Dreamforce to You 2020: 10K “From Project to Program” Webinar Recap

As with nearly every aspect of our lives in 2020, this year’s Dreamforce was far from what any of us would have predicted. Salesforce, however, pulled off a value-packed lineup and we’re honored to have shared this year’s virtual event with some of the ecosystem’s brightest talent.   

For this year’s “Dreamforce to You” experience, 10K CEO, Nick Hamm, and Chief Customer Officer, Mike Martin, were invited to host a webinar exploring how to get more ROI from Salesforce. Our webinar, “From Project to Program: Best Practices for Highly Successful Salesforce Implementations with 10K Advisors,” offered research-backed, how-to strategies for shifting your Salesforce program’s focus from chasing individual projects to establishing a more mature, agile system. Read on for the most valuable nuggets from our presentation. 

What it means to go from “project to program”

It started with a simple enough question, “Are Salesforce customers seeing the return they want from their Salesforce investment?” 

The 10K team has been in the ecosystem for nearly 15 years, so we knew we needed to research this challenge in-depth to better help our customers understand how to get more ROI from their investment. That’s why, in 2018, we hired Dimensional Research to survey 300+ Salesforce program owners across North America and Europe to understand what structures, processes, and practices lead to a higher return on investment. From improving employee productivity to increasing sales opportunities and replacing legacy technology, there are major benefits to giving your Salesforce program more TLC. 

The report’s key findings ultimately supported what our work has revealed time and again. No matter a Salesforce customer’s size or industry, there is a strong correlation between the following recommended best practices and high ROI. And, because it doesn’t cost more to take advantage of the products you’re already licensing, why not make the most of it? 

Project to program top 5 findings 

1. Establish program metrics

Measurement matters when it comes to ROI. Implementing KPIs such as user adoption, story points in a specific sprint cycle, and specific goals like increased sales numbers can help gauge your program’s effectiveness. Program metrics can be hard to implement and measure, but simple ones like tracking your user logins and user satisfaction scores are an easy way to get started.  

2. Consider a Center of Excellence

Having a Center of Excellence, the centralized combination of people and processes to manage operations, isn’t a new concept but is rarely used by Salesforce customers. Having a Salesforce COE that’s responsible for managing your best practices and roadmaps has a strong correlation to both high ROI and better grades. 91% of those that report the highest ROI say they have a COE, as do 82% of those that give themselves an A grade. That’s not surprising given the governance, alignment, and assurance that COEs can offer.

3. Use a Salesforce architect early and often

Salesforce Customers often assume an architect isn’t necessary but their expertise is essential to help you scale for the future. For example, an architect can help you decide when to use code or not and avoid building for the sake of building–a practice that leads to unnecessary technical debt. From our report, the vast majority of those who report A grades (73%) and the highest return on investment (82%) always work with a technical or solutions architect. 

4. Frequent releases correlate to higher ROI

When asked, “Approximately how often does your organization do production releases of Salesforce functionality?” we found that organizations have different philosophies on release cycle timing. 43% of respondents said they released to production weekly or more often, with 13% releasing continuously. Not surprisingly, the largest implementations and organizations with more dedicated headcount release most frequently. The more customizations you build to serve your users and business processes, the more usage and return you’ll receive. 

5. Partner with consultants to build and improve

As a Salesforce partner, this may appear self-serving, but this particular trend came straight from Salesforce customers themselves. You may have day-to-day operations in-house, but it’s nearly impossible to have the exact talent you need for every implementation and feature you’re looking to build. Third-party experts often work with a wide variety of customers, scenarios, and challenges, so they can provide valuable insight to guide your organization.   

The single most important thing you can do for higher Salesforce ROI 

Out of the top five best practices outlined from our Project to Program research, we felt the single most important trend to explore further was the use of Salesforce Centers of Excellence. We’ve written scores on the topic, including our free 2020 Salesforce Operational Excellence Handbook–A how-to guide to getting the most ROI from Salesforce. At 10K, we believe that if customers can empower their own success, then we’re able to provide higher-quality, long-term support. Our COE handbook, at the very least, can give you the building blocks to get started.


Audience Q&A

How can we engage 10K?

Please visit 10kview.com or email us at nick@10kview.com or mike@10kview.com

Do you have advisory services to help build out teams?

Our engagement model is focused on filling in your program gaps with on-demand Salesforce talent. Please contact us to learn more. 

10K Customer Case Study Webinar: Using Salesforce Community Cloud to Scale Your Business

Last week, 10K Chief Customer Officer Mike Martin sat down with Tracie Pruden, 10K customer, and the Chief Information Officer at Advanced Turf Solutions. Advanced Turf Solutions is primarily a distributor for the green industries — ie. anyone that’s growing and maintaining real grass, from golf courses, sports fields, and schools, to municipalities and lawn care operators. They also have a retail arm that is a walk-in business with about 25 locations where homeowners can buy their products. 

Given the many different arms of the organization, Mike and Tracie discussed how she’s used Salesforce to improve communication for their employees and customers alike while increasing effectiveness by creating an all-encompassing ecosystem of collaboration with many of its different products.

Read on for discussion highlights or view the captioned recording here.

How have you become such a power user of Salesforce, both yourself and at ATS?

Prior to ATS, I was a consultant on and off with them and I knew they had some IT challenges. For instance, before I came on board they had implemented a pretty old school client server ERP, and they had about 100 sales reps out in the field that didn’t have access to it. With that knowledge, and having been working fulltime as a Salesforce consultant before coming on board at ATS, I knew Salesforce would be big for them. We started implementing with Sales Cloud first in about 2017.

How do you think Salesforce has helped your company grow and scale in ways it wouldn’t have otherwise?

A lot of different reasons. Like I said, our ERP is a pretty old school service. Not only do our sales reps not have access to it but it’s really hard to customize. We were using spreadsheets and forms and all of these things outside of our system simply because we didn’t have another way. Salesforce has been really valuable for us in a lot of different departments now and has become an extension of our core processes, not just a CRM. It’s been huge for us. We had no collaboration in any of the software we had before Salesforce so it lets our departments collaborate with each other and gives us a lot more accuracy and a lot more accountability while bridging that gap for our sales team, our ERP, and other users who didn’t have a way to communicate with each other.

What was your catalyst for implementing Community Cloud and why is it so important now?

Our initial catalyst was to give our customers a way to access their information, view and edit their account profiles, view their past orders, and pay for invoices online. We actually were stepping back a bit when we implemented our original ERP before I was at ATS because we used to have a customer portal. They haven’t had that for a few years now, so the IT team and the marketing team have been working hand in hand really trying to drive this. And while the pandemic has thrown a lot of curveballs, it’s done one positive thing for us. We were already planning on implementing our customer community this year but our sales team wasn’t totally sold on it. They thought that our customers didn’t want or need to have that kind of self-service element and what we found when we were forcing our customers to call and place orders ahead of time for safety reasons, was that they loved it. So now we have some more internal champions who realize how important it is. And we do have a lot of customers in a lot of different regions, so for our sales reps to be able to give customers things that they need and to give them the ability to do things without having to do a site visit, or even make a phone call, is huge.

How are you taking advantage of FSL (Field Service Lightning)?

Talk about spreadsheets! Our entire sports turf services team was operating on Google Sheets and our only communication with our techs out in the field was that we knew they left the warehouse in the morning and maybe they would call us at night and let us know how the job went. 

So we implemented Field Service two years ago, which was great because now we know where our team is, we can move things around and be flexible if we need to, and we communicate with our customers a lot better. Actually, 10K helped us customize Field Service so we really had no idea from a business standpoint what our different services were costing us from a labor perspective because we weren’t tracking it very well. So it’s been helpful to know exactly how many hours we’re spending on jobs, and how much it’s really costing us to do the different kinds of work that we do. 

You guys are taking advantage of Salesforce a lot more than other companies your scale and size. What advice might you give to other companies looking to invest in Salesforce and some of the clouds that you’re using as well?

First, I would say not to be scared of that. Utilize experts in the beginning and not just for basic implementation but to really look at what products you might need, and what level of license you might need. We’re a small IT team and we have a lot of different clouds and all these different things we’re supporting and yet I think we’re saving money because we really figured out, with the help of experts, what level of license our different users need. Some of our users are on partner communities, some are on full Sales Cloud. We have a full variety, and again, we’re a small team so it’s important to lean on experts to help with that, but it’s absolutely possible and valuable and I wouldn’t look back on how we’re doing it now.

How did you come to first work with 10K and why did you like/decide to go with the on-demand contract model rather than the larger traditional firm?

I knew Mike through Appirio. After I learned about 10K’s model and knowing 10K has experts around the country in all these different specialties, those things are important for us. And as a small IT team, we rely on our partners really heavily but we need a partner that can be more agile and flexible and do small things if we just need a little more bandwidth, with some small Salesforce projects for instance. But then we also need someone who can do things like our FSL project, and have experts available that are technical architects and can design solutions. Those are big projects we could never take on internally so having that spectrum and all with one company is huge for us.

Upwork research states that 47% of hired managers are now more likely to engage independent talent in the future due to the COVID-19 crisis. What do you think took them so long?

I know for sure, especially at ATS, people get comfortable in the way they do things and they don’t always like to think outside the box. I think this year more than ever has shown us that the old way is not always the best way. I think if we learn anything from all of this is the need to be flexible. So for me as an IT leader, I need to give my team that, and not just them, but all of our employees – the ability to work remotely, to be flexible, and to still be able to be effective. I think this year has put that under a microscope really. And then, I think it’s important to have flexibility with your partners, too. Obviously, with a model like 10K, we know that location is not going to be a factor, that you’re able to react quickly, and you can have the experts you need no matter where they are. I think that’s more and more important every day. And I think, again as an IT leader, I think the talent is going to expect that flexibility, so it’s important from all angles. 

You also use Partner Community. Can you talk about what that implementation has looked like for you?

So we have another company that is a partner of ours who we wanted to be able to have some of our sales information shared with, as they are out there doing demos and sometimes our reps are doing demos of their equipment, and we need that collaboration. So 10K actually helped us implement a partner community so we can share information and it’s been awesome. I think that just shows the power of Salesforce. It didn’t take long, and now they have full Sales Cloud licenses and we’re still able to help them and support them from a technical standpoint and still keep them separate.

QUESTION FROM AUDIENCE: As a small IT team, how were you able to make the case to your leadership that using Salesforce for so many parts of the business made sense?

The great thing about Salesforce is that you don’t take a great big bite all at once. So being able to add things on later has really helped us sell that, because if I had just gone to them at the beginning and said “Hey, we’re gonna get 200 licenses,” I don’t think that would’ve flown. But because the model works that way, that’s been how we’ve been able to sell it. And honestly, I wouldn’t have wanted to do it all at once, as I can’t imagine we would have been able to. So, having added things in bits and pieces and not all in one chunk helped us sell it and it helped us manage it ourselves. 

How has adoption been affected by that rollout process?

We don’t have an entirely tech-savvy group of employees, and it’s just the way that it is. Not everyone likes change – we were nervous about some of our specific users in some of our departments and how they might adopt it, but honestly, it’s been great. I think it’s because we were able to do things in smaller increments. Maybe start out with one thing, get them really comfortable with that, and then we would add on things. And sometimes now we’ll add on three things. Especially, since we’re split evenly between sales and operations, our operations team has been awesome and receptive to what we’re doing in Salesforce and I think being able to roll that out in bits helped with that. 

QUESTION FROM AUDIENCE: Follow up on the specific types of communities, is it one community with different licenses for a partner/employee/customer, or is it one URL, or did you use an out-of-the-box template? Can you talk about the different communities you’ve set up, how they’re different, and if you used a template or a custom UI?

Basically, our partner community is totally separate so it has its own set of partner licenses and its own URL. 

For our customer community, we also use those licenses for our internal community, but we do have a template we used to start with and then we customized it so our customer community is all based on a template. We didn’t do the work internally so I can’t tell you what template it was but now it has its own separate URL, though on the backend we’re using the same community licenses for our internal community, too. They’re the community plus licenses, which, what’s cool about that is if we do want to add on e-commerce, which we plan to do, is that we’ll be able to do that with those licenses, and then it gives them the ability to do reports and dashboards. 

The employee community is separate and was originally set up for our daily health checks. And we’ll just continue to add onto that because it’s working really well for the people who didn’t have Salesforce licenses. 

QUESTION FROM AUDIENCE: Can you talk about how a small team like yours supports such an advanced Salesforce implementation? What does your team structure look like and when do you decide to use partners?

We only have four people on our IT team, and it’s not super clean but two of us are more network hardware customer support base and two of us are the software and Salesforce side of things. In fact, we both do have Salesforce certifications, so we typically do a lot internally, especially custom fields, small changes, and even workflow. If we’re doing something on the change management side of things, that’s impacting a whole department and changing the way they might do things, that’s when we’ll to see if we should use a partner. Then I wouldn’t even know where to begin making customizations among all those clouds or in Field Service Lightning. So we definitely outsource that part of it, and internally we’ll do reports and admin (and my developer has done a lot of cool stuff on his own), but ultimately we’re all wearing so many hats that we can’t simply do it all ourselves. There’s no magic recipe for when we decide to do it out of house but it’s nice to have that option. 

What does your ratio of employees to admin look like?

We have 250 employees but about 200 of them have Salesforce licenses of some level and we do only have two people working in Salesforce in the back end. The rest of our IT team does some things in Salesforce to help people out but we really only have two admins for those 200 users.

Closing thoughts

Ultimately, I don’t know if we are unique or not, but if you’re a small company or midsize company, don’t be afraid of using something like Salesforce and really exploring what’s in the ecosystem because I would never look back. I think we are saving money because we’re not getting 800 different things, we’re all in Salesforce and able to collaborate and to have all those important workflows, approval processes, and everything in one place and with different levels of access. To be able to be a small company and support people in a lot of different divisions is incredible.

“Ask the Expert” Webinar Series: Salesforce Change Management for Dummies

We can all probably agree that the last six months have seen us all go through more change both personally and professionally than any other six-month span in our lives.

For that reason, and because change management is one of the key pillars in our Salesforce Operational Excellence Handbook, we decided to address it in our latest “Ask the Expert” webinar. Hosted by 10K’s CEO Nick Hamm, we took a deep dive with the co-founders of Montage Learning, Sarah Risen-Robertson, and Lizz Hellinga. 

You can also view the captioned recording here. 

Is change management just for big companies? Why or why not?

While people tend to think change management is something only big companies do, that’s certainly not the case. However, while working with a smaller company enables one to move quicker and be more agile which makes change management seem as though it can be easier, you should be cautious and treat change with care and thoughtfulness regardless of the size of the company.

Ultimately, change management is about building trust and getting people to go on the change journey with you.

That said, the sooner you can start to develop those best practices, the more likely your stakeholders, team, employees, and whoever else is involved in whatever change you’re implementing, the less resistance you’ll find, and the better it is for your organization and your customers.

Where should I start on the change management journey? 

First, let’s define “change management.” It’s the set of tools, resources, processes, skills, and principles used to manage change. In terms of things you can do today to start enabling effective change in your organization, here are five places to start:

  1. Understand and communicate the “why” behind the change
  2. Planning
  3. Knowing your stakeholders
  4. Communication
  5. Empathy and listening

In addition to executive buy-in, what other roles in the organization are important to have onboard and engaged as part of a change management process?

While having executive support is essential, also having your super users on board, who can be your internal champions, is huge. Start by identifying them at the beginning of the process so you can engage them throughout the process and understand who else can champion the change and fan the flames of excitement for it.

When you talk about building trust among your stakeholders and finding out who your stakeholders are, what are some tactics that you would use?

From a stakeholder perspective, try to understand anyone who is involved, map out the process, and if you have time and resources, start to ask those who are in the process who else should be involved. A stakeholder is anyone who has an interest in your project. The better you understand who they are and identify them, the better it is for the project in the long run.

Why are empathy and active listening important?

Listening is the most underrated skill both among admins and Salesforce consultants. As the saying goes, “click a mile in someone’s shoe.” Sit and shadow them to understand pain points, get to the core of how much swivel desking they are doing, such as toggling between five different apps, and so on. Having empathy and understanding about what your end-users and stakeholders are going through is only going to benefit everyone involved, so schedule a few minutes with them. They will feel valued and it builds trust. At the end of the day, we all want to be heard.

For a huge change, it’s difficult for one person to do everything. How else can you leverage those stakeholders and super users to be more effective than just a solo admin?

Super users are a great way to empower your colleagues. As a solo admin, you should understand who the communication comes from. You might think it needs to be top-down and come from an exec, but sometimes that can be a little harsh. But when you have a super user who is a peer and colleague of other end users who are leading that messaging, it can have a bigger impact and get people excited. 

Understand the stakeholders and who you could elevate by giving them an opportunity to communicate.

When is it time to bring in an outside firm like Montage Learning? Why are companies coming to a company like yours and what are key indicators when people know they need outside help?

There are a few reasons why any company would want to bring in an outside firm like Montage. The first is when the change is big. If you’re planning for more than 30-60 days of a rollout and training people, oftentimes you’re going to need extra support. Second, you might have limited bandwidth, where you have a lot to do but not a lot of time to strategically put this change into place in a meaningful way. Third, if your team lacks the skills or experience around change management, it’s important to bring in an outside company to help you focus and be that outside voice that can ask you questions and get you on the right track down the path of change.

Additionally, given that not everyone has change management skills, but you consider change important to you, bringing on outside help is a great opportunity to invest in some of your employees to get them leveled up on change management skills. It’s one of the best ways to elevate an admin’s career. 

How do you know if your change is actually effective?

The easiest way to do this, which too often people don’t do, is to determine KPIs at the beginning of the project. Change management aligns with what you’re expecting the end-users to do, so establish a set of metrics at the onset. Also, this will help you down the line when you want to do an even bigger change and you have the metrics to show the value and impact of your last set of changes. You’ll have more buy-in from people when the time comes to go bigger.

What are some of the communication tactics that you’ve found to be effective?

First, meet your users where they are and where they’re comfortable, not necessarily where you want to bring them. Then, consider making a predictable plan for every change so that people’s expectations are set. Depending on the scale of change, for instance, do we need to do recordings? Do we need to do quick sheet walkthroughs? Create a predictable plan of what you need to do so that when people come to you for change, they know you are going to communicate in these methods.

When it comes to L&D (Learning and Development), what are some of the tools that you’ve seen that have been effective, regardless of budget?

  1. In App guidance prompts. This is a free feature available to everyone in Salesforce and you can put in on a page and set by profile, how often it shows up, etc. 
  2. Picklist values.
  3. Camtasia is a great, easy-to-use video editing tool, so you can do recordings of step throughs of what you’re showing people to do. You want people to know where to go to get their answer and this is a simple, easy way to do so. Whether it’s a Google drive or share drive or within Salesforce, set expectations on where they can find answers.

In our last webinar, we talked about myTrailhead. Have you all seen any companies successfully use that as part of their change management strategy?

Yes, we were actually in the pilot program for Salesforce and we used it to completely revamp onboarding for a company. Using myTrailhead, we moved all of our onboarding from day one kind of stuff online to myTrailhead so people could go through it at their own pace, come back and reference it, and have all the information they needed. Then we turned our in-person orientation into more of a cultural immersion and we had some amazing statistics come out of that, including reducing the cost around orientation by 50% just by moving it to myTrailhead. We also reduced the number of questions from new hires by around 75%. myTrailhead is a powerful tool when you want to implement change.

What do I need to be effective with myTrailhead?

Understanding L&D principles is invaluable because you need to effectively define learning objectives. You also have to be really specific on what you want the learner to do as a result of completing those modules. So having some of that background is helpful. myTrailhead is an incredible tool but you have to think about what you envelop it with because it’s a part of your training strategy, not all of it. Is there coaching that can be involved? Do you need staff to do some stand and deliver after they complete a trail on a new product? Think beyond just myTrailhead.

How do you manage change remotely for distributed teams (for instance, in the era of COVID-19)?

Once again, empathy is so important to change, especially now. Approach everyone with grace because you never know what they’re dealing with. Take time to talk to your stakeholders. Also, meet your team and users where they are by making the content bite-size and consumable. Not everyone can operate within the standard 9-5 realm anymore so the more flexibility you can provide, the better.


“Ask The Expert” Webinar Series: Always Be Learning, The Need For Ongoing Education

Investing in Salesforce is like giving your organization a gift that keeps on giving. With tri-annual releases and a vibrant user community comes non-stop innovation and new capabilities. At 10K, it’s our mission to make sure every Salesforce customer is getting the most out of Salesforce, so this may not be the first time you’ve seen us promoting the benefits of ongoing education

In our latest “Ask The Expert” webinar, 10K CEO Nick Hamm sat down with Trailhead SVP, Amy Regan Morehouse, to explore the seemingly endless ways organizations can use ongoing education to get more out of Salesforce. As Amy notes in this webinar, the most effective way to make ongoing education a habit (much like committing to a new workout plan) is by simply getting started today. 

Click here to watch the full discussion or read on below for highlights. 

Who is Amy Regan Morehouse?

Amy is currently the Senior Vice President of Trailhead Academy and Trailhead Go-To-Market and has been at Salesforce for nearly 13 years. With more than half of her Salesforce career dedicated to educating its users, Amy is an admin gone Salesforce superfan with a penchant for advancing every Trailblazer’s career. 

Why Education is a Pillar for Excellent Salesforce Programs

At the beginning of the webinar, Nick explains that while ongoing education is one of the five pillars for long-term, successful Salesforce programs, he’s rarely seen customers implement education programs or goals. Given our new normal and the need to adapt quickly, Amy agrees that it’s now more important than ever to lean on ongoing education to reskill your teams. 

The pandemic has also created an opportunity for every organization to provide new pathways for its members. Ongoing education is an excellent way to empower employees during uncertain times by giving them the tools and knowledge they need to enrich their careers. 

Not Investing in Education is Actually Bad for Business

By not taking advantage of Salesforce’s rapid innovation, it’s kind of like buying your dream car but not getting your license to drive it. To drive this point home, Amy shares three striking statistics from Salesforce’s own CSG organization that show how companies that don’t invest in learning are seeing:

  • 80% lower feature adoption
  • 64% greater employee turnover
  • 60% greater time to proficiency 

The Framework Any Organization Can Adopt

Recognizing that it’s everyone’s goal to create a fast-track to proficiency, Amy outlines how to build a common language and framework that works organically for your organization’s unique culture and goals. 

Prioritize: Be an Advocate

To drive awareness, Amy encourages taking ownership and leading by example. To most effectively vocalize the benefits and hold your teams accountable, this message needs to come from the very top of every organization. That means every leader should be practicing ongoing education themselves and promoting it company-wide. 

She also encourages setting bold goals. Amy notes she’s been pleasantly surprised and thrilled to see some of their largest customers that run Centers of Excellence leading by example and becoming Rangers themselves. 

You’ll also need to give your learners time and permission, may that be a lunch-and-learn or dedicating a day or week to a specific educational challenge. 

Customize: Put Learners First 

Consider the goals of both your organization and its learners. By syncing the two, you can curate learning journeys that will promote action. 

Amy describes two camps of learners. Those who need the skills to, for example, effectively complete a project, and those who want the skills to advance their career to the next level. This is why we should put learners first through goal-oriented customization. Amy recommends checking out myTrailhead to provide the ultimate customized experience for your learners. 

Engage & Reward: Create a Learning Culture

While financial rewards might be part of the equation for your organization, you should also ask what will best engage your learners so it becomes a natural part of your culture.  

Amy describes an S&P type Salesforce customer that’s prioritized ongoing education via their hiring and promoting process. By asking candidates about their ongoing education and encouraging certifications, they’re able to identify the individuals who invest in themselves, and ultimately, would provide a great return for their company. 

How to Skill Up With Trailhead Starting Today

Amy’s most recommended tool, of course, is Trailhead, Salesforce’s free learning platform that provides everyone with democratized access to education. 

For those who are unfamiliar but ready to get started ASAP, Amy recognizes that Trailhead’s vast array of tools can be somewhat daunting, but she doesn’t want that to deter you from getting started. In fact, she confirms it’s absolutely not necessary to create a formal, sweeping education strategy.

For recommended content (Trails) catered to at-home learning, and even strategies for marketing ongoing education to your organization, check out Trailhead In A Box. Here are some of the assets you can take advantage of to launch a culture of learning:

  • Virtual Collaboration Module
  • Succeed From Home During COVID-19 Trail
  • Playbook For Driving Virtual Engagement
  • Trailhead Marketing Assets

Introducing a Trailhead challenge to your organization, per Amy’s experience, is one of the easiest strategies for customers to drive. With easily trackable results via Trail Tracker (found on the AppExchange) it’s a breeze to give ongoing education challenges to your learners. Try one of these common challenge templates, such as “Who can earn the most badges and points in 6 weeks?” or “Who can achieve the Ranger Rank by the end of the year?”

And when the challenge is complete, Amy recommends a few different rewards and modes of recognition. Examples include giving recognition via Chatter, email, or meetings, gifting a Trailblazer hoodie (or other swag), and donating to the winner’s charity of choice.

Salesforce is a powerful platform, but if you’re not using it to solve your business needs, or skilling up your employees to use it for your business needs, you’re absolutely missing out. Check out the rest of the webinar and a final Q&A with Amy and Nick below. 




“Ask the Expert” Webinar Series: When Are You Ready For Field Service Lightning?

Call us biased, but there’s a reason Salesforce and its integrated approach is the #1 CRM platform out there. No matter your business goals, there’s almost always a Salesforce product available to manage visibility into all of your customer needs, interactions, and touchpoints. So with customer service top of mind, we wanted to address when and/or whether your business is ready for Field Service Lightning (FSL). 

In our latest “Ask the Expert” webinar, our COO Jared Miller sat down with David Longhini, CEO of Empodio, to discuss the ins and outs of FSL to help you meet your customers where they are.

Click here to watch the full panel discussion, or read on for highlights.

What is Field Service Lightning?

Field Service Lightning is useful for any company that has someone that needs to go out into the field and complete work, whether that be field sales or field service. With FSL, Salesforce aims to address everything you need to do to effectively interact with your customers. This can include driving awareness of your brand through marketing, convincing customers that your service is worthwhile and provides value, and ultimately (hopefully) providing the service and delivery they’re looking for. Sometimes this has to happen on-site, which is where Field Service Lightning comes in.

Take, for instance, if you work for a consumer beverage company where you’re going from site to site with your truck, physically selling things off your truck, to a number of customers in a number of different locations. FSL helps you assign the appropriate resources in the most optimized way possible to ensure you’re minimizing travel, meeting customer expectations, operating efficiently, setting appropriate priorities, and making sure the resources you’re using have the right tools and skills to deliver.

If you’re an organization and are sending people out to the field, how do you know if you should start looking at FSL?

Lack of visibility is the #1 pain point that drives companies to adopt FSL. The reality is, companies often have no idea what’s actually going on in the field. For instance, say you’re trying to sell to a customer and you don’t know that your field service team has been out there all week repairing a piece of equipment. Needless to say, this communication breakdown puts a damper on the salesperson trying to sell a new piece of equipment to the same customer. If the customer service team has no idea where the technician is or if one has even been scheduled, how far away they are, what tools they have and their past experiences, etc., that disconnect across different teams makes everyone’s lives more difficult than they need to be and compromises the service you’re ultimately trying to provide. 

If any of this sounds painfully familiar to you, then it may be time to start considering FSL.

Does the size of the organization matter?

In short, no. We’ve seen companies as small as five people, all the way up to tens of thousands of employees use FSL. Regardless of the size of your organization, the visibility FSL provides is worth it. The only aspect that varies is which sets of features you use. Once you’re above an organization of about 30 people, for instance, you should start to consider higher-level optimization features as you have a lot of different paths and variables involved. Ultimately, no organization is too small to find value in FSL.

So how do you know when people are ready to take the next step?

Most people are facing one of two directions: either towards something you want or away from something that’s painful. 

First, there are those who have optimized their field service as much as they can, who are really trying to move forward and minimize travel times, for instance, or get more work done but don’t want to hire more people.

Then, there are those being driven by customer expectations. For instance, David mentions a utility company in Buffalo who went from vaguely telling a customer that they’ll be there “at some point in the day” and completely compromising that person’s schedule, to then being able to confidently tell a customer that they would be there within a two-hour time frame. That company made its customer’s life easier by taking their time into consideration and setting the standard for other businesses to follow suit.

Something that needs to be understood as you consider incorporating FSL into your processes is that in doing so you will be undertaking an entire digital transformation. FSL is designed to extend the flow of Salesforce and so while you may get someone who wants to use it without the rest of Salesforce, the reality is that you’ll need to put sales and service cloud together at least at the most basic level to be able to feed the work that the work order management is going to be able to do with FSL. Needless to say, FSL was not designed to be a stand-alone product. 

Your processes are drastically going to change when you’re moving from a whiteboard to a global optimization system over time. Securing the right tools and having the openness to change business processes to best practices when moving to an electronic age is something people have to be prepared to do. 

Lastly, it’s important to have team member buy-in when it comes to FSL. If someone doesn’t agree with you or you have a field service manager stuck in their own ways (for example, whether they don’t have a smartphone or are unwilling to embrace new technology) you’re going to struggle with user adoption. For effective change management, you’ll need buy-in from every member of your ecosystem.  

How many companies do you see where they are going from whiteboard to FSL versus another system to FSL?

Most are going from whiteboard to FSL as it’s really difficult to go from another system to FSL. If they are trying to move over from a robust system, it’s still very difficult. The biggest problem you’ll see is that people coming over from other technologies are moving from a different set of assumptions of how field service works. Field Service Lightning operates with “truth-based appointment booking.” When we book an appointment at any time, we note that field service rep is available, they have the right skillset, the drive times line up, etc. Ultimately, bad habits are going to have to be broken between these two systems.

It sounds like there is a lot more involvement from the client’s end.

This is true. While you may have a client who comes to you and says, “We just want to go to Field Service Lightning,” it’s important to push back and say there is no easy way to lift and shift. You can’t take a whiteboard and turn it into Field Service Lightning automatically. Chances are there are things you are doing in your organization that accommodated your paper or Excel-based capabilities that will need to be redesigned or thought about in new ways. 

An analogy I like to use is that of a driverless car. While you may have individuals who know how to ride a bicycle really fast, it’s human-powered. So when it comes to teaching that person how to operate a driverless car, you first need to teach them the mechanics and basic capabilities of a car before anything else. It won’t work to take someone who knows how to ride a bicycle and assume they know how to drive a car, as it’s different capabilities.

Is the implementation of FSL an all or nothing? Are you going from whiteboard to automated appointments? Can it be phased in?

I never recommend a “big bang” approach to FSL as it’s too many business process changes at once. Going back to the car analogy, if I take someone and move them from operating a bicycle to a driverless car, I’m going to start by teaching them to just drive a car, giving them the ability to tap the brake, tap the gas, and then they get to decide how fast they go, where they’re going, how they’re going, where to turn and how to adjust that. Once they know the basics, then we can start implementing customizations. 

Who are the key stakeholders that need to be involved in implementing FSL?

Anyone who interacts in the process; from the moment someone says “I need to go out to the field” to the point in which that is completed. When you are doing field service, in order to get it all the way through, you’re touching most areas of the business. You have a sales team that needs to send someone out, you have the people who are sending them out to do the work, the sales or customer service component that needs to be involved because they’re going to communicate with the customer, then you have the operations team and the field service team (director of operations, field service managers who are training the teams, dispatch team, etc), and so forth. 

Forgotten parts of this can include those involved with inventory, whether it’s something you’re installing, maintaining, or repairing. Don’t operate in a bubble and only consider the field service portions of the equation but try to look at the larger picture. 

Say you’re on the path of FSL implementation, what are some additional customizations that people could consider?

The simpler the better.

Say that you have an installer who doesn’t have a smartphone and/or they aren’t necessarily tech-savvy. The very first phase is getting them a smartphone and then making sure that the mobile resources they are having to utilize to do their jobs are as simple as possible. Oftentimes we aren’t dealing with Gen Z types who can click around a hundred times to make something happen. These people will get frustrated the more complicated something is, so reduce the number of clicks as much as possible in your implementation.

In addition to the installer, keep the dispatcher in mind and activate the same mentality when it comes to designing their system. Make it as simple as possible. The dispatcher ideally should never have to leave their dispatcher council. 

What are some of your favorite functionality in FSL?

Optimization fascinates me. I feel on the leading edge of what click software and Salesforce has been able to do together out of that optimization engine. You are getting into machine learning –  it’s one of the most robust optimization capabilities and what’s going on in the background when you’re using global optimization. The hardest aspect of FSL is getting the foundation right with the tools that allow optimization to work. Without this foundation, when you try to go up the chain to use optimization, you’re going to have broken it. It’s like when you’re using that driverless car and don’t plan for needing an exhaust while driving it.

To hear more of the discussion, we encourage you to watch the full panel discussion below.

“Ask the Expert” Webinar Series: Why and When Do You Need a Salesforce Architect?

As the Salesforce ecosystem has expanded and evolved, so has the need for a Salesforce architect. An architect is one of the most requested roles in the 10K Community, not only because of the value they bring but also because they’re not easy to find. It isn’t easy to become a Salesforce architect (especially a certified one), and finding a great one who is a good fit for your situation is not easy either. 

According to our Salesforce Talent Ecosystem research, Salesforce architects make up less than 1% of the overall Salesforce talent pool.

While the supply/demand ratios are improving and the number of architects grew 43% YoY, the number of customers who need their help is increasing just as fast, if not faster. 

To talk about why that is, the value architects provide, and when customers should bring them into projects, we brought together a panel of three veteran Salesforce architects — Mike Gill, Joshua Hoskins, and Matt Lamb. These independent experts from three different countries have completed hundreds of successful Salesforce projects between them, and represent some of the best in the business. 

Click here to watch the full panel discussion, or read on for highlights.

What exactly is a Salesforce architect?

There are several different types of architects with new variations cropping up all the time. There are technical, solution, and delivery architects, those who focus exclusively on marketing, or business operations, and that’s just to name a few. While experience levels and focus areas can vary greatly, an architect is generally a seasoned expert who defines, designs, and executes solutions on the Salesforce platform. They can help to guide a company’s Salesforce vision, and act as a technical advisor throughout the entire engagement.

When is the right time to bring in an architect?

If you’ve ever built a house, chances are one of the first things you did (if not the very first) was hire an architect.

You don’t call them when the walls are going up, but instead, incorporate them into the design process from the onset. Consider your Salesforce project the house in this metaphor.

While we understand everyone’s needs and budgets vary, it’s wise to have an architect on hand in the beginning stages of any new project. Architects are not cheap but their value typically more than justifies those rates. This is why we’ll tell you if you have to choose, to bring them in at the beginning as this is where they are the most valuable. They can not only validate the type of technology you want to use, but also provide contextual insight and call out the risk areas of any plans while helping with design decisions about integration architecture or data migration strategy. 

Without an architect helping you make the right decisions in the beginning, you run the risk of blowing past your budget or timeline. Front-load that expertise as you’re building your plan and you will get the most bang for your buck.

Do I need to have a full-time architect?

An architect’s expertise is best utilized at the onset of a project to help save time fixing problems down the road. You may not need an architect who is allocated full-time for the entirety of the project, but consider keeping one on a fractional basis who can help keep things on track or advise you as problems arise (which they will). They don’t need to be there for the day-to-day, but having someone on speed dial or allocating a certain number of hours for oversight will save you time, money, and possibly relationships down the road. 

What are the attributes of a good Salesforce architect?

First and foremost, look for someone with applied experience. A good architect will be proactive and anticipate challenges before problems occur. Mike, Joshua, and Matt all shared that the first step they took as an architect was to find a good mentor. Your ideal architect is someone who can take input from your business and the technical side, weigh it against their knowledge from past projects, and identify the things they don’t know and how to remedy that. This also means being humble enough to admit when they don’t have all the answers,

A good architect can also effectively communicate with a range of people, understanding their needs and what they need to hear. Because architects interact with everyone from the C-Suite down to individual contributors, it’s important that they use the right vernacular. The best architects are those who listen, not just to what’s being said and by who, but to what’s not being said. Part of this is being able to read a room and pull out everyone’s concerns even if they aren’t offered up.

While it’s not required, it also helps if an architect has or has had development experience. An architect should be able to help developers with problems, confirm that their code is solid for scale and that it complies with Salesforce best practices. Ultimately, it’s the architect who will need to figure out how to fix a performance problem in production, so if an architect hasn’t spent time in Apex or any coding language, they’ll struggle to identify problems. 

With that said, a solution architect doing pre-sales work and helping the customer put together a high-level implementation strategy probably doesn’t need extensive coding knowledge. However, be wary of a pre-sales architect who sells a high-level vision to the project stakeholders without talking about resource needs to meet project goals. 

When don’t I need an architect?

At this point you may be wondering, “Well, if an architect is such a jack-of-all-trades, why wouldn’t I just hire them and no one else?” While an architect brings a unique combination of strategy and execution, having this role do everything that’s necessary on a project isn’t the most cost-effective way to get things done. Remember these are experienced in-demand roles, which command higher hourly rates than less experienced individuals. 

Beyond the price tag, sometimes you just need a specialist. Just as you probably wouldn’t hire the architect who designed your house to also act as the roofer, electrician, and plumber. If there is an extensive amount of development to be done, hire a developer. Most architects don’t want to write code all day for a project. And because it’s not their standard day-to-day job, they wouldn’t be nearly as efficient as someone whose full-time job is development.

Finally, one of the most appealing aspects of being an independent architect (which many architects are these days) is maintaining the ability to work on multiple clients at a time. That ability to work across projects not only brings a larger breadth of experience, it also presents a variety of new problems to solve. Most of the architects we have worked with are problem solvers at the end of the day, and people tend to do their best work when they are happy. 

Watch the full panel discussion below.