Like many new admins, I didn’t choose Salesforce, Salesforce chose me.
“Salesforce chose me” is code for: I didn’t ask to implement a CRM for our business, I didn’t have time for a new project like this, I’m not even in IT…but here I am implementing it.
And if you’re also like me, not only are you tasked to implement it, but you also will become the go-to after installation. Because let’s face it, software installs are never really over. Now you’ve become a new admin and are trying to redefine what your career is with your multiple hats.
Luckily for us — most admins enjoy working with Salesforce because of its ease of use and highly customizable interface. Unluckily, though, that usually brings upon endless opportunities to improve and learn its features and traits.
When I was handed the project I had no idea what I was in for. We partnered with an implementation partner to setup and launch our org, but once their contract was up, I was left to figure it out for myself. Here are the things I wished I’d known at the moment the reigns were handed over to me.
1. Start Learning Now
I waited waaaay too long for this. Implementation partners are not hired to teach you how to use and maintain your Salesforce org, but to get it up and running. It is imperative to start learning the platform as early as possible.
I heard about Trailhead, but I didn’t take it seriously until months after we launched. This left me at a disadvantage not only with managing my users, but also in managing my partner.
The partner we worked with built much of our org in custom code. This left me with a very un-customizable org to deal with as a new admin. If I knew more about the back end of the software earlier, I would have been able to question the work they were doing and make sure I knew how to make changes.
Fortunately, Salesforce makes it SUPER easy to learn the platform. Trailhead is excellent. At first I was nervous that taking time to learn the basic stuff — the vocab, how things are connected, even how to change passwords — was wasted time. Once I learned the basics, however, I was much better at troubleshooting and making changes than when I tried to troubleshoot a high-level concept.
Approaching your learning for understanding maximizes your effectiveness in the org later. Knowing how Salesforce approaches their UX, code, and structure makes it easier for you to build solutions in the future.
Want to start with something fun? Learn to add sound effects to your org when your sales team wins opportunities. Our team loves the Yee-haw! I added to our org after completing this trail.
2. Document Everything
One of my biggest regrets in implementation is I didn’t require any documentation of how our org was structured from our partner. This makes it hard to figure out where things were built when I want to make adjustments. I also found that documenting projects helped to communicate to others what my workload was and my progress.
There are fancy org documentation apps that can help you do this, but I found two free systems that helped me. The most basic to get started is to create a running list. “On Tuesday I did x for x user, and this is how I did it.” Even a basic note-to-self will help you refer back to changes you made.
To help me better understand our org’s Service Cloud processes, I decided to take my documentation a step further and create my own internal support case layout. I used record types to make a layout that suited the requests I get from our users and projects in my pipeline. Using Status, I could relay what stage in the project I was at with each request. I also added a custom field to manage completion expectations — immediate fix, short-term project, or long-term project.
Because I built this in Salesforce, I am also able to take advantage of automations like email alerts and easily keep all feedback from my users in one place. Bye-bye searching for emails!
Not convinced yet? Consider this win: I on-boarded a new product line to our Salesforce org that was previously managed with spreadsheets. I monitored the time I spent on the project using my Case record. When I submitted a budget request to attend a Salesforce conference, I was able to show how much I’d saved by implementing the new process myself versus paying a consultant. Turns out, the cost of furthering my education far outweighed the investment. Now I’m off to Dreamforce!
3. Become Your Local User Group’s Biggest Fan
The community around Salesforce is immense. Joining your local user group and a few interest-based groups in the community is a great way to learn where you should focus. You’ll also learn “how to be an admin” by being surrounded by other admins.
One of my favorite things about working with technology like Salesforce is that it’s seemingly infinite. The expert in the room can still learn from the beginner, and vice versa. Everyone has something to share and it makes for a really great, resourceful community. Salesforce is exceptional at fostering these communities and the user groups I’ve been involved with have been some of the most friendly professional groups I’ve been a part of.
Pro Tip: Jot down a few questions you have in your org before you go to a group meeting and see if someone you meet can help you get in the right direction. (I can almost guarantee you’ll walk away with an answer to your question!)
Need a place to start? Join the Admin Community and peruse the weekly digest.
4. Prioritize User Issues
When someone calls you because they can’t login, can’t see a field, or whatever the issue is — even if it’s annoying, their fault, or way over your head — address it as soon as possible.
When a user needs help, they’re in a moment of distrust in the system. The worst thing that can happen with a software implementation is the users distrusting the system. Each time a problem happens, they’ll blame it on the software and hate it more.
It’s your job to keep things running smoothly for your users or to EXPLAIN why it doesn't/can’t/or shouldn't run the way they envision.
What makes you the expert they might ask? Because you listened to advice #1.
Also, kill them with kindness. It really does work!
5. You Are Not Salesforce
From here on out the people at your company will likely associate your name with all-things Salesforce. This does not make you “Salesforce,” however. No, it is not your fault when Salesforce is down. No, it is not your fault if a user didn’t see their records because they still had a filter on. And no, it’s not your fault they need to login again after closing the browser.
Don’t take it personally. Relish in your wins. Brush off the technical difficulties you can’t control. In the end, you’re not Salesforce, you’re just trying to help your org be the best it can.
Are you a new admin? Tell me what you’re worried about or how you can relate to this advice in the comments below!