When you have a great Salesforce infrastructure, you are benefiting from the robust configuration abilities and clear transparent logic of this platform. This transparency and “easy-to-understand” nature of the platform also means that your users and stakeholders are usually pretty knowledgeable about the system and its abilities. That’s a luxury in the world of software development, and it puts your Admins in a situation where users think they know exactly what they want and more often than not, try to tell Admins what to do.
But an empowered internal Salesforce Admin team provides the backbone to the company and its infrastructure – so how can managers empower their team to be even more cohesive, business savvy, and more efficient?
Your Salesforce Admins are typically responsible for configurations, provisioning and maintenance - meaning, they control a huge amount of the product roadmap, critical decisions, system reliability and efficiency. And while development usually happens outside of the Admin team, they still have a lot of power when it comes to the ‘make or break’ of a system. By approaching the team as if they are an operations-unit, managers should then rewarded less based on ‘issues’ or breaks in efficiency, but rather an increase in productivity. By providing milestones and setting clear expectations, the Salesforce Admins will continue to focus primarily on the number of bugs, speed and quality of changes, change of productivity in users, and other issues, while sharing insights on improving future products and product decisions.
In most organizations, admins are on the receiving end of user data and user input and nobody understands real users struggles better than the admins. Such close “proximity” between end-user and the people capable of product development is rather unique, so it would be a huge missed opportunity to not encourage Admins to proactively initiate, propose and find solutions for users problems. Admins have deep understanding of the nuts and bolts of your system, and are better equipped to see obvious solutions, and should feel as though they are able to promote ideas or solutions, especially as it relates to the types of maintenance requests they often deal with.
Admins are busy – there is no doubt. The queue of tasks and tickets is seemingly endless, and once one task is crossed off, two more are added, including urgent updates. Channeling the idea of treating Admins as a function of the Operations team, designating time to work on strategic improvements, means valuable insight on how to improve overall functionality. Ask your team: what would they do differently if they were able to start a certain module of functionality from scratch? Will it be worth rebuilding something now? If given the chance to work a few hours a week on the project of their choice- what’s that project? The answers to questions like these will surprise you – in a good way – and give you insights on what the team believes is valuable and important.
There are so many functionality modules that Salesforce provides, it’s hard to use them all. But by encouraging your Admin team to seek and play with Salesforce tools, you are both motivating them to search for unconventional solutions and enabling Admins to always shoot for some minor extra functionality when working on a request. Breeding “cherry on top” problem solvers can have the potential to help build user loyalty to both the team, and the Salesforce platform, that will contribute to the overall image of the Admin team’s function: as subject matter experts and value-added business partners.
For Admins, encouraging them to engage with the Salesforce community means communicating with like minds and building a network of support. Going to Dreamforce is a good additional motivator and reward for Admins but exposure doesn’t need to be limited to annual trip to San Francisco. Encourage your team to participate and contribute actively to both online and local offline events from LinkedIn to Meetup. Having a sense of belonging to something bigger is of a high value, particularly with the Salesforce community.
Within a company, an Admins job may not always appear to be the “sexy” one but that doesn’t need to be the norm. The misconception can lie within the name “Admin” itself, and perception that the team is reactive in nature. As a manager, make sure to actively promote the Admin team within your organization to give credit for new efficiencies or milestones. Not only will this increase morale and motivation within your Admin team, but also familiarize the team to different departments who would otherwise have very little contact with them.
Grigory Kegeles is the VP of Business Systems at 2U — a company that partners with leading colleges and universities to deliver the world’s best online degree programs, including MSW@USC, Communications@Syracuse and datascience@SMU, allowing students everywhere to reach their full potential. Grigory started to build and operate Salesforce-based systems eight years ago (He was among first 50 Salesforce clients in Russia) and is now responsible for 2U's state-of-the-art business systems infrastructure.
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