Effective Project Management with David Giller

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Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we talk to David Giller, CEO of Brainiate. Join us as we chat about project management and how to push back with positivity.

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

Why admins need project management skills

It takes a lot of energy to keep up with everything going on in the Salesforce ecosystem. What David sees, however, is that learning how to do something isn’t the biggest challenge facing most Salesforce Admins. “The things people are struggling with the most,” he says, “involve all of the interactions that they have with end users and business leaders at the companies they work with.” In other words, admins need help with project management.

As David points out, admins love to solve problems. We want to show off our skills, make changes quickly, and—let’s be honest—play with some new toys. But we’re often so eager to jump in and implement a request that we don’t take the time to look at the business problem behind it that needs to be solved. 

Project management is problem solving

What David is pointing at is the difference between being an order taker and being a problem solver. And being the person who just does what they’re asked to do is limiting for your career. What happens when AI gets smart enough to troubleshoot user requests and generate custom reports?

Talking to David made me realize an important distinction: the difference between customization and personalization. When someone makes a request, is it a customization that will help with an entire business process, or is it a personalization that will help that user with their part of the process? How will it affect everything else? What I’m getting at here is that admins need to create customizations that will scale, rather than personalizations that will help only a few users and could create other issues in the org.

The power of pushback

Solving problems at scale means that sometimes it’s your job to push back. Your users might not understand why you’re asking so many questions about adding a simple checkbox, or even suspect that you don’t know how to fulfill the request at all. When he runs into this, David will explain that while the feature is easy to add, he needs to make sure that it actually solves the problem and doesn’t create other issues.

The key here is to push back in a way that positions you as an ally, not an adversary, who is coming together with stakeholders to fix a problem. You’re a coach, a business therapist, a problem solver—in short, you’re on their side. 

In all of his consulting work, the most useful question David can ask a client is, “What is the problem we are trying to solve?” Focus on that, and you can position yourself as a problem solver and grow your career.

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Full show transcript

Michael:
This week on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we were talking with David Giller, who is the CEO of Brainiate, and might I say, very active in the Salesforce social world. Now, David is very passionate about helping admins become great project managers. Before we get into the episode, I want you to be sure you’re doing one thing, which is following the Salesforce admin podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcast. That way, when a new episode drops every Thursday, it’s already on your phone. So with that, let’s get to our conversation with David.
So David, welcome to the podcast.

David Giller:
Thanks for having me, Michael.

Michael:
I feel like it’s been a while, but you’re all… I got to tell you. If you don’t know David Giller, you probably aren’t on social or listen to podcasts, which is ironic because this is a podcast. But David, I feel like I see you everywhere, and I use you sometimes to stay up to date, but what are you up to in the Salesforce ecosystem?

David Giller:
Thanks for the shout-out and making me feel a little bit better about being a social media addict, because I have to tell you that my family makes fun of me all the time and they keep making me stay off. You don’t have to post all the time.

Michael:
No, just most of the time. Just most of the time.

David Giller:
So I, like most others who are focused on a Salesforce centric career, it’s absolutely daunting to keep up with the newest features and functionality that are available within the Salesforce even core platform, let alone the new products that become available or new companies that Salesforce keeps buying or renaming. So keeping up with all that-

Michael:
Or both.

David Giller:
Yeah. Is absolutely daunting for sure. And as I am working on various projects with clients to help them get the most out of the Salesforce platform and interacting with other Salesforce professionals, I’m seeing some very common trends. And ironically, those trends have less to do with what you would think is the biggest struggle, which is keeping up with all of these features and functionality. And thankfully, there are so many others in the Salesforce ecosystem who are sharing like, “Hey, here are all of the cool new features that have come out with the most recent release.”
I tend to focus a lot more on the other types of struggles, problems, frustrations that Salesforce professionals, mostly, I’ll use the term in a very vague generic way, Salesforce admins, they may or may not even have an admin certification, but the folks who are responsible for Salesforce at a company, the things that they struggle with, and usually the things that they struggle with the most is not learning how to use a list view. It’s not learning how to create a new dynamic form or a brand new flow or use the latest features in flow. The stuff that they are usually struggling with the most involve all of the interactions that they have with the end users and with the business leaders at the companies that they work with, to say it in the most succinct way. So I try to identify those types of problems and share the…
One of the good things I guess about being in the Salesforce ecosystem for as long as I have, yes, I’m an old man in my fifties and I’ve been doing this for a very long time, is that I’ve seen this kind of stuff before and I’ve made the same kind of mistakes that many others are making. So being able to share the tips and best practices that I’ve learned over the years, having recovered mostly from the bruises of making the mistakes in the past to share those by paying it forward with others in the Salesforce ecosystem. And honestly, I absolutely love doing that. So that’s what I’m up to in a nutshell.

Michael:
In a nutshell. And so in a nutshell, what I heard is admins struggle with project management, which is literally everything that happens before we do the demo at an event, right? If you think about it, when you’re sitting in a presentation and you’re watching, it could be a community presentation too. You hear the business challenge and then you see the solution and the product and then how the admin implemented it, and all of that is frosted over by the thousands of hours and email exchanges contentious sometimes over how the project’s going or what needs to be done. Why is that?

David Giller:
Yeah, so that’s actually a great point. And I think the reason for it comes down to… And I found myself in the same position as well. So what I’m about to say is… I’m not at all trying to speak in a derogatory or negative way about others in the Salesforce ecosystem. I was absolutely there and I had to get my manager to smack me on the wrist a couple of times to put me in the right place. So-

Michael:
We all do. We all do.

David Giller:
As technology geeks, we learn about this really cool tool called Salesforce about some really cool features, whatever the feature might be. And then when someone within the business, whether it’s a CEO or a summer intern asks, “Hey, could you do me a favor? Can you?” And then just fill in the blank with whatever it is, whether it’s something as simple as, can you create a checkbox for me called blah, blah, blah. Can you update this page layout? Can you update my homepage to whatever? So whatever it is that they’re asking for, we ask technology geeks, we want to accommodate. We want to show off the new skills that we’ve learned. We want to solve the problems that the business is experiencing. Sometimes we even want to play with these new features that we have not had an opportunity to play with before.
So before they even finish the sentence of the request, we are so eager to say, “Yes. Yes, I’ll have it done in five minutes. I’ll do it directly in production. It’s so easy.” And putting aside all of those mistakes. So doing it directly in production, the problem is that by us being so eager to say yes and to solve the problem, I think that we all need to slow it down a little bit. I’m not at all suggesting to say no, but to get the clarification from the person who’s making the request of exactly what is the problem that they are trying to solve and to unpack it quite a bit. And more often than not, Salesforce admins have never really been trained to even facilitate that type of conversation because to the untrained Salesforce admin, they’ll ask, let’s say the request is by the CEO, can you do me a favor?
Can you just put a checkbox on let’s say the on the contact record where we want to be able to identify if they’re a US citizen, let’s take something incredibly simple. They’re US citizen, and we should have a checkbox. And as the Salesforce admin, our gut reaction is, yeah, sure, it’ll take a second. We can do that in a moment. But then wait a minute, what is the goal? And is the goal that we want to be able to track who are the citizens and who are not, which contacts are not citizens? And if so, if the checkbox is empty, does it mean that the person is not a US citizen? Do we need to know if they’re a citizen of somewhere else? Do we need to know if they’re a citizen through being born in the country or whatever other method by which they gained citizenship?
Do we need to know about other countries that they might be a citizen of? And do we need to know the date that we captured the information? Do we need to know the person who captured the information? So we need to drill a little bit deeper into what is it that the business is trying to solve for before we just go ahead and create that checkbox? Because more often than not, we just go ahead and we do that thing. Whatever it is that we ask for, we think that we’re showcasing our skills by saying, “Look, I did it. It took me five minutes to do it and we’re done.” They will later come back to you saying, “You know that checkbox that you created? Well, now we have a problem because now we also need to be able to track if someone’s a citizen of,” fill in the blank, of any other country. And now you find yourself maybe creating 35 different check boxes on the contact in order to track each different country.
So it can have a major snowball effect, let alone the person who asked for it, where you gave them exactly what they wanted. They did not realize themselves what they truly need because they themselves have not necessarily thought through the business problem that needs to be solved. And herein lies a very typical scenario where the Salesforce admin is doing exactly what’s being told, what’s being requested, positioning themselves as an order taker instead of a change agent, instead of a problem solver. And sad to say, but this absolutely has a direct negative impact on the Salesforce admin’s career.
Because if you are then positioning yourself as an order taker, they being the rest of the business, the users, the business leaders will then simply… In their minds, they’re simply thinking of you as, yeah, that’s the person who goes behind the scenes. And when I ask for a custom homepage or a new report or a new view, they just go ahead and do it, which by the way also means that if one day AI is capable of doing that, you’re positioning yourself out of a job as opposed to positioning yourself as a change agent, as a problem solver, as a person who makes the internal operations of the business far more efficient.

Michael:
Well, you just said a lot there. A lot.

David Giller:
Sorry.

Michael:
No, I think it’s important because… And so I will point back because I think when you started, I was envisioning myself how many times hasn’t Mike stood up on stage and talked about… And David, you’ve heard this term, Salesforce administration by walking around. And I advocate for it and I still do. You’ve helped me just now have a moment of clarity about that because too often, and you’re this way too, I akin myself to George Costanza. I’m a people pleaser. I want people to like me. It drives me nuts when people don’t like me, right? They don’t have to know me, but I don’t want them to not like me. I just need them to like me. And I think when you start off as an admin, you want people to like you. And so you advocate… I advocate, I still do Salesforce administration by walking around, hearing the troubles, hearing the issues.
The difference that you helped me come to this realization is the difference between personalization and customization. And what you want to do as an admin is help people personalize their experience, which is make it unique and helpful for that one person that maybe needs to just understand how to add a profile picture or reorganize their tabs. The difference between personalization and customization is scale. And what you brought up is the fallacy that the stakeholders bringing up. I need this checkbox because we’ve got to check to see if they’re a citizen, right? Or some other reason you would check a box.
It’s real easy to customize. It is. But what you’re asking for is a personalization because it’s an issue for you. But what the admin needs to do, what you’re bringing up is how big of a scale does this rock being thrown into a pond, how many ripples does it create? Because as you brought up, as you were talking through it, so now I create this checkbox, well, what if I have 10,000 users? Now I got to email everybody that this checkbox is there, and then what? We have a deadline by a certain date.
That box either has to be checked or not checked. So up until that date, if that box isn’t checked, are they not a citizen or they are a citizen? In your example, right? We don’t know because it’s a simple yes/no checkbox. And then after that date, because we’re only checking a box, and this could be whatever, right? It could be like, do we send them personalized coasters for the holidays or something? Did we send them or not send them? Or did we forget to check the box? Well, I need to report on that. And then people farther down the line, what is this implication for me? And what about say a warehouse worker?
Do they need to know that information? What if they see a person’s name, not a US citizen? What happens? Is there implication to that? So the stakeholder in your example, asking for a personalization is really not thinking through scale, which is your job as the admin to bring it to scale in project management and saying, that’s actually a customization.

David Giller:
That’s a hundred percent true. And I would even take it a step further.

Michael:
Please do.

David Giller:
By adopting the position, and this is actually a recommendation that I make for anyone who takes any of my courses on project management or even courses to learn how to become a Salesforce admin. Which is when someone is asking you for something, and let’s keep it the same example where it’s a checkbox to track citizenship of contacts, to sort of draw it out as what is expected to happen before we get that piece of information within what context? What is the use case? Who are the people who are capturing those pieces of information? And for what? Why are we capturing these pieces of information and what is expected to happen after? So I typically, let’s say even before we’ve all gone digital and before COVID forced us to be digital and remote, where now people are using digital whiteboards. So even before all of that, I used to go sitting in a conference room, I’d walk over to the whiteboard in the room with dry erase markers and start drawing, okay, this dot that I just drew on the whiteboard, this is the moment when someone is asking the person or checking to see if this individual is a US citizen or not.
Within what context? What happens before? So sort of drawing like a timeline or drawing out a process map, what happens before and what happens after? Who are the people who are expected to not only have it editable, who is expected to maybe not see it because it’s sensitive or irrelevant or confidential or whatever it might be? And then what are the business implications? So do we then have rules of some kind should these contacts now get assigned to, maybe it’s a campaign, maybe it’s different team members as the sales rep or whatever it might be. So to your point, Mike, the further context of how is this being used and how scalable is it, a lot of times it’s going to be hard for the person asking for this new enhancement to even answer the question, which is why I try to take it outside of the context of Salesforce, because more often than not, the person asking will turn back when you start inquiring about all these details, hands on the shoulders… Hands on their hips, and they’re like, “What, it’s so difficult to create a checkbox?”
So usually they think that you’re pushing back because maybe you don’t know how to do it. So a lot of times I will point out, no, no, no, it’ll take me about five seconds to create the checkbox. I want to make sure that I’m actually solving a problem for you and not introducing a problem. So we really need to get to the bottom of some of the broader context of how this will be used and who needs to use it in order to make sure that it will do whatever it is that you need it to do.

Michael:
Right. So then why are consultants so good at this restraint?

David Giller:
That is a great question. I think that a lot of times the Salesforce consultant has been trained to ask these types of questions where honestly, it really can be an internal Salesforce admin, the internal full-time employee who could be asking the exact same questions, but more often than not, either they were not trained to or sadly, they don’t feel empowered to. And I think they should feel empowered too. And that’s sort of part of the type of training and guidance and best practices that I try to bestow onto Salesforce admins where you should feel empowered. I think it’s even your responsibility as a Salesforce admin to… I’m going to use the phrase pushback, but I don’t mean in a contradictory, conflictory, adversarial way, just the opposite. To position yourself as an ally, as a coach, as an internal corporate therapist, problem solver to the folks that you’re working with, to push back in a way that makes it very clear that you’re on their side and you really are trying to solve the problem in the right way.
Whereas Salesforce consultants are typically external and they are working with many different projects, and the better Salesforce consultants are asking these types of questions. But sadly, there are many Salesforce consultants who don’t, and sadly they create tremendous problems. Some Salesforce consultants just want to say yes to their clients. You’re the client, you’re paying for it. I’ll tell you that very often, I’m on the side of working with a client who insists on something that’s completely nonsensical. Where let’s say for example, on the contact, they insist that I create custom fields for another contact, let’s say the emergency contact, first name, emergency contact, last name, emergency contact, email address, emergency contact, relationship, and then they decide later on, oh, we need to have a second emergency contact. So we’re creating more and more fields. And as a Salesforce consultant, I’m like, “No, no, no, no, no, we are not doing that. I’ll show you how we can do it the right way.”
And I find myself in a situation where the client is pushing back. Sometimes they’re pushing back with tremendous ego, tremendous resentment, tremendous hostility even. Where they’re like, “No, no, I’m the client. I’m telling you how I want it.” And I turn to them and I basically say, “Look, the reason why you came to me as a Salesforce consultant is because I happen to have some level of knowledge and expertise, not only in the Salesforce platform, but also in database management, in database architecture and best practices on how to solve for these types of scenarios. You’re not alone. You’re not the only business who tries to track these pieces of information. I’ve worked on many other projects and many other industries where they need to track this piece of information also. So I actually have some tried and true ways of doing it. And the way you are insisting that I do, it is not scalable, it’s not sustainable. Here are all of the problems that you’re going to have.”
And I walk them through all the different problems they’re going to have with it. And usually they understand. They agree. Sometimes they’re somewhat skeptical. So first I show them, I do it in a sandbox. I’ll do both options and different sandboxes to show them, here are the flaws with the approach that you are insisting on taking so that they do understand it better. But honestly, sometimes they simply insist on doing it the nonsensical way.
And I have to tell you that I often find myself in a very difficult position where I turn to the client and depending on the magnitude of the problem that they are insisting on, either I will turn to them and say, “Look, I’ll do it the way that you want, but I’m telling you that it will cause a problem. It will cost you more money because later on it’ll take you time to realize after we deploy it that it’s not scalable. It’s not sustainable after whether it’s two days, two months, two years, you’re going to turn to me and say, okay, David, you were right. Now it has to be fixed. We’re going to have to talk about it. I’m going to have to do it again the right way. We’re going to have to migrate the data. I’m going to have to train your team on how to do it the right way. It’s going to cost you four times the amount of money if we do it the way you want versus the way I’m recommending, which is a lot cheaper and simpler and faster and more scalable.” So sometimes they’ll say, “Okay, fine, we’ll do it your way.” But other times they don’t and they insist on doing it their way.
And depending on the magnitude of the problem, I’ll turn to them and say, “You know what? I’m not doing that. That’s pretty much professional malpractice if I were to do that. If you think that that is the best solution, you can go ahead and do it yourself. I’ll work on other stuff that you need my help with.” And honestly, if I see that type of pushback or resistance to adopting the best practices, by the way, I don’t take it personally whatsoever. I’m not working with a client to say, “Oh, I’m smarter than you, therefore you should listen to me.” It’s just, “Hey, I’m here to solve a problem for you. To solve many problems, not only for you, but for all of your current and future users. And if you’re not interested in me solving problems and you’re forcing me to introduce more problems, I’m out. I just don’t want to be part of this project. I don’t want to work with you.” So I politely disengage from that client and that project and set them free to create whatever Frankenstein they like.

Michael:
Well, that sounds good. I got sweaty palms listening to your answer. Because I was just thinking as an admin, I can’t do that. I don’t think it’s professional. But you did bring up a point, and I think it’s one to think about, which is that you want to do things the right way and you want to do things in the scalable way. And in your suggestion with the multiple contact fields, I could see the brick wall coming at me as you were explaining it to me. I was like, yeah. So on the second emergency contact, then what do we do? As somebody that… Obviously an admin wouldn’t be in the consulting role per se as an outside consultant, they’re employed there. I think it’s one to think about what is the level of change you’re willing to accept? And I see that a lot, and I’ve dealt with that when I was in various different roles.
They get any new platform. It doesn’t have to be Salesforce, and they look at it as a new car, but really what it is, is it’s something very different. It’s going from horse and buggy to a car, right? You’re not just getting a different horse and buggy. You’re getting a different methodology and you’re getting a different way of doing things. And for example, I remember taking requirements from… We were implementing Service Cloud and they wanted to attach a spreadsheet to a case. And I said, “Cool, why?” Well, the spreadsheet would list all of the locations related to this case. And I said, “No, those will be accounts within… I’m not attaching spreadsheets of data, which is a table in and of itself to a case.” Right? And it’s because, well, that’s the way our old system worked. But you didn’t get a new system to do what the old system did.
It takes that level of thinking. And I remember that saying that to them and like, oh. And kind of that level of the stakeholders being like, okay, let’s rethink what we’re trying to do with this. Not in a bad way, but we’re not just going to take everything that we learned from the old system and dump it onto the new system, and then what? Hope it goes faster. No, take everything you learn from the old system and then what the new system can do, right? The horse and buggy isn’t going to tell you the fastest way to the grocery store, but your Tesla will and it’s got navigation, so use that, right?

David Giller:
Yeah, that’s spot on. And honestly, that’s precisely how I try to… I’ll use the word enlighten the clients that I’m working with by sort of showing them. And usually it is a model similar to what you just described, which I’ll use the term going from one-dimensional to a three-dimensional model, where more often than not companies prior to using Salesforce, sometimes even while they are still using Salesforce, are keeping data in a very one-dimensional way. We’ve all seen scenarios where on, let’s say the opportunity object contains all sorts of editable fields that really capture attributes of the account or the products and services that are related to, really should be related to the opportunity, not actual attributes of the opportunity. Whereas outside of Salesforce, it’s typically one incredibly long spreadsheet that just has a gazillion columns going across. And then when you try to either take that spreadsheet model and apply it into Salesforce or try to optimize the existing Salesforce org, you sort of need to explain how there are… It might feel like it’s more painful to take that one-dimensional model and make it three-dimensional.
However, going back to the example that I gave a moment ago about having additional contacts as text fields on the single contact, if we actually had those secondary contacts as other contact records, you only need to put in the data once. So when the first emergency contact is created, let’s say George Washington is the emergency contact, and then you happen to have another contact in the database where they are… When you ask them who is your emergency contact? And it happens to be George Washington. Again, the scene George Washington, you don’t have to enter the data twice. Once the data is entered to create that first record of George Washington, you simply link that initial contact of George Washington to the other contacts to indicate that, ah, this is the emergency contact. So when George Washington calls up and says, “Here’s my new email address, here’s my new phone number,” you only have to change it once, and you don’t have to change it a gazillion times.
And that’s a more scalable data model, similar to the example that you gave before of having addresses related to a case. Instead of having them buried in a spreadsheet, they should be their own separate records, whether it’s an account record or any other type of record where it makes it far more scalable. So usually the initial response by the folks in the business, when you call this out to them and say, “Well, no, it really needs to be its own separate record in Salesforce.” They cringe and they say, “Oh, but that’s so much data entry. We don’t want to have to enter in so much data.” But by showing them, here are the benefits of having it as a separate record in Salesforce. Here are all of the different things you can do with it. Here are the ways that you can report off of it.
Here are the different ways that you can find it very quickly instead of looking for that buried piece of information, that’s when usually their eyes open up. Which sort of goes back to even the example you gave before of being a Salesforce admin by walking around, or as I called out being the therapist or the coach for the Salesforce… For the executives within the organization that’s using Salesforce to sort of walk them through, here’s how this can really help you. Like the way you’re… With all due respect to the person who’s asking for the enhancement or the customization or the personalized customization, here’s how you’re looking at it. But actually, if we think of it in broader terms, there’s probably an alternate way that we can explore solving the same problem that can bring you light years ahead of where you would be otherwise if we implemented exactly what you wanted, if we were the order taker versus the problem solver.
And I think that’s the big differentiator that can really help Salesforce admins accelerate their careers, position themselves as knowledge workers, not as simply the monkeys who go behind the scenes to change Salesforce as requested by anyone in the business. The people who are really solving for the problems that we have within the business, which impacts data quality, it impacts the ROI that we have in Salesforce. It impacts the user adoption of Salesforce, and in the end, it impacts the level of engagement that the company has, the company that’s using Salesforce has with their customers, prospects, constituents, donors, et cetera.

Michael:
Well, we talked a lot about project management. I want to skip to the end because we’ve talked a lot about really effects or impacts of the end user. And I think one thing that maybe we fall short on is user acceptance testing. Right? We take that requirement, that checkbox, we take those fields for emergency contacts, we roll it out, and here it is. We maybe showed it to a room filled with 10 people that asked for it, but we forget that there’s a thousand or 1500 other users that are going to use it. Could you touch on some of the things that we should be doing when it comes to UAT testing?

David Giller:
Absolutely. So just to keep things consistent, let’s use the same example that I gave before of having the checkbox to track citizenship. And when asking the appropriate questions of who else needs this? Who needs to see the data? Who needs to be able to edit the data, which records should get assigned to whom based on the checkbox being populated? Once we can identify all of those other pieces of information, again, the broader perspective of what problem are we solving by introducing this thing, whatever the thing is, checkbox or not, that will help us identify who needs to be part of the UAT testing, what is it that we are actually testing in order to be able to determine, did this enhancement actually address the problem that we sought to solve at the onset of this project? So by documenting, again, like I suggested before, even by drawing it out as a process map of what are the steps that need to happen first, what are the steps that need to happen later?
Who else is using it? Who should have access to it? Who should not be able to see that the checkbox even exists or what citizenship a person has, that will help us identify the use cases that we need to include in our UAT testing. So what scenarios do we need to test out? What are the different steps that an individual needs to simulate during the UAT testing in order to confirm that the functionality works as expected? If let’s say there’s automation, did the automation actually work as expected when we update records that have those criteria that should be triggering the automation and who should be part of the UAT testing? And even broader than that, we need to also confirm, are there any exceptions with whatever it is that we’re being asked to personalize or customize in Salesforce? Are there any exceptions that apply to these use cases?
And if we are able to identify them. And also the very last thing that is often overlooked that I’ll call out is to ensure that the people who are involved in the UAT testing, to ensure that they truly represent the typical users who are expected to actually use this feature once it goes live into production. Because if the UAT testers don’t truly represent, in other words, you could have just one or two folks from sales, one or two folks from this sales group versus another sales group. So you could have just a handful of testers in your UAT testing, but we need to make sure that those individuals who are part of the UAT testing, that they truly represent the perhaps hundreds, maybe thousands of other users who are… I’ll call them similarly situated, that have similar job responsibilities that are using the system in a similar way.

Michael:
And similar skill I would add too.

David Giller:
Yes, absolutely.

Michael:
Right? A relationship to the… I’ve made that mistake before where I get a three or four power users as my UAT testers, like, this is great. This is wonderful. It works perfect. And then you roll it out and people fall flat on their face. And it’s because you tested it with the wrong group of people. You tested it with people that already knew what to expect as opposed to varying different situations.

David Giller:
Absolutely.

Michael:
Or different modalities, right? They’re out in the field and it’s on a phone and they can’t fill in a multi-select pick list.

David Giller:
You actually bring up an excellent point because just recently, I encountered an issue of this type where the client was calling out to me that when their users are using Salesforce on their tablets, that the list views look differently. And one of the things that the list views not only look differently, they function in a slightly different way. The user interface is slightly different. And for the scenario that we were talking about, it was pretty significant. It had a significant impact for the way the team was using the list views or the way I was recommending that they use the list views.
And one of the things that I’ve learned by being in this business for so long is that before I roll my eyes and say, clearly you’re not using it properly. No, no, no, don’t do that. So instead, make sure to either log in as them or ask them to share their screen. And once I did that, I realized they are 100% correct. And for example, inline editing on list views or even viewing list views in a table format similar to a spreadsheet versus the tile views that appear when you’re on a mobile device. And yes, we absolutely need to make sure, and it’s often overlooked by myself too, to make sure that we are testing, that we have UAT testers who are using it on devices that truly represent how they will actually be engaged with the interface in the real world.

Michael:
Right. As we wrap up, I’ve been thinking about this since we started the show. I’d love to know if you could share one question that you ask that you feel makes you good at project management.

David Giller:
Absolutely. It’s actually very, very simple. And I hinted at it earlier. Anytime I’m working on any type of project, I keep drilling into what is the problem that we are trying to solve? And it’s not an easy question to answer because let’s say for example… I’ll use a completely different example. Let’s say working with a client, with a client says they need a digital signature capability, or they’ll just come to me saying, “We need DocuSign. Can you help us implement DocuSign?” I’ll turn to them. What problem are you trying to solve? And usually they’ll roll their eyes and say something like, digital signatures, duh. Which part did you not understand? But I’ll turn to them. And-

Michael:
You have some very blatant clients, they’re very honest with you.

David Giller:
I love the type of rapport that I have with my clients. I absolutely love it because I do like to have a very collegiate, fun, blunt type of engagement with my clients, which is great. Anyway, so a lot of times I’ll turn to them and I’ll say, “well,” similar to the scenario I described earlier of the process map, “What type of documents, who would be using it? In what scenarios is it when working with prospects and you need to get those initial, let’s say release forms done, or is it for proposals? Is it when you have opportunities? What types of documents? How are these documents getting generated? Who would be sending them out?” And I keep asking all of these questions. And more often than not, they don’t really know. And that’s okay that they don’t really know. Or sometimes they’ll say, “Well, right now we only care about the following.”
And let’s say for example, it’s a school and the school just wants digital signatures for let’s say release forms that we need to send out to the parents or guardians of students before the student can go on a school trip. And I’ll ask them, “Okay, are those the only scenarios? What do those forms look like today? Who would be sending them out?” And by asking all of these questions, even if it’s only for one document as a template, we are solidifying the scope of the project, the problem that we are trying to solve, the users that would be involved. What type of template or plural templates are involved? What type of Salesforce objects are involved? What are the use cases that are involved? And it really does not matter if it’s just one or many that the client wants to incorporate into the scope of this project.
But by asking those questions and then documenting it in a way where I’m sending it back to them saying, “Okay, based on our meeting, here’s what I put together. Just to confirm, these are our marching orders. This is essentially our project scope. This is the problem or the problems that we’re trying to solve. Can you confirm that we didn’t miss anything?” By having some type of formal structures, formal documentation of what is the problem that you’re trying to solve, will keep everyone focused on whether or not the project was a success. Because then fast-forward back to the UAT aspects of the project, we now have a clear understanding what is it that we’re testing during UAT.
We’re testing whatever the release forms that we talked about earlier. For these types of release forms, here are the people who are going to be sending them out. Here are the people who are going to be receiving them. So we need to simulate all of those use cases. So again, to answer your question, the number one question that I think helps me be successful with my clients when working on projects is by constantly asking and getting deeper answers to what is the problem that we are trying to solve for this initiative or this project that we’re focused on.

Michael:
That was great. Thank you, David. I appreciate you coming back on the podcast and helping us become better project managers.

David Giller:
Mike, thank you for having me. And thank you for letting me babble and to share insights.

Michael:
I took pages of notes. You didn’t babble. I have lots of notes.

David Giller:
Thank you.
I appreciate it.

Michael:
And this is live the day of New York World Tour, so I am sure you are somewhere out walking around the Javits Center, and I will look for you there.

David Giller:
Absolutely.

Michael:
Thanks, sir.

David Giller:
Yes, Mike, thanks again for having me.

Michael:
So it was a great conversation with David. I love the answer, what is the problem we are trying to solve? I feel like you should print that out, put that in your office somewhere. That should be the mantra for every meeting. Now, if you enjoyed this episode, I need you to do me a favor. Could you just share it with one person? If you’re listening on iTunes, it’s super, super easy. All you got to do is tap the dots and choose share episode. Then you can post it on social, you can text it to a friend. Maybe you got another Salesforce admin friend that’s looking to grow their project management skills. And this episode with David would be perfect for them.
Now, if you’re looking for more great resources, don’t worry. Your one stop for everything admin is admin.salesforce.com, including a transcript of the show. And be sure to join the conversation, the Admin Trailblazer Group over in the Admin Trailblazer community. That link is also in the show notes. So until next week, we’ll see you in the cloud.

 

 

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