The Chrome Plugin Every Admin Needs

As an admin in a Salesforce org that has enabled Chatter, one of my biggest pet peeves is this: when I search a user and click on their name, I go to the Chatter user profile, rather than to the user detail page. Unfortunately, 10 times out of 10, I want the user detail page! And every time, I am forced to click through to the user detail page from the Chatter profile.

There must be a place to set a default for this… oh, there isn’t? Fine. (grumble grumble grumble)

But then came this fine Chrome extension!

It’s free. It’s the easiest thing you have ever used. And from now on, when you click on a user’s name in your search results, you will be taken directly to the user detail page. Share it with every admin you know!

Are you ready for Dreamforce?

I intended to blog months ago about prepping for Dreamforce, but everyone else did a great job of that, so I thought I’d skip it this year. And then our little Portland user group had an awesome “Dreamforce tips” meeting… and it was so awesome and information-packed that I just had to share some of the great tips from that meeting, from my fellow bloggers, and yes even from my own overloaded brain.

You’ve signed up for a million sessions. You’ve triple-checked your flight time and hotel reservation. You’ve got a “look into this while you are there” list from your boss. But are you ready for Dreamforce? Here are a few final bits of advice…

Packing:

If you’ve been checking out the Dreamforce Chatter feed, you may have seen this Forbes Style File article. Very nice! If you are leaning toward the dressier side of things, they have some great suggestions.

And then there’s Force Behind the Force, one of my favorite blogs, with some advice on what not to pack. Direct quote: “Go for comfort over dressy.” We can’t say it enough.

My advice is a combination of those pointers: so when you pack, think about what you intend to accomplish.

  • This year, I am attending Dreamforce to absorb information like a fired-up student. I will be among the most casual folks there. And if you are a jeans and t-shirt person, you will not be alone.
  • If you are 1) networking, 2) presenting, 3) looking for a job, or 4) manning a booth on the expo floor, you need to look nicer than I will! Dress it up a notch. Replace sneakers with some cute, flat-heeled boots and you can still be comfortable.
  • Be sure to check the weather forecast before you pack – and bring things that you can layer, because it can get warm and crowded in the sessions but will cool down considerably at night while you are party-hopping.
  • Last but definitely not least: when you get tired of reading about what all us girls are packing, think about actual necessities. Brent’s “What’s in My Dreamforce Bag” list is brilliant.

Checking In:

On-site registration and check-in is located in Moscone West, Moscone North, Marriott Atrium and the lobby level of Hilton Union Square, during the following hours:

  • Sunday, November 17 (2 – 6pm)
  • Monday, November 18 (7am – 8pm)
  • Tuesday, November 19 (7am – 7pm)
  • Wednesday, November 20 (7:30am – 6pm)
  • Thursday, November 21 (7:30am – 3pm)

They tell you in the confirmation email: “Beat the lines and pick up your badge on Sunday!” They are not kidding. If you get to town during those hours on Sunday, check in as soon as you can, even if you have to do it before you go to your hotel.

Electronics:

You won’t want to carry your laptop around all day, so leave it in your hotel room. If you have a tablet, bring that instead, or just take notes the old fashioned way with pen & paper. And don’t forget to bring all of your chargers!

Be sure to download the Dreamforce app – I’ve got it on my Droid and so far it looks great! It is also available for iPhone.

Twitter gets crazy during Dreamforce! Follow @salesforce and @dreamforce, and follow/join the Dreamforce conversation at #df13.

Want more apps? Check out the Admin Hero’s best app list.

Transportation:

San Francisco has incredible public transportation. Take BART into town from either SFO or Oakland airports, and consider getting a Muni Pass for the week – very useful for checking out neighborhoods and restaurants that are not within walking distance!

During the conference, shuttle buses and pedi-cabs will be provided by Salesforce to get you to and from all of the locations of the sessions. Be sure to tip your pedi-cab driver!

If you’ve never tried Uber… well, you must try Uber. Unfortunately for me, it doesn’t exist in Portland – but in San Francisco, it makes every visit so much better! It’s like a combination of a taxi and your own personal towncar & driver. You create an account online with your credit card, then download the app to your smartphone. When you need to get from Point A to Point B, you use the app to order a car, and they tell you the name of your driver and when he/she will arrive. You don’t need to pay the driver because your card is charged for the ride. Best. Idea. Ever.

Luggage:

On the last day of Dreamforce, check out of your hotel and leave your luggage with the front desk, or you can check it at Moscone. You don’t want to be worrying about hotel check-out during the morning sessions. And be sure to leave a little room in your bag for the books and swag that you will most likely be bringing home with you… or a lot of room if you plan on taking advantage of the amazing shopping!

I hope these tips help you just a little next week. Have fun, learn a lot, and be safe!

So You Want to be an Admin…

Most experienced Salesforce admins did not set out with that goal in mind. Most of us fell ass-backward into it, enjoyed it so much that we stuck with it, and voila! A career happened. But the massive growth of Salesforce.com has attracted a lot of attention, and as their customer base expands, so does the need for admins and consultants. I’ve been asked, “How do I become a Salesforce admin?” quite a bit lately, and it has made me realize that the next generation of admins will most likely pursue that path, rather than stumble upon it by accident. Future Salesforce admins, this one is for you!

1. Determine what you want Salesforce to do. Do you have a full understanding of CRMs and all that they can do? If you had your own company, what would prompt you to seek out a CRM? If you don’t know business processes and how they can be improved, you can still become a Salesforce admin. However, business analysis is a large part of Salesforce administration, and without that part, you run the risk of making decisions which do not support core processes.

2. Sign up for a developer org. The best way to learn anything is by doing. Start by signing up for your own developer org – don’t be intimidated by all of the “developer” stuff on the page, it’s just a free Salesforce environment of your very own. You can create records, customize it, and try out anything you are curious about. Even if you already work for an organization that uses Salesforce, it’s best to try out your new skills someplace where you won’t affect real data (think flight simulation training for pilots – makes sense, right?). Once you’ve got your developer org, go right to the next step…

3. Read Salesforce.com for Dummies. There’s no need to struggle through Salesforce in the dark like I did, back in the days before admin blogs and certifications. This book will cover the basics and save you a lot of unnecessary searching. Of course it can’t keep up with all of the latest features – however, it contains enough basic information to still be very useful, just be sure to get the latest version.

4. Play! There are some exercises in Salesforce.com for Dummies, start with those. Create some data in your developer org. Create some imaginary users. Create custom fields, change page layouts around, and see what it looks like. Think about step #1 – business processes – and come up with a hypothetical business need that would require Salesforce customizations. While you are experimenting, click the “Help for this Page” link that is in the upper right of each page – this will take you to the help documentation for whatever object you were on, but it also has a complete list of help topics on the left for you to browse.

5. Watch some videos. Every year, there are hundreds of sessions at Dreamforce, many of them targeted at admins of all experience levels. Check out the Dreamforce YouTube page and watch the ones that look interesting to you.

6. Join the community. Salesforce has one of the best user communities I have ever seen. Ask questions, check out ideas that other people have posted (many of which were turned into features), and search for help on anything and everything.

7. Go to Dreamforce. If you or your employer can afford it, I highly recommend going to Dreamforce. It can be overwhelming, but go with a plan and you will come back with some great knowledge. I wrote a blog on Dreamforce preparation last year that you should check out beforehand. Oh, and you’ll want to make your hotel reservations now. The hotels nearest to the convention center are already full!

8. Keep learning! Having been a Salesforce admin for almost six years, I can say with absolute certainty that there will always be more to learn. And I’m sure I will be able to say that in another six years. Keep digging and learning – I find that when I begin to get bored, it means it’s time for me to try something new. Check out the Chatter workbook, the Analytics workbook, the the Security workbook – lots of fun stuff in there! (Where do you think I get some of my blog ideas?) Look into certification – you can take the admin training class, or you can just study like crazy and take the exam. And when you feel like you are really up for a challenge, start reading the Force.com Fundamentals book, and going through the exercises in your developer org. That was one of my favorite learning experiences!

I hope this is useful info for all of you new and soon-to-be admins out there! Please feel free to comment if you have additional advice.

Oh and last but not least… read my blog. Duh.

New and Improved: Opportunity Teams

I was never a fan of Opportunity Teams (previously known as Sales Teams), because they didn’t do anything that I couldn’t accomplish with sharing. But in the Winter ‘13 release, teamwork took on a whole new meaning when the Opportunity Team became its own object. If you have multiple people working on an opportunity who have different roles and different access needs, then you should be taking advantage of this awesome, super-improved functionality! When properly customized to fit your business needs, your users will find the level of detail much more useful than before. And as an administrator, you will be able to add custom fields and validation rules – just as you would with any other object.

To get started, go to Setup | Customize | Opportunities | Opportunity Teams | Settings, check “Enable Team Selling” if it’s not already checked, and click Save.

You will then be given the option to select which of your opportunity page layouts to display opportunity teams on.

Once you do that and click Save, your customization sidebar will contain a new list of options for opportunity teams.

The opportunity team object will contain some standard fields already, such as User (lookup), Team Role (picklist), and Opportunity Access (picklist). Depending on how your users relate to an opportunity, you may want to add values to the Team Role picklist. It comes with several default values, but I added a few of my own:

You may also want some custom fields – for instance, I added a “Product” field that is a lookup to the product object. If your opportunities contain multiple products, this is a great way to show which product each team member is responsible for selling. I also added a “Department” picklist.

When you create custom fields on opportunity teams, it’s helpful to add them to the multi-line layout as well as the page layout, so that when new team members are added, all information can be entered at once. To do this, go to your opportunity team member page layout, click Edit, and then select the “Edit Multi-Line Layout” option up at the top.

Then move your new custom fields from the left to the right:

You will most likely also want them to show up on the opportunity’s list of team members, so you will also need to add them to the related list on the opportunity.  To do this, go to an opportunity page layout, click Edit, and then select the wrench icon on the opportunity team related list.

Again, move your new custom fields from the left to the right:

Once you have moved your new custom fields over, you can update that related list on other opportunity layouts – before you click “OK,” scroll down and you will see the “Apply column information to other page layouts” option. This saves you the trouble of editing the same thing on every layout.

Now you are ready to add team members to an opportunity! Scroll down to the Opportunity Teams related list, click Add, and start adding users. If you need to make sure that only certain users have specific roles, you can also create validation rules on the opportunity team object to ensure data accuracy. For instance, I created rules to make sure that only users in the Legal department could be assigned the “Contract Approver” role, and only users in the Finance department could be assigned the “Discount Approver” role. (Another good option is to have your custom fields populated by a trigger.)

Click Save, and that’s it! Now you have a more complete look at the function of each member of an opportunity team.

There are many more ways to make use of this new object. Use multiple page layouts if you need varied levels of security – just as you would with any other object. Create custom report types with just the fields that you want your users to see. And create default opportunity teams  or clone opportunity team members to make the process faster.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Workflow rules cannot be created on opportunity teams.
  • Triggers and validation rules are not supported when default teams are added to an opportunity.
  • An opportunity team cannot be the primary object in a custom report type (I recommend using Opportunities, then include Opportunity Teams).

For more detail, refer to the Help and Training documentation.