Be Relevant

So I’ve been a Salesforce Administrator for a little while. And by that I mean before there were custom objects and a certification program.

I’ve implemented and managed multiple complex orgs, designed processes, and have been around the block a few times so I feel as if I’m pretty knowledgeable about all the things an admin needs to know.

I recently decided to start studying to get my Certified Application Architect Credential. I have Admin, Adv Admin, App Builder and Sales Cloud Consultant so this seemed like the next progression.

As I reviewed the study materials for the two Architect Exams associated with this credential (Sharing & Visibility Designer and Data Architecture & Management Designer), I realized that much of what I was studying should be required knowledge for every Salesforce Administrator. In fact, I immediately began re-thinking/designing my Org based on what I learned.

I’ll give a few examples:

  • In the learning materials for the Sharing & Visibility Designer exam, I learned about how to manage my sharing model better to avoid sharing issues and things like lock contention and data skew as changes are made to the database. Sounds kinda greek at first but basically if you have a private sharing model, sharing an account with a Group will result in less recalculation required than sharing with individual users when child records are created/edited. Child records inherit the sharing of the parent, so pretend account ABC has 10,000 child records. You’ve shared the Account with Group-Analysts. If you want to share with another user and you do a Manual share with User-Ben, the sharing of every single child record has to be updated to include User-Ben. If you simply add Ben to the Group-Analysts instead, the sharing is already there. You can move people in and out of that Group and the system never has to touch sharing for those 10,000 child records. To expand even further, if you shared with User-Ben, then move Ben in the Role hierarchy, the system has to recalculate sharing again because everyone above Ben has to be given sharing access to those records too….if you have lots of records and lots of users and roles, the system could very quickly get bogged down with recalculating sharing rules and your users could experience loss of record access needlessly!
  • In the learning materials for the Data Architecture & Management Designer exam, I learned that formula fields could be the cause of timeouts when running reports. Since a formula field calculates at run-time, if you create a report and add that formula field to the Filter Criteria, the system has to filter on a that field and calculate it at the same time. So for things that you want to be able to run quickly and efficiently in reports you might want to consider using field updates (via workflow, process builder, visual flow or apex) rather than formula fields. (I had never thought about that!)

Those are just two examples of things I really felt like I should know as an administrator that I learned while studying for application architect.

remain-curious-and-keep-learningWhich goes to show HOW IMPORTANT it is to keep pushing yourself, to keep learning.

So my call to action for you (and myself) is to utilize the tools and resources and keep learning. Take the Trailhead trails for products you don’t use. Read blog posts on functionality you aren’t familiar with (even if you think it might not apply to you). Engage in conversations about topics think you already know everything about. Play around in your Dev Org. Click buttons, try settings you haven’t tried before. Read the help topics.

Be involved and engaged and eager to continue improving. Because once you stop doing those things, you become irrelevant.

(And this applies to all areas of your life, not just Salesforce.)

Be Relevant!

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Lightning or Bust

When you’ve been an Admin for a ‘while’, the prospect of using Lightning is daunting to say the least. In Classic I know where everything is. I know how everything works. It’s comfortable. It’s familiar. I can answer all the user questions and knock things out quickly and efficiently.

Enter Lightning.pexels-photo-355989.jpeg

When Lightning was first announced and we got a sneak peak, I was intrigued by the interface. I played with it a bit at the time, but some of the changes felt like hills too steep to climb. On it’s initial release, the trusty tabs were flipped vertical down the left side of the page with a panel opening up – very similar to the Salesforce1 mobile interface. It almost felt like they were making mobile the standard. You had to know the Object Icons to know whether to click on the Star (Leads) or the Coins (Opportunities) since the names were no longer readily visible. This in itself was a hard stop for me and our Org. It was just too foreign and different.

Soon, though, the Tab interface was changed back to the horizontal view we are used to so we decided to take another look. We first focused on where parity didn’t exist between Classic and Lightning. We felt like the only way we could move our users to Lightning was when there would be minimal loss of use. With the Winter ’18 release preview we realized that this might be the time to move.

You see, our Company had been acquired a year before. We were able to bring our legacy technologies with us, but were beginning to have to justify staying on our systems (at considerable cost) versus moving into existing systems where there would be virtually no additional licensing charges. We are firm believers that our growth over the years, including and up to the acquisition is in part a result of efficiencies and insights we have been able to create on the Salesforce Platform. But after being swallowed up like Jonah in the whale, we needed to get our defenses ready to prove that our business unit needs to stay on this platform.

As we prepared to upgrade our FinancialForce PSA installation to the latest release, we decided to test both the upgrade and the Winter ’18 release of Lightning in our sandbox.

I’ll be honest, at first, working in Lightning was painful (see the first paragraph of this post). I didn’t know where anything was. I didn’t understand fully how to manage object Lightning Pages and how to apply them to Apps and Profiles and Record Types. It felt like a LOT of work would be needed to get everything ready for our users.

But how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!

Here’s how we turned on Lightning, Beta tested and launched it for our users in a 2 month time-frame:

First, my team (myself, my co-admin and our manager who is the executive sponsor of our system) holed ourselves up in a conference room, got in the sandbox and created a list of the things we needed to do to prep Lightning. It included items like identifying what Apps we needed, which users would get which Apps, and what tabs each App should start out with. We opened up the Lightning Page builder and pored over how it worked. It was easy to figure out the components and how to use/change those, but things like adding fields to the Highlights panel, how buttons are displayed, and how to display/rearrange the tabs on the Activities component are not readily obvious or particularly simple to figure out.

We determined that based on our use of the system we had 4 main ‘groups’ of users: Users who participate in Selling, Users who manage Projects, Users who manage Billing/Accounting and Users who only access the system to log time and maybe use chatter. So we created 4 apps for these user types and then called on Beta-testers from each of these groups.

We held several working sessions with each of the Groups where we spent an hour or two walking through the new/changed functionality, opening up the Lightning Page Builder for the objects they use frequently and making changes/tweaks on the fly. It really grabbed their interest and got them engaged in really caring about how their pages were laid out.

In order to keep these Beta users involved, we flipped on Lightning in production, gave these beta users access to it and setup the new apps and UI for them to use in their daily work. We encouraged them to work in Lightning as often as they could and used a chatter group for questions/comments/feedback. I think we were pleasantly surprised by the amount of feedback we got. Once they began using it regularly they really began asking for things to be moved on pages, related lists made more prominent, etc. They were not shy in giving us feedback. We continued to hold sessions with these users over several weeks. Meanwhile, our sandbox was upgraded with Winter ’18 which was like a manna from heaven! Quick links for the related list really sealed the deal for me and our user base – the standard Related List/Lists components only show 4 fields which is pretty much un-usable to people who are used to seeing 10 across. Without the Related List Quick Links, they were getting frustrated with not being able to easily see the information they needed to do the job.

While our Beta users were testing and providing feedback, we were working on upgrading our most used Dashboards to lightning. We really found that the Lightning Dashboards are a huge hit and being able to add dashboards to the home page was just icing on the cake.

Another thing we did, after realizing that our Beta Users really cared about how the pages were laid out but couldn’t envision different ways of doing it, was to create a new App called ‘Beta App’ (clever, I know). In that App we created from-scratch Lightning pages of all kinds for the objects. wide-left/narrow-right, wide-right/narrow-left, 3 column layouts, you name it. We used tabs, we didn’t use tabs, we put record details prominent, we hid them behind things, and we really just explored the possibilities with page layouts. We were able to use those as examples when we would hold our Beta group meetings to show them different options. Then we would re-build their object page on the fly to meet their needs. One thing that isn’t obvious to an admin is that the first time you click on ‘Edit Page’ in Lightning, you get a page with a pre-set template (wide-left/narrow-right) – while you can’t currently change the template on that default page (vote for the idea here), you can start from scratch and build a brand-new page for that object using the templates provided (or a custom one if you are so inclined). That opened up a whole new world for us. Each of the Beta groups has different layouts for the same object based on how they use that object so we are able to really tailor the experience.

We identified a few things that would need more work to be lightning ready (Conga, I’m looking at you), but they weren’t game changers. Then we scheduled the FinancialForce PSA upgrade in production to happen the same weekend as our Org was getting Winter ’18. On that Monday morning we did a quick fire-drill to add the Related List Quicklinks to all of our object pages, added dashboards to the various home pages and made Lightning available to all users. We then held several Webex sessions to announce the Lightning launch and FF PSA upgrades over the next several days.

Overall, feedback has been great. Lots of compliments on the reports/dashboards particularly. We are currently preparing sessions on Tips and Tricks to make the most out of Lightning for our users to attend where we’ll go over some of our favorite features and let them ask questions and get immediate assistance. We have about 20% of our users in Classic now. The reasons vary – some users claim they are ‘too busy’ and they need to find things fast so classic is easier. Some users didn’t attend any training and/or don’t remember how to switch to Lightning, some users are using IE11 so Lightning isn’t supported. We are working through all of these cases by reaching out to the users themselves and asking how we can help get them on Lightning. We’ve even turned off the ability to switch back to Classic for our Time Entry only users and plan to do this for other groups over the next few months.

Yes, Lightning is different.
Yes, the prospect of tackling all those object pages is daunting.
Yes, you’ll get frustrated with having to relearn things yourself.


Lightning is a super-awesome UI that really focuses on getting the user to the information they need when they need it.
Lightning pages offer SO much flexibility that once you get the hang of them you will never want to go back.
Lightning offers you, super awesome admin, more to learn, investing in your company, your org and your own career!

When you bought your last car, did you wait to find the one that had EVERY. SINGLE. FEATURE. you wanted, or did you compromise on something for another reason (other features, price, availability, etc)?

If you always wait for the one that has everything, keep waiting…I suspect you’ll never be happy with Lightning, but if you can see past the one or two things that you aren’t in love with, enough to take it for an extended test drive, you might just decide to keep it and you may, like me, fall in love with it, faults and all!

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Count the Ways

So on Twitter, the Salesforce twitter account put forth the question: How has Salesforce changed your life for good?

Life Changing

As I’ve read the responses over the past few days I’ve thought over how to best answer the question. There are SO. MANY. WAYS. in which being a part of the Salesforce Ohana has changed my life for the better.

The first and most obvious is my Career Path. But that is really just the tip of the Lightning Bolt.

And because I like alliteration I decided to stick with the letter C! So below is my quick list of the ways in which Salesforce has changed my life for good.

  • Career Path
  • Confidence
  • Challenge
  • Creativity
  • Cooperation
  • Commitment
  • Concentration
  • Curiosity
  • Compassion
  • Collaboration
  • Connections
  • Community
  • Contentment

And if I haven’t mentioned it before, I am convinced all of these are a direct result of the Salesforce Ohana. Of the Community built around Salesforce. Of the Leadership provided by Co-Creators Marc and Parker!

Once again! Thank you! Proud to be #SalesforceOhana

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For Survivors & Those Who Want to Help

As the rain pounds down in Southeast Texas and South Louisiana, the entire country has been glued to the news. Watching, worried about friends and family and in awe at the devastation Hurricane Harvey has wreaked on these areas.

I have to make a conscious effort to do other things because I keep having flashbacks of our time after the tornado hit. The initial feelings of helplessness. Of wishing I didn’t have to be an adult and make decisions. Of exhaustion. Of shame. (yes I know this one sounds weird but when you are a normally self-sufficient girl that has to accept donated feminine products & underwear you tend to feel a bit ashamed regardless of the circumstances.)

So while our experiences are different, I have an understanding of what the people in these areas are going through. You’ve woken up this morning (if you slept at all) in a shelter or at a relative or friend’s house and it takes just a minute to figure out where you are. You almost wish it was longer than a minute, because as soon as you realize where you are those feelings rush back in. Of helplessness. Of wishing you didn’t have to be an adult and make decisions. Of exhaustion. Of shame.

I am not a professional counselor or psychologist, but I am someone who has been there and can relate. I’ve been thinking over the past few days about what was helpful during those first weeks after the tornado and wanted to get some thoughts out there for those of you who are in the thick of it, as well as for those of you desperate to help.

For the survivors:  First off Breathe. Take a few minutes to yourself. Hand the kids off to someone you trust, find a solitary spot (the pantry, a closet, a bathroom stall, or just around the corner of the building away from other people). It’s ok. You need some alone time. Take it. Don’t feel guilty about it (easier to say that do, I know). We underestimate the need for some breathing room until we are surrounded by well-meaning people and feel choked.

For the helpers:  Give the survivor some space to breathe. Bundle the kids off to another room and keep them occupied for a while. Give the survivor grace to just sit and stare out the window without having to answer “Are you ok?” Because, they will say yes, but the answer is really no. So don’t make them do that. That makes them feel more guilty and ashamed. 

For the survivors:  Let people help! After a tragedy happens, your friends and family and community and even strangers will offer help. They are watching from the sidelines as you go through this and they ache for you. They often don’t know what to do for you. It’s ok to tell them what you need, or what you don’t need. And if you aren’t sure what you need, tell them that too! People want to help you – let them bring a meal by so you don’t have to cook, or have them help haul debris away, or accept the bag of clothing they put together for your kids. This was incredibly hard for me – and has probably changed me the most in this process.

For the helpers:  The survivors are overwhelmed and often can’t articulate what they need because they just don’t know at this point. If the survivor is staying with friends or family, there is a now a strain on that person as host – if you are close and can drop-off items, things like snacks, drinks, toilet paper, paper plates/cups, can make a big difference when a household size doubles or triples for a while unexpectedly. If you aren’t nearby, contact the person hosting the survivor to determine needs – even something like picking up all the dirty clothes for the household, taking it to your place and bringing it back clean/folded is a huge help.

For the survivors: Grab a pen and paper. You’ll be making lots of lists over the next few days, weeks, and months of recovery. The first list to make is a list of phone calls to make. Home/Renters Insurance Company to make a claim, Car Insurance Company to make a claim. Think about your normal monthly bills and make a list of utility companies (electric, water, gas, phone, cable, internet, security company, etc.). Make sure you make note of the dates you lost services and date you call. We had companies continue to charge for services even though our home wasn’t there and had to get them to credit accounts. Ask if they can waive late fees and push due dates of current payments (many will do this if you ask). Call the mortgage company – they’ll need to know you filed a claim and will typically setup your account with a specialist who can work with your insurance company regarding claim payments. Note: regardless of whether your house is inhabitable or not, you have to keep making mortgage payments. Late payments or no payments might result in the mortgage company withholding payments to contractors so keep this in mind. Even banks, credit card companies, etc., will help you postpone payments for a month or two, do this if you can because worrying about what bills are due is not something you need right now.

For the helpers:  Take that pen and paper list and type it up. Look up phone numbers. Make the phone calls for the survivor in the cases where you can. These calls are often very very hard. The survivor has to explain the situation over and over again on each call which is often agonizing. I remember making phone calls in my sister’s laundry room (so I had privacy) and feeling emotionally and physically drained afterwards.

For the survivors:  Everyone wants to help. Everyone is asking. Answering everyone is overwhelming. Enlist a trusted friend to be your helper. Give them access to your personal email and/or social media accounts so they can answer emails for you, weed through to get to the important things and print electronic giftcards that people send. My friend Jen did this, organizing the emails and sending thank you responses. It was amazing how much weight this lifted off my shoulders.

For the helpers:  If you are helping from afar, wait several weeks before you help. I know that sounds weird and you want to help right now, but hear me out. Whether the survivor is in a shelter or staying with friends/family, they are in a transitional place. They don’t have room to store anything so can’t accept donations, and typically aren’t making purchases other than essentials. Once they either get back into their home or move to a temp residence, then they will be needing a lot. For us, giftcards we could use online were a life saver. Amazon specifically because they have almost everything you would need and you don’t have to go to a store. When you have little to no clothes and no makeup and are emotionally drained, the last thing you want to do is go to a store. Gift cards for home stores were awesome as well – Home Depot, Lowe’s, etc. Also, if the survivors have children, iTunes cards or credit at online app stores is helpful. The parents can download apps and movies for the kids to keep them occupied.

And finally, for the survivors:  Give yourself LOTS of grace. I’m still working on this one. I beat myself up a lot when I would get emotional about our situation. When I just couldn’t make another decision and shut down. When I didn’t want to drag myself out of bed because I was just drained. When I remembered yet another item that we lost and I had to open that darn insurance spreadsheet again. When I yelled at the kids even though I knew they were only acting up because their world was topsy turvy too. I felt like I should be stronger. Yet I look back and think about how I got though. If not by strength, then what? Whether you get through this crying or screaming or just in a haze, what matters is you are getting through. At the end of the day, you made it. One more day through this mess. Give yourself credit.

You Got This!

You’ve got it when you think it can’t be done.
You’ve got it when it feels like it’s just too hard.
You’ve got it when unexpected shit happens and you’re not sure what to do next.

And just a reminder…

You’ve got me and so many others there to help in any way we can.

We Got This!


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A Time to Renew

When we were displaced after the tornado, we moved into a sort of urban-ish apartment complex adjacent to a local outdoor mall. Our thought was that if we had to move into an apartment, we might as choose one that gives us easy walkable access to restaurants and distractions.

There was a small yoga studio in the mall that held classes in Restorative Yoga, which was described to me as ‘the art of rest’ – or learning to settle the mind and body to allow healing and awareness. I can’t begin to explain how beneficial it was to me during that time in my life when everything was so chaotic.


It was really the first time I had ever explored yoga or  meditation and while I wouldn’t call myself a skeptic, I would say I was a bit jaded about these things that seemed like fads. But as I realized the benefits of that class and began to learn more I’ve come to realize that, for me, it represented a chance to begin to renew myself.

You see, I had fallen down into a bit of a funk ( <– understatement  )  after the tornado and losing my mom in such quick succession. But because of a convergence of multiple things, including learning the restorative yoga practice, meditating when I needed to and through the constant support of friends and Ohana, I was able to slowly begin to dust off and make like new again.

So here we are over a year and half later. I’ve been lucky enough to be honored as a Salesforce MVP twice now and am currently up for renewal. As I was providing feedback on all the MVPs up for renewal, including myself, I really began to think about that term:



And as I looked at the definition and began to think about where and how it applies I realized that every single thing in my life is in (or in need of) a constant cycle of renewal.

My health. My relationships. My goals. My work. And more…

Without a conscious effort to renew, things will begin to stagnate, to fall behind, to fail. And without a plan it’s too easy to get into a cycle where the squeaky wheel gets the attention and you don’t have the time or energy to put into the things that aren’t (yet).

I am guilty of it. But knowing the problem at hand is half the battle, right?

I’m challenging myself to setup a monthly Personal Renewal Check-In. A time I’ve blocked on my calendar and set aside time to step away from the right now, look at the facets of my life and see what needs a spit-shine.

Because everything could use a little freshening up on a regular basis. And I always stand a little more tall when I feel like my house is in order!

Do you have areas where you need to renew? What are your tips/tricks for keeping your life fresh?

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