My story around restarting with GTD after a lot of stops and starts. Here is a high level list of 5 things that I have done recently to get started “again” and why it has stuck this time.
Refresher on Resources Available
For some people this would mean re-reading Getting Things Done (the book). There is a new version out now so it might not be a bad idea to give it another read. I personally like to watch and listen to things and talk to people who follow the methodology. What got me really cooking again was having a chat with my GTD mentor and coach who gave me a stern kick in the rear and generally chatted with me about the added benefits of the methodology. We didn’t talk “x’s & o’s” rather we talked about making the most out of my time and not feeling like I am letting things slip.
Watch More Videos & Consume Online Resources
I know, a lot like the first paragraph but without the personal touch. I really learn a lot better by watching things and then incorporating them. I like to watch the Inbox Zero talk that Merlin Mann gave at Google over and over. It reminds me every time I watch why I do things the way that I have chosen to do them. It also gives me a good sense of feeling “right” about the choices I’ve made in terms of starting over with GTD. There are lots and lots of videos that are constantly being posted to the GTD group in the Salesforce Success Community - I’d suggest heading over there and participating and watching for new stuff popping up all the time.
Commitment to Self and Others
I have committed to myself that I would follow processes and procedures to ensure that I reduce stress in life. Once I made that commitment to myself, I made sure that I wouldn’t let myself down. Start small and build from there. To me, the smallest thing I could do was commit that I would do my Weekly Review every week, no matter what. I went so far as to put it into a year long goal for myself and the last step in my weekly review every week is to go in and mark off another week where I’ve completed my weekly review. I’ve also made sure that a part of my weekly review is visible to other people. You’ll always know when I do my weekly review because the first step is to tweet that I’m doing it. Keep it simple at the start and stick to two most core concepts - capture and weekly review. I made sure that I started capturing all tasks religiously and reviewing them on a regular basis. These things alone have made me much more productive.
Choose a System
Select a comfortable tool to facilitate the process and make sure that it is able to capture and review everything that gets thrown at you. Some other key concepts for your tool set is to make sure that they are all accessible across multiple platforms and devices. Capturing should be ubiquitous and you want to make sure that you can do it wherever, whenever, and however you need to at any given moment. You also want to make sure that you can easily understand and utilize the tool that you select. I use OmniFocus on my iOS and OSX devices. Admittedly the tool itself isn’t the most intuitive but luckily for me I have a good GTD coach who has helped me get better at utilizing the tool to achieve my goals of practicing GTD which ultimately leads to a less stressful and more productive lifestyle.
Join the group on the Salesforce Success Community
Did you even know that there was a GTD group within the Salesforce Success Community? Well, I guess I let the cat out of the bag a few paragraphs above, but in all seriousness this is a great group to communicate and collaborate around GTD and add in some Salesforce fun as well. It has great content and resources to watch and learn from and is a great way to find a new David Allen interview or podcast.
After restarting and recharging over the last five or six months I can truly feel the change in my life. It has made handling tasks much easier and less stressful and has allowed me to actually add more to my plate without letting smaller things slip by. For anyone who has tried GTD and slipped, I suggest giving it another shot. Remember to start small and ease into it. GTD is a journey to stress free productivity that will likely take a lifetime to master.
The Salesforce Community continues to provide a multitude of awesome suggestions to the Salesforce Product Teams via the IdeaExchange; in fact, it was announced in August that with this Winter ‘16 release, over 1 million idea points will have been delivered since Dreamforce ‘14. Give yourselves a pat on the back and celebrate, this latest release will go down as a pivotal point in the transformation of Salesforce and it was driven by your suggestions.
Winter ‘16 features include 30 IdeaExchange submissions across every aspect of the tool, and this post will identify some of the key enhancements.
- Universal Picklists Pilot/Beta (43,790 points) - Called “Global Picklists” and available in both Lightning Experience and Salesforce Classic, this feature allows you to reuse a single list of values for multiple custom picklist fields - similar to “Industry” or “Lead Source” fields. You can share picklists across objects and effectively keep your picklist data clean by preventing users from adding erroneous or redundant values through the API. This capability is currently Pilot/Beta but can more than likely be used in a large majority of implementations, I’d go as far as calling this a game changer!
- Create More Roll-Up Summary Fields per Object (6,130 points) - Bumped up from a limit of 10 to 25 per object, go on and add some from your wish list.
- Limit Imported Records to Existing Picklist Values Pilot/Beta (1,700 points) - You most certainly could use the help with maintaining data integrity and standardization.
- Allow Salesforce Administrators to update records owned by Inactive/Terminated Users (5,780 points) - Hear that joyous singing? It’s the Awesome Admins who have been pulling their hair out playing the “let’s shuffle active / inactive user license” game when trying to Mass Update records.
- Enter New Contacts on the Fly When Opening a New Case (9,040 points) - No longer will you have to stop entering the Case, create a new Contact, and then return to creating the new Case. What will you do with your free time?
- Increase Number of Characters in Subject Field: Case Emails (3,540 points) - For the Email-to-Case implementations, you now have the luxury of 650 characters in email subject lines. Can you believe the previous limit was 100 characters? That’s less than Twitter.
- Report on Knowledge Users (2,840 points) No more will you need to maintain a (gasp) spreadsheet of your Knowledge users.
- Ability to create custom lookup fields on the activity object (21,400 points) - A long awaited feature and a step in the right direction. This idea was merged with 23 others leaving no doubt there is more work to be done.
- Make Audit Setup Trail History available via the API (2,740 points) - Remember when you used to “screen scrape” the page and paste the values? Those were fun times.
Reports and Dashboards
- Allow more than 3 columns in dashboards (83,340 points) - Here at last, and yes, it is only available in Lightning Experience, but who isn’t licking their chops for future dashboards that fill those sexy new widescreen monitors?
- Global Search without Enabling Chatter (6,150 points) and Turning off Global Search in Winter Release should NOT turn off Chatter (2,940 points ) - Global Search and Chatter have been surgically separated so you now can enable one or the other, or both. This allows companies the flexibility they need to satisfy their end users and conform to internal policy.
Every Salesforce release is enhanced through great suggestions such as these. Do you have some favorites that we didn’t mention? Please feel free to comment below, on the Salesforce Success Community, on our Facebook page, or directly at me on Twitter @sfdcclicks.
Lightning Experience and many other features were dropped as part of Winter ‘16, and we’ll look into some of the features that developers will love with this latest release. A few of these features are iteratively built upon gems from the Summer ‘15 release, and others are brand new as part of this release. A quick note, this post does not feature anything about Lightning Experience, and purely focuses on platform enhancements.
Choose Test Options for Change Sets
Deployments are becoming easier for developers over the past few releases. Summer ‘15 brought the Quick Deploy functionality after a successful validation. Winter ‘16 allows for further fast-tracking with the ability to specify which tests run during validation or deployment. For larger organizations with lots of test classes, this can speed up a deployment to a minute, as opposed to waiting 30 minutes in larger, complex orgs to receive results. But be careful, this can potentially introduce logic to an org that can have nasty side effects.
Customize Trace Flags and Debug Levels in Setup
Debug logs are no longer capped at 20 instances for a given user. With Winter ‘16, developers are able to specify a time period over which debug logs should be collected. Salesforce sets a cap at how much data from these debug logs can be held. This is particularly helpful for troubleshooting scenarios that occur infrequently and are not easily reproducible, as well as for any API integrations that are leveraging the same user with high transactional volumes.
Trace flags and debug levels are also defined as “records”, so when defining a debug log, developers may tailor their logs to a per category. Developers often are aware of where a specific issue occurs, and by tailoring logging levels are able to get around the noise of irrelevant logging categories.
Declaratively Create Custom Metadata Types
Custom Metadata Types are an awesome feature from Summer ‘15 that allows developers to include and deploy data that supports the application. This is a nice change, as previously developers used Custom Settings and were required to load data to support their applications in each environment. A downside during the entire release period for Summer ‘15 was that the only way to create these records was via the Metadata API; this is not particularly helpful for developers that support administrators or wish to make quick changes during development. With the Winter ‘16 release, Custom Metadata Types are able to be created declaratively via the UI.
Web Services integrations require an endpoint and authentication details. Prior to Winter ‘16, these could be defined as Custom Settings or within a Custom Metadata Type, though it didn’t make it particularly easy to manage these integrations. Named Credentials is the silver bullet for this, allowing developers to maintain their integration endpoints without the pain of managing these within Custom Settings.
Named Credentials are great for handling the single authentication use case, and are also helpful for per-user authentication. Users can define their own credentials, allowing for this data to be stored alongside the named credential, as opposed to storing the data in a Custom Setting or as fields on the User object.
Audit Fields and Inactive Owners
While these two features are paired together, there is a beneficial impact from the ability to update records with inactive owners. Handling these cases in code can be a bit frustrating, especially when the logic should succeed regardless of whether a record owner is active. Removing this constraint allows for getting around data issues that can result from process gaps with deactivating users.
Being able to set audit fields without creating a case with Salesforce is also helpful for migrations and integrations that require legacy or third party system data to have the appropriate creation and last modification dates and users. This is still only available when creating records via the API, but at least it is no longer restricted to a specific timeframe for longer term use cases.
Lightning is the big news of Winter ‘16, and it does have some implications for marketers, but first let’s take a look at Pardot and Marketing Cloud. These products are not exactly on the same release schedule as Salesforce, but it is still a good time to explore their progress in the perspective of Salesforce’s overall evolution.
Journey Builder is now very cozy with CRM functionality. You can launch a customer into a journey based on updates on their Salesforce record (called entry events) and create Salesforce records like cases and opportunities inside Journey Builder. It seems so obvious, but hits on an important aspect of how businesses are evolving. When the customer is the center, marketing pros are ever more engaged with the activity of sales and service, and tools that empower this model are key to success.
Marketing Cloud is also positioning itself for a real leg up on other marketing tools by offering integration potential with big time advertising networks for display advertising, going way beyond the social network and Google integrations that have become standard fare. Now you’re going to say, who cares about banner ads anymore? I’ll tell you who—someone who has the power of all their CRM data behind interactions with the ever more sophisticated advertising options offered by top notch ad networks. From my perspective, though, Active Audiences seems a little too good to be true. I’m eager to see how well customers are really able to leverage this tool and if it can keep pace with the wild world of advertising.
Now, I love Pardot for a lot of reasons, but I will admit its Salesforce connector isn’t perfect. The good new is that it is on a consistent path to improvement, and with Winter ‘16 the syncing speed has vastly increased. Also, as of this writing, Pardot just came out with much needed bidirectional syncing enhancements optionally allowing field values to ‘win’ based on last modification, rather than a broad stroke choice between Pardot and Salesforce. I know I will be turning this one on ASAP! Great steps in what I’m hoping will be a series of upgrades to make these two tools as seamless as possible.
If you’re a regular Pardot user, you will already be familiar with some of the features being announced in the Winter ‘16 release notes, such as variable tags to dynamically personalize email messaging, and the ability to have Prospects created automatically when an Lead/Contact email is added to Salesforce. You’re also, I’m sure, enjoying that nice widescreen email editor.
Also, if you are using the Engage product, it’s no longer an “all or nothing” choice when it comes to logging email activity. Syncing Engage emails is a separate setting in the connector, meaning you can choose to log just these, not log these, or log both these and Pardot marketing emails. Considering the often troubling proliferation of Activity records when you choose to log Pardot emails, this is a very welcome piece of functionality.
Where would a Winter ‘16 blog post be without mentioning Lightning? Here it is with some words of caution. First, Salesforce Campaigns are not yet available in Lightning. I repeat, Campaigns and Campaign members are not in Lightning. This means if you are using these features, say, with Pardot (or on their own) and turn on Lightning Experience, Salesforce will toss you back into Classic when you try to access the object tab or a record. Hopefully we are not more than a release or two away from having these very important and widely used features available in the Lightning Experience.
Also, mass email is not available in Lightning, and emailing and email templates are turned upside down. Lightning Email is not available on all objects, including custom objects and those that are not yet supported in Lightning. Email templates you created in Salesforce Classic can’t be used from within Lightning Experience, and Lightning Experience templates are exclusively custom HTML (that’s right, no letterhead, no Visualforce, not even plain text.)
This is going to be a big shakeup but I think ultimately the email experience in Salesforce will be more consistent with how we experience email in other aspects of our work and lives as it progresses. As marketers, don’t panic; start taking stock of email templates you control for your organization and look at this as an opportunity to upgrade brand consistency and the overall look and feel of the emails coming out of Salesforce.
Also, you can easily switch back and forth from Lightning, so if you want to get a taste of the new experience you can still turn it on, you just need to switch back to Classic to work on things like campaigns. Make sure your administrator and the Salesforce decision-makers at your organization know and understand the implications for campaigns and emailing before turning on Lightning for users.
Overall, I see progress toward empowering the marketer to harness all of the goodies of Salesforce with rapidly evolving tools that serve a customer-centric philosophy. I am really looking forward to what comes next with Lightning, Pardot, and Marketing Cloud.
If you are thinking about becoming a Salesforce Certified professional you are very much in luck. Salesforce offers an overwhelming number of resources for you to take advantage of to help you tackle certifications. Here are some resources that we have used to have our entire organization achieve the certifications.
It may seems obvious, but the official Salesforce Study Guide should be your number one source for studying. It helps to convert the Exam Outline into an editable document to add notes under each objective as you study. Prioritize study efforts based on the highest weighting percentage and make sure to really focus on those areas.
Practice Exams and other Resources
Be careful when using non-Salesforce resources that provide “dumps” or exam questions which can be outdated or just plain wrong. By trying to take shortcuts you will not only be doing a disservice to yourself, but it is also not fair to others in the community who have earned their certifications. There are some trusted online tools that can be used to supplement what you have learned.
Practice exam quizzes are very useful because they help identify any weak areas where you should redirect your attention to. These exams also help you become familiar with the format and wording of the questions on the actual exam. They are also a great resource to gauge how overall prepared you are. If you are getting at least 90% of the answers correct that is a good indication that you are ready to take the real exam.
To really make sure you have good understanding of concepts it helps to look at the material in a variety of ways. Try to read up on all the documentation available through Help and Training first and then look at all the videos regarding the subject on the official Salesforce Youtube Channel. Getting hands-on and playing around in a dedicated developer edition org is very beneficial.
Trailhead is an amazing tool that can really help by testing your knowledge, and serves as a fun and interactive way of learning through modules and projects. Also, don’t forget the great Salesforce workbooks which serve as an excellent guide and provide very detailed directions. If you are more of a group learner, you can always sign up for Salesforce training or turn to the community and join a Study Group. It also does not hurt to take a look at the current release notes to make sure you are familiar with any new features.
To make sure you are retaining the material you have worked so hard studying for, it is important to put these skills into practice. Apply what you have learned to real life business use cases. Also make sure you give yourself enough time to study. Trying to cram will just stress you out and you will most likely forget much of what was studied if you even pass the exam. Another way to make sure you retain information could be by occasionally checking Trailhead for new modules to keep your skills fresh.
On your mark, get set, go!
Don’t just study without giving yourself a deadline or a goal to work up to. Once you are ready to become certified the first step is scheduling the exam! In the words of Jason Atwood, “the only way to to pass the exam is by taking it”. If you take the exam and just happen to fail do not be discouraged and do not wait too long to retake it. You can schedule a retake exam after 24 hours of receiving your results. Being a Salesforce Certified professional has it’s own benefits. Studying smarter will not only help you pass the exams, but it will also expand your knowledge as you explore features you have never used before.
Hopefully this information helps you on your path to becoming certified. I would love to hear about other studying methods that have helped you pass the exams by understanding concepts and not just memorizing answers.
There is no better way to keep the lightning striking after an amazing Dreamforce than with the Winter ‘16 release. We are treated with 450 plus pages outlining Lightning and other new and enhanced Salesforce features and functions. If you missed the first three parts of our review series, feel free to check out our Rapid Reaction, Service Cloud and Financial Services blogs. In this part we dive into the world of the Sales Cloud. Here are some Lightning and Non-Lightning features every sales team should be excited about and why.
Lightning Experience - Opportunity and Lead Workspace
A sales rep is constantly reviewing where Leads or Opportunities are in a pipeline and assessing what needs to be done to move them to the next stage. The Lead and Opportunity Workspaces do just that by providing a visually guided experience while you work through your Lead or Opportunity stages. At each stage in the Sales Path you are presented with important information about the Lead or Opportunity along with potential tips and reminders. Key demographic and related information such as contacts, products, and notes are consolidated on the screen and via the composer so you can quickly log calls, create tasks, events, and send emails. It is truly a one stop shop for Leads and Opportunity management and another step in the direction to create a more efficient and intelligent CRM.
Lightning Experience - List Views
As someone who lives in list views and the Forecast tab, combining the two into one screen would be awesome. The new enhanced lists views accomplishes this by allowing you to quickly switch to the Opportunity Board. The Opportunity Board provides you most of what the Forecasts tab does with a visual representation of your pipeline by stage along with drag and drop functionality allowing users to easily move Opportunities to a new stage. In addition, Salesforce give you the ability to search for lists views and visualize list view data in vertical bar, horizontal bar, or donut charts. You do lose some functionality here with no inline editing or the ability to Chatter follow but the good outweighs the bad. I would assume Salesforce will continue to enhance this and would see these functions back shortly over the next few releases.
Account Insights is a nice news feature that provides 20 news articles that help to keep you up to date on your accounts and industries of focus. Salesforce leverages Data.com and other third party vendors to provide the articles and prefilters the news to avoid spam and inappropriate material. Insights can be viewed on the Home Screen where articles relate to recently viewed accounts and opportunities and on the Account Record Detail Page where they relate to the account, industry and executives. You cannot add or change the news sources but the good news is you are getting Data.com content without the need of a Data.com license. The results can be a little off but it is a great step in the direction of a more intelligent CRM. Let’s see how it evolves over the next year.
Here are a few quick ones that are worth mentioning.
- Faster Dupe Check in Lightning Experience: When using Data.com Duplicate Management prior to this release, your duplicate rules ran only when you tried to save a record. Now, they run as you complete fields on a record, so users don’t have to continue entering data for a record that’s already in Salesforce.
- Outlook Sync: Salesforce for Outlook now supports Windows 10 and allows you to sync your contact’s home addresses along with the ability to view Salesforce records related to recurring events from the side panel.
There are many other enhancements in Winter ‘16 which might be of interest to you. I would recommend you take a look at our other blogs as mentioned above as well as skim through the release notes to see if anything else catches your attention.