Thu, 16 March 2023
Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we talk to LeeAnne Rimel, Senior Director of Admin Evangelism at Salesforce.
Join us as we talk about the biggest mistakes admins make and what to do to avoid them.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with LeeAnne Rimel.
What’s the biggest mistake new admins make?
About once a year, LeeAnne gets asked the same question: what are the biggest mistakes she sees new admins make? And LeeAnne is a great person to answer this question. She’s worked at Salesforce for a long time, including a spell as a tier-three support engineer. She’s seen literally thousands of implementations and, you’ll be glad to know, she has an answer.
“The biggest mistake that I see Salesforce Admins make is not asking why,” LeeAnne says. That means putting on your business analyst hat and understanding what’s behind what you’re trying to build. Not just how you’re going to implement it, but why you’re being asked for it in the first place.
Measure twice and cut once
Let’s take a common request: you’re asked to add a new field. LeeAnne points out that the bulk of your work is actually going to be done in the discovery process, where you’re interviewing stakeholders, talking with users, and understanding how it fits into the business process already in place in your organization. Is this something other business units will use? What will be the reporting requirements for this field?
That’s why business analyst skills are such a point of emphasis in the Salesforce Admin Skills Kit. When you ask why you’re building something, you’re trying to understand how it affects the user, how it affects the business units, how it affects the organization, and how it affects other dependencies. Only after you’ve got a firm grasp on all that and written your plan down on paper do you start to actually build something. In short, LeeAnne is a big proponent of “measure twice and cut once.”
Your time to shine
You might feel hesitant to push back on requests because it makes you feel like you’re saying no. But just building whatever’s been requested and not taking the extra time to understand the context means you’re missing out on opportunities to shine. It could be that several business units need to track something similar, and you can actually make a solution that works for everyone across your organization, or give them reporting they didn’t know they needed.
If you need help brushing up on your business analyst skills and getting a comprehensive understanding of what makes a solid discovery process, we’ve got you covered. Check out the links below and remember: always ask why.
Gillian Bruce: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins podcast, where we talk about product, community, and careers to help you be an awesome admin. I'm your host today, Gillian Bruce, and we are going to be joined by podcast frequenter, LeeAnne Rimel, my amazing teammate who had a really interesting thought for an episode, and I agreed that it was an important topic. So, I said, "Come on on the podcast, LeeAnne, let's talk about it." It's all about the biggest mistakes that admins make. So, without further ado, let's get LeeAnne on the podcast. LeeAnne, welcome to the podcast.
LeeAnne Rimel: Hey, Gillian, thanks for having me.
Gillian Bruce: Good to have you back. Now, I wanted to dig into something that you and I had a quick chat about the other day and I thought, "Hey, we should probably bring this to our listeners." This came up for you because you had just done a presentation to a group of students learning about technology in Salesforce, and it's all about the biggest mistakes that admins make. Now, I'm sure everyone's wondering what are the biggest mistakes. So, LeeAnne, can you give us a little more context about this conversation and this idea in general?
LeeAnne Rimel: Yeah. It's one of my favorite questions to get asked. I feel like at least once a year, usually more, someone asks me this question, whether it's on a panel, it's often when working with students who might be entering the Salesforce ecosystem in the next year or so. The question is always what's the biggest mistake you see Salesforce admins make, or what's the worst thing you can do as a new Salesforce admin. Understandable question, right? People want to avoid possible missteps, and totally makes sense.
Gillian Bruce: What's the biggest mistake, LeeAnne? I want to know. This is buildup.
LeeAnne Rimel: We've got the buildup. Well, okay. The great thing is that it's something that you can do or you can avoid this mistake whether you're a brand new admin or you're a really tenured admin. The biggest mistake that I see Salesforce admins make is not asking why, is not diving into their business analyst skills, is not evaluating why a solution needs to be built before they build it. And so, the great news is that no matter where you are in your Salesforce admin journey, you can ask why. As we grow our business analyst skills, as we grow our admin skills, we grow our language and our methodology and our toolkit of how we ask why and how we build out those solutions. But on your first day as an admin, if someone asks you to add a checkbox, you can ask why, and I really strongly recommend you all do that.
Gillian Bruce: Yes. So, I a hundred thousand percent agree with this and I think it's really interesting because a lot of times when you think about, "Oh, I'm scared about making a mistake when I build something or I'm scared about making a mistake in this implementation," that is actually, that's fine. Those are good mistakes to make because you learn something. It's like this idea of experimenting and continuing to iterate. But before you even get there, before you build anything, really understanding what it is you're trying to accomplish and what's the problem you're trying to solve.
LeeAnne Rimel: Yeah, absolutely. I don't know if anyone else's parents ever used to tell them the rule about measure twice, cut once, right? It's a good attitude to bring to building solutions as well. A huge amount of your work, let's say you're going to build an automation, business automation for one of your business units. The bulk of your work is not going to be the clicking around in Salesforce. The most meaningful and valuable part of your work is going to be conducting those stakeholder interviews, creating your process map, asking good questions about what needs is this serving, creating your user stories, really understanding the solution that you want to build and asking good questions about often as admins were approached by maybe heads of business units, "Hey, we need to track this. We need to add a field for this." That's a very common request. We need to add a field for this.
Gillian Bruce: So, actually on that, LeeAnne, so let's say I have been in an organization in a Salesforce admin role and I've been just kind of taking orders and just adding fields when people ask me to add fields or building the thing because they tell me that's what they want to have built, and I haven't done a lot of asking why. How would you go about trying to change that and shift that in my current role? Because it's a little weird to all of a sudden just change and be like, "Well, why do you need that?" And then people be like, "Well, why are you asking me why I need it? You just do what I tell you to do." How do you combat that?
LeeAnne Rimel: Yeah, I think that's a really great question, right? I think we approach this with a lot of empathy for our end users. I think that's always a great way. Writing user stories is kind of an act of empathy because you are imagining that you are that user working through a system and trying to accomplish a task, right? And so, I think approaching it in that way, it's not about, "Hey, you have to give me the right answer or else I'm not going to build you this thing you're asking for." It's, "Hey, I want to better understand. I'm interested in better understanding how you need this to perform. What's the problem that this is solving?" because there might be other groups you can interview as well. There might be a chance if you've got one sales group is requesting a field, is that a field that has a similar need in other business units and other sales processes, and maybe it should be a different... Instead of having multiple fields for each sales unit, maybe it's one field or maybe it's a custom object.
Gillian Bruce: It's why on all of the levels, all of the whys.
LeeAnne Rimel: But it's like if I'm going to ask you why, it's fair to provide some additional background on why, what I'm going to do with that information to make you my partner in it because that makes you my partner. If I'm like, "Hey, can we collaborate on this for a minute? Can we have a little interview?" We talk about stakeholder interviews. A stakeholder interview doesn't have to be like, "Oh, we scheduled an hour on the calendar that's titled stakeholder interview, and we're following this template." A stakeholder interview can be, "Hey, sales user that I work with, can I sit down with you for 15 minutes and ask you some key questions about what's difficult for you?" Or, it can be putting a user story together and then gut checking in with one of your stakeholders. Those are all business analysis. A lot of the interpersonal skills that many admins are so strong in, those are all business analysis skills.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah, and it's all before you start solutioning at all. I think one of the things that I heard you say, especially focusing on the empathy, like you said, it establishes the relationship with your users, but it also establishes with your leadership, it shows that you're thinking more big picture about where the business is going and how Salesforce can fit within the context of that. I think we've talked about this a fair amount on our team to various groups of admins, but really as a Salesforce admin, especially given the current environment that we're all in, we're asked to do more with less. This is a moment and this is an opportunity to really demonstrate that you do understand the business goals, you can connect the business goals with the skills you have and the technology skills that you have to deliver really impactful results pretty quickly. And so, I think especially tapping into this idea of don't make the mistake of not asking why you go into this, this is a really important thing to think about right now.
LeeAnne Rimel: Absolutely. I think it's an opportunity to uncover some gold mines really as an admin for where you can add value to your organization. Earlier I mentioned thinking about the user, thinking about the business unit, thinking about the enterprise, when you ask why and when you dive in and when you conduct stakeholder interviews and when you understand the context of these requests, it helps you understand the business and the things that are pains for the business and how you can potentially create solutions for those. That's an incredibly valuable place for a Salesforce admin to be, and it's a really smart place, career-wise, to be, to be positioning yourself to understand, okay, I see that we're wanting to dive into analytics more across these parts of the business, because not only does asking why help you build a better solution, you're the Salesforce expert, probably not your leadership structure, probably not your business unit leaders.
Gillian Bruce: Well, and I mean understanding what different parts of the businesses need and understanding what Salesforce can do or what you can do with Salesforce as an admin. I've heard stories before where an admin says, "Oh, well this business unit was using this specific app for this process. They didn't realize we could do that in Salesforce which we already pay for. So, I'm going to just save us a bunch of money and say, 'You don't have to use that anymore and it's all going to be in Salesforce.'" You talk about a business understanding the value you can bring as an admin, that is huge.
LeeAnne Rimel: Absolutely.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah.
LeeAnne Rimel: Yeah, I think what you're talking about is kind of doing an audit of systems, right?, And so if you're looking for projects as an admin or trying to understand where you can add value, that is an incredible place to look for value ads, because if you are on, say, Sales Cloud or Service Cloud, you can create custom objects. You have platform access, right? I remember working with a customer and they were using I think Sales Cloud, and it was when they realized we were working together and they were showing me the different systems they used and the different places that they tracked things, and they were using, I think Evernote or something to track customer stories and it was how they were tracking, and they had this whole kind of complex template and they were adding Salesforce record IDs and it was a whole thing.
Gillian Bruce: Mm-hmm. I love that. That's a fantastic story, and yeah, again, it really demonstrates, hey, you use those business analysis skills as an admin. You never know what kind of things you're going to discover. I mean, talk about a leader who would not appreciate that, right? Oh, I'm already paying for a thing so I don't have to pay for this extra thing. We can get rid of that and just continue to pay for what we're already paying for. Yeah, especially given the world as it is now, that's the huge kind of impact that we can have as admins using those business analysis skills.
LeeAnne Rimel: Discovery is such an important, when I say ask why, really if you're Googling for and looking on Trailhead for content, asking why is really all about discovery. It's a huge part of it is discovery, and we'll share in the show notes some great Trailhead resources and admin resources to dive into that further. But doing that customer discovery, because your users and your business unit leaders are your customers, it's so illuminating because we assume that we know what people... Sorry, there's my dog. We assume that we know what people are doing as they're working with Salesforce all day, but we don't. That's why Mike Gerholdt, our colleague, coined the term SABWA, Salesforce administration by walking around, and that's another form of discovery. It's doing those interviews and research into how are people using Salesforce and how can we make their life a little better.
Gillian Bruce: Well, I know Riley's very passionate about this. I can hear that she cares a lot about asking why it's good. So, I just, I love everything you shared, LeeAnne. I think that this is a really valuable aspect for all of us to think about no matter where we are in our careers, especially as Salesforce admins. If you're brand new, your first day on your job as a Salesforce admin, what are the top few questions that you would ask?
LeeAnne Rimel: Well, if you're brand new as a Salesforce admin and you're dealing with an existing implementation, I think some of the most important questions you can ask is help me understand why was this built, help me understand why you're using this, or who's using this, and making sure you're asking the right people, right? That's a huge part of identifying your stakeholders and identifying who would ask. Make sure you're asking the right people. Make sure you're interviewing your power users as well as people who have admin rights and things like that. Sometimes power users are using things in a way that wasn't originally architected, but it's providing value for them, so you want to make sure you figure out how they're using a text field or something like that.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah, it's your job as the admin to connect the business goals and the overall goals of your leadership with what you and Salesforce can do together. I think that's a really important point. Well, LeeAnne, it's been so fun to have this excuse to talk about this very important topic with you on the podcast. Any final thoughts you want to leave with us before we end, we wrap up today?
LeeAnne Rimel: Every admin is a business analyst and has the power to be a strong business analyst and to continue to build those business analyst skills. One of the most important elements of being a business analyst is curiosity with that customer discovery. I think admins, it was curiosity that likely led you to learning this new skillset and learning how to be a Salesforce admin and exploring all these different tools and features. So, lean into that curiosity. You already have everything it takes to be a business analyst. Lean into that curiosity.
Gillian Bruce: I love that. Great note to end on. Thanks again so much for joining us today, LeeAnne. I appreciate it.
LeeAnne Rimel: Thank you, Gillian.
Gillian Bruce: Huge thanks to LeeAnne for taking the time to join me on the podcast today. Now, if you want to learn anything that we mentioned on the podcast, including resources about how to do discovery and how to ask why, please check out the show notes. We've got some great Trailhead content there, some great content in general to help you understand how to kind of hone those business analysis skills. We've also got links to our Salesforce admin skills kit, which has a whole section on business analysis. As always, if you want to learn anything more about being an awesome admin, you can go to my favorite website, admin.salesforce.com, where you'll find the skills kit and all kinds of great blogs and videos and more podcasts actually very closely related to some of the topics we talked about today. So, check it out.
Direct download: Biggest_Mistakes_Admins_Make_with_LeeAnne_Rimel.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PST