Posted by: eliz_beth | November 1, 2011

Month of Posts – #1 Tips on writing documentation

I took a little time off after Dreamforce, which turned into a lot of time off here. With November being traditionally the chance to write a novel in a month, there’s another group who is encouraging each other to write a post a day on their blog. So this month I’m going to do my best and post at least one tip, experience, or idea a day to get back into the saddle. Some may be a bit obvious, but the reason I’m posting them is because of recent situations where I’ve seen them actually occur. If you roll your eyes, take it as a reminder to use when you review your next activity.

Today’s tip is regarding creating documentation for your users. It doesn’t matter how many times you show a user how to do something or how simple you make the process, at some point you will either need or want to document the process. If you are not set up with something slick to basically make videos of your clicks and commentary on a screen, you’re definitely going to go with the traditional written format.

An important component of documentation is taking screenshots of the related materials. There are many tools available to assist you such as SnagIt, but sometimes you have to work with what you have and that is Microsoft Paint. A little alt-print screen, some paste into Paint, and wha-la you have the basis for your screenshot. You can use various tools in Paint to crop, resize, emphasize, and obscure the picture to fit your needs.

Here’s some helpful hints when taking and working on your screenshots:

1- If you can, create screenshots using dummy data, preferably from a sandbox instance that is a recent full copy of your instance. If not, production is acceptable but watch for the following:
A- If using production data, make sure the information being shared is not details that should remain private to all possible viewers of the document
B- Create a dummy account/records to use to take screenshots of to protect your regular data. Be sure to clean them up after the project, or make sure the data associated is not included in reports, etc.
C- If you can’t go the dummy route or the sandbox route, unless you absolultely need to show figures, use Paint or the tool of choice to obscure sensitive data. Erase it, cover it, blur it- whatever works best for you.

2- When taking the screenshots, make sure you are logged in and displaying the screens as the audience you are writing for. Sometimes you may have to make this a generic choice, but if you can accommodate your screenshots to match what the user is going to see, your work will look much more professional and will go a long ways to prevent misunderstandings. Users will believe what they see on the page- if that is different than what they see on the screen, their confidence levels will be dropped and the rate they ask questions.

3- Provide clear definitions and processes. While most documents do not need to be extremely detailed it does need to be clear. In the past I’ve often created two versions of the same document– a fully detailed version with complete descriptions, step by step instructions, and included what the typical errors may include, and a second versions which was a quicker summary with just the main steps involved. The quick references were used after initial learning took place, the full document was used for learning and reference.

4- Consistency of terminology. If something has multiple acceptable names, that is fine- explain that. Don’t use them interchangeably without verifying for the user they are the same and it is acceptable practice.

5- Note on your document:
A- What it is about – typically covered in the title
B- Who is it for?
C- What version of the document
D- What version of the associated software was it written for
E- Author(s) of the document.

So those are a few tips to keep in mind when creating documentation for your Salesforce users. I hope you’ll continue reading this month and if you have any particular areas you’d like to see covered, leave a comment!

Wow wow wow!

It has been an extremely exciting time in the Dreamforce app!  Not long ago if you’d asked if there was a mobile client for access to Dreamforce or if you wanted to know how to export your calendar after successfully building your schedule… I would have said “nope, sorry!”

Not anymore!!!

First you can now access the Dreamforce org through Salesforce Chatter Desktop and Chatter mobile clients.  The one catch I have heard so far is it is not working on the latest Mac release Lion for some people nor on iPhones.  However, if you’re on Windows or Android, it is your lucky day.  Since we still don’t have the full SFDC mobile client on Android, I don’t feel bad this doesn’t work for you fancy iPhone users. 🙂  This does not by any means replace the full Dreamforce mobile app that will arrive the week or so before the event, but it does give us something to use in the meanwhile.  Props to Brian Martinez for discovering and sharing the hack!

Basically how it works is like this– download and install the chatter desktop (or mobile) application.  When you open the app it will ask for a server (or go to the settings) and add this address:

Follow the prompts on the screen, use your Dreamforce username and password when prompted.  If things are going well, you will see an OAuth type error.  This is expected.  Close out, try it again and it should work.  You may see it ask for permission for the app to access your account, say yes/accept.  Once you get the error, you can try clicking back in the app- that’s worked for me as well to get it going.
One of the other big requests is a way to export your Dreamforce calendar so you can update your usual calendar app (and use that to share etc).  Short of manually updating your calendar there was no other option, till now!  Matthew Botos of Mavens Consulting has put together a solution that will allow you to take the emailed version of your Dreamforce calendar and update your usual calendar software!  You can read more about it at Mavens Consulting Dreamforce Schedule Exporter.

Two solutions that come from the community because they saw a need, accepted the challenge, and shared what they discovered and created.  Where else do you find such amazing community members?!

Posted by: eliz_beth | July 19, 2011

My Tuesday Dreamforce sessions

So the Agenda Builder is live and there are over 400 sessions to choose from.  I am planning on taking each day this week to review what I have chosen so far to attend.  As of today, these are my choices, but they are subject to change with the changes in availability or additional sessions added.  At minimum, I plan to review these once they appear online after Dreamforce ends.

Tuesday – aka Day 1 of Dreamforce!  If you’ve not picked it up already, head over to get your badge and swagbag.   I’ve not seen the official Dreamforce bag for this year but have heard it has a compartment for your laptop and for your iPad.  Sadly, I don’t think they’re putting iPads in the bags to go with them.  More on that later!

Dreamforce doesn’t officially start till the afternoon but there’s the Community Conference on Tuesday morning to sign up for!  Remember, I can’t tell you what you should choose to attend but thought I’d go into some of the thought processes around what I chose.

Community Conference – Tuesday August 30 –
Keynote – I always plan on attending keynotes! Lots of great information and just a great way to start off the day.
10 AM – Community Tour – Disclaimer, this is on my schedule because I’m one of the speakers. My fellow MVP and friend Amber Neill plan on taking you on a quick tour of all the resources available to help you with your Salesforce instance and/or desire to learn more about Salesforce. There’s lots to learn so come along for the ride!

11 – Answers Live – The Answers site is one of the best places to go for help and here will be some of the top leaders of the Answers board taking questions and sharing their process.

Tuesday Dreamforce Sessions:

2 – Roadmap Sneak Peak: The Future of Analytics in Salesforce
I’m a numbers geek and one of the key items in our instance is the use of analytics. I need and want to know what is coming (safe harbor of course) so I can adjust our roadmap. Plus, knowing what is coming, prepping for it and wowing the management team when it goes live? That’s an easy feather for anyone’s cap!

3:30 – 7 Habits of Highly Successful Admins
One of the best parts of being in the Salesforce community is all the sharing. This is a great session to learn some tricks to make your job easier. Two of the speakers are Mike Gerholdt of Button Click Admin fame and Jeff Grosse who has a great blog and hosts the Salesforce Channel site.

5 – Hands on Introduction to Apex for Non-developers
The best way to know how an engine works is to take one apart and put it back together again. I’ve taken the 531 class but looking to attend this as a refresher. If you’re interested in taking the DEV 531 class in the future, or wondering what all this Apex stuff is about, here’s your chance to dip your toes in the pool. 🙂

6 – Welcome Reception – Great food and a chance to check out the layout of the Expo hall.

I’ll post my current schedule (hey, a girl can change her mind) by day – check back here to see what I’m planning on taking in each day at Dreamforce 2011!

Posted by: eliz_beth | July 17, 2011

Dreamforce 2011 – Agenda Builder is live!

Last Friday was an important day for those of us in Salesforce-land, the day Agenda Builder went live in the Dreamforce App. Agenda Builder is the piece of the app where you register for the sessions you would like to attend at Dreamforce. If you completely skip over all the social advantages of participating in the app, Agenda Builder is the one piece you can’t afford to miss. Otherwise, no complaining when you arrive on site in August and your favorite sessions are full! Get in there now and reserve your spot!

That said, the next question I’m asked a lot is what should I sign up for? This is a hard question because I don’t know you, I’m not sure what your role is with your Salesforce org, and I don’t know what you want to learn or what your company needs you to learn about. There are so many choices and options and opportunities at Dreamforce only you can decide what you want to do.

Here are some helpful questions and tips to get you started if you’ve not selected your sessions yet.

1- What is your role? Are you an admin, a developer, a user? Are you an admin who wants to learn to be a developer? Are you a user looking for new functionality or insight into how Salesforce works? Look for various hands on training sessions and intro to the service or sales clouds.

2- What are you wanting to do with Salesforce you’re not doing today? You can find sessions for just about anything you can imagine expanding on. From more complex dashboards and reports, to social media and user adoption.

3- Are you interested in what is coming? Register for various Roadmap sessions. Remember safe harbor applies and these sessions are typically not recorded for viewing after Dreamforce.

4- I actually know someone who had a successful dreamforce experience and did not attend one session. Do I recommend it? Not necessarily but it just goes to prove a point- Dreamforce is what you want it to be. You can make a lot of great connections and learn a lot without going to a session. So if you have the opportunity to talk shop with someone, perhaps it is better to go grab some coffee rather than rush to the next session. Odds are you can catch it later on YouTube anyway and your new contact could lead to new opportunities or a friendship that is invaluable.

5- Whatever you do, get there early. Tuesday morning is Community Conference – if you’re not participating in the community already, here’s a chance to learn about it and meet a lot of the names you’ll seen on your screen.

Just some basic information to make your job a little easier. Regardless of what you choose to attend, you’re going to have an incredible time at Dreamforce!

Posted by: eliz_beth | April 29, 2011

Loss in the Social CRM world

I love the promise that chatter brings to our group. It has been slow to get my field guys interested- they are still thinking in their silos and honestly, most are pretty old school when it comes to using technology. So I encourage them and look for ways to increase adoption in passive ways for now.

When I started rolling out chatter, I had the same concerns as other admins– how to handle disruptive chatter, what would I do if someone is inappropriate on chatter, honestly I don’t have all the answers here because it is going to depend on your policies and practices in your company. What is good for one is not accepted in another…

What I would like to discuss with you is one area that no one I’ve talked to has been prepared for and share with you what hindsight has given me as to how I wish we had done it.

Last fall one of our field sales managers was killed along with his wife in a motorcycle accident. It was a difficult time for our team as he was very well liked and left behind 2 children at home. We’re in the south where people tend to visit and bring food when a death occurs, a tricky situation when you’re a few hundred miles away. In addition, not everyone could go to the funeral as it took place in his hometown so for many there wasn’t the closure that funerals and such provide.

We’re all adults here, so we dealt with Jimmy’s passing in our own ways. As work picked up again I was considering what we could have done using Salesforce to help each other and possibly provide something to the family. As that was going through my head, it came to my attention that Jimmy was still “living” in our Salesforce instance. For example, his information came up in searches, accounts et al could be transferred to him, but the most hurtful seemed to be when he would show up as a following suggestion. (Not everyone follows everyone else by default)

I had prepared for inappropriate behavior, I had planned for terminations, and planned to get new hires on board as quickly as possible. I had never planned on how to react at the loss of an employee.

My tentative plan for now is in the event of a death, if not naturally begun, I’ll start a chatter thread on the person’s profile. Here anyone can share a story or sympathy regarding the employee with the idea after a while it will be printed and distributed to the family (if appropriate). Additionally, I’ll inactivate the user as quickly as possible without causing system issues to avoid the “follow suggestions” situation. Then follow with my standard steps used when someone is being removed from our instance for any reason.

Every company is different and every employee will process loss in different ways. As the SFDC admin who is one of the drivers of more collaboration and communication, I feel it is also our responsibility to assist our users by giving them the place to come to during this time as well. You can also provide additional information to all as to where donations/flowers/cards can be sent, funeral/visitation schedules, and other significant details.

I wish I had done this for Jimmy’s kids really, they would have been able to receive insight into an aspect of their dad most kids never really know.

Just something to consider while you are building your strategies and processes. Work has become more personal in the last few years even over great distances, we have to be prepared for all eventualities.

Posted by: eliz_beth | February 24, 2011

Where to go for help – or how to get off your SFDC island!

I created this list for our local user group but thought it would be helpful to have it here too!

Places to go for help:

1- Salesforce Success site – aka the Community site:

Also our Greensboro Salesforce User Group area

The success site has links to Help, Answers, Ideas, and various blogs.  On the home page, on the left side are links to other user group meetings and events.  On Fridays there is always a great webinar for admins on Salesforce Tips & Tricks.

Help – standard information that you can also access from within your instance and always the best place to start looking.

Answers – where to go for help from the community.  This is NOT putting a case in for Salesforce Support to resolve.  Volunteers go through the answers and respond to anything they feel comfortable in replying to, so please make sure you’ve checked Help for a solution first.  Got a question about a complicated formula?  Something just not working the way you think it should?  Looking for a better way to accomplish something in Salesforce?  This is your best free resource.  Please make sure if someone does respond, that you indicate if the response was good or was the best answer.  It is a great place to just read to test and challenge yourself.

Ideas – Got an idea on what would make Salesforce better?  Search here first to see if someone’s posted it already and be sure to vote it up if it has been!  If not, create a new idea and spread the word!  Salesforce uses this information and you could see your idea become reality in a future release!

Blogs – More blogs about Salesforce by

Learning Center – Lots of online tutorials and help here for free!

2- Developer Force –

Lots of blogs, tools, cookbooks, and forums/assistance there too for items that are a bit too complicated (needs visual force/apex etc) to answer on Answers.

3- LinkedIn – Below are some groups to tap into for help, including our local user group!

Greensboro User Group

Salesforce Power Users Group

Salesforce Soultions & Tips

4- Facebook – Groups on facebook to look into joining, including one for our local user group!

Greensboro User Group

Button Click Admins

5- Blog list – Great blogs to learn more about how others are using  Check out the link on the home page or some listed below:

6- Channel – a resource to collect all the videos about salesforce available

7- Twitter!  There are tons of people watching twitter who are happy to help a fellow user in need.  I’m @eliz_beth

You’ll want to add these to start with:  @salesforce  @forcedotcom @getchatter

And keep an eye on the hashtags: #salesforce #sfdc #asksalesforce #dreamforce #df10 #df11 and #chatter

8- How could I forget Dreamforce!!!  Talk to your management, going to Dreamforce is a huge benefit for anyone using or working with  I highly recommend it here.  Once you’re in the app, you can check out the Awesome People group and Challenge Us – two great groups to meet people and share information.

Edited to add:  Trust site!  Where to go to see the status of your instance. It is a good idea to know what server you are on to be able to check.  And another reason to keep an eye on twitter because you’ll see it there if and when it happens before anywhere else!

That’s good for starters- If you would like to add your blog, site, twitter handle, group, etc to this list, comment below and I’ll be happy to add you!

Posted by: eliz_beth | February 18, 2011

The Long Year part 2 or Why you should come to Dreamforce!

I told you I’d share with you why going to Dreamforce was the best advice I’d ever received, so here are my experiences from #df10 as a first time attendee.

Wow.  No– WOW! For starters the Dreamforce app was my true introduction to Chatter as my users have been very slow to adopt it.  You can read hundreds of posts about Dreamforce the convention, the Event.  You can view sessions from previous Dreamforces and see the value of being there first hand.  Announcements, information, knowledge sharing, networking- all of these are part of the experience.  Getting to meet and see what different vendors can add to your instance is a great benefit as well, especially when you’re looking for something specific or just inspiration.  All the usual reasons one would attend a trade show.

I know what you’re thinking– so what?  How is Dreamforce different than any other trade show?  What makes it so special to have made such an impact on you?

The app!  The Dreamforce application!  The best kept secret about Dreamforce is the Dreamforce app.  This is the heart and soul and hopefully the core for future conventions.  It is what takes this trade show and turns it into the Event of the Year!

Here are the top reasons why I love the Dreamforce app:

  1. Session scheduling with the Agenda builder.  There are some kinks to work out, but getting to reserve a spot in the sessions I was most interested in attending helped me ensure I got the most out of my attendance.  The guide was helpful to see what was aimed towards admins versus developers versus users versus beginners versus advanced users.  If you couldn’t figure out a session to attend, you didn’t even try.
  2. Session groups.  Wow! The session organizers who utilized the groups the most made the event.  Many used the app to get feedback from attendees regarding topics they wanted covered/expected to hear about.  Owners were able to give users more information about the session so you had more than a title and brief description to decide if you wanted to attend.  With the number of sessions and the rarity of session times- this was a huge benefit.  It was easy to help weed out sessions that were more basic than what I needed or may get into topics beyond what I was looking for at the time.
  3. Let’s call this number 3, even if it is an extension of 2 because it was so revolutionary.  During the session, you could interact with the session organizers and other people in the room through the group in the Dreamforce app!  A great way to take questions, immediate feedback for the organizers- easy to see what people were excited about or needed some clarification for.  After the session many organizers also posted their decks to the group or other materials to share.  It was amazing and revolutionary. I don’t want to attend another convention or trade show without a feedback feature such as this.  I will, but wow, will it be lacking.

And the absolute best reason to get involved is the people you’ll meet.  I covered this in my last post about my Salesforce valentines but it bears repeating.  Wow wow wow!  The biggest benefit of the Dreamforce app for me was getting to know other admins and users of Salesforce.  It was amazing watching chatter grow with the addition of various groups and seeing the sense of community grow with groups like Awesome People and Challenge Us being developed outside the regular tracks and session groups.  These alternative groups provided great places to meet new friends and utilize chatter to colaborate- the perfect example is Chatter Bingo.  If you have access to the Dreamforce website, them click on the Chatter Bingo link at the top of the page to learn more.

For me, the access to the Dreamforce application prior to the event was worth the cost of attending the event before I’d booked my flight.  I know SFDC is preparing the app for #df11 and I can’t wait to get in there and start the fun all over again!

Dreamforce link

Posted by: eliz_beth | February 14, 2011

My Valentines

Rollup Summaries are red
Custom Objects are blue
Salesforce community members
Are too good to be true.

When I started on my path, I was alone.  I was stumbling through Answers and Ideas, bookmarking some interesting blogs… I was learning and going through my org cleaning up and making changes, getting my salesforce on.  I got approval for Dreamforce, set up my registration and then the Dreamforce app went live.  I dove into the app because I found it easier to navigate and interact with than other Salesforce sites.  It was amazing to watch people sharing their thoughts about the platform and how they’ve leveraged it to their advantage.  I quickly joined Challenge Us! and added to the conversations sparked by Garry Polmateer (@darthgarry) in his group Awesome People, with the Question of the Day. 

Sometimes the conversations are silly, sometimes serious, always educational and entertaining.  I learned new ways to build in Salesforce, openning up to exploring visualforce and other more sophisticated solutions.  I learned the benefits of steel cut oatmeal (though I still love my beloved cheddar grits).  I got the inside scoop to sessions and presenters, to the happening parties, what to expect when I got to Dreamforce and best of all I had new friends to meet up with in person.  If you’ve ever attended a convention solo, you know what I mean- you look forward to making some connections and have someone to meet up with for a meal or just to trade some stories and experience.  Dreamforce app made this happen before I even made my hotel or flight reservations.  I looked forward to seeing what the regulars in the app were posting- sharing about CRM news, blog posts, debating who @darylshaber is, and sharing and replying myself.  One of my favorite moments came when I realized that I could and was answering more questions people posted than ones I had to wait and see what others could suggest.  I’d arrived in my Salesforce self confidence. 

It was obvious the vocal and active folks in the Dreamforce app were knew what they were doing and talking about- their solutions were elegant, well thought out, and above all just plained worked.  There was a lot of wonderful sharing regarding best practices and how different decisions had affected different companies/instances.  I was so excited at the idea of getting to meet and thank the folks who’d become in my brain at least, my measure of what I could do in Salesforce and in the community.  

So on this, my 1st aniversary working in, I’d like to give a shout out to all my valentines.  I would not be where I am today if it had not been for your participation in the community.    Many of you have been recognized already as Salesforce MVPs but you’re all forces to reckon with in my book.  Thank you for your help and encouragement and I can’t wait for things to pick up again preparing for Dreamforce 2011!

In no particular order, and by twitter handle (apologies to those who have helped but I don’t have on twitter) – the accelleration behind this force to reckon with!  Follow these folks for laughs and lots of insight and learning about Salesforce.  While they may not all be official Salesforce MVPs, they have been important to me this past year.

Thank you!
@forcedotcomlabs – Provider of some of the best tools – for free even!
@mattybme – Thank you for the Pliny introduction!
@DarthGarry – the man behind the #Awesome
@SFDC_SteveMo – there’s nothing he can’t help you with someway or another. The Superman of Salesforce with @mattybme
@rathergeeky – the first I met in person at #df10
@michaelforce – the man behind my first installed app – Draggin’ Role (use it! it is #awesome!)
@robin_daniels – the man to go to for chatter questions

Posted by: eliz_beth | February 2, 2011

The long year… part 1

A year ago, my manager told me our VP of Sales had purchased new software and it was up to our team to administrate it.  Our team being me basically.  I wasn’t worried, I’d spent years supporting various applications including setting up IDs and other security work, so how hard could this be?  Especially if we’re just going to be doing “admin” work.

Oh yes, I laugh at myself now too.

The next week the consultant came in and started to go over what we would need to do as administrators.  I quickly realized we were in way more deep than some ID creation and password resets.  Our instance had rolled out and we had no one who knew anything about (SFDC) except our consultant who had believed they’d passed the reigns to me and the brief training she’d done with our field team.

Next thing I knew everyone had questions and wanted changes and they were coming to me.

Awkward!!!  All I had to go on was my years in IT, a brief behind the scenes overview, and the training the field guys received.  Oh, and a copy of for Dummies.  Tom Wong was my hero in those early days!  Pages 45-47 (3rd edition) are hardcoded in my brain for the rest of my life.  They are the instructions for Connector for Microsoft Outlook- which is what the reps were told to use.  I can write a novel on that particular topic alone.

A normal person would have been nervous or scared at this point.  I’ve never been exactly the definition of normal- I looked at our instance and started flipping through the book and for once, I really liked what I saw!  I could see the potential for our business in this system and then started seeing how we could use it further in our area.  I consider that the moment I was bit with the SFDC bug.  I told management that I could figure this out on my own or they could send me to a class where I’d at least know where to begin looking and what I was looking for afterwards.  They agreed and I was on the next plane to Austin for Admin 201.

By the way, if you get a chance to take Admin 201 from Chris Thompson with Astadia, DO IT.  He’s a great instructor and you’ll have a great week.

As much as I learned in that week, the best bit of advice I received was the simplest.  If at all possible, attend Dreamforce.

Best. Advice. EVER.

And I’ll tell you why in part 2…

Posted by: eliz_beth | January 8, 2011

Weekend notes – Chatter Beta!

While I’m reading and noting my way through the Spring ’11 notes, I thought I’d take a minute and share something I ran across last night–’s site, is looking for chatter beta testers.  If you want to participate, go to and sign up!

I really love the Chatter functionality and look forward to seeing what is coming to it, but I love the chance to participate as well!  Salesforce really brings the concept of community to a whole new level when it comes to sharing with their customers and partners.

So come along and lets check out what they have in store for us at!

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