2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa has 296 steps to reach the top. This blog was viewed about 1,000 times in 2010. If those were steps, it would have climbed the Leaning Tower of Pisa 3 times

In 2010, there were 15 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 5 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 554kb.

The busiest day of the year was August 5th with 70 views. The most popular post that day was Top 10 reasons to go to Dreamforce ’10.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were twitter.com, forcemonkey.blogspot.com, buttonclickadmin.com, hitztvshows.com, and linkedin.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for amber neill, dreamforce dress code, what to bring to dreamforce, salesforce admin questions, and dreamforce swag.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Top 10 reasons to go to Dreamforce ’10 August 2010
2 comments

2

Packing list for Dreamforce ’10 September 2010
3 comments

3

Documenting Custom Apps with ScreenSteps August 2010
1 comment

4

Code for Cookies August 2010
3 comments

5

iContact for Salesforce September 2010
1 comment

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Dreamforce ’10 Tweetup

Don’t forget about the Dreamforce ’10 Tweetup!

Here are the details:

  • When: December 6th from 6pm to 9pm
  • Where: The Press Club, 20 Yerba Buena Lane, San Francisco, CA 94103
  • Who: YOU!
  • Please RSVP here so we know you’re coming!

I can’t wait to meet everyone there!

Winter ’11 – a haiku

Rather than outline the finer points of the new features that came out with Winter ’11, I wrote a haiku.

winter eleven
a welcome gift from the cloud
administrators rejoice

Apologies to all my English teachers and real poets everywhere!

If you’re looking for a “real” blog post about Winter ’11 here are some of my favorites:

And then there were three

I’m 1/3 of a three person team.  We became 3 in June and the addition of a third person caused some friction.  I suppose that was to be expected, but I don’t think any of us expected the level of friction we’ve experienced.

As such, we’ve had a series of meetings to come to an agreement on how we’re going to operate as a group.  Here are just a few of the questions we’ve had to answer in order to become a team.

  • How does work get to us?
  • What constitutes work?
  • How do we prioritize work?
  • How do we document work?
  • How do we plan?
  • How do we account for break/fix work in our planning?
  • How do we track dependencies on other departments and teams?
  • How do we remain transparent to the rest of the company without double entry of tasks?
  • When is a unit of work ready to be worked?
  • When is a unit of work done?
  • Who’s responsible for collecting requirements?
  • What form do those requirements take?
  • How do we track work?
  • How do we keep each other accountable without hurt feelings?
  • What role does management play?
  • How do we celebrate our successes and learn from our failures?
  • What is the definition of an “all hands” scenario?

I’m sure there will be many more meetings and we’ll end up iterating.  The whole point is to begin to come to consensus on these issues.  Wish us luck!  🙂

iContact for Salesforce

I have worked for iContact for over 5 years and have been a Salesforce Administrator for almost 2 years. Both products, and companies, are very dear to me.  Combine the two and I’m in Saas heaven!  My two favorite software colliding into a mass of awesome!

Earlier this month we released iContact for Salesforce to the Appexhange.  I got to be involved in the early conceptual designs and gave more than one “Salesforce 101” talk to our development teams and managers.  As development progressed, I was less and less involved (I have a day job!), but I still kept abreast of what was happening.  Hell, I got to built the first few iterations of the dashboard and the fake data for the demo at Dreamforce ’09!

As the product grew, I has the pleasure of being a resource for the development team, support team, and account managers as they got up to speed.  We held “lunch & learn’s”, classes, hallway conversations, and about 87,000 meetings.  It has been a delight to work with these folks.  I can’t wait to be involved in the next iteration.

So, I ask that you visit our listing on the Appexchange.  Read up how awesomely integrated it is. Check out the screenshots.  And, if you’re in the market, give us a call. I can promise you that someone awesome will answer the phone!

Packing list for Dreamforce ’10

Dreamforce ’10 is rapidly approaching.  This is my first pass at a packing list:

  • Power strip – I made a lot of friends at Dreamforce ’09 by bringing a powerstrip.  I kept it in my backpack and whenever I landed in a session I whipped it out.  Instant popularity!
  • Business cards – Bring lots!  You will meet lots of great people.  All of whom will want to remember you later.  Help them remember by having a business card handy!  Be sure to have a place to put their business card too!
  • Old call phone chargers – You probably have a couple in your junk drawer at home.  Someone will need to charge their phone and you can be a hero by having a spare.
  • An empty bag – This is for all the stuff you’ll come away with.  Heck, ship it back to yourself if you can’t stomach the airlines’ bag fees.
  • Swag requests – Co-workers will LOVE you for finding their favorite desk toy (Blinking pens?  Chattering teeth?  Anyone?  Anyone? Bueller?)
  • A jacket – San Fran can be chilly and so can the session rooms.  Bring a jacket!
  • Chocolate chip cookies
  • A sense of humor – The lines for the coffee can be long.  Sessions can be overcrowded.  The keynote is likely to be PACKED.  Be willing to laugh off the logistic gymnastics the Salesforce folks had to go through to get 20,000+ people together!
  • Walking shoes – Screw looking great, the Moscone Center is big and so is San Fran. Don’t get caught in uncomfortable shoes!  Your feet will thank you.

In a similar vein, here are some things to leave at home:

  • Personal space issues – You can’t put 20,000+ people in a building and not be crowded.  Can’t be done.  Be patient with each other!
  • Delusions of getting enough sleep – Last year there was at least one after-party each night.  You will be tired, but the people you’ll meet and the fun you have will make it all worth while.  Besides, you can sleep on the plane ride home!

What will you be bringing to Dreamforce ’10?  What did you bring last year that you should have left at home?

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!

Code for Cookies

Photo by D Sharon PruittI’m not above bribery.

Earlier this month I had a really pressing need for a count of all Activities related to a given Opportunity.  My goal was to use this count as part of a calculation for prioritizing Opportunities.

Well, it turns out, us button-click-admins can’t do that kind of thing within Setup.  You have to be able to code a trigger.  Boo!

So, I put my thinking hat on.  What motivates coders?  Food!  Specifically baked goods!

I posted this in the Salesforce Community on 8/3/10:

I would like to have a field on Opportunities (for now, Cases later) that is a count of Activities.  I know this isn’t possible via the UI, but I’m hoping some generous coder out there will take pity on me and share the appropriate code.
I’m happy to bribe you with baked goods if that will help.  🙂

Thanks!

Amber

Ten short days later my plea was heard by Kevin Swiggum.  He wrote a fantastic blog post with the helpfully commented code, enlightening commentary and, best of all, the triggers are bulkified!  Swoon!

And all for the love of chocolate chip cookies!

Where on the org chart do Administrators fit?

I have lots of tweeps who are Salesforce Administrators.  In title, or job description or both.  We are a feisty lot with strong opinions.  I’m can’t wait to hear how they weigh in on this one.

In what department should a Salesforce Administrator work?

I suppose the quick, easy answer is “it depends”.  If the organization is large and only one or a few of the departments is using Salesforce, perhaps it makes sense for the Salesforce Admin to work for the department in question.

If, however, the organization has adopted Salesforce in many, if not all, departments, it probably makes more sense for the Administrator to report up through the IT organization.  Me and my teammates are in this category. (We each have our own specialities.  I came to my role from the Customer Service side of things.  Our Analyst comes from a Sales and Marketing background.  Finally, our Developer comes from an IT world.  Between the three of us, we can handle anything!)

Here’s where I get controversial! On some level, this type of decision comes down to corporate culture.  Is the IT team in your organization responsive to the needs of the business?  Can they leverage the flexibility and extensibility that Salesforce offers to meet the ever-changing needs of the business users?  If not, then the administrator role should probably live outside IT!

The only way a Salesforce Administrator can do right by the business is if they are unconstrained by titles and org charts.  They have to be able to push back on even the most hardened and crusty VP.

VP: “I want a checkbox on this page and I need it yesterday!”

Administrator: “No, I’m not going to put a checkbox there.  The process is broken and needs to be reworked.  Let’s do that instead.”

How does this work in your organization?  Please fill out this unscientific poll and weigh in via the Comments.

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!

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