From Twitter Poll to Feature Release: Why Flexibility Matters.

A few weeks ago we tried something new: we ran a poll on Twitter asking our community to vote, based on previous requests from our clients, on which feature they would like to see us include on our roadmap for Spekit. The winning vote? A Print-to-PDF functionality.

 

 

We were really excited to see the number of responses and activity around the tweet, but we were frankly quite puzzled with the outcome. While doable, Print-to-PDF felt like a step back from our cloud-based, digital just-in-time learning and knowledge sharing solution. 

In fact, two of the driving principles behind our product are ease-of-access and relevancy. Simply put, our goal is to make it as easy as possible for employees to get relevant, up-to-date information and content in the workplace, exactly when and where they need it. On the other hand, PDFs are stagnant and external to a company’s systems and processes. Often times, PDFs and Word Docs are stored deep inside folder storage systems that require employees to drill down into the right section and “Ctrl F” until they locate the exact paragraph or bullet point they are searching for to answer their question. For that reason, a Print-to-PDF feature felt like a step in the opposite direction from our vision. But that was before we spoke to our clients and understood the use cases.

What we hadn’t considered: the Flexibility of Print-to-PDF 

Another core value that drives our product is flexibility. Flexibility in customizing to fit your organization’s needs, flexibility to invite both Salesforce users and non-Salesforce users, and now flexibility in format.

We recognize that different employees and roles access and retain information best in different formats. For example, while a sales representative might gain a better understanding of a process by watching a 2 minute video, a developer will grasp it best by looking at a process map or graph. 

As such, we decided early on that in order for Spekit to truly eliminate the redundancy of information within an organization and to be the single “source of truth” around a company’s processes and data, it was critical that we provide different ways for users to view and interact with shared knowledge:

  1. Data Dictionary: Ideal for analysts and developers alike, Spekit allows you to sync to Salesforce, customize and describe your metadata and relationships (mappings, dependencies etc.) in a tabular format with easy searching/filtering to see a full picture of the “data about your data.”

2. Wiki: Spekit’s expanded wiki view allows users to view content in a long-form rich text format, complete with images and videos for easy reading — think flash cards on steroids. 

 

3. Just-in-time learning: While the wiki view may be ideal for your initial “deeper dive” overview of the process, from our own experience, we know that it’s only once you’re doing the process that you will realize what you don’t know. That’s why our integrations allow users to access this same information in small, easily understood and accessible bites of knowledge embedded directly in their workflows or CRM for instant reference.

 

 

With that in mind, we realized the Print-to-PDF was no longer a step in the opposite direction, but instead a way to accommodate more use cases and learning styles:

Offline Learning

With so many notifications, emails, Slack messages and more in today’s modern work life, it’s hard to stay focused on a single task. It’s no wonder that even some of the most tech-forward executives take handwritten notes and that many people, like myself, still indulge in the pleasure of reading paperback books rather than digital ones: to avoid distractions and disconnect from the digital world for even just a brief moment. By allowing you to generate a printable PDF from any given set of definitions or knowledge cards, Spekit makes it easy for anyone to tune out the noise and focus on a single task: absorbing the knowledge the old pen-and-paper style.

Bootcamp style training 

While Spekit’s digital knowledge and just-in-time learning solution may be the ideal tool to accelerate the on-boarding process of new hires in small to medium-sized organizations, in larger organizations or call centers where entire “classes” of new hires are made at once, there are often more elaborate “training bootcamps” in place. Using our Print-to-PDF feature, training managers can create a printed manual within seconds that is customized by role or department and that can be distributed to new hires for note-taking during their classroom-style training sessions.

Consultants: Statements of work

Our Salesforce implementation partners love Spekit because it has allowed them to replace spreadsheets, Powerpoints and 80-page long documentation on their implementation with a single solution for both training and system documentation. Not only does Spekit drive adoption of their implementation with end-users, it simultaneously provides them with an easy hand-off to admins and development teams. Taking this a step further, consultants can now select all of the fields, objects and processes that were part part of their implementation and within seconds, provide the executive Sponsor and client with a document that details “everything we did and why” to compare to the Statement of Work.  

How does Print-to-PDF work?
  1. Using the multi-select functionality, simply select which Objects, Fields, Picklist Values or Knowledge cards you’d like to include in your document. Next, select “Print to PDF” from the Bulk Actions menu to the right of your screen.

 

 

2.  Next, you have two “Print” or “Save to PDF” options:

  • Print Summary: Ideal for training manuals, includes Definition, Business Process, Owner
  • Print Everything: Includes all of the details around the knowledge, including any custom metadata. 

 

 

And done. In just two steps you now have a training manual or statement of work that you can print or use at any time. 

Do you have any other neat ideas around features that would facilitate the ease-of-access to knowledge in your organization? Send an email to info@spekit.co. We are all ears!

Interested in seeing how Spekit can change the way knowledge is shared in your organization? Sign-up here for a demo.

14 Years Leading Product at Salesforce: Q&A with Shawna Wolverton

When I saw Spekit’s announcement that Shawna Wolverton was taking an advisor role with the company, I quickly fired off a message to my friend Melanie Fellay, CEO and Co-Founder of Spekit, and told her that she needed to interview Shawna about life after Salesforce, and why she wanted to be involved with Spekit. Melanie’s reaction to that – you’ve known Shawna longer than I have Eric, you should interview her! 

 

First a little background: Shawna started at Salesforce in late 2003, when there were only about 300 employees. She spent her time there leading product strategy, helping to create amazing solutions and incredible value for the Salesforce ecosystem. During her 14 years at Salesforce, Shawna held various roles building the Salesforce platform. Most recently she led their next generation user interface migration, or as we call it in the Ohana, “Lightning.”

Shawna was always very focused on listening to the challenges of customers, then taking the next step and building out solutions to meet those challenges head-on. In December 2017, Shawna took her sharp customer focus and keen eye on product development to Planet as their new Chief Product Officer.

 

Most recently, Shawna has taken on an advisor role with Spekit, started by two female founders Melanie and Zari.  Spekit is a scalable in-context learning and knowledge solution that’s built from your CRM. Spekit allows your users to learn by doing, with a solution that sits on top of their Salesforce or email application, for greater knowledge retention and increased Salesforce competency and skill progression. Built from your CRM, your knowledge automatically scales with your business to drive operational efficiency and alignment around your data, processes and content.

 

 

And now the conversation with Shawna.

 

So, Shawna, what’s life after Salesforce like?

It’s been really fun to dig in on brand new challenges. I had a number of roles over the years at Salesforce, but thinking about the democratization of access to Satellite data has given me the opportunity to have a genuinely fresh perspective.

 

What part of the Ohana do you miss the most?

The satellite data market is still relatively new. There isn’t the community of super engaged customers like I had at Salesforce. I’m focused on building out that community, but in the meantime, I miss the folks who were always there to tell me when I’d done something right, and more importantly, something wrong.

 

What is the biggest challenge that you’ve had since leaving Salesforce?

Going from being an old timer to the “newbie” has been great, but is also a challenge. My deep knowledge of the technical intricacies of salesforce workflow aren’t much use in space.

 

What would you say if I simply said “banana-pants”?

Not sure I’d say anything, but it sure would bring a giant grin to my face. Having the kind of connection I did with my Salesforce customers was a tremendous source of joy.  

 

Do your current colleagues walk through the office saying things like “Shawna rules the Planet!“?

Not yet! Give it time…

 

How did you first learn about Spekit?

I kept hearing about Spekit from my former colleagues at Salesforce and in the ecosystem. When you hear good things from various sources like that, you take a look!

 

What attracted you to Spekit as an advisor?

As the PM who owned setup and had close relationships with admins, I immediately recognized the benefit the product could bring to both admins and end users as both a dynamic data dictionary and in-context knowledge solution. As various folks work on an instance, so much of the “why was this done” gets lost. And then giving end users access to that “why” so that they can be the most effective – it’s a very powerful tool.

And then once I met Melanie and Zari, I was in. Their passion for this product is infectious and their deep understanding of the pain in this space makes them uniquely qualified to solve it.  

 

What challenges in the ecosystem do you see Spekit solving?

Many companies rely on other applications outside of Salesforce, such as email, to support their growth. Yet, the knowledge around their business, data and messaging is the same across the various applications. Spekit helps bridge that gap by allowing employees to leverage this knowledge, both inside and outside of Salesforce, to bring efficiency to their day-to-day.

 

Where do you see room for innovation in the CRM learning and training space?

I think the lifecycle solution – from admin to end user and back again – is a fresh approach to learning and training. So often training material gets stale – which is why it’s so critical that Spekit’s knowledge solution is tied to your underlying data model in Salesforce so that as your CRM scales, your knowledge does too. More importantly, having end users contribute to the tribal knowledge, directly from their workflow, really changes the game.

 

Where do you see Spekit in 5 years?

I think this is just the beginning for Spekit. When you understand what the platform is capable of doing – bringing the information a user needs to wherever they are – the possibilities are endless.

 

 

Personally, I’m excited to see where the Wolverton-Spekit relationship goes. Knowing Shawna as well as I do through my 9 years in the Salesforce Ecosystem, and understanding the passion and drive that Melanie and Zari have for Spekit….the sky’s the limit!

 

Thanks Shawna for your words of wisdom, for the trip down memory lane, and for all the awesomeness you’ve accomplished, and will still continue to accomplish. Thanks team Spekit, for allowing me the honor of interviewing your newest addition, Shawna Wolverton!

 

Curious about Spekit? Attend their upcoming Dreamforce session or stop by their booth, #25, in the Trailhead Zone and see first hand, what all the fuss is about!

 

6 Ways that Salesforce Consultants Build Lasting Relationships

In today’s highly competitive landscape, it’s critical to the success of a consulting business to deliver results that meet, or even better exceed, customer expectations. Timeliness of progress, adherence to customer scope and budget are key components to customer satisfaction. But with hundreds of consultants in the Salesforce ecosystem, how can you stand up in the face of serious competition from other big-name and boutique consulting shops? 

Here are 6 ways to help you deliver an unparalleled experience to your clients that maximizes their ROI, and yours, and ensures that their CRM investment and your relationship continue to grow in the future.  Happy Clients = Repeat Business

Under Promise and Over Deliver

Sure, that sounds a little cliché, but it’s really one of the keys to success. To put it in a way that’s more palatable, control expectations – not only yours, but those of your clients. Make sure your Statement Of Work is clear and concise, and written in a manner your client agrees to. Then, as a consultant, it’s your duty to make sure the project stays on track, and on the agreed-upon plan. It’s OK to tell a client that a request of theirs, while certainly valid and beneficial, is outside the original scope of the project and will have to be considered as an add-on or additional phase of the project, to be completed at a later date. Your client will respect you for keeping them on task, as well as keeping to the original budget without time and cost overruns.

 

Measure Progress & Report Regularly

As a consultant, it’s your job to track your progress toward the project milestones and deadlines. Be sure to do that in a manner that is transparent and available for the client to access, whenever and wherever they want. Tools that operate in a collaborative manner are great for this. As you update information, your clients can see your progress in real time. Be sure to include budget versus actual data here as well. For many clients, the total cost of a project is one of the most important metrics they want to maintain control over, so if any specific items are running heavy (or light) on time/dollars, be sure to highlight that as soon as possible.

Open communication is a major factor in project success. For those looking to encourage adoption of Salesforce by senior leadership, a great way of doing this is by utilizing a modern project management tool like TaskRay that’s native to Salesforce throughout the course of the project.

Specialize in the Hottest Technology

A quick review of market demand in the Salesforce ecosystem will tell you that certain areas of business – Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Analytics – are expected to see significant growth over the next 5 to 10 years, and beyond. Additionally, there is an increasing trend towards a remote workforce and the use of offshore developers.

Prepare your teams now by gaining knowledge in these rapidly growing lines of business and invest in technologies that make collaboration with remote and offshore colleagues, or even clients, easier. The benefits of the remote/offshore model include a lower cost to do business with, which allows consulting companies to be more competitive in the marketplace. If your team is already stretched thin, consider forming alliances with companies and solutions that already leading the way in these areas and making this internal and external collaboration effortless.

 

 

 

Document Everything

Documentation is a deliverable of any project and critical for a proper hand-off. Your clients will expect you to build out a complete set of documentation that you hand over to them when the project is complete. If your clients don’t ask for that, deliver it anyway! They deserve it. They should have all the knowledge and reasoning behind why you built their solution the way you did, what the purpose for each and every field and object is, how things relate to others, etc.

As a consultant, your primary job is to look out for what’s in the best interest of your client. Remember, you want them to have a great feeling about the work you did for them so they will not only recommend you to others, but also ask for your help in the future. 

Rather than delivering the typical spreadsheet of metadata mappings and powerpoint of end-user documentation and training, which are outdated the moment you deliver them, Spekit provides a solution that’s specifically designed to be a Salesforce data dictionary and that will automatically update with any future changes that are made to the client’s Salesforce org.

 

 

It’s easy to get started with Spekit, no hoops to jump through, no high-wires to walk. Just four easy steps:

  1. Connect Spekit to Salesforce: Import the objects, fields and picklist values you want to document.
  2. Create Documentation Dynamically: Spekit makes it easy to document your metadata with rich text and videos or through the use of Knowledge Cards and customized how-tos in the Data Wiki.
  3. Don’t Do it Alone: Centralize your team’s collective wisdom by assigning subject-matter experts to areas you want documented to crowdsource knowledge. Assign Data Experts on your client side to help fill in the gaps on the history of fields and objects during the initial audit period, then assign experts to any new fields/objects you’re creating to have them fill it out with the training material they’ll need for maximum adoption. 
  4. Make it Accessible: Access your customized documentation everywhere, in context, or via a searchable sidebar in any window, thanks to the Chrome Extension.

Build a Repository of Resources and Knowledge 

Do you find yourself re-explaining the same thing over and over again to different clients? Or do you have go-to formulas or workflows that you document in similar ways for various clients?  

Create a resource center on your website with How-To Videos and Quick Guides that all of your clients can access.

Even better, with Spekit’s unique Knowledge Cards, you can create your own set of proprietary Knowledge Cards for each type of implementation you specialize in that you can then reuse to deliver a consistent, proven experience across multiple clients with ease. Saving you time (=more deals) while setting your client up for success faster.

 

 

Tie it All Together for Better Adoption

Completing a project under budget and on time is great. But did you provide your client with a solution that they will actually use and will result in them coming back for more services? User adoption is a challenge that nearly all organizations face when implementing new technology & new solutions. And as an expert in your field, your job as a consultant is to help companies ensure that this major investment they just made was worth every penny.

One area where there’s a lot of room for consultants to stand out, and even extend their professional services, is with and training. Many clients fail to understand the importance of properly investing in it, and may even be reluctant to paying for it.  But as a trusted expert in your field, it’s your job to educate them and help them understand how critical training is to the success of any Salesforce implementation and ultimately, good data. To frame it differently… they just made a major investment into a new system, how can you help them maximize their ROI to ensure that this investment continues to grow in the future so that everybody wins?

As research shows, the standard one hour or day-long end-user training session you delivered won’t move the needle much on adoption given that as much as 80% of training is forgotten within 90 days. In other words, training and learning are circular, requiring time and repetition to be properly absorbed and understood.  Giving end-users easy access to this training content and knowledge, directly in their Salesforce workflow is one way of maximizing this learning and adoption.

Luckily, with Spekit’s Chrome Extension, there’s no need to do any additional work on your end to achieve this. All of the documentation (field details, knowledge cards etc) that you created can be surfaced right in Salesforce. In other words, Spekit becomes an invaluable, in context, training mechanism for your clients. They have easy access to their data dictionary, the details behind calculated fields, the business rules built into processes. And your clients can access this information inside Salesforce or from any browser-based application including email, making providing support and answering questions of colleagues that much easier.  

To be successful as a consultant, you must consider your own scalability. Partnering with Spekit gives you the ability to build documentation that you can share with and customize for any of your clients. Spekit helps you create the building blocks you need to win.