One "Soft" Skill Every Salesforce Professional Needs

Learning how to identify projects and break down next actions is an indispensable skill for all Salesforce professionals to cultivate, both for career success and personal satisfaction.
One "Soft" Skill Every Salesforce Professional Needs

One "Soft" Skill Every Salesforce Professional Needs

Projects, Projects Everywhere

Are you a project manager? Your job title or description may not say so, but all of us are managing projects all of the time. They may not be big (or small) implementations or even be Salesforce projects at all. Projects are everywhere in our work and our lives, and learning to identify projects and break down next actions is as key to your health and happiness as it is to your career.

So what is a project? Fundamentally, it is anything you want to accomplish that has more than one step. At work, this is pretty much everything except the most rote of tasks. Testing out a new App? That’s a project. Updating some code? That’s a project. Putting together some reporting for stakeholders? Conducting a training session? Doing some data cleanup? These are all projects. Even if you are not “the” project manager for a larger project like a Salesforce implementation, considering the elements within your responsibility as a project or series of related projects will help you organize your own work to be as efficient as possible.

I challenge you to also consider your personal and professional development as projects. With the Salesforce release cycle, certifications to get and maintain, new products to learn and explore, events to attend, and opportunities to volunteer and give back, Salesforce professionals have a lot to keep up with in the professional sphere. Many of us set goals to get a new certification or do some pro bono work, etc., but how are you going to make it all happen? When we identify these as projects, we start to set ourselves up in a framework to actually reach the goal.

Projects aren’t all work either. Taking a vacation, sending holiday cards to your friends and family, buying a gift for that special someone, these are all projects in our personal lives. Treating them as such can help you give them the appropriate amount of your attention and even help you maintain a better work life balance.

Why is this so important?

Personally I like accomplishing things. If you’re reading this, I bet you do, too. It is very hard to accomplish anything, though, unless you define the thing you are going to accomplish and take specific actions to move toward your goal.

Once you identify something as a project, you can start to break it down using what we Getting Things Done (GTD) devotees refer to as the natural planning model. At the core, this is the concept of moving a project along by identifying the next available action. Even if you are not going full-on GTD, you can incorporate this into your everyday approach by simply asking yourself “What is the next thing I need to do for this project?” and writing down that as your task. In this way, you give yourself the opportunity to take meaningful, manageable steps toward your goal and avoid feeling overwhelmed by thinking about everything you have to do to accomplish it at once.

We are all busy. There is a near endless stream of possible tasks. It’s very hard to effectively manage your time, if you’re always having to think about what you need to do. There are a lot of opportunities in the Salesforce ecosystem at a variety of skill types and levels, but every single one of them requires the ability to effectively manage your own work in some way, even if that is simply to ensure you are up to date on your own knowledge of the platform. Breaking down projects and next actions helps you optimize your time and manage how stressful these demands can feel. Being in control of your personal portfolio of projects is peace of mind as much as it is professional prowess.

Also, as you look to move forward in your career, you will want to be able to speak to projects you have completed. It is much easier to articulate what you have accomplished when you have defined it well for yourself, and the confidence you can repeat these successes comes with clarity on the steps you took to get there.

How do I get better at it?

Like all skills, project management is something you improve with practice. Explore the tools and methodologies that resonate with you. Write things down. The first step is to start thinking about the things you do in terms of projects. If you’re already an ace project manager in your work, try applying these skills to other areas of your life. Practice articulating your accomplishments and current undertakings--all projects--to yourself and others. Practice identifying next actions. And most importantly, consider this as a way to be good to yourself, not just better at your work. As the new year comes upon us, think about your projects for next year rather than your resolutions. With this mindset, I hope we can all accomplish our goals, whatever they may be.



How has project management been part of your career and life? What methodologies do you practice? Feel free to comment below, on the Salesforce Success Community, on our Facebook page, or directly at me on Twitter @ifitfloats.

Filed under: , ,
blog comments powered by Disqus