Thu, 26 January 2023
Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’ve got the Monthly Retro for January.
Join us as we review the top product, community, and careers content for January, and talk about New Year’s resolutions.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation from our Monthly Retro.
Blog highlights from January
The march toward Spring ‘23 continues, and we’ve got your back with content covering everything in the GA, Beta, and Pilot. Mike wants you to pay close attention, especially, to some enhancements for reports and dashboards. And a reminder that MFA auto-enablement is coming with this release!
Video highlights from January
Staying on the theme of Spring ‘23, we wanted to point you toward Release Readiness Live. There are so many notes with any new release, but we highlight the important information that admins need to know, all in one place.
Podcast highlights from January
Check out Mike’s episode with Janet Elliott from this month. We talked about her first public speaking gig, which happened at a little event you might have heard of called Dreamforce. Since then, she’s given many talks at many events, so we brought her on to find out how you too can get started as a Salesforce speaker. Gillian interviewed Kat Aquino, who gave us a fascinating look into what it’s like building a Salesforce org from the ground up to support a multinational event—the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games in LA.
Just for fun
Mike and Gillian reflect on their less-than-successful past New Year’s Resolutions.
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Thu, 19 January 2023
Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we talk to Janet Elliott, Manager of Solution Architecture at Kicksaw and 2022 Salesforce MVP.
Join us as we talk about finding your voice and why you should become a Salesforce speaker.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Janet Elliott.
Why you should speak at a Salesforce event
Janet got started in the ecosystem as a project manager and admin for Salesforce in 3 BT (Before Trailhead) a.k.a. 2011. Eventually, she moved into becoming a Solution Architect. Along the way, she’s been a speaker at multiple TrailblazerDX conferences, Dreamforce, and more, which is why we wanted to bring her on the pod. “Speaking about Salesforce is something I’ve really found a passion for,” Janet says.
You might wondering, with so many great speakers at Salesforce events, why anyone would want to hear from you. The truth is that there are relatively few people compared to the number of slots at all the different Salesforce events. We’re looking for new voices, and Janet has a lot to say about how you can get started as a new speaker.
Overcoming imposter syndrome
“I got a huge confidence boost from the first time I spoke,” Janet says, “because I realized that people were interested in what I had to say and I didn’t need to be an absolute expert on the topic beforehand.” It just so happens that her first time was at Salesforce, in front of hundreds of people—quite the way to rip off the band-aid.
One big piece of advice Janet has is to attend as many events as you can, something that’s a lot easier to do with more events offering virtual options. As you’re sitting in the audience, think about how you’re listening to the speakers. Do you want them to succeed or fail? Are you judging them harshly or are you rooting for them? That’s how you manage imposter syndrome (which is totally normal!): realize that the audience wants you to succeed.
Tips for talks
You don’t need to be an expert to speak about a topic. Give yourself permission to say “I don’t know the answer to that but here’s where I would start looking.” People don’t want to hear from you because they don’t know how to use Google—they’re there to hear your story and learn from your experiences.
Finally, as Shakespeare said, “the readiness is all.” You need to put time and thought into how you prepare for your talk. Janet recommends rehearsing a few times and recording yourself, so you can sit in the audience’s chair and see how you’re coming across.
Janet has a lot more great tips about picking topics, finding your story, and where to get started so be sure to listen to the full episode.
Thu, 12 January 2023
Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we talk to Lynn Simons, Senior Director of Security Awareness and Engagement, and Laura Pelkey, Senior Manager of Security Customer Engagement, both at Salesforce.
Join us as we talk about security and security awareness for admins.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Lynn Simons and Laura Pelkey.
Build good security habits
We wanted to start 2023 off right with a focus on security. Because there’s always a new threat on the horizon, Lynn reminds us that good security is really about understanding the broader concepts and building good habits. That means having a handle on ideas like the Principle of Least Privilege, and then putting them into practice as you set permissions and access in your org.
When it comes to getting started with security, Lynn has three main tips:
Lynn and Laura have some specific tips for each of these, but the big idea is that security is really a state of mind. Understanding the broader concept of limiting access will help with the little things, like defaulting to the most restrictive data access when you’re building permissions, or making sure you periodically deactivate unused accounts.
Engage with other teams in your organization
Laura recommends that you look for ways to actively engage with security and IT beyond the Salesforce platform. Not only will it make it easier to get help when you need it down the road, but it also helps you understand how the pieces of the security puzzle fit together in your organization.
“Salesforce user credentials are probably one of the more targeted things that attackers might be after,” Laura says, so looking at threats outside of Salesforce, like phishing, is crucial to the security of your org. Educate your users and help them understand these threats and why they’re so important. Interface with other departments to get the information you need—for example, so you know someone’s leaving your organization and you need to remove their Salesforce access.
Planning for the worst-case scenario
Despite all your planning, things can go wrong and you need to decide ahead of time what you’ll do in the event of a breach. “Every company that has a good security posture has instant response plans already in place, and remediation plans already in place for many different scenarios,” Laura says.
Talk through what you should do in any likely scenario with stakeholders and your IT team. For example, if one of your user’s credentials get stolen, who should you tell first? Being proactive about security will only reflect well on you—don’t worry about coming across as a Chicken Little. “If one of our Salesforce Admins came to us with a breach remediation plan,” Laura says, “I would be so excited.”
Mike : Welcome to Salesforce Admins podcast where we talk about product, community, and career to help you become an awesome admin. And hey, we're kicking off 2023 by talking about security and security awareness for admins. We want you to be security minded this year as you always are. And to do this, we're bringing back a couple of my favorite guests. Everybody's my favorite guest, but Lynn Simons, who is Senior Director of Security Awareness and Engagement at Salesforce. And Laura Pelkey, I bet you have ran into Laura and Lynn, Laura Pelkey, who is Senior Manager, Security Customer Engagement.
Laura Pelkey: Hey Mike.
Lynn Simons: Hi Mike. So good to be on the podcast again.
Mike : It's been a while. We've had each of you on individually because we know that security is top of mind for admins, which is why we're starting off 2023 with a security minded episode. So Lynn, I'm going to start with you. What's it mean as an admin to be security minded?
Lynn Simons: Love that question. It's really about how you are thinking over time as you're doing your other work as an administrator. And I think it's really smart to think about the broader principles because the thing is with security, it's always changing and the risks are always new. So really understanding key security principles like least privilege and using that as your guide, as you set permissions and access is really going to be a great start to being security minded. Also knowing what resources are out there for you as a Salesforce admin on the admin's website through other Salesforce resources that then by talking to fellow admins, that's another great way to find resources.
Mike : Laura, it's been a while and a few people have been out a couple days ago celebrating the new year, had too much bubbly and forgot what the principle of least privilege is. Can you help me understand that?
Laura Pelkey: Well, I don't know how anyone could forget about the principle of least privilege-
Mike : You don't know how strong the champagne was on New Year's Eve.
Laura Pelkey: ... I certainly think about it all the time. That's a good point. Yes. So the principle of least privilege, that is one of the fundamental tenants of cybersecurity. And really what it is making sure that your users don't have access to anything that they don't absolutely need access to. So it's really about restricting permissions and ability to act within your Salesforce org in your implementation to just what's absolutely necessary. And that helps to reduce risk across the organization.
Mike : I think of Dwight in the office letting me know that I'm security level three, but that's out of 300.
Laura Pelkey: Yeah, exactly.
Mike : Got you.
Laura Pelkey: And Beets Battlestar Galactica and Bears.
Mike : Beets. Beets Battlestar Galactica. Lynn, you mentioned reviewing security related changes with every release. What are some of the things that admins should look for in terms of changes in a release?
Lynn Simons: That's a super important thing to do. I would really look for things that have to do with permissions and access first. Looking for words that have to do with how profiles are set around allow lists and block lists. Jump in Laura if you can think of anything. But really those profile and permission related things are the lowest hanging fruit, I think in releases.
Laura Pelkey: And I know there've been some updates around guest user access and configuring that. And it's also something that is important for admins to pay attention to, that particular release update.
Mike : So we can obviously spend a whole lot of time talking about things they should be doing in the app, but we're thinking ahead, we're out there, we're maybe back in the office walking around seeing our users. What are some of the things that admins can pay attention to in terms of security habits outside of Salesforce that they could help bring a best practice for their users? And Laura, if you want to kick us off, you're usually out talking at user groups.
Laura Pelkey: I love this question. So this is something, actually, Lynn and I talk about this a lot. Lynn actually runs our Security Awareness Program at Salesforce, and her and our team have to partner really closely with our IT team on something called phishing tests. And Lynn, obviously you can talk about this in more detail, but that's actually something that's really an interesting way for admins to create inroads with their IT teams or their IT leadership and partner outside of the whole world of Salesforce, but really in a way that uplifts the security of their company or their organization as a whole. Lynn, I don't know if you have any thoughts on how an admin might go about partnering with an IT director or someone on the IT team to do phishing tests.
Lynn Simons: Sure. One of the things that security teams are always thinking about is what is the threat landscape look like? And they'll even do things called threat models to design how particular systems can be infiltrated by an actor. And it's really welcomed by a security team to be finding out from people in the company what kind of risks they're seeing. So as a person who runs a security awareness team, if I heard from our Salesforce administrator, of course we use Salesforce too, and I heard that they were thinking of some behaviors or risks that could be creating some type of potential attack, then I would really want to keep, I'd be all ears. So reaching out to that team and I think you can reach out to a security awareness professional or somebody who does user management and say, hey, the people I'm working with as a Salesforce administrator are using Salesforce.
Laura Pelkey: And if you think about it, Salesforce user credentials are probably one of the more often targeted things that attackers might be after. And so you're not only helping to bolster the security of all of the employees at your company by educating around this passively, using phishing tests, but you're also bolstering the security of your Salesforce implementation by educating your user base on this. So it's a win-win really for everyone.
Mike : Yeah, I could see that. And I think I've seen a few come through that, I don't know Lynn, if you've been the mastermind behind, but they've been awfully legit. They look really good.
Lynn Simons: Definitely my wonderful team is doing that. And we really work with the various departments in the company to identify what's going to be germane to our audiences so that we can understand the difficulty level that they're able to respond to. And also part of that is that reporting behavior. As a security awareness person on a podcast, I have to say that it's really not just all about clicking on these emails, it's really about what happens after that when people like Laura said, might enter their credentials. And then also that activity of seeing something weird, seeing something suspicious and reporting it to your security team. And you can be a great friend of the security team by helping your user population understand that there's a way to report suspicious activity, not just ignore it, not sweep it under the rug, but let the security team know as soon as possible.
Mike : I'd love to know when you sit down with new clients or even existing customers, what are some of the questions that I think genuinely they ask? Not knowing it could be a security risk. I think of, we all know the sharing credentials stuff is not something that people should do, but are there questions out there that people perceive as well, this isn't creating a security risk, but it actually is?
Laura Pelkey: I'll jump in if you don't mind to answer this. So just when I'm on the floor at Dreamforce or on the floor at a world tour or TDX, actually one of the most common topics that come up that people don't naturally associate with security is actually how permissions are configured. How user permissions are configured. So the whole concept of access within a Salesforce org is often not thought of as security, but really this all ties in back to that principle of least privilege that you asked about earlier, Mike. And just because someone is a registered user or is in your org is supposed to be in your org, that doesn't mean that there's no risk associated with them having access to certain objects or fields that they shouldn't have access to.
Lynn Simons: That's really interesting Laura, because it's related to the example I was going to give with customers I've talked to at Dreamforce. In particular with non-profit customers where they have a volunteer base that might have access to Salesforce, that can be a very transient group of people. And there's also this feeling of goodwill in that industry that assumes the best intent. Of course, we want to assume best intent of people in general, but in terms of protecting data, we generally think more in terms of, okay, let's start with no access and then let's build on that. And particularly with nonprofits, there's this risk because of the donor data and credit card data that's really at the heart of how nonprofits are operating.
Mike : Yeah. Removing unused, especially when an employee leaves. I think that's always something that I know as an admin I had to work diligently with my HR team to try and get on lists. And it's not me being nosy, I don't need to know who's leaving the company. I need to know so that I can ensure the day after they leave, can't still log into Salesforce.
Lynn Simons: Exactly.
Mike : So let me tangent off that. What are some departments that you commonly tell admins to go reach out and have best practice discussions with or build relationships with? I know you mentioned IT, I'm guessing HR is another one.
Lynn Simons: Absolutely. And I think it's important to understand who is the business owner and purchaser of Salesforce at your company, because there can be a scenario where IT isn't deeply involved and there are business people who own the implementation. And particularly in that case, you're going to want to know who those individuals are because the buyer may have received information that's valuable to you. So let's say it's the head of sales, they might be getting emails from Salesforce that are really, really valuable to you as administrator around changes that are upcoming around big announcements and that kind of thing. So I think being in lockstep with that team would be really critical.
Laura Pelkey: And it actually all really goes back to thinking like a security advocate. And so when you have that mindset of, okay, my priority is to really advocate for cybersecurity, not just in terms of to my user base, but to the company and to the leaders in my company, that's a great mindset to have. And the first thing you want to do when you're doing that kind of work is identifying who the stakeholders are, who cares about security. And so that can be IT. If you have a cybersecurity team that's often larger companies may have a cybersecurity team and smaller companies may not, but that's not always a given.
Lynn Simons: And just one other one that can actually be part of HR depending on the company, is your employee communications team. Because those are the individuals who you could influence in terms of company newsletters or other types of all hands where reminders around security best practices in Salesforce if you have a really broad audience of employees using the tool, I think knowing those comms people is going to give you a voice that's perhaps a more powerful and louder voice than your own at a large company.
Mike : Yeah, that makes sense. One thing I thought of, and it's because I watched way too much Weather Channel, which I forgot to get a tour of their offices when I was down in Atlanta, but it's all my to-do list. So anybody that works at the Weather Channel listens to this podcast, because I'm sure there's all of you, I want a tour. One thing they talk about, because it's storm season, we're in the Midwest, you guys are out West, you don't get anything. But in the Midwest and especially the East Coast, it's like prepare for snow and bad weather. And even in the South they're starting to get some tornadoes. One thing I think we often talk about a lot in security is how do we keep the doors locked?
Laura Pelkey: That's such a good question.
Lynn Simons: It's such a great question. And I always go back to the first step to that and actually learned it from an MVP, which is cool, which is that documentation is incredibly important when it comes to dealing with security issues. So if you have a documented plan for how to deal with those things, you're going to be setting yourself up to not panic and be able to have some of your own guide for what to do. And secondly, those relationships that we just talked about really come to the forefront. Because investing in those relationships, you can make the plans that you need. Number one, reporting. Number two, being able to communicate as we were talking about. And then Laura, if you want to take over from the orgs themselves what to do there, I'd love for your take on that.
Laura Pelkey: Well I think so, not to use the B word, but what we're really talking about is a breach remediation plan.
Mike : Thank you for telling me what the B word was.
Laura Pelkey: [inaudible].
Mike : I had no idea.
Lynn Simons: I don't even say the word.
Laura Pelkey: But it's okay. We should be prepared as admins. I say I was an admin a long time ago, but-
Mike : You're still an admin.
Laura Pelkey: Think once an admin, always an admin. We do need to be prepared in the event of a breach. And every company that has a good security posture has instant response plans already in place and remediation plans already in place for many different scenarios. And so it really depends on your implementation and your company and the resources you have at your disposal. So I don't want to give one blanket answer because it just depends on a lot of different factors. But proactively sitting down with those security stakeholders like we were talking about, this would actually be an amazing first step at connecting with these people once you've identified the stakeholders and saying, hey, I would like to create some breach remediation plans for the following scenarios.
Lynn Simons: Those incident response teams really live and die by their operating procedures. So I think by working together to create that documentation, they can actually integrate that plan into their own plan. So they know, okay, they hear from Jane admin that that means that this particular procedure kicks into play in that moment.
Mike : I think one of the key things I thought you said there, Laura was and who owns the step. I think a lot of documents are always drawn up with here's the steps and then everybody looks at themselves as to okay, who does number one?
Laura Pelkey: Yeah, that's super important. And I think Lynn can probably feel the same way, if one of our Salesforce admins came to us and said, hi, I'm proposing this breach remediation plan, here are the scenarios. I'd love for you to be an owner of this, will you agree to do this? I would be like, oh my gosh, this person is so amazingly security conscious. I would be so excited.
Lynn Simons: We'd be thrilled.
Laura Pelkey: But we're just security dorks. But still it would be really great. And if you want to just purely from a career perspective as an admin, if you want to make a name for yourself and you start doing things like that at your company or organization, people are going to start knowing who you are and thinking, wow, this person is bringing a lot to the table.
Mike : I think for our next event that you are both at, you should have fancy buttons made or stickers, people like stickers, maybe put a Twitter pull out, see what people like more because I don't know, Mike doesn't always know and have them bring you their security plan for some sort of fancy hot rod sticker or plushy that's like, I've got a security plan.
Lynn Simons: Ooh, I love that.
Mike : You could rock that badge. Because that's a badge you want people to have.
Lynn Simons: And I also-
Laura Pelkey: I know I'm getting ideas for content that while we're talking about this.
Mike : Yes, and you can write that content on admin.salesforce.com
Lynn Simons: I just also want to just mention one thing, I'm sorry Mike, is that you also, in these kind of big B scenarios, you want to avoid communication paralysis, which is what happens. So keeping your list of users really clean is important, and knowing what your primary mechanism is for reaching them during these situations is really critical. So if you're using Slack, that's can be really easy to reach people on a special channel dedicated to, I don't know what you call the channel, but emergency Salesforce things or something like that. But-
Mike : The channel you don't want to get a notification from.
Lynn Simons: I think that having a mechanism planned in advance for reaching people, because really in these kind of scenarios people just want updates. And even if the update is there is no update, I think that that can be enough.
Mike : So as we wrap a bow on our first episode of 2023, I'd love to know if you have one best practice or something you do that you think is unique to you that is a security thing that admin should be doing. And I ask that because I continue to go back to the example of how Lynn at a Salesforce office when I very, very, I was just a wee little Salesforce employee, I was only a few months old, showed me how to use Last Pass and it has forever changed my life. And I feel like I have been a Last Pass advocate to all of my friends ever since then. But it's kind of peering over the shoulder of a mechanic. You're like, oh wow, that's how you do that. Or watching a chef cut something, you're like, that's so much cooler than the way that I would love to do. Is there something from your security minds that you do that you feel could be passed on to other admins?
Laura Pelkey: Oh, I love the Last Pass example.
Lynn Simons: Yeah, that was-
Laura Pelkey: I love Last Pass also.
Lynn Simons: I was just going to say eight years later. It was the one I was going to say. So that tells you how powerful of a security tool it is. It's just incredibly critical.
Laura Pelkey: For me, just my friends, my family, I get made fun of constantly for how security minded I am. And I don't feel bad about it. I think it's great to be security minded, just the amount of information that I will share on social media, on the internet in any way. I'm very restrictive of the information that I'll put out there. Even my phone number, when you're online shopping and you have to enter your phone number. I really don't even like to do that. I like to do the 555-555-555, million fives, if I can. But just being really, really, really conscious when somebody's asking you for information. So if you get a call from your bank or if you get an email from your bank or someone pretending to be your bank asking you for any personal information or data, I'm the first person that will be like, no, I'm not going to give you that.
Mike : I like that. That's one thing that I think I've definitely picked up from you and the security team and a lot of the stuff that I've read too is if somebody calls you and how come you don't know this? You should know this, so let me just call you back because then I'm not giving that information out. But that's good to know. Because especially the phone number thing, I think we're so innocuous and Lynn, you can probably tell me what that is, but it's like when somebody tries to win over your confidence, because I feel like what Laura described was at our heart in nature, we want to be helpful, we want to help this person on the other line and just get back to our work. But that's actually a certain type of attack and I forget what it's called.
Lynn Simons: Social engineering.
Mike : Social engineering. Darn it. I'll get that question wrong on our quiz.
Lynn Simons: And I'll tell you one of the more recent ones that I think is particularly interesting and something that parents or just friends of friends or people who have parents, something to be thinking about is how much we use video and photos now in our online personas. And we even work with our own marketing and social teams at Salesforce as they use photography and videos, that whatever is in the background of your photo are all clues for some nefarious personal organization to learn more about you. I always try to remind our employees that attackers have all the time in the world and they will be very patient until they get all of the information they need in order to do that attack.
Mike : Both good tips. Leave on a positive note as a to-do item for our listeners, what would be an article or a piece of content you would suggest they read on admin.salesforce.com?
Laura Pelkey: Well, we have one of our amazing colleagues, Tammy Ron has written a blog series covering MFA and really how to prepare your end users. Lots of amazing tips. I think it's a three-part series and I know they're all up on admin.salesforce.com, so I would definitely urge people to check those out.
Mike : Cool. And of course, Trailblazer DX is just around the corner, so.
Laura Pelkey: Yes.
Mike : I'm sure we can see both of you there.
Laura Pelkey: [inaudible].
Mike : And they can show up with your security plans and get a fancy security shield.
Laura Pelkey: Where Lynn and I are hesitant to agree because we're like, are we going to get in trouble for advising our customers on cybersecurity?
Mike : I know we could just wear a button.
Laura Pelkey: No, I love that idea though.
Lynn Simons: Yeah. And I'll admit it, I still love the stickers. Still love the stickers.
Mike : People like stickers.
Laura Pelkey: Yeah.
Mike : They're good. They're always good. And plushies, we learned that on a previous podcast. People-
Lynn Simons: I like stickers more than Plushies, but that's me.
Mike : Stickers have mobility. It's hard to-
Laura Pelkey: And variety.
Mike : ... A few hundred plushies with you and not look creepy.
Lynn Simons: It's been done, I'm sure.
Mike : Sure it has.
Laura Pelkey: The day after Dreamforce, all the people on all the airplanes.
Mike : Planes.
Laura Pelkey: And with all their plushies.
Mike : [inaudible] Luggage just...
Laura Pelkey: Must be a site.
Mike : Well, it was great having both of you on and I'll be sure to include the link to the piece of content that you mentioned. So thank you both for hopping on the podcast and kicking off this year, keeping us safe and secure.
Laura Pelkey: Thank you, Mike.
Lynn Simons: Thanks so much, Mike.
Mike : So it was fun to have Lynn and Laura back on the podcast. What a great way to kick off 2023. Let's be security minded. I go back to all of the tips that they've shared with me and a lot of stuff that we've thought about too. The one takeaway that I really happen to think of as we were recording this podcast was I never really sat down and thought about what I would do if a user showed as logging in two different locations. What are the steps and how do I follow that? And who are the people I need to reach out to in my security? But that's why we do the podcast because then we're thinking about this stuff in advance, right? It's like the weather channel. We're making a plan before the storm comes so that if the storm comes, we're already set and we're prepared and we know who needs to do what.
Direct download: Kick_Off_2023_as_a_Security-Minded_Admin_with_Lynn_Simons_and_Laura_Pelkey.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PST
Thu, 5 January 2023
Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we talk to Kat Aquino, the Salesforce Admin for LA28, otherwise known as the organizing committee for the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic & Paralympic Games.
Join us as we talk about how she’s setting up LA28’s Salesforce infrastructure to power a massive, international event and what she’s learned so far.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Kat Aquino.
Work together better.
The Olympic (and Paralympic) Games are coming to LA in 2028, and Kat is the Salesforce Admin for the organizing committee, LA28. Obviously, they’re in the planning stages right now, but that’s the perfect time to build a foundation in Salesforce.
Kat spends a lot of time talking with users to figure out what tools to build, but she’s also keeping an eye on the bigger picture. “As we onboard all of these different departments which all have different processes,” she says, “we need to think about how we can work together better.” That means a thorough understanding of how things are done and, more importantly, how they could fit together.
Prioritization when you’re starting from the ground up
So Kat has this massive list of things that need to be built in Salesforce, but how does she make decisions about what to prioritize? There’s a triage element of who needs what and when, but she also factors in how much time a task will take to accomplish. If she has the chance to score a quick win she’ll take it in a heartbeat.
Rolling out new tools lets Kat show the organization how Salesforce can enable them to collaborate like never before. Dashboards have been a game-changer for Sales, for example, because everyone can see what’s going on and collaborate on new approaches. Automations are mind-blowing if you’ve been stuck with the same repetitive process for years. This helps with adoption and generates momentum for the future.
Athlete Data: custom objects or contact records?
One thing Kat has to solve for that might not be a problem in your Salesforce org is how to deal with data for athletes—it is, after all, the Olympics and Paralympics. “Athletes are quite different from the regular business contacts you’d normally associate with an account,” she says. They need more specific fields (like sport, discipline, or what year they participated), but it’s really important to control who has access to that information with tight security and access.
Kat initially built a custom object and related lists solution, which worked great for reports but not for users. She went back to the drawing board and created a new record type for the contact of an athlete. They can still use the related lists and custom objects they previously created and the user experience is much improved. It requires a lot more management of page layouts and deciding who can see what, but it’s well worth it.
There’s so much more about how Kat is weening a department off of spreadsheets and what she’s looking forward to in the future, so be sure to listen to the full episode for more. We’ll be sure to check back in with Kat as we get closer to LA28.
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Full show transcript
Welcome to the Salesforce Admins podcast, where we talk about product, community, and careers to help you be an awesome admin. I am your host today, Gillian Bruce, and we got a fun one for you. We are going to be talking with Kat Aquino, who is working as a Salesforce administrator for the LA28 Olympic and Paralympic Games. She is actually building Salesforce to help support this huge event that's happening in just a few short years, and they're starting at ground zero, so I wanted to get Kat on to talk about some of the amazing processes, unique processes, that are special to running an Olympic and Paralympic games using Salesforce, which kind of processes she's bringing in, how she's thinking about the strategy. She's going to be growing the use of Salesforce massively over the next few years, leading right up to the LA28 games, and so I think it's really fascinating to hear from her.
And we are going to check back in with her in a few years to follow along her story, but I wanted to get her on to talk about some of these unique use cases and really explore some of the ways that maybe will help you expand your ideas of how you can use Salesforce to help support your business, as well.
All right, without further ado, let's please welcome Kat to the podcast.
Kat, welcome to the podcast.
Thanks so much for having me. I'm excited to be here.
Oh, well, I am very happy to have you here. It's so fun. Now, I have had the opportunity to chat with you a little bit, but we got to share all of your goodness with everybody else who's out there listening, because Kat, you are doing something pretty special. Can you just give us a little overview of what your role is at the organization that you're at?
Yeah, so I work at LA28, and we are the organizing committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, which are coming to Los Angeles in 2028. And my role is the Salesforce admin, essentially, of our organization.
Okay, so kind of a big deal.
No pressure or anything.
I know. The Olympics are kind of a big deal, and they're coming back to LA. I think they've got, they haven't been in LA since forever, I feel like, maybe even in my lifetime. Maybe they're in LA in the eighties or something. Do you know when the last time they were there?
Yeah, I believe it was '84.
Oh, yeah. So at our organization right now, we are kind of just setting up foundations for how we can plan the games. And we are currently planning the games. We have multiple departments that support that mission. And with being in the technology department, we're tied in with working with other departments to help them succeed and give them the tools that they need to be able to do their jobs. And so right now, as the admin, I've been going through talking with different departments and understanding what their needs are and how we can better collaborate with each other. And I think I'm in a really unique position to be able to help do that through the use of Salesforce. And the different departments, they really do need to work together. Right now, there's a lot of silos. And when they collaborate, they're not really leveraging technology in the best way that they can to be able to do that.
I mean, you're at the center of a really, really big effort. So, I mean, you talked about different departments and different silos and talking to all of your stakeholders. What are some of the questions that you go in with? Because a lot of admins, maybe they're not working to support the Olympic games, but they might be coming into an organization where, again, there's a lot of different stakeholders, a lot of different departments. How do you go about engaging with them and understanding their needs and identifying how Salesforce might be able to play a role in their business processes?
Yeah, that's a really good question. I would say that one of the most important questions to ask is processes. What are they currently doing? And really understanding, not just from a broad perspective of how that ties in with the organization as a whole, but really getting down into the nitty gritty details of understanding what exactly it is that they are doing on a day to day basis, because that's where we can really take a look and examine that process and understand how we can take it apart and tinker it together and put that process into Salesforce.
Okay. So, let's talk about that, because, I mean, the LA28 organization does a lot of different things. What are some of the first things that you've been able to set up in Salesforce to help manage their processes a little bit better?
Yeah, so earlier I mentioned that I had interviewed a number of departments to really understand what they needed and what they were trying to do. I came up with a huge list. And in order to understand and prioritize what needed to be done, put together the urgency, a list of departments requests that needed a solution quicker. And then I also divided that up into figuring out which of those solutions don't require that big of a lift, so which of those solutions could be set up a little bit more easily than others. So, after doing that, the first department that we set up was our commercial sales department. And that was of simple solutions, seeing that the bread and butter of Salesforce was to help the sales teams do their jobs. And so we set up opportunities, we set up accounts, we set up contacts and allowed them to be able to track their conversations using the activity timeline. And we added the Outlook integration so that they can add their emails into the opportunities. And being able to see all of that in one space for them has really changed the game.
Yeah, I would love to hear... What was the reaction once you were able to set that up? Were the sales people happy with you and super excited to now have this all into one place, or how did that go?
I would say, yeah, there was excitement, absolutely. And they loved seeing it because I would show examples of how they can do the work that they've previously done in this new platform. And I would say that there were some challenges that came along with it as well. It was adoption, just making sure that some of the users knew how to use the system, because a lot of them never used Salesforce before. So, that was a challenge that we took on and helped them to increase their confidence and knowledge about how they can leverage this platform to sell, essentially. And I would say the other side of that is... Their leadership was super excited about the dashboard that we were able to set up for them and the reports that were available on that dashboard. It really gave them that one stop shop to be able to see what the progress was looking like on a daily basis, weekly, monthly, how are we tracking towards our goals, things like that. It helps them to just really level set with each other because they were all looking at the same data.
Well, yeah. And then it's automated. Once you put it in Salesforce, right? It just pops up right there, and nobody has to compile different spreadsheets and talk to different sales groups and understand who's done what.
Exactly. And it allowed them to work together better. Previously, their leadership and the people who were actually having the conversations and keeping tabs on what was going on, they were very much separate. But now that they have them all available on these dashboards, they're working together much more closely.
Well, that's good. Congratulations. Okay, so you set up sales and Salesforce, but I know you had a few other things on your list. So, what other things have you been able to set up in? And let's also be clear, how long have you been in this role?
It has been a little over a year now.
So, forever, such a long time. So in just a little over a year, so you set up a sales process. What other things have you been able to build out in Salesforce?
Yeah. Well, specific to the Olympics, we, of course, have to work with athletes. And one of the other projects we are working on was how do we actually set up athletes in our system, because athletes are quite different from the regular business contacts that you'd normally associate with an account. And so thinking about that was a little bit challenging. We initially landed on looking at creating a custom object to hold athlete information. And the reason for that is so that we could create as many fields as we needed to that were really specific to athletes and attributes about an athlete. And being able to control the security and access to that information was also important.
Oh, no, I bet. I mean, it's such a unique set of data to track because you've got all these different things that the athletes do with you and the community and whatnot. So, I could imagine that that took quite a high level of customization.
Yeah, there was a lot of customization. And we thought about, okay, we needed to create additional related lists/custom objects to be able to associate them with games that they had participated in and the sport that they participate in, and the discipline that they participate in. So, a lot of that was designed so that we could be able to easily report off of that information to be able to create reports and search for athletes in a more aggregated way. But we realized that the setup of that athlete record, separate from a contact and separate from an account, was not providing the greatest user experience for our athlete department. And so we've had to come back to the drawing board and kind of rework what that should look like and how we should store athlete information in the system.
Interesting. I love that you rolled out something, and then we're like, "Hmm, it's not quite right. We need to come back to the drawing board." Can you talk a little bit more about that process? Because I know, even the limited admin work that I have done, it's not always great the first time around, and so sometimes you have to come back and revisit it.
Tell me a little bit about that process and how you approach it, because it can be a little humbling, it can be a little difficult. What have you learned that might be able to help some other admins in the similar position?
Yeah, totally. I would say that this process was... It was tough. We're early in our stage of using Salesforce. So in that sense, I'm kind of lucky that we're going to establish a better foundation, but it was difficult to look at it and say, "Oh, we didn't do that the best way that we could have." And having to go back to the drawing board and re-architecting the data that currently existed was important to determine what connections can we make that don't disrupt the requirements that we initially had heard of from that department. So, pulled up a lucid chart, looked at how everything was connected there, and decided, okay, maybe we could keep all of these requirements just by using a new record type on contact records. So, we decided to try that out and create a different kind of record type for the contact of an athlete to be able to hold all of their athletes specific details and still be able to use the previous related lists, custom objects that we had created that were initially tied to the athlete and tie them into the contact object.
So, that serves the purpose of eliminating the matrioshka and clicks that the athlete department would have to go through to get to the athlete's information. It was really just opening up their account, and then opening up that contact record, rather than going to account, contact, then athlete.
Does that make sense?
Totally. Yeah. Well, and I think it kind of goes to this classic debate of custom object versus using a record type, right? I know that's something that-
It's kind of hard to figure out sometimes what the right answer is there, so I really appreciate you breaking down kind of decision points that you used to evaluate, okay, we went in with the custom object, but we learned that there were some things that weren't ideal for the end user. So, then you use the record type. I think that's always a good thing for our admins especially to remember, because record types could be really, really useful, especially if there's enough similarities there to where you can add some more customizations and plug into the existing relationships and schema that are already built in Salesforce.
Yeah, exactly. And I think early on, I was scared of record types just due to some stories that I had heard, and also the amount of care that it required, considering you're having to adjust page layouts now and making certain things visible depending on a profile, things like that. It was just a lot more management. But with the user experience, that greatly improves. And I think that in itself makes it worth it.
I love that. That's great. Okay, so you built a sales process, you built a process to manage athlete, athlete data. What else are you working on? I mean, I know you've been busy so far, so I would imagine-
... there's not that much time for you to do a whole bunch else, but what else are you working on in terms of bringing different processes into Salesforce for LA28?
Yeah, so we are also bringing on more and more departments. Right now, we have about four departments that are presently using the platform, and we're coming up on bringing on two more. And one of these new departments, this is our communications department, it is probably our biggest build yet. We've had to create a number of new custom objects to be able to support the processes and workflows that they have. And it's been really interesting to see how we can take their work and translate it into Salesforce processes. So, example is that the communications team handles all of the internal requests to participate in certain events within the local organization. Maybe there's an award ceremony or maybe there's an interview that a media outlet would like to have. All of that is managed through our communications department. And they do have a lot of spreadsheets, presently,
... how they have run their systems. And all of these spreadsheets are kind of... They have multiple tabs within them. And so it's been very interesting to see how they've worked through switching through different spreadsheets, different tabs within a spreadsheet to be able to do their work. We had to take a lot of time understanding what they were doing so that we could translate it into Salesforce. And at the end of the day, what we've been able to do is organize their sheets, so that in Salesforce, you're looking at one object. And that one object, we've created additional record types so they can adjust the kind of media engagement, per se, that they are looking at. So, different fields might show up, different values might show up, depending on a status or a stage for that particular engagement. And that is a much more organized way of viewing things than their three different Excel sheets where only a couple of tabs really related to that whole piece.
So, having that tied back to accounts, so accounts being their media outlets, and then the contacts in which there are journalists and reporters, having all of that tie back together and being able to see that bigger picture of, okay, these are the engagements that we've got going on under this particular category, these are the people that are involved in it, this is the reporter, this is our LA28 representative that's going to be in it, this is the comms team person who's going to be staffing this and supporting this project. These are the topics that are involved, we've been able to create a number of custom objects to be able to support all of their needs.
That's awesome. I mean, I can very easily envision that nasty spreadsheet with all the tabs, because I feel like we've all encountered those.
It was rough, and I think they would agree.
Well, that's awesome. I mean, that's a very complex and unique process to bring into Salesforce, so I think that's really interesting that you were able to do that. I mean, I would imagine there's probably some other processes that you may be working on in the future. What else are you working on? What is in the vision for the next steps of Salesforce with LA28?
Yeah. And right now, I think we're heavily focused on foundations and making sure that we are doing what we need to do without too much fuss and too much frill. But as we onboard all of these different departments, which all have different processes, and some processes really overlap with other departments, we start to think about how we can work together better. Maybe, is there a way that we could optimize certain processes? Can we use flows to automate certain things? And can we adjust a field so that it serves a greater purpose? Can we serve a greater purpose by adjusting a custom object? And all of that, I think, is something that has been coming out of what I'm calling as... We have a steering committee and the steering committee that we have meets on a monthly basis, and it has representatives from each department so that it provides a space for our users to have a voice and really be involved in the planning and what features that we're going to be prioritizing, what features are needed, and really help shape what our Salesforce instance is going to look like.
So, I'm really excited to continue meeting with our steering committee to be able to shape how we can create a better collaborative environment.
What I love about that, Kat, is that, I mean, knowing that basically you've got a very collaborative building environment kind of across the whole organization, because I think, I mean, you're all gearing up for this huge event in a few years, and it's a massive undertaking, and it's really unique to hear your perspective as the admin who's building all of the Salesforce infrastructure to help run this whole organization. I mean, it's really, really fascinating, and especially at this stage where everything is kind of... You are, you're laying the groundwork, you're setting up the infrastructure that is going to run this massive, massive event. It's really fascinating to hear how you think about what to set up and the steerco with all of the different departments, making sure stakeholders are involved from the get-go. This makes me really excited.
It makes me excited too.
Yeah. And I think it's a really great example too, for maybe even admins who are maybe at some more established Salesforce instances and companies and organizations. But the idea of having that fresh look and really looking at how people are getting their work done and doing those evaluations that you've done, and not being afraid to come back to the drawing table and reevaluate stuff, I think those are some really, really great learnings that you've been able to share with us, and I so appreciate that.
Yeah, of course.
I mean, what has it been... I mean, I can imagine being an admin for the LA28 games is probably... It might seem a little daunting at times, but where do you see a couple years from now, or even maybe as you head into the last year or two before the games, what's your vision for maybe what you have built out by then or what it's going to be like to be the Salesforce admin or running the Salesforce instance for such a huge undertaking?
Yeah, that's such an interesting point that you brought up about what the vision should look like, because I think earlier when I was interviewing all these different departments and understanding their functions and what they do, that started to help formulate the vision of what Salesforce could be for our organization. And I think what it really could be is this glue that brings together these different departments to be able to provide transparency across all of the different work streams that we have. Because as an organization that's developing and planning the Olympics, there's a lot of entities and organizations that we need to communicate with, and ensuring that everyone uses the platform so that they can understand, this is what I talked about with this department in this company. Another department at LA28 might see that and say, "Okay, I know that that happened. Let me readjust the way that I'm going to speak to that company about this topic." And I think the real vision for Salesforce is just being able to bring all of those departments together to better collaborate with each other.
I love that. That makes me... I'm really looking forward to, hopefully, Kat, if you'll let me, continue to talk to you over the next few years because I'm so fascinated to hear what else you build and all your different learnings and experiences. This is kind of like a startup in some senses, right? You're starting from ground zero.
Absolutely. We absolutely are. And I think one of the key that we're excited about is Salesforce is going to help us create a more holistic understanding of the different stakeholders and accounts and companies and organizations that we work with. We'll be able to open up an account and see all the different facets that involve that account, like whether or not that account has a stake in venues. Are they a manager of a venue? Do they operate a venue? Are they a concession provider for that venue? Have they been engaged with our communications team before? What have they been involved in? What are they involved in as far as our sales department? Have they been in touch with them at all in any capacity? So, it's really going to allow all of us to be able to look at what we're working with and share that information across our organization.
You are building the customer 360 for LA28. Good job, Kat.
It totally is.
Well, Kat, I really appreciate you taking the time to chat with me and share some of the things that you've already built and what you're going to look at building next. And I do also really appreciate that grander vision. because I think every Salesforce admin, no matter what organization you're in, you should have a vision of what you want Salesforce to do in the long run. And I think your very clear vision about it being the glue. I literally just wrote that down because I'm like, that is great. It's very clear and concise, and so it's helpful to have that as a direction that you're going, that vision. So, any little tips or advice do you want to leave the listeners before we wrap up today?
I would say keep things open-minded. Stay open-minded about what is possible and what's available. I know that at a certain point, when you've encountered numerous problems and understand, "Oh, I've encountered that before, this is how we do it," there might be alternative solutions that maybe work better nowadays relative to the previous ways that you've been implementing a solution. So, staying open-minded.
That's a great note to end on. Thank you so much, Kat, for spending time with us today. I look forward to seeing what else you're going to build. And get ready. Now, all Salesforce admins are going to hit you up for advice and interesting stories about working for LA28.
Happy to hear, and happy to learn from them as well.
Excellent. Thank you so much.
Thank you so much.
Well, thank you. Thank you, Kat, so much for taking the time to join us on the podcast. I hope that all of you listeners got some great insight from Kat about how you can build the infrastructure and the foundation for a very successful Salesforce implementation to run a huge, huge amounts of project or program. And hey, especially if you're an admin at a small business or a startup, there are some great learnings here and here from Kat to help you set up for success. I love how Kat said she's got a vision for Salesforce. It is clear. It is going to be the glue that brings all of these very separate departments all together. And having that vision for what you want Salesforce to be in the overall, it's just so important. At Salesforce, we talk about our V2mom all the time, which is how we set our vision and values and metrics and methods for the year.
Kat does the same thing. So, really having a clear vision for how you want Salesforce to function within your organization is so, so helpful. If you want to learn more about being an awesome admin, you can find all kinds of great content on admin.salesforce.com, blogs, videos, podcasts, all kinds of great things, even the Salesforce admin skill kit. Check it out if you haven't already. You can follow all of the awesome admin fun on Twitter using hashtag #AwesomeAdmin or @SalesforceAdmns, no I. You can find our guest today, Kat Aquino on LinkedIn. I'll put her LinkedIn link in the show notes. Please give her some love. Follow her. She's going to be building some very cool things in the next few years. And you can find my co-host, Mike Gerholdt, @mikegerholdt on Twitter, and you can find myself @gilliankbruce on Twitter. You can also find us on LinkedIn. We exist there too. We're on all the platforms. With that, I hope you had a great day or having a great day, will have a great day, and I'll catch you next time in the cloud.
Direct download: Supporting_the_LA28_Games_with_Salesforce_with_Kat_Aquino.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PST