Blog Posts

Risks of Self Implementing Salesforce

A look into some of the risks associated when deciding on whether to self implement Salesforce.
Risks of Self Implementing Salesforce

Risks of Self Implementing Salesforce

As an implementation partner, we are asked questions about why we are needed. Why do we need you to implement Salesforce for us? Isn't it a system that doesn’t require code? Yes, Salesforce is a system that does not require code to be written, and yes, you do not need a computer science degree to implement it, but it does require learning. Salesforce provides a ton of resources and a community of folks who are willing to answer and help with your education on the platform. But, if you do not have the time or willingness to invest in that education, you risk the possibility of an unsuccessful implementation.  Before you decide on which route to go, please consider the following risks of self implementing.

Time Cost with Experience

The effort required to implement may not require someone’s full time job, but it will require an allocation of time that will impact a person’s ability to do their typical responsibilities. Something will need to be sacrificed or delayed in order to do this the right way.  The lesson here is even though you have someone on staff who has experience with Salesforce, it doesn’t mean there are no costs.

Time Cost without Experience

If you decide to self implement and do not have experience, it is highly recommended that you have the person you tasked to implement attend training. Add up the person’s time spent at training, the time implementing the solution and the cost of training and you might be spending the same amount or more as if you hired an implementation partner. Unfortunately if you don't get training and begin self implementing, then realize you're in over your head, you may still end up needing to hire an implementation partner. And in that scenario, they may find they have to do extra work to undo some of the mistakes you've made which could cost you more.

Extended Timeline

As a consulting firm that has completed more than 700 implementations, we have become quite efficient at it.  Even the simplest implementations will take longer then 6 weeks. Odds are the person you designated to take on the task will not have as much experience as the company you could hire to implement. This will lead to potential stops and starts due to time needed to research how to build out the solution. If this person isn’t fully dedicated to this project, you will see delays when they have to stop to handle those fire drills you deny will happen.  Any which way you slice it, the implementation will take longer than if you hired a consulting firm. Lesson learned, be prepared to double the timeline if you choose to self implement.

Poor Adoption

This might be the biggest point to drive home. Whenever you apply any kind of change to an organization, it takes emotional and physical effort. If the implementation is not done properly, you risk poor adoption. If the configuration does not meet the needs of the organization or training isn't done in a way the users understand, they will push back. That leads to distrust of the system, and even if you were to try and right the ship by hiring a consulting firm to fix it, the distrust may be too much to overcome to make it a successful implementation. It will take strong leadership and a strong Salesforce Administrator to properly help the user base get over the hump. The lesson learned here is to ensure the implementation is set up properly and training is well executed to meet the needs of the users; otherwise you risk poor adoption.

There are some key considerations before making the decision to self implement.  It is doable, but you need to realize that it will take proper planning, training, and costs in both dollars and time. Once you have a grasp of the cost, weigh it against the faster option of hiring a partner before making a decision. Feel free to run it by your Account Executive, that is what they are there for. Please feel free to comment below, on the Salesforce Success Community, on our Facebook page, or directly at me on Twitter @Salvatoriello.

Customize Your Chatter Feed with Streams

How a small quality-of-life change in Chatter can make a big difference to your Chatter feed and your inbox.
Customize Your Chatter Feed with Streams

Customize Your Chatter Feed with Streams

We’ve all wished we could organize our Chatter feeds into something a little cleaner and more organized. Wouldn’t it be great if I could just see posts from my top accounts in one view? Or focus only on my team’s activities for the day? Well, like an Ikea storage bin, Chatter streams will help you stay organized, bring more clarity to your life, and maybe even some digital hygge. But only if you’re using Lighting Experience (sorry Classic users, no hygge for you).

What’s a Chatter stream?

With the Summer ‘17 release for Lightning, we’re now able to combine Chatter feeds from any object, Chatter group, or user into one feed, called a “stream.” Up to 100 can be created, combining 25 different feeds, and viewable only by the creating user. Let’s go through some hypotheticals to see how streams can improve our lives.

Let’s say you’re an Account Manager, and you want to focus on your top accounts. You’ll create a new stream called My Top Accounts and add feed items for any account, contact, case, or opportunity record associated with those top accounts to the stream. Any post on your top account, across multiple objects you’ve specified, will appear in a single view.  

Or perhaps you’re a manager and you want to keep up with the activity of your team. You can create a stream called My Team that shows any new posts from users that you specify. Now you don’t have to click on each of their user records and scroll through; it’s available in one single view.

You can also set up email notifications for these streams, so that any time a new post appears, you get an email. So you can adjust those notifications for posts you don’t necessarily care about. Fewer emails, better sense of well-being. Hygge.

How do I set it up?

Streams are already enabled if you are using Lightning Experience (again, if you’re still using Classic, you won’t be able to use streams).

Go to your Chatter tab in Lightning; on the left pane, you’ll see Streams and a “+” to the right of it. Click the plus button, and a new window will appear. Name your stream in the first field, called Stream Name. Next is Records to Follow; in this field you’ll see a drop down to the left, where you can select from any standard or custom object, Chatter group or user. If I select People, I can then start typing “Jason,” and a user in my org named Jason will appear in the dropdown of selections. I then select Jason, and any posts by him are added to the stream. In the same box, I can also select other members of my team, an object, or Chatter group 



Under that you will see Notify Me, with the options Never or Every Post. This determines your email frequency for this stream. Click Save.

Voila, I have a Chatter feed that will show me posts by Jason and the other records or people I selected.

Alternatively, if you’re on any record that you can follow, you simply click Follow, and you will see a dropdown. You’ll have the option to either add that record to a stream you’ve created, to your What I Follow feed, or there is an option to create a new stream directly from the menu.



And that’s it. Very intuitive and easy to set up, no? That being said, it would be even easier if we could follow records, and add them to streams, directly from a list view. As such, I’ve created an idea on the IdeaExchange, for you to upvote!

Welcome to the Future

Chatter Streams is a great example of a small quality-of-life update, exclusive to Salesforce Lightning, that I think we will continue to see more of. You may be concerned about switching to Lightning, but Salesforce will continue to make it more and more appetizing, to the point you’ll have to search for reasons not to migrate over. And who doesn’t want hygge?

Have any thoughts on Chatter streams? Mad I mixed Swedish (Ikea) with Danish (hygge) at the top? Feel free to comment below, on the Salesforce Success Community, on our Facebook page, or directly at me on Twitter @djordanwebster.


Family GTD

A look at incorporating Getting Things Done (GTD) into your family life, from significant others to offspring.
Family GTD

Family GTD

Since Justin and I are doing an entire GTD summer series on CloudFocus Weekly, I thought I would add another twist, talking about doing GTD in the family. Loyal listeners of the podcast will know that I talk about getting my wife and child involved as part of my GTD journey, so here are some of the lessons that I have learned.

A Little GTD is Better Than No GTD

One of the challenges of someone who has the big “ah-ha” moment in GTD is it becomes one of those things you want to share. Sharing is caring after all. Right? Well, not always. Sometimes sharing and oversharing and talking about something constantly can get friends and family to be less interested.  When trying to get your friends and family into GTD, think of it as a long journey that might not just start with “read the book.” My suggestion is to start with success and go from there. So when your significant other remarks on your new found calmness, or what a good mood you are in after your Weekly Review, point subtlely to GTD, giving it all the credit. If they show interest, maybe start them on David Allen’s 20-minute TEDx talk on YouTube. This is a great intro and isn’t as time consuming as reading a 300+ page book. If 20 minutes is too much, try the two minute GTD overview video. If all else fails, maybe point them to this blog post.

Keep It Simple

My lifelong mission to turn my wife and daughter into GTD black belt masters is a great goal but maybe not as realistic as I once thought it was. I have found that if I make some very small suggestions during the right times, they eventually start to take. For example, I have been working with my 12-year-old daughter on just doing some very basic capturing of things to do during the week. A daily todo list, if you will. We review it together, make sure it is complete, and off she goes to do the things she needs to do. We had the same talk about homework from school; write it down in the planner, review it daily, and prosper. My spouse of 14 years is way past capture at this point, so I moved onto the 2-minute rule (if it can be done in 2 minutes, do it instead of writing it down). Once that had stuck after a few years (yes, years) we worked on calendar management and how those are hard landscapes that need to be reviewed at least daily, and in advance once a week. It is amazing how a well-organized calendar can keep a family in sync

Be Tool Agnostic

One thing that I have found in my ten plus year GTD journey is that the tool you pick both matters and doesn’t matter at all. While I believe that a good tool (hint hint OmniFocus) can get you to that black belt, for the casual GTD practitioner the tools can be overwhelming. For my daughter, we started digital but it just became too distracting, so we went back to good old fashioned pen and paper. For my wife, who might love her iPhone as much as me, the built in Apple Reminders app was good enough. She can capture quickly, review them wherever she is, and is just one tap away from #Done. David Allen has been very consistent in proclaiming that his system is not about the tool; it is about the mindset, and for the family members, this rings very true.

Enjoy The Journey

The last point to spreading the GTD love in your family is make sure not to push it too fast or too hard. It might be frustrating that you are enjoying so much success with your new productivity, but like any new-found passion, not everyone is going to come along for the ride. Think of your family members as passengers on a very long journey, one not measured in days but in years or decades. The key is to let them discover their own levels of success with the system and incorporate the parts that they feel comfortable with. If they have small wins, embrace them. If they slip now and again, gently remind them they have a better way. One of the many beautiful things about GTD is that the principles are timeless and pretty universal; they will work today, tomorrow, and when my daughter is telling my grandkids about her GTD practice <fingers crossed>.

Do you have some family GTD stories, tips or hints? Drop them in the comments below, on our Facebook page, in the GTD group in the Success Community or directly at me on Twitter @JasonMAtwood

TrailheaDX - Is This Dreamforce For Developers?

TrailheaDX is a great addition to the Salesforce event calendar, focused on developers and with lots of great content. Several exciting announcements came out of the conference. Overall, I think it could focus a bit more tightly.
TrailheaDX - Is This Dreamforce For Developers?

TrailheaDX - Is This Dreamforce For Developers?

The last week of June saw around 6,000 Salesforce professionals descend on San Francisco for the second annual TrailheaDX. The conference took place on the upper floors of Moscone West, rather than sprawling all over the SOMA and Union Square areas of Salesforce’s home town, as Dreamforce does. But the space still had a familiar feel, with Salesforce product booths, partner product booths, several theater areas for sessions, and lots of Trailhead swag to be earned.

Exciting Announcements

The conference bills itself as the “must-attend developer conference of the year,” but in doing so is using Salesforce’s expansive definition of “developer,” from skilled admins who take advantage of the declarative tools the platform provides to serious coders. Within the coder group, there are those with experience writing Apex, Visualforce, and Lightning Components, as well as those who are new to the platform and have experience in other development environments.

There were several product announcements during the keynote, with follow-up sessions that were very coder-focused. The first was three new APIs that give developers access to parts of the Einstein AI platform. The biggest “wow”-factor was the Einstein Object Detection API, which builds on the image recognition of the Einstein Vision API that’s been available for a little while. This facilitates identification of individual objects within an image. Einstein Vision itself is very cool - there’s a Trailhead Project that walks you through using it to identify breeds of cats from images.

I was more interested in the Einstein Sentiment and Intent API announcements, which start to bring natural-language analysis and interpretation to the platform. The Sentiment API classifies text strings (think Chatter posts, Case comments, or even Tweets) as positive, negative or neutral. This could be used to escalate the cases of very angry users, or to find good customers to reference from their positive feedback. The keynote provided the least information on the Intent API, but I’m looking forward to exploring more; we’re working on a project now that could really benefit from some natural-language processing to help community users find the content they’re looking for.

For coders, the way that we work and the tools we use are sometimes almost as important as the platform, languages, and their features. The announcement of the public beta of Salesforce DX (Developer eXperience) was directly targeted at coders and development teams. It has three main components:

  • A new command line tool that works with tools developers are already using to manage and deploy their source code to different Salesforce environments. 
  • A new way, using this command line tool, to quickly create and use “scratch orgs,” short-lived Salesforce orgs with different configuration parameters to which you can deploy and test your code.
  • A new version of the IDE that takes advantage of both of the above features.

Managing multiple developers working on different functionality for the same production org has been a challenge, and these features seek to make this a lot smoother. There are also some potentially interesting applications for tech-savvy, command-line friendly admins, to foreshadow a future blog post.

As I selected my breakout sessions, I was mostly focussed on Lightning Component development and Salesforce DX in my selection. In some cases, that broad range of attendees at a “developer” conference made it difficult for presenters, especially in the 30-minute theater sessions, to really provide the deep dives I was hoping for. A session on “Data Access Control for Apex, Visualforce, and Lightning” spent way too long for my tastes covering the basics of object CRUD, field-level security, and sharing, leaving too little time to cover how the different platform languages treat the data access definitions.

On the flip side, a session about becoming a “command-line ninja” with Salesforce DX skipped right over all the standard use cases for the command lines tool and covered writing your own custom plugins to the command line tool using NodeJS. It is an interesting topic for the right audience but wasn’t what I was hoping and expecting to learn.

I did learn a ton about developing with Lightning Components and was especially grateful for a roadmap session that spelled out (with lots of Forward Looking Statements) how Lightning development is going to be improving over the next several releases.

Does this replace Dreamforce for developers?

This was a question that a number of people I spoke with had in mind. After all, two trips to San Francisco a year is an expensive endeavour, and we all want to get the best advantage for our time and money.

The smaller size of the conference and the greater availability of some key Salesforce staff, like product managers and engineering team leads, is a big plus for TrailheaDX. On the flip side, the speakers were nearly all Salesforce staff, with a few partner product sessions, and less than a handful of community-presented sessions. The opportunity to learn from my professional colleagues, in a session setting rather than hallway conversations, was the thing I missed most in comparison to Dreamforce.

The overall amount of content available, at the level I sought, is actually about equal between the two events. It’s nice to be able to focus exclusively on developer content at TrailheaDX, but I think most of what I attended will be similarly presented at Dreamforce. At the end of the day, I was extremely grateful to be there, and it left me very much looking forward to Dreamforce in just a few more months.

Were you at TrailheaDX? Did you love it? Agree or disagree with my characterization? Share your stories and questions with me on the Arkus Facebook page, in the comments below, in the Success Community, or to me directly via Twitter at @tet3.

Salesforce Path Evolution and Best Practices

This post delves into Salesforce Path functionality from where it began to present state.
Salesforce Path Evolution and Best Practices

Salesforce Path Evolution and Best Practices

“The path to success is to take massive, determined action.” - Tony Robbins

Let’s travel back for a moment to the Spring ‘15 release, for that was when the Sales Path functionality came to fruition. Sure, it was only available using Salesforce1, but it certainly was a game changer. Our own Jason Atwood wrote a great post — Sales Path Implementation Tips & Tricks that introduced the feature.

On the Right Path

Jump ahead to Winter ‘16, somewhat hidden behind the introduction of the monumental Lightning Experience release, a community-submitted idea to make Sales Path available for desktop use became a reality. Closely aligned with customized stages defined within the Sales Process, organizations could visually guide users along a determined path to success. Have multiple Sales Process? No problem, you can easily create a Path for each. Record types? Got it covered; roll out a Path per Record Type as needed. Displaying only the fields that matter and including guidance, such as tips and details about policies or pricing, it simplifies the process and helps establish a standardized approach for success.


What’s Changed?

Subsequent enhancements have made it easier for Administrators to manage the Sales Paths, exposed them to Partners, renamed the tool Path, and added the capability to use it for Quotes and custom objects. Throw in Kanban, and you have a visual smorgasbord; we’ve come a long way baby!

PathFor Project Custom Object

Take a Step Back

It all begins with having a clearly defined and documented process. As noted in the Salesforce Getting Started Workbook, it’s critical to capture your sales process when you are just getting started. Don’t be put off by the “selling” terminology in the workbook; instead focus on the critical steps in your process. If you haven’t put them on paper, now is the time. It need not be fancy-schmancy either. What is important is that you capture the step-by-step activity performed by your team end to end. A good webinar for reference is “Business Process Mapping for Salesforce Admins.” Watch and identify what the tools are that work for you and your organization. I’m a fan of the SIPOC diagram,along with a simple bulleted document that captures each step in the process.

process mappingSIPOC

And a Step Forward

Let your imagination run wild; the great news is that Path can provide your team invaluable guidance, while holding everyone accountable for both documenting and streamlining your processes. Once you have the process nailed down, start here to begin building out the experience. We are all looking forward to seeing what you come up with, and remember the sky’s the limit. Have some fun!  

“If the path be beautiful, let us not ask where it leads.” - Anatole France

Do you have any cool examples of your own?  Want to share your experiences or opinions? Please feel free to reach out on the Arkus Facebook page, in the comments below, in the Success Community, or to me directly via Twitter at @sfdcclicks.