𝗖𝗼𝗻𝘀𝘂𝗹𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗠𝗮𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗟𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗹 𝟭 – 𝗚𝗿𝗮𝘀𝘀𝗵𝗼𝗽𝗽𝗲𝗿 𝗘𝘅𝗽𝗲𝗰𝘁𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀 𝟲/𝟲
“Why did you decide on this solution for this User Story?”
A. “Um, dunno.”
B. “I read somewhere that it’s better to ask for forgiveness than for permission.”
C. “Because we did something similar when I was at university and this problem statement seemed familiar, so I decided to approach it in the same way.”
Spoiler alert, the correct answer isn’t A or B.
If you’re a green Grasshopper 🦗 – new to the world of #CRM consulting like #Salesforce or #microsoftdynamics, or actually – anything else… you need to hone the skill of being able to communicate well.
Not only that, but you would find a lot of value in #StephenCovey‘s 7th Habit: 𝗦𝗵𝗮𝗿𝗽𝗲𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗦𝗮𝘄.
Let me narrow his definition down to that which concerns the Grasshopper’s new career path: 𝗛𝗼𝗻𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘀𝗸𝗶𝗹𝗹𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝗖𝗿𝗶𝘁𝗶𝗰𝗮𝗹 𝗧𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗸𝗶𝗻𝗴.
Be able to :
– approach a problem logically
– ask some good questions about it
– try to seek out underlying cause
– attempt to frame a few solutions to address it
– provide a rational in ranking and prioritising the different options
– select the best one, and finally
– be able to articulate the whole process.
If you’re able to do the above consistently, across the different types of problems you may encounter in life and at work – you’ll be MILES ahead of anyone else who might be expecting to be spoon-fed instructions.
Work on that saw. 🤺
So you can stab that problem like a ripe melon 🍉
Season 2, Episode 9 with Tom Bassett was such a treat for me!
Tom was part of the #Samaritans team who designed the e-logging system based on #Salesforce I currently use every week as a listening volunteer.
What was super exciting for me was that I was the actual end user, and I got to indulge in all sorts of questions about the actual project implementation.
My experience with not for profits and charities is that unlike corporates who have a hiearachical authority structure (and therefore is able to mandate change from the leadership level), NFPs and charities that rely on volunteers’ internal motivations have different challenges.
It was not only an eye-opening conversation, but it was also very rewarding for me at a personal level.
It only cemented my deep belief that 𝗔𝗰𝘁𝗶𝘃𝗲 𝗟𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗴 is absolutely fundamental to Project Success.
I hope you will enjoy listening to this as much as I did making it.
If nothing else, you will learn how and why Samaritans were so successful at constantly rolling out change internally.
Our vision is that fewer people dy by suicide.
By actively listening and providing emotional support for our callers in need, we are able to create a safe space where they can explore their feelings and be heard.
If you’re in the UK and you need support, please call freephone 116 123. Or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can listen to it on spotify here.
Pei Mun Lim 0:02
Hi, Tom, thank you so much for making the time to come on my podcast today OnThePeiroll, where I talk about anything ranging from consulting Salesforce leadership, and today, I’m so excited to have you will dive into wider sir. How are you today, Tom? Yeah, I’m good.
Tom Bassett 0:23
Good. Thank you. I’m really excited to be here. I’m looking forward to sharing some of my tidbits with you.
Pei Mun Lim 0:28
Fantastic. I’m looking forward to the part of your career where you would Samaritans but before we get there, I would love to hear you tell the story of how you get to how you’ve got to where you are today. So tell me your story. Begin wherever you like. Yeah,
Tom Bassett 0:48
sure. So my Salesforce story as such does start at smartens. And we’ll probably, we’ll come back to this. But my my career in Salesforce started, I believe it’s 2018 as a Salesforce admin for Samaritans. And ultimately, I got to a point where I wanted to develop within Salesforce, I wanted to learn new skills, and kind of spread my Salesforce wings. And so from there, I then moved into a consulting role. And I’m now in my third consulting position. So I have a breadth of experience over kind of sales, service experience, clouds, sprinkling of field service, CPQ knowledge in amongst that, too. And also one of my favorite clouds Pardot. So I have quite a lot of broad experience in various different things, you may have seen me contributing as part of the answers community or the Trailblazer community as it’s now known. And also I do some regular articles as well as part of Salesforce spend, too. So I’m definitely one for sharing by my wisdom and helping others. And I spent quite a lot of my own time doing that, too.
Pei Mun Lim 2:17
What is it about Salesforce, that, I can see that you’re really into it? So much so that you’re giving your own time to do all these extra over and above? Tell me about what is it about Salesforce that tracks you so much? Yeah, I think
Tom Bassett 2:34
just as a as a platform as a system, obviously, it’s one of the market leaders there, there’s three releases a year. So there’s always new things to learn new features coming, maybe new entire clouds coming as well. And the Salesforce family of products, as you know, kind of continues to grow. So with the recent acquisition of slack, and then historic acquisitions of Tableau, and other tools to it’s just exciting to kind of have that diverse knowledge. And also the thing that I really enjoy about the Salesforce community. And it as a platform is ultimately helping others be being part of something bigger. And actually, I might be on the answers community helping somebody in America that I’ve never met before. But the only common ground is that we both use the same system. And I can completely make their day by fixing something that isn’t working or giving them some pointers or some tips. So like the power of the Salesforce community, I think is the the biggest thing that drives me to kind of stick and stay with Salesforce. And ultimately, that there’s a part of me as well that likes helping others and giving back. So I can kind of use those things together, and ultimately achieve both goals at once by helping, in other words, complete strangers around the world with their Salesforce related problems. Yeah.
Pei Mun Lim 4:09
Thank you for that. Can you when you told your story you started from when you first encountered Salesforce? Can you take one step backwards? Tell me about what you did before that and how you got your foot hole in the ecosystem because that’s something that a lot of people are very keen to do. As we know Salesforce has put in such a huge investment into into the system and a lot of people are looking to join the community and so you need to get on trailheads to get their certs. But with our experience, many are funny quite challenging to to just, you know, get traction. If you can just share with us how you got your first role at Sam’s To You know, that might be useful to help people when they’re thinking what to do next and how to approach this.
Tom Bassett 5:10
Yeah, no, definitely. So it’s interesting, really, because I kind of fell a little bit into a Salesforce, right? Listen, necessarily something that I was planning, years in advance my background before that was on a service desk. So ultimately somebody would have a problem, they would phone me, I would maybe jump into their PC remotely, fix the problem, and then move on to the next one. So that that was my background. And ultimately, I started to as part of that role, I did a little bit. So I got a little glimpse of Salesforce admin. So I was suddenly like, I don’t know, issuing password resets or helping people that weren’t able to login to the system. As part of my service desk type role. I was then offered the opportunity to move into kind of a Salesforce admin role at Samaritans. But also, as part of that role, and this was just the the nature of the role at the time, I was also a confluence admin, a JIRA admin, and a crowd admin as well. So I was wearing a Salesforce hat, amongst many others. But ultimately, I think, my kind of guidance and and I got quite a lot of support and mentoring and coaching while I was at Samaritans to kind of ease me into the world of Salesforce, something that really helped me kind of get my foot in the door, in particular, was the actual admin workshops that Salesforce run, they’re now run via the trailhead Academy. So I went on a five day workshop. So ultimately, kind of teach me the fundamentals. Something else that that really helped me is I had a great line manager that was able to support me and kind of guide me on my journey, as well as Trailhead to. And I think the whole game of vocation part of it was quite a big tool. And it was quite a driver for me, and definitely naturally quite competitive person, right. So as soon as I see points, prizes, badges, whatever it is, I’m driven by that so that the whole game of it kind of helped me become become part of it as well. And I was just offered, as I say, quite fortunate to be offered that opportunity, as kind of a stepping stone into the ecosystem, and do Salesforce admin amongst other systems admin. And then ultimately, that led me on the path that I’m at now where I’m a senior consultant, and in terms of Salesforce certifications have, as of yesterday, actually 20 Now, so there’s quite a lot there. And hopefully, this, this will kind of help people inspire people to go on similar paths. My, my advice for anybody trying to get into the ecosystem. Experience is key. But it’s kind of like a little bit of a rock and a hard place. Because without experience, you’re not going to be able to get into the role. And without the sign of certification or know how you’re not going to have the experience. So it’s it’s quite tricky to start off with. But ultimately, there are programs out there, I know that there are various kind of apprenticeship type roles in the Salesforce ecosystem now. And those supermoms do a training program to there’s there’s lots of ways in because ultimately, the Salesforce community or the talent pool is relatively small. So Salesforce are doing everything within their power to encourage people to kind of open up opportunities and to help guide people into the types of roles to ultimately plug the little kind of skills gap that that kind of is in the market. Yeah, I think that’s, that’s a snippet. There are. My thoughts? Yeah.
Pei Mun Lim 9:55
Thank you. And that actually leads me quite nicely to ask Some things about how Samaritans has done this, as a listening volunteer, I use the system when I go on my shifts. I have been a volunteer for about 13 years, starting from a different branch, there was no systems, we had a paper that we had to fill in just key information about the calls, nothing confidential. But he things like the state of the call, for example, how distressed the caller was in just a really small brief headline about it. And then we then we had someone that I knew whose job was to collect all the stats, and total things up. It was it was horrendous as as, as a tool. And when I took a small break, I had some some kids, then I took a small break. And when I came back join a different branch at that time he log, that electronic logging system had been launched. And that was I thought was amazing. I also participated in the beta testing session. So that was when I realized, oh, they use Salesforce because I could see the URL. That was when I knew when I thought oh, you know, they’ve chosen a great tool for this. Since then, there were quite a few initiatives. And I am very impressed from a user point of view, you know, having rolled up many systems of how they have managed a lot of things, but I only know it from from one angle. I’d love to hear it from your side, obviously, you can only talk about what’s more or less knowledge that’s in the public domain with regard to do case studies or things that public can know if they do their digging. So I would love to hear about how you’ve seen things. How did it how did they do things that were done? Well, in what were the core guiding principles, when they’re thinking about rolling out changes in things to the branches?
Tom Bassett 12:18
Yeah, sure. So I’ll start off on the the Elan side and maybe give a little bit of a explanation in terms of what Samaritans does, and, and what it offers, because there might be some people listening that might not necessarily know that. So, ultimately, Samaritans is there to listen to anybody that that calls the the helpline, and ultimately offer kind of emotional support as such, they have various different channels of this. So the main channel is The National number 116123. And there are also email channels and SMS channels too. Ultimately, what Samaritans did is ultimately they identified a need for a central logging tool. Because historically, as you described there, there are people in one of the 200 Plus Samaritans branches, floating around with bits of paper, and ultimately tallying all of these pieces of paper together to get some kind of statistics to understand what callers are discussing in terms of kind of broad general terms, obviously, something that’s at the core and heart of Samaritans is confidentiality. So that is a major factor too. In a system, the system has to be secure, it has to store information in kind of a general way not necessarily storing like any specifics about people. So that that was the the first challenge that was kind of solved with a Salesforce type solution. And actually, as I started at certaines, and this was actually on the service desk, then they were just implementing the E log, which literally stands for electronic log. And ultimately, it was quite a big undertaking, because Samaritans as an organization is ultimately run by volunteers. There our staff and the staff drive the systems and the central vision. But Samaritans wouldn’t be where it’s at today without those 20,000 volunteers that are sat in branches across the country. ultimately helping coolers and supporting those that need that type of emotional support. So the the main challenge, I think, with the implementation just from a Samaritans point of view was, firstly, it was building a system that was kind of self explanatory or straightforward. It was also trying to implement a system where, if possible, things were automated or integrated with with other systems. And there are also quite a few needs there for accessibility to. So that the nature of, I guess, a large portion of the smartest volunteers are part of the older population. And as a result, some of them have particular accessibility needs. So there, there might be volunteers out there that are using a screen reader, or other tools that the system needs to contend with, and ultimately, needs to support. So that was quite an important aspect of that. And also, as part of this to the driver was to ultimately automate, those reporting metrics that you were describing were those bits of paper flying around everywhere, where ultimately, at a central level, the charity or the the head office could ultimately see what kind of subjects coolers we’re discussing. And ultimately use those valuable statistics to then build case studies, or it may be support kind of applications for grants or funding or whatever it is. Ultimately, those figures form quite a large backbone, I believe, of quite of the use cases and the the internal goings on there, within the charities, too. So it was quite important to get this right. And ultimately,
it was decided to bring everything into Salesforce. And the I guess the reasoning was that Salesforce was already in use internally by some of the staff at head office, to manage other parts of the volunteer or the branch relationships. So for example, complaints and things like that were dealt with, but via Salesforce already. So the idea was to ultimately bring everything together in a central place. And Salesforce will probably refer to it as a customer 360 type situation where, ultimately, there’s this essential source of truth, you can see all of your metrics, where volunteers are taking calls, you can capture high level statistics about those calls, such as duration. But bear in mind that actual personal information won’t be captured. So the phone number, for example, isn’t captured. It’s encrypted. So that type of information is very sensitive. And ultimately, you could then build on that system. And this is actually what Samaritans did, to then offer targeted support to specific callers to because quite often within every Samaritans branch, there is a volunteer or set of volunteers that are responsible and kind of support coolers that may have particular needs. And ultimately, a central logging system can help with that by following up with those coolers as necessary, and making sure that those needs are met. So I guess that’s the elog side of things. And I know that since I left them out, and they also embarked on other projects, too, but I think there’s
Tom Bassett 19:54
yeah, I think there’s, there’s quite a lot to unpack there. So do you have any questions? Djinns about that.
Pei Mun Lim 20:02
Yeah. How were you involved in, in the whole process where you sat in workshops? What What was your involvement?
Tom Bassett 20:15
Okay, so for Ian OG, as I say, I was on the service desk when that was going in. So I wasn’t too involved. And I was just primarily helping volunteers that were having technical issues, or their call stats weren’t putting through properly because there was something wrong with our PC. So from from an ego point of view, that was very much my, my involvement. But with other parts of the, the kind of digital transformation, in terms of what’s referred to now I think, as the branch management tool, I was involved in discussions around that, and ultimately kind of helping to ascertain the the needs of the staff and the volunteers, and kind of balance those needs to make sure that at the core of everything, we were putting the color at the center and forefront of everything we did. So there was always a balance, a balancing point between the needs of the staff and the volunteers, because quite often, they were contradictory. And so that there was some kind of middle ground there, that that needed to be found. But at the same time, we had to consider the human aspect of what we were doing as well. And ultimately, we needed to be there to continue to support our callers in the ways that we were to continue to deliver the service that we’ve been known for. So there was that part of it. But also, another part of it that I’m going to go on a little bit of a separate track about now and talk about is the actual change. Part of it too, because ultimately, as you know, Salesforce has releases three times a year, and every Salesforce release that he log will go down for I think there’s a 15 minute window or something like that. But it will be unavailable for those 15 minutes. So and then in addition to that we kind of had Bau as well, in terms of other changes that were happening to the log. And the volunteers don’t even necessarily know that it’s powered by Salesforce, it’s running by Salesforce, because it’s not branded as such. It’s all under its own persona and different colors and everything. And ultimately, we kind of needed to find a way to effectively communicate with those volunteers, to tell them, hey, heads up, elog is going down for 15 minutes, because there’s a release. During this time, please use the the tools here to record your calls and pop them into the system afterwards. And ultimately, as well as that we kind of had to ensure and I think this is just a really good best practice in general, in terms of change management. We had to ensure that if something went wrong, we had a back out plan, or we had a rollback. So that’s I think, often maybe in in organizations like Samaritans, maybe not really thought about as much, but we definitely had that. Because on simply for us if the system went wrong, it would impact all of our volunteers who are currently on shift. And as I say there’s there’s 20,000 Different volunteers. They do a couple of hour shifts at a time. And ultimately, if you’re impacting those volunteers negatively, you’re going to be indirectly impacting the callers as well. So that’s why we need to make sure that those communications were were clear, straightforward, and ultimately, that it reached the actual volunteer who was logging on for their shift at the time, he needed it as well. So we don’t quite often just put something on the login page to just say, look, heads up a blog is going to be down for these 15 minutes during that time refer to this page.
And then ultimately because that that was a problem as well, maybe a little bit niche to Samaritans, but we would send the messages out via the different channels that he had. But quite often, they wouldn’t necessarily get all the way down to the volunteers that were on the calls at that time. So we kind of basically built a mechanism, whereby if we needed a message, that thing needed to go out and needed to go out urgently, we could just pop that message on the login page. And then the volunteer can actually see, oh, it’s not working. I’ll use this instead. So that was quite a big part of the of things, too.
Pei Mun Lim 25:42
Thank you for shedding such, you know, just just bringing so much clarity. Again, as a user of the system, I can see the work that’s gone in behind it. And as you say, it was so important to bring up any information about system downtime to the volunteers so that the callers don’t get impacted. That’s found it so fascinating. I want to ask you, in particular about something you said earlier on that will surely inform your next role as a consultant. And, as the one trying to get out is I’ve also been consultant for a while I’ve done a lot of projects, some corporate, some charity, some local government. And what I’ve found is the charity sector is very unique in, in how you need to approach them, and you picked up one item, which I’d like to tease out a little bit more, which is balancing the need between the staff, volunteers, and the service users, which would be the callers can you share your experience and what you learned about that, which I think would have been very helpful for you in any nfpw or charity projects that you work on after that, and also for any of the volunteers so that they not volunteers, or any of the audience or anyone listening into the podcast to think about, hey, you know, when when I do a NFB or charity project, and it’s key to understand the difference between the needs, and that it is that important. So let me just pull back slightly. So some of the charity projects that I’ve heard of in that I’ve been on have not been as successful as it could be, because there’s too much focus on one roof over the other. I feel that Samsung has done a really good job from a, from a volunteer point of view. Obviously, I I think also from the caller’s point of view, because basically when we’re happy, or we can deliver the service, well, then our callers receive a grade service. But is there anything anything you can share any learnings around? How to balance that it must be incredibly difficult, but because as you say, sometimes the conflict?
Tom Bassett 28:20
Yeah, no, there is definitely always those differences of opinion and conflicts between what the central charity may need and what the volunteer actually needs to to get their job done. I think something that helps Samaritans in particular. And unfortunately, it’s the only kind of charity project, or Salesforce related project that I’ve been on so far. is at the core of everything they do. Everything that they do is is basically revolving around the theme of actively listening. Right. And this may sound a little bit corny, but the other day when you shared on LinkedIn, the the post the the Samaritans listening will, I think that that kind of really, really brought it home and summarized it quite well. Because as an organization, they they care. And that the difference here between a charity in a kind of business or another organization that’s implementing Salesforce says the goals of the system are going to be different, right? So a business might want Salesforce to increase revenue, improve conversion rates, and deliver a better service. Whereas a charity like Samaritans is is using the tool to ultimately improve the service that they offer to their coolers, and to enhance the experience of their volunteers. And to also as a charity that relies on volunteers, to help them recruit more volunteers, and to retain volunteers as well. So that those metrics are very different. And as a result, they’re kind of, they’re more what I would describe as human based metrics, rather than money based metrics that you would get with a traditional implementation. And I think the thing that Samaritans does really well is, as I say, actively listen to all of those that are involved, involve volunteers at different levels, and parts of the process. So there are kind of different levels of volunteers, you may have senior volunteers, you may have kind of deputy directors, regional directors. And ultimately, it kind of engages them in the right way. And it does truly listen to what people are saying. And it sounds corny, because like, that’s the heart of what Samaritans does. But the reason why they do that as a charity is part of the reason why I think the implementation of things such as Elon have been such a success, because they are ultimately there to listen. And they are, while they’re doing that they are juggling the needs of the central charity that might want particular figures to support an application for some funding, or whatever it is against a volunteer that song shift, and ultimately, just wants to be able to log their calls quickly. So the volunteer might not want to give the extra information that then supports that funding. So there’s always a middle ground there. And something else, and I’m going to go on a different path again. But I think that was quite important. And this goes back to my service desk days, we had a internal change Advisory Board, referred to quite often in it as a cab, and had this in other different service desk roles as well. But ultimately, the idea is there any change to the system, whether that’s a new feature, a new service, or maybe a bug is being fixed, whatever it is, has to go through that cap.
And that cab have formed of different stakeholders. And those stakeholders then basically approve or reject the change. And as part of that, and something that Samaritans did very well is making sure that as I say there was a communication plan, there is a backup plan. And the kind of impact was assessed. And if it was a new feature, very important to ultimately make sure the volunteers know what they were doing, how they’re doing it. So if there was any training that needed to be delivered, whatever, ultimately it wouldn’t have got through without that having been prepared. So there were very stringent checks to make sure that ultimately, if anything was being implemented. And this wasn’t necessarily things just for volunteers, it might have been functionality just for staff. But any kind of system wide changes, went through that internal approval to actually make sure that they kept the show on the road. The lights was still running, and the phones were still ringing and there was volunteers still answering them. So I think that’s quite an important part of not only kind of change management, but just like ongoing business as usual as well.
Pei Mun Lim 34:33
Thank you for that you bring a really, really good point about getting the users on board. So as an example, one of the early sales. So my background is Microsoft, Microsoft Dynamics CRM and one sales projects that I was on whereby we were streamlining the opportunity management process and there were more fields that The sales team had to put in than they were used to. And the change was not handled well. And so there was a little bit of an uprising, and the sales team was going to, I don’t want to fill in all this information, my key job is to bring in customers in so there was a lot of resistance. Going back to your point about how sound has managed all of this. And again, as a volunteer, and as a user of the system, they have done a really good job around educating around why we’re doing things this way, how to do it, how to fill in the information effectively, and why it was important to do that. And as you say, what’s really cool, and you’ve highlighted that, and even though I knew it brought it home in how they have put one central guiding principles around the color, which was the most important thing and all the messaging around why we were doing things was in aid of just that one principle. And thank you again earlier on for explaining what Sam said in background around it. Were the mission was to reduce suicides by actively listening and providing a safe space to operate. And just having that one mission in everyone could get round that there was no contradicting messaging around why safeguarding for example, and why we roll out certain things and why it maybe two clicks more to do something to collect piece of information. So what a great, what a great story of how best a charity like Sam’s has leveraged Samaritans to in aid of their goal. So I thank you very much for indulging me in explaining so much about how the charities use the system. So let’s move on from there to your next role, which was consulting to move from end user to consulting. Tell me about your decision process around that in how you found that shift. I assume it’s quite a big shift for you. Yeah. I’d love to hear how you found it.
Tom Bassett 37:28
Sure, yeah. So as you say, it was it was quite a jump for me to make and decide to make, but I felt comfortable with making it because I was staying kind of in the same area in terms of I wasn’t necessarily leading Salesforce, I was just moving from an end user role to a consultant role. And the thing that really helped me initially, as a consultant, I was supported by my peers, on larger projects, and ultimately kind of guided, and, in a way, learn through trial and error, in terms of what I describe as, like the art of consulting, right. So there’s, there’s always, and you often find this, like in a project in general, but you start and you go through a project in various different stages. So you would initially discover, you would then kind of design or, and then build, and then deploy. And through those stages, your kind of interaction. And what you need to get from the customer and how you need to work with the customer kind of varies. At the beginning of the project. It’s very much about, again, kind of almost going back to that Samaritans principle, but actively listening to how the customer is describing their business process, and then starting to go on to the next project phase of actually. Okay, so I know how they manage their sales and how they get leads through the pipeline. But how does that translate into Salesforce? So something that I I’m still learning and continue to learn is the art of understanding. This is the business problem. And this is the system and those two things coming together to then deliver the right solution where we can ultimately meet the project goals. So that was quite a big shift for me. Because before I was just used to Supporting coolers and staff. But now I was kind of supporting more commercial businesses to achieve. So it was some of the success metrics or the key criteria for for success for these projects were different in terms of say they want to increase revenue, or they want to improve conversion, or they want to increase engagement, or whatever it is, they’re very different metrics. So that was something that I learned quite quickly. And even now, I will say, I’ve got it down to a fine art because as you as you know, every customer is different. And you have to really understand what’s important to that customer. And I think something that I’ve learned quite recently in a little tidbit that I took away from one of the Salesforce exams, it’s actually not only understanding the customer, but also being able to then speak in the same terms that the customer is using. So if they refer to opportunities as deals or pipeline, then whenever you want to present back to them, you use the phrases that make sense to them. So they can understand it in their terms. I think that’s quite an important rule. And I’m glad that Salesforce include those types of questions in the solution architect exams, because I think that’s something that makes quite a good solution architect. And the other part of it, and this is, I think, something that kind of would would be a common thing with with other consultants to, it’s just about trying to keep up with what’s going on and the new features. And that was definitely a shift. But ultimately, I’ve kind of plans now whenever Salesforce, do a new release, or whenever there’s something new coming out, I don’t necessarily know the answer to it myself, and not afraid to ask my peers. And if my peers don’t know, then I’m not afraid to just post it on the community and ask somebody else that uses Salesforce that that might know the answer, or maybe sometimes post on the community and actually kind of pester Salesforce directly and say, Hey, can you explain what this means? I’ve done that a couple of times too. So that there’s definitely the kind of using the Salesforce community and being part of the Salesforce community
to kind of progress is super important too. And I think that’s something that I’ve kind of learned to do more and more, I was quite used to, from coming to an admin. I was quite used to kind of just finding solutions by myself, and ultimately being given kind of the necessarily time to do that. But definitely, as a consultant, there’s different time pressures there, you’ve got project milestones to hit, you’ve got deadlines to meet, etc. You don’t necessarily have all of that spare time to do the research. So definitely learning to reach out for help. And ask other members of the community for help, I think is definitely very useful advice.
Pei Mun Lim 43:42
Fantastic, that kind of quite naturally segues to the thing that you were interested to highlight, which is the career path that you took it from, from what’s called an accidental admin, right up to consulting to being a senior consultant and Solutions Architect. John to share what are the learnings that you’ve had in this journey? So there’s someone who’s listening and thinking, ooh, getting to where he is actually quite difficult. How would one go about doing it? This isn’t as daunting as a lot of people think what what can you share that would make that feel? Oh, I can do that too.
Tom Bassett 44:27
Apologies. One second. Cool, yeah. So my my advice for anybody who wants to go along a similar career path, something that I learned initially, and I think something that’s really helped me is to build upon those core admin foundations. So for me the Salesforce admin exam, the advanced And the app builder exams are the bread and butter of what I do on a daily basis. So understand the key principles in terms of how to control record access, and what profiles are, what permission sets are, what fields are, etc. Because those things and having a really good strong foothold into that area, will then help you gravitate, and kind of then progress into more of a consulting arena. Because, believe it or not, throughout the consultant exams, and even some of the architect exams, you’ll be going back to those core fundamentals of like how Salesforce controls access, what fields are, what page layout, so what record types or whatever it is, that is the bread and butter of everything you do. So my advice for anybody starting out would be to initially start from the admin exam, and then consider advanced admin. But then definitely go for app builder, as well. I just kind of feel like, yeah, it is a little bit like a box ticking exercise, like you go through the admin exams, then you go through the consultant exams like I did, and then you start to go through some of the architect exams. But that is the natural progression. I think something that has really improved since since I started and since I’ve been on that journey myself, Salesforce do quite a lot of certification days now. So they run fast day webinars on how to prepare for particular exams, those are free of charge. And sometimes Salesforce also offer a discounted exam voucher at the end, as a little bit of a incentive to attend. So those are really good if you’re kind of almost ready, I think, to take the exam. And then otherwise, there are lots and lots of different tools resources out there, in particular on trailhead, in terms of actually preparing for those exams, too. So Salesforce, break up the learning into different trail mixes. And they within those trail mixes, they are split by exam section as well. So you can ultimately work through that path at a pace that suits you. And also now in particular, with the admin exams. They also provide a set of practice questions that are generally available too. So that’s that’s an advantage straightaway that’s doing it now. Because when I did it the the only practice questions you could get wrong web assessor, which, which he then had to pay for. But now there’s a set, I think it’s about 30 questions that you can just access via trailhead, and kind of practice those things to some other tips. So if you’re stuck on anything in particular, feel free to post out on the Trailblazer community because that’s what it’s there for. It might be me, or it could be somebody else that replies. But what I tend to say to people, and as I’m helping people and coaching people that I work with, I like to kind of think that no question is a silly question. I don’t believe in city questions. And there’s no need to apologize for not knowing something where we’re always learning, we’re always there to learn. I learned a fair amount to this day just by answering questions because I’ll actually start digging into a particular feature in Pardo, or whatever it is, and then kind of play around in my own developer. org and then go back with some kind of solution or suggestion on how to solve the problem. So that’s, that’s another tidbit. There are also the
community groups that are out there that you can join. And in particular, if you’re in the nonprofit sector, there is a nonprofit community group that I used to be a member of in London, and they used to meet at Salesforce tower on a regular basis. So that’s that’s definitely another tidbit and that just helps you network with with like minded individuals, there is also the potential reaching out again by the Trailblazer community or something similar to kind of form a an unofficial study group with somebody else, and you can work towards the same goals and kind of use that to, to kind of prepare and aim to pass yourselves also Sam. And I think those, those are the main points. But something else that I just like to add to that is there’s quite a jump between the admin exams, the consultant exams and the architect exam. So there’s another little tidbit for you here is on the app in exams, questions are structured in a in a certain way. And you would usually be able to eliminate some wrong answers by by looking at the question and thinking how Wait, that’s a made up feature like that doesn’t exist, I can, I can definitely rule that one out. But when you get to the consultant exam, or the the those types of exams, the questions are not only more wordy, so the questions are longer, there’s more to them. But there isn’t necessarily just one right answer. There is potentially two right answers. But what Salesforce are looking for. And this is where I come back to the art of consulting, again, they’re looking for the best practice that the easiest way for the fictional company to achieve that, and also the most maintainable way as well. So something that I tend to apply to those types of situations. And it might be an exam, but it could also be from like, a solution I’m thinking about too, is, and I think I can’t even remember who told me this, I’m pretty sure it was the Salesforce instructor along the way, told me to use the acronym kiss. And ultimately, what that stands for is keep it simple, silly. So literally, the most intimate, like the easiest way to implement something, and to then maintain it is quite often the simplest. So why would you do something can code when you can do it using flow. And you can maintain a flow a lot easier than you can maintain an apex class and a test glass. So that’s definitely something that Salesforce are looking for in the consultant exams. And then again, when you get as far as the architect ones, there’s another step up. And the architect exams are again longer. Like there’s more content, every question, you’ll see, sometimes one or two paragraphs per question. And you have to select from that the right answer. So, but the fundamentals are the same, like the bread and butter of Salesforce admin how to achieve things doesn’t change. And in the app, in, for example, one of the architect exams, they might be looking for something in terms of the principle of record types and page layouts, like they could be asking about that. And ultimately, an architect should know that. Because by the time I’ve got to that point, in my mind, they’ve gone through all of the admin exams already, and possibly the majority of the consultant ones as well. So I think those are quite helpful tidbits. I’ve also written some articles on Salesforce span, and just general Salesforce tidbits. And there’s an article there on flow. And there’s also another one on digital engagement. And if you’re aiming towards kind of certifications, recently come out the advanced admin certification guide, recently wrote, and that’s up now on sale spend too. So definitely use those tools in your kind of tool belt in your arsenal to help you achieve to where you want to get to.
Pei Mun Lim 54:18
Amazing I think I got a lot more than I expected. Yeah, out of this podcast, how fantastic you’ve exceeded my expectation, which is what we should all be doing in the world of consulting. So I wouldn’t be mindful if your time was slightly over. But it was really really great stuff a lot tips. And like I said, he indulged me in the explaining so much about the world of smartphones and how to use Salesforce to to just power that platform. So once again, I’d like to thank you so much, Tom, for spending the time with me just to share all your nuggets and your wisdom and information for the audience that we have. Thank you
Tom Bassett 55:00
Yeah no worries thanks for having me
Yeahhh so sometimes I don’t know what Bob, my solitary brain cell comes up with.
Most of the time, I just go where he takes me. 😛
In this issue however, Bob’s decided to take a left field and entered the world of the surreal.
So if you want to find out what he’s on about when talking about the Desirability, Feasibility and Viability of Salesforce projects and what it has to do with a Unicorn that pees Prosecco, maybe you might want to sign up to my newsletter.
Deets in the comments below.
Yeah, I know all consultants love doing timesheets. 😁
We love it so much that we save a big chunk of it and do it all in one go on a Sunday night so we can indulge on the dopamine hit every time we mash that “Submit timesheet” button.
Haha! No I don’t believe anyone likes it.
It’s akin to
– scrubbing the toilet
– looking for all the lego bits your kids have left lying about
– washing your dog after a muddy walk 🐶
– going to the dentist
In short, it’s a chore and not anywhere near the “donut face stuffing” category.
But.. Very very essential.
As a consultant, your time is the widget that pays your salary.
Us #ProjectManagers have to chase you up because one of our jobs is to approve the time sheets and send out the invoice.
We have to make sure you do it correctly before it gets pushed to finance because trying to fix it after it’s been processed and posted is as fun as picking cactus needles out of your eyeball. 🌵👀
Painful and not very fun.😣
So it you work for a #SalesforcePartner, or any other Consulting Partner, make sure you get your timesheets done.
Correctly posted against the right project code.
With the right description.
And with the right hours.
Book in your holidays, training and admin time correctly.
Your #ProjectManager will thank you.
And we may even get you a donut or two.
“You put the tea bag in the bin?? IT GOES INTO THE COMPOST!”
“WHO LEFT THEIR CLOTHES ON THE FLOOR?! AGAIN?!”
Everyone in my household can tell when my project’s reaching its pointy end of UAT. 😁
… And I notice that despite my best efforts, I still let external situations dictate my grump level. 😳
However, I believe its OK to be grumpy as long as I am never unkind.
This is something I am very mindful of.
Many people tend to be very harsh and unkind when stressed or struggling.
I believe that it’s important for me to be aware when my internal grump-o-meter is heading towards the red, and take a pause.
Do I need coffee? ☕
Perhaps a donut 🍩
Or maybe just to get through UAT without another “this is a change, not a defect” conversation. 🤨
On the flip side, I try to be more empathetic towards those who are grumpy at me.
“Hey, you seem quite stressed. You’re not your usual smiley self. Is everything OK?”
“Hey, your usual dry wit seem to have a sharper edge this morning. What’s happening?”
“Do you need a donut?”
Be mindful of what’s going on.
With yourself and with others.
Sometimes all that’s needed to de-grump someone is a donut. 🍩
🍩🍩🍩🍩🍩🍩🍩🍩🍩🍩 X 30.
Also,I think donuts beat sex.
Especially during UAT!!
(Don’t tell ÜberHub!)
“Argh! I can’t ‘Fake it till I make it’ it’s not possible!!” 😫
I heard this just last week.
To be honest, I’ve been hearing various flavours of the same thing over and over again for quite awhile now.
#Salesforce Partners are under so much pressure that integrity gets tossed out the window.
Not only is it unethical and immoral, it is also very cruel.
To force someone to
– be who they’re not
– straight out lie
– hide the truth by omission
Is very very wrong.
It’s not unlike those who have been forced to stay in the closet, to deny who they are so that they may fit into the perception and expectations of others…
#Consulting has been perceived as a career where you get treated like a resource with a utilisation number and that you get worked to the bone and then spat out when you’re broken and no longer able to bill your hours.
I’ve seen this happen with so many partners.
There are a few who buck the trend and truly care for their people.
Yes, you can succeed without compromising your integrity and treating your employees like human beings.
That’s what great #leadership is all about.
The #ConsultingLife is a good one.
I’ve made friends and worked on some amazing projects, solving such interesting problems.
And I want that for others too.. Which is why I will keep on banging this drum until I can see the tide changing! 🥁
Have you ever been asked to compromise YOUR integrity?