– Part 1 of 5 –

You’re not sure how it happened. Maybe you helped the management team by putting together a new dashboard. Or, you’ve just been a Salesforce user for a long time and picked up some tips and tricks along the way and help your co-workers out regularly. Like it or not, you’re now the “Accidental Admin” for your company’s Salesforce instance.

Now what?

First, don’t panic. There a lot of resources to help you on your way. Sign up for Trailhead, Salesforce’s own learning platform for admins like you. This is a great way to learn at your own pace. Regardless of where you are today, they offer Trails, Trailmixes, modules, projects, and classes to help guide you on your Salesforce journey. Who knows, you might even decide to make the move from being an accidental admin and become a certified admin.

Second, look to join a local Trailblazer Community. You don’t have to be a developer or certified admin to learn a lot from your fellow Salesforce users. This also tends to humanize the learning experience, compared to the more academic approach of online learning. The Salesforce community is filled with knowledgeable people who want to help you get better with the platform. At some point, many, if not most, Salesforce Admins have been in your shoes, so they understand the challenges your facing.

Third, keep things simple. Here are a couple of ideas to consider when building the foundation of being a good Admin, accidental or not:

  1. Always use Standard Objects as intended.
  2. Always use Declarative Features before trying to write code.
  3. Always document as you go and make sure Fields, Objects, Workflows, have consistent naming and descriptions.
  4. Sandboxes are your friends. Never put something untested into a production environment.
  5. Always consider and use the correct data relationship when creating objects (Master-Detail, One-to-Many, Many-to-Many, Lookup)

We read an article recently, which you can read by How the CIO lost control: Why cloud computing and millennials have got tech bosses running scared, that really caught our attention. It calls into question the relevance of the CIO (Chief Information Officer) and IT departments as a whole, citing this stat:

  • Value Opportunity #1: Put your data to work today.

To expedite the initial implementation process, we like to start with what you have: data.

Your business is continuously collecting data, but many companies are not able to use it and gain value from it because

  1. the data hasn’t been customized for their specific team needs, and
  2. the data isn’t easily accessible in one location.

When set-up correctly, Salesforce helps organize and provide you the ability to see all your important data points in one location, so that your business can make smarter, data-based decisions.

When it comes to data, different groups within an organization need to know different information. It doesn’t help anyone if everyone has the same generic dashboard.

Within Salesforce, executives, department heads, and sales leaders can determine what information they need to see, and perhaps more importantly, what information they do not need to see on a regular basis. Each group can customize their own dashboards and reports based on their specific needs.

Real-time dashboards allow you to view the most important daily data points to make decisions quickly, without delay. Reports allow you to then identify trends over time. Additionally, anomaly triggers identify potential issues before they become a problem.

Potential threats that shine the light on potential problems, as well as key factors that have led to success, can be highlighted in reports and dashboards. This allows teams to focus on what matters most to them, and not be distracted by information that matters to another department.

Once organized, it’s important that everyone can both 1. easily access the information that’s important to them, and 2. Understand, through analytics, how to turn this data into useful information.

“Most problems don’t require more data. They require more insight, more innovation, and better eyes.”
– Seth Godin

This is where the right Salesforce partner comes in. Their role is not simply technical implementation. The partner you need is one that helps you identify how to structure your current data, eliminate bad data, and ensure Salesforce is configured in a way that your team understands and finds useful.

The best partners don’t simply turn Salesforce on for you. The best partners help you understand how to best use the tool to reach your goals, then make sure you’re experiencing the value each and every day.

  • Value Opportunity #2: Build a roadmap to stay on schedule.

Are you trying to do too much at once, and feeling bogged down? Before taking any steps toward implementation, it’s important to create a roadmap of your priorities to ensure a systematic approach.

You’ve read the articles and probably watched a few videos about the various Salesforce products available to you.

You’re thinking, “wow if we start using all of these new products, we could solve our problems in an instant.”

However, our experience suggests just the opposite to be true. Many of the tools and capabilities build upon one another, as with the common analogy: crawl before you walk, before you run, before you ride a bike, and so on.

But starting out with too much on your plate can overwhelm the team configuring the platform, as well as the users of the platform.

Think of your initial implementation of Salesforce as a roadmap, not a set of blueprints. Be ready to adapt and make changes when necessary.

  1. Start small;
  2. customize Salesforce to your business processes; then
  3. get your employees using and having success with the platform.

Once you have some momentum, it becomes a lot easier to add additional Salesforce products, services, and features to build upon these small wins. Bottom line: it’s easy to become enamored with all the features. Resist the urge to solve problems you don’t have.

  • Value Opportunity #3: Show everyone how Salesforce benefits them.

Do all stakeholders see the value of Salesforce for themselves? Many user adoption issues arise when one group thrusts Salesforce upon another without first clarifying how it helps the other group.

Leadership: Team leaders often fall in love with the idea of real-time dashboards, instant reporting, and process automation. And for good reason – these are fantastic capabilities to have at your disposal.

What’s important to recognize, though, is that leadership’s visibility depends on the rest of their team engaging with the platform.

The perspective that isn’t always presented is how Salesforce is actually a great benefit to the team members themselves, providing better record keeping, the elimination of mundane admin work, and removing the constant time spent generating reports for leadership.

Sales: Sales teams tend to balk at having to enter their data into a system that everyone can see. They’re wondering why, after all these years of success with their own system of spreadsheets, address books, and their memory, must they give up their contacts with no additional benefit to them.

Their initial fear is that Salesforce is going to distract them from doing what they do best: selling. The reality is that Salesforce allows them to cut out all kinds of other distractions they currently have.

Centralized customer information means sales reps don’t have to spend time educating other teams about next steps that involve more colleagues.

Instant reporting means sales reps don’t have to interrupt their day to generate status reports for company leadership.

Real-time dashboards mean sales reps can more readily see which campaigns and activities are working best, and which aren’t.

Automation means your sales reps can spend less time remembering simple tasks, or triggering more personalized responses to customers at scale.

All this adds up to more time spent actually selling. Customers get what they want faster than before, requiring less time and resources from your team, which allows your whole company to scale faster than before.

IT: Your tech team is going to help maintain and build upon your Salesforce progress. Everyone’s life becomes simpler when IT is kept in-the-know when new Salesforce applications and features are added to the platform. They can ensure that all current systems are properly synced with Salesforce so that information can flow across platforms.

Ultimately, IT will be able to more easily and quickly address any key issues with functionality if they understand how teams are using the platform and what they want to get out of it.