DF21 – Talk about Surreal

This was my 10th Dreamforce (9th in person since last year was fully virtual). It’s taken me a week to process my in-person experience this year.

While it was so very different from ‘normal’ Dreamforce, there were some fundamental things that were the same. This post is a play by play of my time at DF21 – where on the Trail was Nana Gregg?

If you look close you’ll see my Bitmoji in all the cool spots!

When I accepted the invitation I had to upload my vaccination card to the Salesforce Health Cloud site designed for us. Super easy and it was quickly followed by a webinar where we could get more info about the health and safety protocols that would be followed this year. The Thursday before I had to Activate a Covid test online, swab myself and drop the vial off at FedEx to be overnighted to SF for evaluation. Friday morning I had to go through the same routine. I was also sent 2 more tests to pack and bring with me for Monday and Tuesday. 

I flew in on Sunday and was pleased to see that in SF, restaurants and bars were requiring a vaccination card and masks were the norm. (Definitely different than in Texas.) I visited my favorite spot out on Ft. Mason, Greens restaurant, along with The Interval bar and FLAX Art, a cool Art Supply store I love to visit. San Francisco is my favorite city so I try to get a little extra time each time I visit.

Monday morning I woke up, wrote a short parody song about the Day before Dreamforce, activated my onsite Covid test, swabbed the nose, packed it up and dropped it in the easy drop-off bin at the hotel and headed over to pick up my badge.

Normally, during registration and badge pickup there is a line out the door. Everyone is excited and coordinating schedules and developing a plan of attack for the week. This year, I walked over the day before for registration and was literally the only person in line. So I guess technically I wasn’t in line. I WAS the line. Surreal.

From there I went over to treat myself with a DryBar blowout (if you haven’t tried it once you totally should!) then met up with my friend and fellow MVP Ashima for lunch and some quality catch-up time. The friendships I’ve been privileged to foster from this community are like no other.

The Trailhead Community Team always hold a great meet & greet event for Salesforce MVPs and this year was no exception. Missed all those who were not able to attend but really enjoyed the dedicated time to catch up, hug, bump elbows or just wave hello. Always grateful for the hard work of the community team to put together events for us. Then a few of us headed over to the only partner event I was invited to this year – GetFeedback Karaoke at Pandora! Shonnah and her team always put together an amazing event and this year was no exception. So much fun seeing people get up and sing and dance and just enjoy being together. Got back to the hotel and an email saying the Covid test I took this morning passed (yay) and got my QR code so I could attend the conference on Tuesday! Great way to end the day.

Dreamforce Day 1

Woke up so incredibly excited! Hard choices to make between cute shoes and comfy shoes (comfy shoes won out), put on my ‘Parker is My Homeboy’ t-shirt from a Dreamforce past, activated my last Covid test, swabbed the nose, grabbed my badge and bag, dropped the test in the bin at the hotel and headed to Howard Street! It was Go-time!

Best feeling ever to go through security where they were quick and efficient and head into the DF campus and hear the amazing tunes of LT Smooth getting everyone warmed up for the Keynote. People start pouring into the meadow and it is just a great big family reunion. Get some great seats for the Keynote and settle in for one of my favorite parts of every Dreamforce start – when Danny & Anna Akaka to lead the traditional Hawaiian blessing for the event. It always brings a tear to my eye.

The Keynote this year was a good one – lots of Trailblazer love, Slack talk, leading off with a look at how the world has changed and we need to roll with it and meet each other where we are now. Working from homes, not offices and collaborating/doing business in new ways.I loved the line ‘We need a new Vision, not a new Version.’ We got a (pre-recorded) song from Metallica and Lionel Richie came out to close the show.

From there many of us try to crowd up and speak to some of the execs. I got to hug and get a picture with Sarah Franklin and Parker Harris. And the grab a boxed vegan lunch (they had amazing options this year) and sit down to catch up with so many people. People I’ve known for years. People who I’ve only ever met online. People who I am meeting for the first time. All amazing. All as fired up as me. All of us filled with so much joy for this event.

The rest of the afternoon is filled with sessions to learn about new announcements, new features, and celebrate trailblazers along the way. (Can’t forget about the Salesforce Ranch.) I kept looking around thinking how cool this was. We were all able to get together, safely. Finally. After so long. And the small size meant the level of access to the speakers and teams was unprecedented. Community Campfire sessions were popular and went a long way to help make the event feel more than just corporate marketing.

Foo Fighters

Day 1 closed out with a bit of a happy hour with beverages and finger foods and a crazy concert by the Foo Fighters where he challenged the Mascots to a headbanging dance off!! Special thanks to my new DF Concert buddy Chris McDonald who helped my short self find a spot to see the stage and who has been doing some amazing Salesforce stuff for his company! Riding a wave from the amazing day, many of us hit the rooftop bar at the Marriott Marquis to continue conversations and build deeper connections. Nothing beats this time together.

Got my email saying the Covid test I took this morning passed (yay) and got my QR code so I could attend the second day of the conference! Phew – those tests were a little nerve-wracking!

Dreamforce Day 2

No covid tests to take this morning so only have to agonize between comfy sneakers and cool Doc Martens. Opted for the Docs today – smaller Dreamforce means less walking. Easier on these old feet! Wanted to get to campus early today and managed to get front row seats for Soledad O’Brien’s conversation with Parker Harris. I’ve loved Soledad for years and have always felt that Parker is the heart of Salesforce. Such a good session, loved hearing stories from Parker I haven’t heard. And I must admit to being the one who yelled out about the costumes. (Sorry (not sorry) Parker!) 

For me, the best part of the event was the Executive ‘Ask Me Anything’ sessions arranged in the Community Campfire areas. Brett, Parker, Sarah, Srini, & David all came over and made themselves fully available for questions and challenges and fun. The openness of the executive team, the willingness for them to make themselves available and listen and say ‘email me and I’ll find out for you is unparalleled. And Bret I’m all in for the new Salesforce Campground Confessions series for Salesforce+! For this girl who never finished college, who became an accidental admin, who is goofy and uncool and middle-aged and loves working on the platform and geeking out about flows to get to come to an event like this and be heard – really listened to. It just feels surreal. Am amazed and grateful to be a part of this.

As always, Dreamforce wraps up with some inspirational sessions and we end the day with more pictures, hugs, fist bumps and promises to do this again very soon! Back in 2012 at my first Dreamforce, a co-worker took me to House of Nanking – the most amazing restaurant in the universe. It’s been a must-visit every year so a fellow MVP from Dallas and amazing Golden Hoodie winner and I went there and stuffed ourselves. When you visit, just tell the chef your preferences, you don’t even need the menu – they will bring you food. And it’s amazing. They are a San Francisco landmark. And if you need a buddy to go with at the next Dreamforce I’m your gal!

A Time To Say Goodbye. Until We Meet Again.

Too quickly it was time to head home. SFO airport has changed so much since I was there last. Always sad to leave, but with my bucket overflowing. Have missed this face to face interaction with all of you. Have missed dancing to LT Smooth in person. Have missed tearing up when Danny & Anna present the blessing. Have missed my peeps. Will miss the new peeps I met. Let’s do this again real soon!

Not enough ways to say thank you to those at Salesforce who made this happen. From the coordination to the testing to the event itself. Thank you from the bottom and top of my heart (and all the space inside as well). It’s swollen with love and gratitude for this community.

The Gratitude Tree!
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Salesforce Cleaning Menu – Medium: At least 3 times a year

Earlier this year Johann and I collaborated on a post about the importance of Org maintenance.

It comes in all shapes and sizes but we boiled it down to the following Menu of options:

Check out the Mild and Medium Menu options linked above – and stay tuned for the Spicy variety!

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Salesforce Cleaning Menu – Mild: A Flavor for Everyone

In our previous post (here), Johann and I discussed the importance of Maintenance and Spring Cleaning as required items in the Architect’s kitchen. Only in a clean Org your architecture can really shine.

We broke down our Spring Cleaning Menu into 3 categories: Mild, Medium, and Spicy.

Mild (sometimes referred to as bland or boring) items are definitely  mundane but are, in our opinion, the items that can really pile up if you don’t stay on top of them. It’s boring work, but in working through these bland cleaning tasks, you can also learn a lot about your users and how they are using the system, which can lead to bigger conversations and spicier tasks! Tackling these items on a monthly basis (at a minimum), or even more often. Who is up for Tacos & Tech-Debt Tuesdays?

Let’s take a look at the items on the Mild Menu:

Remove unused Objects
Have you created objects to hold data for a specific purpose, but it’s no longer in use or viable? What about Working Models where you built something to show & tell, but it never got traction or implemented? Get rid of those things. If you want, package them and move them to a Dev org for a cooling off window before you delete them altogether.

Clean up page-layouts & List views
If you are spending some time on Tech-Debt once a week, pick an object a week and clean it. Are all the page layouts in use? Are there duplicates? Are there overlaps? Could new functionality (like Lightning Record Pages, Dynamic Forms and Conditional Visibility of Components) replace older page layout requirements?

For list views, you can use the Workbench and pull a file of all the list views on an object. See which list views are owned by inactive users – those are quick wins to remove. From there it will depend on the number of list views involved. You could manually review each one and either remove sharing or delete the views entirely depending upon your knowledge. If you don’t have the knowledge, then document the lists, who they are shared with and reach out to those groups. There is also a great post here about reviewing and updating sharing on list views.

Review/Remove unused fields
Again, as above, we would highly recommend picking an object and working this one object at a time. To start, is it clear which fields are in use and which aren’t? Is everything documented? If not, you need to begin at the beginning. Look at each field, add descriptions to indicate what it’s used for, make use of the fields available to indicate owner, usage, etc. Make this a habit when you create new fields. This will get you started with what needs to be deprecated. If you are unsure about the usage of a field, then start doing some research. Who can access the field? What pages is the field on?

Next up, you can use a tool like Field Trip. This will help you evaluate which fields have data in them across records. From there you can approach the business armed with all the info you need to help them make decisions about whether a field is needed. And don’t forget to ask all the questions: who is entering this data, how often are they entering it, how is it being used and by whom, who is evaluating the data for accuracy, what does it drive, can we count on the data?

Clean-up reports
First step is having a great Report Folder Structure. If you’ve got a nice structure where people own/manage their own folders and folders are shared to distinct groups then report clean-up is easier. In this scenario, the manager of the folder should be responsible for keeping their reports cleaned up. Then (as architect/admin) you can focus on the Public Reports folder as well as Global folders and Inactive User folders. From a Public Reports standpoint, our policy was to purge this folder every 30 days. We would remind users to move reports to an appropriate folder or it would be deleted.

From a deletion standpoint, we created a ‘Purge’ folder and would rotate reports there first, then on the next purge date we would delete the items in this folder. So as an example, on the 1st of the month, move reports in the Public folder to Purge, then on the 1st of the next month, empty the purge folder and move new reports in the Public folder to Purge. This keeps the report for 30 days so it can be restored for an end user if needed. For Global Report folders, our policy was to Purge any reports that hadn’t been run in 120 days. You can determine what the time frame should be in your org. And it’s always a good idea to do a regular purge of reports in Inactive user private folders to save space.

Check all Dashboards
Are your dashboards being run? Are they running as active users? Are all the underlying reports still available and viable for the components on the dashboards? Are they shared appropriately? Are there hard-coded values in components still accurate? Can you delete dashboards in private folders owned by inactive users?

Clean your Backlog & To-Do Lists
Take a regular review of the items on your backlog and to-do list and review their importance, whether they are still needed and re-order them based upon the current state of your org and workload. Things that were less important last month, may have bumped up the scale, and things that were a huge need might be able to be addressed in a different way. 

Deactivate inactive users (Security!)
Ensure you have a company policy to freeze or deactivate users who are not logging in. Our policy was to freeze users who hadn’t logged in within 30 days and deactivate them 30 days after that. It’s also a great idea to stay on top of Permissions and security. This post has some great resources for that. Also if you have purchased Event Monitoring (via Salesforce Shield), setting up alerts and notifications based on user access is a great idea. The analytics available with Event Monitoring are a really great tool to stay on top of what users are doing in your org.

Now that we’ve gone through the Mild menu, here are some additional strategies as you work through this part of the cleanup process:

Strategies for removal
Removing something is really hard! Your users are hoarders, nobody wants to lose something. Humans are hardwired to avoid loss. “I might need that later” is the most common excuse and therefore the milk to our otherwise spicy dish. From our point of view there are two main strategies to overcome that fear of loss: Strategy Nr 1: Don’t ask, be quick and Strategy Nr 2: 5-Second Game.

Removal Strategy Nr. 1: Don’t ask, be quick
People will tell you they still need that button but will actually not notice if the button is gone. This strategy works great for elements you’ve got a feeling are useless but you are not sure and nobody is brave enough to make a decision. After you’ve hidden the element, wait for complaints. If there’s a complaint, add the button back again quickly, but if nobody complains for 30 days, the element can be removed forever. Works great on Fields, Buttons, Lightning Components, Apps, List Views, Reports, Tabs and Apps. Make sure to react incredibly fast as soon as somebody complains about the missing elements since this strategy relies on good will by your users!

Removal Strategy Nr. 2: 5-second game
The second strategy,  ‘5-second game’ is a fun strategy. It’s quick, it’s radical and it’s a lot of fun. You approach a truly random user user. The task for this person is now: Explain to me each single element on a Page Layout. The user has only 5 seconds per element. If the user can’t explain the element in 5 seconds, the element is put on the elimination list. You should repeat that exercise with two or three more users. The idea is, if your users can’t explain something, it’s obviously useless and can be removed or it’s a target for advanced/updated training.

This method is hated by power-users and teamleads. Power-Users and Team-Leads like their complex page layouts, but we think you should build for average users and not the outliers. 

Your Org did not get disorganized and cluttered in one day, and it will not get clean in a day, either. You have been living in clutter and CHAOS for a while; you are not going to get it clean in a day. We don’t want you to crash and burn. This is why we are teaching you to take baby steps and start with the Mild flavors, then slowly ratchet up the heat. As you establish one set of habits, you will very easily be able to add another one to your routines.

As we said in our previous post: as the Architect, it is your job to help your business maximize the full potential of the platform. You can’t do that if your org is not operating as efficiently as possible! And that means keeping things clean. Make the bed. Take out the trash. Dust things off on a regular schedule. You set the tone for your org. Everyone will benefit from the effort.

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Spring Cleaning for Salesforce Architects

At the beginning of the year I try to start out as organized and ‘clean’ as possible – both in my home life and at work. I wrote a post on LinkedIn about the importance of keeping your Org clean and free of tech debt.

Johann had also been thinking about Spring cleaning and we decided to put our heads together and brainstorm this topic further.

We’ve come up with a Flavorful Menu of Org Cleaning ideas – ranging from Mild (easy items that should be done regularly), Medium (things that should be done regularly – maybe every release), and Spicy (cleaning items that require more work and thought and project planning).

Check out our post here and take a look at what’s on the plate!

Over the next few weeks we’ll be breaking down the menu items and discussing how we approach them. Sometimes our approach is similar, sometimes it isn’t. But that’s the fun of learning from each other!

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I think I’m going to love it here!

If you’ve been following me you know I’ve been in the Salesforce Community for a while. I began back in 2007 as a Salesforce Administrator and it has certainly been a wild ride over the years, implementing Salesforce, FinancialForce and developing my voice in the Community.

I have learned so much, not just about the tool or the technology but about business as well. About how successful businesses find that sweet spot where the platform enables great business processes and empowers users.

Being able to help the business build a VISION around their processes with the technology in mind. Having an expert knowledge of how the tools can provide clarity and FOCUS to that vision. Doing it all with a PASSION that is palpable and helps drive results.

These are the things that fill my bucket.

And those three things: VISION, FOCUS, and PASSION are why I have chosen to join #TeamVFP as a Solution Architect.

I am beyond excited to make the move from Salesforce & FinancialForce Customer to Partner and join the amazing team at VFP Consulting.

“If you love it, it’s not work!”

I think I’m going to love it here!

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