Solving Common Salesforce Problems

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This last weekend I re-watched Apollo 13. I love that movie and from what I’m told it’s a great retelling of that moment in history. One scene that struck me and inspired this post is a speech by Gene Kranz (Ed Harris), where in a room full of disagreeing engineers he says: “Let’s work the problem people. Let’s not make things worse by guessing.” (Watch it here) Wow. What a great piece of clarity in a moment of intense pressure!

Immediately I thought this same advice would apply to Salesforce Admins who are solving common Salesforce problems everyday. Now we don’t have to bring people back from space, but I’m willing to guess a few of our solutions might have been made by throwing darts at a wall. So let’s take Gene’s advice and work some common Salesforce problems.

1. Low Adoption

Alan Weiss said “You can teach skills, but you coach behaviors” on The WorkTalk Show (iTunes link). This sentence is important to remember because low adoption is often the result of poor skills and bad behaviors. Only part of which can you tackle. No matter how much you teach the skill logging calls, etc. if management and staff don’t reward those good behaviors you might as well have stood in a room and ate some twinkies.

Low Adoption isn’t something you sprinkle magic fairy dust on and just fix overnight. So let’s work the problem! It could be a result of people not understanding the process and why its important to use the tool. They might not see any rewards in what is being asked of them- so reports could help fix that. Remember when working with low adoption issues you have to keep asking why to get to the root cause, then work to teach the skill and have management reinforce the behavior.

2. Starting Governance

Governance for small companies or single department implementations. But governance- despite it’s ‘big brother’ feel is really a good thing for Admins. It helps us display our skills- what we have implemented, and show new features that are coming in a release. Governance is much like mission control in Apollo 13. They have the ability to see the whole picture and offer advice, and yes, every now and then the people in the capsule know best and make a contrary decision in the end it helps keep the whole mission on track.

Handling governance can be an issue for an admin. Its easy for execs to put it as a low priority on their calendar, or miss meetings all together. To combat that I would always send out meeting minutes to all governance members specifically noting who was and was not there. Another way to ensure that the right people attend is to set an agenda and stick to you it. Governance doesn’t have to be a one hour meeting. It could be shorter- much shorter. And be sure to call out what specific decisions will be made. Lastly, governance isn’t for deciding if it should be a picklist, checkbox, or text field. But for gathering the roadmap and departments that need to be on-boarded to Salesforce.

3. Lack of vision

Salesforce can be a tool that originally starts in one department- like sales or customer service and when they start out-performing other departments it won’t take long before you have several decision-makers at your door. Believe me when I tell you I have been in organizations that were all over the place in terms of Salesforce useage.

So how do we work this problem? First, as more and more departments want to be on the platform we have to be smart and onboard those departments in an order that doesn’t disrupt processes and makes it logical. Meaning if sales is using Salesforce and customer service wants to use it next, but customer service needs the contracts team to use Salesforce- guess who gets it next? Thats right- contracts, then customer service. Doing it the other way around causes a gap in the data, a gap in the process, and your customer service team frustrated. Maybe the directive is just to ‘get everyone on salesforce’. Think about utilizing Chatter free or Chatter plus licenses to allow for the collaboration aspect with minimal impact to systems.

4. Field Hoarding

Kevin O’Hara wrote about this previously, but it will always continue to be an issue. The preverbial ’10 checkboxes’ issue is usually caused by an inexperienced Admin or user creating fields based on a spreadsheet or lack of knowledge about how the data will be reported. So let’s work this problem- first find out what really needs to be reported on. If 10 checkboxes is what they have try recreating those fields as a multi-select picklist, then presenting it in Governance.

“But Mike, I’ve tried that. And they need all those fields- so now what?” Well, does everyone need all those fields? Or is it just a department or a few users? Think of how you can utilize record types and page layouts to only serve up the fields that each user needs.

5. Managing Change

This one is a biggie for me. And for the first few years of being a ButtonClick Admin I was guilty of just making changes. So here is my advice for you – DON’T. First, not every request is ‘on-fire’ or an emergency. Here is my suggestion to work this problem.

  • Establish a cadence for change- new record types, page layouts, etc. are deployed on the first of every month.
  • New Applications are deployed once a quarter after testing in a Sandbox an training has been completed.
  • Field values are added as needed, as well as new users.

Managing change for a ButtonClick Admin is a big deal. If users log in and “things are constantly changing” they are more likely to check out of the application and feel that “it’s in constant beta, so I can’t trust the data”. Demonstrating to your users that you have a plan, you follow that plan, and they know when to expect change will not only show you know what you are doing- but that you are in control.

 Photo Credit: NASA

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