Salesforce Admins Podcast

For this week’s episode of the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’re joined by Mark Ross, Senior Tech Writer at Salesforce. We ask Mark how he approaches documentation and how you can make a difference for your users.

Join us as we talk about what goes on behind the release notes, what’s important when you write your own documentation and the importance of learning your variables when it comes to Flow.

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

The Salesforce CCX Team

You might recognize Mark’s voice from the WizardCast. At Salesforce, however, he works on the CCX team (Community, Content, and Experience). They help with Trailhead, documentation, and more, and Mark specifically focuses on automation services: Flow, Process Builder, Workflow and Approvals and even IoT.

“I’m someone who is a very technical-minded person, but I never learned to code—not really,” Mark says, “Flow can do all these things that, ordinarily, I would need code to do and it opened up a whole new world for me.” In other words, Mark is a certified Flownatic and he wants to share that enthusiasm with everyone and teach them how to harness the power of automation.

Mark’s keys for writing good documentation

So how do you write documentation for new features? It starts with sitting down with the engineers to actually go over everything and look at any text that might be a part of the UI. Next, Mark and his team turn to the release notes. “Believe it or not, release notes are the most-viewed documentation of Salesforce,” he says. They want to not just communicate what’s happened, but why it’s useful.

When Mark is prepping Flow Release Notes, he starts by going through the headers to see what will affect his current customers or users. Sometimes, that also means noticing new features because it gives you the ability to let people know what’s on the way.

“If you release something for your users and you don’t write down how to do it, you’re automatically doing them a disservice,” Mark says, “even if you train them face-to-face, that’s not the same as them having something they can come back to later.” Especially if you can keep things simple and use screenshots to help point people in the right direction.

There’s a lot more in this episode, including what Mark and his team think about when they write error messages, and an adorable special guest.

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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 Mark Ross, who's a technical writer, about flow documentation and how we learned about flow and it's features. Now, you might have heard Mark on another podcast, he's also the cohost of The Wizard Cast, which is a big fan favorite of everybody that records this podcast, so shout out there. And, he's also given a ton of Dreamforce presentations around flow. So this is very exciting, I'm so glad we got Mark on the podcast. So here we go, let's bring Mark on the pod.
So Mark, welcome to the podcast.

Mark Ross: Thanks, Mike. It's good to talk to you again, it's been a little while.

Mike Gerholdt: It has. And, for those community members that perhaps are like, "This voice sounds familiar," you're also on another podcast. We'll start there as your introduction.

Mark Ross: Well, that is true. There's a little podcast that's out there called The Wizard Cast, and despite it's name, we actually talk about Salesforce. We don't have too many episodes going out lately because pandemic stress and all that. But yeah, we're out there on all the major platforms for podcasts.

Mike Gerholdt: Now, when I think flow and Salesforce flow, and dare I say flownatics, I think of Mark Ross because I know you've been on stage at Dreamforce talking flow. Gillian and myself have done a lot of content around flow. Let's start off with what you do at Salesforce and how that relates to flow.

Mark Ross: Sure. Well, I am on the community and content experience team, CCX. We specifically are responsible for creating the content that is customer visible. In this case, specifically that's going to be documentation. But we also help with Trailhead, our particular team, and a few other things that are out there, that are community facing. Not everything that's customer community facing, but we still have quite a bit of it.
I specifically am on the CX team, as we say, for automation services. In other words, flow, process builder. Even workflow and approvals, and even IoT.

Gillian Bruce: Just a few things to cover in your scope.

Mark Ross: Just a few things.

Gillian Bruce: Not too bad, right?

Mark Ross: Right.

Gillian Bruce: So Mark, I would also love to maybe just give a tiny bit of background into how you came into this role, because you've been at Salesforce a couple years now, maybe?

Mark Ross: Yeah, I started in January '19.

Gillian Bruce: Okay. And before that, we talk about flownatics, most of the context in which I think Mike and I are very familiar with you and your work is actually pre-Salesforce days, when you were not part of the company but you were an end-user, and an MVP and a leader in the community. Can you talk to us a little bit about how you became a flownatic?

Mark Ross: Back in 2010, I attended my very first Dreamforce. And, we as a company, the company I was working for at the time, we hadn't even really started using it yet. But my company sent us all to Dreamforce to say, "Hey, you're going to start using this Salesforce thing, you might as well go learn about it."
And I attended a session on the desktop flow designer, and it was literally an executable you had to run on your machine that saved .flow files that you then had to upload into Salesforce, and I was absolutely entranced. As much as I had drunk the blue Kool-Aid at Dreamforce in general, my very first Dreamforce, flow to me was the big takeaway. I immediately went back to company to start figuring out all the things I could do with flow. Every new position that I took at the same company or different companies, I was always flow, flow, flow, flow, flow. Until the point where I realized, I love flow, I love flow. Why is nobody else talking about flow? This is an amazing thing, nobody in the community's every talking about flow, so I decided I'm going to start talking about it. That's basically how it happened. I met Brian Kwong at another Dreamforce, and he and I became fast friends and flownatic buddies. He and I basically became partners in crime.
From there on, I basically had a lot of different positions. And at some point I'm just like, "You know what? I'm done with at the very least the consulting thing, and not feeling the admin thing as much any more. I wonder if there's something I could do for Salesforce?" I started talking to people, I started looking around, and eventually ended up at Salesforce.org, where I was writing documentation for some of their gift entry products. And then, last year the flow documentation team, the automation services CX team, reached out to me and said, "Hey, we have an opening, we hear you love flow." I was like, "Man, I love Salesforce.org, my team here is really great, but it's flow! I can't say no to that," so I made the jump. That's the story.

Mike Gerholdt: So flow caught fire for you. Why do you think it really clicks for some people like yourself and not everyone?

Mark Ross: I think, for me specifically and I'll branch this out into how I think other people probably feel about it just from my guess. For me, I am somebody who is a very technical-minded person, but I never really learned to code, not really. Learning Apple Basic in grade school isn't the same thing as sitting down with Apex and whipping out a whole bunch of functions and triggers. It's not the same thing. So I had the programmer's mindset, but I didn't have the experience. Every time I tried to sit down to learn it, it became a prohibitive thing. I even went to Apex training, and it just, for some reason, wasn't clicking.
But when I sat down in front of flow, it clicked. To me, it was this is the things that I would normally need to do, especially when you go back to 2010, 2011 when I first saw this. Flow can do all these things that, ordinarily, I would need code to do, I would need Visualforce to do, and that was a big, big deal. All of a sudden, it was a whole new world without actually singing the Disney lyrics because that would get us in trouble. It was I now have more power than I know what to do with, and anybody has previously considered, without needing code. I think that was part of the big allure at first, it was this ability ... I can do things workflow can't, and I don't need to write a line of code.
That is incredibly attractive to people, maybe they are Salesforce literate, they've been doing Salesforce for a long time. But code, the hurdle's just a bit too high without hitting your toes on it. To be able to still have a good measure of that power, to be able to do things that your users want and that you want to do for your users, and to make really snappy interfaces as we're starting get better looks for flow now, that's incredibly alluring. That's where I think the draw comes from.

Gillian Bruce: I mean, I think you encapsulate it. Clearly, you hear the flownatic passion in your voice. I think what you outlined is a lot of the reasons why we definitely are focusing on automation and all things flow this month for admins.
I would love to maybe hear a little bit more. Mike said that, basically, you're in documentation land. I don't know why I make everything a land, a feature set in this podcast. Maybe now you have me thinking Disney and I'm thinking, "Oh, we have Automation Land and Documentation Land."

Mike Gerholdt: Land of the Lost.

Gillian Bruce: It's all these happy places, the happiest places on Earth. Or, on the platform. Can you talk to us a little bit about how documentation plays into the arena of flow? And what the role is, how you approach it? What is your methodology there?

Mark Ross: Sure. We have a cycle, just like their developers do. They have a cycle where, any given release, they have to do things in a certain order, and we do as well. When we're presented with the actual things that are being worked on by the engineers, we actually help to do the UI text. We don't just do documentation, we're actually sitting down and saying, "All right, this button should be called this because, unfortunately, the name the developers came with is a little bit misleading." Everything from errors messages, to modals, to the actual clickable interface, if it's got text in it, we're looking at it. That's part of our cycle.
The next thing we look at is release notes. Because believe it or not, release notes is actually the most viewed documentation of Salesforce. That is actually a really important area of focus for us, so we spend quite a bit of time on release notes as well, making sure that they are understandable, making sure they're communicating things, not just what's happened but how it's useful as well to the users. It's not just enough to say, "Well, we've made this." What we also are trying to say, "We made this, and you can use it for this. Or, it improves your life in this way."
Apart from release notes, we also of course do the actual documentation. So you have the help doc, also the dev doc, things like the API docs, metadata API docs, things like that. We don't necessarily touch all the little things that are dev doc oriented, but we do help with those metadata, API focused areas. But the documentation, of course, is a big deal. A lot of that, to be honest, we're going in and we're updating things that need to be updated. But every now and then, we're going to put out a new page. The thing is, the flow documentation started in a bit of a rough spot because it was relatively complicated. Many years ago, it started out relatively complicated and it was difficult to just, all of a sudden, slap down a whole bunch of documentation for that. So over time, a lot of documentation has been added. If you checked out the flow documentation five years ago, it's a very different beast now than it was then.
We're covering a lot more topics. We're covering a lot of things like best practices, how [inaudible] works, limits. Some of those limits docs are my favorite docs. You wouldn't think the documentation that says the things you can't do would be one of my favorites, but it absolutely is. Because I can't tell you how many times I've hit some kind of an error, and didn't know what it was, and somebody pointed, "Hey did you go over your limits?" I was like, "Limits? There are limits?" Yes, there are limits so you have to go check those out. Element limits, sociable limits, things like that. So many of my problems, and so many of the people I've talked to, people in the community, their problems have been solved just by going to look at that. There's all sorts of other really helpful things, more in use cases, example use cases that are out there as well. References for individual parts of flow, all the different screen components, all the different elements, they all have their own individual pages so those are valuable, too.
And then, after of course documentation, there is Trailhead. We don't necessarily manage all of the Trailhead content, but there are certain badges that we definitely help to maintain. There are some that we're having to retire because they're, frankly, out of date. At some point in the future, we're going to have some more flow content coming, and we're definitely wanting to hear your feedback on that as well. Because we know there are some gaps in how the Trailhead badges guide people, we want things to be not too prescriptive but not unhelpful, either. So if anybody has any input on that, we'd very much welcome that.
I think that pretty much covers our doc cycle and everything we put out.

Mike Gerholdt: You hope, until the next release.

Mark Ross: Right, exactly. There's always more, right?

Mike Gerholdt: I'm trying to bounce between being a beginning admin learning flow, and somebody that's been on the platform for a while. You've been around for a while, you remember before Trailhead and only having documentation as a way to learn a product.
I'm going to use the release as a jumping off point. As somebody that's rolled out flow, that has a lot of processes and flows built, and I'm sure a lot of listeners do as well, what are things in the release notes that you look for?

Mark Ross: When you're talking about flow?

Mike Gerholdt: Yes.

Mark Ross: Well, my general behavior for flow release notes is the first thing I'm going to do is I'm going to do a pass, just start reading the headers. I'm looking for things that are going to ... If I'm an admin, in my days as an admin, I'm looking for things that impact my current customers first. Whether I'm a partner, implementer, I'm looking for my customers. If I'm an admin for a company, I'm looking for my company, the things that are in my org or orgs right now. Because there are going to be changes, there are going to be critical updates and those things can have an impact on the things already out there. But, sometimes there's a new feature that came out.
Just two months ago I was telling somebody in sales that I couldn't do this. Now all of a sudden, this is now a feature that's going to be available. It's going to be beta, it's going to be new, but at least I can tell them it's on the way. That's something you can ... Especially if you're working with a sales department, a sales enablement, or whatever department that you're working to enable, just being able to tell them, "Yes, it's coming. It's on the way," will make them feel so much better.
So reading the release notes, and getting an idea of what's out there and what's coming, even if you can't use it, even if you're tied behind procedures that ... I say tied, that makes it sound negative. Even if you're having to listen to procedures that are governance oriented saying, "Well, you can implement something until goes through this change management board," that's great, you always respect the change management board. But at least you'll be able to tell people, "Hey this is coming. I feel your pain and we're going to work to get it implemented as soon as we can," that will make them feel so much better.
Other things to look for in the release notes, sometimes the release notes will have a basic how-to if the feature we're talking about is particularly complicated. You briefly mentioned release notes as documentation, in a sense, they can be a little bit, very entry level documentation. When we're doing help doc, we're going to go into more detail, more information about something, but sometimes if you just need a really quick primer on something, the release notes can be a good place to start.

Gillian Bruce: So Mark, I would love to maybe ask you, switching your mindset a little ... Clearly, you are a documentation superstar. If I'm an admin at an org, and I am building flow processes and all kinds of stuff, how should I think about documentation and incorporating some of maybe the best practices you've learned into my own processes?

Mark Ross: Documentation is really interesting, at least for me. I'm a nerd, obviously. It's interesting because you can do so much with it, with just a little bit of time. I think that's the hurdle that a lot of people feel, is finding the time to sit down and write something. But, if you release something for your users and you don't write down how to do it, you're automatically putting them at a bit of a disservice. Even if you train them in it face-to-face, that's not the same as them having something they can come back to later. So just sitting down and writing the steps out, just do it, just make the time, find the time. Convince whoever's in charge of your hours that it's worth the time because it really is, it will save you so much trouble and will save your users so much frustration. So that's the first step, just do it.
The second step is make sure that whatever you're doing is clear and understandable. And I know that that is easier said than done, and not a very specific answer, but it is really important. If you're using a new term, maybe you've named a new app, use that same term consistently. Don't flop around with different versions of it, it will confuse users.
Hang on, my cat is being demanding. He's being noisy.

Gillian Bruce: I couldn't tell if that was child or an animal.

Mike Gerholdt: I couldn't either, but that's awesome.

Mark Ross: Ah, there. You've had some love, so are you happy now? Okay. Where was I?

Mike Gerholdt: What's the cat's name?

Mark Ross: Twiglet.

Gillian Bruce: Twiglet, that's great.

Mark Ross: She's a fat black-and-white cat, aren't you? Yes. She's a talker.
Using the same terms is important. Also, try to avoid really, really complicated language. If you can keep things simple, that's going to be really helpful as well. Don't use jargon, don't use things, don't assume that they know Salesforce terminology because they might not. Screenshots, screenshots. Again, they take time but they're worth it, because you can literally point someone in the right direction. Anything you can do to help make things more clear, and not be vague, and not be too technical.
Those two things, just do it and be clear, those are the best things you can do.

Mike Gerholdt: Was there something you've learned, now that you've been writing documentation for a while, that you think could be really helpful for admins to know?

Mark Ross: I'm not sure, I'm not sure how to answer that. Frankly, as long as you're ... A lot of what I've learned since coming onto documentation is how to do proper technical documentation. So things like style guides, where there's established written Wikis, or Confluences, or books like the Chicago Manual of Style, which professional writers have to use. That's the difference between what I as an admin had to do, writing just documentation for my features, and then becoming a professional writer and having to write up to a certain standard, there is a bit of a gap there. I don't think that gap is necessary to be bridged as an admin, I think it creates too much pressure and too much expectation.
I think, again, if you're just writing something and you're trying to write it clearly ... That is definitely one of the things we look at, when I'm having my editor look at things, is clear. It has to be clear, it has to be understandable. Is it possible that however I wrote this could be interpreted in a different way? You would think the innocent pairing of words couldn't possibly mean anything else, but it turns out, oh wait, this could actually be meant as something entirely different. So going back over your text after you've written it, and maybe making new versions of it. We call it iterating, on the team.
So I wrote something, but I'm not feeling that great about it. That's fine, move on, come back. When you read through it again, oh there's that sentence. You know what? Here's another version, and just write it again, just make more iterations of that text until you get something. When you're doing your own self edit, look for the things that might mean something entirely different if you look at it at just a different angle.
This is relatively high level documentation stuff, but sure, those are things that could be valuable. I'm not sure how well I answered that.

Mike Gerholdt: No, a lot of it is you learn what you don't know. Some of it, I think to the point that you brought up, sometimes at least when I'm writing content, or working on something for a project, you'll find you're so close to it that you don't remember to tell people what you innately know. I feel that with documentation. You're so close to the app that you're writing maybe these high level milestones, and in your brain you're filling in the gaps because you know it already. And then, to the point that you brought up, you have someone else read it, well they don't have those. Those gaps aren't filled in, in their mind. That's a really good point to bring up. The ability for someone else to read it, comprehend it and be up to speed is something you should always shoot for.

Mark Ross: That's the other reason we say to avoid writing too technically, or writing with jargon, because that will automatically put you in the place where the user doesn't know what you know.

Mike Gerholdt: Yes. Let's tackle what is near and dear to just about every question I feel like I read on the community, which is error screen or error messages, and my flow doesn't work. Because in your mind, I feel like we're set up for success. Everything comes with a kit now, and a user guide, and you dump it out of the box, and you flip through it, and you snap everything together and boom, you got it. But with flow, you get to experiment, and you're working with data, and rules, and limits. Sometimes, stuff just doesn't work. How do you approach an error message? And what are you looking for in documentation that helps give you that moment of I know what to do next?

Mark Ross: Boy, error messages. They're actually one of the hardest things, in my experience, to work on because you really got to make sure from a Salesforce perspective that it's right.

Mike Gerholdt: Right.

Mark Ross: You've got to make sure you've got all the context, and that's absolutely critical. If you're going into an error message, you want to be sure you understand under what circumstances could this appear. Is it only in the UI? Is it going to also potentially show up in the API? Or, is it API only? If I'm doing some sort of push via API of a flow, is that the only way I'm going to see this error? That's really critical.
You have to keep audience in mind as well. If you're pushing something API only versus UI only, well API only, you're probably going to have developers, and architects and highly advanced admins doing that, as opposed to something that appears just in the flow build of UI. Well, that is going to be anybody. Entry level flow people, they're going to see this as well. We have to keep in mind audience, who we're talking to, what level they're at as well.
We also have to take into consideration when this appears, what could cause this to appear. And, is that going to necessitate how we're actually writing this? All these little details are why error messages are really one of the hardest things we do. It's actually one of my projects that I've been banging my head against lately, is a big set of error messages, because it is just so demanding. And, taking it in front of the developers and the engineers and saying, "Hey, does this look right?" And then taking it in front of the editor and saying, "Hey, what do you think of this?" It's this back-and-forth process where we have to make sure this error message is really going to communicate, as clearly as possible.
And even then, these error messages are often going to be very specific. The devs, the engineers, they can only do so much. They really do try to cover every base they possibly can, but there's nothing anybody can do to prevent any given admin from getting an unhandled fault for just some random thing that nobody could have predicted. That happens nine times out of 10. But, I have seen with my own eyes just how much effort they put into covering all the bases, because I know how many error messages I have to write.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, I can only imagine. The complexity, you have to think about how do we word this encompass quite a few things, too.

Mark Ross: Exactly, exactly. While not getting too out of hand, or being too narrow, so that it doesn't cover all those bases.
The other thing ... Sorry, this is actually really important. I should have said this. The other thing we try to do in our error messages, and I would recommend to anybody else whose doing anything like this, also include what the person whose reading the message can do.

Mike Gerholdt: Ah!

Mark Ross: That's a really important thing. Because if you're just saying, "Ah, this broke," that's not helpful. But if you're saying, "Hey, this didn't work. Try doing this. Or, remove this faulty thing. Or, add this first." If you're able to provide some amount of instruction, you're automatically putting your users in a much better place than they were before.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. Thinking through, because you're not there when the error message fires. You could be heading home from work, or walking the dog, or doing something and somebody in a call center hits an error message. It's not like they have you immediately on speed dial, and they need to know exactly what to do next, so I think working through that. I also think a lot of the questions that I see in the community, too, are they're getting error message while troubleshooting a flow, and trying to work through some of that documentation as well.
From a documentation standpoint, which I thought it was interesting to take this approach for a pod because we've talked about flow a lot and I've seen some really complex flows in my days. I've seen some really simple ones that have done amazing things. But, I think it's another one of those things that we document at Salesforce, that we put documentation out, that we want our admins to document, of course. As admins are going through and there's new features added, what is one of the things that you feel is foundational to understanding flow and automation, as opposed to chasing all the new shiny?

Mark Ross: Do you mean foundational in terms of it's one of the first things you need to grasp before you can grasp the whole enchilada? Or, do you mean a greater concept?

Mike Gerholdt: I'll give you an analogy related to cars. I feel, in my opinion, in order to learn how to really be able to drive a variety of vehicles and be a good driver, you need to know how to drive a manual stick shift. If you know how to drive a pre-1980 stick shift vehicle, you can drive anything.

Mark Ross: Oh boy. Wow. Okay. Because I can't do stick shift, at all.

Mike Gerholdt: Well, that to me is one of those foundational ... Because a lot of things have steering wheels, but outside of power steering and them sticking a million radio buttons on the steering wheel, that hasn't changed, but the way vehicles move forward has changed. Now granted, I'm all in on EVs, and the power cycle, and everything how cars are evolving, but manuals are going to be around for while and it opened you up to a whole world of vehicles that are very exciting to drive. I feel it's foundational because you also understand the mechanics of how the car moves. I've had to explain how you have to let off the clutch and give it gas, and it gives you an idea of what's going on in the vehicle. You don't have to do that with an automatic as much.
So what I was thinking of is, for example in Salesforce, I remember to the day that I was in the Admin 301 course with Wendy Braid, and she wrote on the board how objects relate to each other. She explained that, and man, I got it. It was the first time I got it. I felt like ever since then, it's just been knocking over cards to learn new Salesforce features. Because once you understand how objects and stuff related to each other, to me it was caveat emptor, I can learn this product now.

Mark Ross: Gotcha, all right. Man, okay. Well in that context, picking only one is difficult.

Mike Gerholdt: Well you're the guest, you can pick two. I just ask one.

Mark Ross: Well if we're talking a single thing, it's hard to pick just one. I would say variables is definitely one of the big ones. If you can understand variables, then you can handle almost anything in flow. Not just the concept of variable, even though I know that is one of the first hurdles that people have. This idea of okay, here's a place I can store something. Okay, that's great. Now that you understand what a variable is, now you have to understand how you can use it, and all the different types of variables there are.
There's the variable itself, which is just a normal place to store data. You also have things like formulas, text templates, record variables, these are things that are also critical. They're ways that you can store information, and calculate information if it's a formula, that can then be used in other places. And then, you have to understand where are all the different places I can use this. And in flow that's practically everywhere, that's one of the prime realizations. It's this idea that okay, well I've made a variable, now what do I do with it? It really is anything you want. You can use variables here, here, here, here, here, here, here. Same thing with formulas, same thing with text templates, same thing with record variables. If it's something that you can make that's like a variable in Salesforce in flow builder, it can be used almost anywhere for any purpose.
And then, there's a whole nother level up from that, which is okay, how do you use variables properly instead of using them in not necessarily good ways like loops. You don't ever, ever want to do a get records and update records, a create records, inside a loop. You don't want to do that. Instead, you want to do that before you loop and store it in a variable. So that later on, within the loop, you can actually go use that information. That's just a general practice of get all your data, manage all your data as much as you can before the loop.
Variables, I really feel are the one thing that, one, people look at as the first big hurdle, the first big thing that prevents them from using flow. But then, it also is ... It's like stick shift in that way, right?

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah.

Mark Ross: It also is the thing that, once you get it and once you know how to use it, you can do practically anything.

Mike Gerholdt: I think that's good advice. I still am learning variables.

Mark Ross: I can't really hear you. Should I hop off the VPN? We might have to use chat, because I've completely lost audio I think.

Mike Gerholdt: So true to COVID times, we had the internet drop out from underneath us so we got the last bit of Mark's answer and we missed the wrap up. So I will say thank you, Mark, for being on the pod, that was fantastic. And, here's the three things that we learned from our conversation with Mark.
First is there's a lot of documented sources from release notes, to help, to Trailhead, and they're all there to help you understand more about flow and Salesforce. You don't have to read them all. So go through things very diligently, and look for information that is relevant to you.
The second is be cognizant about writing your own documentation. Use simple terms, and think of it as making sure that your users are there when you're not. I would suggest, for sure, having someone else read your documentation. You can always revise it, you can always revise it.
And the third thing, I learned this asking Mark about what we should understand about flow, learn your variables. That seems to be, really, the one thing that you can do to understand flow. And once you understand that, as Mark said, you can do practically anything. So jump on over to Trailhead and learn about, well, practically anything with variables on flow. So that was super fun.
Speaking of podcasts, in today's all digital world, being able to learn in demand skills is really more relevant than ever. You can access all of the amazing Trailhead content that you love, including 1000 plus badges of marketable skills, trail mixes and Trailhead live, all from your phone. This is my plug for you to go, download Trailhead Go. I'm going to put the link in the description, there's a link that you can go to, you can download it. Or, you can search Trailhead Go in the Apple App Store or on Google Play.
Now, if you want to learn more about all things Salesforce admin, go to admin.salesforce.com to find those resources. You can stay up-to-date with us on social, we are @SalesforceAdmns, no I, on Twitter. Of course, you find my guest Mark on Twitter, he is @MarkRoss__C. Bet you know what that means. Gillian is also on Twitter, she is @GillianKBruce. And, I am @MikeGerholdt on Twitter. So send us a tweet, let us know if you loved this episode and suggestions for people we should have on. So with that, stay safe, stay awesome, and stay tuned for the next episode. We'll see you in the cloud.



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

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we kick off Automation April by talking to Sam Reynard, Senior Manager of Product Management on the Flow team at Salesforce. We go over improvements coming to Flow and why it should be your one-stop shop for automations.

Join us as we talk about why you should pay attention to Flow, the improvements coming in new releases, and why it’s so important to start from a place of empathy for your users.

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

 Where Flow Builder is going.

Sam is a member of the Flow product management team—focused mainly on Screen Flows—so she’s the perfect person to have on the pod to kick off Automation month. We’ll be highlighting tools that are available to you and helping you make decisions about what automations to build in order to take advantage of this exciting new area of innovation. There’s a lot coming down the pipeline with Flow and we wanted to talk to Sam to find out what’s especially exciting and helpful.

The main goal is to make Flow Builder as easy to use as building a Workflow Rule or working in Process Builder. One thing that’s being released is support for rich layouts in Flow Screens, giving you the ability to create a section of your screen you can divvy up into multiple columns without touching any code using the section component. We’re also adding the ability to send rich text emails from Flows opening some great new possibilities.

More improvements to Flow coming down the pipeline.

“Today, if you as an admin are trying to create automation, there are so many options,” Sam says, “you can create a Workflow Rule, you can create an approval process, you can create a Flow or something in Process builder.” On the automation team, we’ve been questioning why there isn’t just one tool to give you everything you need without having to decide which tool is best for the job.

Another thing Sam and her team are working on is choices. If you need a simple choice that says yes or no, you shouldn’t need to click six or seven times to create it. There are a lot more little changes coming to make choices simpler and faster and make everyone’s lives easier, so be sure to listen to the full pod for more details, including what it’s like to have Mike in a focus group.

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Direct download: Screen_Flows_with_Sam_Reynard.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:53am PDT

March Monthly Retro with Gillian and Mike

 

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’ve got the monthly retro. In this episode, we go over all the great blog posts, videos, and all the other Salesforce content from March.

 

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation between Mike and Gillian.

 

Blog highlights from March.

 

Mike points to Brian Owens’ post about what to do after you get your certification. How do you prep for a Salesforce admin job interview? What should your LinkedIn profile look like? For Gillian, LeeAnne’s post about integration is something you simply shouldn’t miss.

 

 

Podcast highlights from March.

 

If you can’t tell, March has been integrations month, and Gillian wants to highlight a conversion she had with Zayne Turner and LeeAnne Rimel about how admins should think about integrations. Mike highlights another episode we did we LeeAnne about how to think through everything that’s changed as we move to a more virtual world.

 

 

Video highlights from March.

 

“I love when admins think through, visually, how you can call something out in the user interface,” Mike says. For him, a great video for this month was Marc’s walkthrough of how to incorporate emoji flags into your Salesforce org to make it more accessible and easier to understand at a glance. For Gillian, LeeAnne and Ashley Simmons going over MuleSoft Composer is something you simply can’t miss, and don’t miss the No Silly Questions episode about disabling person accounts.

 

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Full Show Transcript

Gillian Bruce: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast and the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow or the March monthly retro for 2021. I'm your host, Jillian Bruce and in this episode we will review the top product, community and careers content for March. And to help me do that, I'm joined by the one and only Mike Gerholdt.

Mike Gerholdt: Hey, Gillian, we have literally a pot of gold at the end of this podcast because we are going to play a fun quiz show. Fun, that's the pot of gold.

Gillian Bruce: Well, I'm excited. I mean, I love fun.

Mike Gerholdt: And I would do that in an Irish accent, except it wouldn't sound that way, it just comes off as a rejected pirate try out for some, Johnny Depp movie.

Gillian Bruce: Now, I definitely am going to make you give me your Irish accent at some point.

Mike Gerholdt: No. Because it sounds like a pirate, just it's... I got a peg leg. Nothing.

Gillian Bruce: All right, Mike. Well, let's start with our content. Let's start with some blogs, what's a blog you'd love to highlight for the month of March?

Mike Gerholdt: Well, I am a big fan of Salesforce certification for admins, I've always been super empowered by my certification. I remember in October of 2008, when I first got mine. And so I loved reading the, you've earned your Salesforce administrator certification now what? And this sneaks in the window of being a March blog post, because it was published on March one by, Brian Owens. And I think it's just a good reminder of all the things you should do before you get a Salesforce admin job interview. Updating your LinkedIn profile, how to prepare for your interview and what to do before you accept the offer. And all of that is just money in the bank to me and makes me think back to those super fun days when I first got my certification.

Gillian Bruce: I think it's a really great post too because, we often get questions from the community of, cool I got certified, now how do I get a job? And I think that Brian's post hope it answers a lot of those questions and give some good structure and guidance around that process, so good highlight. Well, the post I would like to highlight for March, is all about integration. So March was a month of integrations, in case you couldn't tell, there was a lot of integration theme content across all of our channels. And this was a post by, Leanne who led the charge and it talks about, "Hey admins, how should you think about integrations? Why are they important to you? How might you approach them?" It's a great overview about all of the different types of integrations that we as admins should think about in the Salesforce universe and it's a good introduction to all of the different integration content we've got for the month, which I will be speaking more about in the next few sections.

Mike Gerholdt: This could quickly turn into the best of Leanne's content podcasts because, moving on I loved reading all of the integration stuff that we did this month. And I love thinking through, to me it's adding holiday lights when you can string them together, that's integrations when like, "How do I add more and make more things light up and make it all run off one timer?

Gillian Bruce: And make coordinate it with music.

Mike Gerholdt: Seriously, the people that do that are next level. You watch those YouTube videos, man, I'd love to be able to have that patience. I don't, I get through one string and I'm like, "Yeah, everything looks good, let's be done."

Gillian Bruce: If I have to do anything other than a couple pieces of electrical tape, no, no, that's it. The complexity that we're doing here, that's it.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, pretty much, pretty much. But we had some podcasts in March for an awkward segue that no one was expecting. Jillian, what was your favorite podcast in March?

Gillian Bruce: No, I thought that was a fine segue there, Mike.

Mike Gerholdt: My God but okay, go a head.

Gillian Bruce: Well, surprise, surprise, the podcast I would like to highlight from March is also about integrations. And this was a really fun conversation I got to have with, [Zane] Turner who leads our architect relations team and of course, Leanne [Rimal] who is part of almost all of our content this month. Again, talking about how admins should think about integrations and some of architect minded strategies that would help any admin no matter how complex or not complex your Salesforce implementation is. So it was really fun, it's also just super cool to be able to chat with two super technologically, skilled females on a tech podcast. I nerd out about that and it was really fun and they're two of my favorite people anyway, to work with. So it was a good conversation I highly recommend you check it out, we get into some really good meaty topics and help stretch your idea of what an integration is. So check it out.

Mike Gerholdt: I love those and I also preface by thinking, when you see Leann, do those really slick demos or when we have walk throughs of stuff. On the back end of that, we've thought through like, are we showing good architecture? Because, that's the unseen how quick when we demo something that we show and that's why I love listening to this one, is thinking through how architects think. Because all of that is the stuff we don't show.

Gillian Bruce: It's all the behind the scenes pre-planning so that when you see this finished product that makes sense, looks beautiful it's all put together, it flows well but those are all decisions that we made way before even getting to that first demo. So it's a very good set of strategies and skills for all admins to think about.

Mike Gerholdt: Well, in true, can't shake a stick and not hit some Leanne content this month. I chose the podcast that we did with, Leanne on learning in a virtual world for two reasons. One, it was great to have all of us back on one podcast again, just chatting. It takes me back to a few years of, I remember sitting at Salesforce offices on the second floor of that... Well, it was the second floor of the third floor of Rincon, which sounds super confusing to everybody listening. But it was this hot little loft and off in the corner and be like, "Okay, Leanne, let's sit down and record a podcast really quick." And it had 10 minutes in and it's like a sauna, cause it's so hot in there.

Gillian Bruce: Hey, we were talking about hot topics.

Mike Gerholdt: Nothing to do with this podcast, so this is just reminiscing. But it was good to think through, we've been working differently for a year now and to have a fresh perspective from, Leanne on working through this pandemic and then coming back and having observed and really taking that mental bandwidth with you. And thinking through, how are your colleagues going through this? What are you doing? How are you taking care of yourself? There's just a ton in this and it was just a good refresher pod that wasn't some of our usual content.

Gillian Bruce: Agreed. Not directly talking about how you structure Salesforce, but definitely talking about how you can better structure maybe some of your work habits. And yeah, I mean, working together and collaborating in this virtual world has actually been quite a fun transformation in a lot of ways, so it was interesting to talk about that. So we also had some videos in March, Mike.

Mike Gerholdt: I mean, we're a video machine. I feel every time I go to YouTube, I see you and I see, Leanne

Gillian Bruce: We're like the admin cable channel or something, it's just always something new coming out.

Mike Gerholdt: I feel it's more akin to early years of discovery, because it's these two expert corner and no silly questions.

Gillian Bruce: And we've got how I solve this too, which I believe is one of the ones you wanted to talk about, right?

Mike Gerholdt: Absolutely, I thought this one was great. So I love when admins think through visually how you can call something out in the user interface. And so, Mark did a great, how I solve this with emoji flags video and to me, you'd love to sit and think your users pine and read through every detail of all of the record and comb through all the activity history. And really sometimes they just run a list view and want to see the status and they spend a glancing look at it to figure out who they should call next. And I thought this video was really good at that and ultimately, it comes down to how do you help your users consume information visually faster and have a little bit of fun with emoji flags.

Gillian Bruce: I mean, who doesn't like emoji? I have yet to find. I mean, well, honestly, Damon, my partner does not like emoji at all. He refuses to retweet anything that has emoji in it or text any emojis, this is the one riff we have in our relationship. But other than him, I haven't found anyone that doesn't like emoji.

Mike Gerholdt: I'm often feel like sometimes I'm constrained, there's not enough emoji.

Gillian Bruce: Well, that's what we have now, Bitmoji and Animoji. I think we need to continue to build out our emoji languages since this is a secret goal of mine.

Mike Gerholdt: There's been times when I'm like-

Gillian Bruce: We have Trailmoji.

Mike Gerholdt: I know, yes. But I still need more flags. That flag portion that could be expanded, there could be more flags.

Gillian Bruce: Agreed.

Mike Gerholdt: What about a state flag, why don't we have those? Not that I own flag, is all that awesome let's be honest.

Gillian Bruce: There's actually a really total side note for those of you looking to nerd out on flag design, there's a great podcast that I recommend from 99% Invisible about actually flag design and they do a very interesting story about, I think it's Aruba and how their flag has drastically changed.

Mike Gerholdt: Really?

Gillian Bruce: And there's a whole international debate, it's fascinating. Anyway, I'll find out the exact episode, we'll put it in the show notes but-

Mike Gerholdt: Is it called fun with flags?

Gillian Bruce: And no, that would be great. But I don't think that's the title of it, that's what I would've called it. But I'm not cool enough to host 99% Invisible.

Mike Gerholdt: No, no, but vexillology is that how you say it? V-E-X-I-L-L-O-L-O-G-Y. Vexillology, it's the study of history and symbolism of flags.

Gillian Bruce: And there you go. See, learn something new, I would say.

Mike Gerholdt: Fun with flags.

Gillian Bruce: Fun with flags. Okay, but we also had other videos, so we're going to have fun with those videos too. I had two that I really wanted to highlight this month and they're two very different ones, so don't worry. One was the launching of this amazing new expert corner series that, Leanne is hosting. Again, Leanne is amazing, she created a ton of content this month and this again is focused on integrations. This is with our MuleSoft Composer, Product Manager, Ashley Simmons. This is amazing, this is the behind the scenes, one-on-one chat, you get with a PM at a Dreamforce or a TrailheaDX but you can just click play on the internet and you can watch it. It's really, really great in-depth, super nerdy discussion about MuleSoft Composer and the nitty gritty of how you use it, what admin should do with it.
Definitely check it out. I think it's 25, 27 minutes long, so it's short and sweet enough for you can consume it, but also in-depth enough to where you get more than just a couple minute clip. Because the other video I want to recommend any everyone check out is literally two minutes long. And that's the new silly questions that we just put out about person accounts. So we got a really great question from, Jonathan Forester. Who's actually part of our Salesforce military community, about why can't you disable person accounts after you enable them? Why is this so difficult? And so I got a product manager our project Manager, [Hidong] to help us answer that question. So check it out, again it's a couple minutes long and if you have not so silly Salesforce questions always remember send them my way. And I may ask you to submit it via video and then I'll get you an expert answer. So that's the video land for me in March.

Mike Gerholdt: No, that's awesome. First of all, thank you, Jonathan, for your service. I saw on Twitter his jubilation, I will call it over getting his question answered. That is a good and easy way to bubble your question at the top, let me tell you, because that was a fun, fun video to watch.

Gillian Bruce: And it's always great, excuse for me to, prod the product managers and being like, "Why does this work this way?" So if you've got a product question-

Mike Gerholdt: Why does person accounts have to be a permanent thing?

Gillian Bruce: Why is this so complicated? And then we get them on video and force them to answer. So please keep sending me your questions.

Mike Gerholdt: Yes, please do. So we promise you a pot of gold at the end of the podcast and we are there. I thought it would be fun in the vein of, we've had some sort of theme every month. So for March, we're going to do Mike's March madness quiz show. So, Gillian I have thought of three questions, they're all multiple choice for you, around things that happened in March that are in my mind, just kind of complete madness. And that's why-

Gillian Bruce: I like it.

Mike Gerholdt: That's I've called it. And if you get all three rights, I haven't determined what the prize is. I could do a-

Gillian Bruce: I thought I'll get a pot of gold, isn't that how that works?

Mike Gerholdt: You're sure, yeah. Pot and gold to be determined.

Gillian Bruce: Fair, fair. I mean, everybody I love it.

Mike Gerholdt: So this is fun, fun. A fun, fun, Mark's March madness quiz show. So, Jillian, March is a great month for basketball but not so much for employee productivity. According to USA today, unproductive workers cost their employers blank amount in 2019, and this was paid to employees, spending company time on bedding pool priorities. So blank amount in 2019, was that a, $90 million, b, $1 billion or c, $4 billion.

Gillian Bruce: Men, I mean, I know that March madness is the number one sports betting, fun bracket time of all. Before billion sounds a lot. So I'm going to pick the middle option, I'm going to say 1 billion, b.

Mike Gerholdt: You'll be incorrect. Is actually c, $4 billion. March madness costs employers in 2019, so obviously with pandemic in 2020, I couldn't find an article about that, but I was blown away too. So 4 billion.

Gillian Bruce: Okay, well there you go.

Mike Gerholdt: Madness. Our second madness question. The quote, luck of the Irish is celebrated on March 17th, which was not too long ago, if you listen to this podcast also known as St. Patrick's Day. But what other holidays are also celebrated in March? Is it a, National Fanny Pack Day?

Gillian Bruce: God, I hope that's true.

Mike Gerholdt: B, What if Cats and Dogs had Opposable Thumbs Day?

Gillian Bruce: My God.

Mike Gerholdt: Or c, National Earmuff Day?

Gillian Bruce: These are fantastic, I didn't know any of these existed.

Mike Gerholdt: I put a lot of work into this quiz, I'm very proud of myself.

Gillian Bruce: I'm also not very distracted thinking about what would happen if my dog, Rex had opposable thumbs. I literally like the F... When I first got him as a puppy, I remember my dog walker sending me a photo of a destroyed kitchen with flour and chocolate and everything all over the place and her text message was, "Rex, tried to bake you a cake without thumbs." So I'm partial on the fanny packs, I think I'm going to go with a, I'm really hoping that's true. Because then I have an excuse to wear a fanny pack.

Mike Gerholdt: Actually. Ding, ding, ding, all of them are true. So March 3rd is, What if Cats and Dogs had Opposable Thumbs Day, March-

Gillian Bruce: Who came up with that?

Mike Gerholdt: It's madness, I don't know. March 9th is International Fanny Pack Day.

Gillian Bruce: I missed it.

Mike Gerholdt: So that's come and gone and National Earmuff day, we just missed it, Nash is March 13th. The choices were actually so funny, I couldn't think of funnier ones and I was like, "I'm just going to make it all of them." This is all of them. Upcoming, March 21st is Absolutely Incredible Kid Day, so if you have an absolutely incredible kid-

Gillian Bruce: I mean, my kids are okay.

Mike Gerholdt: March 23rd is World Meteorological Day and March 31st is World Backup day.

Gillian Bruce: Backup?

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah.

Gillian Bruce: Backing up your data?

Mike Gerholdt: I Don't know, I just thought. This is also why I didn't choose those.

Gillian Bruce: You'll be excited about the Meteorological Day, because you love the weather channel?

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, sure.

Gillian Bruce: No, it's fantastic wake. I'm going to have to remember Fanny Pack Day, next year.

Mike Gerholdt: Fanny Pack Day is March 9th. Third question, so you're 50, 50 here for the win. According to research from the UK Office of National Statistics, kids born in March are statistically more likely to grow up to become what? A, a marine biologist, b, an airline pilot or c, a philanthropist?

Gillian Bruce: Well, Dana my partner was born in March and he's none of those. He's also not very common, I wouldn't use him as an example for anyone else.

Mike Gerholdt: Wow. That fun fact, learn during March madness quiz.

Gillian Bruce: What's appropriate, because he does do sports for a living so I should talk about him on podcast. And when I say, do sports, he just talks about that, he's not actually doing a sporting activities. So let's see, God, marine biologist, pilot and philanthropist. Pilot?

Mike Gerholdt: You are correct. Kids born in March according to UK Office of National Statistics are more likely to grow up to become a pilot. I threw marine biologists in there because I was a sign field fan and philanthropist because I felt like it would throw people off.

Gillian Bruce: A pilot, wow. Okay, well, I had-

Mike Gerholdt: So start racking up your frequent flyer miles if your kid was born in March.

Gillian Bruce: There you go. Okay. Well, that was fun, Mike.

Mike Gerholdt: You went two for three, on Mike's March madness quiz show.

Gillian Bruce: I mean, the second one was a give me, so that was good.

Mike Gerholdt: I know but who's going to turn down International Fanny Pack Day?

Gillian Bruce: Definitely not me. Thank you, Mike. That was very fun. I appreciate that.

Mike Gerholdt: Yes. What if Cats and Dogs had Opposable Thumbs Day.

Gillian Bruce: That's going to give me nightmares, is what that's going to do.

Mike Gerholdt: Then bake your bread, you never know. Unlike the UK's Office of National Statistics, 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 those links and many more resources. You can stay up to date with us on social for all things admins, we are @SalesforceAdmns. No, I, on Twitter. I am @MikeGerholdt and Gillian, is @GillianKBruce. Don't forget to tweet her non-silly or silly question. There is no such thing as a silly question. And with that, stay safe, stay awesome and stay tuned for our next episode. We'll see you in the cloud.



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

For this episode of the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we team up with Josh Birk, host of the Salesforce Developer Podcast. We come together about the difference between admins and devs and how you can get more dev skills in your toolbox.

Join us as we talk about why it’s easier than ever to learn to code, and how you can put those skills into action.

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

Thinking like a dev.

While Flow and code can feel like two different things, the thought process behind it is the same. “The admin roles are very process-driven,” Josh says, “whereas in the developer role, you’re really trying to figure out what is the appropriate functionality and what is the appropriate tool to bring that functionality forward.”

The important thing to realize is that these skills are totally obtainable if they’re of interest, and Josh has tons of examples of people who have started without a computer science background and gone on to great things. But even more importantly, understanding how everything works is important so you can communicate effectively with your developers and create something that works together.

What happens when an admin learns to code?

One other thing that gets people tripped up is the idea of task versus identity. Just because you’re doing an admin or developer task doesn’t mean that it’s your identity—things aren’t always so black and white. Sometimes you need to developer tasks, even if you’re an admin at heart. As Josh puts it, “having the developer role and role understand their strengths and their weaknesses helps each other do their job better.”

There’s also the fact that you need someone to help you troubleshoot when something goes wrong. Failure is an important part of learning, and having someone over your shoulder can be a big help. If you make the transition to being a dev or acquiring dev skills, there are a lot of options out there for where to go next.

There’s a lot more in the pod about how to get code skills and what to do with them once you acquire them, so be sure to listen in!

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Full Transcript

Mike: 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 diving into a really great discussion with fellow podcaster and host of the Salesforce Developer Podcast, Josh Birk. You may also know him for Trailhead.
In this episode, we will have a fun discussion about the identity of developers and admins and the tasks that they perform. So with that, let's get Josh on the pod.
Welcome to the podcast, Josh.

Josh Birk: Thanks for having me, Mike.

Mike: So, since we last chatted, somebody started their own podcast.

Josh Birk: Oh really? Who was that?

Mike: Yeah. I don't know.

Gillian Bruce: I know. I know.

Mike: Spoiler.

Gillian Bruce: Josh, it's you.

Josh Birk: Oh, since we last recorded. Oh my God. That was so long ago.

Mike: Yes, it was.

Josh Birk: Well, that was a whole pandemic and a half ago, at least.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, the way time moves these days, it's like 10 years ago.

Mike: So, you have the Developer Podcast now.

Josh Birk: I have the developer podcast now. We are rounding up towards episode 75. Like y'all, we have gone out weekly since two Dreamforces ago, basically. And, and yeah, no, it's, it's been great. We've got episodes that are, these days lasting somewhere between 20 to 40 minutes, about 30 minutes usually.
And honestly, going back to the pandemic joke, it's like the timing couldn't have been better, because I am catching up with people from the community around the world and having lengthy conversations with them. And I don't think I even was going to be able to do that in the normal world. I don't remember the last time I actually sat down and talked with, and hear about and for more than 20 minutes at a time. And so, it's been really great to be able to have those experiences.

Mike: Yeah, no, it's a great podcast. I'm always glad there's more podcasters for our audience to listen to. Well, we're bringing you on. We did a whole bunch of, of course everybody's doing video content these days, and we got some questions in the community and one of them really stood out that I responded to. It was during our release readiness and I know the developer release rain has got this question too, but there's a lot of people out there and they identify as admins, they identify as developers, they identify as architects and so many different identities. And one of them was, "Hey, I'm doing this, but I need some developer content."
And what's interesting is I sent the question over to you and your response wasn't exactly what I expected, because I really just wanted a link.

Josh Birk: Yeah. Yeah. And it really isn't just a link, I think, would be my answer there. And I'm trying to remember what I actually pointed her to, if it was Trailhead or any of the podcast episodes, do you recall?

Mike: Well, I think it was a combination of both, but your response, because I got you on a hangout because our calendar was free. Your response got me thinking, which was, does she want to learn the skills or she want to learn how to think like a developer?

Josh Birk: Mmm, yes, yes. Yeah. And it's come up on in a lot of different conversations that, for instance, if we start comparing Flow to coding, for instance, and people like to call Flow "low code." But even developers brace at that a little bit, because they're like, "No, Flow is actually more like visual code," and the thought process between putting behind a Flow together versus putting an apex class together is actually really, really similar.
And I think a lot of developers would agree with this too, if you just throw them a bunch of stuff and they just repeat it, that they're not necessarily learning how JavaScript works, for instance. But if you take a step back and actually start looking at the functionality of it, then you start looking at the precise things that you as quote unquote, "the role of developer," is really interacting with.
And so, I think Trailhead is a really good resource, but I think there's also a lot of different resources that bring you through that experience of being a developer that might help bridge going from admin skills to developer skills a little bit more.

Gillian Bruce: So I think that's interesting, because I think we focus so much on the skills and like you said, Trailhead is very skills focused, but that thinking, that strategy, can you dig into maybe what some of those differences are?
You know both the admin and the developer personas pretty well, what would you say are some of the top thinking strategies or shifts between those two personas that stand out to you?

Josh Birk: So, I think the admin roles, they're very process driven. It's very much a getting the right things into the right boxes at the right time for the right people kind of thing. Whereas in the developer role, you're really trying to figure out what's what's the appropriate functionality and what's the appropriate tool to bring that functionality forward.
And so, I think there's a lot of exercising, mentally to do, to go through that process. I would caveat that though, with like... And this has come up a lot in the pod and conversations, it's not a mad scientist skill. It's not an ivory tower kind of thing that you have to get into. It's really just, are you willing to spend some time and mental energy to start getting into those habits of writing code, testing code, proving your functionality, and things like that?
And I have multiple examples of people who have virtually no... They didn't come up computer science geeks, they didn't come up with a Commodore 64 on their desk when they were a kid, they just out of nowhere, were like, "I want to learn these skills," and they just started going through those exercises and it's 100% attainable. Your background does not necessarily limit the kind of role that you want to slowly get into.

Gillian Bruce: I think that's interesting Josh, because I know my personality, I would never have the patience to sit there and write a bunch of code and test it and troubleshoot it for hours and hours on end. I just know that that is not something that even appetizes me in the slightest. But there are people that just love that, and it's like tackling a really complex problem and getting in there. And so, I definitely would have a very hard time being a developer, I know that. I could probably learn the stuff, learn the skills, but actually having that kind of mindset and that kind of approach to my work would absolutely not do it for me.

Josh Birk: I want to add though, quickly, I sound like I'm almost diminishing taking time and learning some of the skills and getting a grasp of triggers and things like that. And I think even if you acknowledge that, that adding developer into your role is it's not something for you, getting your eyeballs on it is still very useful. I've had people in workshops admit to me, "I'm not a developer, I'm not a programmer, I'm never going to code the stuff, but I need to know what you're saying so that I can actually talk to my developers."

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. I think 100%, that's the difference between understanding versus building it yourself. And I think I've also, very similarly, I think it's so interesting to understand how the LWC works or understanding how to troubleshoot and use [SOCO] and some of those more complex things, but I would not sit there and come up with that stuff on my own. But I think that that is an important distinction there.

Josh Birk: Yeah. I have an anecdote for my workshop days, where somebody came to me and said that to me. They said, "I'm not a developer, but I need to learn some of this because I think my developers are lying to me."
And I was like, "No, no. I understand. It's easy to have miscommunications. And sometimes developers, maybe they're not communicating you too correctly, but I'm pretty certain they're not lying to you."
And it was back in the days of remote objects and being able to do things asynchronously. And so, I showed the difference between being able to just load a bunch of stuff on a page. And this was back in the visual force page, those days. And it's like, you have this whole task that's going to just, every time you press the button, this huge amount of data is coming back to the server and then back down the client. And you could just feel the web browser shake when you're trying to do it.
Or you could do it this other way, which is really lightweight and fast and you press the button and it just comes back quickly. And I showed that demo and that person came to me and she's like, "That. That's what's happening." And she pulls up this browser page and it's got this visual force page with a hundred check boxes on it because every single check box has every single attribute that's on the lead object. And you click one of them, and it tries to update basically the entire database all at the same time. And she clicks one of them, and once again, it's like you can almost see the laptop just cry in pain. And she's like, "y developers are telling me this can't be any faster or any better." And I'm like, "They're lying to you. Sorry."

Gillian Bruce: That's hilarious.

Mike: Josh, I think one of the things that seems to come to mind for me is, task versus identity. And just because, to the point of some of the questions we get, an individual doing a developer or an admin task doesn't necessarily mean that that's their identity.

Josh Birk: Yeah. And I feel like we have a lot of like marketing and organizational cruft, which leans to having those very distinct concepts. But then when you wander around the community, that distinction is never as black and white as sometimes we put it in our organization or our training material.
I just had an interview, which is actually chronologically coming out next week, so I think it'll be two weeks behind when this actually airs. But it's with Katie Codes, and a lot of the stuff we talk about is like, what's an admin-eloper? And how did that role happen? And I think her response was something like, there were admins who were occasionally doing developer tasks who wanted to not get rid of their admin identity, but also assert the fact that there were these things in the quote unquote "developer domain" that they were still doing. And I think having that flexibility is good.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, the admin-eloper a really interesting thing that popped up from the community, which I mean, this is always where these... Everything we get is because of what people are actually doing. And I think it is interesting because understanding the language, understanding the skillset and even understanding the different... A developer approach as an admin, can really add a great deal to your abilities, to either help manage your own Salesforce instance, or even work across different teams and up-level your game there, which I think is a really interesting way to think about it. So, even if you're not going to go down the developer path, understanding enough to be dangerous, kind of thing.

Josh Birk: Yeah, absolutely. And I think we've always said, from either side of the spectrums, having the developer role, an admin role, know their strengths and their weaknesses helps each other do their job. And so I always, and this is the classic example, but I remember being in a business requirements gathering meeting, and they were going through this automation process that was going to have to happen. And I get out of the meeting and I turn to my business partner and I'm like, "That's not that bad. I can put it into a trigger. It'll probably take me a couple of days, but I want to have a couple more days just to be able to test it." And he just looked at me blankly, and this will tell you how old this anecdote is, but he's like, "Or I could just put it in a workflow for you and we're done."
And it's like, I wasn't thinking in terms of how easy that would be for somebody in the admin role just to get it done and not have to worry about the four day process that I was describing. And he was 100% right. And it would have been a far simpler workflow than it would have been a trigger.

Mike: And it would have been native, no code.

Josh Birk: And it would've been native, no code, which, we get that with Flow these days as well. So, you still get that advantage of not having code, but you have a lot of the flexibility too.

Mike: Is some of that just a symptom of systems not having their own configurable backend, front end, prior to Salesforce?

Josh Birk: Yeah, no, absolutely. That's 100% spot on, because I come from a web development background. And so, my world is client server, client asking polite questions, the server thinking about it ponderously and then giving some kind of response. And if there was any automation at that point, that's an integration layer on the server, that's going and kicking something off or handing things over and things like that.
So, I didn't come from a workflow world, or an Excel world or a PL/SQL world, or any of these kinds of things where these configurable automation actions occurred. So, my world for that kind of thing was apex triggers. Doing that kind of automated process at that moment, as me as a developer, that's pretty much the only way I was thinking about it.

Gillian Bruce: So Josh, let's go back to our original question about an admin actually wanting to learn how to be a developer. You talked about like the difference in the thinking, the strategy. What are some first steps that someone in that category might do, from your perspective?
I mean, we do have Trailhead, so clearly we've got some content on there, but beyond that, what are some really good ways to start building your skillset outside of our traditional recommendations?

Josh Birk: Yeah, and we can put them in the show notes. I can point to a couple of specific interviews where this happened. And one of the most recent ones was Lexis Hanson talking about becoming a JavaScript developer. And Trailhead is great for what we were talking about. Seeing the skills and seeing how the code works and learning the nouns and the verbs and things like that.
But when it comes to that, I want to do the exercises and get that muscle memory for putting a function together, for putting methods together, for understanding class structure. One of the things I've heard now repeatedly, is that it's really good to be able to do this with other people. So, if you're learning from people who are expert programmers. And so, one of the things Lexis did is started going to developer group meetings and things like that.
She also utilized Codeacademy and some things like that, but it's having that person who you can throw code at, and do a little bit of peer reviewing on your code and things like that, seems to be a consistent thread of... You have a gym buddy. And so, if you're going to go through that process of exercising until it's muscle memory, having that gym buddy is a really good idea.
And there's RAD Women, I was just talking to Melissa Hanson and she talked about that same thing where it's like, she had people on her team who were pushing her to be like, "You could do Apex." And at this point she has no programming background. And the first two things, she learns is C+ and Apex, which is kind of triumphant.
And I was joking with her because the first thing they did was have her write the unit test so that she could see how that functionality worked against their functionality. And then as she learned how the org was being shaped, get more into the actual Apex side of it. But then that influenced her experiences to be a part of RAD Women and get into these programs where you can talk with other people and you can get coached and you have another human being there who's... I think it's a good analogy, helping you have that gym buddy kind of thing.

Gillian Bruce: I mean, nobody goes to the gym if they don't have an accountability buddy, I totally get that.

Mike: And sometimes they don't go to the gym even if they do.

Josh Birk: Right.

Gillian Bruce: Especially when your accountability buddy isn't very accountable. But one of the things, so, I like taking myself back to when I first started at Salesforce and we were all in four floors in the landmark building. And I worked on the floor with all of our product team. A bunch of developers. And they actually did so much of that, I guess they call it partner programming or whatever, where they both sit at the same desk and are looking at the screens together and actually working together. And I think that's immediately what came to my mind when you were describing that process of having somebody to bounce ideas off of and work with, it's really important when you're getting the developer chops.

Josh Birk: Yeah. I think there's two things that are always true if you're really getting into that role of a developer, identifying as developer. One is that you get into that peer programming, and there's a joke amongst developers that, I'm glad I got you to look over my shoulder because that's the only thing I needed to know to see the bug in my code. Weirdly, just having another human being in your cubicle was the one thing that got you to get to the next point. So, there's always, I think, a social aspect to it, or it's easier if there's a social aspect to it.
And the other thing, that I'm curious to see how this resonates across what we're talking about here with identity and role, because I know it resonates heavily if we added in the architect role, but failure is an option. In fact, it's a requirement. You are going to write bad code. You are going to write code that fails. Your unit tests are going to go red. And this is going to be especially true when you first start learning it.
And I was just talking to somebody about the old days where you had to put in programs by hand based on articles that were printed in magazines. And I always say that this was almost a defining moment for me, because I got so frustrated at the code not working correctly that I almost just never wanted to program a computer ever again. And it's just like, eventually I just wanted it to work enough that I got over that hill. But it's going to be a hill that's there, and it's going to be a hill that's always there.

Gillian Bruce: Wow, writing code from magazines. That's a stamp in time right there.

Josh Birk: Yeah, I'm not young.

Mike: Those things are punch cards [crosstalk].

Josh Birk: It's just after that, yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Mike: I was saving my box tops and putting them in an envelope, self-addressed and waiting the six to eight weeks.

Josh Birk: Yeah, no, that was the generation right before me. That was, one of my old bosses used to say that I couldn't complain to him until I had to carry my punch cards uphill both ways. Because, that's what he says he had to do.

Gillian Bruce: That's hilarious. Well, I mean, the idea that failure is part of learning and it's very important part of learning, I think is something that is, as you say, it's embedded in the developer experience and developer journey. But from an admin perspective, I could understand how that might be a little like, "Wait, what? I'm going to fail? And that's part of the thing? Because my job is to make everything work and to make my users super happy. And that's why I have Sandbox, that's why I test stuff."
I sense a hesitance in that mental shift. So, that could be a little fear-mongering there.

Josh Birk: And I do like that there's a shared experience, and this is probably true across anybody working with the solutions that are for a lot of customers or clients. You are doing your job right when the trains are coming in on time. And it's like, then nobody's complaining. It's like that, if everything's running smoothly, then that's when things were actually going green. I think that's definitely true for both admins and developers.

Gillian Bruce: So Josh, let's talk a little bit about what the options are when an admin does transition into the developer realm. Can you talk to me a little bit about what those career path options look like? What kind of roles would a newly minted developer in the Salesforce ecosystem look for, and what are the different options in that space?

Josh Birk: Yeah, thankfully it's a pretty rosy picture, and it's also... I think I want to level set that you have different options if you want to expand in this region. For instance, Lexis is really a JavaScript developer and not so much a Salesforce developer, even though she works on Trailhead, so very much in Trailhead/Salesforce ecosystem. And JavaScript is a brilliant language to look at if you want to have wide opportunities within and without the Salesforce ecosystem. If anything, there's a lot of competition for it, which might make that a little bit more difficult. Whereas if you get into Apex and Lightning Web Components and that kind of thing, you can really look squarely at the Salesforce developer ecosystem.
So, as a junior developer, you are the person who is accepting those business requirements and being given some kind of parameters and then getting those that functionality built in. So, entry level developer roles, they're pretty straightforward. I think it's typically more complicated than that if you're trying to use your admin identity and then adding in some kind of developer roles, because I don't know if you're always jumping into a completely new job so much as, for instance, in Melissa's case, what it was, was transitional so that she could still do database stuff and admin stuff and things like that because she works with a lot of nonprofits. And nonprofits by their nature are generally small scrappy teams. And so, if you are somebody who can interface directly with developers, maybe even lend them a hand and have that ability to have a broader spectrum of what's going on with the overall architecture, it can be really, really handy if you're looking at smaller shops, SMB, medium-sized businesses and people who need those, those cross-transactional roles to help a team move forward.
So, it's definitely opening doors and there's some people who are now, they're senior developers and doing their dream jobs because they took those first step forwards and they started doing those exercises and they and found that gym buddy.

Gillian Bruce: That's great. That's great. It's helpful too, to understand what your developer job would actually look like day-to-day. So, when you described, like you're accepting the business requirements and building thing, that is a shift from a day-to-day admin role. So, that's good. I always like understanding, so if I take this job, what am I actually going to be doing every day? It's a good thing to think about.

Josh Birk: Yeah. And there's another thing that's come up recently a lot, which is you have Flow. How do you unit test Flow? How do you keep Flow in check when you're moving it from Sandbox to production? And the correct answer, there's actually Apex unit testing. Having Apex pull the levers that the Flow is going to do and make sure that it does the right thing at the end. And so, there's a good example of, if you've got that domain knowledge between those two things, whether you started from an admin perspective or a developer perspective, your production is probably going to be a lot more stable that way.

Mike: I thought you just told it, it was a good boy and gave it treats when it went to production correctly.

Josh Birk: That's my usual strategy, but Flow and I have a very strange relationship.

Mike: Good boy, Flow.

Gillian Bruce: Josh, you spent many years cultivating that relationship. So, you've earned that.

Josh Birk: I have. There's been a lot of interesting conversations along the way. This is true.

Gillian Bruce: Well, Josh, thank you so much for taking time.

Josh Birk: Yeah, no, it's a delight and I look forward to talking to you two. And I also, just so you get this in audio, I want to thank both of you. Mike, you were instrumental in me thinking that maybe we should actually do a Salesforce Developer Podcast.
And Gillian, I tell people all the time, I am doing this because I trained under the wonderful Gillian Bruce. So, my thanks to both of you for helping getting the Developer Podcast up and running, because it wouldn't have happened without you.

Gillian Bruce: Hey, we love having new awesome Salesforce podcasts, and you have just taken it and rocked it. So, thanks for the kudos, but it's all you Josh. So, nice job.

Mike: Yep.

Josh Birk: All right. Well, thanks for having me. And I look forward to talking to you two, in the future.

Gillian Bruce: Well, huge thanks to Josh for taking the time to chat with us today. It's always great to have another fellow podcaster join us on the pod. It's like metapod action. If you want to learn more about all things, Salesforce Admin, go to admin.salesforce.com to find more resources. You can check out Josh's Developer Podcast at developer.salesforce.com.
And as a reminder, if you like what you hear on our pod, take a second and pop on over to iTunes to give us a review. I promise that Mike and I read them all. You can also stay up to date with us on social for all things admin @SalesforceAdmns, no 'I' on Twitter. You can find our guest, Josh Birk on Twitter, @JoshBirk and my co-host Mike, @MikeGareholt, myself, @GillianKBruce.
With that, I hope you all have a wonderful day and we'll catch you next time in the cloud.
My neighbor has a tortoise, Zippy, who walks around in the backyard.

Josh Birk: Because Paige was like, "I really want to go get a turtle." And we had forgotten about the salmonella scare which made turtles not pets anymore.

Gillian Bruce: Oh yeah.

Josh Birk: Yeah, so.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, they are huge harbors of nasty salmonella, but the best part about Zippy real quick, is that, tortoises live for 80 plus years. So, my next door neighbor, Bernadette, she's older. She's got to be in her seventies and she's already having to create her retirement plan for Zippy after she passes because no one's going to be around to take care of Zippy. So, she's like, "I've talked to the zoo. The zoo is willing to take him."

Josh Birk: Oh, aw. Aw, Zippy.

Gillian Bruce: So, caution when you, when you invest in animals that live a long time.

Josh Birk: Yes, yes. You might have to consider that they're living well, true.

Mike: I think I read somewhere that there was... One of the oldest tortoises was like 180 some years old.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, some of those Galapagos tortoises.

Mike: I'm fairly certain he doesn't care. Do you think he remembers his first owner?

Josh Birk: I think your one 180 is probably very similar to year 80, which is probably very similar to year 40 for him.

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

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we talk to Kris Harrison, Director of Product Management at Salesforce for data, integration, and metadata focusing on Enterprise API and External Services. We’ll dive into all those technical topics and more as we dive into APIs and how they affect everything that goes on in your org.

 

Join us as we talk about why you should be thinking about APIs and how to learn more.

 

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

 

Why APIs are important for admins to understand.

 

Kris is a Product Manager at Salesforce focused on the Enterprise API Product Suite. “The encompasses the REST, SOAP, and Bulk APIs that provide programmatic access to the core Salesforce data that we know and love and run so many important functions across many different businesses,” he says. That includes the API framework and specific API operations and resources, like the query operation.

 

While interacting with APIs sometimes feels like it’s out of the scope of your average admin, so much of what goes on happens either implicitly or explicitly through an API request. Even if you’re not writing code, tons of things you’re doing on your org interact with APIs, and it’s important to understand how they work and how they affect your day-to-day. “If you’re interacting with an org, there’s an API that’s part of making that magic happen,” Kris says.

 

New API changes in Spring ‘21.

 

For Spring ‘21, Kris’s team has added the FIELDS() function to the SOQL query. This lets you pull back a pre-defined grouping of fields within the results set you can reference. You can return standard fields, custom fields, or even all fields in the resulting data to save on keystrokes and research to make that exploration on data within an org much easier. That means you can stay within the SOQL query and interpret that results without having to toggle back and forth—one of the most requested ideas on the IdeaExchange.

 

They’ve also created a plan to retire versions 7-20 of the SOAP, REST, and Bulk API. “Every new release we stamp out a new version of the API,” Kris says, “in Spring ‘21, we issued version 51.” So there’s now a plan to retire the oldest versions of the API (version 7 is from Summer ‘06, for example). There’s information in the Release Update tool in Setup on how to think about how to prepare for this change and what steps can be taken to ensure the org and it’s integrations won’t be impacted by the retirement plan. This helps you take advantage of the newest innovations that ship with every major release.

 

Adding to capabilities to your org.

 

For admins, we’re always looking for areas of opportunity—ways we can make the environment better and more efficient. While we’re often focused on new declarative features, looking at API improvements can give users and developers access to new innovation.

 

“As the CLI capabilities are able to evolve and become more feature-rich, they’re plugging into new capabilities that are expressed through the API,” Kris says, “so there’s a win-win there. As you upgrade and make steps to take advantage of the capability that ships with every major release, that’s an opportunity to refresh the state of any older, pre-exisiting integrations with the org, take stock of them, and see if they would benefit from some of those newer capabilities that have been brought to market and question if they’re still needed and providing a viable service for the org.”

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Full 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, LeeAnne is sitting in for Gillian, and the two of us are talking with Kris Harrison, who is the product management director for products at Salesforce within data integration, metadata, and focusing on enterprise API and external services.
That's right. It's the admin podcast, and we're going to talk about APIs and it's awesome. You should totally tune in. So let's get Kris on the pod. So Kris, welcome to the podcast.

Kris Harrison: Thank you so much and I'm grateful to be here.

Mike Gerholdt: Ah, it's exciting to always talk with new product majors and have guest interviewers on the pod. Why don't we get started and tell us a little bit about what you do at Salesforce.

Kris Harrison: Sure. I'm a product manager within our platform services area, and my focus is on our enterprise API product suite that encompasses the REST, the SOAP, the bulk APIs that provide programmatic access to the core Salesforce data that we know and love and run so many important functions across so many different businesses.
That responsibility entails a few different things. Number one, we own the API framework that so many Salesforce product teams expose their objects and their business logic through, but we also own specific API operations and resources like our query operation that is expressed through the SOQL language.
So we have a pretty big scope and it's a really exciting space to play in because I learn so much every day about what customers and partners are able to do with these API capabilities.

LeeAnne: So, Kris, I know that you've been working more and more with admins and you mentioned you've been working with a lot of our customers, and I know that many of our admins, myself when I was an admin, we didn't really always view our role as intersecting with APIs, or that didn't always feel like it was within our scope, but I know it is very much within the scope of the admin.
How do you see admins intersecting with your products most often? Maybe admins that are managing implementations or working with developer teams. Like what are some of the things that you've seen when you've been out in the field with our customers?

Kris Harrison: So much of what takes place in interacting with the data on an org happens either implicitly or explicitly through an API request. So it's important to keep tabs on that notion of how interactivity with the org and the form of exchange of data or enablement of functionality takes place.
It happens at its core through API calls and there are so many different applications of API consumption that are conceptually important to be aware of. Developers that are working with an org will interact through APIs as a contract. Apps that are installed through the app exchange enable their functionality through API calls.
So their APIs are what I like to call digital glue that make so much of what happens in an org possible. So just having good awareness of that touch point with the org is important.
A number of admin functions are making API calls behind the scenes. So anyone who makes use of the data loader client that is a product that makes API calls into the org in order to load or to extract the data that's of interest. So APIs are what are making that happen, and it's part of the day to day, even if you're not writing code or making an explicit call to an API directly.

LeeAnne: So APIs are very much are in the domain of admins, even if they're not necessarily writing scripts or writing code that is calling those APIs. All of the things that admins are doing within Salesforce is interacting in some way with the APIs.

Kris Harrison: I think it's safe to say that if interacting with an org, there's an API that's part of that, making that magic happen.

LeeAnne: Awesome. And I think that that's one of the things we think about a lot for our admin community out there. They do a lot of building and they are often using the declarative tools to build out customizations and to build these experiences. But really the scope of what they're making decisions on or helping make prioritizations on, it extends beyond, well beyond what is being built declaratively.
And so I know that there's some updates coming for admins that are really important to have on the radar that your team has been working on. And the first one I want to ask you about is something you shipped this past spring 2021. So it's GA, it's fields function. I know this was something that was incredibly popular on the idea exchange. Do you want to give us a little more information about that for maybe our audience members who haven't yet dove into this part of the release?

Mike Gerholdt: Absolutely. So the fields function is the latest enhancement to the SOQL query language that I made mention of. So as owners of query operations on Core, you perform those query operations by writing a SOQL query. And so one of the things that we've done to make interacting with data through SOQL more approachable for admins who are writing those queries through the CLI or any number of places where SOQL comes into play.
The fields function allows an author of a SOQL statement with very few keystrokes and with very little need to reference what's going on the org, pull back a predefined grouping of fields within the results set with which to reference. So the fields function allows you to return standard fields, custom fields, or even all fields in the resulting data very, very quickly and save on keystrokes, save on research to make that exploration of data within an org, a lot more seamless and less intensive with the research and the typing that's associated with that.

LeeAnne: So this means like in a practical application, if I was writing a SOQL query and previously maybe as an admin, I would have been going into the object record and set-up and looking at the fields and pulling the API names. But now that can just happen where I'm writing the queries. Is that what you're saying?

Kris Harrison: That's right. You can stay within the context of writing the SOQL query and interpreting the results without having to toggle back and forth or do a lot of that research.
So the initial request was to have Salesforce offer the SQL equivalent of Select Star, which is a useful tool to very quickly understand the shape of a table or an object in the context of the underlying data.
So we thought about that request and considered the true nature of the problems that are solved with Star, and we thought that we could do better. We built a function that will lend itself to future extensibility of other groupings of fields that the admins or developers care about and really take advantage of additional constructs on the platform that can plug right into SOQL.

LeeAnne: And this is something that was very much a major request from the community. I think this was one of the top idea exchange ideas.

Kris Harrison: Within our area of ownership, yes.

LeeAnne: It's awesome, and it just reinforces the importance of everyone who's listening, if you haven't participated in prioritization, like this is, it's so important. We love hearing your ideas. We want you to vote on ideas because often they get delivered and they get that visibility with our product teams.
Let's talk a little bit more about other updates that are coming for admins and ways that admins really should be paying close attention to API updates. I know that there is some incoming news and changes coming with API version. Can you talk a little bit about that for admins and really what it means for their planning and their long-term planning of their orgs?

Kris Harrison: Of course. So in December of 2019, we announced a program to retire versions seven through 20 of the SOAP, REST and bulk API. Every major release, we stamp out a new version of the API. In spring 2021, we issued version 51 of the API.
And so we've made a plan to retire and take out of service some of those really, really old versions of the API. For reference, version seven of the API shipped in the summer 2006, really. So we carry around these versions and maintain backward compatibility for a number of releases. And we're embarking upon a plan to tighten up the number of supported releases that are live in any one given time.
And so we're going through the steps of raising awareness of these retirement plans. We have issued knowledge articles. We also just recently posted information to the release update tool within set-up to provide greater visibility around how to consider this retirement program and what steps can be taken in order to ensure that the org and any integrations that are taking place with that org are able to continue on without being impacted by the retirement.

LeeAnne: So this is something that is very important for our admins, especially admins with older, more established environments to be really cognizant of. Because this is something that could impact their integrations, and it's something that's within their scope to be keeping track of and to ideally include updating the API versions in their prioritization and their project planning. Correct?

Kris Harrison: That's right. At every major release, there's additional API based capability to take advantage of, and that newer capability will only ever be able to be accessed by upgrading integrations to consume that latest version. For example, the fields function that we just talked about in SOQL, you cannot access that function if your query operation is going against an older version of the API.
And so we want to encourage all of our customers to take advantage of the newest innovations that ship with every major release that will not be back ported to these older versions. So there's a lot of incentives to consume those newer versions of the API that we stamp out with every major release.

Mike Gerholdt: Well, to me this sounds like the perfect opportunity to have a discussion with your IT. Like what are we integrated? What had been integrated in Salesforce? I mean, if you're running an API from 2006, do we even need that Legacy system anymore? Are we pulling 14 year old data?

LeeAnne: Well, anything to what Kris was just explaining is even if you have some architecture from, or an integration that was built in like 2011, so you've got five years before, or you've got a period of time before that API version's retired.
However, there is a motivation there, as there are new features and new capabilities released with these APIs that if you do have space on your dockets, as you're doing your project planning to optimize your environment and to give your users the best experience. Like being really forward-thinking in finding those areas of opportunity to update the API version for some of those older implementations, even if they're not at the end of their usability would help you take advantage of all these cool new features that are coming out.

Mike Gerholdt: So, what you're saying is I should have switched off FireWire a long time ago to USB-C and stay ahead of the different Apple plugs, because that's what it sounds like.

LeeAnne: Yes, always upgrade the hardware as well. I think this is for admins presents a good opportunity, because I think our admins are often out there thinking about the three, six, nine month plans for their environments and doing both tech debt management prioritization of maybe different business schools. But also a lot of our admins are out there, very often trying to find these areas of opportunity. To make the environment better, to make it more efficient, to solve different problems.
And we often spend a lot of time talking about really focused on the declarative features that are coming out like new field capabilities, things like that, that are coming out for admins to take advantage of. But this is really widening the breadth of areas that our admins can build out new innovation or give their users and the developers access to new innovation, if they're also tracking these API updates as well.

Kris Harrison: Definitely. I mean one really handy tool I made mention of data loader before, but the Salesforce CLI, another great tool to take advantage of and to help managing and extend what's going on with an org.
So many of the commands that are invoked through the CLI are making API calls on behalf of the user. And as the CLI capabilities are able to evolve and become more feature rich, they're plugging into net new capabilities that are expressed through the API.
So there's a win-win there, as you upgrade and make steps to take advantage of the new capability that ships within every major release. As Mike intimated, that's an opportunity to touch and refresh the state of any older pre-existing integrations with the org. Take stock of them and see if they would benefit from some of those new capabilities that have been brought to market and question if they're still needed, if they're still providing a viable service for the org.

Mike Gerholdt: Kris, for some of our newer admins who maybe are still listening, because it's interesting and they want to ask their IT. They know they've got an integration. How do they go about verifying what version of the API that integration's on?

Kris Harrison: Yeah. So there are a number of touchpoints and solutions are available through event monitoring, primarily, that report on the calls coming into an org and part of that information includes the version of the endpoint that is being called.
We're making changes in the summer 2021 release to make that visibility available for free through event monitoring. So there's some ability to keep tabs on that as an admin. We're enhancing that visibility to make it more readily available, and the steps to go through to make that check are available in the knowledge article that I just made mention of.

Mike Gerholdt: Cool, and we'll be sure to link that in the show notes.

Kris Harrison: Yes.

LeeAnne: So one thing I'd like to just do a quick plug for. I know we talk about Trailhead of course a lot for admins, but if you're hearing some of this and if elements of it do feel a little intimidating, like the CLI, if you haven't used the CLI before.
I had actually never used the CLI before we started working with Salesforce DX, and I entirely learned how to work with Salesforce through the CLI on Trailhead. So just a quick little plug here, if you're not sure if that is for you, it is for you. And there's definitely content on Trailhead to help you get hands-on step-by-step with how to use the CLI to work with your orgs.
And I highly recommend it because I think these tools that we're talking about are, like I said, very much within the scope of admins and things that we can do to build out our environments and to really create those awesome user experiences.
Kris, I really appreciate how in-depth you've gone on some of these different tools and what it means for admins and how they should view API versions in the context of their existing builds and those opportunities to take advantage of new innovations.
Are there any other things that you want to make sure we share with admins today as they're, maybe some of them are getting started with exploring how their orgs are using APIs and maybe what API versions they're on?

Kris Harrison: So definitely review the release notes of every major release that comes out and study the API section to see if there's any capability that is of interest. I wouldn't shy away from considering the API section of the release notes as for developers only.
Because as I mentioned, some of the capabilities that are made available through the Salesforce UI or through other products on the platform that happens through the API. So there's something that is of interest to hook into for bespoke integrations or projects. Check out the API release notes to see what those opportunities are.
The second thing is absolutely Trailhead. We're working with many stakeholders internally to provide more and better Trailhead content that addresses the concept and the capabilities of APIs. There's actually a really useful trail that we can include in the show notes that brings a lot of that Trailhead knowledge together in a nice package.
The third is to look out for that additional API version consumption visibility that we're going to be launching in the summer 2021 release. So definitely keep an eye out for that in the release notes, and we'll update the knowledge article with those additional details as well.

LeeAnne: So we've got lots of awesome API content for our awesome admins, it sounds like.

Kris Harrison: Absolutely.

Mike Gerholdt: Fabulous. Well, I want to thank you Kris for being on the podcast and enlightening us on APIs. I feel like it's the current in our walls that runs along and never makes sense to me when I plug something in. It pops a fuse, but I do it anyway.

Kris Harrison: There are so many great API metaphors out there. One of the...

Mike Gerholdt: Oh, tell me your favorite. Tell me your favorite, please.

Kris Harrison: I can't take credit for it, and I don't know who is the originator of it, but the metaphor of APIs in the context of going to a restaurant, giving an order to a waiter and having the waiter go to the kitchen to fulfill that request and bring the food or drink back to you.
I think that's a really useful and helpful metaphor that explains what APIs are and the benefit that they can provide. Rather than stepping into a restaurant and having to go into the kitchen to cook your own meal, APIs provide that exchange of information back and forth between the table and the kitchen in a reusable context.
So that's one I like, but you can go out there and search for any number of other metaphors that connect with you to help explain what APIs do and what value that they offer.

Mike Gerholdt: I like it.

LeeAnne: I really like that metaphor. I'm not on many podcasts, but when I am, we always seem to end up talking about...

Mike Gerholdt: That's because you're on podcasts with me, LeeAnne. That's all.

LeeAnne: Maybe it's just because we record at lunchtime. I don't know.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, that was great. Thanks Kris.

Kris Harrison: My pleasure.

Mike Gerholdt: Well, it was a great discussion about APIs with LeeAnne and Kris. There's so much that an admin knows and does and interacts with the API. And I love the analogy that Kris gave us of a restaurant server, taking your order and going back to the chef. That's a neat way to think about it.
If you want to learn more about all things Salesforce Admin, go to admin.salesforce.com to find more resources. You can stay up to date with us on social. We are at Salesforce Admns on Twitter.
Our guest today was Kris Harrison. You can find him on Twitter @GETkharrison, link is in the show notes. Of course, Gillian, my co-host who is @gilliankbruce on Twitter. And don't forget to follow LeeAnne. She is @Leeanndroid. Of course, I would appreciate it. I am @MikeGerholdt.
And with that stay safe, stay awesome, and of course stay tuned for the next episode. We will see you in the cloud.

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

For this episode of the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’re joined by LeeAnne Rimel, Architect Admin Relations, fellow Evangelist, and host of the Youtube video series “Did You Know” and “Expert Corner” to share some tips for how to learn in a virtual world.

Join us as we talk about distributed work, how to address concerns with working from home, and how to get a better work-life balance.

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

Join us in the Expert Corner.

March is Admin Integration Month, and it also marks the launch of Expert Corner, a new video series that gives our community the chance to meet the product managers that build the tools our admins are using. “One of the things that came up as I was thinking about how we bring technical content and technical conversations to admins was those conversations that we often witness or have with product managers when we’re at in-person events,” LeeAnne says.

The video series is a way of bringing that experience to everyone. In short, Expert Corner is a front-row seat to a Dreamforce session for anyone with an internet connection.

Tips for working from home

Working from home for seven years, LeeAnne has developed some habits to help her keep focused. Her first tip is that if you’re in a meeting, always imagine you’re right there in the conference room. Close any extra tabs, turn off notifications, and do everything you’d do if you were in a conference room with your boss’s boss’s boss. The same goes for taking time for yourself: “treat yourself and your own time and mental bandwidth with the same respect you would for your colleagues,” LeeAnne says.

If you’re having trouble getting your manager onboard with a remote working situation, one thing that LeeAnne’s found is helpful is to get specific about their concerns. You can then address those concerns with specific solutions, and sometimes it’s about thinking creatively. Maybe you can address their concern that they won’t know the status of your work with a quick 5-minute status update at the beginning of the day, for example.

Admins lead the way

“Having an entire workforce change the way they’re working with technology—for any reason—presents an opportunity for admins to be leaders on how their company is using technology,” LeeAnne says, “when there is change, often there is a need and a thirst for some direction and some leadership and some pathfinding.” That can be setting the tone for communicating project statuses, or just how things are communicated within your organization.

One thing LeeAnne does to be on top of the ball is consume information from a lot of sources and synthesize it quickly. She takes a lot of notes but aims to cut down 90% of it and find the important takeaways. Finally, LeeAnne recommends taking the time to figure out how to communicate that information in a way that your users will consume it.

LeeAnne has tons of great tips for working from home and work-life balance, so make sure you listen to the full episode.

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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 are talking with architect admin relations, fellow evangelist, host of many YouTube video series like Did You Know and Expert Corner. I think there's probably five other things I should say about LeeAnne, but LeeAnne Rimel is on the podcast to share with us her expertise in learning in a virtual world, and Gillian, this is just such a fun discussion.

Gillian Bruce: Anytime we get to chat with LeeAnne it's super fun.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. So if you ever want to know what our team meetings are like, this podcast is pretty much it. So with that, let's get LeeAnne on the podcast. So LeeAnne, welcome to the podcast.

LeeAnne Rimel: Thank you so much for having me. I'm glad to be back.

Mike Gerholdt: You have a lot going on.

LeeAnne Rimel: Yeah, it's been a busy month. It's been a busy few weeks around here. Got some really exciting stuff coming for our admin audience that's been rolled out during March because it's admin integration month. So having a really good time at putting together and collaborating on a lot of content to help our admins be awesome integrators.

Gillian Bruce: Oh, you're not just integrating admins?

LeeAnne Rimel: All of our awesome admins are also awesome integrators.

Gillian Bruce: I love it. Well, LeeAnne. So in addition to integration, which we have a few amazing episodes in the month of March focused on integration, talking to some great people in the Salesforce ecosystem about that, there's also a new video series that you launched that I'd love to dig into a little bit and it's called Expert Corner. So can you talk to us a little bit more about what that is and what it's about?

LeeAnne Rimel: Absolutely. So video is a really important medium for us and it's a medium that I really enjoy working with. I've worked with video for a number of years now. I love that as a communication medium when we're talking to our community. So I love exploring different ways to use video, and one of the things that actually came up as I was preparing and thinking about how we bring technical content to admins and technical conversations to admins was those conversations that we often witness or have with product managers when we're at in-person events.
One of my favorite things in my time at Salesforce is when I'm at a World Tour or when I'm at a meet up and I run into people who are working with the product, either as experts or as product managers, and I get to have those water cooler conversations. Or I get to hear the presentations that they're giving on their product roadmaps or on solutions they've built. So that was really the origin story for this new video series, because we said, "Well, how do we bring that experience, or just one of the many ways that we can try to work to bring that experience to our admin audience that's all over the world? How do we bring them that experience of meeting a product manager like they would have that New York World Tour or Sydney World Tour and bring that to video format so everyone still can meet the product managers that are building the products that they're working with?"
So that is, the essence of what Expert Corner is. It's me sitting down with product managers, with product experts and just hearing from them. Hearing about why they built a tool the way they built it. What are the use cases and things like that that they learned from admins as they were building that tool? What does the roadmap look like? I never will pass up a chance to ask about roadmaps, so we always ask about the roadmap, and we're going to be rolling those out every month. There'll be new videos on our YouTube channel and on our blog for Expert Corner. And this is, I hope, a really good chance for our admin community, our global admin community, to meet the product owners that are building the tools that our admins are using.

Mike Gerholdt: I feel like it's a front row seat at a Dreamforce session.

LeeAnne Rimel: I love it. That's a much faster way. I should just describe it that way. That's a much faster way.

Gillian Bruce: And what's great about it is that it's not a Dreamforce session, because only so many people can come to a Dreamforce or come to a World Tour. And what this does is it enables anyone who has an internet connection to get that experience, which I think is pretty awesome.

LeeAnne Rimel: And that's really the goal. We appreciate and love our admin community globally, so I think even if we were having in-person events like this week, I think we would still be doing this type of series because I think that this gives our global audience a chance to feel really connected to the product management life cycle because that so deeply impacts all of our implementations that we're working on, the decisions that we're making as admins. So like Mike said, front row seat. I want all of our admins globally to have a front row seat to get to know their product managers, get to know the products that they're building.

Mike Gerholdt: One thing I like about it is in addition to just having that front row seat, it's very consumable. And I know one thing that you focus on and really help the whole team do is understand how we're learning in a virtual world, because when we're at Dreamforce, you can sit there and not necessarily turn your phone off, but leave it in your bag or your pocket and not get pinged with email or Slack notifications. But now that we're all sitting at home trying to figure that out, working and our email is always on, video is always on, I'd love to know your thoughts on how you balance your calendar and demands so that admins can find time to watch videos like what you're producing.

LeeAnne Rimel: And I think that's a really important conversation that a lot of us are facing right now. And I think even before we were all, or many of us were working from home, I think there was a lot of conversations around being inundated with incoming messages and the attention span that... Shortening our attention span, because we'd always get pings. I have a few things that I do that I actually started doing when I began working from home seven years ago, that really helped me focus on and what I was doing at the moment. One of those is even if you're home and you've got three monitors, if you're on a meeting, imagine as if you were in a conference room for that meeting. I try to close all of my other windows I might have open, I turn off notifications on my phone and on my computer, I try to really do the things... Imagine if you were going to be in a conference room with your boss's boss's boss, and you don't want all your stuff pinging, you wouldn't be answering chats at the end of the table, most likely.
So bring that same focus to the meetings that you have that you're participating in, and also even if it's not a meeting, respect your own time. If you're setting aside 30 minutes to consume learning content, or if you're setting aside 30 minutes to work on trying to build a new flow, I think it's... Treat yourself in your own time and bandwidth, mental bandwidth, with the same respect that you would treat your colleagues with. If you say, "Okay, I'm going to block out 30 minutes on my calendar or 90 minutes on my calendar, whatever work cycle works for you, and I'm going to work on this demo, or I'm going to work on..." Or maybe not in demo for you, but, "I'm going to work on trying to build a flow with like the newest flow features, or I'm going to work on trying to learn more about platform events."
Try to set aside as much as you can set aside other items, because that's going to make that time so much more efficient if you're not context switching between trying to think about different emails that need to be answered and stuff. There's a lot of interesting actually supply chain themes that have come into how we talk about our brain space during work, like context fishing and change cost. But basically the long and short of it is when you... There's no such as shooting off a quick email. If you're working on something, let's say consuming platform events content and trying to learn a new thing, if you pop out for a second to answer an email, that actually costs you 20 minutes of productivity there, just because you can't just context switch that quickly.

Gillian Bruce: LeeAnne, I'm just going to add to that. One thing I always find myself doing, or at least I definitely did during this first part of my working from home very regularly experienced was I would have a video or something playing constantly, because I'm like, "Oh, I can just absorb this while I'm doing this." It was too much. It was like answering the Slack. I was answering this email. I was trying to pay attention to the video, and I wasn't doing anything very well. Nobody wants a multipurpose printer because it... Yes, it can scan, it can fax, it can print, but does it do any of those very well? Usually not.

LeeAnne Rimel: Yeah, give yourself the space... I mean, I wish I could just absorb by osmosis and just... I wish I could just play technical videos while I was sleeping and I would just wake up knowing new programming languages, but that's not how it works. You have to be really focused. And I think to me that's a huge thing. And I think the more that you can put that on your calendar, it works... I'm a huge fan of turning off notifications whenever you can and just communicate about that. I know I communicate to my team back in the day of building demos and stuff. I'd say, "Hey, I'm going to be heads down building a demo for the next 90 minutes. I'll be back." And I think everyone has different work cultures and work team set ups and all of that, but as much as you can set that time aside because 30 minutes well-spent is so much more impactful than 120 minutes of half way reading a Trailhead module or a blog. Like you said, Gillian, we're not multi-purpose printers. Which is not a sentence I thought I would say.

Mike Gerholdt: Gillian, by the way, I have a multi-purpose printer. I thought what you were going to say is, "But does it do all three at the same time? No."

Gillian Bruce: I mean, they have gotten better in the last few years, but in general they're not super efficient at any one of those things. They're trying to do at all.

Mike Gerholdt: Yep. LeeAnne, as I was listening to talk about all of that stuff, one of the things that I think I've had conversations on Twitter about, and I also feel you're really good at managing up and helping other admins talk to their managers or their stakeholders, what happens if you're in an environment where your boss says, "I need to see you online," or, "I need to see this," or, "I need you to be available." How do you have those conversations or what would your advice be?

LeeAnne Rimel: I think a lot of times when people in our professional or personal lives are asking us for something, I think it can behoove us as individuals to spend some time thinking about what is really the ask behind the ask. And sometimes you can just actually come out and ask them what it is. So for example, if I had a manager who really wanted to see me online, and actually I did have that at one point. In my career, when I was starting to work from home sometimes as a sales engineer, there was some trepidation about like, "Well, we need to be able to see you." And I was like, "I really want to be able to work from home one day a week. How can I work together with this manager to mitigate what their fear is here?"
And I think if someone brings up an issue like that, often there's maybe some underlying fear or concern that you may be able to manage. So something that worked for me in the past is just asking some discovery questions. A little bit of like, "What is the thing that you're concerned will happen?" And then trying to work together to find a solution for that. So for me, for example, this is 10 years ago, but the concern was, "Well, if you're not here in the office, we're not going to be able to get in touch with you if we have a question." And I said, "Okay, let me set up this Chatter group. I'll commit to being on chat. Here's the things I'm going to do to mitigate."
And you can kind block and tackle sometimes some of those different concerns. Maybe a manager's concern won't know the status of your work and that's why they are reluctant to let you be a little more autonomous during the day. So maybe you can try to investigate or figure out what is that concern rooted in and maybe sending regular update emails. A five minute update email in the morning or the afternoon on the status of your work product or committing to being available in particular chat channels. Ideally every work place is different and people are different, but I think often when there's concerns like that, trying to take a step back and understand where are those concerns coming from, what are they worried is going to happen, and are there things that I can do as that compromise to bridge that gap and still get what I need to be successful at work, but they're also getting what they need to not be like really stressed about me not being on a hangout all day.

Gillian Bruce: That could be really tough because a lot of it is ingrained culture for some organizations, you know? I think even at Salesforce, as in the last year, I mean our whole workforce has pretty much been remote. I know that there's even specific groups that have struggled more with it than others just because there's some... There's a vibe that comes with specific types of organizations. And I know your idea of what is the real fear of not having a butt in seat methodology.

LeeAnne Rimel: What are they worried about?

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. I've seen several conversations where you get in that discussion and all of a sudden it's like, "Oh, well, I worry about knowing where something's at." And like you said, "Oh, we can actually resolve that by giving updates at this time every day or whatever." It's interesting, because it's... I mean, I'm not going to say that some of it is maybe generational, but there is an evolution of work that is happening right now that I think is really fascinating, and a lot of these digital tools enable us to do that in new ways and help transform and evolve the culture there. One question I think would be interesting to work on is specific to admins. I know there are many admins who've already been able to rock their role not being physically in the office. What are some things maybe in the last year or so that you've seen with Salesforce specifically, or that you've seen evolve or surface in the Salesforce community that enable admins to even take this to a further level and continue to actually be a driver of digital transformation at their organizations?

LeeAnne Rimel: I think that's a great question because I think having an entire workforce or a large bulk of your workforce change the way they're working with technology, for really any reason, presents, I think, an opportunity for admins to be leaders on how their company is using technology. I think that admins are good at change management and we're good at training and we're going to communication. And I think that when there is change, often there is really a need and a thirst for some direction and some leadership and some pathfinding like with product pathfinding and tools and creating what are those processes that help us be successful now. So I think that admins can be very well positioned to really help their companies be really successful during this transition.
For example, taking the lead on developing a communication method, like we talked a little bit about doing work product updates and things like that, setting the tone as an admin of, "Here's how we're going to communicate project statuses internally. We're going to use XYZ Chatter tools or we're going to use channels to do these updates and do this communication." I think that often admins can set the tone for how that does... They can do it with Salesforce, maybe, and say, "Here's the latest Salesforce updates. Here's what we're working on. Here's some new fields. Here's how you access the training," and do these regular updates to ensure their users are being really enabled on Salesforce. But I think that culturally, that then sets a precedent for maybe how the organization operates.
Like, "Oh hey, I always get this email from my Salesforce admin. I get a weekly email from the Salesforce admin that lets us know the state of the union for Salesforce and what's coming and what happened this week and what trainings my sales users should take." And then that can become the expectation for the company. For other other platforms that you're on or other projects that are going on. So I think there is an important... And I hesitate to say opportunity, but I think there's an important time for admins to really be, when possible, if they can, leaning into the need for some really good change management skills here to help their company be successful.

Mike Gerholdt: Gillian, I love that term, rock their role. I see a hashtag coming on, and I am going to turn that into another question because I feel, LeeAnne, one of the things that evangelists do and you've helped teach the team to do is really consume a lot of information from many different sources and synthesize it and also make it very relatable. So taking information from videos, or like you said, your chats with PMs and documentation, and then making it very relevant for our admin audience, which coincidentally, I think admins do as well. They take information from us, from your videos, from release notes and synthesize that for their organizations. If you had... And we did a podcast earlier this year with Lizz Hellinga on three things admin should pay attention to. I'd love to know three tips on how admins can help synthesize that information like you do.

LeeAnne Rimel: I take a lot of notes. I know that's probably a very boring tip, but I constantly take notes. Like Gillian and Mike know, I've got endless quips of just notes from calls, notes from presentation. I take a ton of notes and my notes are... So that's my tip one, just really documenting and taking as many notes as I can. Everything that stuck out to me. And then I try to get rid of 90% of the notes. So I really try to trim down. I'll take tons and tons of notes and then I read through my notes again and I think about what is really the important takeaways here. If I'm trying to, like you said, synthesize a large piece of information. And I think centering not yourself is really important in this exercise, really trying to center and think about and have an empathy mindset and think about placing yourself in someone else's position. Who's rocking their role, as Gillian said, and think about, "Okay, if I was managing a complex implementation right now and I had meetings on my calendar for six months planning, what is information that I might need to know?"
So I try to take ton of notes, cut it all down as much as I can or trim it down and really keep the really relevant stuff. And then communicate, communicate, communicate. When you're learning things, as admins, we love learning. I love tinkering. I love learning. That information is not particularly useful if you just keep it in your brain. I mean, it's useful if you're building stuff with it, but even if you're building stuff and you're not communicating, it's not particularly useful. So really thinking about how, and Gillian and Mike, you guys have both taught me a ton about this, about really trying to make sure I'm sharing out the things that we're learning.
So for our admins, thinking about what are the channels that your users are on? How are your users centering them? How are your users consuming information? Is there an email newsletter that you can get a little update on that's really popular at your company? Or do they like to read Chatter every morning? What are these channels that they're consuming information on and try to get in front of them in the way that they consume information. So sometimes that can be uncomfortable because maybe that's not the way you're used to sharing information, but trying to meet them where they're at and share information in the way that they're consuming it.

Gillian Bruce: I think that's a really good point. I mean, everyone's got different learning styles anyway. I mean, we have people like myself who need to learn by actually going through it and doing it. There's other people who consume much better by hearing something like a podcast. Shout out to you people. And then there's people who love to consume videos or read about it. And I think that's a very, very good point of trying to meet people where they're at, and as admins and especially with these digital tools, we have the ability to do that, which is pretty awesome. I will continue the rock their role. It's making me think of sushi too, for some reason.

LeeAnne Rimel: Okay, now I want sushi too. I feel like there's restaurants that had like a rock and roll...

Gillian Bruce: Exactly. Yeah, the rock and roll is a good go-to.

Mike Gerholdt: I'm just excited that Gillian was first one to bring up food and not me this time right now.

LeeAnne Rimel: Now I'm hungry. Thank you, Gillian.

Gillian Bruce: Sorry.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, I want sushis too. Specifically California rolls.

Gillian Bruce: Oh yeah, totally. Totally. All right, I know what I'm ordering tonight. So one of the other things, LeeAnne, I think that's really important and we touched on it a little bit earlier, but maybe you do have three screens and you have the ability to do all of the things all the time and you don't have maybe a barrier of hopping on the train to get to work or hopping in the car. How do you set boundaries and trying to make sure that you're not like burnt out all the time, because I know that's something that I have struggled with on and off in the last year of, "Well, I can just pop open the laptop and do this now, or I'm just at home so I can pop upstairs, have a meal and come right back downstairs and get back in it." As someone who has worked remotely for a very long time, what are some strategies you have around not putting yourself constantly into overdrive or overwhelm?

LeeAnne Rimel: That's a really good question, I think, and this is very much a know thyself thing too, because it's a little bit different for everybody. But I think that the step one I think is to... And I would challenge everyone who's listening to this, sit down, write this out, what are the things that help you decompress or help you forget about work? So for me, that's walking my dog and cooking. Those are two things that I can't be on my phone during. I'm out in the world walking my dog or my hands are dirty because I'm cooking. So those are two things that I get pretty focused on what I'm doing in the moment and I can't work. I physically cannot be working while I'm doing it. So when you identify what are some things that maybe help you get in a flow state that's not a work flow state, and how can you schedule those in your day?
One of the things that's been a lifesaver for me, I think, with working from home is as much as possible... And no one's perfect, so I think with any recommendation, you aim for 80% and that's great. So I try for 80% of the time to create bookends for myself at the beginning and the end of the day. I try to not work first thing when I get up in the morning. I try to not, on most days, sit in bed and read emails or anything. I try to wake up and join my morning, take my dog for a walk, begin work, and then when I'm finished with work, I happen to really enjoy cooking, so then I go and I'll take the dog for a walk or I go cook, but I have these bookends that are like, "Okay, now the work day is done." I know for myself, if I didn't do things like that, then my work day bleeds into the night a little bit. I'll never step away from work.
Another thing that I do is I try again, 80% of the time, no one's perfect, when we try to have these healthy life habits, you try to hit 80% and that's great. I try to keep my computer in my work area. So whatever that is. Maybe your work area is a basket that has your work items and you pack it up at the end of the day. Maybe it's a corner in your office or in your dining room. Maybe you have an office that you're working in. But I try to keep my computer, my work computer in that space so that I'm not finding myself opening it for just five minutes. Because I know for me, if it was 8:30 PM and I'm like, "I'm just going to send this email really quick." First of all, that's not a culture thing that I want to push onto my team. I don't want to make my team respond to my emails, my colleagues respond to my emails late at night.
But then also I know myself and I know that I would end up working for an hour, because I'm lucky that I really enjoy what I do, but it also means that I have to have those boundaries because if I open my computer at 8:00 PM, I'll probably keep it open for a long time. So I think having some work boundaries there, physical boundaries on your daily. Keep your computer in a room or put it on the bookshelf at the end of the day and say, "Okay, I'm done with work. I'm going to close the computer." And then if you can do something... Everyone has different things that allow them to be focused on that thing, but do something that helps you bookend the end of your day. Those are some things that have helped me a lot, because I think it is... Particularly right now when it's not like, "Oh, I'm getting done with work and I'm going to go out to a party or whatever." Many of us are staying home, so we don't have those external social bookends that we may have had before or external scheduling bookends that maybe before. See, there's my dogs. She's telling me to take her for a walk.

Mike Gerholdt: I was just going to say, I hear your bookend calling.

LeeAnne Rimel: She knows I'm talking about her, but I think that also giving yourself grace where you can. I think a lot of us really want, like I said, the 80% rule. Do the best that you can, but also give yourself grace. If you have the ability to, and you have to ask for an extension on a project or something, think about when are those times that it is okay and that I can try to load balance a little bit. Sometimes I have to do that. I say, "I committed to these five things and I have to drop one of them. I'm going to talk to my manager and see which of those I can de-prioritize for another month just to try to stay at a steady pace," because I can guarantee also, your manager doesn't want you to burn out either. Everyone who's listening here, no one wants to burn their employees out or they shouldn't want to burn their employees out. So I think whenever possible, communicating about it and asking for guidance on prioritizing and stuff too is helpful.

Mike Gerholdt: Well I think that is a fantastic way to bookend the podcast.

LeeAnne Rimel: I see what you did there.

Mike Gerholdt: Every now and then. No, this was really good. LeeAnne, I'm super excited for these Expert Corner videos selfishly. I think they can be bigger than this podcast. So I hope everybody that listens watches it and shares them a few hundred times to everybody that they know.

LeeAnne Rimel: That's a pretty lofty goal, but I'm pretty excited about it. I've been at Salesforce for almost 12 years and I still super nerd out every time I get to talk to our product teams. I love working with our product teams and hearing about roadmap and stuff. So I'm really excited for our admins to get to participate in these Expert Corners and hear from our awesome product experts.

Gillian Bruce: You're going to create a whole slew of... What is it, the Shannon Hale society. They're going to have followers for all of the PMs now.

LeeAnne Rimel: I know. I don't know if the newer PMs really realize what they're getting into. I'm like, "Hey, this is the most awesome community ever, but also you got to get on Twitter. You're about to get a lot of tweets."

Mike Gerholdt: I'm sure there's an app to immediately spin up fan clubs. If not, somebody needs to build that.

LeeAnne Rimel: Perfect. I feel like it's called the Salesforce community, or Salesforce Trailblazer community is our awesome PM fan clubs that we see.

Gillian Bruce: 100%. LeeAnne, thank you so much for taking the time to join us on the pod today and share your wisdom and expertise with us. Very much appreciated.

LeeAnne Rimel: Thank you so much for having me. It's been a joy. I love getting to show up and chat with you all on the pod.

Gillian Bruce: So huge thanks to LeeAnne for taking the time to chat with us. It's just so fun to get the three of us on the line together. Some major takeaways from our chat today. Number one, check out the brand new Expert Corner that has now launched on the admin YouTube channel. It's awesome. These are amazing opportunities to get direct access to our product managers who are building the features that you are using every single day. And if you're missing that Q&A interaction, casual chat that you might get at an event in the before times, this is the chance to get that connection now, and they're awesome, so make sure you check those out.
Now, some tips from LeeAnne about distributed work especially. I mean, we had a really good discussion about how you can allay any fears or any anxieties that your team may have by not having a physical presence around each other by really digging into what is the root fear there. What are you worried about? What do you think you're missing? And really having those candid conversations will probably bring some really important things to light. So don't be afraid to have those conversations and there's often very simple solutions, like sending specific kinds of updates and agreeing upon which platforms to reach each other on. So thought that was really great from LeeAnne. And then also set bookends for your day. If the difference between your work environment and your home environment is 20 feet, it's important to have those bookends to create those boundaries so that you're not always on and that you have defined breaks. So think about what those are. I think they're really important.
If you want to learn more things about all things Salesforce admin, make sure you go to admin.salesforce.com. You can find so many great resources there, blogs, videos, all kinds of great stuff. And as a reminder, if you like what you hear on this podcast, please, please, please take the time to pop on over to iTunes and give us review. Mike and I read every single review and we want more to read. So give us some more reviews there. You can also stay up to date with us for all things admins @SalesforceAdmns, no i, on Twitter. You can find our guest today, LeeAnne, on Twitter as well, she's @LeeAndroid, one of my favorite Twitter handles. You can find my cohost Mike Gerholdt @MikeGerholdt and myself @GillianKBruce. Have an amazing day and we'll catch you next time in the cloud.



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

On this episode of the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’re talking to a Salesforce dream team of Zayne Turner, Senior Director of Architect Relations, and LeeAnne Rimel, Architect, Admin Relations. We’ll cover integrations and the tools coming down the road to make them even easier.

Join us as we talk about why you’re already doing integrations as an admin, what questions to ask about integrations, and the Trailhead content you should look at to get started.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Zayne Tuner and LeeAnne Rimel.

Admins are integrators.

“Admins are integrators—admins often are responsible for integrations at their organizations, they are often the ones making important decisions about what to do with existing integrations,” LeeAnne says, “so how do we give you the tools to think about integrations in the larger business scope for your company?” If you connect your data in Salesforce to something else, somewhere else, then you’re already dealing with integrations.

Salesforce has been working hard to get better guidance out there to help admins who have to make these kinds of decisions. “One of the biggest things is to really understand what it is you’re integrating,” Zayne says, and while that might be data, “there’s this whole, powerful realm of processes and process integration—when something has to start inside Salesforce and continue outside.” Understanding the two sides of integrations, process and data, is key to making sure you can make a solid plan for whatever it is you need to do.

Salesforce tools to help you get started with integrations.

The important thing to remember is that the habits you’re already honing to be the product owner of your environment are going to relevant for integration management. Questions like what kind of security you should have, or what kind of data access should have apply equally to your org and to integrations.

“Loosely coupled” is a term that’s thrown around a lot when discussing integrations. It’s the idea that data and process moves easily between systems, but they’re not chained or locked together in a way that can’t change. The Mulesoft Anypoint platform, for example, gives you a middle layer that adds some flexibility. At the same time, we live in a world with budget constraints, so if you’re using out-of-the-box tools, you need to go through a process to identify what really needs to be integrated and what might be better served with a simpler solution.

There are also some new Integration Pattern Architect Trailhead trails that can help you get a handle on everything, so take the time to brush up on your knowledge. Listen to the full episode for more about integrations from this expert guest lineup, and don’t be afraid to jump into Mulesoft Composer and get started.

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

For this episode of the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’re bringing you another monthly retro. We highlight the standout blog posts, videos, and all the other great Salesforce content from February.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation between Mike and Gillian.

Blog highlights from February

Mike points us to a thorough overview of everything you need to know about the upcoming MFA requirements coming in 2022. As we’re seeing cybercrime and data breaches continue to rise, we want to help you take steps to protect your org and secure your data, and there are a lot of resources to get you started. Gillian points out a post by friend of the pod and Awesome Admin Sarah Pilzer, which shares how her training as a marine biologist informs her current career as a Salesforce admin.

Podcast highlights from February

We squeezed a lot into a short month on the pod. Gillian had an opportunity to sit down with one of her favorite people in the Salesforce ecosystem, Megan Peterson, to talk about her new show, Trailhead News, and hear all her tips for creating engaging video content. Mike, meanwhile, wanted to highlight his conversation with Lizz Hellinga about her stint with the Admin team and a sneak peek of what’s coming down the pipeline.

Video highlights from February

Gillian was busy cranking out a “pilot season” of videos for the Admin Youtube Channel. We’ve got the 2-minute “No Silly Questions” series where experts answer anything you want to know. If you have a question, send us a video!

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

This week on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’ve got Megan Peterson, a Trailhead Evangelist based in Sydney Australia. We’ll learn about Trailhead News, a new way to keep up with everything going on with the Trailhead platform.

Join us as we talk about how Megan started Trailhead News, her tips for creating a great online event, and what’s coming up with Trailhead events.

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

Trailhead News.

With the changes that have come in 2020, Megan came up with an idea to do a news show to take advantage of the new Trailhead Live platform. “We’ve got our Trailhead Newsletter that goes out, but we don’t really have a way to tell everyone everything that Trailhead does,” she says. So every two weeks, she puts out a new episode to keep everyone in the loop.

Trailhead has so much going on beneath the surface, and Trailhead News is here to help you make sure you don’t miss anything. Megan talks to people behind the scenes to get the full story, and you can get started with a simple Trailmix that gives you links to everything mentioned on the show.

How to get started with online events.

Organizing something new in a changed landscape has taught Megan some important lessons about what works and what doesn’t in a digital format. “I think people get a little stuck on trying to make what would’ve been a face-to-face event a virtual event, but trying to do it the same way,” she says, “shake that off and think about why you’re doing this event. What’s different about it?”

Megan recommends taking the time to picture what your online event will look like, and start from there. Make sure you have a niche: some kind of unique audience or reason for what you’re doing. And, of course, there are the practical considerations: how are you going to record it? How are you going to edit it? Where are you going to share it?

Why you don’t need a big budget to make a great event.

One big difference between digital and in-person is that you need to change it up frequently. “We would’ve sat through a 20 or 30-minute presentation from a single person in the Admin Theater,” Megan says, “the propensity to sit and listen for a long amount of time is getting shorter and shorter.”

It might be changing your voice, having another person come in, or even just giving your viewers a quick visual break. “You can do this on a zero budget, and if you’ve got budget you can make it a little bit more polished,” Megan says, “but there is definitely ways you can make it creative, different, interesting, and natural for yourself.” And one thing she’s seen time and again with guests is that you’re better than you think you are—be yourself and trust that if what you have to say is important to you, it’ll be engaging to an audience.

Listen to the full episode for some more great tips from Megan about online events, and don’t miss the ANZ Salesforce Live event coming up on March 24th.

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Gillian Bruce: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins podcast, where we talk about product, community, and career to help you be an awesome admin. This week, we are diving into the very important world of Trailhead and Trailhead News with Megan Petersen, Trailhead evangelist based in Sydney, Australia. One of my favorite people from down under.
In this episode, you'll hear all about Trailhead News and get some tips and advice for your content delivery in this virtual world. So without further ado, let's welcome Megan to the podcast. Megan, welcome to the podcast.

Megan Petersen: Woowoo. I'm so excited to be back on the Admin podcast with you, Gillian. Thank you for having me.

Gillian Bruce: Oh, it's always great to have your voice on the awesome Admin airwaves here. I wanted to check in with you. It's been a while. I know you've been up to a lot of amazing things and one of the things I wanted to start with is Trailhead News. Can you talk to us a little bit about what Trailhead News is?

Megan Petersen: I sure can. So I came up with this idea to do this fun little news show back in 2020, when we were all unable to leave our houses. I thought, why not take advantage of this great platform in Trailhead Live that had just been announced at the Dreamforce just before.
And we've got our Trailhead newsletter that goes out, but we don't really have a way to tell everyone everything that Trailhead does. I don't think people understand that Trailhead's beyond trailhead.com. It's our Trailhead Academy, all the certifications, all our wonderful classes, all our instructors. It's admins, it's devs.
There's so much that goes into the word Trailhead when you say it. So, the idea behind starting Trailhead News was giving us a way to talk about end-to-end what we're doing with Trailhead and keeping it fun and topical. There's so much that we're talking about all the time.
At first, I thought, "I hope we have enough to talk about on every show," but I soon found out that every two weeks or so, I could definitely have some top Trailhead News. Came up with some fun segments. A fond memory is the Behind the Hoodies that we did with Steve Molis and Nana Gregg. That was a fun little segment taking a, this is your life look at their Salesforce careers. And then we always do an interview as well and pepper a lot of fun in between.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, you've got some star-studded cameos that happen. I think you've done some with Parker Harris, our co-founder. As you mentioned, some of our rock MVPs in the community. And it's a really fun way to get a taste of how we like to keep Trailhead weird. But also as you said, the incredible amount of things that are involved with the idea of Trailhead, it's not just the Trailhead product, but it's the community, it's all the activities around it. And it's pretty awesome.

Megan Petersen: Yeah. Talking to Parker, I do have a lot of admiration for Parker. So that was an amazing moment to be able to interview him on the last episode last year. And we had the wonderful Sarah Franklin is now our CMO. Heather Conklin. Yeah.
If you haven't checked out Trailhead News, there's a very simple little trail mix where you can find links to everything that's mentioned on the show and all the previous episodes as well. And Gillian can share that in all the notes.

Gillian Bruce: It will be in the show notes. Absolutely. And you forgot to mention the fun themes and costumes that sometimes you and your guests don on Trailhead News, which make it even more exciting and surprising.

Megan Petersen: I think I just try and put myself in the shoes of someone that is choosing to spend some time looking at more screen. And I think, "What could make this just a little bit more entertaining than just sitting and talking to someone?"
So yes, we had our awesome 80s themed episode. We had our Halloween spooktacular. I think I went well overboard on the spooky puns in that one, but it was very fun. Had a lot of community faces in that episode as well.
It's just, if I'm going to sit there for 20, 30 minutes and watch an episode, I want to find a reason to smile and there's always good little hidden Easter eggs in every episode to make sure that you get a laugh. And information.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. You want to be entertained and informed at the same time. And there you go.

Megan Petersen: Indeed. Indeed.

Gillian Bruce: So, speaking of that, I would love to hear a little bit more about some of the things you've learned doing Trailhead News. Now, while you are in Australia and you have at least somewhat of a normal life that has returned.

Megan Petersen: We're very lucky. Yes.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. Not everybody else, especially I'm thinking of me here in San Francisco. We're still on lockdown. I think I've been on lockdown for a year now, it feels like. But a lot of us admins and otherwise, we're still trying to figure out how to engage virtually. Right.
We're all stuck at screens, as you mentioned, the last thing a lot of people want to do is watch something else on the screen. So, what are some things that you've learned from doing Trailhead News and doing other virtual experiences over the past year, that might be useful for admins as they're trying to figure out how to either engage with their users or engage with other people in the community?

Megan Petersen: Yeah. Lots actually. It's been a really good learning experience to try and... So I actually do write, produce, film, edit, the whole thing by myself. So there is a lot that goes into doing that. So if you are looking to create your own virtual event, you're going to have to dust off a few possible new skills.
So, it's been a learning curve. When I look at some of the earlier episodes, I go, "Oh, you hadn't learned how to do that then, yet. I see you do that better now with your editing." Or even I had to get a nice microphone. At first, I was like, "It's fine. They can hear my voice." And now I had to get a special Yeti microphone, which makes me sound a little bit better. So you hone the craft.
But luckily enough, I'm actually in the process of writing a badge, that's coming out onto Trailhead, talking about this virtual event production. Hopefully it'll come out in the next few months, but it'll be all around virtual events.
And one of the first things that I do is sit there. If you're trying to replicate something that would have been something in-person for example. So we're going back two years, let's say, when face-to-face events were normal.

Gillian Bruce: The olden days.

Megan Petersen: The olden days. Yes. Back before 2020. And I think people get a little stuck in thinking about trying to make what would have been a face-to-face event, a virtual event, but trying to do it the same way. So I want to say, shake that off and think about why you're doing this event. So what's different about it?
So when I said Trailhead News, it was about talking about everything that Trailhead is doing at that point in time and bringing a bit of fun. No one else was doing that. So that's my little niche reason to be creating it. So think about why you're doing this event. What is the hole you're plugging? What's the message you're trying to deliver?
And then I always say, if you could just shut your eyes, you need to see it. So try and see what you think this event is going to look like visually in your head. It might not be super clear, but usually I get some early idea. I've got a document where, in the middle of the day, I'll suddenly get some random idea.
I've always wanted to do a slow motion walk. And so I was like, I'm going to do that one day on Trailhead News. So watch out for that one day, I'll do a slow motion walk because I've seen the movies. I'm like, "God, it'd be so cool. Do a slow motion walk." And I can do that on Trailhead News. It's one of the fun little nuggets I'll weave in.
But close your eyes, visualize what you see on the screen and start from there. And there's a lot of things that are going to go into crafting that vision. But you want to make sure you have some kind of niche, some kind of unique audience, or reason, or message that you're bringing to the listeners, to the watchers.
And then there's a lot of factors, like how are you going to record it? How are you going to edit it if you need to edit it? Where are you going to let people see it? Where are you going to share it? So there's those kind of logistical, operational elements. But then if you're the one person that's bringing it all together, you also have to make it creative.
And if I've learnt anything, you need to change it up really frequently. So, I think whereas we would have sat through a 20 minute, 30 minute presentation of a single person, if we're sitting say at the admin theater or the admin meadow back at Dreamforce. Sitting there and listening in-person, that was fine. But doing that in a visual digital way, is just not the same these days.
And I think the propensity to sit and listen for a long amount of time, is getting shorter and shorter. So, think of ways to change it up. Sometimes that might be changing even just your voice, changing a quick visual break, having another person's voice come in. There's little things that you just want to keep it interesting. Keep it engaging. And there's a lot of planning that does need to go into it as well, Gillian.

Gillian Bruce: Yes. Well, yes. I have been privy to the planning, at least part of the planning that you go through to put Trailhead News together. And it's quite impressive.

Megan Petersen: Well, you were my first interview on Trailhead News.

Gillian Bruce: I know. It was amazing. You helped me learn things about Zoom I didn't even know I could do. It was great. But I think one of the things that you touched on that I think is really relevant is, this is a one woman production, so to speak. And so, a lot of the things that you've learned... I mean, hey, not everyone is going to probably beef up the editing skills quite as much as you have. But if you're recording a video or something that you're trying to maybe just deliver a training to your users, I think a lot of the tips and the things that you have learned are very helpful.
I mean, you mentioned things like just changing up your voice, changing up the visuals. Hey, instead of thinking of it as a 30 minute meeting or a 30 minute presentation, how do you mix it up and keep it engaging? And I think that's one of the things that I have noticed quite a bit in our screen fatigue. There are industries completely devoted to entertainment that have cracked the code on some of this. But there's some easy things that we can take from that to help create content that is more engaging, albeit still on a screen.
I think for any, hey, maybe you've got a video you want to send to your five users for them to watch, you can still take a lot of these tips. I mean, like you said, even just adjusting the microphone, maybe you don't have to buy a fancy microphone.

Megan Petersen: No. You do not have to. You can do this on a zero budget and if you've got budget, then it's just going to make it that little bit more polished. But start small, like you say, if this is about sharing some training with your users.
And humor might not be your strong suit, but you can still make it engaging. I obviously like to put puns in there and put jokes in there and that feels natural to me. But humor's not everybody's strong suit, but there is definitely ways you can still make it creative, different, interesting, and natural for yourself.
And I do just want to say, I've had to record with a lot of people and I've asked a lot of people to do videos for me. And often I'll ask someone and they'll email me and they'll go, "This is just terrible. I hope there's something usable. I'm sorry. I tried. I hate looking at myself on camera."
This happened yesterday to me, someone sent me a video. And I watched it for five seconds and they looked happy, engaged, connected with the camera. They were talking with confidence. And I have no idea what they were thinking in their mind when they said that to me.
So, I think it's that, if you think you're going to fail, you're going to fail. But if you go in as confident as you can, make connection with the camera, try not to read a script. We used to be able to do that when we're up on stage.
Making eye contact with the camera is a simple... If you do nothing else, looking at the camera is going to connect with your audience better than you looking down constantly or reading off a screen. So just talk from the heart, talk from experience, connect with the camera and be confident. Trust me. You're better than you think you are if you're doubting yourself, for sure.

Gillian Bruce: I think that's a great message. Basically, what you're saying is be authentic.

Megan Petersen: Yes.

Gillian Bruce: And I think any viewer can always tell if the person on the screen is being authentic or not.

Megan Petersen: 100%.

Gillian Bruce: I know a lot of admins, we may struggle with feeling like maybe a little imposter syndrome or whatnot, but hey, if you've got something that you think is important enough to share, you got it.

Megan Petersen: Yes.

Gillian Bruce: You know it.

Megan Petersen: That's what I always say. I'm like, "I want to tell your story, but if I don't know your story, I can't tell someone that you have an awesome story." We had some Aussies on the podcast at the end of last year, which was fantastic because I've seen them at our Trailblazer community group meetings, or I've heard it through the grapevine that they're doing an amazing presentation at their companies.
So, speak up. Even if you come to us directly in a little moment of confidence, let us know. We'd love to showcase anything amazing that our whole ecosystem is doing.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, absolutely. Well, speaking of that, this is a great segue. Thank you for that.

Megan Petersen: Cool. Yeah.

Gillian Bruce: We've got a little... Speaking of virtual events, we have one coming up pretty soon here. It's the ANZ Salesforce Live event.

Megan Petersen: Correct.

Gillian Bruce: Can you talk to us a little bit more about that?

Megan Petersen: I can, it's going to be amazing. So this is our first big event here in ANZ. If you don't know what ANZ means, it stands for Australia and New Zealand. Where I am from, I'm in Sydney, Australia. And it's going to be on March 24th, which is a Wednesday here, which would be a Tuesday, Pacific Time.
You're more than welcome to join in if you're anywhere in the world. Just because it's in Australia, New Zealand doesn't mean that you can't tune in and hear what we're going to put together. And there's going to be some amazing Trailhead content coming to that event.
We're going to do a special Trailhead News actually, coming to you live from Salesforce Live ANZ, which is a first for me. So, figuring out how that's going to work and look, and sound, and be entertaining for those that are watching. And we might even have some admin and developer sessions coming down for our audiences. Maybe a bit of community involvement, would you say Gillian?

Gillian Bruce: I would say, yes. I think we've got some community faces that will be a welcome addition to the event. And I think will be really fun. It's one of the things I think we all missed a lot last year, was we did the best we could to pivot and deliver great content to the global Salesforce community.
One thing that was missing that we typically have at every single in-person event, was the chance for Trailblazer community members to present and share. Hey, we're figuring out a way to do it this time. So it's very exciting.

Megan Petersen: It's exciting. It was very important. It's what we did last year, actually for a world tour Sydney last year. This is when everything was starting to lockdown. If you go back a year ago, we had very short notice to turn around this huge digital event a year ago.
And that's where the idea for Trailhead News actually originally came from, because we did the whole thing like a news program back then. So we definitely want to bring some of those vibes into this year. We won't do eight and a half hours of content like we did last year. I won't do that to you. It'll be a little bit less.

Gillian Bruce: That was a lot of content. It was a lot of content.

Megan Petersen: You tell me now that I had to turn around eight and a half hours of content in 10 days. I still don't quite know how that happened, but it's amazing. Yeah.

Gillian Bruce: I don't think you slept. Right.

Megan Petersen: No, not really. Not really.

Gillian Bruce: Well, that's really... So it's March 24th. And as you said, anyone can tune in, but it is intended for the... I love saying ANZ because we don't say Zed here in the United States, we say Z. So it sounds more authentic.

Megan Petersen: Ah. Oh, Zed. Right. I got you.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah.

Megan Petersen: We can bust out the old Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, if you want to, Gillian.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. Do it, do it. I love it.

Megan Petersen: Aussie, Aussie, Aussie. Then you say, "Oi, Oi, Oi."

Gillian Bruce: Oi, Oi, Oi. Yeah. I remember. Come on. I've been there a couple of times.

Megan Petersen: Yes. Okay. Okay. All right. Yeah, there's a whole chant. I won't take up too much time doing the whole chant. Aussies know what we're doing here.

Gillian Bruce: This has been awesome. Thank you so much for joining us on the podcast. I will keep the Trailhead News awesomeness going. And I'm looking forward to sharing that great virtual event preparation badge that you're working on at Trailhead with the admin community. So, as soon as you've got it ready, I will happily share it out. And reminder to everyone to check out the event of March 24th, to tune in. Yeah. Any other parting words of advice you'd love to share with our admin community?

Megan Petersen: Be awesome. Keep putting yourself out there. Be positive and be authentic.

Gillian Bruce: Love it. Thank you so much for joining us and we'll talk to you again soon.

Megan Petersen: Bye.

Gillian Bruce: Always wonderful to catch up with one of my favorite Aussies. Thanks so much, Megan, for joining us on the podcast. Now, for some of my takeaways from our conversation to help you as an awesome admin. Number one, when you are thinking about creating content to deliver in this virtual environment, really think about how to keep your users engaged. Take a minute and envision what will keep your viewers wanting to look at what you're doing.
So mix it up, have some new visuals, bring in some other voices. And you don't have to spend a bunch of money on fancy equipment. You can use the equipment that you have. Some tips that I've even just learned from podcasting is just make sure you got a microphone that's close to your mouth. So don't just use the microphone that's on your laptop or your computer. If you've got headphones that have a little mic attached to them, plugging them into your phone, that will even just make a big enough difference.
And be authentic. Megan really pointed out how you can tell if someone's just reading to a camera and not connecting. And that is not engaging. We've all watched those. So, look at the camera. Speak from your heart and your mind. You know this content. Whatever you're presenting, clearly you know it enough to feel that it's important. So, just trust yourself. Have a conversation with the camera. It's much easier to keep people engaged by doing that than otherwise.
Also, stay tuned for Trailhead News. We've got the next is coming out on February 23rd. So just next week after this podcast drops. And you can find all of the Trailhead News episodes at the link in the show notes. And tune in for the March 24th ANZ Australia, New Zealand Salesforce Live event. The link again, is in the show notes so that you can register for that. You don't want to miss it. It will be really, really awesome.
So, if you want to learn about all things Salesforce Admin, as always, you can go to admin.salesforce.com to find more resources. And a reminder, if you love what you hear, be sure to pop on over to iTunes and give us a review. We promise, we definitely read them all. Mike and I love reading them. Well, most of them. No, I'm kidding. We love reading all of them. So please continue to give us some reviews.
You can also stay up to date with us on all things Admins on social, @SalesforceAdmns, no I, on Twitter. You can find our guest today, Megan Petersen on Twitter, @MeganPTweets. I'm on Twitter, @gilliankbruce. And my cohost, the amazing Mike Gerholdt, is @MikeGerholdt. With that, we hope you have a great day and we'll catch you next time in the cloud.



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

This is the Salesforce Admins Podcast! A show for Salesforce Admins where we talk about Product, Community, and Career to help you become an awesome admin!
We are Salesforce Admins just like you, and we have a ton of experience on the Salesforce platform. We love learning about all the new features and capabilities that enable us, as Admins, to do awesome things with Salesforce to transform our organizations, communities, and careers. Every week on the podcast we talk to product managers at Salesforce about what they are building and to Salesforce Admins just like you about the problems they are solving, giving you tips and advice on how to be an Awesome Admin.

What you said about us

As a current job seeker in the Salesforce Ecosystem I am really encouraged by these podcasts. As my goal is to remain revelant and plugged-in the knowledge shared by Admins and others is invaluable to gaining confidence and skills. By building knowlege via Trailhead badges and then demonstrating undersramding & assessment of those skills by conquering the Superbadges I am inspired to keep going and constantly learn more each and every day. Keep up the Great Work! – Chad Kleve

I’m so glad that I stumbled upon this podcast! As a new “Accidental Admin" all things salesforce can be quite intimidating! There is so much to learn but this podcast helps me stay on top of the important things to look out for and newest features to check out. I also LOVE that it is not a boring stuffy podcast! I find myself learning, laughing and sometimes crying (happy tears) while listening to the episodes on my daily walks. – TrishainOmaha

I love listening to this podcast in the mornings when I’m getting ready for work. Each episode contains something new that I didn’t know about salesforce, and a new view on someone’s journey into the salesforce ecosystem. Loved the accessibility series on making your orgs more user friendly for everyone. – ibbyanne

You can find our show on iTunes, Google Play, Soundcloud, and Spotify or by searching "Salesforce'' wherever you enjoy listening to podcasts. And, you can find even more great content at Admin.Salesforce.com.

Direct download: SFA_560.1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PDT

On this episode of the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we hear from Mat Hamlin, Senior Director of Product Management at Salesforce. We’ll dive into multi-factor authentication (MFA), and why all Salesforce users will be using it by February 1st, 2022.

Join us as we talk about multi-factor authentication, single sign-on, tracking and adoption, and a little bit about barbeque.

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

How should you manage MFA in your org?

So should you use an existing single sign-on (SSO) implementation or roll out a standalone MFA? “As a general rule,” Mat says, “if your organization does have a centrally-managed single sign-on solution that can or does support multi-factor authentication for its login processes, that’s the recommended solution.” Your internal IT department already thinks about managing identity and security risks all day long, so letting them have control over your authentication and verification processes helps them centralize and apply policies.

For some organizations, however, it might make more sense for you as the Salesforce admin to manage MFA on the platform. You can even configure it to handle all of your Salesforce products in one place: Sales Cloud, Marketing Cloud, and more. Think about it as a great excuse to start a conversation with your IT folks about what works best for your org.

A helping hand to monitor adoption and more.

There are also some great tools to monitor adoption and general usage baked-in to Salesforce. You can generate reports with the login history fields to get a picture of what’s going on. There’s also the new Security Command Center feature to help you keep track, and there will be even more login metrics coming in Spring ‘21with the Lightning Usage App.

MFA Assistant will be with you every step of the way, giving you suggestions and references to make things simple. That said, MFA will add a step to the login process. “As administrators, as you start rolling out MFA, it’s good to be very communicative about the process but also the reasons,” Mat says. You want to explain why it’s so important to reduce the risk of data loss and protect your organization.

Finally, it’s helpful to show your users exactly what the changes to their login process look like. “Fear of the unknown can cause people to be anxious,” Mat says, but if you can show them how easy it is and what to expect you’ll find a lot more success. As you’re showing them, make sure to emphasize that you’ll be there to support them whenever they need help.

Links

Social

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

On this episode of the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’re talking to Lizz Hellinga, Salesforce MVP and change enabler. We’ll go over everything she’s looking forward to that’ll help us help users.

Join us as we talk about how the platform has evolved with automation and assistance, all the new setup guides and assistants that make things easier, and why you should start playing with Tableau.

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

Looking behind the curtain

Lizz has recently pinch-hit for LeeAnne on the Admin team at Salesforce, and getting a look behind the curtain has given her a lot of insights into what’s coming up and what admins should pay attention to in the new year. “When you think about some of the new things with In-App Guidance, In-App Learning, Notification Builder, Dynamic Forms,” she says, “all that is to help admins increase adoption and help their endusers do what they need to do when they need to do it.”

For Lizz, the new MFA assistant coming out in Spring ‘21 is especially exciting because it helps you focus by giving you a ready-to-go adoption checklist. The bottom line is that you can add the guidance and extra help you need right where your users need it the most. “I remember when I had to do my first implementation, and I created all of these little working guides to help people when we launched,” she says, “and then I realized they would be stale after just a few weeks or months, depending on how much change we added to the platform.” Now you can add a single prompt to keep people up to date, helping your users actually focus on how to use the platform rather than worrying about how to work it.

Why you should get started with Tableau

Lizz worked with pod regular John Demby and his team on Tableau video content, and she got an insider’s perspective on just how easy it is to incorporate into your org. The biggest thing she learned is that you should just get started trying it out—there are data sets already there to play around with, and sample dashboards so you can see how everything works. “Don’t be afraid, just hop right in,” Lizz says, “Tableau can combine data streams for your organization to give better insights but you just have to start doing it.”

For next year, Lizz wants to learn a lot more about MuleSoft Connector. “Admins work on multiple features at one time, we toggle between different features, and we’re constantly using them to enable our end users and enable successful processes,” she says. She’s also psyched about Service Setup, which makes it so much easier to get acquainted with Service Cloud.

Links:

Admin Preview Live - Release Readiness Live, Spring '21

Spring 21 Release Highlights 

Social:

Lizz: @LizzHellinga

Salesforce Admins: @SalesforceAdmns 

Gillian: @GillianKBruce

Mike: @MikeGerholdt

Full 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 Lizz Hellinga, Salesforce MVP and change enabler. In this episode, you'll hear from Lizz about the fun stuff that she worked on. The exciting new opportunities for admins. And the features she is most excited to learn more about this year. So with that, let's get Lizz on the pod.
So Lizz, welcome to the podcast.

Lizz Hellinga: Thank you so much for inviting me. I'm thrilled to be here.

Mike Gerholdt: Lizz, you did a ton with our admin team over the last, I will say, it's specifically 249 days, coming on to help us out while LeeAnne was on parental leave. And we wanted to have you on the pod to help send forth admins and give them some wisdom that you gained and insights that you have on where they're going and things they should pay attention to. That's kind of how I'm kicking off our discussion.

Lizz Hellinga: Great. It's been such an adventure to support all of you over the last... How many days was it? 259.

Mike Gerholdt: 49, but-

Lizz Hellinga: 49 days.

Mike Gerholdt: ... maybe feels longer. We have a pandemic going on.

Gillian Bruce: And Salesforce years, it's like dog years, right.

Mike Gerholdt: Yes.

Lizz Hellinga: Right. It was truly an incredible opportunity. And I think before we really get started into what I've learned, I just would love to give a shout out to all of you on the admin team, what you do every day to support and promote admins. To be on the inside and see how you always have admins at the forefront is incredible to know. And I just want others to know that as well, how thoughtful you all are and how they're always top of mind.

Mike Gerholdt: Well, thank you very much.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. Thank you. I mean, Lizz, thank you for all the work that you've done for us because I don't know how we would have gotten by without that. So kind of back at you. I would love to know Lizz, Hey you got to work on a lot of things this year. You probably learned a lot that you didn't expect to learn. What are some of your kind of top insights for admins based on kind of where you've seen the platform evolve over the last year and kind of things that admin should be looking at and paying attention to these days?

Lizz Hellinga: What I'm thrilled to see is how the platform is evolving to help admins manage and support adoption within their orgs. When you think about some of the new things with In-App Guidance, In-App Learning, Notification Builder, Dynamic Forms, all that is to help admins increase adoption and help their end-users do what they need to do when they need to do it. And when I think about, for me, my personal perspective, I love change management. It's one of the things I love to talk about with others, looking at the new MFA Assistant that's coming out in spring '21 and how it even has change management components built into it. So that admins have this great, ready to go checklist to help them help their end-users adopt change.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, I would say I love how getting started everything feels now. Before, a lot of the tools came out, and it was, "We'll figure out how to make it go." And now, with MFA and we saw in spring '21 was Service Cloud Setup and Macros Builder, everything has that kind of coaching component to it. I think of it akin to all of the apps that we have on our phones now that let us stream information. There's almost like a walkthrough of everything.

Lizz Hellinga: Exactly. And the thing too is that it saves admin's time so they can focus on enabling business processes and efficiencies because they can start to add that adoption right inside the app and support their end-users. When you think about In-App Learning and In-App Guidance walking their end-users through processes. But then also with dynamic forums. Having them just fill out what they need to fill out correctly at the right moment. It's just incredible how it can support the end-users.

Gillian Bruce: Well, and Lizz, I'd like to maybe... you've been working in the Salesforce ecosystem for a while. You've been an MVP for a while. I mean, I'd love to, maybe, hear a little bit of your perspective of the evolution, right, because a lot of the things you described are kind of new within the last year. Do you see kind of the admins' day-to-day functions shifting a little bit as the platform has evolved?

Lizz Hellinga: A hundred percent. I remember when I had to do my first implementation and I created all of these little [inaudible] guides to help people when we launched. And I did all these end-user trainings to just help them be able to use the platform correctly. And then I realized quickly, "Oh, these are a little bit stale after just a few weeks sometimes or months," depending on how much change we add in to the platform. But now, I mean, you can deliver information with just a single prompt to let people know, "Oh, Hey, we added this picklist value, or now you can do this," all within the app. Saving the admins time. Saving them phone time, response time. It's incredible.
And ultimately what that means is that they can really focus on creating real change with the platform, deeply analyzing some of the processes that need improvement, collaborating with their stakeholders to understand how they can improve it and what needs to be done. Yes. I mean, I can't wait to launch a new org with the new... Oh my gosh, what is the name of it? Admin guide, guidance center for admins. That's incredible. And based on your skill set, it will evolve the information to what your experience is. So even tenured admins can learn something from it.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. And speaking of launching new and kind of reaching out to stakeholders. One of the projects that you worked on a lot was working with the Tableau team and specifically John Denby, who if you didn't watch any of the Trailblazers Innovate or DreamTX or TrailheadTX stuff that we put out. He put out some amazing video content that you helped him with on Tableau. I'd love to get kind of your perspective on what admins can do this year with Tableau.

Lizz Hellinga: Oh, Tableau, that was just such a fun opportunity to work with John and to collaborate with him and how admins can use Tableau. I think the biggest thing that admins can do is just try it out. You have data that you can work with on it. Don't be afraid, just hop right in. There's datasets that you can download to play around with it that you can do a trial org. All of that can help you start to see how Tableau can combine data streams for your organization to get better insights, but we just have to start doing it. I think that's my biggest piece of advice. Don't wait. Just start trying it out.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. I mean, we've got so much coming all the time that if you wait, you'll kind of be behind the curve a little bit, right.

Lizz Hellinga: And then there's also some sample dashboards too that are available so that you can easily use those and play around with them and tweak them for your needs. So similar to how you would download dashboards from the app exchange for reports and dashboards within the app.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, that's a great resource. And there's so many. I mean, I just remember when we had John on the podcast to talk about Tableau, and literally while we were talking to him, he was talking to us about all of the publicly available Tableau dashboards that people have built. And I went down so many rabbit holes. I was just floored. So yeah, there's a ton of great resources that are out there for anyone, even if you're not a Salesforce Admin, but you wanted to play with Tableau. There are ways that you can kind of start getting involved. But great perspective there, Lizz.

Mike Gerholdt: For DreamTX, we kind of threw something fun out there of how do we stitch together a whole bunch of features that we normally show, I'll say, a la carte, and put them in one episode. And that was a fun episode. You got to work with SE Platform Judy Fang, who's also based in Australia. I say, also, because we had a lot of guests from Australia on the pod recently. But I'd love to know your perspective on that. And some of those features that for sure you want to invest further in in this year.

Lizz Hellinga: Wow. I want to learn a lot more about MuleSoft Connector. I think that will be a powerful tool in the Admins Toolkit. You know what was so interesting to me about working on that presentation with Judy was admins do that. We do work on multiple features at one time in the short amount of span in that 20 minutes. We're toggling between different features, and we're constantly using them to enable our end users and enable successful processes. But Service Setup is a new thing that I think, especially for me I haven't had a ton of exposure to Service Cloud and then having something like Service Setup where I get it off the ground and running quickly using industry best practices. It was probably the highlight of that session for me.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. I mean, Service Cloud has given us so many great things like I mean the Console View, Macros. There's so many great things that originated in Service Cloud that now bleed over into all of the platform that are just so incredible. I mean, I remember the first time I built a Console app, and I was like, "Oh, this is amazing." And so I think it's really great to kind of get that exposure from different parts of the platform, because then you realize, "Oh, I could use this in this way. I can use that in this way." Lizz, one of the things I would really, really love to know, especially since you have... you've got the perspective on being on the inside, so to speak, and being on the outside. I would really like to know what are the things that you see are most valuable for admins in terms of types of messaging or content. Knowing kind of how we come up with stuff and knowing how the community responds. What are some things that you think are maybe the most impactful and most powerful?

Lizz Hellinga: In terms of the admins? What content is out there and available for them?

Gillian Bruce: Yeah.

Lizz Hellinga: I guess, for me. I had always been impressed with Release Readiness and pulling them all together. For the admins I think it's just such a great way for them to attend some of the... watch some of those videos, read some of the blogs and then go back to their orgs and their teams and their leaders talk about how these changes could benefit and impact their team in their instance. And how they can best use it to meet their business objectives. It's a way for them to be proactive. I think about even just In-App Learning that's coming out in spring '21, being able to say, "Hey, we can now easily assign Trailhead modules through In-App Learning right in the panel so that they can take it right from there."
And they get to be proactive and sharing that information with their company and seeing change happen as a result of it. So to me, the Release Readiness is some of the best content out there. But also just the quick, and I'm a little biased because I did some of the Did You Know videos. The short ways to see how to do something, how to accomplish something that may be new to you or that you hadn't tried. I don't know. I love all the content. The podcasts are great. I love hearing from other individuals in the industry and what they're doing, and how they're solving problems. Oh, the Essential Habits. I don't know. It's like asking me to pick a favorite child. Sorry. There's just too much. But if I had one thing to focus on as a new admin, it would be the Essential Habits and Release Readiness Live and all that goes with it.

Mike Gerholdt: Wow. Well, that was literally where I was trying to think of what I would ask you is, you've got so much experience in the ecosystem that where would you spend your time? I would also expand on your answer and love to know from you because there's a lot of ways and information to learn. Where do you spend your time in terms of community engagement?

Lizz Hellinga: Oh, the one thing that has been we're all missing, right, all of the in-person events. But one of the neatest things is to be able to attend community events virtually. I've attended some in Boston, in St. Louis, in Texas. I've attended Salesforce Saturdays virtually. It's been a wonderful way to connect with people. And I've made friendships this year that I would never have made because I attended things virtually. So that's where I try to spend some time because I always have questions. What admin doesn't have questions. And when they're working on their org or working in another org. The peer group out there has so much support. You put it on Twitter. There's even a informal OhanaSlack put in the Trailblazer community. Someone will answer your question.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. I think that's really a good plan Lizz because I think one of the challenges... I mean, gosh, we all miss going to events, right. We all miss meeting new people. And shout out to you because you've been a great advocate of this. For me especially is, taking the time to reach out to new folks and make new connections. Hey, a video call is still a connection. Getting to know a new person. And I think you exemplify kind of what that is. Is to continue to reach out and connect with folks. And it's something this year that I have placed new value on is asking people, "Hey, do you have someone I should talk to because I will reach out to them, and I will make new friends on a video call." So I think that's really important, especially given the way that we're all working these days.

Lizz Hellinga: Well, and just you miss out on things when you're not in person. So I think everybody now is being more thoughtful about how we do connect with other people and how we can connect to others together. Like, "Oh, you should know, this person, right. Have you met with them?" I see that happening more and more, especially over the last four to five months.

Mike Gerholdt: Absolutely. Well, Lizz, I want to thank you for taking time out to be on the pod and for producing some amazing video content for admins on the YouTube channel and really helping the team out this last year.

Lizz Hellinga: It's been incredible. You all are wonderful. I love how you keep the awesome admin at the forefront of everything that you do. And I know with the content that you deliver, it's such high quality, [inaudible] it's geared to help people be successful. And I think that's what really matters to individuals that come to the blog or they listen to the podcast. It's really helping people find their path to success.

Gillian Bruce: Well, Lizz, thank you for helping us help other people find their paths to success. The content that you delivered is definitely going to resonate for a lot of people for a while, and thanks for your contributions. And also, thank you for being such a great representative of the awesome admin community.

Lizz Hellinga: Thank you.

Gillian Bruce: Well, a huge thanks to Lizz for taking the time to chat with us on the podcast. So great to be able to recap some of the amazing things she did this year and some things she's excited about coming up for all of us admins. So first, my top three takeaways for our conversation with Lizz is number one, Hey, the platform has evolved quite a bit. And in fact, it's kind of changing the role of the Salesforce admin. Enabling us to do some more strategic, some more complex things because there is so much automation and assistance built into these features now on the platform. Stuff that you would normally spend hours, maybe even days doing couple of years ago, you don't have to do that anymore. So it was pretty exciting to get that perspective. Also, pay attention to all of the new setup guides and assistance that are available for admins. There are so many admin tools.
And Lizz talked about a few of them here in the podcast, but I mean, it's a continuation of that first point, right. It's how much the platform has evolved to make our jobs easier because our job is to make users happy. And so all of these features are making it a lot easier for us to achieve that goal. And then, finally, step in and start playing with Tableau. I mean, Lizz had a really great opportunity to work closely with the Tableau team this year. And we learned a ton, and the Tableau team is very passionate about enabling admins to use the super-powerful Tableau tools. So, listen to Lizz. Go play with Tableau, get started, lots of resources there.
If you want to learn a little bit more about any of the stuff from this podcast or about anything Salesforce Admin related, go to admin.salesforce.com, my favorite website, to find more resources. You can also stay up to date with us on social for all things admins. We are @SalesforceAdmns, no i, on Twitter. You can follow our guest Lizz Hellinga on Twitter @Lizz L-I-Z-Z Hellinga. I'm on Twitter @GillianKBruce. And Mike my amazing cohost is on Twitter @MikeGerholdt. So with that, I hope you enjoyed this episode and we'll catch you next time in the cloud.


This week on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’ve got the first monthly retro of 2021. We’ll cover standout blog posts, videos, and all the other great Salesforce content from January.

Join us as we talk about the must-see content from January and listen to Mike and Gillian quiz each other on our new quiz show: Which Happened First?.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation between Mike and Gillian.

Blog Highlights from January

Gillian is hooked on Marc Baizman’s “How I Solved This” series, and this month’s article is a fun story about how to use emojis to highlight key pieces of data in your org. Mike’s must-read blog post from January covers some exciting new things on the product roadmap that bring us some much-asked-for features.

Podcast Highlights from January

We had a lot going on with the pod this month. Gillian traveled across the globe—virtually—to speak to Preena Johansen. She’s an Einstein Analytics Consultant at Telstra, the biggest telecommunications company in Australia, and she had a lot to share about using Einstein Analytics and Tableau at such a large organization. Mike and Gillian also talked to Woodson Martin, the EVP and GM for Salesforce AppExchange, who started out as a Salesforce admin himself.

Video Highlights from January

Gillian has been hooked on the “Essential Habits for Salesforce Admins Marathon,” which helps you build a solid foundation for all of the things you need to know to be an awesome admin. “It’s a great way to kick off the year if you’re wanting to set some goals and priorities to improve some things for your organization or how you administer Salesforce,” Gillian says.

Listen to the full episode to hear the first edition of the exciting new game show, Which Happened First?.

Social

 

Full Show Transcript

Gillian Bruce: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins podcast, the first monthly retro for 2021. Oh, we're finally out of 2020. Hurray. I'm your host, Gillian Bruce, and in this episode we will review the top product, community, and careers content from the entire month of January. And to help me out, I am joined by the one and only Mike Gerholdt.

Mike Gerholdt: Hello. I made it to 2021 too. The first version of 2020, for a second.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, sure. The 21st year of the 2000s? I don't know.

Mike Gerholdt: There's no 2020 loser. There's only winning 2021.

Gillian Bruce: Can only get better. Can only get better. So, Mike, we had a lot going on this month, kicked it off with a bang, the new year. We had some blogs happening.

Mike Gerholdt: We did, and we did Essential Habits marathon on January 20th. So shout out to Mark Baizman for hanging around ye olde chat and chatting with all of our Salesforce admins on that marathon. You can binge watch Essential Habits.

Gillian Bruce: I mean, I think I binge watch everything I can on every other platform. Now I'm going to binge watch all of Trailhead live content. It'll be great. But the Essential Habits series...

Mike Gerholdt: Cheaper than anything else, right?

Gillian Bruce: It's true. Yeah, you don't need a special app for that. But the Essential Habits series is pretty awesome. It's also a great way to kick off the year if you're wanting to set some goals and priorities to improve some stuff for your organization or just how you administer Salesforce. It's some really great resources there.

Mike Gerholdt: Love it.

Gillian Bruce: Love it.

Mike Gerholdt: So must read blog for January. Gillian, what was your must read blog for January?

Gillian Bruce: Well, I'm a big fan of the How I Solved This series that Mark Baizman has been putting together on the blog. And I love it because it's always featuring what a customer has done to solve a specific problem. So this one's pretty cool, because guess what, it has emoji in it, and I love emoji. So this is How I Solve This: Easy Image Flags With Emoji by Michael Kolodner. It's pretty dang cool. If you are looking for a really interesting way to make your data pop on the screen, you can use emoji for that and he shows you how he did it step-by-step. Just imagine, you're in this list view and you would love to see very quickly which things are green or yellow or happy or sad. You can plug in some emojis there. It's pretty awesome.

Mike Gerholdt: We use emojis in the org that we make the podcast with. Makes it easy to find the episode.

Gillian Bruce: Sure do I. Hey, if I had it my way, there would only be emojis. Screw those letters. I communicate solely in emojis.

Mike Gerholdt: Which episode are you at? I'm at the dog cat left foot shoe up arrow episode. Awesome. Okay.

Gillian Bruce: Mike, what was your most read blog from January?

Mike Gerholdt: So this one came out in January 18. It's the Three New Ideas on the Product Roadmap post. And I picked it mostly because it's three, not new ideas, but three ideas that just make me feel warm and cozy inside. The first one is field history tracking for tasks and events. I won't say how old it is, but oh my goodness am I glad that this is out because I have been asked for this since I was an admin back in my wee early days, and I know that admins all over have wanted field history tracking for tasks. So that made me happy. And then just the old man in me loved the analytics winner, which is the ability to print dashboards, because we all got executives, stakeholders that don't log in Salesforce. I mean, they log in all the time and they totally never ask you to print a dashboard. Never-

Gillian Bruce: Never. Never.

Mike Gerholdt: Have I tried to print a dashboard in my life. And we can do that now. So what's old is new again. And then the third one, custom fields for dashboard gauge values, just like, yes, thank you. Amazing that we can put in exactly what the field is for the value, as opposed to what my Thursday used to be, which was readjusting gauge values.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. I mean, those are just... These are the things that make admins happy. Just to save us some time, make our lives easier. It's really exciting to see that these are going to happen. So huge shout out to everybody who voted on them because that's how they happen.

Mike Gerholdt: Absolutely. Yeah. So go back and read that post, check it out. You can see there's some really great screenshots in it. It made me happy.

Gillian Bruce: We like happiness. I mean, we're talking about emojis and all kinds of good product roadmappy things. Happy start to 2021. We also had some happiness for your ears in 2021 this year.

Mike Gerholdt: We did a podcast.

Gillian Bruce: We did quite a few. Quite a few.

Mike Gerholdt: What was your must listen?

Gillian Bruce: Well, I had the opportunity to transport as much as you can these days to the other side of the world, and I had a really wonderful chat with Preena Johansen, who is an Einstein Analytics specialist at Telstra, which is a huge, probably the biggest communications company in Australia. And she's talking to me from Brisbane where it's nice and hot, and she's going to go hang out by her pool and have a nice cocktail. And I am sitting in my basement with the heater on full blast because it's cold here in San Francisco. So it was great chatting with her. She had some really, really great insights about how she works at such a huge organization using Einstein Analytics and Tableau, and really what that specialization looks and how admins can really benefit from thinking about using some of those same approaches and strategies. So that was really fun. But Mike, I think we had another podcast that both you and I were pretty excited too.

Mike Gerholdt: I did, and I also offered up, it could be your favorite podcast too. So we talked with the very important Woodson martin, who is the EVP and GM for Salesforce AppExchange. What a fun pod, if you haven't picked this up. I won't spoil it for you, but Gillian, just to highlight one part of the podcast where Woodson said, "Behind every successful Salesforce project, there's an admin who's sweated the details, really invested to understand their users, what people are trying to accomplish, see beyond what may be executive objections, and tune into the users and the jobs they need to get done every day and the circumstances in which they need to get those jobs done." And I just was so... I need a moment of silence after that.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. I mean, what a way to fire up the awesome admin community in the new year, because Woodson dropped not only that, but he also dropped that he is a former admin. That's how he started with Salesforce, which is pretty awesome. I always love learning about super senior exacts who started as Salesforce admin. So he's got admin in his heart and fantastic podcast, really fun interview. I highly encourage everyone to listen to it if you have not already.

Mike Gerholdt: Yes. I mean, at some point, it being January and all, at some point we will have interviewed someone who will be president of the United States that was a Salesforce admin. I have to believe that, right?

Gillian Bruce: I love that. All right. Let's put that out there. Just put that out there.

Mike Gerholdt: It was great that Woodson... What he does, and literally I was just in AppExchange tweaking something for an app for a video I'm going to shoot for you, Gillian, so the admin AppExchange, it's Batman and Robin. Peanut butter and jelly.

Gillian Bruce: Totally. Peas and carrots. I love it.

Mike Gerholdt: Peas and carrots. Right.

Gillian Bruce: Well, that was a lot of great content that we had, Mike. I still want to keep this fun vibe going for the beginning of 2021. What else you got?

Mike Gerholdt: Well, I think we kicked off talking about video so we can end this portion talking about video. I don't know if you had a must-watch video for January that you enjoyed?

Gillian Bruce: I mean, I was enjoying the Essential Habits marathon, so those deep dives that Mark put together are pretty amazing and help with all of the things you need to know to be an awesome admin. So it's a good go-to, it's a solid foundation and a great... Like I said, great way to kick off the year.

Mike Gerholdt: Yep. I concur. I thought that was the must watch videos for us in January. So then the fun thing, if you listen to the December pod, we wrapped up December and all the topics of what we enjoyed or binge watched. I thought it'd be fun to start January off with, "Hey, which happened first?"
So, because January being the first month of the year, so Gillian, I put some questions together for you and it looks you put some questions together for me and-

Gillian Bruce: Yes I did.

Mike Gerholdt: And at home participation is encouraged, so we will give you a few seconds to think about it and just randomly shout out your answer.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, make sure you shout it really loud so people around you get really confused.

Mike Gerholdt: Absolutely, yes, because it it'll be fantastic. Or you could put a little Twitter video together of us answering. I would enjoy that. That would make me happy. Okay, so Gillian, I have three questions for you, all of which are, I want to know what you think which happened first, and of course I got to queue up the answers here. Okay. So Gillian, which happened first, the AppExchange or Visualforce.

Gillian Bruce: I think I'm going to say Visualforce.

Mike Gerholdt: That's what I thought.

Gillian Bruce: But it's not right?

Mike Gerholdt: However, bonk, you're incorrect. AppExchange launched in 2005, and the development of Apex Visualforce and more happened in 2006.

Gillian Bruce: Wow, okay.

Mike Gerholdt: It's close, but AppExchange came first. What a great segue from the Woodson Martin podcast, by the way. It's a great podcast.

Gillian Bruce: Seriously, yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: Okay, Gillian, second question. Chance to redeem yourself, which happened first, Dreamforce or the Salesforce IPO?

Gillian Bruce: Well I just missed one of these as an employee by about a year or two, so I know for sure Dreamforce happened first.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, I was... Let's see, I'm scrolling through just to double check your answer, because you'd think I put the answer inside of the doc, but I didn't. But I was shocked to find that Dreamforce happened in 2003, and that was actually what helped launch the IPO.

Gillian Bruce: Yep. And I remember the IPO, I think, was 2008, I believe, which was-

Mike Gerholdt: [inaudible] after.

Gillian Bruce: Two years after I started at Salesforce, so I just missed that two years before I started.

Mike Gerholdt: Oh, 2004.

Gillian Bruce: Oh, it's 2004, then nevermind. I missed it by way more than what I thought. So nevermind. I still got the answer right.

Mike Gerholdt: Dreamforce annual convention was held at the Westin Hotel in San Francisco in 2003, and then coming off that had 8,700 customers and numerous potential investors. Salesforce held an initial public offering in 2004.

Gillian Bruce: There you go.

Mike Gerholdt: The company's day one stock price stood at 17.25. I'm getting that from thestreet.com, so public information. $17. Oof. Here we go. All right, so then ending on a fun note, because we love musicians and I think one of these is your favorite band, which happened first, Red Hot Chili Peppers or Metallica playing at Dreamforce?

Gillian Bruce: Such great memories. Such great memories. Again-

Mike Gerholdt: I will say the first time Metallica played at Dreamforce.

Gillian Bruce: Right, before they became the house band. I very vividly remember this moment in the basement at... Well, the basement. In the big hall at Moscone, And it was for sure, my man James and Metallica rocking the house with the worst acoustics possible. But I didn't care, because I was in the front row and I was making eye contact with James Hetfield and I was in heaven. It was one of my best experiences ever.

Mike Gerholdt: Ding, ding, ding, ding. So you went two out of three. Metallica played Dreamforce 9 in 2011, and Red Hot Chili Peppers played Dreamforce 10 in 2012. That was in front of-

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, the Chili Peppers, they were in the front of city hall with the cool light show on the facade of city hall. It was pretty awesome. I miss concerts.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, it was fun going through looking at the concerts, but I was like, "Oh, some of these are too obvious." Except for Foo Fighters. I had no idea that Foo Fighters played in '08 and in 2015. They were the first returning band. So for those of you quiz [crosstalk 00:15:40]-

Gillian Bruce: Salesforce trivia. This is a bevy Salesforce trivia. Okay, Mike, I-

Mike Gerholdt: Here we go.

Gillian Bruce: I've got some for you. You ready?

Mike Gerholdt: Boy, I got to run the board.

Gillian Bruce: You sure do. You sure do. Which happened first, Astro or Cody used as a release logo?

Mike Gerholdt: This is hard. I feel like... I feel like I want to say Astro, but no. Okay, I'm going to go Astro because I think we didn't have a cartoon release version of Cody soon enough.

Gillian Bruce: Well, you are correct, sir. But so close between the two of them because Yeti Astro first appeared for the winter 18 release, followed by a Cody watering his bonsai plant for spring 18. And then a Cody was the release logo again for summer 18. So we have quite a Cody celebration there for two releases in a row.

Mike Gerholdt: A Cody parade. I was only going off the fact that we had that one scary bear costume Cody for a while.

Gillian Bruce: That's right. Just a random person walking around in a very realistic bear costume. That was Cody,

Mike Gerholdt: Just bear hugging executives in keynotes. It was wonderful.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, you get in the elevator and you're like, "Oh, okay, hi."

Mike Gerholdt: "Oh hey, this is happening."

Gillian Bruce: Oh man. There were so many fun release logo questions I could have asked, but I thought that was the least challenging of them all.

Mike Gerholdt: Oh, we could do a whole show on release logos.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah. I got a lot of release logo trivia. Anyway, that's another show. Next question. Which happened first, the headquarters of Salesforce at Rincon Center or at One Landmark in San Francisco?

Mike Gerholdt: Man, this one's even harder. One Landmark is what I know, but I feel like, from that video, was it Dreamforce 2019 that they put together the history of Salesforce? I feel like there was a picture of maybe Parker in Rincon before One Landmark. So I'm going to go Rincon Center.

Gillian Bruce: Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. You are correct. That is a fun... It's a really tricky trivia question because the first headquarters that was not in the Telegraph Hill apartment where Benioff and Parker were hanging out was in Rincon Center, but they quickly then vacated for a larger space at One Landmark. And then we were at One Landmark for many years before coming back and expanding back into Rincon Center. So we did a little hopscotch there.

Mike Gerholdt: Sure. One Landmark was the first time I'd been to Salesforce headquarters.

Gillian Bruce: Now we have a tower. a couple of them. Okay, my last what happened first question, Mike, is also an office related question. What happened first? Which location was the first non-US Salesforce office? Was it Tokyo or London?

Mike Gerholdt: This one I have a little experience with, in that I know we opened the London office after I joined Salesforce. So I have to believe that the Tokyo office happened before that. So I'll go Tokyo office.

Gillian Bruce: Congratulations, you are correct, sir. But I thought I was going to trip you up because in fact it was 2001 where we opened the first offices outside of San Francisco, and that was Dublin and Tokyo.

Mike Gerholdt: Oh, I had no idea. I knew it would be early, because I remember as a customer seeing the Chatter use case with Toyota. I had to have believed that we would have had a Tokyo office or something. That was what I was going with.

Gillian Bruce: So there you go. So you got all of them right.

Mike Gerholdt: Ding ding, I ran the board.

Gillian Bruce: Three out of three. Mike Gerholdt, you are the winner of What Happened First?

Mike Gerholdt: And by winning, I don't know, you don't get anything, there's no prizes. It's all [inaudible 00:20:37].

Gillian Bruce: It's pride. You get pride as your price.

Mike Gerholdt: One million Schrute bucks for you.

Gillian Bruce: I'll send those in the mail right now.

Mike Gerholdt: Redeemable nowhere. Awesome. Well, this is fun. I think we had a really great kickoff to 2021, Gillian. If you're listening to this podcast, I would love to hear what your answers you thought would be right. So tweet them, send us a video. That would make my Twitter timeline super fun and enjoyable.

Gillian Bruce: Or submit some more Salesforce trivia questions. Those are always good.

Mike Gerholdt: Oh yeah, that would be super fun. Taking questions from the listeners to answer. Yes. I'm also really afraid what they're going to ask, but that's okay. What happened first? I don't know. We'll find out. If you want to learn more about all things that we just talked about in today's episode, please go to admin.salesforce.com to find the links and many, many, many more resources. You can stay up to date with us on social for all things admins. We are @SalesforceAdmns, no i, on Twitter. I'm on Twitter @MikeGerholdt, and Gillian is @GillianKBruce. So with that, stay safe, stay awesome, and stay tuned for the next episode. We will see you in the cloud. This is all I could find. Kind of fun, huh, that one?

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, I feel I'm getting ready to start a Jazzercise class or something.

Mike Gerholdt: Okay everybody, it's Peleton riding time. Okay, we'll get rid of that. I have no idea. Some of these buttons... Oh, there we go.

Gillian Bruce: That's a good one.

Mike Gerholdt: Awesome.

Gillian Bruce: Score.



Direct download: January_Monthly_Retro_with_Gillian_and_Mike.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am PDT

This week on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’re sitting down with Ruchi Kumar, Product Management Senior Manager on the Core Service Team of Service Cloud at Salesforce. We’ll cover what’s new in Spring 21 for Admins with Service Setup Assistant and Macros Builder.

 

Join us as we talk about everything she’s working on for Spring ‘21 and how you can get involved.

 

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

 

New features for Setup Assistant.

 

The Core Service Team that Ruchi is in charge of the “bread and butter” of Service Cloud: Service Consoles, Quick Text, Macros, Knowledge, and more. Ruchi’s team, in particular, is in charge of improving the setup experience and making the admin experience better so they can discover and adopt new features.

 

In Spring ‘21, there are a ton of improvements coming to Setup Assistant. “If you think of your journey as an admin, the power of the platform of Service Cloud and Salesforce is supermassive, but sometimes you just want to have a prescriptive out-of-the-box experience so that you can get ready right away with your new app and let your team focus on what they do best,” Ruchi says. It sets up a new Service App for you preconfigured with the best productivity tools so you can get going as soon as possible, drawing on all the knowledge of best practices Salesforce has.

 

The power of Macro Builder.

 

Ruchi’s other team works on productivity tools, especially macros. “It really cuts down time and creates instructions so agents can automatically perform routine tasks such as closing a case or sending an email,” she says, “you just need to write the instructions for the macro and they just hit a button.” Macro Builder is a Lightning tool that makes creating macros a point-and-click affair. Just highlight the component and choose the actions you need to happen.

 

In Spring ‘21, you can switch between tabs to create a more complex macro for your complex page layout where you can run more multi-steps and navigate easily between pages. “Any way we can make macros easier to build makes them easier to implement, and helps you deliver faster resolution times to make your agents and customers happier,” Ruchi says.

 

Most importantly, Ruchi and her team want to hear your feedback about how they can improve on the admin experience. Consider this your invitation to the Service Admin Advisory board to be a part of creating and coming up with the next set of admin features.

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Direct download: New_Spring_21_Feature__Service_Cloud_Macros_with_Ruchi_Kumar.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:05am PDT

For this episode of the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’ve got Grace Li, Product Manager for Admin Home, In-App Learning, and Guidance Center at Salesforce. She’ll fill us in on everything new in Spring 21 or Guidance Center and In-App Learning, and be sure to check out January’s Release Readiness broadcast for even more info.

Join us as we talk about the powerful new features you can use in Spring ‘21, and what’s in store for the future.

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

The keys to a successful project.

“We’ve been hearing from admins that they really want to know more from Salesforce, they want guidance, they want to know best practices and they just really want to know how to set their org up for success,” Grace says. In-App Guidance takes all of the knowledge we’ve gathered talking to customers all over the world and puts it right in front of you.

If you’re spinning up a new org and you want to follow best practices, you’re going to see a new thing called Guidance Center. It’ll give you a checklist of all the things Salesforce thinks will be helpful for you as you’re setting up your new org. It’ll tailor itself according to your level of experience, so whether you’re a first-timer or a seasoned veteran, you’ll get some timely advice and a spotlight on features you’ll want to play around with as you get everything configured.

Coming up in the future, Grace and her team are looking to broaden the scenarios where In-App Guidance can play a role. For example, to help you prepare for an upcoming release and get a handle on new features.

Learning has always been an important part of being a Salesforce admin, and In-App Learning kicks it up a notch. “We’re bringing that fun Trailhead experience right inside the application where you’re doing your work,” Grace says, and this can also help you train your users by putting the right training in the right place.

You can also assign Trailhead modules to specific users in your org, so if you have someone who needs to review something they can simply open their panel to see what you’ve put in there for them. You can also give business leaders the opportunity to customize what shows up for their team without needing admin privileges, so they can take the lead on training and coordinating their team.

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Direct download: New_Spring_21_Feature__In-App_Learning_with_Grace_Li.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PDT

In this week's special bonus episode of the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’re joined by Woodson Martin, EVP and GM, Salesforce AppExchange. He shares some amazing success stories of Salesforce customers that have made transformative adaptations over the past year.

Join us as we talk about why a balance of speed and preparation is the key to any successful project, how to practice presenting to stakeholders, and why it’s important to make the case for why what you want to do is better than the alternatives.

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

The keys to a successful project

Woodson runs the AppExchange on Salesforce, delivering over 5,000 applications that help you get a head start on your projects or deliver new functionality for your users tightly integrated into Salesforce and ready to go. “If I look at the history over the last 20 years of all the Salesforce projects that I’ve been part of, really successful ones share this careful blend of speed and preparation,” he says.

For speed, if you’re leading a new project or upgrade or anything else, really focus on that question of what is your Minimum Viable Product? What is the simplest set of functionality you need to deliver in order to learn what your users really need, and how do you set yourself up to iterate on that? We use the Agile methodology at Salesforce and it’s really based on this core principle of deliver early and deliver often, and the AppExchange can help you do that by speeding up your ability to deliver.

If you’re looking to implement something new from the AppExchange, you’ll need to get leadership to buy in. And as an executive, we wanted to know if Woodson had any advice for how to convince stakeholders to go with your plan: “I want confidence that a presenter knows the subject matter, has done the homework, really understands the problem, and is bring well-defined alternatives forward,” he says. In other words, it’s not just about what you want to do but why it’s better than the other options on the table; including doing nothing.

An admin at heart

“One of the incredible things about the Admin community at Salesforce and with our customers is just how amazing that group of experts has been this year at adapting to such incredible, disruptive change,” Woodson says, “we have seen so many of our customers take giant leaps forward in digital transformation, digitizing their business, automating process, and going virtual.” There are so many great stories from the past year that team created a dedicated page on the AppExchange website just to put them all in one place.

Woodson actually started his Salesforce career as an admin, and he sees them as a crucial component in customer success. “Behind every successful Salesforce project there is an admin who has sweated the details, really invested to understand their users, what people are trying to accomplish, looked beyond executive objectives, and tuned into the users and the jobs they need to get done every day, and then customized or built what users need to make their businesses successful,” he says. “Salesforce doesn’t magically happen in companies—all of our success is tied to the work of the admin community.”

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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 Gillian Bruce.

Mike Gerholdt:
And I'm Mike Gerholdt.

Gillian Bruce:
And today we have a very special guest joining us. We have EVP and GM of AppExchange here at Salesforce, Woodson Martin, joining us to talk about presenting to executives, awesome admin AppExchange magic, all kinds of good stuff. So without further ado, let's get Woodson on the podcast.

Mike Gerholdt:
Woodson, welcome to the podcast.

Woodson Martin:
Thank you. It's great to be here.

Mike Gerholdt:
For those that haven't met you or seen you on any of our stages, can you tell us what you do at Salesforce?

Woodson Martin:
Sure. I run the AppExchange at Salesforce, which if you don't know about it is the world's leading marketplace for enterprise cloud apps. And we have more than 5,000 applications there that our customers use to get a headstart on their projects or deliver functionality for their users, all tightly integrated into Salesforce and ready to roll.

Mike Gerholdt:
Yeah, absolutely. I love the AppExchange. Helped me in my many years of being a Salesforce admin.

Woodson Martin:
Yeah. Great. Me too.

Mike Gerholdt:
For admins that are looking to get started, it's New Year. Let's ramp our org quickly or maybe a migration or a new project, what would you suggest?

Woodson Martin:
Yeah, well, I would say that if I look at the history over the last 20 years of all the Salesforce projects that I've been part of, or watched closely, they all share ... The most successful ones share this careful blend of speed and preparation. And so I think of those two words a lot.

Woodson Martin:
And for speed, I think it's all about taking a flexible, agile approach. And I think it's just really important if you're leading one of these projects or you're diving into a new project or an upgrade or anything else, to really focus on this question of what's my minimum viable product, what's the simplest set of functionality that I need to deliver so that I can learn what my users really need so that they can embrace my app and make the whole project a success and then quickly iterate on that.

Woodson Martin:
So to me, that's just one of the most important things is focusing on speed. And I'd say, if anybody listening hasn't studied up on Agile or Lean methodology, it's a really good place to start and inspire you for how to tackle new projects in the new year.

Gillian Bruce:
That's a great recommendation, Woodson. I mean, we use that here at Salesforce. That's how we are able to do what we do and put that out there. I know many, many partners in the AppExchange, if not all, probably use some version of that as well, correct?

Woodson Martin:
I think that's probably true. Certainly the most accomplished do. And I think while it's a great methodology for delivering product, it also works really well for projects. And for our own internal projects, we use Agile methodology. And it's really based on this core principle of deliver early, deliver often.

Woodson Martin:
Don't give yourself such long runways in your laboratory where you're working on getting things ready, but nobody sees them. It's really much more effective if you can deliver early, deliver often and respond to the needs of your user community quickly. And they can feel that there's this pace of innovation happening and that their needs are being met.

Gillian Bruce:
Yeah, I think we can all get caught in our own head of what we think is the right answer. And then, "Oh, we need a little reality check there," right? So this is actually what people want to hear.

Woodson Martin:
Pretty basic idea, but sometimes it's easy to overlook it, especially in companies that are making big plans in the back of projects and are placing big bets. It's tempting sometimes to shift to that, "Well, we have to do it all or we have to get it all right the first time." And there's a lot of power in iteration.

Mike Gerholdt:
Yeah. And I'm just thinking of when you mentioned speed, the ability to use the AppExchange to ... In one of the projects I was at, we didn't know what we needed for a project management app. But to try out different ones, we weren't spending six months building a project management app. We actually tried one out in six weeks and knew what we wanted and what we didn't want.

Woodson Martin:
Yeah, which I think is obviously one of the huge advantages of Salesforce as a platform and of the AppExchange. Because every Salesforce expert really also wants to be an AppExchange expert because one of the best ways to bring speed and preparation to your project is to lean on people who've already tried that same path.

Woodson Martin:
The AppExchange is where you can find thousands of these solutions that have already been built, tested, proven to solve challenges. Look, there's a lot of commonality in what ... Each of us has our own business. They're all different, but there's a lot of commonality in terms of what we need to be successful and deliver for our users.

Woodson Martin:
And so a lot of the problems are already being solved and you can find a lot of those solutions on AppExchange and speed up your ability to deliver pretty quick.

Gillian Bruce:
Okay. So let's say I'm an admin. I found a great app on the AppExchange that I want to implement in my organization, but I need to get some buy-in from leadership. Since you are an executive, I would love to get your perspective on how can an admin best present that idea to leadership, kind of bring that app to the table and get buy-in from the leadership of their org to get that app approved and so they can get work in, and up and going.

Woodson Martin:
Yeah. Great question. I'll just say that communication, presentations like any other skill, you've got to practice and test your skills. But there are, of course, simple rules that apply to all kinds of executive communication and certainly executive pitches. And just as an executive, I want confidence that the presenter knows the subject matter, has done the homework, really understands the problem and is bringing well-defined alternatives forward.

Woodson Martin:
I think it's really important that when you pitch your ideas, you always frame them versus alternatives. And you back up your recommended alternatives with data, with feedback from your users, your customers, any other stakeholders that matter to the executives you're presenting to. And I'll also say that a simple brief presentation is always best. And then you want to have kind of a healthy appendix for all the backup data you might need to support your recommendations or your strategy.

Woodson Martin:
And I would just say, this is a place again where preparation helps a lot.

Mike Gerholdt:
Sometimes saying little take more practice than saying a lot.

Woodson Martin:
Yeah, absolutely. And we can practice our pitches. Whether you can get one or two of your key executive stakeholders to listen to an early version of your pitch, give you feedback and then support you as you pitched to the broader executive audience.

Woodson Martin:
Or if that's not possible in your situation, then what you can do is find some of their lieutenants who you might be able to practice the pitch words and get feedback early. And just use all that to distill this into something crisp that you just really believe in. And you've got backed up with data and then always, show how it stacks up against alternatives. And there's always an alternative, which is do nothing.

Woodson Martin:
But every alternative has consequences. And you'll want to include all that in an executive pitch.

Mike Gerholdt:
I would be curious. I mean, it's crazy because a year ago, I think do nothing was a viable alternative. And now with COVID, there's a barbecue restaurant just down the street from me, do nothing was a choice. They had to move to curbside pickup. They had to move to ... They actually started to do a school lunch delivery program with grilled cheese sandwiches.

Mike Gerholdt:
I would be curious, do you know of a story that's using the AppExchange during COVID to kind of re-imagine their business?

Woodson Martin:
Well, there are so many of those stories and I think one of the incredible things about the admin community at Salesforce in our customers is just how amazing that group of experts has been this year at adapting to such incredible disruptive change. I mean, we have seen so many of our customers take giant leaps forward and digital transformation digitizing their business, automating process, going virtual, not just in the way that they meet but also in the way that they deliver for their customers.

Woodson Martin:
So yes, tons of great stories. We actually got a page on the AppExchange that documents so many of these stories, and you can get there by going to sfdc.co/api-customers. So API without like the character not happy. And there's a ton of stories there, but some that pop out to me like Purell, a brand that has become ... If it wasn't already familiar to you before the pandemic, it is now.

Woodson Martin:
For them, they had such a massive change in demand for their product. Overnight, across all the ways they distribute their product, both in the grocery stores and in hospitals. Any medical wards got Purell stands all over the walls. And they had to go for a super rapid growth in the teams that maintain, keep those things filled, deliver all that stuff, but also install those things because they had to put them in so many new places.

Woodson Martin:
And they actually chose an AppExchange partner called ProntoForms that helped them do this, which is really focusing on simplifying, automating, documenting the process for each of these technicians. And they were hiring thousands of them to go out and service of this equipment or install new equipment to make sure that we could all keep ourselves safe. And I think it was just an example of somebody taking an application off the shelf to be able to implement change rapidly. And that one to me is just a great story. It's documented on that site I mentioned earlier.

Woodson Martin:
And then maybe I'll just also mention Graymont Medical, so medical device company. They make all kinds of machinery that patients use for rehabbing from surgery or for helping with lactation for new mothers or a variety of other uses. All of their medical equipment requires them to train typically hands-on with technicians who come to your house and help you install and learn how to use this stuff. And obviously, that didn't work anymore with COVID. It wasn't safe for their teams to do those kinds of home visits.

Woodson Martin:
So they had to shift entirely virtual with this. And they used a whole host of applications from the AppExchange, from Mogli SMS to Zenkraft, DocuSign, basically take virtual process which had been very in-person for their whole history. And hats off to their admin, Wade Wheatley, who made quick work of all this change and really has helped them to continue to deliver on their service level promise and keep all their employees safe during the pandemic.

Gillian Bruce:
I love a shout-out to the admin who did that. That's awesome, Woodson. Wade, what was his last name?

Woodson Martin:
Wheatley. Like Wheat, L-E-Y.

Gillian Bruce:
Well, Wade, you're awesome. You just got a great shout-out on the podcast. Woodson, actually on that note, we are knee-deep and embedded in the admin community. We love admins. We understand how important they are and the incredible work they do. I know you, especially in your role leading AppExchange, you see the work that admins are doing every day as well. Can you give us a little bit of your perspective on kind of the role of an awesome admin in making a successful Salesforce implementation work in helping businesses really kind of function?

Woodson Martin:
Yeah, I mean, yes. Well, I started my Salesforce life as an admin. Before I worked at Salesforce, I worked for a company that doesn't exist anymore called BusinessObjects. But I brought Salesforce in. I started in this role. I don't know that I was a great admin, but certainly, it inspired me to really invest in my career in Salesforce.

Woodson Martin:
But I am keenly aware of the super important role that our admin community plays in our customer success. Behind every successful Salesforce project, there is an admin who has sweated the details, really invested to understand their users, what people are trying to accomplish, see beyond what may be executive objectives and tune into the users and the jobs they need to get done every day, and the circumstances in which they need to get those jobs done and then tune Salesforce or add to Salesforce through the AppExchange or by customizing or building and delivering what users need to do their jobs, grow their businesses, make their customers successful.

Woodson Martin:
And we owe an enormous debt of gratitude to this community. So thank you. My hands are making the little thank you sign right now to our admin community. It's a critical role and obviously, Salesforce doesn't magically happen in companies. All of our success is tied to the work of our admin community.

Gillian Bruce:
Well, I love that you're also a former admin. That is so cool, Woodson. I did not know that.

Woodson Martin:
Well, long story for another day, but I began my Salesforce experience.

Mike Gerholdt:
But that's the way you tease a segue to a part two of the sequel to this podcast.

Woodson Martin:
Yeah. Right.

Mike Gerholdt:
One of the things, and I'll echo with Gillian, I think it's so cool you started as an admin. One of the things I love as a customer, and I love learning more about the people I work with, is kind of getting to know what they do outside of Salesforce. Because at work, we all really love to geek out at our platform and some of the stuff that we can do on it. I know on a previous podcast, we had Vin Addala on who worked on Dynamic Forms, and unbeknownst to us, is a huge board game fan. So I would love to know, what are some things that you're passionate about or things that you do outside of work?

Woodson Martin:
Well, thanks for asking. My big focus outside of work ... My job is pretty demanding. But outside of work, my big focus is on immigration issues. And I spend a lot of my time volunteering with ... I'm on the board of two non-profits who are focused on immigration issues here in the United States. And part of that is around humanitarian relief for people in the asylum process in the US. And part of that is around people who are ... And a lot of that at the border with Mexico down in Texas. And then a lot of that is about communities that are local here in the San Francisco Bay area, where I live, and helping with everything from legal assistance through the immigration process to humanitarian needs.

Woodson Martin:
And we've just wrapped up a really exciting project this winter we called Project Reindeer to deliver Christmas to a whole host of newly arrived immigrant families who'd been really impacted by the COVID pandemic. And all got a Christmas tree and presents for the kids and stuff that really helped to brighten what was a pretty tough year for most of them.

Woodson Martin:
So that's sort of how I spend my spare time. And I'll just make mention of one project within that domain that I'm really excited about, an organization called Mobile Pathways, which is a nonprofit and which uses Salesforce technology to deliver legal assistance and information to folks who are tied up in the immigration court process. And it's just an awesome story of how the technology that we work with every day can have such a big impact on the lives of individuals.

Woodson Martin:
If you are a recent immigrant to this country, you're attempting to gain legal status through the immigration courts, one challenge many folks have is just basic communication. The courts only communicate through the mail if like most newly arrived immigrants, you are not living in the same place a year after you started the legal process, you may not get notifications of your court dates. If you don't show up for court, you risk being deported. And using Salesforce technology now, we're able to keep all of those folks informed proactively about changes through mobile messaging and using WhatsApp and the technologies that they live with every day.

Woodson Martin:
And it's just super powerful to see the impact of the technology and the spirit of volunteerism that's driving that project. And that's another thing I'm passionate about and spend my time on.

Gillian Bruce:
Wow, Woodson, that's incredible. I mean, what I really love about that is that, I mean there's a clear connection between obviously your Salesforce life and your outside Salesforce life, because you've been at Salesforce forever. You really do embody the whole giving back aspect of what it is to be part of the Salesforce Trailblazer Community. So thank you for that and being an awesome example. And also, thank you for the impact that you are making in this very tough space and using Salesforce to help make a difference.

Gillian Bruce:
And I mean, Project Reindeer, who doesn't want to work on something called Project Reindeer? That sounds amazing.

Mike Gerholdt:
Seriously, absolutely.

Woodson Martin:
Well, thanks. It's all just getting started. Of course, there's still plenty of work left to do in all their domains, but a huge honor for me to be here with you guys today and with our admin community. I hope it's been a useful dialogue and look forward to coming back and doing more.

Gillian Bruce:
Oh, well, careful what you say because we will be back. We will let you get very far. Woodson, thank you so, so much for your time today. Thank you for sharing with us. Thank you for bringing your OG admin spirit to the admin community as well, and doing some amazing things within the AppExchange world.

Gillian Bruce:
And just again, thanks so much. And you've got lots of awesome admin love. So everybody hit up Woodson if you've got some good [inaudible 00:20:35] and share with them. And hey, you never know, he could call you out on the next story about a great AppExchange success story there. So, Wade, we're talking about you.

Mike Gerholdt:
So it was great having Woodson on the podcast. And wow, we learned a lot. I boiled it down to three big things I learned I think admin should take away. First, speed and preparation. If Woodson didn't drill that into our head, what is the MVP? And to focus on speed, we can of course do that with the Salesforce AppExchange. We can try out different apps, and of course, learn Agile or Lean methodology. So if you haven't picked that up, now is a great time 2021 to learn Agile or Lean methodology.

Mike Gerholdt:
The second, when presenting, practice and test your skills. We've seen that. LeeAnne on our team does that a lot with demos and presentations. We practice, practice, practice. You can't practice enough. And of course, we asked, so what should admins do when presenting to leadership? And this is my big third takeaway. Woodson told us, when you present to an executive, have confidence. Do your homework and bring well-defined solutions forward.

Mike Gerholdt:
And of course, always have an alternate. Be ready to back that up with data. And I love that he even secretly worked in SABWA data from your users. So what your users want, this is why we talk to our users every single day. And much like my three things, keep it simple and brief. Executives are super busy, moving on and to the point.

Mike Gerholdt:
So if you want to learn more about all things Salesforce admin, go to admin.salesforce.com to find more resources. And as a reminder, if you love what you hear, pop on over to iTunes and give us a review. It's 2021. I want some fresh reviews. You can stay up to date with us for all things social on admins, @SalesforceAdmns, no I, on Twitter. You can find Woodson on Twitter. He is @woodson_martin. I'm @MikeGerholdt on Twitter and Gillian is @GillianKBruce. Yeah, everybody keeps it simple.

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: AppExchange_Success_Stories_with_Woodson_Martin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PDT

This week, for the first Salesforce Admins Podcast episode of 2021, we’re joined by Preena Johansen, Einstein Analytics Consultant at Telstra, Einstein Analytics Champion, and the co-leader of Women in Technology Brisbane. She has some great tips about how you can be more analytics-minded as an admin.

 

Join us as we talk about how to set up your data on your records for Einstein Analytics, the power of visualizations, and why you shouldn’t be scared of analytics.

 

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

 

What is an Einstein Analytics consultant?

 

So first question, what does it mean to be an Einstein Analytics consultant? “At Telstra, my role is to work with the business to understand what their requirements are and what their end goal is—what they want to achieve,” Preena says, “and then we use the data we have from Salesforce and our external legacy systems being brought into Einstein to develop a dashboard.”

 

Telstra is the biggest telecommunications company in Australia, so Preena’s normally working with a huge amount of data at an enormous scale. She works with every department in the organization, from sales to finance to marketing, which naturally leads to a large range of projects. She’s built a suite of dashboards to help her support team get a better picture of how they’re hitting their SLAs on the various case-types they have, and another for marketing that lets them follow lead generation from each of their campaigns, which is also useful for sales.

 

“One of the main things about my role is understanding what the end-goal is for our users,” Preena says, “how are they going to use what we’re developing for them?” Every dashboard they make is embedded within Salesforce, which ultimately means users spend less time “swivel-chairing” between legacy databases and more time focusing on what the customer needs.

 

The tools of the trade.

 

Preena does a large amount of work directly on Salesforce and Einstein Analytics, with some help from an internal team to get information from legacy systems into a data hub that brings it onto the platform. She also leans on Excel to double-check things, Jira to track her Agile stories, and Confluence to document her work and coordinate with her team. For development, she uses Validator, an online JSON editor, and Notepad++ on desktop to write out JSON and check it.

 

If you’re trying to start working with your data in Einstein Flows, Preena has some advice. First of all, make sure that your permissions are set up correctly to allow anyone working with your fields to be able to see everything they need. Also, field validation can greatly minimize the need for data cleanup further on down the road, especially when you’re talking about free text fields.

 

“To get started, I didn’t go to uni, I didn’t study anything analytics-related,” Preena says. Instead, she created her first data visualizations in Tableau and then moved onto Salesforce when her company was one of the first in Australia to adopt Wave. “It was really about getting in and giving is a shot,” she says, “the skills that I have today are from on-the-job learning.” With all the great content out there between Trailhead and other resources, the best thing you can do if you’re interested in doing more with Einstein is to get started and create your first visualization.

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Direct download: Einstein_Analytics_at_Scale_with_Preena_Johansen.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:56am PDT

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