Overheard From 36 Virtual Salesforce User Groups

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Everyone wishes they’d bought stock in Zoom in January. A friend of mine actually did, but that’s another story.

Everyone is certainly using Zoom – at least 300m of us daily. And a certain chunk of those people are attending virtual Salesforce User Groups (UGs) that are happening all around the world. Amidst political shifts and uncertainty, these community-led groups have remained focused on professional development and problem-solving. The Ohana, which thrived on physical events and hugs, has had to adapt. As ever, they are resilient, resourceful, creative…and now online.

I’ve presented virtually at 36 UGs in 5 countries during 2020, and my experience is that participants are getting down to business, still focusing on how they can best run their Orgs. Here are some of the new priorities I’ve heard Admins share from my travels around the world.

The Salesforce Implementation Lifecycle, with Fewer #unintendedconsequences

The Trailblazers that attend user groups are still focusing on how they can best run their Orgs.

What’s more, many of them have had some breathing space to consider things like cleanup, documentation, DevOps, backup, and change management.

When I present, I talk about the Implementation Lifecycle – showcasing our product Elements Catalyst, yes – but emphasizing the importance of business analysis (BA) and talking about the many free tools and other paid apps that they could consider.

Having a repeatable process for Org changes enables the completion of the Implementation Lifecycle with the fewest #unintendedconsequences. I worried a little that admins, consultants, and developers would find the material too simple, but every group has said it was useful – either as new concepts or as a reminder. While I’m delighted at the interest in cleanup, documentation, and desire to learn more, I’m not surprised – this year many companies have had to rethink, rebuild, and review their Orgs.*

Admin Advantages in the ‘Virtual World’

One theme I’m seeing is a desire to remain relevant while working remotely and out of sight. Another is to take this opportunity to upskill, just in case there’s a need to dust off the resume. These seem to be driving the Ohana to UGs, along with the obvious need for friendship and connection.

Here’s a list of advantages of this ‘virtual world’ we’re currently in, IMHO:

  • International reach: people are attending UGs in multiple cities and countries, because they can, and there’s an amazing opportunity to attend anything of interest. Kind of like one big long Dreamin’ event.
  • On-demand: virtual events are often ‘on-demand’ which accommodates all time zones.
  • Hot Speakers: UGs can get top speakers who would never travel. Plus, there’s an opportunity for guest appearances from Salesforce & Ohana rockstars.
  • Substance over style: there’s a new emphasis on content over presentation. We’re all getting used to “less than studio quality” appearances on TV and in professional meetings, and to me it feels more relaxed.

When we come out of this let’s keep the best of both worlds. For instance, a group can meet to watch a virtual speaker. Or there can be an in-person event with the ability for anyone to connect and watch online. More opportunity to meet more people from more places can only be a good thing!

The Best Thing That’s Happened to You This Week?

When I present, I often ask the participants, “What was the best thing that’s happened to you this week?”, as an ice breaker and as a way to set a positive tone. I’ve had funny, sad, moving and delightful answers. Many are products of this unusual time. Here are my favorites:

  • “I made my neighbor a casserole.”
  • “There was toilet paper in the supermarket.”
  • “Daughter’s graduation – we thought it would be sad but so many friends and neighbors drove by to honk and show support.”
  • “My son came to live with us for a while.”
  • “I got to go to the dentist.”

At one event, I was reading out an OrgConfession, and someone said, “You must have made that up.” Someone else piped up, “No, I’ve just joined a new company and we have that same issue”.

Finally, here are real comments heard on UG Zoom calls that could only be the product of this crazy time:

  • “Hang on, my daughter is stuck in her closet.”
  • “Wow that’s kind of a weird Zoom background.” “Um, that’s actually my bedroom.”
  • “My cat turned my camera off.” Ok this was me.

And the single most heard comment on all those calls?

  • “You’re on mute.”

Rock on, Salesforce Ohana!

*If any of this strikes a chord, here’s a list of resources to further explore BA skills, the Implementation Lifecycle and of course, OrgConfessions, a fun list of Salesforce mistakes and pitfalls that you can’t look away from. My goal is that every Admin is skilled up and enabled to run an effective Org that maintains agility.

Org Confessions: https://orgconfessions.com

Business analysis  training: https://train.elements.cloud/

Business analysis Success Community: https://sforce.co/3fLI4o2

Elements Success Community: bit.ly/ElementsGroup

Elements Catalyst Free Trial: https://elements.cloud/freetrial/

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