Weather for Dreamforce

Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 3.10.28 PMDreamforce is coming up very soon!

I need to pack weather appropriate clothes, but the forecasts don’t reach that far into the future.

Also, I’m a fan of charts and graphs (shocker!).  What tool could I use to get the info I need?

Enter Wunderground Trip Planner! This tool allows me to specify a date range and an activity. I picked Walking because, well, I always do a lot of walking at Dreamforce. Check it out here.

Now I know, at least on average, what I can expect. Yeah internet!

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It’s never too early to prepare for Dreamforce!

Dreamforce

Dreamforce is coming! As you’ve seen from the Road to Dreamforce ’14 folks, there’s a lot going into the event. So, how do you get ready for Dreamforce? Whether this is your first or 9th Dreamforce, you must prepare for the awesomeness. Here are some pointers.

Mental Preparation

It is said that attending your first Dreamforce is like drinking from a fire-hose. Yep, that’s about right. That’s not to say that your 2nd, 3rd, or 4th are any different! Every year there are new announcements from Salesforce, new partners, new events, new people. The best outcomes of Dreamforce are the connections you make and the lessons you take back home. Be ready to take it all in, but don’t expect to be able to take it all in the week of. It won’t happen…it can’t happen! There’s simply too much awesome.

Pointers:

  • Make a list of people, partners, and Salesforce employees you’d like to connect with.
  • Settle on a note taking strategy that works for you. Some folks haul around laptops and use Evernote live. Some absorb in the moment and re-watch sessions on YouTube after the fact. There’s no right way, but pick a way and stick to it.
  • Because you can’t see it all, get comfortable with the fact that you’ll miss some cool stuff. It sucks, but that’s just the way it is. Sorry!

Physical preparation

This year, like in years past, the Dreamforce campus is HUGE! This is a blessing and a curse. Blessing in that you’ll walk off all the fabulous San Francisco food you’ll be eating. Curse in that if you don’t have comfortable shoes, your feet will hate you.

Be very cognizant of what you decide to carry around (a laptop, tablet, chargers, etc.). Even the slimmest of ultra-books are unbearable after 10 hours of walking around. Never mind that places to charge devices are at a premium.

Pointers:

  • If your budget will allow, invest in a good portable battery. I own this one and it has served me very well.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. I can’t stress this enough. Don’t worry about being stylist, cute, or professional. Anyone judging you for your comfortable shoes is a jerk.
  • Plan your day-bag. What is a necessity? If you had to lug that bag to an after party would that be horrible? Be very strategic in how much you lug around.

Logistical preparation

For most of us, San Francisco is far from home. Getting to Dreamforce and home again can be half the fun if you do it right! This can be as simple as coordinating flights with fun co-workers or user group friends, or, it can be as complex as taking an RV across half the country. Either way, expect and plan for delays, and know that you’ll have to roll with the punches. Getting that many folks into and out of a city ain’t easy!

Pointers:

  • As soon as you know you’re going, connect with others from your city and coordinate travel.
  • Be willing to share a cab/Uber/Lyft once you get to San Fran. You never know who you’ll meet!
  • Have patience with everyone you interact with. It’ll help minimize your stress and the stress of those around you.

This year, as in years past, Dreamforce will be amazing! I hope these pointers help you have an even better time! See you there!

Local Salesforce Admin Class

Later this year, Durham Tech is offering a class called Salesforce.com for Administrators. The class will be 5 Mondays in November and December 9am – 5pm.

This course is substantially less expensive than most other Salesforce Admin courses and will be taught locally (Durham).

Here’s the Course Description:

Whether you are a new Salesforce® system administrator or have been managing Salesforce for some time, you probably realize that a big part of the job is receiving and acting on requests from management or other Salesforce users to modify the system to meet the needs of the users and the company. The nature of Salesforce is such that there are almost always several ways to accomplish these types of modifications, so how will you know that you’re taking the right approach and really providing the support that is needed?

By completing this course, you will identify information about the five native business processes every company can manage using Salesforce, regardless of the License Edition. You will also gain insight into each of the functional groups of users (Inside Sales, Outside Sales, Marketing, Customer Support, and Management), and you will establish patterns of critical thinking that can help you to ensure that you are indeed taking the right approach and providing the necessary support for each request you receive.

Ultimately, completing this course enables you to be a vital resource for knowing how to configure the system in a manner that also allows the extraction of intelligence needed to measure and improve the company’s key performance indicators.

Here is the official flyer:  Salesforce com for Administrators–Overview

 

Summer ’14 – Delivered!

Summer ’14 is here!

Here are all the Ideas that were included in this release!

Some awesome stuff in there folks!

My personal favorite is the increase in Case attachment size (well, all attachments, but Cases are near and dear to my heart)!

The old limit was 5mb and the new is 5x that! That’s 25mb for each!

See page 29 of the release notes for more information.

 

Taking Ownership – Leads & Cases

Leads and Cases are special things in Salesforce.  They are transactions between your organization and the outside.  In the case of Leads, they are potential business.  In the case of Cases, they are existing customers (usually), asking for help.  Once they are moved through a defined business process they are closed.

Users who are handling Leads and Cases are usually pressured to move through them as quickly & efficiently as possible while being informative and helpful.  This means that these folks are especially grateful when you can automate away extraneous clicks.  Here is one such click-saving idea:

Create a custom Detail Page button which has the following code:

  • Cases:    /{!Case.Id}/a?newOwn={!User.Name}&save=x&retURL=%2F{!Case.Id}
  • Leads:    /{!Lead.Id}/a?newOwn={!User.Name}&save=x&retURL=%2F{!Lead.Id}

I named my buttons “Take Ownership”, but you can call them whatever you’d like.

When someone clicks the button, the owner of the record is changed to that user.

Here is a screenshot of the settings for the Case button:

Case custom button setup

Caveat: This type of URL hacking is entirely unsupported by Salesforce.  They can change URL structures at any time. They never have, but know that this is a risk.

SMS Notifications for Salesforce Outages

Admins have asked for a way to get notifications if/when there is a Salesforce outage (I can’t find the Idea right now.  If you happen to have the URL, please put it in the comments.)  Until now, I had to wait until a user encountered an error, go to http://trust.salesforce.com/trust/status/ and find NA7 in the loooong list.  This works ok for business hours (not ideal), but is horrible at 3am!  I want to be notified if my instance is either in outage or has a degradation.  At last I have a way!

ifttt.com is a new online service that lets you set-up rules for automating your internet life.  Since Salesforce is a HUGE part of my internet life, I use ifttt to let me know if my instance (NA7) is in an outage or has a degradation.

Here’s my recipe: If outage then SMS me.

All I had to do was set-up my cell phone to accept SMS messages from ifttt and tell it which RSS feed to use.  It took all of 5 minutes.

When you sign-up for ifttt, you can use my recipe and/or create your own!  There’s lots of other non-Salesforce stuff you can do with ifttt, but this one is the one that’ll make my work-life easier!

UPDATE: With this weekend’s Winter ’12 upgrade, this recipe didn’t work! 😦  I’ve updated it to remove the “, degradation”.  I think the comma is what broke it.  We’ll know more next weekend as there is another outage on NA7!  Sorry for any confusion!

Counting Case/Leads Per Hour

In most businesses incoming calls are great!  It either means your marketing is working and customers are interested (Leads), or it means you have a chance to impress your customers with great service (Cases)!

The downside is you have no control over when your customers call.  It could be that they call a lot on Monday mornings and not much on Wednesdays.  Or, it could be that lunchtime any day is busy.  How do you figure out how many folks to have available to take calls?

Let’s assume that you only need to know how many calls (Cases) you get coming in per hour.  Let’s also assume that your phone agents are really good about creating a new case for each call as it comes in.  This means your CreatedDate can be assumed to be the date/time the call arrived at your office.

Ok, with those assumptions out of the way, you need to pull the hour out of the date/time field CreatedDate.  Create a formula field (number) with the following formula:

VALUE(MID(TEXT(CreatedDate),12,2))

This formula does several things (from the inside out):
1.) It turns the CreatedDate into a Text string.
2.) It pulls 2 characters out of that string (#12 & #13).
3.) It makes those two characters into a number.

Now you have a formula field that gives you the hour of the CreatedDate.  The only trouble is (and this is kinda ugly), that CreatedDate is in Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

What do you do if you need it in Eastern Standard Time? Or, worse yet, Eastern Daylight Time? Eeek!

Have no fear!  Formula fields to the rescue!

We need another formula field that will be the number of hours to offset.  For example, if I’m in the Eastern time zone and it IS Daylight Savings Time, my offset from GMT will be 4 hours.  If it IS NOT Daylight Savings Time, my offset from GMT will be 5 hours.  I’ll create another formula field (let’s call it DST_Offest__c). Here’s the formula:

IF(
((CreatedDate >= Date(2003,4,6)) && (CreatedDate <= DATE(2003,10,25))) ||
((CreatedDate >= Date(2004,4,4)) && (CreatedDate <= DATE(2004,10,31))) ||
((CreatedDate >= Date(2005,4,3)) && (CreatedDate <= DATE(2005,10,30))) ||
((CreatedDate >= Date(2006,4,2)) && (CreatedDate <= DATE(2006,10,29))) ||
((CreatedDate >= Date(2007,3,11)) && (CreatedDate <= DATE(2007,11,4))) ||
((CreatedDate >= Date(2008,3,9)) && (CreatedDate <= DATE(2008,11,2))) ||
((CreatedDate >= Date(2009,3,8)) && (CreatedDate <= DATE(2009,11,1))) ||
((CreatedDate >= Date(2010,3,14)) && (CreatedDate <= DATE(2010,11,7))) ||
((CreatedDate >= Date(2011,3,13)) && (CreatedDate <= DATE(2011,11,6))) ||
((CreatedDate >= Date(2012,3,11)) && (CreatedDate <= DATE(2012,11,4))) ||
((CreatedDate >= Date(2013,3,10)) && (CreatedDate <= DATE(2013,11,3))) ||
((CreatedDate >= Date(2014,3,9)) && (CreatedDate <= DATE(2014,11,2))) ||
((CreatedDate >= Date(2015,3,8)) && (CreatedDate <= DATE(2015,11,1)))
,(4/24),(5/24))

(Daylight Savings Time is determined by the Congress of the US….so these dates are subject to change.  Here’s the site I used to determine the dates: http://aa.usno.navy.mil/faq/docs/daylight_time.php

The reason this only works for the eastern time zone is the 4/24 and 5/24 in the last line of the formula.  If you need it to work for the Central time zone that last line would look like this:

,(5/24),(6/24))

Now that you have your offset field you’ll modify the first formula to look like this:

VALUE(MID(TEXT(CreatedDate – DST_Offset__c),12,2))

If the call came in at 9am, the field is “9”.  If the call came in at 3pm, the field is “15”.

Now that you have the hour, you can create summary reports and snazzy graphs to impress management!

Happy graphing!

Documenting Custom Apps with ScreenSteps

As an administrator I spend a lot of time teaching. Teaching users how to retrieve a lost password. Teaching managers how to build custom views. Teaching the CEO that not all reports need to be on a dashboard.

While I love teaching my users one-on-one, this often isn’t practical. For example, when I roll out a new app, I can’t be in everyone’s cube walking them through it.

As I’ve mentioned before, we recently rolled out several apps. I was NOT looking forward to creating the training materials. Frankly I was dreading it. I envisioned struggles with versioning the docs, making sure my screen-shots were readable (but not too big) and general fear over the sheer volume of stuff I needed to convey!

Upon the recommendation of one of my Twitter friends (sorry folks, I can’t remember which!), I spent some time investigating ScreenSteps. Well, I’m in love!

ScreenSteps is an amazing documentation creation tool. Aside from the super intuitive UI, you can logically group your lessons into manuals and, depending on your version, put those lessons on their servers. Now, here’s the best part. Once your lessons in the cloud, you can make them available in a web tab in Salesforce!  Swoon!

It took me much less time than I was expecting to create the documentation for my app.  Once it was done, I ran it by my colleagues who (of course) had edits.  Making changes to the documentation proved to be equally easy!  All I had to do was edit the local version and push it to the cloud.  Instant updates!  I am one happy Admin!

Thanks ScreenSteps for making this Administrator’s life MUCH easier!

Learning Salesforce

One of the perks of my job is that I’m the go-to-gal for questions on the innards of Salesforce.  I get asked about validation rules, Chatter, and, my personal favorite, “what the heck is a record type and why should I care?”

Often, co-workers want to learn more on their own.  Sure, I can point them to the Help & Training link, but they want “inside” information.  They want the low down from the folks “in the know”.  I send them the following list:

  • The Salesforce Channel is an amazing resource.  It includes videos of Dreamforce, AppExchange apps, and, best of all, you can contribute your own!  The whole thing is organized by Jeff Grosse (of CRMFYI fame).
  • The blogosphere it always a great resource for learning new things.  I highly recommend all of the blogs in my blogroll.  Let me know if I’m missing any gems.
  • If you’re on Twitter (and you should be), you can use lists to collect tweets around a theme.  Mike Gerholdt has done just that.  Here’s his twitter list of Salesforce folks.
  • Then, of course, there’s the Learning Center.  This is official Salesforce stuff, but presented in a friendly way for those just poking around.

To quote a co-worker: “Salesforce is a never ending rabbit hole of coolness.” There’s always something to learn!

Most Influential Salesforce.com Blogs

A Twitter buddy of mine posted a very well thought out list of the most influential Salesforce.com bloggers.  He used several metrics, which he lays out in awesome detail.

Here is the list for your viewing pleasure.

I’ll be working here to get on the list, then overtake Mike Gerholdt as #1!  Maybe I should pay closer attention to Mike’s tweets.  I am one of his followers after all!

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