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In April, we sat down with Becka Denta, Salesforce MVP, frequent featured speaker at Dreamforce, and principal consultant at Purple Insights. For over a decade, Becka has worked in the Salesforce ecosystem with companies all the way from startups to Fortune 500 organizations.
She spoke about building for efficiency in Salesforce, and here are just three of the questions we asked her during our discussion.
Watching people use the system is time well spent.
Skuid: Let’s say you get done with a project sooner than the allotted time, what do you do with that extra time?
BD: I'll give my clients some options. Do you want me to do training? Do you want me to do over-the-shoulder time with the end-users while they're using this new feature?
Over-the shoulder-time—and this goes for consultants, this goes for internal admins, I think it goes for anyone who's customizing any product really—but specifically with Salesforce, you sometimes don't see to the finish line and how people are actually using what you've designed and implemented.
And it could be that you built something that you think is super efficient and really great, but you do a one-time training with them, or you put together a training doc and it doesn't get communicated effectively, or it does, but then people forget.
Doing over-the shoulder-time is incredibly useful to see where—not only the thing you implemented, but across the board—how are my users using this system? What are they doing? And where can I help them do that better?
Because we think, "Oh, we built this. It's great. People are going to use it and love it." And it saves them 10 clicks but they're not using it the way that we designed and they're actually adding 14 clicks. So, just spending time observing your end-users has been a super powerful tool for me—specifically, for things that I've implemented, but also just to see their workflow and their process and how they're using the system.
Be the bridge between developers and end users.
Skuid: How do you balance the priorities of engineers and end users?
BD: That's a tricky one because end users oftentimes don't understand technical requirements. That's not their job. And the backend folks don't really understand how end users need to interact with the data. So, in an operations role, which is what I'm filling for all of my clients, you’re the person that has to understand both sides of this coin. And so, it's really on you to be able to translate the technical requirements and to take the end-user requirements and sort of finesse the end design.
I've been lucky that on the technical side (if I'm not doing it), I have really great people. We have a very open dialogue, lots of transparency. Be transparent about, “I understand that that's going to work best, but what the end users need is slightly different,” and sort of finesse and adjust until there's something that works for both parties.
In this role that we play, we have to be the ones who find that balance. And, going back to my roots, I come from the role of the BDR. So, I'm the one who had to make 100 calls a day and had to churn through leads and opportunities in Salesforce and get through as many clicks as possible. So, I have sympathy for those folks. When we make their job really painful or really hard to do, that just cascades down, right?
So, if we're thinking about the SDR who’s in there eight hours a day, who really is filling the top of the funnel for the sales team, we have to make their jobs as frictionless as possible and do whatever we can do on the backend.
If I could do something easy and hacky in an hour, or I could build something really great and scalable in eight hours, I'm going to do that because that's a one-time thing. And if I'm saving my end users five minutes with every lead that they’re working with, or two minutes every time they have to edit an opportunity, those add up across your user base.
Over time, I would rather take the heavy work on the backend and do it once and do it right so that my end users can be more efficient. Even if it's only a minute here, a minute there, that will add up. And in the long run it will save everyone time and money, and make us all more efficient. So, that's really my driving philosophy.
Increase efficiency with these two tips.
Skuid: Can you give us a couple insights to help increase efficiency?
BD: I like to use time blocking because task switching between orgs and trying to take care of all of the immediate priorities ends up taking longer. With time blocking you focus on one specific project and when you’re done, move on to the other project. Even though both are urgent, you'll be more efficient within each of those blocks because your brain isn't shifting gears.
Also, shoutout to another Salesforce MVP, Matt Bertuzzi, for teaching me about the Pomodoro Timer. What you do is you set yourself a timer for 25 or 55 minutes, and you focus heads-down on the task. Then for those remaining five minutes, you check your email, get your snack, refill your water, etc.
And you know those things are coming at the end of the time block, so you don't get distracted while you're working on your tasks. You say, "I put that over there for when my timer goes off." And there's several Chrome plugins for a Pomodoro Timer.
But telling myself, "No, you can check those things when we get to the end of the block," really helps me focus on the task at hand and not be distracted by pings from Slack or emails that I see coming in. And it helps me focus and be more productive in my time blocking.
Want to hear more from Becka on building for efficiency in Salesforce? Watch the rest of our discussion here, plus see what’s on tap for our next AppHacks session.