Blog Posts

My Salesforce Resolutions for 2017

It’s time to get carried away setting some ambitious goals for the new year. Make sure to include some Salesforce goals among your resolutions this year.
My Salesforce Resolutions for 2017

My Salesforce Resolutions for 2017

Another year has passed.  Time for some good old fashioned New Year’s Resolutions.  I’m sure many of mine are the same as yours.  Give something up I’m addicted to, at least for a bit: coffee.  Learn something new to impress my kids: sleight of hand.  Sign up for a race I may regret: Ragnar.  Those are all fine and good, but I’m also going to focus on upping my Salesforce game in 2017.  Here’s the plan.


Blaze a Trail

Trailhead has proven its worth time and again.  It’s the Salesforce way of providing training to anyone who cares to know more, push their skills, or dive into the platform for the first time.  This year, it’s all about the Superbadges.  If it doesn’t say super in front of it, I’m not interested.  Specifically I aim to complete the Apex Specialist, Lightning Experience Specialist, Reports and Dashboards Specialist and Security Specialist all in 2017. What’s that you say? Typical unrealistic New Year's resolution hogwash?  I guess we'll see about that.  


Embrace the LEX

Part of the reason the Lightning Experience Specialist Superbadge made the list above is the fact that I have deliberately avoided the, not so new, Lightning Experience (LEX) from the get-go.  Early on, it resembled what Salesforce might look like in a fever dream about overthought UIs and fixing things that aren't broken. For the most part, things have improved, but how much is yet to be ‘experienced’. I’ve been encouraged by my coworkers to give it a shot, so here I go.  I’ll agree, not only to nab the Superbadge, but spend some real one-on-one time with the LEX in 2017. It may be slower, but it’s the future. Mr. Benioff says so.


Drop Some Answers

My last resolution is to answer at least one unanswered question from the Success Community every week this year. The Answers section of the Salesforce Success Community is exactly what it sounds like- a place to ask questions and get answers from active Salesforce users.  Not only is it a great place to get your questions answered, you can also give back to the community by taking the time to answer questions from other users.  One of the key skills of being an effective consultant is to quickly get to the root of a problem. Reviewing and attempting to answer questions from the community challenges you to interpret the perspective of the user asking the question.  Often you’ll be forced to make some pretty hefty assumptions about their org in order to provide an answer or better yet come up with the right questions to ask in response that will lead to the best solution. For admins that are only accustomed to thinking in terms of their own orgs, his would also be a great way to start seeing solutions that are outside the paradigm of that environment.  Plus it’s very satisfying to spread a little knowledge.  


These are my Salesforce resolutions for 2017.  For me keeping up with the Salesforce world is essential to my livelihood. Maybe you’re the same, or maybe you’re new to this whole can of worms. Regardless take a moment to find some areas where you know you can take your skills to the next level.  You won’t regret it.


Have you made any ambitious Salesforce resolutions this year? Why not? Share them with me on the Arkus Facebook page, in the comments below, in the Success Community, or to me directly via Twitter at @jpbujold

Cloud Computing Predictions for 2017

For the 7th year in a row, it is time to throw all caution to the wind and make predictions for some cloudy things to happen in 2017.
Cloud Computing Predictions for 2017

Cloud Computing Predictions for 2017

Looking back on my predictions for 2016, I was off more than I was on. Hulu did well against Netflix but didn't overtake them at all. Apple didn't get as far into original content as I thought. Maybe I get a half point for the DraftKings and FanDuel merger but lose points for the new Apple Watch that showed up and my longshot which didn't happen.

Predictions abound, so once again I will make my predictions with confidence points.

Salesforce Buys Learning Management System

Nobody would argue that Trailhead isn't great. It is. In fact, it has taken over the branding of the entire company. Bears are attacking server rooms and everyone is going back to the woods. That being said, it isn't a true learning management system and currently is a black box of functionality that nobody but Salesforce can play with. I predict Salesforce buys another company for their LMS technology and staff to bring Trailhead to the next level as a product and with customized trails and badges.

Confidence: 7

Movies Come Home

The movie industry is in a crisis. TV is getting better and better, while the movie experience seems trapped in the 90s, but with more goggles, bigger popcorn, and texting. There has always been this cycle of releasing a movie into theaters, then premium places like hotels, then DVD, cable, etc. What has been missing is the ability to watch the movie the day it comes out, at home. This is coming in 2017. It will cost a little bit more, but you will save on the crappy popcorn and screaming two year old behind you kicking your seat.

Confidence: 10

Apple Releases a Dot

Predicting Apple's new product releases is a little tricky. I have done it before, very badly, but keep on trying. Now with Google Home and Amazon Echo Dot, it seems like there is a missing piece in the Apple home product line. I am predicting Apple will release a Dot-like piece of hardware, shaped in a sphere (an apple anyone?) that has a speaker, and Siri is always listening. It will be accompanied by a great Jony Ive video, and I will buy one.

Confidence: 6

Longest Shot: Amazon Buys Slack

Someone has to buy Slack right? Right? Why not Amazon? Well, all the obvious reasons about them not being in the corporate communication space and that there are much better suitors, but that is why they are predictions. Amazon swoops in and buys Slack, as a way to start building their enterprise software business, and it works. Within 10 years, we are all using Amazon Work to get things done.

Confidence: 2

Do you have some predictions of your own? Head over to the Success Community, post them on our Facebook page or directly to me on Twitter @JasonMAtwood.

Arkus Pro Bono Day December ‘16

With over twenty four clients at our NYC HQ, Arkus hosted it’s third, most well attended Pro Bono Day yet.
Arkus Pro Bono Day December ‘16

Arkus Pro Bono Day December ‘16

In addition to our popular break out sessions with our team of project managers, Judi Sohn, Tricia Bergsma, and Tyler Woebkenberg from Salesforce.org and Salesforce.com all volunteered their time for their 1:1:1 model and conducted two workshops highlighting the features of the Nonprofit Success Pack and Wave Analytics.

Nonprofit Success Pack with Judi Sohn of Salesforce.org

Judi Sohn from the Technology and Products team at Salesforce.org provided a demo and general overview of Nonprofit Success Pack. Previous to joining Salesforce, Judi worked for a nonprofit and therefore understands and sees each nonprofit as a unique snowflake that has it's own unique requirements. In her current role, she serves over 30K organizations utilizing Salesforce and works on community programs, strategic grants and Pro Bono programs.

Nonprofit Success Pack (formerly known as Nonprofit Starter Pack) continues to offer open flexible data architecture for every nonprofit. NPSP offers the key building blocks for constituent and donor management. Some other key features include grant management, prebuilt customizable reporting and analytics, program and volunteer management, and is social and mobile ready in eighty countries. Some of the newest features include Lightning Experience, matching gifts, honor/memorial, partial soft credits, in-kind gifts, engagement plans (updated action plans), levels, as well as translations for Spanish, German and Japanese languages.

One very important and exciting new feature is the fact that you can now link engagement plans and levels together. For example, if you create a platinum level engagement plan in order to engage and track, as soon as the calculation runs from gold to platinum, tasks are auto assigned and you no longer have to manually monitor and plug in a new engagement plan.

For more resources you can visit the Power of Us Hub, where you can access a community of over 29K users with over 7K posts per month. 99% of questions posted get answered and weekly office hours are offered. The NPSP Group has over 14K users, and if you need more support, you can visit Github for open source code information.

Wave Analytics with Tyler Woebkenberg of Salesforce

Tyler Woebkenberg, a Solutions Architect with the Analytics Cloud team at Salesforce also generously donated his time and provided a demo and illustrated the real time capabilities of the various tools and benefits of Wave Analytics.

Wave Analytics is a Salesforce visualization platform that offers built-in dashboards, reports, and endless options to filter information for a more collaborative data rich analytic experience. With Wave you are able to leverage both Salesforce data and external data in ways you haven’t been able to before. For example, Wave can be linked to a social media feed and create reports.

Tyler featured RED, a foundation that makes it simple for people and businesses to join the fight against AIDS. With Wave, RED has been able to illustrate to corporate partners how portions of product sales go to The Global Fund and understand what has happened from the beginning. The number of people living with HIV can be shown and how many deaths have been averted due to the work of RED. Tyler was able to show how over years, the new estimates of HIV infection are falling.

Wave Analytics can be purchased with as little as one license at a heavily discounted rate for nonprofits. You can also access the free Wave iOS app for the iPad and iPhone and Trailhead provides a free developer org so you can try it out as well.

Our Arkus Pro Bono day is so much more than sharing information and helping our clients. It’s about spending time together face-to-face to allow for more helpful collaboration and exchange of ideas. At Arkus we believe in educating and empowering our clients, and this day is one way we share in the mission and principles we live in our practice everyday.

What have you done in 2016 to give back? How have you utilized NPSP and Wave Analytics to further along your organization? Please feel free to comment below, on the Salesforce Success Community, on our Facebook page, or directly at me on Twitter @SCarabetta1.

End of Year Salesforce Administrator Checklist

Getting your Salesforce organization ready for the new year.
End of Year Salesforce Administrator Checklist

End of Year Salesforce Administrator Checklist

For some of us the end of the year is a slow time where we have a chance to catch up on little tasks and make fancy frosted cookies for the office. For others, this is crunch time, be it with salespeople scrambling to meet their numbers or keeping up with the donations pouring in from the stellar end of year appeals crafted by your non-profit’s marketing team. Regardless of what the season brings for you, as a Salesforce Administrator you will want to make sure your organization is in tip top shape for the coming calendar year.

 

Reports and Dashboards

By best practices, I always try to use relative date ranges in reports, such as THIS YEAR or THIS MONTH, especially for reports that are scheduled. But there are circumstances in when this is just not possible, or when other aspects of a report need to be updated to reflect a new year’s criteria. This also comes up when guage components are used to show goals on dashboards. If you’ve kept your reports and dashboards well organized in folders and with a clear naming convention, it should be easy to find and identify what needs to be updated. If not, this is a great time to do some organizing. The end of the year is also a good time to use your admin superpowers to run a report on reports that includes the ‘last run date’ and clean up items that are no longer in use by moving them into a staging folder to consider for deletion if no one asks for them back in a given period of time.

 

Communication Templates

Whether its workflow email alerts using Salesforce email templates, perfectly optimized html templates in your favorite marketing software, or templates leveraged by an integrated document generation tool, you will want to make sure your collateral is up to date and ready for any changes coming in the new year. This could simply be a reference to the year itself in the text, or to pricing, or marketing content that becomes magically inaccurate as of January 1. Be proactive with stakeholders in each department to make sure you’re aware of anything you’ll need to update based on changes they are planning. Who knows how you’ll be rewarded for your smart thinking. (Did I mention cookies?)

 

Products and Pricebooks

Pricing is often one of those things that changes year to year, and products are added and retired at this convenient breakpoint. Get ahead of this one, because if your organization's pricing structure is complicated or you are using a Configure Price Quote (CPQ) application in conjunction with Salesforce to handle pricing and quoting, updating this could be a multi-step process. Engage sales leadership early to ensure you don’t get a panicked call on January 2nd while you’re still coming out of the cookie coma.

 

Give the Gift of Salesforce

While you’re thinking about all of the things you can do to get ready for the new year, also take a moment to think about the people who make your job so much fun--the users! Are there some cool features from the Winter 17 release you haven’t quite got around to rolling out yet? Other bits and pieces of requests that have been sitting in the development queue? Something you learned about in Trailhead and are excited to implement? Spend some time in the sandbox putting together a nice little present for your users to release early in the new year. Nothing like a fresh start with some welcomed new functionality to remind everyone that you’re always working to help them work better.

 

Do you have anything to add to the end-of-year admin checklist? Are you planning any special presents for your users in 2017? Please feel free to comment below, on the Salesforce Success Community, on our Facebook page, or directly at me on Twitter @ifitfloats.

Sharing Knowledge About Being A Salesforce Sharing & Visibility Designer

Salesforce has revamped it’s certifications for technical architects. They now comprise of different levels of certification that span a wide variety of skills and specializations.
Sharing Knowledge About Being A Salesforce Sharing & Visibility Designer

Sharing Knowledge About Being A Salesforce Sharing & Visibility Designer

These are called domain specialists. The Certified Sharing and Visibility Designer Certification is a specialization that I like to focus on and will drop a little bit of knowledge here to hopefully help anyone who reads this to obtain this certification.


Sharing and Visibility go beyond Profiles and Roles these days in Salesforce. There is a lot to know about under the covers of how to share and essentially hide pertinent data from specific users at any given moment. I’ll describe what I did to prepare for this certification as I armed myself with the knowledge necessary to now call myself a Certified Sharing and Visibility Designer.


Profiles and Roles - Still the King and Queen


Despite what I wrote just one paragraph above, at the end of the day visibility and sharing are largely responsible for what a user in Salesforce can do and what they can see. I like to think of it as a large Excel sheet. The rows in the sheet are records in Salesforce. The columns represent the fields on a given object. The profile acts as a hammer in some cases and the org-wide defaults + role hierarchy act as the scalpel. For example, if a user’s profile says they can “view all accounts” and your sheet is full of accounts then the user will see every row. Their profile may also state that they’ll never ever see data in column H. Even though the user can see every single row, they’ll never see whatever it is in column H.


Here is where things get a little more interesting. If the profile isn’t the hammer and just states that a user has Read access on Accounts then we rely a little bit more on our defaults and our roles. By default if accounts are set to private then the user would be able to see Accounts that they own and only ones that they own (or are owned by someone below them in the hierarchy - more on this shortly). Simple so far… Let's introduce roles into the scenario. Roles act as a hierarchy, the higher up the hierarchy the more data the user will see. This is where things get really fun. You can share data with users at the top of the proverbial food chain by putting them higher in the role hierarchy. This is one very simple way of executing, though not always resulting in, the outcome that you are looking for.


Org Wide Defaults and Sharing Rules


Continuing on the above example, if someone isn’t supposed to be setup all the way up at the top of the hierarchy just to see Accounts, because perhaps they should only see accounts of a certain type, we can create criteria based sharing rules. These add to the already existing default of private; used to open up privacy to more records based on criteria on a record that is evaluated when a user clicks on the record. Records can be shared based on most things about them and can be shared with Roles, Roles & Subordinates, or even Public Groups. Public Groups add a finer level of flexibility (this is why the sharing is the scalpel in our scenario). A user can be a member of one and only one Role yet they can be a member of many more public groups. Roles can even be nested inside of Public Groups to create an Uber Role if you will. Creating visibility using a private model and public groups is a fantastic way to streamline visibility.


Overwriting Everything for One User


Permissions Sets have long been a favorite feature here at Arkus. They mimic most of the permissions that are available on a Profile but can be assigned to specific users as additions to their existing permissions. Sometimes you will have one or two users who need access to everything. You can create a Permission Set with View All Data at an object level or dare I say Modify All Data at an org wide level to give these types of permissions to very special and specific users at any time regardless of their Role, Profile, or public group membership.


Apex Sharing


For the daring and extremely complex sharing requirements, sometimes you have to resort to Apex custom code to write sharing rules. These are often extremely complex sets of business rules that require custom sharing records to be written on certain records based on criteria that cannot be written in a simple WYSIWYG fashion. For example - if a user is an owner of a record that is related to an Account via a junction object, then give them Read Only access to the Account when otherwise they wouldn’t have access at all.


I’ve Shared Lots of Knowledge


Now that you are armed with all of this knowledge perhaps try to take the next step and go for the Sharing and Visibility Designer certification. If you were to focus on the basics as I’ve laid them out here then you are likely about 75-80% of the way there. Understanding how data is shared or hidden within Salesforce is key to having a secure environment where users have a excellent experience and management get the proper piece of mind that data isn’t visible to everyone while also having the proper visibility set for themselves.


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