I started my Salesforce journey in 2013, dabbling in Trailhead with the mindset of moving into CRM implementations. With no inclination that I would move from a waterfall Project Manager to an Agile Practitioner, where I’d realise the true meaning of transparency, collaboration and working together towards a common goal.
Against all odds, here I am!
Salesforce is not just a CRM platform but an entire ecosystem! From supporting non-profit organisations to using Salesforce as a project management tool itself through to app exchange packages such as Agile Accelerator and Cloud Coach.
Both Salesforce and an agile mindset have increased my productivity, added value to my project teams and enhanced my communication skills.
The biggest impact on adopting Salesforce in projects was the gift of hours to my day.
As a project manager reporting on status, risks, issues and finance all take up much of your valuable time and drive you to despair!
Before jumping to conclusions that this is a direct relationship with adopting agile then let me summarise, the 2 key values that appear to steer this misconception of lack of documentation are;
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools –
- Responding to change over following a plan –
You potentially plan more by responding to change regularly. By breaking larger projects into manageable work items (user stories) for the development team to self organise and deliver within the next cycle.
Key meetings (rituals) such as these are to allow;
- Backlog grooming – prioritise business project requirements
- Sprint planning – team brings those prioritised work items (user stories) into the sprint backlog
- Daily’s – alignment for and by the team to make a plan for the next 24 hours & remove blockers
- Retrospectives – teams inspect and adapt for continuous improvement
All of this adds the realisation of Return on Investment (ROI) whilst adding value to your customers with rapid feedback loops.
So back to gaining hours to my day through Salesforce.
Rather than manually producing reports in excel, I can use a standard report that’s pulled from Agile Accelerator. I simply refresh and it’s already updated from the daily’s in real-time.
There’s no ability to manipulate the data, which keeps the team open and transparent.
All-in-all saving me around 10 hours a week and buckets of unnecessary frustration.
Value to Project Teams
Never underestimate the power of visualisation, as an Agile Practitioner this enables:
- What has been committed to
- Progress throughout the cycle
- Who has committed to the work item
Cloud Coach and Agile Accelerator in Salesforce support these through visualising the work items for the sprint. By covering ‘the what’, ‘the who’ and ‘the progression’ as below;
Cloud Coach Kanban Board
Agile Accelerator Kanban Board
Individuals can see what they have committed to themselves and most importantly committed to the team. At daily’s they are given the opportunity to raise blockers and what may be slowing them down so that they can help each other realign towards the common goal.
This is key for the team to see work in progress; on schedule or not, whether it’s measured by work items, effort, testing etc. that is when the “sudden transition” (1) takes place. As an Agile Practitioner, it’s then when we need to be the coach on the sideline calling a time-out, reflecting and encouraging the second half win (2).
I have seen time and time again sprints that are ‘left’ hand heavy at mid-sprint but the second half can, when coached effectively, double in effort. Keep an eye on unit tests and code reviews as these can build up and be forgotten about.
Enhanced Communication Skills
Lastly, how has customising the Salesforce platform improved my communication skills? Through building logic.
From point and click development in Salesforce, whether that be for customers or trailhead superbadges, it has transformed the way I think.
You can’t mumble-jumble or get sidetracked with platform development, if you do, logic prevails and throws out some nasty errors. Step by step clear thinking, drawing out ‘the What’ and ‘the How’ to design and build, changed the way I think. I now question:
- What is really being asked for here?
- How does the new feature sit within the rest of the application?
- How does the process flow look?
- How do I translate this into tangible steps?
- How do I communicate this to the customer effectively?
- Show & Tell
- Video training
- Process flows
This not only reduces the number of errors but also allows me to conceptualise those requirements and enables clear translation from techy to user understanding.
Whether you’re thinking about making the move to Salesforce project management or if it’s new learnings from working in Salesforce for years, I hope this too has given you food for thought.
Written by Helen Garcia – Agile Practitioner / ScrumMaster
(1) Connie Gersick performed a study on human evolution from Daniel H. Pink , book ‘When”: Connie Gersick performed a study on human evolution within the workplace, specifically project based roles. At the projects midway point their pace changed depending on if they were on-time, ahead or behind plan, known as “sudden transition”.
(2) Jonah Berger also looked at this within Basketball leagues and found that when a team was 1 point behind their opponent they had 58% chance of winning that game, which gave them a higher percentage of winning than if they were up by 2 points.
Scrum.org – Explanation of Scrum Process
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