even a passing comment, "Ah, I hate this page," right?

Austin Guevara:
Yeah.

J.:
Or, "Whenever I try and save this, it sucks." Right?

Austin Guevara:
Yeah.

J.:
That kind of language, if you're not prepared for it, or if you don't remind yourself in advance, if you're a person like I am, I am a sensitive flower and my feelings will get hurt unless I remind myself, hey, they aren't directing this toward your value as a designer or your value as an admin.

J.:
Instead, this is just honestly how they feel about the thing that's in front of them. And I find myself having to armor up a little bit it sometimes and saying, "It's going to be cool. Even if it's bad, it's going to be cool." Because that's going to give you the feedback you need to make it better for everyone.

Austin Guevara:
Yeah, absolutely. I think it's really just sort of a mental shift. If you can position your minds that what I am getting here is data. I am collecting data. It's not a personal attack on my abilities or the thing that created.

J.:
I love that. So we're nearing the end here. I would like to know from you, Austin.

Austin Guevara:
Yes.

J.:
What do you think are admins out there, what nugget should they take away from you, a designer about their day to day work? Is there any last word of an advice, skills that they should pay attention to, resources that you enjoy? It's a broad bucket. You can fill it the way that you want. What's the wisdom that you pass on here at the end of our conversation?

Austin Guevara:
There are so many things I could say, but there are a few things that come to mind. If you are interested in learning more about the topic of human centered design, which really can be implied in so many areas. There's a book called, The Design of Everyday Things, which is a great resource that is sort of the Bible on understanding that whole way of thinking about, of creating things. There is also the Salesforce UX designers certification. And of course, a company with that is an incredible trail mix that has a ton of resources that of course are very Salesforce specific. So I think-.

J.:
Which we will link to in the blog post associated with this podcast.

Austin Guevara:
Go click it now and explore it. Yeah. And also, I was going to share, there is a talk from I believe is a Trailhead DX from a couple years ago from one of my colleagues that is basically applying the design thinking process to creating a homepage.

J.:
Oh.

Austin Guevara:
And so it's not for Flow specifically, even though I like to, I'm kind of biased towards thinking about things related to Flow, but it's a great way of, hey, how might I take some of these concepts and apply it to something that I am working on in the near future.

J.:
Awesome. I've got one last question that I want to ask you.

Austin Guevara:
Yes.

J.:
Because I want to end it just on a tone of controversy.

Austin Guevara:
Oh good.

J.:
Do you prefer Freeform or Autolayout?

Austin Guevara:
Oh, this is a great question. I'm so glad that you asked. If I'm going to pick something, I would have to pick Autolayout. And let me explain.

J.:
Wow.

Austin Guevara:
Let me explain a little bit. So Autolayout is something that the Flow team has worked on not only as what it might appear initially, which is to take my Flow, organize it nicely, not make me think about how I'm connecting things, which is a great advantage, but it also is pretty powerful for keyboard and screen users, because now they have a procedural way to navigate through an entire Flow and understand how things are ordered and create things in a logical way.

Austin Guevara:
That's one of the reasons I love Autolayout so much. And also because there's a lot of more love that we are giving to Autolayout. We said that things are always iterating. There's more to be added to what Autolayout has to offer. So yeah, I'm very excited about some of that stuff that we are working on, but I hope you can see why Autolayout's so great.

J.:
My preference for a long time has been Freeform, but in talking with you today, I've learned that the accessibility features of Autolayout are really cool. And I've seen, I follow a lot of designers on Twitter, I've seen a lot of conversations around accessibility, especially recently.

Austin Guevara:
Yeah.

J.:
And I'm newer to that space, so I can't put my finger exactly on why. It may have been a conversation that's been happening for a very long time. But I love the fact that it's something that you are taking into account as the designer. I've actually worked at organizations in the past where some of the Salesforce developers that I've worked with have been vision impaired. And they were using screen readers all of the time to write their or code and interact with things, which is pretty fantastic.

Austin Guevara:
Yeah. What I love is that it's, when you focus on creating an experience that is inclusive and that is a great experience for everyone, for example, for those who are reliant on a screen reader to do most of their work, you end up creating something that's great for every one and even better than it would've been otherwise. So I love taking that lens anytime I'm approaching a design problem.

J.:
That is the end. That's the note we're going to end on. Austin Guevara, senior product designer for Flow Builder. Thank you so much for joining us today. Admins, this has been a blast. And beware Austin, just as you come calling for me sometime, I may call you again and ask you to join me for a conversation here on the Admins podcast.

Austin Guevara:
Thanks, J..

J.:
If you want to learn more about all things Salesforce admin, go to admin.salesforce.com to find more resources, including all the links we mentioned in this episode, as well as a full transcript. You can say up to date with us on social. We are at Salesforce admins no I on Twitter. J. is at J. underscore, underscore MDT. Austin is at Austin Guevara. Stay safe, stay awesome, and stay tuned for the next episode. We'll see you in the cloud.

 



Direct download: On_Product_Design_with_Austin_Guevara.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PDT

January Monthly Retro with J. Steadman and Ella Marks

This week on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, it’s time for your monthly retro with J. Steadman and Ella Marks from the Admin team. In this episode, we’ll cover all the great Salesforce product, community, and careers content from January, and find out why it’s Ella’s favorite month.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation between J. and Ella Marks.

The Essential Habits for Admin Success, now on Trailhead

New on Trailhead: The Essential Habits for Admin Success. That's right, the webinar / trailhead live / presentation you have all loved and listened to is now a learning module on Trailhead. Head on over and become one of the first Admins to get the new Essential Habits Trailhead Badge!

Podcast highlights from January

The podcast that stood out this month to Ella was J.’s episode with Stephan Chandler-Garcia on working with Developers and the power of being brave enough to say “I don’t know.” For J., Mike’s episode with Lissa Smith about what folks are looking for when they’re hiring a new Admin was particularly helpful.

Blog highlights from January

Ella wanted to highlight Mike’s post about our new Trailhead Badge: Essential Habits for Salesforce Admins. This post has the whole story of what’s new and why we’re so excited about it. The Admin Evangelist team put a lot of work into this content and we don’t want you to miss out! Ella also brought up Claudia Robinson’s roundup of low-code tools that can help you this year. And of course, Jennifer Lee’s release notes are always a highlight for the community, especially now that she’s on the team.

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Full Show Transcript

J.:                                                   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 Ella about where we are in the multiverse, seeing the new year with fresh eyes, and our favorite January content. But before we jump into that, I have some exciting news. Available now on Trailhead is a new module for the Essential Habits for Admin Success. That's right, the webinar slash Trailhead live slash presentation you have all loved and listened to is now a learning module on Trailhead. The link is in the show notes, so after this episode, head on over to Trailhead and be one of the first admins to get the new essential habits Trailhead badge. Now let's get Ella on the pod.

J.:                                                   Hello awesome admins across the entire multiverse. I am talking to you here from the Berenstain Bears timeline. And I am joined by Ella for our January retrospective on the content that we have produced for you. We're really excited to talk about some of the things that we think were particularly beneficial, or useful, or exciting. Ella, could you please introduce yourself to our wonderful listeners?

Ella Marks:                                            I would love to. Hi everyone. I'm Ella Marks. I am a marketing manager on the admin relations team. You may have heard me on this podcast before or seen me on Release Readiness Live, or as a co-presenter with J. on our New essential Habits at Trailhead badge. So super happy to be here and chat a little bit about January, which is my favorite month of the year.

J.:                                                   Oh, goodness. So this is interesting, first, hi, I'm J.. If you don't know me already, now you do know me, and we can ... Well, I guess my title is lead admin evangelist. I am on a team with Ella, and we are here to talk about great content. But I want to go back to this idea of a favorite month. I don't know if I ... Favorite month. Why is January your favorite month?

Ella Marks:                                            I really like the wintertime. I don't know, this could be an unpopular opinion. But I really like winter, I love snow, I love skiing, I love being outside in the winter, so that contributes. But I like what January stands for, like new beginnings, new year, the start of something new. I didn't always feel that way, but I think recently I have just kind of come around to this idea of feeling a lot of joy about new opportunities, and that's kind of what January represents to me. New year's resolutions aren't something that I really relate to, but the idea of being open to new things and new experiences in a new year is something that I get really excited about, and I've been thinking a lot about, especially this month.

J.:                                                   I am super glad that I asked that question because the answer, I thought you were going to be like, "I like snow." But your answer was so robust, and I think valuable, good that we got that answer. On that note of trying new things and being open to new opportunities or new information as it may arise, and kind of looking at the world maybe with a fresher set of eyes, or our learner's mindset, as we talk a lot in the admin community as one of our really important skills, I think it's a great time for us to look at some of this content that we've got and kind of share with our community why we have highlighted it. So Ella, I'm going to put you on the spot. I think we each have two or three pieces of content that we think were particularly compelling. Why don't you start us off and talk about the first piece of content that you really enjoyed over the month of January?

Ella Marks:                                            Yeah. I'd love to. I think the first piece of content that I really enjoyed from this past month, just going on the learner's mindset track, was the podcast that you did with Stefan, who's a developer evangelist. And you really had this conversation about being a developer and how you can navigate that world where a lot of different roles really overlap. And what I really enjoyed about this podcast was there's a section when you're talking about the importance of learning, and also the importance of saying, "I don't know," and how powerful that question can be. I think it's something that I try to be ... I try to say those words as much as I can, but I think it's so powerful to really have that desire to learn and extend your knowledge, but also be willing to say, "I don't know," when you don't know something because it's so valuable to, I don't know, have that self awareness and maintain trust with the people that you're speaking to.

Ella Marks:                                            And you all really go into that in this, and that was one of the moments that really, really stuck out to me. And even in all of our podcasts on our website, you can take a look at the transcript. And it's something that I've kept going back to over the past couple of days, just to kind of remind myself the importance of saying, "I don't know. Let me go find someone to talk to, find someone to ask," and use that as an opportunity to learn and pick up new things, or new skills even.

J.:                                                   Well, I am super appreciative that was something that you enjoyed. My conversation with Stefan was really awesome. I think for those of you that are listening, it's important to know that the way that I kind of approach the conversations with guests on the podcast, there is a general ... There's a little bit of preparation in terms of a broad topic that we may want to cover, but I really try and stay away from preparing a guest with any kind of questions or particular, specific bullet points that we want to discuss, especially because I think that the nuggets that Ella has just talked about, they start to arise the less that I plan things. Sometimes I can over plan, just like I asked you what your favorite month was, Ella, and you were like, "January, and by the way, here's this wisdom." I find that many people have that kind of same approach if you put a microphone in front of them and you ask them a question about something they care about.

J.:                                                   So I'm very happy that worked for you, and hopefully it'll work for some of our other listeners out there as well. I want to piggyback on the idea of a good pod to listen to. On January 6th, we had a really great pod come out about hiring an admin with Lissa Smith. Mike was the host on that pod. And I think it is really important to take a look at how admins are hired, what hiring managers are looking for, or how they identify talent, what they really care about, what they think is less important, and having a frank conversation with a person who's hired a team of Salesforce admins in the past, and how she handled the interview process, I think that's particularly relevant.

J.:                                                   And I feel as though in the 10 years that I've been on the Salesforce platform doing work, I feel like that's always been true. It's always really relevant to hear how people are being hired, what is valuable for them. And that's because we're always evolving. We're always changing. We have this platform that keeps getting larger. There are always new features being added to it. There are more and more folks that are getting jobs, and so keeping our fingers on the pulse of who's being hired. Why are they being hired? And what are hiring managers looking for? I think that conversation remains really relevant to admins, whether they're just entering the space or if they've been in the space like I have, for a decade. So do check that out, you can find that on the website. We'll also put a link with the blog post that goes along with the pod. But again, that's hiring an admin with Lissa Smith. So we've each got one item that we have contributed here. Ella, what is item number two?

Ella Marks:                                            Okay, item number two, and this is a tough one because there's been so much great content in January. But the second thing I'd probably highlight from this past month is a pretty recent one, so January 19th, we published, or Mike I should say, published a blog, Essential Habits for Salesforce Admins, is now a Trailhead badge. And that is a blog, an announcement, a video, a module, a trail mix, there is a lot going on here. And I picked this one because if you dive into this post, you'll read about how Essential Habits for Salesforce Admins is something that has been around in the Salesforce community for 11 years. It's a middle schooler. And just this year, we have refreshed that content and it now lives on Trailhead, which is something that we are so, so excited about.

Ella Marks:                                            And it's not just a module. We have a whole trail mix of items that you can complete, including resources to really learn more about the habits that you can use to grow your admin career, and really understand how to structure your week best for your role as an awesome admin. So there's a really great video too, that Mike recorded all about the personal success habits. So personal success is really the foundation for a lot of the things that you're going to do in your role as an admin. And I love that we are able to include that angle. And I think it's a great read for a blog post, and definitely would encourage folks to get out there and complete that badge, complete that trail mix, watch the video. And there's even a fun quest component if you complete the trail mix, so definitely encourage everyone to go check that out.

J.:                                                   I have to confess that this is also my second pick for the month. And it may be because you and I worked a whole heck of a lot together on this. Mike worked a whole heck of a lot together with us on this. And of course, a huge group of people on the Trailhead team as well, making the transition from kind of that Trailhead live format into our Trailhead format. It was a big change, and we really did try and go from the ground up and look at the content and see where it was relevant, where maybe it was a little bit less relevant. And I think there were two things particularly that I enjoy about this current iteration of Essential Habits as it exists on Trailhead now. I think first, we've taken a slightly different approach to the resources that are listed on each of the modules, which I really enjoy.

J.:                                                   So normally when I go to Trailhead, I'll see a list of resources at the end of the module that I'm completing or the badge that I'm completing. I'll start to click into it. And I'll kind of repeat that process as I'm trying to explore and understand more. But in these modules, we've actually called out specifically what you would expect to get out of each resource. Right? So here's a resource, and click this resource if you are interested in learning more about a particular product, for example, or a particular feature. I think that context really provides a lot of value for admins who are trying to determine whether or not it's worth it to go into a resource. And I'm a big fan of only using the resources that you need. Right?

J.:                                                   When I pick up a book, I very rarely need to read the entire book. I need to pick up the pieces of the book that are relevant to me, and I like having the option to pick and to choose. I think the second piece of the Essential Habits as it exists on Trailhead now that I was really fond of, and am really fond of, is how we focus on structuring time. We talk tons here in the evangelism team about how you can use products, how you can come up with solutions. But we don't often talk about: How do you run that in your life? And it can be particularly overwhelming for admins who are either just entering the space, or are overwhelmed with the number of requests that they get from the business.

J.:                                                   So taking some time to kind of focus on how we calendar, and how we structure a week, and how there's a flow to a week, I think is really powerful and can unlock a lot of productivity. Even if folks are adapting it and modifying it to their own end, I think looking at an example of how a week can be structured as an admin can provide a lot of value to kind of enhance your productivity and decrease the amount of churn or wheels spinning that can often happen when we're trying to manage many request, we have many other duties that we have to deal with. So Ella and I obviously have a reason for enjoying that piece of content.

Ella Marks:                                            We're not biased at all.

J.:                                                   We are definitely biased, but I think it's great for new admins to better understand how the habits work. And I think it's great for long time admins to just revisit it and see if there's any value in how a week is structured. And frankly, I think that it's valuable for developers as well, to kind of take a look at how admins may structure a week, and how they can better interact with their admin counterparts. So great, we have tied on our second piece of content, the new Essential Habits Trailhead badge. What is your third piece of content, if you have a third, Ella?

Ella Marks:                                            The third piece of content that stood out for me from this past month was the blog post from January 3rd, Nine Low Code Tools to Help You Grow in 2022. And that was written by one of our amazing product marketing managers on the automation and low code team. And she really covers some of the top highlights that we've seen with these low code automation tools in the last year. And what I love about this is there are so many things in every Salesforce release. We know that there's the release notes. We have our Learn More campaign, where with highlight some of those highlights from each release. But I loved seeing kind of a summary on this particular topic of what's new from this year, kind of a little bit of a refresh, and then getting excited for some of the new things that we'll be seeing in the next year.

Ella Marks:                                            And she gave some examples around Salesforce apps and workflows in Slack, automation, artificial intelligence, app development. And I think it's really exciting to see those sneak peeks. And I love kind of refreshing and setting the context of what happened last year, to see where that innovation takes us through this next year.

J.:                                                   I love that. I think I have kind of a synergistic, to use a banned word from the '80s in business, I think I have a synergistic choice for my number three. So everyone in the community is probably familiar with Jenwlee's wonderful release notes highlights. They've been a staple in the community for a long time. And as you know, Jen has joined our team. She's my fabulous teammate, and I really love her Top Spring '22 Release Features. It's great that we've been able to kind of continue that conversation that she's been having with the community on our official channels. So if you're looking for one of the best sources to see what you should be excited about in spring '22, do check out Jen's Top Spring '22 Release Features.

J.:                                                   I don't want to go into any of the details there. She does a great job of outlining what you should be paying attention to and why, so do check that blog post out. It dropped on January 18th, and I think you'll find that there's a whole lot to be excited about. So that concludes six pieces of content that all of you can hop out and start to read, watch, listen to, whatever you prefer based on the media type you're consuming. But I wanted to ask one question, Ella, particularly as you saw Essential Habits drop, and I know that you're really dialed into the reaction from the community. Is there anything that you're seeing on social that is top of mind for admins, or that you're particularly compelled by in seeing admins say or do? Social is obviously our primary way of interacting with folks in the community right now in lieu of in person or physical events. But I was just curious if you saw any ideas, or questions that were trending in January that you thought were interesting or compelling.

Ella Marks:                                            Yeah. That's a great question. I'll have to think if there are any specific posts that come to mind. But as far as a topic that I feel like I've been seeing in the last month or so, I think that importance of learning, we've talked about learning a lot in this 15, 20 minute podcast episode, but I think part of the reason for that is we know how important it is. I think I've seen a bunch of folks either sharing new resources, whether it's a badge, a blog post, something that's exciting or interesting to them, and really creating that space for others to learn as well, so kind of continuing.

Ella Marks:                                            And this is something our community has done for such a long time, but just I love going on social or in the trailblazer community and seeing folks really share their knowledge with others and create spaces for conversations where there's a lot of learning. And so that's probably the thing that I've been the most dialed into. As someone who's constantly trying to improve my Salesforce skills, my marketing skills, those conversations about learning really stand out to me.

J.:                                                   It does really seem like there are a large number of folks who take the first couple of weeks of January to sit down and say to themselves, "What does this year look like for me as a technology professional and as a Salesforce admin? And what are the things that I want to focus on to continue to enhance those skills, and to continue to develop relationships in the community?" I'm seeing a lot of those same conversations that you're calling out, Ella. I'm seeing people decide whether or not they're comfortable going to in person experiences, and maybe talking about booking their travel, and kind of highlighting sessions that they're particularly excited about. And I'm also seeing people kind of publicly making the statement that they will get certification X, or they want to get number of badges Y, and it's really exciting to see those kind of public conversations.

J.:                                                   I know for myself, when I publicly claim a goal, I find myself in a place where I tend to ... I don't want to disappoint the people that I've announced it to, so I hold myself a little bit more accountable than I might otherwise. That may or may not be the truth for you, dear listener. But check out social and look at how other people are trying to kind of structure their year and what they're trying to bring into their lives in a positive way. And where you can, uplift and support, smash that like button, retweet those things that look so cool. Yeah, I think that probably is a good retro of January. Do you feel good about where we're sitting here, Ella?

Ella Marks:                                            I feel great. We retro'd the heck out of that retro.

J.:                                                   Yeah. The only thing that we're missing is some classic rock or an Atari video game.

Ella Marks:                                            Ooh, I like that.

J.:                                                   That would be very retro.

Ella Marks:                                            Could be new enhancement for the next year.

J.:                                                   Well, thank you very much, Ella, for joining us. And hey, admins, get cracking on those resources. We'll see you soon. Thank you so much for joining us. If you want to learn more about all things Salesforce admin, go to admin.salesforce.com to find more resources, including all the links we mentioned in this episode, as well as a full transcript. You can stay up to date with us on social. We are at Salesforce Admns, no I, on Twitter. J. is at J.__MDT. And Ella is at Marks_Ella. Stay safe. Stay awesome. And stay tuned for the next episode. We'll see you in the cloud.

Direct download: January_Monthly_Retro_with_J._and_Ella.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PDT

This episode of the Salesforce Admins Podcast features Mari Greenberg, Principal Delivery and Content Lead, Analytics, and Kevin Corcoran, Senior Applications Instructor, both at Salesforce. They’re here to get us up to speed on the new Admin 201 class at Trailhead Academy.

Join us as we talk about Salesforce roles as a spectrum, being a T-shaped person, and how working at a gym can make you an excellent Salesforce professional.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Mari Greenberg and Kevin Corcoran.

The Essential Habits for Admin Success, now on Trailhead

Before we get started, you should know that a new module is now available on Trailhead: The Essential Habits for Admin Success. That's right, the webinar/trailhead live/ presentation you have all loved and listened to is now a learning module on Trailhead. Head on over and become one of the first Admins to get the new Essential Habits Trailhead Badge!

A new Admin 201 for a new year

Trailhead Academy is the next level of Trailhead and the Trailblazer program. They’ve taken all the resources out there and sequenced them into courses to help you organize your learning. You get real-time feedback and guidance from instructors and can connect with peers to learn in a group setting. 

Admin 201 has recently gotten a refresh. It’s still a five-day class, but there are new scenarios and storylines and, most importantly, new topics. It features a much more in-depth focus on Flow and change management, and migrating metadata from a sandbox to production.

Taking it one certification at a time.

All of this wasn’t possible without a lot of help. We worked closely with the Certification team to make sure that going through Admin 201 will give you a big boost towards those goals. We also got feedback from community members and MVPs to find out what they’re looking for when they’re hiring a new Admin. “We kept in mind what a brand new Admin has to do in the first six months of their job,” Kevin says.

When it comes to getting started, it’s a good idea to have in mind what you’re looking to get out of the experience. One of the most important things they do is show you what resources are out there to help you get the extra help you need. “Be patient with yourself,” Mari advises, “there is so much to know in Salesforce and there’s no way anyone can know it all.”

About Trailhead Academy

Trailhead Academy is empowering businesses to develop expertise across their organization with expert-led learning and credentials that build and validate Salesforce skills.

We know learning new skills can be a challenge, and some people need more support than others. We also know companies need to skill up their employees fast and help invest in growing their teams' careers. That's where Trailhead Academy's expert-led services come in. With Trailhead Academy you can accelerate learning across your organization with access to Salesforce experts.

How can Trailhead Academy support my business?

From expert-led classes and credentials to custom enablement solutions and accelerated certification programs, Trailhead Academy has the resources your business needs to be successful with Salesforce. With Trailhead Academy, you can:

No matter your industry or the size of your business, you’ll find that learning directly from Salesforce experts is one of the best ways to gain insights, learn best practices, and get set up for success with Salesforce. 

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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. And we are just kicking off 2022 on the right foot, because this week we're talking with Mari Greenberg and Kevin Corcoran about the new Admin 201 Class. That's right. There is a new Trailhead Academy Admin 201 Class. I mean, it's so cool because Trailhead Academy is empowering businesses to develop expertise across their organization with expert-led learning and credentials that build and validate your Salesforce skills. That's what they do. I have been through the Trailhead Academy courses. I love them. I highly recommend them. And today we're going to talk with two instructors about what they love about the course, about what's new about the course. I ask them to define credentials and how admin should talk about credentials. So, that's in the interview. It's just really fun. Mari and Kevin are just, man, they're awesome.
Before we get into that, I have some exciting news. So available now on Trailhead is a new module for the Essential Habits for Admin Success. That's right. The webinar/Trailhead Live/world tour presentations that you've seen me give many times, that you've seen many people on the Salesforce Admin team give, everything that you've loved and listened to and have sat and diligently taken notes is now on Trailhead. These are amazing modules with videos from the admin team with really cool quiz questions, scenarios. We worked on these a lot over the winter and it is such a treat to be able to share these with you.
The link to these new modules is in the show notes. So after this episode, where you get all excited hearing about Trailhead Academy and learning, head on over to Trailhead, be one of the first admins to get the new Essential Habits Trailhead badge. And now just sit down and enjoy this wonderful conversation about the new Salesforce Admin classes and we'll get Mari and Kevin on the podcast.
So Mari and Kevin, welcome to the podcast.

Mari Greenberg: Thank you. Thanks for having us.

Kevin Corcoran: Thank you, Mike.

Mike Gerholdt: This is exciting. So I love talking about everything that we do around training for our entire ecosystem admins, developers, architects. I've gone through some of the classes. And I know when I saw we were redoing some of the classes, it was a perfect time to have both of you on to talk a little bit about the cool things that we're doing to train our community. But I think before we get started, everybody would love to know a little bit more about both of you. So Mari, let's start with you. What do you do at Salesforce and what are your credentials and what do you love about what you do?

Mari Greenberg: Sure. Well, thanks again for having us, Mike. My name is Mari Greenberg. I am one of our Salesforce instructors and have been with Salesforce for almost three and a half years. And I came on as an Admin Instructor and I am certified in admin, advanced admin and couple others, Platform App Builder. My other area of expertise is Tableau CRM. So formally Einstein Analytics. That is my whole wheelhouse as well. And I've absolutely loved being a Salesforce instructor. There's something about the opportunity to really impart your knowledge and your perspective on really all things Salesforce and your own experience and really work with and connect with all new people in the Salesforce ecosystem and new people to you, whether they've been in the ecosystem for years or they're just starting their career. That's what I really love about the admin piece too, is you are truly helping someone on their journey and really get their feet wet and get comfortable in all the Salesforce fundamentals to launch their career. That's really what I love about what we do and what I love about this course and how great we've made it.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. I have to believe that you have a dream job where you get to see somebody's light bulb turn on every five minutes of the day and every day. Kevin, that's a tough act to follow, but we're going to do our best here.

Kevin Corcoran: Yeah, that is a tough act, actually. Hi, I appreciate you having me on, Mike. My name's Kevin Corcoran. I am also with our Trailhead Academy team as a Principal Instructor and in the capacity of AMER Regional Instructor Program Lead. So I have been on platform [inaudible] since 2003 and with our team for the last six years. And far as my certifications are concerned, I hold the Advanced Admin Sales Cloud Consultant Platform App Builder with us. And I also teach service cloud consultant and experienced cloud consultant courses. So kind of the admin background.
As far as just being excited, I'd say enthusiastic may not be strong enough of a word to describe how much I enjoy being on this platform. I started off a number of years ago and as a literally client of Salesforce. And I am truly one of those accidental admins that you have every once in a while here on the podcast. I started off as a client, moved to consulting from consulting and as a partner and eventually now for the last five, six years as a Salesforce employee.

Mike Gerholdt: Wow. Okay. So I think we've got some pretty good experts on. Since we kind of dove right in, learned about you, why don't we level set for everyone? I'm old school. I remember Salesforce University. But why don't you tell us a little bit about what is Trailhead Academy? If I'm a new admin developer, do I pay attention to this? How do I sign up? What's going on?

Kevin Corcoran: Mike, thanks for asking that question. As Trailhead Academy goes, it is the evolution from, your right, Salesforce Academy and an evolution that came from the advent of Trailhead and our Trailblazer program. So with Trailhead Academy, we really take a lot of that information that's out there on Trailhead and we put it together in particular orders to have come up with some amazing courses, ranging from fundamentals, introducing people to admin and admin work from the ground up, which is the course we're here to talk about, all the way through the gamut of developer courses.

Mari Greenberg: The value that someone gets out of taking a course from our lovely instructors is just not only getting the instructors real time feedback and guidance and kind of answering those whys behind what you may be configuring or have questions about concepts, but also just connecting with your peers and whether it be virtual, in person, it's having that whole group setting that really can uncover a lot of great conversations and discussions.

Mike Gerholdt: I will plus 100 that because I know in all of the courses that I've been in, and I was lucky enough to be taught by Wendy Braid, the conversations that you have peer to peer when you're learning are super insightful and eye opening, because I remember being in a course in Dallas that Wendy was teaching and there was another admin in there asking a question. They worked for a company that basically owned the phone book. And the question was like, "How do I import the phone book?" And I remember thinking to myself like, holy cow, you guys have a lot of data.
And just the magnitude of what they were dealing with versus what I was dealing with, I don't know how I would've been exposed to that early on in my career and kind of had that thought line to be like, wow, there's people that totally manage a ton of stuff in Salesforce and I'm kind of over here just trying to make business plans. The juxtaposition was great, but also great to build my awareness. So I think the one question I have is, I perhaps probably went through the previous Admin 201 course, what is new or what are we introducing? What do we change in the new class?

Mari Greenberg: It was time. It was time for a refresh, for a rewrite, for a facelift, whatever you want to call it. And this new configured and customized Salesforce course is still a five-day class, but we have really freshened it up, new scenarios and storylines, but more importantly, we have covered so many more new topics. So think about just how quickly and how much Salesforce evolves over even just the last six months to a year, but taking that into account over many years. This project has really been our top priority over the last about a year.
So we are very proud of what we are about to release and we include some brand new topics, really want to call it things like Flow and looking at automation of the future. We spend a lot more time, really dedicate almost a day just to going with the flow. And we also spend a lot more time on change management. So working with some of our declarative tools to migrate new build, which include things like some custom objects that we haven't had before, incorporated before and into this course, and migrating them from a sandbox to production. So those are as far as some key concepts, some of the newly introduced coursework that we now feature in this class.

Mike Gerholdt: Wow.

Kevin Corcoran: Because, Mike, what I want to call out on this is not just Mari's great work. So we'll plug there. I would also like to call out the teamwork that's been put in over that last year, year and a half of this course. So it's not just coming from Trailhead Academy on its own. It's the certification team with tighter alignment to certification and attaining that for our users was part of the goal. And the march and literally the hard work of the [CDEB] team getting the right people involved. We had MVPs like yourself on and working with us. Community members who were doing the work every day, came in from our community and offered their recommendations of what were they looking for when they're hiring a new admin.
The thing I'd like to emphasize for these courses and this one in particular, we still kept in mind, what is it I've got to do if I'm a brand new admin in the first six months of my job? So not only were we able to attain that, I believe in a much better balance with new topics added and fresh topics and storyline as Mari mentioned, but I truly believe we've hit the next level when it comes to incorporating the different aspects of what is a Salesforce administrator as part of this course.

Mike Gerholdt: So it's fair to say that this course is more than just product training.

Kevin Corcoran: Absolutely. So when you talk about this course, and we certainly do and approach it in the beginning of the course itself, it's those different aspects that you as an administrator take on in a daily situation. In this course, we address what it's like for you to have to be the analyst. We address what it is for you to be the troubleshooter and/or the investigator or the builder. And is it something that we should know that exists out of the box? Or we've even taken this course to, it's time to build from scratch. So that's a neat opportunity, I think that this class brings to the table.

Mike Gerholdt: As you have individuals join the course, do you have a suggestion for any prework that they should do prior to jumping in, or if, say, I'm interested in becoming an admin, I can join this course day one and feel like I'm not missing out on anything?

Mari Greenberg: We always love prework. I want to say we do have suggestions in terms of kind of prepping yourself for five days of lots of information. I say that, though this class is tailored to a green user of Salesforce and specifically the admin functionality we discuss. So yes, while we love for you to be somewhat have dabbled, maybe in a little bit of Trailhead, kind of have that introduction to Salesforce itself, I think would be a great starting point, having some familiarity with what is a CRM and what does Salesforce do to really kind of have your bearings as you start this class.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. Kevin, I'll go to you first on this one. Does it help either of you to know when an individual joins your class, what the company objective with Salesforce is?

Kevin Corcoran: That's actually one of the first things I would think every single instructor, we do our introductions to the class and have the class introduce themselves, always wants to know, Mike. It's one of the number one things I've always asked all of the persons that are in the course, what is it you're trying to get out of this? Not only does it level set expectation of what's going to be in this class and make sure we're all on the same page, but it also is driving those really important parts of what are you trying to get out and accomplish on behalf of your company? Are we trying to increase adoption? So here are ways as we go through the course to discuss those aspects. Or are we trying to drive revenue? And here are some of those really easy point and click aspects that maybe I didn't know about.
Or even one of your own, as we had mentioned before, participants in the course could bring up and say, "Well, what we do is,", and it gives the ideas and that's one thing I think that's amazing about our community. But definitely, level setting and making sure that you, when you attend a class, anyone that is that attends the course is keeping that in mind. Why am I here and what I'm hoping to get out of this?

Mike Gerholdt: Do you often get a lot of questions around the credential and if this course is geared towards just passing the credential?

Kevin Corcoran: I'll start with this one. And Mari, I think I'm going to leave half of it for you too, because we included this as part of our class, didn't we?

Mari Greenberg: Yep. Yep.

Kevin Corcoran: So as part of the class and actually your number one resource, I think is to understand what resources are out there to prepare, to take that certification. So it has always been a part of the conversation of did you know that there are different tools and resources like Trailhead, like Salesforce Developer sites, so developer.force.com, the AppExchange. It's always important to know what your resources are, but in this course we specifically call out and I've aligned and we will continue to do so to the actual certification requirements.
So we address, well, what percentage of my questions are coming from this section, for instance, our security and Salesforce Record Access Module. And we really spend the appropriate, I believe, amount of time getting to know those topics in each of those categories. Now, is it possible to hit every category in a 40-hour work week in a classroom? Probably not. So while we hit a majority of them, that's where Trailhead comes in, Mike. It's huge and it's where, when you're exiting class, and you don't even have to take a class, you can go to Trailhead now and look for the Trailhead and this is the Salesforce Administrator exam prep. And it's a fantastic set that you can pull out of trails and to help you enhance, even if you've taken the class, your preparedness for walking in on a certification exam.

Mari Greenberg: I plus one. I agree with everything Kevin just said. And to be honest, hats off to Kevin, he did so much work as we have evolved this course and rewritten it. He ensured that there's tons of alignment. We are very well aligned with the admin exam. So he has done some incredible work with that.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. I feel like that's important. I mean, to project a little bit, I had been an admin for like two years before I even got my company to let me take the... There was an Admin 201 an Admin 301 course. After the 201 is when I finally attempted my credentials. So I had a little bit of runway there, but I know on the community, that's the biggest question.
I will ask because I would love for you to help articulate this to our new admin community, and again, this may be me projecting, I feel like a lot of our Salesforce administrators are going through Trailhead, taking courses like this, to prove themselves, to prove that they've got the skills, that they've got the knowledge, that they are ready for a promotion or ready to take on this responsibility. And I say that because that's what I did. I also passed and got my credential and I, to this day will never forget what it felt like to walk into, I reported to the president of the company, their office and tell them that I just passed and I was Salesforce certified. And hearing them say, "What does that mean?"
I bring that up because that was 12, 13, 14 years ago. Oh my god, it's 14 years ago, 14 years ago and I still remember it. But I feel like there are probably individuals in companies that still have that question, that an admin or somebody applying for a job gets certified, gets their credential and they don't know what it means. So I would love to know world's longest question, how you would tell an admin to explain that to their organization or to put that on, I believe the pedestal it deserves?

Mari Greenberg: That's a great question. I'll take a stab at it first, but-

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, please.

Mari Greenberg: I would say you're armed with a set of skills. You have a certain skillset that truly is, I think invaluable in the realm of Salesforce. And I think even in the last couple of years, we have seen just how crucial and critical Salesforce has become as it's really business critical, right? It is a critical piece of business operations and admins hold those skills to really go in and support your organization, whether it's things as maybe we think it's a little tedious, but managing users or resetting passwords all the way to automating and how we can get rid of those repetitive tasks and really improve efficiencies.
So I think it's really understanding just how much value add, how much of an asset you can be with this set of skills. And also, I've always told new admins just to kind of go on your experience with working towards your certification and gain that certification. It is a big deal and it should be a big deal, but the same time, I always remind my students be patient with yourself. If it doesn't come the first time, that is okay. It's not the end of the world, but also, there are so much to learn in Salesforce. Kevin and I don't know it all, we know quite a bit, but it's constantly changing and evolving for the best and developing, but staying up to date and having that knowledge in your back pocket is always going to serve you well. But also, like I said, you are the one to be patient with yourself as far as moving forward and learning these skills and tasks and it takes practice.

Kevin Corcoran: Well, Mari, I think one of the amazing things that you pointed out for all of us is there's no way anybody can know it all, right? But Mike, your original question in this and it's actually directly to that point is when you walk in with a certification completed, not only has it shown that you are persistent, it shows that you are ready and hungry for the next level. I think it's very poignant that Mari pulled that out for us. And it's absolutely true. It's I have prepared myself by literally going through trails, going through courses, going through materials. And I think, Mike, like you, I was an administrator for two ways, five, six years before I ever went after a cert. It wasn't that it was necessary in the group that I worked with when I first started back in the day. And it was great to have, but it was just not something that I walked in.
And I actually, when taking the test was, and very poignantly so, surprised at what I didn't know. I was like, holy smokes. These are what we call fundamentals. And this is something that really kind of broadened my vision of what I could be, where I could go with it. So as you're walking in and you're saying, "I got that certification" to a boss or a new employer that you're trying to work with, it shows that you're not just persistent and that you're hardworking, but you've taken your career and I think you've taken your trailblazer spirit to that next level. And that's kind of the person that I would be looking for when it comes to hiring as a hiring manager.

Mari Greenberg: Yeah. It's a very good point. I didn't really think of that part of it. Sometimes people get so wrapped up in the knowledge part of it, right? And it's also the dedication.

Kevin Corcoran: Absolutely. So knowledge though, and sending that fundamental and having that as something that's a check in the box is so rewarding. It's kind of, and as you probably know, it seems like the chicken and the egg when it comes to getting jobs out there. Do I get the job and try and go after the certification after, or do I have to have the certification before I get the job? And in order to get the certification, I need to get hands on in order to do it. And that's where I truly believe by having those fundamentals down and having the beauty and the benefit with [inaudible], I wish I had it when I was around, when I first started, of Trailhead and trails out there, or the Trailhead Live sessions, or even so much so as the blogs.
I have been lucky enough to know that they've been out there for a long time. And there's a blog that actually addresses kind of this conversation from our Senior Director of Salesforce Credentials, Mac McConnachie, and Mac had just put out a fantastic 5 Powerful Certification Benefits in his blog that you and I can step to at any moment in time and take a look at, to have that conversation with your boss, whether it's getting a raise and/or how this certification is going to help us get or attain that, and/or just getting that job in the first place.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. I just pulled that blog up. That's really great. I'll make sure to link to that in the show notes. As wrap things up, I would love to know, selfishly, you mentioned that automation was one of the driving factors to get the new class updated in the old class. That was one of my favorite parts. I loved workflows, maybe the simplicity of the screen. But is there a part of the class that you're most excited about? I will also add to that, is there a part of the class that it seems the people that attend are most excited about? And Kevin, I'll start with you.

Kevin Corcoran: Okay. Well, actually the whole structure of the class excites me, Mike. It's enthusiastic. I can't say enough about the work that the teams have done and we put into this course. But I have to say, it seems to me that the feedback in particular of most of our participants that have gone through this and our alphas and our betas and certainly as it's starting to roll out now with our instructor community, the instructors themselves are excited about this course. And I think the number one is, thank God we have the Flow back in there for our basic admin. This is the tool of the future. This is where we need to really, if we haven't already been there and done that, need to start taking a look at our worlds and getting on the bus with Flow.

Mike Gerholdt: Got it. And Mari, same question for you. Any part that you're super excited about or a part that the attendees seem to really gravitate towards?

Mari Greenberg: Sure. I totally agree with Kevin. I think Flow is a huge, huge improvement and a big excitement coming out of this new version of the course. And I also really like, Kevin had talked about how we really did a great job of expanding on really all the different hats that an admin wears. They're not simply a builder or configuring in their org, but they're an investigator, a troubleshooter, an analyst. And I actually love that we have started to work in sections on change management and really spending more time on sandboxes and migrating changes from a sandbox to production and what that really entails. Because when we think about an admin, we're not getting keys to production the second we start on the job, but a lot of the time, we're working in a sandbox. So I think really the fact that we've spent a lot more time on just application lifecycle management and what it looks like with building changes out and testing them and what that whole process should feel like, kind of all the way up through migrating to production. I love that we have now included that in our course.

Mike Gerholdt: Neat. Yeah. I think that was always one part for me and as an evangelist, I often think of this too, like we build these really great demos and then we forget, oh, we didn't really show all the steps. Right? We just kind of built it here and then poof, everything's ready. There's a whole migration process that you should follow and best practices. Thankfully we have your course to walk people through stuff like that.

Kevin Corcoran: Well, it's exciting for us as well, Mike, to get kind of down and dirty with folks. And that's one of the benefits is understanding that as a Salesforce administrator, depending on what you're doing with your platform and what your tool is, you'll at least have a solid foundation as you walk out of a course like this. Certainly many of the topics are amazing topics that you can pick up and/or learn through Trailhead. But what order does that go in? I mean, we have well over 800, I think, different trails out there now, and modules that you could be out there working on.
And that's where I'd also say, the reinforcement, whether or not you go through some of those prior to coming into class, which Mari had mentioned earlier that it's always recommended to be a little familiar with Salesforce as you come into a course, but this is truly a course for those that aren't. I've had, not instructors so much, but as participants come in and instructors have mentioned to me that there are folks that came in never having had seen Salesforce before and really appreciated that approach of getting hands on to the point that we do. As you had just mentioned, getting into the details of saying, what should I consider first? And where do I go to do that? And instead of having it just poof, there's a magic app, having the, as we bring this full circle, that light bulb go on and say, oh my gosh, as an admin, I can do that. And from knowing nothing to going to, not accidental, but a purposeful admin, I guess is the best way of saying it is a great feeling.

Mike Gerholdt: Cool. So final question for both of you and, Mari, I'll let you kick off. What is one piece of advice you would give admins for this year 2022?

Mari Greenberg: I think I go back to probably what I mentioned earlier. I always tell my students, admins or working in analytics, just give yourselves some grace. It does not happen overnight. I know we all expect ourselves to fully digest information we've learned five minutes ago, but it takes time. It takes practice. My goal always for my students is to say, I want you to be curious. Come out of these five days or this three day class being curious and feeling encouraged to go click around. That is always my best advice without getting into anything too technical, but that is probably the tip I always give my students.

Mike Gerholdt: Cool. Kevin, same question.

Kevin Corcoran: Well, when it comes to admin class and comes to certification, Mike, I would say for this year, and I'll say it because it's going to be my goal as well is set a date. By setting a date and holding yourself accountable to it, you know that Salesforce is always growing. You know there's always more to be done and there's always the evolving aspects of it. But by setting a date and backing yourself into that and saying, I've got a goal that I'm going to attain that kind of certification and/or it doesn't have to be a certification. I have a goal and I'm going to attain on that date or by that date a number of trails that I would like to do or a trail mix. Even the one step towards that, I think that's a big deal. And by setting that date, you're committing yourself.
And I find that even when administrators come out of a class, they realize, oh my gosh, I didn't know what I didn't know. And now I'm going to have to push to that date. Don't push it, go after it. It's persistence, as Mari said. There's always more, but by setting a date, you're holding yourself accountable to this year and that's the direction I would go.

Mike Gerholdt: Cool. Well, Mari, Kevin, I appreciate both of you taking time out to talk with our admins and all the instructor goodness that you bring to our classes. It makes me want to go back and take them all over again. Maybe I'll set that as a date for a goal to get done this year.

Kevin Corcoran: Sounds good. I'd love to see you in there.

Mari Greenberg: Yeah. Awesome. Thanks again for having us.

Mike Gerholdt: You bet. Thank you.
That was a fun conversation. I told you it would be awesome. They're such neat people and it's got to be so inspiring to just educate new Salesforce Admins and existing Salesforce Admins and see that light bulb go on every single day. Now, if you want to learn more about all things Salesforce Admin, go to admin.salesforce.com to find more resources, including all the links that we mentioned in the episode, as well as a full transcript. You can stay up to date with us on social. We are @SalesforceAdmns, no I, on Twitter. My co-host Gillian Bruce is on Twitter. She is @gilliankbruce. And, of course, I am Mike Gerholdt on Twitter as well. So with that, stay safe, stay awesome. And stay tuned for the next episode. We'll see you in the cloud.

Direct download: New_Admin_201_Classes_with_Mari_Greenberg_and_Kevin_Corcoran.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PDT

For this week’s episode of the Salesforce Admins Podcast, J. Steadman hosts a conversation with Stephan Chandler-Garcia, Lead Developer Advocate at Salesforce. We learn how to navigate a world where roles overlap and bring more vulnerability into your collaborations.

Join us as we talk about Salesforce roles as a spectrum, being a T-shaped person, and how working at a gym can make you an excellent Salesforce professional.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Stephen Chandler-Garcia.

How working in a gym is great Salesforce training

We wanted to hear from Stephan because even though he’s now on the Developer side of things, he also has experience as an Admin. We’ve been looking at the spectrum of Admin to Developer and how the two roles can work better together, so we thought Stephan would be great to hear from. “I’m lucky to have worked my through the ranks as many different roles in the Salesforce ecosystem,” he says, “and I’m able to hold a little bit more of that perspective.”

This all goes back to Stephan’s first job. His mother was an aerobics instructor, so he and his siblings all worked at the gym in customer service at the front desk. If you think about it, it’s a bunch of customer-centric interactions: managing your contract, making appointments with trainers, buying snacks or equipment, etc. “When I got my hands on Salesforce for the first time it was all super familiar,” he says. The bottom line is that there are tons of experiences that can help someone succeed as an Admin in ways that you might not expect.

Becoming more T-shaped

One thing Stephan brings up is the concept of T-shaped people. The idea is someone with a very broad set of soft skills that help them leverage their deep expertise in a particular area. They also happen to be the ideal person to work on a cross-functional team. “Those soft skills are core to getting your message across and delivering it to your colleagues and to the business,” Stephan says.

The important thing is here is not that some people are T-shaped and some people aren’t. It’s that these soft skills are just as important to develop as our expertise, and cultivating them is key to succeed in Admin/Dev collaborations. For Stephan, one of the most valuable ways to start is to teach yourself when to say, “I don’t know.” Admin Identity with LeeAnne Rimel and J. SteadmanIt’s ultimately about bringing vulnerability into your interactions so you can figure out the best way forward together as a team.

There’s so much more in our conversation with Stephan, so be sure to listen to the full podcast to get all the details.

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Direct download: Being_a_Dev_with_Stephan_Chandler-Garcia_and_J._Steadman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PDT

Today’s Salesforce Admins Podcast we talk with Lissa Smith, Senior Manager of Business Architecture at Salesforce. We learn from her how she hired a team of Salesforce Admins, what she looks for in the interview, and important advice for anyone hiring a Salesforce Administrator.

Join us as we talk about how to stand out when you’re applying for a job, and what makes the difference between and junior and senior Admin candidate.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Lissa Smith.

Why you should listen to Lissa’s advice.

Lissa started out as a Salesforce Admin. “I’m obsessed with improving processes and solving problems,” she says, “so I’ve been happy in this space for 15 years.” One thing she did a lot of in previous positions was hiring Salesforce Admins. It’s something we know that many of our listeners are curious about, so we thought we would take the time to hear about her process.

The first step is to get a new headcount approved, and Lissa was able to hire both junior and senior-level Admins. She’s interviewed candidates with backgrounds only in Trailhead or a program like PepUp Tech, as well as more experienced folks who had been in the space for years. “Overall, what I was always looking for was someone who was motivated and excited,” she says, “regardless of if they were brand new to the ecosystem or had been doing it for a long time, I wanted someone who could identify and look for problems and then come up with ways to solve them.”

The difference between Admin roles

When looking at someone for those junior-level positions, where a candidate didn’t necessarily have any paid experience on the platform, there were a few things that Lissa looked for. She wanted to see apps that they had built, even if it was simply to track their job applications and interviews or books they had read. Anything that used the platform to show her that they understood what it was capable of doing.

Another thing that could make a less experienced candidate stand out was someone who had experience as a user on the platform. Understanding and empathizing with the customer experience as a salesperson or customer sales rep is a really important skill because you’ll know where your users are coming from.

For more senior positions, you could get by with less experience building things on the platform if you understood something key about business analysis, whether that was documentation or process analysis. For principal admins, she was looking for a thorough understanding of the platform and advanced certifications.

Tell a good story

The important thing to realize about hiring for these roles and something that comes up time and time again on this podcast is that even though Lissa was hiring Salesforce Admins, the roles she was hiring for were often not called that explicitly. They could be business analysts or system admins, but those roles need those Salesforce Admin skills.

No matter what, make sure that you’re telling a story that shows you can identify a problem and build a solution that makes everyone’s lives easier. “It’s the story that sells your skills,” Lissa says, “when you tell a good story it’s showing off your communication skills, it shows that you understand the why.”

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Direct download: Hiring_an_Admin_with_Lissa_Smith.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PDT

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