Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast we’ve got Emily Tam, Director of Application Development at Borrego Solar Systems, to learn about her amazing path to being an Admin and how her Lightning rollout is going.

Join us as we talk about her unique path to Salesforce, the value of hands-on training, and how her team is managing a transition to Lightning in an org that relies on Salesforce from top to bottom.

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

On-the-job training in the days before Trailhead.

Emily, like many Admins, didn’t come from a technical background. In fact, when she was growing up, she wanted to be a dentist. “I had a degree in economics and was more interested in the business side of things,” she says, but when the Admin and Dev at Borrego left, “it kind of fell in my lap and I became certified.” Now she has a team of Admins working for her building applications for her company.

“When I got certified, I didn’t go to any of the trainings or take the official classes,” Emily says, “I really think the hands-on, on-the-job training was my prep.” Now that she has Admins working for her, she’s amazed that some of her employees went through Trailhead to get their certification without any hands-on experience.

The flexibility of the Agile Accelerator.

Emily’s team is distributed. While she’s based in the Oakland, a large part of her team is based in Massachusetts and people work remotely all the time. They’ve swapped to an Agile methodology, and the Agile Accelerator app has been a big help. “With the Agile Accelerator we’re able to have that close-knit feeling of a team that’s colocated without being in the same location,” Emily says.

It took a bit of time for Emily to sort out how to manage workflow and make it happen with the Agile Accelerator, “but it was pretty intuitive once I spent some time with it. It’s really helped our team communicate across the country and has made our sprints easy.”

The customizations that make Salesforce work for Borrego.

Emily’s team has built a Salesforce-based way of making requisitions requests. Anytime you need approval for something, whether that’s purchasing, legal, or technical, you use the same centralized tool to make the request. “Managers love it because it’s at the top of their queue, they log in every day and they see what they have to approve; and employees like it because it’s one central place for them to go,” she says. The object’s grown over the years, to the point that even Emily’s own team gets requests over it.

Emily’s Lightning rollout.

Emily’s team hasn’t transitioned to Lightning quite yet. “Because we’ve been using Salesforce for 13 years, we have a lot of technical debt: a lot we’ve built in the system, a lot of things that pre-date the functionality in Salesforce,” she says. Right now that means that her team needs to be focused on running the LIghtning Optimizer Report, cleaning things up, and doing the Lightning Readiness Check. It’s a lot of clean up.

“The hardest part of Lightning implementation, for us, is probably sitting with the user and really knowing what they do day-to-day,” Emily says. What they’ve been trying to do is sit with each particular group of users and adjust the settings live to make sure that they’re able to get what they need. “The good news is that we can do it in chunks,” she says, “we can do it department by department or even person by person. It’s very targeted.”

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