Blog

The official Arkus blog provides your weekly dose for all thing Salesforce. Stay on top of the latest, most relevant Salesforce features, applications, and best practices.

An Evaluation of Clicktools

An evaluation of Clicktools as a survey tool and how it syncs with Salesforce.
An Evaluation of Clicktools

An Evaluation of Clicktools

Clicktools is not only a survey tool for the web; used, as an example, for closed case satisfaction. It can also be used to write sales scripts and create forms such as lead forms.  I’ve personally used it only for the creation and syncing of surveys so that’s what i’ll focus on. Clicktools notes on the AppExchange is the number one survey App for 5 years. You can’t help but notice they do have 390 reviews with 4.7 stars. Though they have these impressive stats, in working with Clicktools, there are a few things that definitely could be improved upon and some things that are as great as the stats claim.

Gaining Access

You can install Clicktools directly into your org from the AppExchange. You do however need a separate account in order to access it. Once you’re at a point to sync survey results with Salesforce.com, you need to make sure to identify a user in the org and populate Clicktools with their credentials.  This process wasn’t very intuitive and it took some trial and error to realize this connection is needed in order to successfully send surveys through.

Creating a Survey

Creating surveys is pretty easy once you understand how to navigate the user interface. You simply click ‘create new survey’ and you have the option of starting from scratch, choosing a template from the library, or copying an existing survey.  To add additional questions you just click ‘add question’ and you’ll get a simple set of template field options to choose from. You can reorder questions once they are added as well as add text areas, which, could be instructions at the top, or, a quick “thank you” at the bottom of the survey.  Then there’s the hidden questions which makes the connection to an object in Salesforce (the survey taker doesn’t see these).

Mapping to Salesforce

So you’ve created a survey in Clicktools, now you want to capture all that information in Salesforce records. First identify the object in your Salesforce instance you want to use.  If the object doesn’t exist, create a new custom object (Clicktools doesn’t come with pre built Salesforce custom objects to sync with).  Then make sure all the questions in the survey have a corresponding field created in that Salesforce object. Mapping is a 1-to-1 ratio so each question in the survey should have a Salesforce field. I’d recommend making the field label as identical to the survey question as possible. This will make finding and mapping a lot easier.  From Clicktools, select the object then simply select the question and field until all survey questions are accounted for. If you need to go back to Salesforce to make field tweaks, make sure you click on ‘Rebuild Cache’ so Clicktools sees those revisions. Save, save, save your mapping!

Syncing Survey to Salesforce

Syncing to Salesforce can be done either manually or automatically.  While you’re initially building and mapping a survey in Clicktools, keeping syncing manual and run a sync test first.  Do this by going to the ‘Deployer’ tab and clicking on the survey URL, then, fill out the survey and submit. Click on ‘Synchronize’ from the CRM Integration tab and you should see the survey there. Sync the survey and once you get a confirmation, go to Salesforce and verify the record has been created with all the appropriate values in the fields.

You can manually sync partially completed surveys, full submitted surveys, or surveys that failed a sync attempt (this can happen if the mapping is off, reference values don’t meet a specific required format, etc…).  When automatic syncing is selected, Clicktools will sync fully completed surveys to Salesforce.  In this case, the option of manually syncing partial or failed syncs is available which is nice.  

Now here’s a scenario where Clicktools has fallen short...what if Clicktools shows no surveys need to be synced...but...it also shows a total amount of surveys that’s more than the total amount of records in your Salesforce object? Meaning, Clicktools says a survey was synced but you don’t see a record in Salesforce for that particular survey.  I’ve had to troubleshoot this issue before.  I’m not sure how or why it happened, but, the downside was that manual entry of the survey responses into Salesforce was the solution; there was no way of selecting the survey in Clicktools and re-syncing.  This is a feature that should be added to Clicktools.

In general the user interface needs a facelift as it’s not very intuitive off the bat. That said, once you get the hang of it creating, mapping, and syncing surveys is pretty easy.  It’s just a matter of understanding what’s possible and where the limitations lie.

Have your own thoughts on Clicktools? Please feel free to comment below, on our Facebook page, or directly at me on Twitter @LeiferAshley.

Spoiler Free GTD - Episode #174 of CloudFocus Weekly

Getting started with GTD, GOT crashes HBO Go as Netflix talks about raising prices, the cloud titan clash over charitable giving.
Spoiler Free GTD - Episode #174 of CloudFocus Weekly

Spoiler Free GTD - Episode #174

Getting Started with GTD

So how do you really get started doing GTD after you’ve seen the videos, read the book, and heard the many tips and best practices? This blog will take you through my journey as a very new GTD up and comer.
Getting Started with GTD

Getting Started with GTD

 

Getting Things Done (GTD) long-time-practitioner, Jason Atwood, recently did a blog on tips after having done and perfected GTD for 10 years. GTD is about increasing productivity and organizing everything in your world so that even your personal and work life is synchronous, which in theory sounds wonderful but in practice feels impossible to do at times. So I will walk you through the challenges I experienced and continue to experience in getting started, what has worked, what has not worked when trying to implement this new way of thinking and functioning.


Challenges Getting Started

I hit three major roadblocks in those first few weeks of trying to start GTD:

  • Finding those trusted places where I could capture information so that I could get everything out of my head

  • Finding time to step back and review everything as David Allen suggests in his book (full review and purge)

  • Not being able to follow the David Allen’s 2 minute rule consistently, resulting in being easily side-tracked in doing work rather than organizing and prioritizing

I would choose 3 or 4 locations to capture information but they were kind of artificial, not part of my routine. Given this, I didn’t regularly check them and so all that information stayed in my head anyway. I hit a perpetual cycle of not being organized enough to properly implement this and then life got super busy and I went back to my old habits and ways of doing things. Starting over felt so overwhelming and I felt a bit defeated by the process that I procrastinated trying again right away. When I first read David Allen’s 2 minute rule I thought it was genius and yet in reviewing work I kept saying I could quickly just finish this item, 5 minutes become 15 minutes and then 30 minutes and now I was officially doing the opposite of what was intended.


What Has Worked

Although I have faced and am still facing many challenges, there are some things that are working with shifting to GTD in thought and practice. I have implemented great tools to help support, like Omnifocus. I no longer have 100s of post its everywhere, which is how I used to manage capturing random information prior to GTD (I can literally feel Jason Atwood somewhere smiling as I say this). Through this process, I now have an awareness of what needs to happen and find that I push myself to make efforts to change and really maximize the tools that I have. I have taken time to do inventory of major areas of my life that needs re-organizing and am starting to tackle them. I’m also learning to think about productivity in a general sense, not based on work vs. personal. That shift alone has reduced quite a bit of stress, not having to manage separate systems for my personal life and my work life.


What Still Feels Like A Struggle 

After 6 months of using GTD principles, I still find that I struggle to maintain what I have implemented (systems, routines) when something new, major, and urgent gets thrown my way. If they don’t fit into my current system, I start to track them on the side. I like to compare it to juggling (although I can’t juggle at all, not even 2 balls, but think it’s still a great analogy). Imagine you’ve finally and successfully started juggling 3 balls after months of practice and all the balls are consistently and smoothly moving in the air.  Then someone throws in an unexpected 4th ball rather than let the ball drop, you try to catch it in the moment and all your balls drop and you have to start over. Even worse, now you’re nervous about this 4th ball coming, even though you clearly haven’t practiced yet, and it’s now affected how you were juggling the 3 you had just been juggling perfectly. I find that I’m still letting new items that don’t have a clear home in my new world throw me off and rather than taking time to fit them it, I default to old habits to accomplish them. This begins to affect the effectiveness of the foundation I built.


So Now What?

I think perseverance and consistency is key. This process was not meant to be mastered in a few days or even months. I have to keep reminding myself of this and to be more patient with where I am in the process and not judging it. The moment I do, I notice that I take 3 steps back. As Jason highlighted in his 5th and 6th tips, it’s better to tackle smaller areas, build a foundation and then expand into other areas of your life rather than trying to do it all at once. That’s how I’ve been thinking about this and it’s coming along, slower than I was hoping but definitely moving in an upward direction and getting stronger every day. GTD has been such a great addition to my life and has really changed the way I’m approaching everything in my world. I truly believe that the time and effort that it takes to make this really work is absolutely worth it.


If you can relate to these challenges as you try GTD and want to share your story, please feel free to comment below, on our facebook page, or directly at me on Twitter @sylviacabral44.

 

Heartbleeding Wedding - Episode #173 of CloudFocus Weekly Podcast

Getting started with Salesforce, WeddingForce, Salesforce1 Boston Tour, Heartbleed, Dreamforce App moving to Success and our continued struggles with Spring 14.
Heartbleeding Wedding - Episode #173 of CloudFocus Weekly Podcast

Heartbleeding Wedding - Episode #173

Best Practices for Getting Started with Salesforce.com

Best practices for a successful Salesforce.com implementation.
Best Practices for Getting Started with Salesforce.com

Best Practices for Getting Started with Salesforce.com

Over the last 4 years we have had the opportunity to work on over 300 Salesforce projects and that number is growing by the week.  With this experience comes a large knowledge base of best practices. These common themes were very consistent across our most successful projects. Before you take the plunge into the Salesforce world, consider these best practices for your implementation.

Top Down Approach

Having an executive sponsor who provides full support and participation for the length of the  implementation and beyond is the most critical piece to a successful implementation.  Most do not like change and executives and senior leaders provide the authority and credibility needed for a change to be successful.  Having the mantra of “If it’s not in Salesforce it doesn’t exist” is a sure fire way to make sure your users are using the system.  Once they are over the hump of change, if implemented correctly they will start to see Salesforce for the efficiency building tool it is.

Expertise

If someone at your organization doesn’t have the expertise to implement Salesforce then you should find someone to do it.  Whether you spend the money to get someone trained or hire an implementation partner, it is critical to get started with your Salesforce instance using someone who knows how to implement the requirements.  Equally important is having someone who can be the project manager to ensure timelines and communication requirements are being met.  Implementation partners should be providing both the project management and the implementation and you should make sure their project management style meets the needs and culture of your organization.

Crawl, Walk, Run

In addition to being adverse to change, too much functionality can overwhelm your users and hurt adoption.  It is critical to find the right amount of functionality that can be delivered quickly and provide enough ROI.  Decisions to do things like custom development or integration should be brought to the table only if the users absolutely require it to do their jobs.  These components both increase initial and ongoing cost as well as add time for deployment.   If it fits in the category of “nice to have”, it might we worth tabling it for a later phase. 

Get Organized

Once you have sponsorship and an implementation team in place, the last piece is getting organized.  No goal is worth setting if you don’t have an end date or you cannot measure it.  Having the right people who understand Salesforce and how to manage the project will be critical to this exercise. Once you have set the level of functionality, come up a with realistic timeline and stick to it.  Keeping momentum is key to success and moving dates without legitimate reasons can poke a hole in the project sails.

Making the decision to move to Salesforce is very exciting.  It can streamline your business processes and provide you with insight into your customers that you never have before.  To help ensure success of any implementation, it is critical to follow the best practices listed above. 

If you would like to discuss further tweet at me at www.twitter.com/Salvatoriello or comment below.

Managing My Wedding on Force.com

For those that don’t listen to the CloudFocus Weekly podcast where I’ve been talking about this for months, I am getting married. Like any other Salesforce geek I decided to manage my wedding inside of Salesforce.
Managing My Wedding on Force.com

Managing My Wedding on Force.com

Introducing WeddingForce

How else would a five times certified, three time MVP, and all around Salesforce geek spend his Labor Day? Obviously he would spend it building out an application to manage his wedding. Last summer I got engaged and all of a sudden after the jubilation of the engagement day settled down a bit, it hit me, we need to plan this wedding, "we" being the operative word. I started to think about all the things that we as a couple needed to do and collaborate around to plan the wedding and it reminded me of all the types of business processes that I help clients with all the time. I came to only one conclusion; I needed Salesforce to help get us through this planning and data tracking event (I realize this is a very odd way of looking at planning a wedding, almost robotic). Over the course of three hours on a summer afternoon I built out what is known to us as WeddingForce. It’s the end all be all for all data related to our wedding.

Key Features

WeddingForce boasts some great features for collaborating around wedding planning. We do all of the following using Salesforce and some other 3rd party tools all built with clicks and no code:

  • Track families / households invited to the wedding and whether or not they’ve RSVP’d
  • Track individuals who are invited to the wedding
  • Plan campaigns for save the date mailings, bachelor party, shower, and our rehearsal dinner
  • Capture all possible wedding venues that we took a look at with key fields such as price, location, and comments around what we did and didn’t like with fun statuses like “hated it, loved it, and finally, this is the one”
  • Vendors ranging from hotels where we’ve blocked off rooms to photographers to bakeries 
  • Gifts that people get for us and for what reason (engagement, shower, wedding) 
  • We did our mailing labels for our save the date envelopes using Conga Composer

WeddingForce Tabs

WeddingForce Dashboard Snapshot

Adoption

Thanks to Salesforce’s easy to use interface the fiance needed about 10 minutes of training in order to get on board and using WeddingForce. She’s a real pro at entering data, especially gifts… The Chatter feed was a major driving factor in adoption as well - it was very familiar to her and a great way for us to communicate about certain vendors, upload price sheets and images, as well as an easy and effective way for her to make feature requests. Nothing like getting a Chatter post from your soon to be wife asking you to add a checkbox to an object.

After all was said and done we have a centralized location with our budget, all of our invitees, their RSVPs, Gifts, Vendors, and all the reporting that you could possibly ask for. Not to mention tickler lists for Gifts without Thank You notes or People who haven’t yet RSVP’d. All the goodness that a user of Salesforce who is selling multi-million dollar deals would expect, except this is to manage the wedding of the century...mine.

Please feel free to comment below, on the Salesforce Success Community, on our Facebook page, or directly at me on Twitter @JustEdelstein.

Tips from 10 Years on GTD

My journey starting, using, and trying to master the Getting Things Done (GTD) principles over the last 10 years.
Tips from 10 Years on GTD

Tips from 10 Years on GTD

Last year when Justin and I did the episode of CloudFocus Weekly about GTD we got a lot of response about the stories behind the productivity principals. In doing my research I looked back to the beginning of my journey and realized that in 2014 I would have been practicing GTD for an entire decade. This is my origin story and some advice for those just starting out.

Procrastination Panic

My journey with GTD started after months of paralyzing procrastination that was starting to deeply affect my work and home life. I was putting off everything, knowingly dropping balls but couldn't seem to break the cycle. Each and every thing that I had to do kept building in my head as the days and months went on. It ruined my sleep and kept me at a level of semi-panic. At some point, after months of inaction, I searched for books on procrastination on the internet seeking self help. It wasn't a long search until I found Getting Things Done by David Allen with the hundreds of reviews and accolades. Amazon to the rescue.

The Book

While reading the book I was both intrigued, excited and daunted by the sheer amount of work ahead. David Allen talks of taking an entire weekend to get started and that seemed like a huge investment of time. Slowly but surely after finishing the book, I starting purchasing the tools (label makers, file folders, etc) and evaluating places to start my lists. I had always been a Palm user and was currently using the Treo which had an excellent task application. I decided it was good enough to get started so I divided in creating @Email and @Computer lists on my Treo and trying to capture everything that came into my head. It took over six months, but my procrastination was slowly replaced with a sense of control and calm.

The First Few Years

I like to talk about GTD as a journey because while the first read had some impact and helped with immediate things like email and task management, it took a few years of going in and out of GTD for bigger things to really take hold. I re-read the book a few years later and found a whole new set of principals to put into action such as areas of focus and life altitudes. I backed up the book by reading blogs and watching videos by productivity gurus such as Merlin Mann. I upped my task management to OmniOutliner with Kinkless GTD which eventually led me to OmniFocus where I have been ever since.

Ten Years of Tips

After ten years of practicing GTD it has become so much a part of what I do, who I am and the way I approach anything that removing it would be impossible. Concepts like ubiquitous capture, commitments, next actions, and weekly review are now just a part of my DNA. It has led me to read another twenty or so books as well as incorporate other life measurements that now are the foundation of how I approach life. As a manager I have helped coach others in the principals and made it a foundation of our work at Arkus.

It is hard to sum up ten years of anything but here are ten tips on getting started and getting great at getting things done.

1. Don't start with the book. Instead start with David Allen's Ted Talk (LINK) which is a 20 minute video that if inspires you, go onto the book.

2. Read the book slowly. Take a chapter at a time, taking in some of the things and start practicing them. Write things down.

3. Ask for help. Talk to someone you know to help you go through it. Ask about some of the principals or find an internet community. It is much easier to put things in context with real life examples.

4. Don't overdue contexts. It is my experience that while they are still useful as a planning tool for tasks, they are less useful in terms of lists and views. Technology has made @Email basically anywhere.

5. Try one thing a month. Take one concept like capturing and just work on that one skill for a month, moving on when you feel like you got it.

6. Don't get caught up in the tool. There are a lot of tools out there so find one and stick to it. A lot of people get caught up trying to find the "perfect" one which in itself is a waste of time.

7. Reward yourself with stuff to help motivate like folders and label makers, maybe a paid Dropbox account or Evernote Premium. Calculate the return on investment in terms of your time.

8. Double down on the two minute rule. It is so critical, so easy to remember and to practice there is no reason not to make it the first hill to climb.

9. Don't stop at the book. There are great blogs, podcasts, books, videos and audio series out there that are in some ways better than the book. The Weekly Review series by David Allen (LINK) finally hit that home for me and has helped others that I have coached.

10. Share the love. Nothing solidifies a concept or principle better than sharing it with someone else. Explain it to a spouse or friend, put it out in your social network and see the reaction.

At this point GTD has just become like eating, sleeping or exercising. Something that keeps my mentally healthy and ready to take on all aspects of life.

If you have a GTD origin story, feel free to share it with me in the comments below, on our Facebook page, Salesforce Community or directly @JasonMAtwood.

Syncing Prices - Episode #172 of CloudFocus Weekly

Some experience with tools to sync Salesforce with Outlook and Gmail, Google cuts cloud storage prices in a war of the clouds and Salesforce1 heads to bean town.
Syncing Prices - Episode #172 of CloudFocus Weekly

Syncing Prices - Episode #172

Outlook & Google Sync Off with Salesforce.com

A look at Gmail and Outlook syncing alternatives for Salesforce.com.
Outlook & Google Sync Off with Salesforce.com

Outlook & Google Sync Off with Salesforce.com

With people these days on the go and multi-tasking using many tools during the course of a day, it’s extremely beneficial to be able to pull up calendars, contacts, email references quickly and in whatever tool you’re currently using.  That’s why syncing tools between platforms have become so popular.  Salesforce has an out of the box solution but it’s only for Outlook and only available to PC users. So here’s a few alternative applications for both Outlook and Google that may do the trick for you...

iHance - Absolute Automation

What it syncs with: Outlook and Gmail Email
Reviews: 4.9 stars with 253 reviews
Cost: $10/user/month (discount for nonprofits)

This product is both Mac and PC compatible with Outlook which is nice. If there are people on the ‘to’ and ‘cc’ lines of an email, this stores only one record in Salesforce.com and links it to all the other contact records.  In contrast the Salesforce feature creates a separate record for each contact, that’s a potentially big data storing difference if there’s attachments. If a person on the email doesn’t have a record, it stores it in an ‘email’ object so you can easily go back and either create a new Salesforce record or add to an existing contact. This product also supports email to case. Reviews give general kudos to their support team as well as how easy it is to setup and use.

CureCRM Email Sync

What it syncs with: Outlook and Gmail Email
Reviews: 4.3 stars with 70 reviews
Cost: Limited Free package for sending email but price for full app isn’t readily available

This product has an email sync object which stores all incoming and outgoing emails. When you select one, you go to a reference record and from there click the name to a record with a widget that includes a history of all email correspondence for that reference. This is where you can create a new contact, account or lead. From both Gmail and Outlook there are side panels that display the full conversation history and you can create new records from this panel as well. There’s also a ‘Follow-up Robot’ that auto sends and syncs follow up emails. This is great if you have a lot of back and forth in one email conversation. Reviews of this product seem to really like this feature.

Appirio Cloud Sync for Google Apps

What it syncs with: Google Apps calendar, contacts list, and tasks
Reviews: 4.3 stars with 65 reviews
Cost: Free 30 day trial then $4/user/month (discount for non-profits)

We use this application here at Arkus and it was a simple setup with flagging a few fields and letting it run behind the scenes. I personally haven’t had a problem with the Google calendar and Salesforce calendar sync being off. Much like the Salesforce for Outlook solution, you can determine what direction you want to sync; one way or two ways. You can even create filters to define what should be copied.  Great thing is that it only pulls from your work calendar and leaves all your other Google calendars (personal) out of the syncing process.

Cirrus Insight

What it syncs with: Google Apps - Gmail, Calendar, Contacts
Reviews: 4.8 stars with 347 reviews
Cost: $15/user/month (discount for non-profits)

This product really brings Salesforce to your Gmail account.  There’s a side panel where you can add new contacts, leads, accounts, and opportunities.  You can sync emails to Salesforce as you’re writing them in Gmail. The user interface is also pretty intuitive and simple. The reviews are pretty impressive and (no wonder at 4.8 stars) but it’s a bit pricy compared with the Appirio solution.

There are a lot of syncing options out there, it really boils down to what platforms you’re working with, what type of syncing you need, and your company's budget. I recommend before jumping into one completely go through the AppExchange evaluate and maybe try out a few if there’s the option for a free trial period.

Have other syncing tools you think are awesome? Please feel free to comment below, on our Facebook page, or directly at me on Twitter @LeiferAshley.

 

Salesforce 15 Origin Story - Episode #171 of CloudFocus Weekly

The blog is full of Dataloader.io and Conga Composer 8 with some sneak peaks at the next few weeks, we tell our Salesforce 15 origin stories and question why Spring 14 has been so delayed.
Salesforce 15 Origin Story - Episode #171 of CloudFocus Weekly

Salesforce 15 Origin Story - Episode #171

Filed under: