planning

  • Winter ’19: Top Sales and Service Cloud Features

    The first release of 2019 is almost here… Yes, I typed that right, 2019!  I was sitting in a meeting today, and we were planning the roadmap out to 2021.  It’s crazy to think…  But as the seasons change, we hit the start of the three-releases-a-year cycle with the Winter ’19 Release from Salesforce.

    winter19 - snowboarding Astro
    Winter ’19 – Snowboarding Astro

    Now I have to admit, I was caught a little off-guard by the release.  It wasn’t until I saw the new snowboarding Astro in a developer sandbox, that I realised I had completely missed the normal pre-release build up. :-O

    Where did the last 2 months go?!

    At least there is plenty of time until Dreamforce 😀

    Is it just me…?

    I struggle to be “wowed” with this release.  Now don’t get me wrong, there are some nice usability tweaks for sure.  And some additional features which do really help make Lightning a more robust and complete user experience.

    But I am left wondering, where is the “Salesforce magic”?

    Maybe there is more to be announced shortly at Dreamforce?  But what about Dreamforce last year?  Where is “myTrailhead” (there is an answer buried in the FAQ)?

    I assume the strategy for this year must be revolving around bedding-in the various acquisitions and general improvements to Lightning Experience.

    Top Features of Winter ’19 Release

    Stepping down from my little soap-box now…  And I will admit there are some really useful and cool usability features coming our way!

    So let’s have a look at the top features focusing on improvements to Sales/Service Cloud.

    Search List Views & Bulk Change Records

    List views have received some attention this release, and now have a cool ‘Search this list’ feature.  Such a simple idea, but I am hooked to using it now in my sandbox environment.

    Winter 19 Release: Search List Views

    You can now also do a number of bulk actions from the list view too, such as selecting multiple records and changing the owner.  This now brings yet another ‘small’ but useful feature from classic into Lightning Experience.

    Enhanced Run Page in Reports (Beta)

    Another cool feature – albeit a ‘beta feature’ – is the new Enhanced Run Page within Lightning Reports.  You can easily adjust what is displayed in the report, without having to edit the report and re-run…

    Also drilling down into a group/column is now a whole lot easier, matching Classic.

    winter19 - Enhanced Run Page in Reports
    Enhanced Run Page in Reports

    Joined Reports in your Dashboards

    Finally!!! Joined Reports can now be used as components on a Dashboard….

    Winter19 - Joined Report as a Dashbaord component

    Forecasts

    From memory it has been a little while since the last touch-up to Forecasts.

    Winter 19 will bring a number of new features, including the ability to now forecast by territory.

    Email tracking for your Sales and Service users

    In Lightning you can now track email responses, seeing if the email has been opened.  And actually displaying this information back in the Activity Timeline within Lightning, presenting this back in a way that is easy to view.

    Winter 19 - Email Tracking

    Live Agent Setup in Lightning

    You will now be able to setup Live Agent in Lightning Experience.  Another small thing, but one less reason to have to switch back to Classic!

    Bonus: Flow Builder

    So although not technically part of the Winter ’19 it was announced alongside the Winter ’19 release…  Early next year (likely Spring ’19 release), we will have a new Flow Builder.  Which will get a much-needed redesign.

    Removing the dependency on Adobe Flash is a huge benefit and one of the things I am most excited about.  It feels like every second day, I have to update Flash before I can then use Flow Designer.

    Salesforce's new Flow Builder
    The new Flow Builder… Coming soon!

    Wrap Up

    So aside from me being a little jaded, there are some nice usability features being added in this release which add a bit more flesh onto Lighting Experience.  (And if you haven’t migrated to Lightning yet, what are you waiting for?!)

    There are a lot of new features overall to the platform, and I am not sure if it is just the sandbox instance we are using or if it is the release… But Lightning Experience does feel a bit more responsive overall too.

    What are your top features?  Have I missed something?  Feel free to tell me / yell at me in the comments 😀

    Resources

    Other resources to help get #releaseready with the upcoming Winter 19 release.

    Salesforce Official resources:

    And the blogosphere:

  • Spring ’18 Deep Dive: GDPR Features

    Simple put, GDPR is inescapable for those dealing with individuals within the EU.  In the last post we took a look at what GDPR is and how to start preparing for it.  Additionally, within the next month we also have Spring ’18 release going live.  So the good news is there is a number of GDPR features included to assist Admins prepare…

    Recap: What is GDPR?

    General Data Protection Regulation, otherwise known as GDPR, is the new privacy regulation coming into force in 2018.  It will replace the EU’s previous Data Protection Directive, and align privacy laws and regulations across all EU member states.

    Part of the GDPR is the retention and removal processes re: personal data after a period of time.  Companies should only retain personal data for as long as needed.  So for example, if you have contact details of a person which is linked to contract data you may need to retain it for 7 years.  Versus simply having a contact on a mailing list, retaining the data for this long may not be justifiable.

    For more details, take a look at my last post for the what/when/how of GDPR.

    GDPR: Be Prepared

    GDPR is ultimately an update to a number of data/privacy regulations across the EU.  But the easiest place to start for most companies is to map out and understand the following: 

    • where your data comes from. (eg web-to-lead, email-to-case, data.com, users entering in the data),
    • how it gets used/stored. (eg are there integrations which also use the data, is it stored outside of Salesforce, are records stored in standard and custom objects within Salesforce),
    • what business processes which clean up or remove data. (ie how long does your company need hold onto personal data for (and for what purpose)? Is there already a process to remove personal data?)

    Once you understand there where, how and what of your data, you will then understand where the following features and changes may help and support you.

    Spring ’18 & GDPR Features

    Salesforce Data Privacy Record - aka Individual Record
    A sample Salesforce Data Privacy Record – aka Individual Record in Spring ’18 Preview Sandbox (click to view full image)

    Data Privacy Records (aka Individuals)

    Spring ’18 release brings with it a new setting under Company Profile within Setup.  The setting to enable Data Protection and Privacy, will expose the new object ‘Individuals’ within your org.

    This new object connects to either a contact or lead record within Salesforce to store data privacy settings for that person. So for example you can store the customer’s preference re: soliciting products and services.

    A key note here is that in the preview instances of Spring ’18, Individuals it isn’t treated like other objects and doesn’t have a standard tab available to access the object.

    But a gentle word to note before we go through how to set this up.  As with any changes to a production system, it will require planning before setting this up to ensure it works for your processes.  A number of these changes below may also require assistance from a developer or changes to your marketing platform via API.  This is not entirely a point and click setup…

    1. Activate the feature within Setup

    Lightning: Setup -> Company Settings -> Data Protection and Privacy
    Classic: Setup -> Company Profile -> Data Protection and Privacy

    This will expose the new Individual object, with the standard fields within your org.  Most of these fields are created for the purpose of tracking opt-out requests and personal preferences.

    Some examples include:

    If a contact opts-out of geo-location tracking, you can store that preference here.

    You can even store the D.O.B of the person and indicate if they are considered a minor or not.  (You might need to do this as minors carry different standards for elements like data retention under GDPR.)

    And good news is you can also add custom fields to this object if you wish to.

    2. Update Page Layouts

    Add field to relevant page layouts on contact & lead objects.  Salesforce also suggests to rename the field label from ‘Individual’ to something more meaningful to your users.

    3. Existing Contacts/Lead Records

    There is a code-based solution to create data privacy records for existing contacts & leads within your Salesforce, which also includes code for handling person accounts.

    I won’t go through the code here.  But if you are interested, you can take a sample of the code here.  Remember you will need to execute this somehow (ie start the code running), so you may need help from a developer friend(s).

    4. New / Changes to Preferences

    Finally, you will also need to plan how new records get managed within Salesforce.

    Will an Individual record be created when a contact or lead is created?  What about field updates / etc?  Do you do this via a trigger in Salesforce or via API from your email platform?

    And what do you get at the end of this?  A new record of course … 🙂

     

    bad data quality ahead

    Data Quality & Duplicate Jobs

    GDPR features in Spring also come in the form of expanded functionality.  Spring ’18 release provides an update for its out-of-the-box duplicate management to allow Admins to run a duplicate job.

    Previously matching rules would run when a record was being added or updated by a user.  This would then either alert the user or block the user, depending on how the Admin had set it up.

    But in Spring ’18 release, us Admins can now run a “Duplicate Job“.  This allows you to use (or create) a matching rule and then run a search within Salesforce to find duplicates.  Once a Duplicate Job completes, you will be able to take action by comparing and merging records, right from the summary page.

    Duplicate Job within Spring 18 release
    Duplicate Job within Spring 18 release.

    Changes to Web to Case and Web to Lead

    Spring ’18 release also brings another GDPR feature.  This time there is a slight update to how failed Web-to-Case and Web-to-Lead emails are handled.

    When a Web-to-Case and Web-to-Lead fails an email is generated automatically to advise.  This email will no longer include any personal data inserted by a third-party application.

    Data.com for UK/Ireland Contacts

    This only impacts users who are using Data.com Prospector or Clean.

    Data relating to contacts stored within Data.com Connect (only UK & Ireland) will now be removed from the Connect database.

    Also the Clean Status field on a Contact/Lead records will be changed to ‘Not Found’.

    Wrap Up

    As you can see there is a lot to cover, and Salesforce is enabling businesses to become GDPR compliant with all the GDPR features in Spring ’18.  There is still more to read in the Release Notes for Spring ’18 if you are using other tools like Pardot, Inbox or a developer (specifically around Event Logs).

    There is support at hand, and if you haven’t already I would strongly recommend completing the Trailhead modules setup for GDPR Basics (and there is also a trail for US Privacy Basics too).

    Additionally Salesforce has a new section in the Help for Data Protection & Privacy.

    And finally there is a basic scenario guide, which looks at a number of common requests and suggested actions/things to consider to be compliant under the various privacy laws (including GPDR).

  • GDPR for Salesforce Admins

    There has been a lot of attention surrounding GDPR.  But what is it?  Why does it matter?  How will GDPR affect your Salesforce?  What responsibilities do you have as a Salesforce Administrator?  And what can you do to prepare?  So many questions!  In this article we take a quick look at these questions and some additional resources available to you, when preparing for this change.

    What is GDPR?

    First up, let’s take a look into what exactly GDPR is.

    General Data Protection Regulation, otherwise known as GDPR, is the new privacy regulation coming into force in 2018.  It will replace the EU’s previous Data Protection Directive, and align privacy laws and regulations across all EU member states.

    It is primarily aimed at giving individuals more control over how their data can be collected, used, and stored.  While also extending the rights of individuals to have their data removed/deleted.

    One key point to note.  Even though this is obviously applicable for all EU countries, it may also apply to any business which deals with personal data of an individual within these countries.  So if you are in USA, India or even Fiji – but dealing with personal data from an individual living within the EU – GDPR will still apply.

    When will GDPR take affect?

    The legislation will take affect from the 25th May 2018.

    What is ‘personal data’?

    Another thing to consider is how GDPR will redefine what is considered to be ‘personal data’.  Overall the definition has been clarified and it will include ways modern technology allow an individual to be identified.

    Personal data, relates to any information which can identify an individual.  This could be either directly (for example a person’s name) or indirectly (a unique online identifier/ID or geolocation data).  The purpose of GDPR here is to clarify and provide stronger governance towards what is personal data.  Especially when compared to the preceding legislation.

    What can you do to prepare?

    At this stage it is worth pointing out this is something that potentially needs company-wide buy-in and support especially from your organisation’s leadership team.

    Keep calm and comply with GDPR

    Educate

    The first step is to be aware of the changes, we have taken some of the first steps here.

    Salesforce is trying to support its users through the pending change. The responsibility though relies on end-users to ensure compliance.  And to that end they have published a Trailhead module to support their users.

    The Spring ’18 release also includes a number of changes to support users with GDPR.

    Kick-off

    If your company hasn’t started the process to confirm compliance, then it is worth having a discussion with your manager or with your companies designated Data Protection Officer.

    GPDR is an enhancement from previous legislation so the changes required might be small, but it is important to understand how those changes could impact to your business.

    For example, say your business relies on email marketing.  Your contact lists may not contain details on how the individual’s consent has been attained.  With GDPR, it may be worth investigating your requirements for that data and plan how to reconfirm or get consent.

    Which leads us nicely onto the next step…

    Map your data processes

    A key to being able to understand any risks relating to GDPR and your Salesforce is to map out how data enters your Salesforce org.

    data storage

    Is it a web-to-lead form?  Or perhaps a landing page describing your products that tracks user behaviour via Marketing Cloud?  Or do your sales team import contacts via Data.com?

    What happens to it once it is in Salesforce?  Is it stored as leads, contacts, person accounts?  Do you have custom fields on objects containing personal data?

    This is a chance to get all these flows down on paper.  And remember to include if there are any prompts for user opt-in and what the purpose of the data is.

    Are there any other resources to help me?

    So as we wrap up here, it is worth mentioning that we have only just started to scratch the GDPR surface.

    The changes come into affect in May, so there is still time to prepare.  And if you were compliant with previous legislation like the Data Protection Act here in the UK, then GDPR may be an extension of your existing processes.  But don’t take this as legal advice!

    There are a number of great resources available to help companies with this transition.

    For Salesforce users:

    • as previously mentioned, I would start with Trailhead.
    • Salesforce has now also published a Data Protection & Privacy guide in the Help section, and
    • check the Spring ’18 release notes, as there are a number of features changing (or added to the platform) due to GDPR

    Additionally, I found a number of site relating to GDPR when preparing this post:

  • Salesforce Winter ’18 Release

    Salesforce’s next release is here, and Winter ’18 is jammed packed with Lightning features and still brings some improvements for those (well most of us) who are still on Classic.  In this post I will also show you how to check key days for your org and share some of the best resources I have found for the Winter ’18 release.

    Let’s jump in and take a look at the top Sales & Service Cloud features in this release.

    Top 6 Winter ’18 Features: Sales & Service Clouds

    Enhanced Instant Search Results & Better Search in Salesforce

    Salesforce Winter '18: Smarter Search Results

    This is such a small thing overall, but will save so much time for users.

    Spell correction is now available within instant results!  Users will now get suggestions if there is no direct match.

    And the search has also been improved to allow users the ability to include an Account Name when searching for a contact, opportunity or an account.  This will then narrow the overall results!

    To check out this feature, click here.

    Lead conversion now improved in Lightning Experience

    This has been a bug bear of so many people.  Put simply the Lead conversion process in Lightning left a lot to be desired!

    Well Salesforce have heard us and worked on an improved conversion process, and now gives a clearer view to sales users on if they are creating a new record or linking the lead to an existing one.

    Personally, the new screen looks a little clunky… But it is still an improvement from the previous way of converting a lead.

    Salesforce Winter '18: Lead Convert Process

    The new lead convert process is documented here.

    Manage your duplicates using Duplicate Record Sets

    If you saw one of my last posts, data is such a big focus for us.  The new Winter ’18 release now allows you to manage duplicates within Lightning.

    In the Data Management section of the Setup menu, you can setup a feature to report on duplicates based on your matching rules.  Now in Lightning you can leverage any reported Duplicate Record Set, then compare and merge!

    Salesforce Winter '18: Duplicate Record Sets

    View this feature in the release notes.

    Macros & Live Agent now in Lightning Experience

    I have combined these two but Macros and Live Agent are now both support in the Lightning Service Console! #abouttime!

    This will bring about productivity improvements for those using Lightning.  But most importantly also removes yet another hurdle to making the change to LEX for those orgs not using Lightning UI and Service Cloud…

    Check out Marcos and Live Agent details.  Live Agent in particular does still have a few feature gaps between Classic and Lightning, but these gaps are slowly being removed and will no doubt be ironed out over the next few releases.

    Time Field Type (beta)

    There is a new feature in beta this release, which allows users to track time (independent of date). :-O

    Imagine in a project management app, being able to simply allocate time to something rather than stating a date/time…

    For more click here.

    Lightning gets a tweaked UI

    Lightning has been such a big focus for Salesforce and they continue to actively improve the User Interface.

    In the upcoming Salesforce Winter ’18 release, they have given us a new look and feel.  To me this is very similar to the new-ish design concept that Google and others are following, with ‘cards’ of information broken out into pieces and clearer whitespace usage to illustrate what is important on the page.

    And also in the Setup menu, there is future improvements hinted at.  Where in the future we might be able to update the background and theme Salesforce Lightning Interface to suit your business 🙂

    More details here.

    Salesforce Winter '18: New Look and Feel

    When does Salesforce Winter ’18 release?

    You will need to check Trust site for your server instance, but most production orgs are currently schedule for the major release from 7th October 2017 (select NA instances) – 14th October 2017 (most AP / EU instances).

    Can’t wait for the release?

    Miss the cutoff for sandbox refreshes on the last week? You may still be able to sign up for a pre-release Winter ’18 org to have a look at the new features.

    Best resources to help you get Winter ’18 release ready!

    Salesforce directly should always be your first port of call.  They always publish and support users through the transition and this release is no different.  Here are your go-to Salesforce resources:

    Other blogs and videos for Salesforce Winter ’18 Release Readiness

    Check out her blog, as there is a wealth of information also on areas like Mobile & Einstein!

    • Salesforce Weekly, has done a ‘Release in Action’ video for Salesforce Winter ’18
    • Rakesh on Automation Champion has his top 10 features
    • Praneel at Above and Beyond has a guide on the features of the release, with some additional focus on things developers (and some admins) would be interested in like DX.
    • Jenna Molby has a breakdown of her 12 favourite features from the release.
  • Cleaning a Salesforce Org

    Data is such a big focus for anyone working with a CRM, Salesforce is no exception.  Previously we looked at migrating data into Salesforce.  But what happens when you need to remove data?  Cleaning a Salesforce org can present a few challenges.

    Say you need to clean your Salesforce org and delete/archive, because…  you might have gone over your Salesforce data allowance?

    This is what happened to us recently.  One of the orgs my team manages went over its allocated Data Space, and we started getting emails / calls from Salesforce to remind us that we have used up our allowance.

    We had a choice, buy more storage (at Salesforce’s very inflated data prices).  I mean c’mon it is 2017, 1TB with Dropbox/Google/Onedrive/etc is only around $100/year…

    As you can probably guess, this wasn’t our “go to” option, so we had to find out what we had in Salesforce vs what we needed, and then make a decision…

    (c) Dilbert

    Legacy org & technical debt

    The org in question was what I deem a “legacy org”, and has had presented a few challenges over the years.  It has been an active Salesforce org since 2003. And without constant love and attention has built up so much technical debt because it was never actively managed/improved/developed…

    Even relatively simple things like enabling and rolling out Chatter were never done – even years after Chatter launched.

    Clean Your Salesforce Org: a balloon waiting to burst
    Clean Your Salesforce Org: Our org was a balloon waiting to burst

    As the company has grown, obviously so has the data stored within the org.

    Add into the mix that new apps installed in the org which have driven a sudden increase in the volumes of records being created (eg telephony integration and training people to log calls).  And hey-presto data storage & how we are using it is suddenly a priority.

    Where is the data?

    For an org which has grown from around 50-100 people in 2003, and a very simple business processes.  The question was how could we be using up out data storage suddenly?

    Why now?  How do we get to the bottom of what is happening?

    Admittedly it wasn’t something we had kept an eye on.  So the first port of call was the setup menu.

    As you might know Salesforce offer a section in the Setup menu called ‘Storage Usage’, which is quite basic but gives you a snapshot of where your data and file storage is used.  To use it, go to Setup -> in Quick Find, and search for ‘Storage Usage’.

    Boom, there it was.

    The org with over 23,000,000 records…

    The org had ballooned to over 23,000,000 records.  Shocking as our number of accounts are a fraction of that overall volume.

    What was even more shocking for us was that it was two objects consuming almost 70% of the total storage!

    Salesforce Data Storage
    Yes those numbers are real… We needed to clean our Salesforce org!

    The two objects in question: Tasks & Email Messages…

    <sarcasm> Oh joy! </sarcasm>

    Not all objects are equal

    Why was I so *not* excited that it was Tasks & Email Messages using up our storage?

    Salesforce Tasks & Archiving

    Activities in Salesforce have a unique feature which means they get archived by Salesforce after a set number of days.  This is typically around 365 days of being closed (but there are a few caveats to that), and can also be extended if you request it from Salesforce.

    This is an issue, as once archived you can no longer use the standard Salesforce reporting to analyse.

    And due to the sheer volume of records (over 12,500,000), it was even crashing Dataloader/Workbench/Developer Console when trying to export the data.

    When I did manage to get the export, by trying to filter by created year, the file was still too big to view in Excel.  Also we were limited to just Excel, which meant we hit a brick wall.

    Email to Case & Email Messages

    data storageThis org heavily relies on Email-to-Case.  And when received, the email is stored in the EmailMessage object.

    Additionally all auto-response emails are also saved against the case, in addition to any replies from the customer.

    Great for keeping track of all communication.  But once again creates some difficulties when trying to report and analyse.

    Also as an email gets saved against a case, it also creates a task.  So we end up with a sort of duplication, with a task and an email message created and linked to the same case.

    Getting the data out of Salesforce

    In the end we contacted Salesforce Support, as we couldn’t use normal methods to export and clean the data.

    The only suggestion that Salesforce could provide was to schedule a data export of the objects we wanted to export and analyse.  Simple enough…

    Anyone who has used this feature will know the output of this is zip files, which contain CSV files inside.  Great it was going to be small enough to work with!

    CSV SplitterNope… Each CSV was still over 1,000,000 rows.

    Excel still was too unusable to analyse the data.  At this point I really was wishing for something like Access/MySQL to load the files into.

    Enter CSVSplitter, a really simple tool that allowed us to split the CSV files down into smaller more manageable chunks.

    Once they were broken into the smaller files, then we were able to start analysing the tasks.

    Analysing the data

    Inspector Gadget time!
    Inspector Gadget time!

    The road to cleaning a Salesforce org is paved with lots of data to analyse!

    You need to understand what you have, before you can understand what you need.

    So we started analysing the data.  And we dissected the data in many different ways to understand what was driving the volume we were seeing.

    We looked at tasks created by month and year.  Were there specific users who created more than others?  Were there common subject lines – which might point to auto-generated tasks.

    Our Salesforce, had never ever been cleaned.  And we have used tasks in the past to drive system automation within the business.  So where relevant, these records could go!

    Archiving the data

    So we had analysed the data, now to archive it somewhere in case we actually needed to reverse the process. (FYI – while researching this post, I found this useful guide to creating a Archiving Policy for your company).

    Though storing the records outside of Salesforce and then trying to restore in the case of a profile would be painful if we had to.  But at least we had a fall back plan, and if needed the business could still use in reports.

    In addition a lot of care was taken in being conservative with what we are removing and working with various stakeholders to ensure the different departments were on board with our plan.

    Now we could start the actual cleanup!

    Cleaning a Salesforce Org: 2,600,000 records deleted (so far)…

    I have to admit, this part ended up actually feeling strangely cathartic.

    Being able to delete over 2.6 million records from an org was also a first for me 🙂

    We essentially identified the records to be deleted, creating a CSV file of the IDs of the records we wanted to delete, and then use Dataloader to remove the record.

    Once we started with the tasks, we were able to then also move on to other records and start an overall clean out of Salesforce.  Opportunities, Accounts, Cases… All are now in scope and we have created a data clean-up roadmap and are making great headway.

    We have a long way to go still, but at least we can start to let go of the legacy data past.

    And most importantly, make Salesforce a focused CRM for the sales and customer service teams, so it is easier for them to use.

    Salesforce Data Storage - Before
    Still a long way to go… But we shall prevail!

     

    Got your own ‘lesson learned’?  Share your tips…

    I have worked in org’s where hitting the data storage limit was expected and almost required.  As we deployed tools like FinancialForce which create a lot of records (and they need to).  So we simply bought more data.  But it really depends on your scenario, as every orgs needs are a little different.

    Have you been in a similar situation?  How did you decide what to archive?  Did you use any specific tools to help you?

    As part of this issue, we were able to make a business case for getting tools like DemandTools (paid app).

    And I am currently investigating Passage Tech’s ‘Storage Helper‘ and ‘Rollup Helper‘ (both have a limited free version) to see if they can help profile accounts to then identify what records can still be removed and archived from Salesforce.  But I will save the details for another post later 😉

  • How to migrate data into Salesforce

    There comes a time in every administrator’s life, where you might have to migrate data into Salesforce.  Why is that important?  Data is the core of any CRM platform and has the power to become a blocker for your customers and/or internal users!

    A request to migrate data could be as simple as someone asking you to import data into Salesforce from a spreadsheet.  Or it could be due to the retirement of another system.  Even a merger/acquisition!  But when the time comes, you will need to be able to really get under the hood to understand the data and create a data migration plan.  Because without a plan, migrating data can become a massive risk to any project.

    Over the next few weeks, I am going to dive into a number of topics relating to all things data migration.  YAY! I hear you screaming! Also please feel free to share any of your experiences in the comments below, as with all things data migration there is always plenty to learn!

    So let’s get started and dive into the key things to plan for when you are attempting to migrate data into Salesforce.

    Everyone loves data

    Data is the lifeblood of any business.  And your data in your CRM is no different.  Good data can empower any business.  While on the flip side, data can also become a blocker for your teams when not managed well.  But the good news is this shows your users have something at stake in making it better.  These are the same people who can become your data champions!

    To further the point I am trying to make around identifying your stakeholders.  Your end users play a big part in advising you on what the data actually means (for them).  And it is here you will also need to identify other potential stakeholders.  Does the data have an impact on sales reporting?  How about on your company’s financial reporting?  Or is it used to help serve or fulfil your customers.

    Everyone loves data! Source: dilbert.com

    I have a question for you ma’am!

    As part of any data migration, you will need to get up to speed on understanding the data.  Understand and interrogate the old data.  Analyse it.  Test out any assumptions you might have.  And also think through how you want the data to look once the migration has been completed.

    This is a time you are going to need to ask a lot of questions and ensure you (and your stakeholders) fully understand the definitions being used.  If there is something that doesn’t make sense, ask questions!  Questions are your friend!  Really drill down and confirm your understanding.  Leverage the experience of your stakeholders, bring them along the journey too.  And make a note of these questions are you get answers.

    One lesson I have learned over many data migrations is no-one has all the answers unfortunately.  Most times you have to really dive into the data and test what you have been told.  This is one area that is a big risk to any project and can end up causing a lot of pain no matter how well planned!

    I have been on the tail end of a few really complex data migrations.  Even with the best planning and stakeholders, there has always been an inconsistency somewhere in the data which has you screaming ‘WHY!!!!’   Especially if you are dealing with an older CRM!  (but that is a story for another time!).

    The point I am trying to make is it has been down to the project team to really untangle and interrogate the data to make sure it makes sense.

    Prepare, verify, test

    One you understand the data, you can plan to migrate the data!  There can be a lot to think about at this stage.

    In your preparation, you need to map out where you want the data to go.  Are there new fields created to support the migration or are you mapping to existing fields in Salesforce?  Does the data-type match (eg does a number field map to another number field)?  Do you have any validation rules or mandatory fields that might get in the way?  If so what is your plan to mitigate that?  Do you update the data before you move it?

    Some of the biggest problems I have encountered in a data migration have all stemmed from a lack of full testing in a sandbox.

    If you have access to a sandbox, plan out your testing.   Even if you have Professional Edition, you have access to at least a Developer Sandbox (check here).  Part of your testing needs to include verifying the actual data.  Does to match what you had in the data source?  Do any lookups to other records link up correctly?  Are the number of records the same?  All those questions you wrote down while understanding the data, can be very useful in the testing phase.

    I have thrown a lot of questions around there, but hopefully you get an idea of some of the things to think about in this stage.  Testing is another great time to re-engage with your stakeholders.  Heck, even get them to login and run a few test scenarios on the migrated data.

    Once you have tested and verified your data, you can start planning the go live and move into production!  Your almost there!

    Step back in time

    migrate data, but only with a backup plan
    Back to the Future

    With the actual data migration into a production / live system, you should plan in advance on how you intend to roll back any changes you make.  Even after testing in a sandbox, there could be something which causes you to halt the data migration.  And if that happens, you need to be able to restore the system to how it was before you started.

    Take a backup, run reports, hold onto the import files from Dataloader.  Whatever it is, just know how you can go back without causing further issues.

    This is doesn’t need to be overly complex, but it will depend on the size of the overall size of the data migration.  Sometime it can just be a simple plan to say ‘if this happens, this is how we move forward’.

    Press the button & migrate data!

    This is the fun part, and all your planning comes together.  This is where you start the migration and hopefully completed the migration as planned.

    Once you have migrated the data into Salesforce, test and verify again.  Repeat the steps you did after you loaded the data into the sandbox.  Test and verify, test and verify!

    Are you finished yet?  Good.  But did you disable any workflows/validation rule/mandatory fields?  Did you remember to turn them all back on?

    And finally, and most importantly.  Have you communicated the successful data migration out to your stakeholders!? 🙂

    Do you have any lessons learned?

    As mentioned at the start of the post, I feel there is always soomething new to be learned everytime you migrate data.  One of the projects I am working on at the moment is pushing me to learn something new every day! (More on that in another post though).

    Sharing is caring 🙂 Do you have any tips or things you like to plan for?  Share them in the comments section below!

  • Are you ready for Salesforce Summer ’17 release?

    It is almost that time of year again.  Here in the northern hemisphere the days are thankfully getting warmer and longer.  Easter is now behind us.  As the sun starts to shine through, the time has come to start planning for the next Salesforce release.  Yes, it is time to prepare for the Salesforce Summer ’17 release, are you ready?

    Salesforce Summer ’17 Release Readiness

    As with any Salesforce release, preparation is key, and the Summer ’17 release will be no exception.  But you are never alone, and there are plenty of excellent resources available to ensure you are well prepared.  Where to start?

    Salesforce Summer '17 Release logo
    Are you ready for the Summer ’17 release?
    The first port of call is to check the important dates for your sandbox refreshes.  This is key if you need to ensure you maintain a sandbox with the current Spring ’17 setup or if you want to ensure your sandbox get the Summer ’17 preview.  Check this post from Salesforce for the key sandbox preview dates.

    Getting a preview sandbox gives you invaluable & hands-on access to play with all the new features of the Salesforce Summer ’17 release.

    Next stop is to also check the key dates for Admins to consider.  You can view that on this Salesforce Admin page, fresh off the presses yesterday (19th April).  It gives you a checklist of items and key dates to ensure you are prepared.  For example the preview release notes are available from next week (24th April at time of publishing) and will be available from the Salesforce Release Portal.

    And another great resource for keeping track of everything to do with the upcoming release is via the Release Readiness Success group.

    What to expect in the release?

    crystal ball
    Who doesn’t love an upward trending chart?
    The preview release notes are being finalised, and it is almost time to jump in to a preview sandbox instance.  What can you expect from the upcoming Salesforce Summer ’17 release? #safehabour 😀

    Recently I attended an awesome London Usergroup chat with Mike Rosenbaum, the Salesforce EVP of CRM Apps.  During the session Mike went through our questions covering the future of Salesforce Lightning and the platform.  You can watch the full video of the chat here at Cloud Architecture’s site.  Unsurprisingly he confirmed that Lightning will continue to be a huge focus for Salesforce and as a result the next release should start to see a number of known performance issues being addressed.

    During the talk it was also mentioned that a new report builder for the Lightning UX should be coming our way and the product teams at Salesforce are aiming for feature parity with Salesforce Classic over the next few releases.

    Mike also encourages feedback via his Twitter account (@mike945778), so get in touch!  If you watch the video, you will also find out why he uses that Twitter handle 🙂

    Obviously there are other features planned and another thing I learnt from the chat, there is a published Lightning Product Roadmap which does highlight some of the planned features for the Summer ’17 release.  So if you are chomping at the bit and can’t wait for the release notes to be released I recommend you check it out!

    Stay tuned for more once the release notes come out, until then it’s time to get your affairs in order because Salesforce’s Summer ’17 release is almost here!

    Update (24th Apr): Now the release notes are available, check out my next post for a top 10 features for Sales & Service Cloud.  And feel free to add to the list in the comments!  

  • Why creating a roadmap is important

    How can planning a roadmap be used to support your Salesforce org?  Especially when it is used by more than just one team in your the business.  How can you ensure you deliver what is truly needed?  How do you prioritise your efforts?

    What is a roadmap?

    First thing first, let’s have a quick look at what a roadmap is.

    charles-darwin-quote
    Change is the only constant, how will your business adapt?
    A roadmap is a strategic business planning tool often used to outline the future vision of a system(s) or product.  It will show what changes and development is needed to get there and will visualise the items you plan to deliver over a specific timespan.

    So how does that relate to Salesforce?  In a world that is full of change and competing priorities, business is no different.  There will be new bugs and issues to fix.  New business priorities which may change the strategic direction, resulting in changes to the system. As a result, any roadmap will need to continously evolve as the business priorities change.

    A system roadmaps is most often used in Agile delivery environment, and will help stakeholders visualise where/when any planned improvements are likely to happen.

     

    But why is it important?

    Imagine your working on a jigsaw puzzle.  You know somehow it all fits together, but you are not sure what you should focus on first.  All the pieces just seem a bit random at the start.  Then slowly but surely you start to set a strategy in place.  A plan of attack for solving the puzzle.

    Maybe you start by putting all the edge pieces in place first, followed by any pieces that relate to distinct image that is part of the puzzle.   Then over time as you have more and more of the pieces in place, you start to see the image come together.  Now imagine you are working on the jigsaw puzzle with other people.  How will can you make sure you are all aligned and working towards the same goal?

    To me this is essentially what a roadmap is and why it is important.  Breaking the puzzle into smaller focus areas allows you to create a strong foundation for tracking your progress as you go along.  And by setting a strategy in place, you should be able to deliver the finished result quicker than if you just tried to solve it in a random / unplanned fashion.

    As an example of a roadmap, Monzo (a start-up bank here in the UK) openly publishes a Trello product roadmap for their apps, detailing the features planned running against a timeline (short term, medium term, etc).  If you want to check it out, you can view it here.

     

    How do you create a roadmap?

    Where do you start?  Planning your roadmap is an overall, continous process.  But by taking the time to define and maintain it, you continually evolve what the future vision looks like and become more proactive about where Salesforce will grow/develop – which in turn should minimise those ‘why didn’t I know about it’ moments.

    There are a number of steps you can go through, and by all means this isn’t a definitive list.  Also keep in mind that project methodolodies (eg Agile) may also play a part in the ‘how’ and ‘what’ you need to define.

    Identify stakeholders & research

    If you are starting from scratch, identify your key end-users & stakeholders (Sales, Finance, Marketing, IT, etc)?  By knowing who to go to, you can then research what is important to your business.  Ask what are their key priorities for the year ahead.  What improvements would they love to see made to Salesforce?  If you don’t have a relationship with your stakeholders, this will helps to open the door.  And will also come in handy later on.

    Innovation & ideas

    You might also have your own improvements or changes you want to make to Salesforce.  After the last post, you might have identified potential technical debt within your Salesforce which needs to be addressed.

    Also what about new features and innovations you want roll out.  Things like a move to Lightning UI?  All of this will need to be added into the mix too, as remember we need to balance out all of the priorities as we won’t be able to do it all at the same time. 🙂

    By combining the earlier research with your own ideas, you now have a list of different and competing business priorities.  But how do you sort through the list?

    Setting the business priorities

    Firstly some priorities which get raised will simply be so critical to the business that the priority and timeline will almost be set for you.  For everything else, here is where you can get creative.

    One idea is to get your key stakeholders together in a room.  In this session encourage people to be open and transparent, while keeping everyone focussed on what is best for the business  and not individual departments/teams.  Going around the table, everyone who raised a priority gives an elevator pitch to the group covering where they see the value of the request.  As each pitch is given, a card or post-it goes up on the wall.ideas on a whiteboard

    After the pitches are finished, give out three sticky dots to everyone (or you can simply use pens).  Next tell them to place two dots next to the idea they would prioritise first and one dot on their second priority.  The aim is to get some overall coordination on what to focus on first, where the priority is driven by the highest amount of dots – where you sort the cards by descending order.  Close out the meeting by going around the table again and confirm if people agree with the outcome.

    By involving your stakeholders in setting your roadmap, you allow them to buy in to the future vision of the platform.

    Unfortunately there can be circumstances where stakeholders can’t come to a conclusion.  This is when you would become a little more direct.  The group should at least try and seperate out the list into what is needed versus what’s a nice to have.  If this still doesn’t work, you may need to get an appropriate Sponser (possibly a senior leader within the business) involved.

    Visualise the roadmap

    Roadmaps come in all shapes, sizes and formats.  It is important to realise that they are generally high-level in nature.  Covering the themes and objectives you plan on delivering. Save the detail of what needs delivery for a project plan and the team involved in delivery.

    Personally, I have I tend to only set a roadmap for the next 6-12 months.  And then bundle everything else together under a header of ‘future items’, but you can be as creative as you want.  As mentioned earlier, these plans are subject to change.  Aim is to make it easy enough to adjust moving forward.

    When it comes to estimating the time and effort, there will be an element of making an educated guess on some of the work involved.  Ask around the Salesforce community and see what others estimate.  If there is a vendor/partner involved, they can also give you an idea of the effort involved.

    Another very simple example of a roadmap would be to group items by a theme down one column, and have your timescale running along the top.  Then your individual deliverables/projects become the cells in between.  Here is another example of what you could do simply in a spreadsheet:

    roadmap example
    Example of a roadmap
    There are plenty of other alternatives out there though, just do a Google image search for other examples!  As mentioned above, you can use a bit of creative license here.  Just make sure it is easy to understand what you are trying to convey.

    Communication

    Now we are near the finishing line of this whole process.

    After putting all of this together, play back the outcomes with key stakeholders to get a final sign-off.  Doing this allows any further alterations to be made.  It also ensures that everyone has bought in to the process and vision, meaning you can then focus on delivery.

    And remember to revist the roadmap roughly every six months.

     

    Wrap up

    I will reiterate that this is just one way to come up with a roadmap.  The process can vary depending on the size of your business, what the priorities are and even lines of accountability within your company.

    For an additional resource there is a great Trailhead module (Innovation Solutions), which covers the topics of roadmaps and implementation planning.

    I would love to hear from you and your experiences when setting a roadmap.  Please feel free to add in the comments below any steps you take in creating a roadmap.

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