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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Travel in the Time of Covid-19

We didn’t want to do it, researched our options, but ultimately needed to make a trip from Dallas to Chicago and back.

My last day in the office was Friday, March 13th. My daughter, who is in her freshman year at Columbia College Chicago, got sent home early for Spring break and flew home on Sunday, March 15th. My boys, 7th grade and 10th grade, went on Spring Break that week and never went back.

We’ve been isolating at home and staying in place. My boys spend a week at my house, then a week at their dads. He’s been staying at home as well. We get our groceries delivered. We leave to walk the dogs.

I’ve had to go inside a store twice for meds, but I mask up, it’s in and out and I feel anxious for hours afterwards. We have a drive through liquor store for necessities. (LOL!) And about a week ago we hung out with friends at a local park (being careful to stay 6 feet away from each other).

But yesterday that all changed. When Columbia College Chicago shut down in March they told students to leave. To take what they could carry but leave the rest and vacate the residence halls. But a few weeks ago we were told we needed to get her things and be fully moved out by May 10th.

Reminder – we live in Dallas, her school is in Chicago. Here were our options:

  • Hire a moving company to enter her room, pack her things and ship them home
  • Ask someone who lives nearby to act as a proxy to enter her room, pack her things and ship them home
  • Drive to Chicago, pack her things and ship them home
  • Fly to Chicago, pack her things and ship them home

It was not an easy decision. Each one had positives and negatives. We looked at cost. We looked at time. We looked at exposure to ourselves. We looked at exposure to other people.

Ultimately we decided that flying to and from Chicago in a quick one day whirlwind trip to retrieve her belongings would take less time, cost less and expose less people than any other option.

So yesterday, May 7th, 2020, we set off on a strange trip during this unprecedented Pandemic.

Dallas Love Field
Security Line

With masks and antibacterial lotion in hand we got to Dallas Love Field about 6am on a Thursday morning. Normally there would be a couple of security lanes open and a small wait, but this morning it was sparse. We walked straight up to the TSA agent, presented our credentials, lowering our masks only for the ID verification) and headed over to the one lane open. There were about 6 people in front of us and we got through quickly.

If you’ve been to Dallas Love Field, you know the layout. You walk from security up a single corridor with bathrooms and a few restaurants/stores, then there is a left and right fork with about 10 gates on either side.

It was a ghost town. There was a Dunkin Donuts storefront open for coffee, but everything else was closed. Gates pulled down, signs on the entryways.

Our gate itself was pretty deserted. Not many people waiting. The majority who were there had masks on, but a surprising number of people did not.

Waiting at the gate in Dallas

They announced while we were waiting that in order to maintain social distancing, Southwest Airlines would not be serving beverages or snacks on our flight so we should get it while we could in the terminal. Then for boarding they boarded us in groups of 10. It was very organized and we were able to maintain distance.

Once on the plane, they had to rearrange passengers a bit to ‘balance out the weight’ – it was an 800 series plane and there were 34 of us on board to Chicago. Southwest is also blocking off the first few rows and last few rows of seats and asking people not to sit in middles unless you are traveling together. I was definitely impressed with their service.

Uneventful flight and landed at Chicago’s Midway airport. We love Midway – it’s good sized, but never super crowded. Good restaurants and easy to get around. When we de-planed I was again kind of shocked. It was 9:30am on a Thursday and the airport was empty. Like ghost town empty. No restaurants or shops we passed were open. It was surreal. Baggage claim had a handful of people. Weird.

We typically would take the train downtown to the Loop, but opted for a Lyft since it seems like it would be safer.

Got to her Residence hall super quickly – it’s on State Street, a block off of Michigan Avenue and in the heart of the city. The sidewalks were deserted. There were some cars, but zero actual traffic. On a weekday morning at 10:45am. In the middle of Chicago.

We were given just under two hours to pack her things and get out. They are being very strict about appointments to move out and timing and it was pretty stressful. But we got it done and were back outside walking for a Lyft back to the airport at 12:30pm.

Still barely any cars. An occasional person on the sidewalk in a mask, but deserted.

Back to Midway. Just like earlier it was empty. We checked our bags at the valet outside, then sped through security with maybe 10-15 people in line with us.

This is the area in between the three
terminals at Midway when you
pass through Security. Surreal.

Hungry at that point, we decided to find something to eat. At Midway we counted 4 stores open. One gift store. Two restaurants (for takeaway only) and Nuts on Clark (the popcorn store). Only one of the restaurants served alcohol of any kind. It was kind of a backfire, because with no other options, there were probably too many people at these places. Regardless, we were able to get some food and eat before we headed to our gate.

The flight home was a 737 and there were around 40 people on it. Again, a mixed bag of people in masks, people without masks and one person who had on goggles underneath a full gas mask type thing with leather gloves. It was interesting. They weren’t as strict about boarding small groups in Midway but it was organized enough.

After another uneventful flight back to Dallas, we get to the most interesting part. After landing, they come over the loudspeakers of the plane and say there are Troopers who will be talking to us when we de-board. If we are essential workers we should have our papers ready. If we are catching a connecting flight just let them know, but if we are staying in Texas they’ll have some paperwork for us to fill out.

DPS Troopers
Self-Quarantine Paperwork

In the terminal there were 4 DPS Troopers in uniforms and masks. Because we have come from Chicago, IL and are staying in Texas, there is an order from the Governor that we must self-quarantine for 14 days. We had to fill out a form with the address where we will be quarantined and a phone number along with our ID’s and names. Then we were given some paperwork with instructions.

Basically we are not allowed to leave our residence for 14 days or interact with people at all. They are authorized to check on us, either by visiting our residence and making sure we are at home or calling us. We are subject of a fine of up to $1000 or up to 180 days in jail if we violate the order. (Apparently you can violate it if you are a salon owner in Texas, so I’m not sure how enforceable this is.)

We will be honoring the quarantine. My boys are staying with their dad for the next two weeks (not the Mother’s Day I imagined, but it’s just a day.) We’ll walk the dogs with masks on but stay home otherwise and monitor ourselves for symptoms just in case. Hopefully we were able to stay safe on our trip and avoided the virus.

We made it back home about 15 hours from when we left. It was a whirlwind trip that we will not forget. And one day, when my great grand kids ask about this time, we will have a story for them about our crazy travel day during the pandemic.

Stay safe everyone.

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