This week on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’re joined by Laurie Dusko, the Product Owner of Salescloud at Wiley, for the third and final episode recorded live from the Salesforce Worldtour in New York City. We learn how she balances immediate needs with longterm goals, and how she’s creating a team of super users to help her get her message out there.

Join us as we talk about why timing is so important when it comes to delivering functionality, how transparency about your decision making can help you, and how she’s recruiting super users to socialize her ideas.

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

 It’s all in the timing.

“I work to help our users be more effective in everything they need to do that’s Salesforce-related,” Laurie says. She does this in a number of ways, but as of now, she doesn’t yet have her Admin certification. “I understand the practical applications of the things we need to do, I can go do it in a sandbox,” she says, “but I have a dev team that builds these things for me so I spend a lot of time writing user requirements and stories and just really wrapping everything up nice and tidy with a bow to make sure it works for our users.”

One of Laurie’s biggest jobs is working as the go-between from the technology to leadership. “I work really hard to translate what leadership thinks they want into what they actually need,” she says. One thing Laurie harps on that doesn’t get discussed enough is timing. “If something’s important right now but I miss that window, they might not need it for a full year,” she says, “and there are other things that really could help those users get to the end of their fiscal year or meet their quota that can move up in priority.” In short, the secret is to find a balance between where you’re working toward and what you need right now.

How Laurie gets executive buy-in.

Balancing priorities is a constant struggle, and that’s really come to the forefront as Laurie’s team as switched to an Agile development model. “If it’s a busy time of year, you don’t want to roll out too much change too quickly that could impact their ability to do their job,” she says. Instead, they’re borrowing from Salesforce to divide the changes they want to make into major releases where they can plan any training they need to do. They still make smaller changes more frequently, but they’re careful to make sure nothing is too disruptive.

When Laurie talks to executives, she tries to keep the conversation focused on what they want to get out of any Salesforce changes they’re requesting, rather than getting too much into checkboxes versus radio buttons. “Sometimes we’re really quick to solution and say what we need without really understanding what it is we’re trying to solve for,” she says. Laurie has taken the idea of SABWA (Salesforce Administration By Walking Around) to the next level by using it to get executive buy-in. If you can spend time with leadership to really understand their pain points and what they need, you don’t need to be such a mind reader. 

Recruiting a team of super users.

Laurie’s team’s approach of bundling major changes into releases also meant that they created “release notes” to send out along with them. While that worked OK, they’ve made the decision to shift gears and take a more social approach. They’ve identified their super users both to gather feedback and help them as they roll out new features. To put together this group, they actually used an application process combined with working closely with their sales managers who know their users best.

The program also allows them to create the potential for cross-silo communication between super users who wouldn’t necessarily otherwise share ideas with each other. What’s more, it gives Laurie’s team the opportunity to train and possibly hire some of these super users in the future.

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Full Show Transcript

Mike Gerholdt: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast where we talk about product, community and careers to help you become a more awesome Salesforce admin. This week we are bringing our live series from World Tour New York to a close. I appreciate Janae being on the podcast last week. It was fun talking to her about papers and processes and things, oh my. And this week, holy cow, fresh from the breakout session we have Laurie Dusko joining us.

Laurie Dusko: Thank you for having me.

Mike Gerholdt: Yes, and she has a career in radio, so there’s only a little bit of a high bar for sound.

Laurie Dusko: A brief stint.

Mike Gerholdt: A brief stint, yes.

Laurie Dusko: I wouldn’t call it a career but brief stint.

Mike Gerholdt: All radio people are that way, aren’t they? Oh, they’re so humble.

Laurie Dusko: It was a good time, and now I found myself with Salesforce.

Mike Gerholdt: Yay. And in front of a microphone. See it’s 360, people. It happens everywhere.

Laurie Dusko: Perfect.

Mike Gerholdt: Laurie, what do you do in the Salesforce ecosystem?

Laurie Dusko: I am the product owner of sales cloud at Wiley and I work to help our users be more effective in everything that they need to do that Salesforce related.

Mike Gerholdt: Cool. All right, so before we got started, this is where I’m going to kick off our conversation, you said, “I just don’t feel like I’m an admin.”

Laurie Dusko: Right.

Mike Gerholdt: Let’s just start there, our therapy session of we don’t feel like we’re an admin.

Laurie Dusko: We just need a couch and we’re good to go.

Mike Gerholdt: Here we go.

Laurie Dusko: I do not have my admin certification.

Mike Gerholdt: Okay.

Laurie Dusko: Full disclosure, so some of you may want to stop listening.

Mike Gerholdt: No.

Laurie Dusko: But, I’m working on it. I’ve been a little busy, so it’s just something I haven’t gotten around to. But I have never been an admin, if there is a traditional sense of the word, and I’ve really moved into this product-owner role where I understand the practical application of the things we need to do, I can go do it in a sandbox. But I actually have a dev team that goes out and builds these things for me, so I spend a lot of time writing user requirements and stories and just really wrapping everything up nice and tidy with a bow to make sure it works right for our users with some of the, what I’ll call entry-level admin work with the reports and the dashboards and maybe some validation rules and field changes. But the more complex stuff is something I hope to get better at, but is not really in my skill set today. But something I work closely with the dev team to build out right now.

Mike Gerholdt: It’s interesting because I think often we associate admins as the thinkers and the doers, but you’re just the thinker. Which still makes you an admin because you have to know how to do it.

Laurie Dusko: Right.

Mike Gerholdt: And you get to do the doing things in a sandbox, right?

Laurie Dusko: Yes. We call them proofs of concept.

Mike Gerholdt: Proof of concept.

Laurie Dusko: And I work really hard to sell the ideas to our leadership or translate what leadership thinks they want into what they actually need.

Mike Gerholdt: Let’s start there. Because I feel a lot of admins… We’re World Tour, they’ve seen a billion breakout sessions, where hopefully the wifi works, and they know how to do the config change. Holy cow, Mike and Rebecca just showed me how to take a spreadsheet and turn it into an app with Salesforce Object Creator, but you’re kind of the brains behind that. Where does that start for you?

Laurie Dusko: Right. We are making quarterly roadmaps because the business can change over that period of time. And every quarter, we’re looking at what do we need? What will help to make our users more effective and what is the right time to deliver that? Just because something’s important right now, if I miss that window, they may not need it for a full year and there are other things that really can help those sales users get to the end of their fiscal year or meet their quota that quarter, whatever it might be, that can kind of move up in priority.

Laurie Dusko: I’m working with both our users to get feedback and then our leadership to help kind of find that balance between what is the future of Salesforce and what do we need today to be really effective, and how can we make sure what we’re building today will help us get to that desired end result. Not that there ever is an end with Salesforce, but as we’re moving towards-

Mike Gerholdt: That goal.

Laurie Dusko: … that future state, how can we make sure everybody’s kind of getting on the bus.

Mike Gerholdt: Quarterly roadmaps, I like this idea. Where do you decide the amount of change? What are the factors? Because I feel like I hear people say this and then they come up to me at World Tour and like, “But I don’t know how my users, how much change they can take.” How do you understand how much change your users can take?

Laurie Dusko: We’re struggling with this at the moment. We used to have a monthly release. We are agile now. We have three weeks sprints, but sometimes that is too much change too quickly for the users. Or if it’s a busy time of year, you don’t really want to roll out change that could impact their ability to do their job.

Mike Gerholdt: Close of quarter.

Laurie Dusko: Exactly.

Mike Gerholdt: The holidays, right?

Laurie Dusko: Yes. We are looking at some ideas now to borrow from Salesforce and have some major releases, if you will, where we make some of the bigger changes that might require some training and some more hand-holding for the users. And then smaller things that are really tangible to get them to the end of quarter or through a certain period of year, we’re rolling out at the end of those sprints. It’s become a balancing act to find that right balance of how much the users can ingest at point in time without having them all come back and kind of saying, “Is it your goal every day to-

Mike Gerholdt: To move this field.

Laurie Dusko: … torture me so that I can’t do my job?

Laurie Dusko: Which of course, no one wakes up every morning and thinks, “How can I make life more difficult for Jimmy or Nicole,” or whoever the user is. We always have their best interests at heart even though they may not always believe that.

Mike Gerholdt: Right, right. Or follow that evil Admin Twitter handle maybe. Yes, that’s my goal, Jimmy, was to get up on Tuesdays and move the fields so that you didn’t know what to populate.

Laurie Dusko: Exactly.

Mike Gerholdt: One, one thing you said in your intro was, “or what the executive things they want.” Help me unpack that because I feel like I talk to admins a lot and they’re like, “Well, but these are the requirements.” And the euphemism, you’ve heard it on the podcast, “10 check boxes on an opportunity.” How do you parse that out? What does it look like when Laurie has to go back to the executive and be like, “I know you said X. Here’s Y.”

Laurie Dusko: I come from a background in sales, which is really helpful because it allows me to kind of uncover and ask some of these questions. I think that that’s really helped me here. But I also kind of ask, “What are you trying to do?” Right? Maybe don’t tell me you need the check boxes, but what would you like to get out of this? How are you using this to shape coaching your users or track metrics or whatever it might be. And then, we’ll work backwards from there. Because sometimes we’re really quick to solution and say what we need without really understanding what it is we’re trying to solve for.

Laurie Dusko: Although I try to take things at face value, there are some questions that you just need to ask to make sure you’re getting it just right, and I also try to involve them. Now I know they’re really busy, so at times I’ll ask them to appoint a stakeholder, but we have adopted the sprint review piece of Agile to make sure that they’re buying into the changes we’re making and that they are along the lines of what they’re thinking. Because a lot of executives, I’m sure most of you have run into, think that you are psychic. They will say, “I would like this. Please go build it.” And you need to understand kind of the how’s and why’s in order to make that in the way that’ll be most impactful for them and the users that are going to have to use that new feature or field or whatever it might be.

Mike Gerholdt: What is one skill, and I know you said sales, but what is one skill or one thing that you fall back on when you know you have to go into an executive meeting and kind of sell your idea and you know some of the things you aren’t delivering or you chose not to deliver for a certain reason. Because I’m thinking that could be a sticking point for admins, right? Like I know how to do all the config things, but man, I don’t, I don’t know how to go in and tell that VP of sales, you’re not getting something. What is the skill you lie.

Laurie Dusko: This is a tough one because we have quite a backlog right now and everyone is not getting everything that they want. And balancing who gets what when, sure has made me some people’s best friends and some people’s worst enemies. But what I try to do is be really transparent. I can’t give you these three things you asked for because we are delivering these other things. Here’s where you’re falling on the roadmap right now. Here are the benefits and why these decisions were made.

Laurie Dusko: And I’m really fortunate in that my manager is supporting me and working with me on those decisions as well. I have her to thank for kind of backing me up if things ever go south. But I’m finding that the more transparent we’ve been about what we’re doing, where we’re going and why these decisions are being made is really helping. Because all of the leaders understand the goals that the different sales teams and users are trying to get to, and it’s really just about the right thing at the right time. And I’m hoping that they’re not too hurt when I tell them that we can’t deliver what they want. And in time, we’ll be able to either leverage something we built for someone else or be able to get to the items that they need.

Mike Gerholdt: Right. No, so I completely agree relying on your manager. Because I look back to when I had a career as an admin before these podcasts and stuff, having that manager be like, “No, no, no. Go in there and say this. I got your back.” Holy cow.

Laurie Dusko: It’s everything.

Mike Gerholdt: I mean, it’s just like the wind beneath my wings, you know?

Laurie Dusko: Yes. And getting that leadership buy-in, not just from my manager but our sales leaders as well-

Mike Gerholdt: Oh, it’s huge.

Laurie Dusko: … has been huge for us in rolling out changes because it’s not something that I did, it’s something their management and I worked on together to help them and they’re really reinforcing it with our teams. And that has been really just life-changing for me because they’re able to go in and reinforce everything that’s been done.

Mike Gerholdt: We’re going to wax poetically about how great management buy-in is here, and everybody’s writing down, get management buy-in. How do we get management buy-in?

Laurie Dusko: Ooh, tough one.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, we’re going in deep for the hard questions. It’s 2020.

Laurie Dusko: I’ve used the Salesforce administration by walking around. I’ve just reversed it into leadership. I have tried to work with them as I just want to understand your needs and the pain points that you have, and I am here to be a partner for you. And I think that’s really helped me where there’s obviously some conversations that I’m not involved in. But when the right things are brought to me, I can handle them delicately and prepare those different changes as needed and we can move forward with them in the right… I lost my train of thought.

Mike Gerholdt: That’s okay. Leadership management by walking around. We need a vowel.

Laurie Dusko: It’s like SABWA.

Mike Gerholdt: It’s like SABWA, but-

Laurie Dusko: But with leaders.

Mike Gerholdt: … leadership. I don’t know. We need some sort of vowel in there. LABWA?

Laurie Dusko: It could be the participation part of our podcast where people can tweet in.

Mike Gerholdt: Oh, Arrested Development fans immediately, I’m going to… That’s what it feels like LABWA. LABWA, that’s what we’re going to call it, LABWA.

Mike Gerholdt: Now that everybody stopped listening. We started about your career getting leadership and buy-in. I want to hit on a third thing that you brought up, which is socializing ideas. Because I feel like a lot of what we do is gathering those requirements, ironing out processes that are, who knows where they came up with them, and then building out the features and functionality. And then the third part is socializing those ideas. I mean, a hundred years ago, I put out you should do chatter posts and you should do monthly newspaper things, newsletters and stuff. What do you do to socialize your ideas?

Laurie Dusko: We were doing release notes.

Mike Gerholdt: Ooh, wow, you were writing release notes. That’s brave.

Laurie Dusko: Well there were PowerPoint presentations with pictures, right? We cut out a lot of the words. And my running joke in any presentation I gave was, “Please, please read my post.” We used a #releasenotes so everyone could find them.

Mike Gerholdt: Nice.

Laurie Dusko: That worked okay.

Mike Gerholdt: Okay.

Laurie Dusko: We are shifting gears. We have identified super users and we are actually going to start using those super users to both socialize ideas and gather feedback, but also help us as we roll out new initiatives so that they can really give users the perspective as their peer on how to do the different things that we are doing, the changes we’re making to the system. And this is a newer thing, we’ll be starting out in the beginning of 2020. We’ll have to report back on that one in a few months.

Mike Gerholdt: Right. We’ll come back in a year. How did you identify the super users?

Laurie Dusko: We had them apply and we are working with sales management to determine who should be a part of it. I am fortunate enough that I have some peers who are business leads and work specifically with different groups within the company. And they’ll know how a user is from kind of that day-to-day interaction with Salesforce, and then the sales managers understand if that person can really share that extra time commitment to be a part of what we’re doing. It’s a group effort to determine who will be, and we’ll have them do a one year term and see how it goes. And the really nice thing is we’ll use that to cross-collaborate our super users across different sales units so they can share ideas amongst each other where they may not have necessarily communicated about that before.

Mike Gerholdt: Wow. Okay. I would borrow all of that. Save that part of the podcast, go back, take notes. And I’ve written about super users. I had super users at my org and they kind of self-identified, right? I wanted to do this. Finding them sometimes can be hard and then choosing them in the methodology and then get them excited to tell their peers about the stuff they’re doing or use cases.

Laurie Dusko: And on the other side of the fence, we could be training potential additions to our team for the future. I started out as a super user, or as the person that ran Salesforce at my company at that time said I was a bit of annoying user because I kept breaking things. But it’s worked out well for me, so I am grateful if that program could give somebody else the opportunities that I’ve had.

Mike Gerholdt: Super users, annoying users, there’s a chatter group for everybody. It’s 2020, let’s talk about, we can call it resolutions or goals. What is your kind of new year’s goal for yourself?

Laurie Dusko: Ooh, I’m going to put it out there.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah.

Laurie Dusko: Got a pass admin cert. And if I’m feeling real fancy we could do Advanced Admin, right?

Mike Gerholdt: Once you’re there… I mean, you already started.

Laurie Dusko: See how it goes.

Mike Gerholdt: You’re off the launch pad, right?

Laurie Dusko: I’ve been putting it off for a long time and I know I’m ready. I just need to schedule it.

Mike Gerholdt: Sure, and let’s kind of turn it a little bit. For admins who are listening to the podcast, they’re just getting started, what would be a good, kind of first year goal as they’re working through their career?

Laurie Dusko: Join a user group.

Mike Gerholdt: Any suggestions?

Laurie Dusko: I think shoutout to the North Jersey user group. I recently have joined the group and it took me far too long to become a part of one and I’m grateful for that community that I have to reach out to. That I can put names and faces to as opposed to just posting something on the success community, which is also amazing and fabulous. This podcast is great. I also love Trailhead. And if you are fortunate enough to have a success manager, they are an amazing resource to help put you in touch with peers where a user group might not be available to you or it just doesn’t work with your schedule; so that you can start to come to talk to people that have similar issues as you and/or have resolved those issues and find ways to really work towards a better experience for your users.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. No, I couldn’t agree more. There’s quite a few user groups in the Midwest where I’ve been. There’s one that always sticks out in my head of doing roundtables where people were talking about questions that they had. And I can’t remember the names of the companies, but there was an admin for a garbage company and an admin for like a gutter company, and they solved each other’s problems. And I was like, where in the world would a gutter company and a sanitation talk to each other?

Laurie Dusko: It’s a beautiful thing about the Salesforce community. It just brings everyone together.

Mike Gerholdt: It was good. Thank you so much, Laurie, for being on the podcast. This is fabulous.

Laurie Dusko: It’s my pleasure. Thank you so much for having me.

Mike Gerholdt: We’re going to have to come back in a year and see how those goals are going.

Laurie Dusko: Yeah. I might have to bring one of the super users with me.

Mike Gerholdt: There we go.

Mike Gerholdt: It was great to chat with Laurie after a wonderful World Tour New York, and thank you, Laurie, for participating in our breakout session as well. I also want to give a big shoutout to David Giller who connected me to all of the guests that you heard this month in January that I got to interview while I was in New York. Be sure to give David a follow on Twitter. He is @DavidGiller.

Mike Gerholdt: All right, so three things I learned from our discussion with Laurie today. One, Laurie makes quarterly roadmaps and thinks about the right time to deliver functionality. Amazing. Second, one skill she gave us to deliver your idea is to be transparent about what’s going on and especially be transparent about the decisions that were made. And of course, socializing ideas, this third item that I learned from her. Create a group of super users to help socialize your ideas and gather feedback. I’ve always been a fan of having super users. They can really help other users, and it can help you as a Salesforce admin really get features and functionality and get buy-in and get feedback back to you.

Mike Gerholdt: Now, Laurie had a new year’s resolution for herself to get the admin certification, so I would love to hear if that’s your new year’s resolution as well. And her resolution for Salesforce admins is to join a user group. I love that idea as well. And of course, I’d like to know what your new year’s resolution is, so be sure to tweet it out and use the #AwesomeAdmin. And be sure to tune in next week for another wonderful Lightning Champions Spotlight.

Mike Gerholdt: If you want to learn more about all things Salesforce Admin, go to admin.salesforce.com to find more resources. You can stay up to date with us on social for all things admins. We are @SalesforceAdmns. No, i on Twitter. You can find me on Twitter. I am @MikeGerholt. And be sure to follow our guest this week, Laurie Dusko, who is @SFDC_lauri on Twitter. And with that, stay tuned for the next week’s episode and we’ll see you in the cloud.

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