Chicken Pot (chicken pot – chicken pot) Pie

FeaturedChicken Pot (chicken pot – chicken pot) Pie

There is that awkward moment at a local event when you are at a table and don’t know anyone.   Recently I was in this situation and found an empty seat next to a table of strangers and I felt awkward about “breaking the ice” but I knew that it needed to happen.

From the conversation that was going on, I could tell the people next to me were Web Developers and there was a Project manager – oh, and me, a Salesforce Analyst.

Now if this were a Salesforce conference or community event like Tahoe Dreamin or Midwest Dreamin, I would have a common topic to discuss – SALESFORCE.  However at non-Salesforce events, I feel I need to explain, evangelize and teach others about what a Salesforce or CRM Analyst is or does.   Sometimes when my explanation falls flat (like today), I usually defer to talking about the mission of the nonprofit media org I work for.

On the other side, when I try to ask the web developers what they do, I am disappointed with the answers I get.  I expect an answer about the type of projects and not the technology stack being used.   Knowing that someone focuses on the “Ruby on Python JAMP stack” doesn’t really tell me what is done or why they do what they do.

After some attempts at finding a common technology topic to discuss, I sort of gave up.   I decide to just focus on my stuff which means I escape to my iPhone.  I open my email and see an advertisement for local restaurant.  I mutter to myself “I wish I had a good idea for dinner tonight”.

That random statement sparked something.  Next thing I hear is “you too?” from Matthew, the web developer next to me.  “I didn’t set anything out to prepare for dinner either!” he exclaimed.

I asked “So what would you have set out?”, somewhat embarrassed that my thoughts turned into audible mumbles.  This verbal mistake, however, turned into a real conversation.

Turns out Matthew has a killer chicken pot pie recipe for the slow cooker.  We spent the next 30 minutes talking about food – recipes, techniques and flavors.

Not only did we share our cooking tips, but we shared our emails, so that we could send each other’s recipes.   I made a new acquaintance based on nothing more than Chicken Pot Pie.

What did I learn at this event?  I learned a lot of good stuff.
What will I remember from this event?  I will remember Matthew and our discussion.

I am reminded of the Southeast Dreamin conferences from both 2016 and 2017.  In 2016, Mary Scotton invited us to “have coffee” with people and make personal connections.   In 2017,  Chris Duarte asked us to consider our Work/Life balance so we can be a blessing to others. (See Chris’ Keynote talk here )  These talks inspire me to get into a mode of connecting with others and looking for ways to give back.

So if you find yourself wondering what you have in common with the person next to you, maybe you don’t have to try too hard.   If you are next to me, try something that most people do – which is eat food.

Interested in the Chicken Pot Pie recipe?  Let me know, cause I got a good one!

Lightning, Flow, and Snow: My TahoeDreamin’ 2017 Recap

Lightning, Flow, and Snow: My TahoeDreamin’ 2017 Recap

I attended TahoeDreamin 2017  and had a delightful time.   I have been to Dreamforce 3x and last year attended MidWest Dreamin’.  Both of which were wonderful for their own reasons, however there is something magical about TahoeDreamin’ that I LOVE.  It is more intimate, more secluded and yet just as educational as other events.  I am again amazed at the knowledge and the friendships that I come away with at a short, yet focused event.

Tahoe Dreamin'

Thursday

Travel day – I didn’t get to Tahoe in the time I wanted to, but I did make it in time to attend the #WIT (Women In Tech) hosted Happy Hour.   It was great – I got a chance to meet up with some of my friends from last year, including Melinda Smith, Shonnah Hughes, Angela Mahoney,  and got to make some new friends, including Meighan Brodkey, Guillermo Pedron, and others.

Friday

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Friday was the learning day of TahoeDreamin.   Here is a high level recap of sessions I attended:

8am: How to set User Expectations in Salesforce to increase User Adoption w/ Lyndsay Neer
Takeaways:
1) Being a Salesforce Admin is more than just being an “Order Taker.” You are a leader and help improve the business process and business outcome.
2) Soft skills are just as, if not more important than, technical skills.  Lyndsay spends 80% of her training time on soft skills – communicating, managing and working with clients.
3) Salesforce Adoption is not a straight line.  It can meander and curve and sometimes adoption goes down – keep working with users to improve and update your org.  Adoption is an ever-moving thing.

 

9:00am: Keynote with Sarah Franklin and guests, including Leah McGowen-Hare, James Harrison, and Wade Wegner
Takeaways:
1) Sarah Franklin spoke about her career path and how she made changes in her life.  Change can be hard, but we should not let Fear take over your life choices.
2) We can/should/will help others.  We can “be the change” that others need.
3) Spring 17 has a LOT of updates, features and functionality that will wow you.  Paths, Streams, Flows, Utility Bars.  I like what Leah McGowen-Hare showed about the changes to Lightning and “bringing the power to the users”.  It will make users’ experience more relevant by exposing the right data in the right context.

 

11am: How Trailhead manages Identities with Samantha Ready and Doug Bitting
Takeaways
1) Security and Authentication is difficult.  Matching the right person to the right account with the expected outcome takes consideration. (I like how Doug said there is a reason why we have two buttons on the Trailhead page – LOGIN and  SIGN UP)
2) Trailhead team uses Salesforce Authentication Services, Heroku, and other Salesforce tools to deliver Trailhead.
3) Sometimes I attend sessions that are way over my head, just because I am a huge fan of the presenters.

 

1:30pm: Take Action (fast) With Lightning with Christian Carter
Takeaways:
1) Christian Carter!  Open invitation to Christian Carter to come to Minnesota and speak to our users here..  Then help me plan out my Lightning migration?!?
2) Moving to Lightning offers the admin a chance to freshen not only the look and feel of the interface, but a chance to rethink the business processes that users need when working in Salesforce.  More than just putting the right fields in the right order, its “what data” and “where” in the application do they want/need it.
3) I need to spend more time learning Lightning and trying different use cases.  There is so much you can already do that it’s going to take a while to play around.

 

2:40pm: Lightning Myths with Gillian Bruce
Takeaways
1) Don’t be afraid of Lightning.  Start to use Lightning in your sandbox to try new things.
2) You can “upgrade” Classic apps to Lightning fairly easily.  (a little too easy, huh?)
3) Flows in Lighning Console.  This looks really interesting and I will post more about this after I play with it.

 

4pm: Online Forms for Websites and Email Messages Using Flow with Bonny Hinners
Takeaways
1) There are many ways of getting information from a web form into Salesforce, from Web-to-case, 3rd party apps, rest services, etc.   You can also do this using force.com sites and visual workflow.
2) There is a AppExchange App from Salesforce Labs that is the Visual Workflow Getting Started Pack.  It may provide some ideas for new users to flow.
3) It is time for me to start playing with flow some more and see what scenarios I can come up with to help my org.

 

What I appreciated about these sessions was that the “Q&A” was real Q&A with real-life scenarios.  This was something that you don’t always get at Dreamforce, because it is so fast-paced.   I was able to ask specific questions about a product or business process directly with the expert and afterwards people came up to me and started talking to me about the question.   Other admins, consultants, software vendors, and MVPs were accessible for lively discussion over a topic that has been been a personal challenge.  This was a great time for inspiration and ideas.

Some of the other great discussions I had were in the hallways outside the sessions, including individual talks with Tim Lockie, Tracy Kronzack, Daniel Stange, Justice, Monica, Nickki Gibeaut, and Jen Lee 

Saturday

The *plan* was to get early breakfast and go Snowmobiling.  However due to impending weather conditions, I decided to change my plans.

Instead I spent the morning with Monica.  This was an awesome turn of events, because we got to talk about all sorts of things.  I am grateful that we got this time just to relax, have breakfast, walk around Tahoe and shop a little.

We decided on heading to Reno that afternoon and spending time with some other great Salesforce Admins.  We had a great dinner and all discussed life in the Salesforce ecosystem and life as people in this world.  It was amazing.   I am once again reminded what a blessing I have right now to be surrounded by not only smart people, but honest, caring and fun people.  Thank you to my friends in Reno: MonicaMelinda, ShonnahNickkiKristi, and Mark.   

Sunday

Sunday is travel day – and this was a hard one.  My plane sat on the tarmac at both Reno and Phoenix for over an hour total.  I missed my flight home from Phoenix, however while I was there I found the greatest tweets.  The Phoenix WIT group was doing an impromptu lunch with Kristi Guzman, and not only did they invite me to come, I got a call on my cell phone to ask if I wanted a ride.   (I didn’t get to go due to logistics, however it cemented in my mind what an AWESOME set of individuals that are part of this #ohana. )

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If it weren’t for Twitter, I might have gone a little crazy.   I did let American Airlines know (via Twitter and in person) that I was not a happy person.

While stuck waiting for my flight, I did get to work on my 2017 Goal List, which now includes a couple new things.  Here is my list in all it’s glory:

Work projects:
- Marketing Automation
- Telemarketing integration (?)
- Service Console
- Lightning Experience migration for certain users
- integration of new departments
- Visual WorkFlow project / Flow for Lightning Users 
- Volunteers 4 Salesforce (?)
- X-Author

Community projects: 
- March 17, 2017: #AutomationHour presentation (Basic Automation 101) 
     - sign up as this link: http://bit.ly/Stuart031717
- Adopting a local school (making progress on this journey)
- Serving for a Trailhead4All event
- Serving for a Junior Achievement event
- Working with Trailblazers on new ways of reaching others through education
- Serving for a Girl Develop It (or equivalent event) 
- Volunteer for local Salesforce User Group events
- Volunteer for youth baseball in early summer

Certifications
- Marketing email
- Marketing social
- Marketing consultant
- Community consultant
- Pardot specialist
- IIBA certification (CBAP or equivalent)

Personal/Home:
- (re)establish workout routine 
- obtain a more healthy weight while continuing to enjoy my life
- start remodel of basement/bathroom/garage (long term goals)
- build *something* with power tools obtained as gifts from family
- institute an "organization plan" for all my stuff. Need to break that habit!

Travel: 
- Midwest Dreamin' (Aug 10-11)
- WITness Success (Aug 11-13) 
- Extended Family trip to Germany this summer (September)
- NYC Salesforce World Tour (Dec 2017) 

 

Conference Takeaways

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  1. Lightning – Salesforce Spring 17 will enhance and improve the lightning experience.  It will be worth your time to start looking at lightning and learning the new ways of customizing it. (Get out of your “Classic” brain into something different)
  2. Flow!  Visual Workflow is getting some enhancement with Lightning.  The ability to run flows as a new tool in lightning utility bar is intriguing and could offer more functionality and automation for users.
  3. Ohana – Peers who not only respect and share with each other, but care for your  professional challenges and success. I am amazed by the quality of the relationships between customers, partners and consultants.
  4. Enjoy yourself.  Wow that was fun and amazing and it is nice to just be in the moment and appreciate it.
  5. Set Goals.  Learn about new ways to use Salesforce and set a goal to try them on your own after the dust has settled from the event.

 

Pictures

You can of course find all my pictures at my Flickr site – here:  I will try to remember to add more as I find them!

Thanks and Enjoy!

Stuart Edeal

My Dreamforce 16 Review: Twitter, Tornadoes and Ohana

It’s been almost 2 months since Dreamforce 16 took place, and I have not yet written a blog post about my experience there.

  • I spoke in an awesome panel of Business Analysts
  • I attended some great presentations and Keynote Sessions
  • I learned about Einstein
  • I spoke with many vendors and got some ideas for new uses of Salesforce.
  • I took a bunch of pictures.

 

However, It didn’t hit me until yesterday about the power of my DF16 experience.  It was a random Twitter Poll that was shared with me asking “Have you ever met a twitter friend in person?”

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This question sparked in my brain a torrent of thoughts and memories.  You see for me, my Dreamforce 16 experience started months before October 2016 and was heavily influenced by Twitter and those people I have connected with.

You might say my DF16 journey started in July 17 2015, with a change in my career.  I knew I wanted to continue my work in Salesforce (SFDC user/admin since 2009).   On this date, I began studying for my Admin Certifications and dove into Trailhead in a serious, habitual way.  That was a big day.

You might say that my path to Dreamforce started on November 13th, 2015 when I volunteered at my local Salesforce User Group and I got to meet @TheChrisDuarte who was so supportive of me as a person and my journey.

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However I know today that my the REAL start to my Dreamforce 16 journey began on 12/26/15.  That was the day that an F4 tornado hit Rowlett, Texas.   Before that date I knew about the Salesforce Community, where Salesforce Admins and Developers would gather together to discuss issues and help resolve problems, but I didn’t really understand the POWER of the community until I received this message in Twitter, from my Salesforce mentor, Leyna:

 

Leyna spread the news about the tornado that hit Nana Gregg’s home and asked the community to reach out to help with financial and emotional support.

That was the day that my understanding of #Ohana began.  I saw the outpouring of support from Admins and Developers.  Nerds, Geeks, Technologists, Marketers, and even Salespeople reaching out to offer Nana support, prayers, time and love.  It was heartwarming to me.

 

 

So that day I followed Nana on twitter.  I found her wordpress blog called Nana’s Musings, and I also found that she has a delightful podcast that she does with John Graf, called NerdForce! (love that name)

 

Through Nana, I found other connections to the Salesforce Community.   What I have learned through these connections is that the Community is more than just a group of people who want to learn about Salesforce, and more than just about solving issues and offering advice for formula fields and validation rules.

The Salesforce Community also cares about YOUR well being, they want you to succeed not only with the technology but with your life.   Because of people like Nana Gregg, I signed up for Midwest Dreamin, where I got to MEET these HEROES in person.  I had been following people like Nana from afar, through the Salesforce Community and through social media.   I had been awestruck by their knowledge about Salesforce, ability to offer answers to tough questions, and ability to guide other admins and developers around the world.

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Nana Gregg with Apex and the Limits (Ryan as the Lion) at Midwest Dreamin 16

I was pinching myself at Midwest Dreamin because here were people I had been admiring and following who treated me as if we had known each other for years.  The quality of the people in this community is amazing.  It is the #Ohana.

I went into my Dreamforce 16 experience knowing that it would be different than previous years.   My schedule wasn’t about “Which HOTs am I attending?” or “Which vendor/client meetings do I need to schedule?”   This year’s DF schedule was all about “Who in the Salesforce Community do I need to connect with?”

DF16

The first person I saw at Dreamforce, in the Hilton lobby on my way to the registration desk, was none other than Nana Gregg.  I was so delighted because for me – that meant that DF16 had started.  I got to say hello to one of my favorite people in the community, and I knew that meant that I would be seeing more of my #Ohana!

At Dreamforce I got to participate in the NerdforceCon, an event put on by Salesforce Community members to raise money for kids in need.   It fit right in with the #Ohana of this community giving back to others.

My Dreamforce 16 experience ended at the Marc Benioff Q&A, (where I had “that amazing experience” which I may write about later).   I was seated (randomly?) in the front row right across from the Salesforce VIPs (Executive Level folks).    So, who sat by me at the session?  None other than Nana Gregg!    At the event, I was looking around at the MVPs, User Group Leaders, Salesforce Employees, and other Gurus and started to have #ImposterSyndrome.  “Why am I here?”, “Am I supposed to be here?”  I was getting somewhat concerned that I was not meant to be.

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Nana calmly and gently said to me – “Stu, you are the right person in the right place at the right time”

That is so Nana – and so #Ohana.   (I am grateful that she did this, because awesomeness ensued at this event.)

Thank you Nana.  (and Happy Birthday)

 

Admin to Analyst: Where does a Salesforce BA go for help?

Thanks to everyone who joined us for the  “Admin To Analyst: Salesforce Business Analysts Talk Transitioning Roles” at Dreamforce 2016.  I am still thrilled that I was asked to be included with these other AWESOME presenters.

If you have a question that wasn’t answered in the session, please let us know.

A couple interactions recently caused me to write down my “go to” list of learning and knowledge about Salesforce.

  • @NickersUniverse  asked me (on the Power of Us Hub) “where do you go for Salesforce resources? “
  • One of the power-users at my org indicated that  she would not be able to go to DreamForce this year, due to timing and cost.  She indicated there must be other places for her to learn about Salesforce and connect with other users..

YES there is!  My answer was a list of all sorts of stuff:

 Out of all of the resources The best resource I have for help is the amazing Salesforce Community.  When I am asked if it’s more important “What” you know or “Who” you know, my answer is that all the best things I have learned I get from the smart people I interact with in the community.
“We are the music makers,
and we are the dreamers of dreams.”
– Willie Wonka
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Do you have other resources that you use to learn about Salesforce and connect with resources?   Add them to the comments or send me a message!
Thanks

Admin to Analyst: Who makes a good Salesforce BA?

This is the 6th post regarding the upcoming “Admin To Analyst: Salesforce Business Analysts Talk Transitioning Roles” at Dreamforce 2016.  I am excited to be included with these other AWESOME presenters.

I encourage you to bookmark this session and come join us – it will be a fun discussion!

Would you be a great Salesforce BA?

For those of you who are reading this that are currently a Salesforce Admin (#AwesomeAdmin), well, first of all thanks for reading!  If you have reading this far, you may be wondering if you should be a Salesforce Business Analyst.

I am here to break the news to you that you might already be headed down the Salesforce BA road, as the activity of “Business Analysis” goes beyond the role or title.

In my own background, I have been in the technology field for most of my life, and have held the following Roles:

  • Pre-Sales Engineer, where I was responsible for providing technical support to Sales staff during a sales process, performing product demonstrations, understanding customer needs, responding to RFPs and RFIs, work with both sales and marketing colleagues to transition prospects and leads into customers.
  • Help Desk Customer Support, where my role was to ensure that end users can accomplish their tasks in our hardware and software. This including triage, prioritizing, documenting, and actively resolving help requests.  Problem resolution involved the use of tracking tools.  I learned how to ask good questions and listen to the answers. I learned how to explain complex technical issues to customers and train both internal and external users on difficult functional processes.
  • QA Manager, where I was responsible for overall test planning.  At a small software company, I built test environments and scripts.  I gained analytical and problem-solving skills to help understand the software goals, document the metrics to meet those goals, and validate the processes through testing.   Over time, I also built strong bonds with internal developers, architects and management.
  • Technical Writer, where I authored, organized, and managed information in support of business units across the enterprise. (Information includes written documentation, visual models, and digital media.)  This included accumulating, understanding, and leveraging industry-specific knowledge for the benefit of the organization, its clients, its employees, and its business partners.  I was responsible for generating original content and knowledge assets.  Critical analysis and customer service skills were essential for this role.
  • CRM Product Manager, where my role is to supervise and maintain the installation, configuration, and support of the organization’s CRM software through best practices.  I analyze and resolve program issues and hold responsibility for monitoring data quality.  I also use communication & problem-solving skills to guide and assist end users on issues related to the design, development, and deployment of CRM software critical to business operations.

While these roles haven’t been titled as “Business Analyst”, they still require an understanding of the organization’s needs intimately and have the skills to communicate those needs in a way that all stakeholders can understand.  Other skills these roles share:

  • Ability to quickly get up-to-speed on an issue and understand how that issue affects the enterprise 
  • Establish trust and credibility with your stakeholders
  • Tailor communications to different audiences
  • Problem solving
  • Strong analytical thinking
  • Attention to detail
  • Intimate knowledge of users, and their business processes
  • Documentation skills

Why should I be a BA?

Laura Brandenburg, (CBAP certified leader) wrote 42 Reasons To Start a Business Analyst Career, but my best reason for pursuing the BA career track is that the role of a Business Analyst is both interesting & challenging due to the variety of industries & business problem challenges that it covers.  Some professionals are always searching for their “next big thing” and Business Analysis offers a very unique role that allows people be as challenged as they dare to be.

Also, there are compensation reasons someone may want to be a BA.  The Salesforce Career page refers to average salary, however the 2017 Robert Half salary study shows a CRM Business Analyst as having a 3.9% increase in salary from last year

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Technology Salaries in the United States, 2016, 2017 with the % Change

One additional side-note about that salary study:  They asked CIO’s “In which one of the following areas would you say tech professionals could use improvement?” They saw gaps in the soft skills that would be part of regular Business Analysis core competencies:

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Who would make a great Salesforce BA?

Just for fun, I decided to come up with my list of fun people who would make great Salesforce BAs.  (click the links in the lists below for videos!)
Who would you add to this list?

Marge Gunderson (Fargo)

In the movie Fargo, Marge Gunderson is the chief of police in Brainerd, Minnesota.

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Why she would make a great Salesforce BA:

 

Columbo

Columbo is a talkative homicide detective who is first seen as absentminded, however is intelligent and solves all of his mysteries, usually to his ability ton observe mistakes or flaws in the killer’s actions & motives. 

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Why he would make a great Salesforce BA:

 

Captain Kirk

James Tiberius Kirk (fictional character) is the captain of the Enterprise in Star Trek shows and movies.

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Why he would make a great Salesforce BA:

 

Trailhead4All Students

Trailhead4All is a challenge within the Salesforce community to host at least one Trailhead event at a nonprofit, school, or any community gathering and spread the Salesforce knowledge before Dreamforce 2016.   Read more about the challenge at the annieforce blog

I had the honor of helping the Twin-Cities Tralhead4All event and it was a blast.  I would love to do this again.

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Why they are great Salesforce BAs:

  • Listening
  • Solutions Knowledge
  • Adaptability
  • Conceptual Thinking
  • Teamwork
  • Tools and Technology

 

I hope to see you all at Dreamforce!  Have ideas or questions for further deep-dives in the life of a Salesforce Business Analysis?  Let me know!

Stuart

 

Admin to Analyst: Process Modeling & Prototyping

This is the 5th post regarding the upcoming “Admin To Analyst: Salesforce Business Analysts Talk Transitioning Roles” at Dreamforce 2016.  I am excited to be included with these other AWESOME presenters.

I encourage you to bookmark this session and come join us – it will be a fun discussion!

Process! Solutions! Building!

If you are going to Dreamforce, you will notice quite a few sessions regarding how to Plan your solutions (you might hear some refer to it as “putting on a BA Hat”). If you are lucky enough to have a Salesforce BA (or to be a Salesforce BA) then you are already wearing that hat and Design, Process Modeling and Prototyping solutions.  If you are a Solo-Admin who also serves as the organizations Salesforce BA, then you are accustomed to thinking about these tasks as well.   I will point out some of the things you may want to bookmark for your Dreamforce Agenda:

 

A Builder uses a Blueprint

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At my house, we are watching a LOT of Bob the Builder, and one of the things that hits home to me is that Bob never just instructs his equipment to start digging dirt and placing concrete without FIRST having a plan and a blueprint.  Without the right design on paper, the structure can crumble and fall.  The same exists for your software customization and configuration.

So what techniques do Salesforce Business Analysts use to build the Design to use when Building Solutions?

Process Modeling

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A business process model describes the sequential flow of work across defined tasks and activities through an enterprise.  A system process model defines the sequential flow of control among programs or units within a computer system.  A process flow shows the sequential execution of program statements within a software program. A process model can also be used in documenting operational procedures.
(Hopefully your current operational procedures are not like the following…) 
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Process models generally include the following elements:

  • People – the participants in the process who either do the action or are affected by the action
  • Process – most processes can be broken down to their elements:  events that trigger the process, the steps or actions of the process (manual or automated),  the path that link these actions, and the ending results of the process
  • Places – where the action takes place, context of the action
  • Policy – the rules, limits, guidelines, or governance around the action being accomplished
  • Technology – the tools or systems used to complete the action.
  • Data – what are the inputs and outputs of the process.

Benefits of Process Modeling:

  • Provide a sequence of events or actions to your stakeholders
  • Provide a visual to accompany written documents
  • Shows events by people, rules, or passage of time
  • Define Current State (as-is) and Future State (to-be) processes
  • Effectively show how to handle large number of scenarios
  • Can be used for process analysis, verifying requirements, QA and training tasks

Process Modeling Best Practices:

  • Start Simple!  Models can get complex and hard to understand when contain too much activity
  • Use as Supplement to Documentation:  Problems that can happen in processes are not always identifiable by only looking at a model

Process Modeling Tools:

I have tried many different Business Process Modeling tools, and in my use, I have appreciated Microsoft Visio and Google Docs for the work that I do.  I am able to create all sorts of diagrams that help explain the Business and Process, including Org Charts, Swimlanes, Data Flow, Process Mapping, etc.

You don’t have to use Visio, here are a list of other tools that you may want to refer to.

 

Prototyping

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A good way of validating a requested solution may be to prototype the design in a very simple (crude) method.   Prototypes can be models or depictions of a proposed solution.  They can be used as a partially working construct of a product, or describe business processes through a series of diagrams.

Most prototypes fall into one of two categories:

  • Throw-away: prototypes created on cocktail napkins, paper and pencil or on whiteboard, does not become a workable product or deliverable once the final system or process is developed.  This method is helpful for identifying functionality or
    processes that are not easily to understand.  Where there is confusion or conflicting needs, it may be a good to use an inexpensive and malleable tool to confirm the accuracy of design.
  • Evolutionary or Functional: some prototypes are created as a possible working solution and may be used in the final solution.  Creating a “non-production” version of a technology that is well understood and has specific requirements  that can be demonstrated, tested and confirmed may be another way to design a prototype.

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Benefits of Prototyping: 

  • Provides a visual display of a solution concept
  • Identifies both missing or improperly specified requirements and assumptions
  • Should give stakeholders an idea of the functional scope, and allow for early feedback

Prototyping Best Practices:

  • Prototypes can start out as basic skeletons to represent actual solutions.
    • Start on paper
    • Move to digital diagrams
    • Evolve to mockups in software (such as Balsamiq or a Salesforce Sandbox)
  • Review periodically with stakeholders

Prototyping Tools:

I have to say that when I start a design, I LOVE using post it notes and whiteboards.  It allows for collaboration with others (there are virtual whiteboards for remote teams) and there is something magical about whiteboards and post it notes when starting to design a prototype.

Once you have a basic whiteboard picture, I really like Balsamiq for creating something that can look and feel like a product, without actually working.  This can be helpful to set expectations with users and executives.

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Once you have agreement on the design of your proposed solution, you may want to build a working prototype in your Salesforce Sandbox for a real-world scenario testing.

 

Validating Requirements

No matter what techniques you use, you should Validate the Requirements: ensures that a set of requirements or designs delivers business value and supports the organization’s goals and objectives.  Always ask yourself “Are the customer needs met?”  and “Will the solution do the right thing?”

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Got questions?   Want a deeper dive in any area?  Leave a comment and let me know!  Thanks for reading.  

Stuart Edeal  

Admin to Analyst: Training & Certification (If I Only Had A Brain?)

This is the 4th post regarding the upcoming “Admin To Analyst: Salesforce Business Analysts Talk Transitioning Roles” at Dreamforce 2016.  I am excited to be included with these other AWESOME presenters.

I encourage you to bookmark this session and come join us – it will be a fun discussion!

Toni Martin surprised me a bit the other day on a prep call for our panel discussion.  She indicated that (SAFE HARBOR) question #4 of our DF16 presentation slides is “What training exists or is required for Salesforce BAs?”   What advice do I have to offer on this subject…..

Required?

Where I am getting stuck is the word “Required”.   What is required I believe depends on the context of your situation.   So I won’t be able to say “You Must Do This!” however, I will try to explain that there are many paths you might take on the road to learning about being an #Awesome Salesforce Business Analysis

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If we think about a Business Analyst, this is a person who has both Soft Skills and Technical Chops.  This is a person who can dive into the weeds on a topic, but still see the forest for the trees.  This person serves as a “liaison” between the Technical world and the Business world.   So with that understanding, we should consider these core skill:

  • Communication – able to communicate with both the technical teams, but also the end users and the C-level executives about a project or issue.
  • Problem Solving – be able to understand “problems” and their context within the organization.  Be able to triage issues and manage incidents that turn into problems. (Traige, Incidents and Problem Management are a nod to ITIL, which is a different training altogether.)
  • Critical Thinking – asking questions, considering options outside the box.
  • Facilitation  leading others through a process to transfer knowledge, resolve conflict (remember me saying a BA is like a Hostage Negotiator..); handle ambiguity in the workplace (clear the fog of doubt).
  • Camp Counselor – very often the BA is the Relationship Builder.  As you build trust with your teams and users, some will seek your advice on other leadership questions.
  • Industry Expertise – the BA is looked upon for “How should we do that?” type questions.  It makes sense, as the BA has a lot of Proprietary Intelligence from discussions with internal stakeholders.  Having Industry Knowledge will make this question easier to answer.
  • Technical  Skills – if you are going to analyze a problem with software, it helps to know about how it works.  Does this mean you need to be a technical expert?  Well, the answer is that CONTEXT MATTERS!

Context

For example, are you a Solo-Admin + BA?  You may find that YOU are the technical expert and should be always growing your Technical Skills.   Are you part of a larger team that has Developers, Support Staff and other Business Analysts and Systems Analysts?  Then you may find that you don’t require to be the technical expert, however you should understand the details enough to be able to communicate, discuss, debate and rally support with your counterparts.

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I am not a coder (yet) but I understand enough about how systems and integrations work to be able to map out a process for our technical guru’s or outside consultants to work with.

Training

Business Analyst Training

Technical Training

Don’t Forget Technical training as well.   Of course, there are lots of resources available for Salesforce Training.  I won’t mention them all, but I will give a shout-out to TRAILHEAD! Reach out to me if you want advice on How Trailhead helps the Salesforce BA, cause we could build a trail specifically around modules that do this.

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Certifications

I am not going to tell you to get certified or not.  I can give an overview of what Certification means to me:

  • It demonstrates a professional level of capabilities on a subject
  • It provides recognition of competence by professional peers
  • It should increase confidence by employers during candidate search and hiring

Business Analyst Certification

There are several types of certifications available to Business Analysts: Industry credentials from IIBA®and PMI®, which are primarily knowledge-based, and Academic Certification, which is a blend of skills training and theory.

As of September 30, 2016 the IIBA has announced new levels of Certification:

ECBA™ (Entry Certificate in Business Analysis)
Awarded By International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA®)
Experience Needed A minimum of 21 hours of professional development training in the last four years is required.

For more details, visit the IIBA® Website.

Steps to Credential Application process and a 1.5-hour, 50-question multiple-choice exam
Best For Recognizes individuals entering the field of business analysis.
CCBA® (Certification of Capability in Business Analysis)
Awarded By International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA®)
Experience Needed 3,750 hours of BA experience + 21 hours of professional development training.

For more details, visit the IIBA® Website.

Steps to Credential Application process and a 3-hour, 130-question multiple-choice exam
Best For Recognizes BA professionals who have 2-3 years of experience.
CBAP®  (Certified Business Analysis Professional)
Awarded By International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA®)
Experience Needed 7,500 hours of BA experience + 35 hours of professional development training.

For more details, visit the IIBA® Website.

Steps to Credential Application process and a 3.5-hour, 120-question multiple-choice exam
Best For Recognizes BA professionals who lead and have over 5 years of BA experience.
CBATL™ (Certified Business Analysis Thought Leader)
Awarded By International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA®)
Experience Needed Require a minimum of 10 years’ experience and will be assessment based.

For more details, visit the IIBA® Website.

Steps to Credential TBD – assessment based application
Best For Recognizes BA professionals who advance the BA profession and have over 10 years of experience.
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PMI-PBA®
Awarded By Project Management Institute (PMI®)
Experience Needed With a High School Diploma or Associate’s Degree: 7,500 hours of BA experience + 35 hours of professional development training.

With a Bachelor’s Degree: 4,500 hours of BA experience + 35 hours of professional development training.

For more details, visit the PMI® Website.

Steps to Credential Application process and a 200-question exam.
Best For Current CBAP or PMP, “hybrid” BA-PM.

Also, there are college degrees that are specific to BA fields, if that is a route you wish to take.

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Masters Certificate or Associate Certificate in Business Analysis
Awarded By Universities
Experience Needed No previous experience is required.
Steps to Credential The successful completion of required courses and may have an elective course depending on the program.
Best For Anyone, with any level of experience, interested in making business analysis their career or seeking to broaden their knowledge or experience in the discipline of business analysis.

 

Salesforce Certification

Why get Salesforce certification?  I found an article by Shell Black that can give you a more detailed reason around this:

“I think this is an extremely important factor in accessing a Salesforce administrator’s value to a company. If the administrator just a “doer” (and simply implementing the decisions of others), they have less value to an organization versus an administrator that is providing options and strategic direction on how to solve business problems with the Salesforce platform. An individual that is involved in the decision making process, or even better the strategic direction of a company, has inherently more value to an organization.”

 

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Admin Track -> Administrator Certification, Advanced Admin Certification
Awarded By Salesforce
Experience Needed No prerequisites are required.
Steps to Credential Application process and a 60-question exam.
Best For Candidates should possess broad knowledge of Salesforce applications, regularly configure and manage Salesforce, and continuously look for ways their companies can get even more from additional features and capabilities.
Implementation Track “Consultant” Certifications -> Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Community Cloud, Marketing Cloud, (Pardot)
Awarded By Salesforce
Experience Needed Prerequisite: Current status as a Salesforce Certified Administrator
Steps to Credential The successful completion of required courses and may have an elective course depending on the program.
Best For Candidates should be able to successfully design and implement solutions that are maintainable and scale-able, and contribute to long-term customer success.

So, Is Certification Required?

I was recently asked “Did taking the Salesforce Admin Certification help you in understanding Salesforce?”  My answer is no and yes – here is why.  “Taking” and “Passing” the certification test didn’t make me smarter nor does it mean I am an expert in all things Salesforce (I mean, who really is an expert in ALL things Salesforce?)  What did help me was “Studying” and “Preparing” for the test.   This journey down the yellow brick road of knowledge was the thing that for me was the key.  Getting the diploma is nice, however it is only a milestone on the continuing journey.

Similar with BA Certification.   While it is on my roadmap, I have not yet taken the CBAP certification, however I have gone through 2 study groups specifically for certification.  I know that, like the Scarecrow in Wizard of Oz, getting the certification is only a blip on the journey.  Maintaining my knowledge, continuing to grow and networking with others is an ongoing process.

Having a Certification is one thing.   Using it is yet another.  I encourage you, if you do have a Certification, use it!  Train, Teach, Encourage Others.  Volunteer where help is needed in your local community.  Maintain your learning and don’t let it go stale.

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 Got questions? Want a deeper dive in any area? Leave a comment and let me know! Thanks for reading.   

Stuart Edeal