by Megan Himan and Vered Meir
A funny thing happens when you’re a solo administrator managing your organization’s use of Salesforce: 1) no one has any idea of what you actually do, and 2) no one can really write a job description for the work they don’t understand.
Lack of Clarity = Moment of Opportunity!
It’s time to write our own job descriptions. Here’s our must-dos as a solo admin to tame the crush of requests, help our orgs think strategically, and position ourselves for the next.
- Plan for Growth
I know there’s a problem when I see a field with the year label in front of it. “2015 Total Opps” “2016 Total Opps”. At some point, you can’t create enough fields to catch up for every year. Even though we are solo admins, we need to think big! What might work for one year, or for one user, won’t work for the organization long-term.
Vered: I came into an org as the admin, and saw a bunch of workflows set up to notify individual users about specific records. We were adding new users, fast, and I knew those workflows would be a pain to maintain, and just weren’t sustainable. I taught new users how to subscribe to reports when certain criteria are met. They thought I was auto-magical, and neither I nor any fellow admins would ever need to manage these on behalf of the users. Win-win!
- Create a System to Track & Push Updates
Taming the beast can be tough. You’ll get requests from everywhere on what people need, and yesterday. Where to even start? Create a system that works for you, and that your users are semi-used to: Salesforce Cases, Google Sheets, a dedicated Chatter Support Group, an online Form to log any change requests. And then Wait. No Really, don’t just build what they ask for! (More on that later…). While you’re fending off new field requests proactively let users know when you will push updates – even if it’s arbitrary – “I push configuration updates once a month on the first Friday” “I build new reports on Mondays.”
Megan: I was going crazy with support requests, that always felt like they were interrupting my “real” work that I wanted to get done. Then I switched gears completely – I started telling my users that I was “reserving time” for them for two hours, next week. It made me less stressed having to switch back and forth – and helped them get more organized to make asks in advance.
- Create a cross-department Governance Group
If you’ve ever watched a Dreamforce presentation from Steve Mo, you’ll know that much of your job as a Salesforce Admin will be saying No (or suffer the consequences of a multi-select picklist and hide in the bathroom stall for days). As a self-proclaimed people pleaser, it can be hard to do all that Nay-Saying. That’s why you need a team. Not only to help users see how their requests affect other teams, but to help prioritize requests and your time.
Megan: One of my clients was managing a complex migration to a new instance of Salesforce. Many teams shared the same contact records, and it felt like every field was a negotiation. Her Governance Group (she called it a Working Group – of super users, not necessarily managers) became her internal champions – they did the nay-saying for her, helped mutually prioritize what was best for the org, and became her super users.
- Dig into the Why (and Resist the Urge to Build)
After consulting for many years, I’ve gotten to see into the bowels of many Salesforce instances. And I’ve seen a lot of debris over the years – fields and objects and code that was created and then abandoned, left to clog up the plumbing. Salesforce Trailhead teaches us all sorts of ways to build new apps, new objects, new fields, new automations, and its why I love the tool. But resist the urge! What your users say they need but not match what they actually need.
Vered: I got a request from a user to change a single select picklist to a multi-select. I sat down with her and asked her more about what she was trying to accomplish. It turned out that her needs could be met with the addition of another picklist and a checkbox, since what she wanted to track in the original picklist were different kinds of data. Once we figured this out, it made her team’s (those responsible for data entry) and her own job (reporting on the data) much easier. If I had just said yes to the request, no questions asked, we never would have had so much success.
- Own your Strengths
Remember that lack of a true job description? Now’s the time to start writing down what you love to do, and what you’re good at. Don’t be shy – if you’ve got a systems brain, but are new to Salesforce – write down the way you can help an organization break down their processes into real goals. Check out job descriptions that describe what you love. And join the conversation on the Success Community or the Power of us Hub about Salesforce careers, job descriptions, titles, and more.
Want to keep the conversation going? Join us at our presentation “Think Like an Analyst: Tips for Navigating Salesforce as a Solo Admin” at Dreamforce on this topic! Bookmark the session here.
Vered Meir is currently the Senior Manager of Success Engagement at Salesforce.org, after working as an awesome analyst and admin for a variety of organizations using Salesforce.
Megan Himan and her team help coach admins into analysts every day through their work as consultants at BrightStep Partners.