Managing with Dashboards explained in great New York Times article

Posted by on 10:43 am in Reporting, Salesforce | 0 comments

A lot of our clients look at Salesforce Reports and Salesforce Dashboards that we help them create, and say “That’s great! Errr, now what do I do?” The transition from working for your company or organisation to working on it is a big jump, and it can be hard not to wonder whether you are abdicating your responsibility or instead being responsible by delegating. Or maybe both? Dashboards help by giving you a high-level, graphical overview of the key metrics and indicators you are working with. At regular intervals, be they weekly, monthly or quarterly, you can determine what is happening, and what the trends are, and discuss those numbers with the people responsible for them. You may not know the details, nor can your brain hold all those details, but you are delegating the handling of the details while keeping aware of the aggregate results. The mechanics of this is written up beautifully in a post by Josh Patrick in the New York Time, How A Dashboard Can Set You Free. Josh is on twitter at @AskJoshPatrick. Below, you’ll see an example of what a Salesforce dashboard looks...

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Misunderstanding data centres, privacy, and legal concerns

Posted by on 6:25 pm in Cloud Computing, Salesforce | 0 comments

According to a Computer Weekly article, Alzheimers’ CIO Phil Shoesmith ‘slammed’ Salesforce’s lack of an EU datacentre. While I agree it would be nice for Salesforce have an EU data centre, and they did promise one, such a data centre would do nothing to alleviate Shoesmith’s concerns. Shoesmith is unhappy that Salesforce doesn’t have an EU data centre, as “there were some concerns about using cloud solutions, particularly US-based cloud solutions for our data.” This is where I start to wonder if either Computer Weekly misconstrued Shoesmith’s words, or if Shoesmith doesn’t actually understand how cloud computing works. Salesforce, like any decent company offering a cloud solution, has multiple data centres, and have designed their systems so that at any time, an entire data centre could get taken offline and (in theory) people would continue their work uninterrupted. Not doing this would be mind-numbingly irresponsible on Salesforce’s part. I hope Salesforce does put a data centre in the EU, but even if they do, a copy of all of Shoesmith’s data will still be in the US. If he’s going to demand anything, it should be for two EU data centres (preferably located in different EU countries) with their data segmented away from the rest of Salesforce’s network (so there is no chance of data leaking out of the EU). This, however, would actually reduce the reliability of Shoesmith’s Salesforce instance from its current reliability, as Salesforce currently has three mirrored production data facilities. To offer the Europeans the same level of stability and reliability they currently have, and to satisfy all of Shoesmith’s legal and privacy concerns, Salesforce would have to build three data centres in the EU. While I find that scenario unlikely (the ROI would probably be negative), what bothers me is that CIO’s are running around completely unaware of the concept of mirrored data centres. Phil, if you’re reading this, apologies, but next time ask for three data centres, not just one. And, Computer Weekly editors, did this not cross your mind before you hit Publish? Or were you looking for a story with an edge and didn’t really care about the...

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Free replacement for the retired Salesforce for Google Adwords (SFGA) plugin

Posted by on 7:38 pm in Salesforce | 2 comments

[Update Dec 2012] Native Salesforce App replacement! If you want a Salesforce for Google Adwords replacement, check out Daddy Analytics – a native app on the app exchange. Prices are low, seems decent. Or, read on for the original post. It’s not elegant, but the following technical post will help people get a working replacement to the now unavailable Salesforce for Google Adwords (SFGA) plugin. Background: If you had installed & setup SFGA, and also added a tracking cookie on your Website, then when visitors submitted a web-to-lead form on your website, additional information called Lead Source Details was attached to that lead as a task. This task contained info on what website the visitor had come from,  the initial URI of the landing page, including query strings, and the keywords they searched for (if they used a search engine). Here is the text of an actual task from our Salesforce instance: In this example, I can see that the lead searched for “salesforce charity training” using Bing. Salesforce announced that SFGA was being retired May 2013 for existing installs, and unavailable for new installs. Replacements exist, but most involve coughing up several thousand dollars a month to the likes of Marketo and Eloqua. I’m sure these apps are worth it for large organisations, but for smaller organisations this is like shooting a fly with an elephant gun. A very, very expensive elephant gun. We currently use Google Analytics to track our website traffic but I was curious to see if another tracking tool would allow me to replicate the SFGA plugin.  So I added a second tracking code from the free, open source analytics tool Piwik (pronounced Pea-wick). It’s possible to use multiple analytics tools at the same time, so Piwik and Google Analytics exist happily, side by side. We now use both simultaneously. This involved first setting up Piwik on our web server in it’s own domain, and then getting the tracking code setup and working on our website. Expect at least a few hours if your are technical, possibly more. Piwik allows per-visitor page tracking, allowing insight into which pages individual visitors went to and in what order. So if someone googles a phrase, then visits a site and fills in a web-to-lead form, then a few things will happen. One is the time-stamped creation of a Lead in your Salesforce instance. The other is Piwik recording that the visitor saw your Thank You page – or whatever page they see after filling in your web to lead, specified in each web-to-lead form with <input type="hidden" name="retURL" value="http://...."> As an example, I filled in our web-to-lead form today, and the Lead creation time was 12:08 pm. Here’s a screenshot of our Piwik detailed visitor log. When browsing the actual visitor log, it doesn’t immediately show the timestamp of an individual page visit, but if you let your mouse hover over the link in the Piwik log, it will provide that information (shown below as the yellow box). As you can see, the Lead was created the same minute (and, presumably, within seconds of) the visitor seeing the Thanks page. Unless I have multiple visitors filling out the web-to-lead form within minutes of each other, I can be fairly certain I have the correct visitor. At this point, I have...

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Keeping Your Pictures and Documents safe and secure

Posted by on 5:41 pm in Cloud Computing | 0 comments

While is our favorite cloud-based solution, there are other cloud solutions that solve different needs. This post is about keeping your valuable data safe, even if you experience fire, theft, or dead hard drives. I’ve talked to inconsolable friends who lost five years of baby pictures when their laptops crashed, and others when their their business files ended up on a dead hard drive. It’s an awful place to be, and can be prevented easily, and sometimes for free. Some people backup with an external hard drive, but one of my friends had their house burgled, and both laptop and external hard drive were stolen together. Basically, if you value it, keep it in two locations. One of the easiest ways to do this is with cloud-based document and/or backup tools. My two favorite are Dropbox and iDrive. Both give you a limited space for free, or you can pay for more. If you signup for the free accounts, you can usually save all your documents (like Word, Excel, and financial stuff) and a thousand or so pictures, but not much more. If you want to backup thousands and thousands of photos, or your music or video collection, you’ll usually have to pay. Dropbox Summary Dropbox is best when you need your files on two or more computers all the time, and works offline. At the risk of oversimplifying, dropbox makes sure that one folder, usually called the dropbox folder, is always synchronized with the mother ship (Dropbox itself) and all other computers you’ve installed Dropbox on. If you work on your files while offline, next time you connect to the network, voila, everything is updated. And, it works well enough as a backup, even if none of the computers you have installed dropbox on are available / working. Dropbox’s features also mean it costs a bit more than traditional backup programs. Dropbox can also be used for small businesses for free (or cheaply) by signing up to a single account and everyone sharing the same files. There’s no security with this model – everyone sees the same Dropbox folder and contents, so don’t go storing sensitive HR stuff on Dropbox if you’re setup this way – but for small offices this shared folder is often all people need. It’s cheaper than a server, and works everywhere without worrying about security, firewalls, VPN’s, etc. You can pay more, way more, for the official small business version, but I didn’t think it was worth the extra money. I prefer Huddle for small-medium businesses that need to control sharing and access. iDrive Summary If you just need backup, whether as an individual or business, but don’t need daily access to the files on multiple computers, then is a better bet. It’s half the price of Dropbox and gives you more storage, so it’s the better option for pure backup. As of writing, $ 5 USD a month gets you 150 GB of backup (which is also more than the competition, Mozy Home). What do we use? Dropbox at work, and then I personally backup my own files (pictures, etc) with...

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Hello world!

Posted by on 2:46 pm in Uncategorized | 1 comment

Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

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Formula Tips and Tricks at the UK Salesforce NfP Usergroup

Posted by on 9:29 pm in Salesforce, Salesforce UserGroup NfP | 0 comments

Today I had the pleasure of presenting one of my favorite topics, and what is hopefully a favorite topic of lazy (er, I mean efficient…) Salesforce Admins the world over: Formulas. You can use Salesforce Fomulas to link to other databases and websites, to bring in images from the likes of Yahoo Finance and Google Charts, or even to help you auto-fill objects by adding / overriding a New Object button. The slide deck below references a tremendous wealth of further reading, videos, and documentation, including a Dreamforce video on using Google Charts with Salesforce Formulas. And, the last two pages of the slide deck contain formulas you can plug into your Salesforce org without creating any additional fields (other than, of course, the formula field). Enjoy! Formulas – Tips and...

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Social Enterprise Contests and Awards…and Coffee

Posted by on 12:53 pm in Social Enterprise | 0 comments

Warning – this post contains strong language and nudity. Just joking – it’s only strong language. But you were a bit more interested for a second, weren’t you? I’m a bit of a coffee nut. I weigh my beans, grind them in a burr grinder, and make my coffee using either a double walled french press or a manual espresso pump – my dependable Presso. I’ve blind-tested Lavazza against Illi, and firmly rejected Lavazza. I then moved on to local coffee roasters, settling for a while on Square Mile Coffee Roasters but in the last few weeks I’ve changed allegiances to Monmouth Coffee. You might think my interest is over the top, or OCD, or simply going to far, but anyone who has started a business knows the never-ending effort involved. Often a labor of love, sometimes a thankless toil, but it is not an occupation for the weak of spirit or part timers. On top of the regular challenges, I added one more challenge when I launched myself off a hundred foot cliff while skiing in France just as business was taking off, leaving me first in the hospital (where I hired my first employee) and then in a wheelchair for three months. Regardless, it demands everything of you, and if you are going to make it through, you will find it a lot easier with a Cup of Joe in your hand. Which brings me to one of my pet peeves – the myriad of fluff-filled, yawn-worthy awards given in the social enterprise space. I don’t mean to denigrate the applicants or winners – god knows they deserve every ounce of help they can get. It’s just that the assistance given by these awards is so often nothing more than a mastabatory marketing effort by the organisation giving it For example, one of these awards lists among its benefits “Access to networking and training opportunities throughout the year provided by [organisation] and our partners” which sounds like marketing speak for “We will put you on our email newsletter and invite you to things you could have gone to anyway.” When I have the cash to give away, I’m going to start an award called the “Survive the First Year” award (or something similar). I’m still debating with myself exactly what it’s going to recognize, but I know what the award is going to include: A year’s supply of high quality coffee, along with a Presso espresso machine (or a year’s worth of tea, depending on your caffeine delivery method of choice) A graphic designer to design (or re-design) your logo and business cards, and letterhead 200 of Moo’s beautiful Luxe business card Your website redesigned (if you think you need it) onto a beautiful WordPress theme, or FourSquare site Assistance setting up a Google Apps account for company email if you don’t have an email system you already like Assistance with your LinkedIn profile, as well as Facebook and/or Twitter, depending on your needs A year’s worth of accountancy services A year’s worth of service from Best Reception 4 Hours of legal advice, for you to use when you need it I’d recommend to the person additional things that I think can be found elsewhere better than I could hope to provide. For instance, A mentor through Business in the Community. The guy they hooked me...

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Third Sector IT’s Partnership with Convio / Common Ground

Posted by on 4:44 pm in Cloud Computing, Salesforce | 0 comments

We’re very excited to be partnering with Convio and their cloud-based fundraising solution for Non-Profits, Common Ground! Common Ground is deeply integrated into Salesforce, and allows charities using Salesforce to do so much more. We’re one of three organisations picked as UK partners – and quite frankly, we’re the coolest of the three. Best of all, Common Ground will help us defeat Blackbaud’s Raiser’s Edge. What? Blackbaud buying Convio? Errr…long live our new Database Overlords. If you’d like to learn more about Convio’s Common Ground, please join us for one of the following events: Introduction to Common Ground: an online product tour Take a free hour long guided tour through Convio Common Ground, the revolutionary cloud-based CRM system built on Salesforce without leaving the office. This platform lets you and your colleagues manage all your relationships in one place with social media built right in – sign up to see it in action! Dates: Tuesday, 20 March, 12:00-13:00 and Monday, 30 April, 12:00-13:00 Live Common Ground demo Because an hour is not long enough to show all the Common Ground has to offer, Convio would like to host you at our funky east London workshop space for a free extended in-person demo of the revolutionary cloud-based CRM system built on Salesforce. This platform lets you and your colleagues manage all your relationships in one place with social media built right in – so sign up to join us for some tea/coffee and snacks, an informal chat and insider look at Common Ground in action! Space is limited so sign up soon. Date: Wednesday, 18 April, 9:30am – 12:30 pm...

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Taking the ADM 301 and Sales Cloud Consultant exam

Posted by on 11:57 am in Salesforce | 0 comments

I’m not too sure why I thought it would be a good idea, other than saving me a trip to the exam center, but I scheduled two Salesforce Certification exams back to back yesterday. I knew this was a bit chancy, as if I had failed the first I wouldn’t have been in a great mood to take the second, but happily I passed both. This means it’s also time to go back to Inkscape and add my certifications to my business card! We designed our business cards so people could stack up their certifications under their name. The funny thing is that last week I met, for the very first time ever, someone who actually asked me about my level of certification. I think it’s one of those things that consultants know about but the average small client doesn’t. Anyway, for those looking for a few tips on passing the test, read on. I’ll discuss both of these together, as there was a bit of overlap, and because I can’t quite remember which question came from which test. The standard advice aplies – know your stuff. The Salesforce-produced exam guides are the best place you can start, and the six prep questions are a great indication of what you’ll see. You’ll find that you also have to know a bit of Apex stuff, which interestingly enough I wasn’t asked about on the Dev 401 exam. Clarity on where workflow functionality ends and where Apex triggers begin will be handy. Salesforce also did something funny in their exam – they threw in features that you wish existed but were fairly sure didn’t. The question would go something like this: The accounts object in your Salesforce org has too many blah blah blah. How do you fix it? A) Clearly wrong answer B) So-so answer, probably not the right choice C) Clearly wrong answer D) Mentions a checkbox in Customize > Accounts that would solve the issue, but you don’t ever remember seeing it. And that was the problem – you’d stare at it, trying to decide if D) was just some made-up feature that they invented for the exam and you should chose B), or if you had a gap in your knowledge and D) did in fact exist and was the right answer. I remember one question where I deliberated, and finally chose the B) option, confident in the fact that I couldn’t have lived and breathed Salesforce for two years and not heard about this feature. When I got home, I googled, and D) did in fact exist, but it was one of those things that you have to make a request with support to enable. The point is, good test taking skills will help only so far. Particularly for the Americans raised on the fill-in-the-bubble SAT and Kaplan/Princeton Review, you will probably be able to intelligently cross off one or two choices. But there is no way you can get around the need to know the product and know it very well. Salesforce has written their exam in such a way that you can’t fake product knowledge. But you can review it – one particularly useful place is ShellBlack. They have great walkthroughs of functionality that only take a minute to read, but give you enough...

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Salesforce Reports – undocumented feature

Posted by on 7:54 pm in Salesforce | 2 comments

One of the reasons I love teaching our Intro to Reports class is that I learn something every time, without fail. The last time a student asked me what the text and picklist on the bottom of a report meant, and I answered, “I have no idea!” I now know both what it is and why I didn’t know before – it’s an undocumented feature that doesn’t appear in either Google or Salesforce Help search results. If you look on the bottom of a report (Summary and Matrix, but not Tabular) you will see the text, “Check rows to filter, then drill down by:” As far as I can tell, this replicates the “Summarize information by:” at the top of the report, only in completely different and obscure language. Basically, you can happily ignore it and stick to the functionality at the top of the report. Enjoy! [the first comment on this post expands the explanation even...

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