Episode 2 of #OnThePeiroll podcast is out!
In this episode, I talk to Luke Menzfeld about his journey from #Salesforce admin to Consultant, and the lessons he learned along the way.
It was interesting to hear his perspective of working on client side, managing stakeholders, and the reasons he moved over to the vendor side.
Pei Mun Lim
Hello and welcome, Luke, to my OnThePeiroll podcast. How are you today?
I’m very well thank you yourself.
Pei Mun Lim
Very good, thank you. Now I understand that when you were at university, you went you you were in you did a stint in America where that was kind of like the first time you started on your career journey. You were working with Triumph.
Pei Mun Lim
Was that when you when you got to know about Salesforce?
Yeah, that was the first time so that was back in 2007. Like you say during university, I spent a year working for Triumph in Atlanta, Georgia, Triumph Motorcycles, they actually, they’re built in my hometown. So I grew up with motorcycles there. And I’d actually I’d actually worked for Triumph, as part of a summer job prior to getting the opportunity to go to America and that was the first time that I encountered Salesforce. And at that time, they were using it as a CRM system to manage information related to their their dealerships. So Triumph sell motorcycles through a network of dealerships. I think at the time back then there was about 200 in the States. And they were using Salesforce as a CRM system to capture commercial details about the different dealerships.
Pei Mun Lim
Very cool. Very cool. I did a project for a dealership, as well. So okay, it kind of sounds like something that I’ve done before. Since then, you’ve had a variety of roles you’ve done, you are project leader in a Children’s charity, research assistant, and the most the last few roles one was with IT companies, it was with an ERP product, if I’m not mistaken.
Yep. Yeah, the most recent experience before my latest change was in oil and gas. So I’ve always seem to find myself working with information systems, and project management, I think in every organization that have been with I’ve had sort of an information focus, so not just purely technical, not just data, you know, the other side, like a rounded view of information systems in it. So I think I’ve always found myself in that, in that role. And I think even every organization I’ve ever worked in, there’s always been a required improvement in systems and management information and flow of processes. So it just seems to it’s a good area, it’s a good fit. I think it’s one that interests me when it works really well.
Pei Mun Lim
That’s the key things in it when it works really well.
Pei Mun Lim
When did you pick up with Salesforce again, as a product, at which point in your career? Right, the beginning? And then when? When did?
Yeah, so right at the beginning, 2007 was my first introduction to the platform. And then when I next picked up on it was 2016. So I was working in the oil and gas industry at that time for for a large multinational organization. And we were transitioning our existing CRM system and moving over to Salesforce. And at that particular time i was i was an end user, I was a consumer of the system, if you’d like, I was an analyst at the time. So I was I was using the system to capture information and report on that from my role. And then you know, we were found out right, we’re moving over to Salesforce for our business unit. Here’s the timescales, here’s the impact. And it really, it really went from there. So that really opened up a lot of doors for me first in supporting the transition, optimizing the setup, getting some different things that we needed. And then it kind of spiraled, I had a variety of roles after that point, working directly hands on with Salesforce.
Pei Mun Lim
Okay, let me just touch on the point you made about transitioning from one CRM to Salesforce, what was that like? Was the new system? Was Was there an excitement about new system coming in?
Yes. Yeah, there was an excitement. It was a corporate driven project. So at that particular time, I was I worked for a business unit, which was part of a larger corporate organization so that the decision was taken at corporate that we would move. We were excited. I think because it was new. It was an investment. If you’d like, you know, they’re investing in improving the systems to take us beyond what we could do. So sitting on the positive side of the fence, I thought, well, that’s good. You know, we’ve we’ve got this system. That’s a good thing. Yeah. I think Because there’s excitement about that.
Pei Mun Lim
One of the things that you and I share, which is a passion for business change, when we have spoken before, do you feel that your organization at that point handled the change management piece? Did they handle it well, or in terms of getting the user adoption in, and getting the excitement and making sure that benefits came out of the implementation.
It’s interesting, reflecting on it looking back, you know, is a huge undertaking, because there’s many business units that were adopting the system across many territories, and many products. So if anything, that their task was huge, to put myself in their shoes. Now looking back, I’m like, that’s a monumental scope of work, not only to achieve the build, but then the, the adoption side of it, you know, we had, we had pretty comprehensive couple of 100 page user manuals, there was the video content and some training material. But I think it’s, I think from a corporate driven project, it’s, it’s quite hard to push that adoption. You know, I think I think within the different business units, there needs to be a champion or an owner or somebody that’s going to, to work to engage with their users to try and sell the benefits to make sure it’s used to show people that it can make their lives easier to really keep on with that momentum, because it’s easy to build and deliver. That’s true. But it’s the change management and the adoptions much less tangible. And this is the key.
Pei Mun Lim
That’s true. That’s true. So you say it’s easy to build and deliver. But that’s what you’re doing now. Right? You are now working in a partner?
Yes, yeah. It’s so I’m on the other side of the fence. Now, for the last six months, I’ve been working as a functional consultant or a Salesforce consultant for a partner at Cloud Galactico’s. And that’s very different. You know, that’s, it’s a very different different engagement, because you’re working on, you know, a fixed scope of work in some instances, and open scope of work, you know, some exploration, some development, you know, you’ve got all these different client contexts with different orgs? Different needs and requirements, expectations. So yeah, I’m on the other side of that, which has been an adjustment.
Pei Mun Lim
Okay, let’s just put a pin on that. And I’m just going to take you back again. With your role where you picked up Salesforce, again, you transition to the new system, and you said you held a variety of roles. Yes. Quite in depth with the product. Can you just talk a little bit more about those roles?
Yeah, absolutely. The, the framework, the framework, like the governance framework, if you like where I worked prior, I was working as an Business Analyst. And Salesforce was our primary tool, that was our main tool to do our jobs for what our business units needed. And within the business, we had a, I think it was maybe 12 to 15 analysts across the world in different regional functions. And we reported into for our business unit that the head of that area, so we worked in the Subsea business. So there was all of us as Analysts, and then from a system point of view, there was kind of a subject matter expert, there looking after subsea. And what they did is they, they captured bugs or change requests or business needs, and they kind of they were the voice of that department. So I’d originally worked as a as an analyst. I’d done a lot of engagement when we implemented Salesforce to say, this is great. Should we have or could we have a new record page here? Could we have this related object? Could we have some sharing rules could be, you know, we worked really well as a team to optimize and make small changes. And then there was a period of time which I became the subject matter expert. So I’d gone from being an Analyst to the subject matter expert, I held that position for a while this is a different role, because you’ve got to talk to a lot more people across the organization, you have to prioritize in order, you know, we had a certain allocation of developer support, but there was other areas of the business too. So that was a difference.
Pei Mun Lim
When you say subject matter expert, do you mean around Salesforce or around a product business?
Both in that capacity it was it was both really kind of it probably from a subject matter expert there you had the main understanding of that business departments needs both functionally from a system perspective, and from an information perspective and a data perspective, or anything related to our area, you know, and the system development And, yeah, kind of both.
Pei Mun Lim
So talk to me about your journey from there to..
Yeah. So from the subject matter expert there, there was. So from looking after just one business unit subsea, I then took a role, which was a fantastic opportunity, as someone transitioned away from the company, I took the role to look after the whole platform. So this had gone from being subject matter expert from for one business unit, to subject matter expert for six business units and all of the 900 users. So, that that took some adjustment, because your remit or your brief is different, I think at that level, you’re the single focal point of the system for the whole company, you have to engage a lot more with the senior management team from them respective business units to show them how the system delivers value for them, or how it could grow or change and adapt. And then you really get in into the information management, you know, the information is produced from the system. So it just it scaled.
Pei Mun Lim
How long were you in that role?
I was in that role for just shy of 18 months.
Pei Mun Lim
Okay, what were the some of the biggest initiatives that you might have undertaken within that role to either leverage the benefit of the Salesforce platform or any other change initiative that’s organization wide?
Yeah, the biggest project, the main focus of the role, I think, in the first sort of 12 months of that was just trying to get trying to shape an understanding of the future roadmap of the platform, because what we have is you’ve got, Salesforce is a product across all these business units. And you had all these business units pulling in their own direction, in terms of their developments, their needs, what they were looking to add on to the system, or what functionality they were looking to bring in. And it was evident that they’re all fighting for resource. You know, we have an external developer to support us, but were limited in the support that we had. So what I was trying to do was to develop cohesion in developing what what the roadmap was for the platform. So stepping up from the business units, what does the organization want the system to achieve? You know, what would Salesforce look like in? Not in the next three months? Six months, nine months? What’s it gonna look like in two years? in three years? And how are we going to get there? Well, you know, woud we always rely on external developer or do we want to develop resource internally? You know, would we would we share the budget between departments? Or is it going to be on a business by business unit basis? And that was a challenge? You know, I think it’s a lot of it was difficult. I didn’t, it’s quite tough conversations, it’s quite idealistic, it would be nice to think that all organizations have those conversations, I don’t think they do in reality. So I’d worked on that sort of focus for quite a long time. And I think, trying to get the different business units to work with the same framework of governance, let’s operate in the same way across the business units from raising change requests or bugs or ideas, you know, bringing them up, talking them out, prioritizing them engaging early to talk about resource let’s, let’s try to do that in a more organized and professional efficient way. Because, you know, the management of expectations is key in terms of the operational day to day running, it’s critical. And I think if, if the management or if the, if the business unit doesn’t see value from the system, or they don’t understand how it supports the business, then you’re going to get into some trouble, you know, with, with your IT budget that’s coming next year, and, and all that kind of stuff.
Pei Mun Lim
Yeah, I hear that. How did you pivot from end user to consulting? And what was that process like, for you?
Yeah, I’d started to invest a lot more time into Salesforce. So I’d had these positive experiences where I knew what we needed. From a business perspective, I had quite a good understanding of the basics, the declarative side of Salesforce. So I understood that the objects and the record pages and the sharing rules and the basics that we could do, and we had quite good success in small, iterative improvements in our business unit. So we, we suddenly made the system very useful to fit what we needed it to do. And I thought, okay, that’s very cool. You know, I enjoyed doing that. And then also, we’d, we delivered a big project, our company restructured and split into two different orgs. So the last project that I led, prior to moving on was to, to work on that project of six month project to split the org into two and it was just a very positive experience. So we were well organized, we were talking regularly, and we developed a successful team. And I just thought, you know, I need to be involved in this more, I want to be leading that project from the other side. You know, I think I, I enjoyed capturing what we needed from the business, but then I wanted to do it as well, I wanted to get stuck in build it and deliver it, you know, so I kept going back all the time, I was thinking I’d like to be more involved, you know, picked up on my certifications, I started to launch the user group in my local area, which started having all these conversations where I was like, there’s all this cool stuff happened in the Salesforce, that’s in all my areas of interest. I think I need to change my plan. I would like my direction to go that way.
Pei Mun Lim
Okay. Okay. So you’ve been working in a partner for six months, six months, yep. How has your expectations being met, or…?
It’s been, it’s been good, it’s been a great six months. And to be honest, my, my feet haven’t really touched the ground since I started, it’s been very fast paced. Every day is a learning day. But 100%, you know, I’ve had to learn fast because every context is so different. So you come up against things every day where you either haven’t seen them before, you’re not quite sure how you’re going to achieve them, you have to evaluate one in three different methods and understand the impact of that with the business, depending on their attitude and what they’re looking for from it. So lots of learning, lots of change. I think on the one side, it’s refreshing, in a way that you don’t have to deal with some of the internal challenges or politics, if you like, you really, you know, you, you’ve got a clear contact with the client, you’ve got a remit of work that can evolve and change and tweak and develop, but you don’t have to deal with all of the meetings and the internal conversations, which is, which is lovely. It’s fantastic. You know, it’s on that side, it’s very nice. On the other side, where we’ve done developments, you know, we’ve worked on something, we’ve created it, we’ve refined it, we’ve launched it, when then afterwards, I’m desperate to see well, how is it going? You know, like, what’s it allowed you to do? were people happy about it? Are people more interested in the system? What reports have been generated, you know, it’s all be part of the role I used to enjoy was delivering things, and then seeing the benefit of them. Now, you get check ins, and you get, you know, future scopes of work, but I missed that.
Pei Mun Lim
Yeah. It’s, I hear what you’re saying. Because it’s always very nice when you go in and you do a good job, and you want to see the benefits come out of it. And that’s the hard bit. Like I always say, Well, if you’re working for an end user, yeah. And as you correctly pointed out, just because you have delivered doesn’t mean that job is finished now is getting the users using the system, getting the user adoption up, and making sure that the benefits are accrued from all that hard work, and we don’t get to see it when you’re in consulting.
Yes, no, definitely. And it’s nobody, it’s been good. You know, I enjoy it. So far, time management is different. Because if you work in multiple projects, you know, you have to be very focused on time management, and where are you committing your time? I think sometimes, what I find is that you’re ready to work and the client isn’t or a client ready to work and you’re not, you know, you hit a stumbling block, it sort of affects you. So timing doesn’t always work out in the way it sort of did for an end user, perhaps if you’re an end user, if that was the case, you can focus your efforts elsewhere. You know, so it’s a kind of changes frequently, but it’s been positive so far.
Pei Mun Lim
In your previous roles, have you worked with a partner? Or was it mostly internal development?
Yes. Yes. In the previous role in my last company in oil and gas, we had an external development partner that supported us. Yeah.
Pei Mun Lim
So looking back, now you’re on the fence? Yeah. Were there any things? Sorry? Were there anything that you just looking back on the project? there anything that you think you could have done differently as a customer to help the project long? Or what insights Do you now have? That would have that if you could go into a time machine and talk yourself? Say you need to do these in these in this to make it go better? What What were the insights?
The biggest thing a customer can do for a partner is documented requirements. I think it’s really cool. During either end, it doesn’t have to be an administrator depending on how system efficient they are, and how much they understand the system. Document exactly what it is that you’re looking for. You know, I think, too often we get their requests where that require a meeting, a follow up further understanding, you know, multiple emails back and forth to try and gauge what the specific request is, I think looking back reflecting on it, we did an awful lot for our partner in my last role, because we sort of the way that our ticketing system worked, you know, in order to raise a bug or change requests, we would log that and we have to say, what, which org is it related to which object does it relate to, what exactly were we you looking for. If you’ve got any data or examples, or you know, so I was doing an awful lot for the developer. And when I’ve seen it on the the other side, I step in, you know, in certain instances where the customer could help more by documented requirements, I think certainly would be one of the things.
Pei Mun Lim
Let me just pick on that point, I think, I believe that a lot of businesses are, are good at what they do. Yeah, you could be a baker, like Greg’s, and you do what you do really well. Or you could be mortgage advisor, and you do what you do really well. And from my point of view, obviously, for organizations to make sure that they are on top of their processes, they ought to understand what they do. And they ought to understand what you’re trying to get out what you’re trying to optimize. Yeah, I think I feel, I can see where you’re coming from why you advise yourself, make sure you document the things that you want. But from my point of view, I think that the real question is to try and understand from the customer. What are the things that they want to improve? Not what they want? So yeah, if I bring in an analogy into it, if you talk to someone, and he’s got a horse, and you say, what’s what’s wrong with your horse, oh, my horse is really slow. And he takes up a lot of money, because then I’ve got to buy in food. And when he’s sick, I could get a vet. And it takes me very long to get from A to B, I really want I really want something better. And if you ask them what they want, actually, they might say, I want a bigger and faster horse with a car. Maybe what they need is a car. So by asking the customer, yes, what they want, sometimes they’re so focused on the issue. They want something better to make the issue go away. Our jobs as consultants sometimes is asking the deeper questions. What is it about the issue that’s causing you pain? So not that not the cuts? But what caused the cut? Because the chair you’re sitting in, has the sharp edge.
Pei Mun Lim
And we need to fix the chair and not just keep putting bandages?
Pei Mun Lim
That’s how I see. A consultant can add value to the customers, not so much. So we’ve got Salesforce, it’s got this functionality, that functionality will it’s better than your functionality, and therefore it should make you happy. But it might be that your all functionality was there to solve a problem. Yeah, that the Salesforce functionality is just another band aid. Yeah, it might look at that.
I agree. I think this is a range of those questions, which are pretty key, you know, to understand, and I think there’s a I mean, document and a problem might be suitable in like a bug fix scenario. But it could be more in a user story scenario, you know, as a user, I would like to be able to . . . absolutely, it could be in a business scenario, where, you know, what we’re really lacking is, we use Salesforce standard reporting only, and we can, you know, we’ve got a limit of the amount of objects that we can combine, therefore, our reporting is difficult because we don’t get a full picture of reporting. You know, I think that the question is key. So I think as well as that documentation from the client side, I think it’s that it’s the communication, you know, it’s that honesty with the partner to explain where things are to recognize some of their limitations, and to have a vision for where they want to go. as well. You know, I think that all of them points you raised are valid. So I think it’s easy from the client side to build a list or a backlog of big projects, you know, but again, it’s the bigger picture of the evaluation or the assessment of them, which ones are really going to help you which ones are fixes from previous problems.
Pei Mun Lim
I love your point about being really honest about where they are and where the limitation is. Because with with that, it allows your partner to really get on board and say, Look, you are aware that these are the places where you’re lacking. So one example, I, I know, from a partner point of view, I always love it if the customers got good documentation, but they never do, they never do, because they’re so focused on doing what they do, the best I can hope for is really good documentation on what they currently do. So great user manuals, you talked about user manuals, and that’s the main thing, I would love to work with a customer, where you’ve got user manuals, you go use a guide, you can visit videos, where I can now understand how you do things. Yes. And that helps us as a partner, take you forward, because that’s a really good starting point. If you’ve got a business where they’re just doing things, they don’t document it, sometimes they don’t even know how and why they do something, people can’t people go, and eventually you end up in a situation where everyone’s kind of stumbling along trying to…
And I would say, I think a lot of people being in that situation, a lot of businesses, you know, we had those, the user manual and the videos and the launch, which were great at the time of launch. And then they quickly became outdated, you know, and I think, again, when you look at how the system is governed, or who has ownership or the different responsibilities, even administrative responsibilities for change requests and documentation. It’s, you know, it’s difficult, I think, for them to stay on top of it. But, of course, it would save everyone so much time, because otherwise, when you do a discovery, you know, you first get your hands on the old, you’ve got that time where you’ve got to investigate, you know, processes and flows and workflow updates and all of these links. And like you say, it’s a challenge when we don’t know why a decision was made at certain point. And then you get layer upon layer of consultant work in an org stuff.
Pei Mun Lim
So I was going to say something until so I was gonna say that that’s where the value of partner comes in. Because they can help understand where you currently are. So a health check, for example, or to review your current or, or what’s all these five or infinity training, courses, builders, you’ve gone this one? Why’d you do that? And that’s where an organization will take hold. And you’re right, that we’ve been doing so many bandaids, we don’t even know what the original problem we were trying to solve. We need someone else to help us. So that’s where I see the value of having consulting partners come in, to look at where you are, and help you move forward. Then you made a point, say, you mentioned layers and layers of consulting. Can you can you expand on that? And what what that meant when setting it up?
Yeah, I’ve seen in, in different orgs, where it’s been clear that they might, you know, over a number of years, they might have had previous engagement with different partners, or different consultants, you can see it practically, when you look in behind the scenes of an org, you know, what you might know, over 3,4 or 5 year period, you know, it’s not unreasonable that they may have engaged with different external support. Yeah, but it’s, it’s very difficult as an all gets bigger and bigger, depending on what’s been done. You know, it’s, it’s difficult to know, who the last person that was influenced change in the system. You know, presumably, there might be a reason that that partner might not be there anymore. So you know, what position was it left where they happen? You know, I think it’s assessing the health of an org, how much has it grown? How much development is it hard? How much is declarative? How much is more complicated? You know, what third party packages do they have? Are they managed or unmanaged, it’s just building up this picture or this context of the environment that you’re working in. So there’s your system environment, as well very much as your business environment. And then your client position, you know, it’s not as simple as just the system side of it, just the business side of it, just the project side of it. And I think that’s why project management and delivery is so interesting, because it has to cover all of them. You know, you you have to have an awareness of all of them, I think, to do an effective.
Pei Mun Lim
Yeah, absolutely. Right. Absolutely. Right. I think your previous role As a project, you did some project management even in that was in your job title? Yes. So you did a lot of those. And the understanding of the big picture is such a key part of doing consulting very well, because you’ve just very, very accurately identified what the challenges are. As soon as you go into a customer site, this is what you need to now you need to absorb all this big picture, the context of why the org is this way, and what decisions were made. And oh, you’ve got three different partners come in at different time. And I can tell because of the way that they’ve named the different fields, and different points. And look, partner number two, there’s that was a shortcut. And why, what’s very well, and that makes, I feel that is why consulting is so interesting. Yes. Because it’s like being a detective, to me, when I was kind of doing this full time. It’s trying to figure all this out so that whatever actions we take moving forward is the correct one.
Yes, and it’s sometimes you know, I think, as a project manager, you hold that responsibility to go and do that detective research. But also, one of the challenges, you’ve got the responsibility to then translate that to the team that might be working with you to resolve it, you know, you kind of have to collect it and package it and translate it to your, to your team as well, in order that you can deliver something effective.
Pei Mun Lim
I think, for when I said project management is the heart that you were that allows you big picture thinking, consulting, well, we stay. So my most recent roles are as project manager, and not as a deep dive implementation or functional consultant. And that’s a very big picture thing. Yeah, that’s not something that I would deep dive into why, but I would get the story. And I would get the narrative behind how they got to this point, what the partners did, why they are no longer there. And what at the high level, what the problems are, that they’re trying to solve. And that’s the piece of information that I will share with my team. So that when they go digging down a technical side, they can put two and two together in order to have a big picture view. So that’s how I run my team. I let team do all the more clever things, and I do the chatting in the talking and narrative building. Yeah, that’s how we do a big picture of the project. In your in your current role. You mentioned there are small, some small projects where you’re dealing with it by yourself. And then some bigger ones.
Yeah, there’s, there’s a complete range of projects. You know, there’s there’s large projects with multiple internal resources on the team, you know, there’ll be a project manager, they’ll be a lead developer, they’ll be some analysts, there’ll be, you know, there’s larger projects. So far, I’ve mainly worked on ones solo. So far, you know, where I’ve had the introduction to the client, I’ve understood the history and the backstory, you know, what the initial focus is how much time we’ve got to do that. And the deliverable. So I’ve done a lot of the discovery, the scoping, the planning, and all of the hands on, you know, work myself to the point where I’m comfortable with, if not bring somebody else in or raise your hand. You know, so the minute I’ve been a part of why the first six months has gone so fast, I’ve been very actively real hands on across the full spectrum. From from the client side, the project side, the bigger picture, you know, right down into the nuts and bolts as well.
Pei Mun Lim
Do you see yourself staying on this path? Or do you see yourself moving into a project management role? At a later stage?
Yeah, I think a project management or project delivery focus at a later stage, I think I’m enjoying immensely the extra learning the technical learning that I’m getting about the platform. So I think often I’ve understood the business needs, and I’ve understood the limitations. And that’s as far as it went, because I was able to pass those problems over to an external, whereas now we are that partner. So I’ve had to do a lot of digging Well, okay, here’s the context. How do we get around it because we’ve got to find a solution. And I think, more and more detailed understanding technical understanding of the platform. I think he’s very good now and will see me through 2021 with no issues, you know, there’s a lot to learn and engage and absorb. But I think I would use that extra knowledge to help me in project delivery later. Because I think, then when you’ve had that practical experience, you’ve seen the constraints. You know what you’re doing when and when you go to do a new client meeting. Future, you know, you’re more aware of what you can and can’t do. You’re more aware of your declarative limits versus when you’re going to need apex or you, you’re going to be aware of scalability or challenges that you might face. So I think at the minute, I’m happy to be deep in the weeds, and engage in as much as I can, because a lot of my experiences comes from the client side, or the planning or the bigger picture or capturing the project. So I’m good with my experience, I’m happy with where my experiences at in that level. But now, I get a lot of technical exposure, which I think will help me down the line.
Pei Mun Lim
That’s good. You mentioned one of the things that you no longer have to do in the consulting side, which is dealing with the more day to day meetings and interactions with the stakeholders, because I believe that if you’re in a new environment, those will take quite a while. Yeah, absolutely not to position, it might be four or five meetings over a span of two weeks. In your previous role, where you have had to do that, have you had to deal with situations of maybe high conflict between different stakeholders? Or…?
Yeah. Yeah, I think quite a bit, I think it’s quite a tough role to play, particularly when you add that subject matter expert, or if, when you’ve got to gather the opinions from a lot of different people, it’s really tough, you’re always going to face conflict, because you get a lot of challenges coming your way. And I think it’s quite difficult. And I think one of the biggest challenges about the management and middle management, understanding actually how much work is going into running the system, because from your hands on, people working with the tool, or raising bugs and change requests and improvements, there’s so much happening at a at a perceived lower level that management aren’t, aren’t aware of, you know, so there’s a lot of, you might get a lot of business leaders or managers saying, well, this system doesn’t deliver value for us, or it’s difficult to input information or another sales team have complained that they can’t get x, y and Zed. Whereas actually, there’s a disconnect between how much work is really going on, you know, there’s a body of people that are putting blood, sweat and tears into making the system run. So he’s trying to, but yeah, I think often you got complaints, challenges, concerns.
Pei Mun Lim
What are the skills that you’re quite then that you can bring into your current role that you feel will help?
Yeah, I think, I think listening, I think I think you have to listen to what somebody’s saying, you know, they’re not just going to give you a hard time, for no reason. So trying to understand the root cause of where the problem is coming from. Is it is it misunderstanding, you know, is it that they don’t appreciate what’s going on behind the scenes. So I think listening is one. Maybe like, listening perhaps leads into sort of sympathy and or empathy, you might be able to, you might be able to appreciate, or you might be able to sympathize with the challenges, which they have. But I think you’ve just got to be calm, and you just got to talk to people, you’ve got to have these conversations, you know, you’ve got to be having a level of being candid and honest enough to have an adult conversation where you might not agree at the start of it, but both sides have got something to put across. And you know, just in the way we’re talking now, and I could explain my constraints, you could explain your pain and challenges as to why my constraints are hurting you. But just talk that out. You know, don’t don’t let it build up over a long time and build resentment and hold on to it any have a big outburst, try to find a relationship where you can support each other. So you know, you might see it with a client, you might be early stages with kickoff, it might be good and exciting. And you have lots of meetings and documentation. But if you hit that two week period, when you pass in work over and it’s gone quiet, it’s a bit of a trigger, it’s a warning to say pick the phone up or just check in everything’s okay. You know, I think you’ve I think proactive communications part of that as well.
Pei Mun Lim
Yes, yes. So that’s, these are one of the things that I tell my team communication is really, really key. I work very much with my peer, the client side, the client side PM, in your role within a team, you will have your PR on the client side, either the BA or the SME or the key user stakeholder. And it is about listening to them and making sure they feel heard. And oftentimes I as you have found out, and that’s all they want, of course, and there is no issue after being heard. This having an ear from the vendor to understand this. The pain that I feel. And even if you don’t have a solution for them, and just miles better,
Or it would reduce a lot of barriers and a lot of walls, and I think, get to know them, get to know that expert, and look at how you can help them achieve what they’re trying to achieve, you might see that they’ve got a lot of enthusiasm. They might know their area really well, they might have limited technical knowledge, but you can see they’d be an excellent tester, or someone that’s key to the testing process, help them, you know, help inform them how they could play a role in that, and that’d be really good. And they’d be central to the project. You know, like, if you’ve the ability to pass something on that’s useful for them, do it because it will pay it forward. So I have a situation where we’ve done some pretty complicated automation. And I need to know that the client understands it as well as I do. So we’ve had a variety of sessions to really go through. So if they have to troubleshoot it, when I’m not there anymore, I know that they can fix it. And yes, it’s taken a bit of extra time. But it’s been enjoyable, you know, 30 to 45 minute meeting where someone’s enthusiastic and wants to learn No problem, I’ll find the time, because it will work for them. And then all of a sudden, if we come back later, you do an extra phase, we remember each other we pick up again, and they might teach somebody else, you know, and I think that’s the that’s that’s what we’ve got to do. I think.
Pei Mun Lim
That is a really, really good work ethic, I think prioritizing human connections, because we never know, we’re going to meet them again.
Pei Mun Lim
On another project. Yeah, that’s really good. Have you had any opportunity to work with offshore or remote team or people who are not on site?
Yes, yeah. in the, in the, again, the company that I worked with last time we had our we were based in the Northeast at the time, our development partners headquarters was in Paris. And then we had offshore support coming from Mauritius as well. At the same time, fortunately, at the time, pre COVID. And with business travel. I was in Paris regularly once a month. And so I had met both of the Paris partners, but also on a number of occasions, the offshore development support coming from Mauritius. Still what I would say it’s a challenge at a distance. But then look at the last year with with COVID we’ve all been a distance. So I think you can’t say you can’t say anymore it.
Pei Mun Lim
But that was really good. Because I want to pick up on that. You in your previous role. You had offshore people that you were working with, but you went and met them face to face. So you’re able to make that personal human face to face connection. Yes. which then makes the screen connection easier?
Yes. Yeah, it is.
Pei Mun Lim
Since you started Cloud Galacticos. Have you met anyone face to face? Or even for a socially distance walk?
No, no, you know, changing jobs in the pandemic, I didn’t have a face to face interview, you know, at the range of Skype interviews and phone conversations. I’ve met all the team virtually, you know, we have a daily standup where we’re all on, you know, on slack or zoom. But I’ve see the tiles of the team, to the 12-15 people, I haven’t met any of them.
Pei Mun Lim
How do you think moving forward, because you’ve worked in a situation where, in my opinion, the best way to work with offshore people, but now everybody’s kind of offshore as in remote, in a way where you have face to face time and then paired with remote. Moving forward. I’m not sure how your company works. But does it look like they’re more open to 100% work from home? or?
Yeah, yes, it’s a remote organization. There’s people spread sort of all across the UK. And they’ve got office spaces in Manchester, and in London, sort of remote spaces, and they’re quite keen to get people to meet up, but predominantly, everybody sort of in their remote position. Okay, this This is strange. I’m changing jobs. It’s a stretch. It’s a difficult time to move jobs. How will I adapt but it’s not been. It hasn’t been an issue. We have a lot of face time and we have a lot of computer screen time face to face contact
Pei Mun Lim
All right, I would like just before we close up, I’d like to do a little rapid fire questions. Okay, they called the You User Manual. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it. But it’s where, if possible, you, you have a little manual that tells people how to work with you. And if you hand them, it’s an it makes things a lot easier. And this came across my radar not too long ago, and I thought, hey, that’s, that’s really good. I should do on myself. But I’d like to ask you some questions out of this manual, and see how you get on. Okay. What are some raw, unfiltered truth about yourself? that you’re willing to share?
Oh, wow. raw, unfiltered truth. Okay, so I shouldn’t try and filter is what I’m trying to do now. I think I’m a bit of a perfectionist. At heart. I think that’s good. And it’s bad. You know, I think it has its limitations as well. But I think by nature, I always strive to achieve a bit more go a little bit further, you know, constantly pushing and driving. And that’s not always a positive, you know, that’s not a default. Sort of, I see it as a good thing. I think it’s a good thing. And it has its limitations at times as well.
Pei Mun Lim
Okay, so what are what are the flaws that you have, that you think would put people off or annoy people?
Okay, what would annoy people don’t put people off. It’s perhaps linked to habits and you know, that perfectionism and that drive to sort of keep moving on, it’s maybe maybe the, the the pace, my pace of work might might annoy people, you know, I think if, if I’ve often got downtime I look for, right, what’s the next thing let’s jump on a call let’s push on with this, we’ll create a list about this or chase this for you know, I’m quite, I can be at times quite action focused. So I think maybe the pace of that may frustrate some people. I’m mindful of it, you know, I think I’m, I’m not on all of the time. You have different paces, but maybe that could be one thing.
Pei Mun Lim
Okay. What’s your communication style? Like? How should I communicate with you?
Frequently and openly. And that would be the same for my style versus coming back the other way. I think that’s how I would advise people to talk to me, frequently, openly, honestly, as well. You know, I think in communication wise, I’m, I’m across most platforms. So if it’s messenger or email, or, you know, call or different things, I think I’m approachable in different ways. But the key is to have a level of candidness and honesty, where we can just talk things out, things are so much easier to manage if we raise an issue at the time it’s occurred, or raise a concern, or ask for help, or need some support both ways around that works for people with me. And I think that I’ve got to do the same thing
Pei Mun Lim
That’s a very project management answer, by the way, because mine as well. What are your quirks? Eccentricities?
I’m quite like, as much as I like detail and documentation and bullets and plans and charts, and that I’m quite a visual thinker at the same time. Do you know what I mean? I quite like art, and I quite like design and I quite like visual communication and color. And, you know, the, the alternative to that I often, some of the things I’m interested in don’t exhibit the behaviors that i show. But yeah, I’ve got interested not all numbers in systems and data and you know, yeah.
Pei Mun Lim
Okay, um, how do you make decisions?
Good question. Context first. So as much context details as you can collect, so scope, situation, timing, risk, impact, as much information as you can possibly go as much detective work that you can gather and then link it together, you know, assimilate what’s it al means, okay. So here’s all of our situations, know what decision is you’re looking to take? Know, if you have any alternatives, you know, and then just weighing up the good, the bad, and then making an evaluation, you know, taking all of that say, Okay, well these are the potential routes, these risks, these potential benefits, either it could be the least worst solution you take, you know, I think it’s..
Pei Mun Lim
You’re very methodical, you’re not going to make that decision, then I think
I would probably be led by the heart. I think if it was my own personal decision, I would be led by a gut feel on my heart. If it was me, it’s different in a client context or project context, because it’s not your it’s not your area, you’re working on behalf of the project. So I think you’ve got to, I’m more methodical in a business sense. Definitely. Whereas I might be, you know, think with my heart rather than the head personally. Okay.
Pei Mun Lim
Last one, what are some of the things that people misunderstand about you?
That’s a good one for self awareness isn’t it? What people misunderstand about me . . .
Pei Mun Lim
Are there any times where you’ve had to correct somebody in the way that they’ve perceived you?
No, I don’t think quite as formally as that. I think I want work and I want projects to be about enjoyment, and engagement and success. So I always like to do a good job, and to give good achievement, but I want the people working with me to enjoy it along the way. So I think I would like us to be challenged and stretched, but I want us to challenge each other should we find engagement and be successful? You know, it’s not all about the success in a delivery and that we must get here, I think it’s about pushing the boundaries a little bit where you can keep moving on, and perhaps at times that can be misunderstood. Or it might be misunderstood. You know, as I’m putting it back out, there might be misunderstood as too much of a drive for delivery or success, or must go on or must do more or less, you know, no, no, it’s not always about about that. And it’s, it’s just being mindful of it. It’s been, you know, everybody’s different on a, and they like to work in different ways. I think it’s, it’s what I’m aware of now, which is slightly different to when I was younger, it’s not one size fits all. And every every, it’s all slightly different. So whereas before, I think it would have just pushed and pushed and pushed and pushed, you know, 10 years ago. And my more mindful now that it’s about, it’s a shared enjoyment. It’s not if I’m individually, super successful, but I alienate the rest of my team so I’m just relentlessly pushing on. It’s a shared one. So then I might have to turn some of those things off or adapt or let somebody else. You know what I mean? I think that kind of thing.
Pei Mun Lim
Okay, thank you very much for taking time out to speak to me on the podcast today,
No problem at all. Thank you for having me. I’ve enjoyed following your content. And I think this is really good, what you’re doing with the podcast, I hope it hope it goes really well for you. And you have a lot more interesting conversations like this.
Pei Mun Lim
Thank you. I just got to say that you provide a huge amount of insight on your journey, from end user to consulting and insights that you learn that you could have helped yourself in the past. And hopefully through this podcast, it can help whoever’s listening, when they are looking at career choices. For example, there will be cases where being an end user might be the best choice for them. And in some cases, where consulting is where they want to head to. So thank you so much for your input, because I think that provides a lot of value and insight to other people. Thanks a lot. Appreciate them. Thank you. Bye.
“I screwed up.”
That was the very first thing she said to me.
Barely out of her teens, she was wracked with guilt and self loathing about what she’d done.
In her mind, the deed was so horrible and unthinkable that she felt that she had let her family down.
I believe there is no one source of truth.
There is just everyone’s perception of an event, and where it lies on the spectrum of morality or ethics depends on their personal moral compass and values.
In order to function in today’s society every shade of grey can be found in all manner of human conduct, I need to be aware that my way of perceiving things is just that – my point of view.
It helps to get my bearings, by checking in with people whose integrity I hold in the highest regards.
Am I right to feel this way?
Is my thinking flawed?
What foundations do I have for this belief?
Is my ego at play?
Only then, can I understand if I am “blowing things out of proportion”.
The young lady had come to me for some perspective, and I was glad to share my thoughts.
Sometimes the best thing we can do for someone in distress is to lend an ear.
And maybe, share a 🍩 or two.
Today is an emotional day for many as it’s Mother’s day in America. There are many who have a complicated relationship with Motherhood.
It was years before we had our own, so we are familiar with the deep aching pain of wanting a soft little person to hold, to cherish, to love.
I wished my mum Happy Mother’s day today.
She gave me the gift of life and the two additional gifts that I am giving my children.
I drew this when I wanted to articulate my feelings about motherhood. I know how deeply fortunate we are to have our children, and I never take it for granted.
This is a message for the women who protect and care for us.
The teachers, nurses, doctors, healthcare workers.
The dinner ladies, the lollipop ladies, the nursery teachers and child minders.
It’s also for those who forge the path so that we may have an easier journey in non-traditional female careers.
For those who keep on pushing the glass ceiling upwards, to carry on flourishing and thriving in male dominated fields.
The women in tech, in politics and in the corporate world who serve as mentors to others.
To all the women out there, whose heart bursts with love, who give up so much of themselves for others – I salute you.
You’re the epitome of #Motherhood.
Punch in the nose or a kick in the nuts?
Discipline or Donuts?
Money or Integrity?
Would you leave your work, family, and comfortable life to ‘Find Yourself’ and answers from a Yogi on top of a mountain?
Decision making is such a fascinating science to me.
As a Project Manager, I make decisions all the time.
It comes naturally to me.
I look at options – my team helps me with this
I weigh each option – my team provides context and recommendation
I decide – and I am now accountable for the success or failure of this decision.
If it’s the right decision – yesss! 💃🏻
If not – then dissect and learn for the next time.
The topic for my newsletter this week is around Decision making.
Link in the details if you want to read me.
In the meantime – I still struggle with ‘Discipline or Donuts’ decision. To make it easy – I don’t buy any donuts at all, so the temptation is removed!
Thats my strategy for this particular dilemma 😁
What types of decisions do you struggle with?
Would you name your baby DaBomb?
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
When you get naming conventions wrong, you can get into all sorts of trouble.
At best – it is annoying, and makes your org look messy (especially if you’re a perfectionist who’s nit-picky).
At worst – it may create a huge integration issue, which I know happened on this one project, and the oversight was very very costly to fix.
All consulting partners need to have solid ‘Ways of Working’ to ensure technical and delivery governance, the basic of which is #NamingConvention.
New hires, especially contractors, should go through induction just like graduates and other newbies so that they can incorporate best practice of project delivery.
Quality of Delivery needs to be consistent across all project teams.
And while I can revel in nerdness just as much as the next nerd, I am just not a fan of making work more difficult than it needs to be! 😑
Hearing is not the same as listening.
Hearing is a physiological act while listening is a psychological one.
When we listen, we are truly paying attention, and making a keen effort to try and understand what the other person is trying to convey.
We don’t assume.
We don’t “fill in the blanks”.
We don’t twist the meaning to suit our narrative.
This is a pretty difficult thing to grasp if you’ve never been coached through it.
Last week during my Consulting Masterclass, we did some role playing on the #ActiveListening module.
In the beginning, the students could tell me what active listening was, but found the role play challenging, as they tried to practice what they thought they knew.
We then walked through multiple scenarios and everyone had a go at responding in a non judgemental way
Some of their reflections:
Harder than I thought.
Ignored the other party as I focused on what I thought the objective was.
Was trying to figure out my next question.
I felt I needed to solve their problem.
It will take mindful practice but it will be so worth it when it becomes second nature.
Practice makes progress.
Keep at it.
You can only get better and you’ll find that it might be as life changing for you, as it was for me. 🌹
How can you listen to so much darkness and not let it taint your soul and spirit?
As a listening volunteer with Samaritans, I hear this question quite a bit.
We support our callers who are going through emotional turmoil, who are sometimes very suicidal and we hear some very difficult calls.
Without the support our amazing leaders and support team within the branch and organisation, we really couldn’t function.
Just like our callers, the act of talking is like sharing the burden that´s weighing down our soul.
This alone, lightens the load on our shoulder.
I don’t know if our frontline services – the doctors, nurses, paramedics, key workers – who go through more visceral experience get the same kind of support, but we are there for them too.
Listening is something we can all do for each other.
It´s a gift you can give that costs nothing.
Nothing except a bit of time.
And #Kindness. 🌹
His job was to break into homes to find the erotic toys and other sexual paraphernalia and get rid of them.
In the mid 1980’s Chuck volunteered at a hospice where most of the residents were dying of AIDS.
He talked to the residents, and spent time with them.
Sometimes, he was asked to remove all the evidence so that the deceased family members would never find out their secret when they died.
Chuck Palahniuk, who would go on to write Fight Club, talked about this very intimate human thing he did and how it changed him.
To remove all traces of the person’s private ‘self’, the side of them that they would never ever share with their closest and dearest, is almost like erasing their very existence.
I believe our deepest human need is
To be seen for who we are.
To be heard.
To be understood.
When we have to hide this very personal part of ourselves, we are denied this basic human need.
And to die, without ever sharing this part of us to those we love, is so tragically sad.
Open your heart and your mind.
The one closest to you may be hiding because they fear your judgement.
See them for who they are.
Hold a safe space for them to just, be.
Do something intimately human with another person today.
Let them share their soul with you. 🌹
Sometimes a culture of ‘silo’ed way of thinking develops unconsciously as an organisation grows, which can develop bad habits within its operational processes.
Sales will do whatever they can to close the deal, which may frequently include overpromising on what can be delivered.
Because – commission.
Delivery will fulfil the bare ‘minimum’ of the Statement of Work, because project is likely to be underestimated, and the overworked team will have little room for a Quality Layer.
Because – utilisation.
Then Managed Services, or Support – will get handed a project and a client, who may not be totally happy with the services rended so far, and feel totally and utterly crapped on.
It’s a vicious cycle, and it takes strong leadership to recognise it, and create a more collaborative culture perhaps by changing compensation structure.
As Delivery, I always try to create rapport with Sales and with Managed Services.
We are #OneTeam – and I need to know how I can make everyone’s job better.
Perhaps I can help more with the bids and RFP?
Or create a better support handover process?
When a customer is happy, we all win. ❤
I find myself slightly disagreeing with Albert Einstein, and Jay Harrington, although I broadly agree with the concept.
I think most people and organisations fall into the (A) category.
One should definitely spend more time defining the problem before shooting off and trying to solve it – or you may find yourself ‘fixing’ the wrong problem.
What were they thinking? Do they really think this approach will solve their problem?
I can see how it can be easy to fixate on trying to solutionise, but it is just as easy to lose sight of the big picture.
Are we serving our clients if we don’t ask the hard questions to help define, or even RE-define the problem?
(B) is my preferred mode of operation. Spend longer on the problem definition, and you will find that the solution design will be a much better fit.
Of course, as usual my default mode seem to always be (C) 😁🍩😋