MT-ing My Head

Welcome to my soapbox of Salesforce technical writing, music, and miscellaneous stuff

Welcome — November 23, 2020
NPSP Days: Week 1 — January 19, 2021

NPSP Days: Week 1

My “configure NPSP every day without having ever used the product” project is going pretty medicore/okay!

Week-in-Review

(January 10-17, 2021)

Logistics Moves and Observations

  • Made Firefox my dedicated browser for dev org configuration to avoid issues with installing managed packages, logins, etc. The last thing I need is to inadvertently install household accounts into my company’s production org :~)
  • Purchased a second monitor. Have had success with writing and reading documentation on one and configuring on another.
  • In retrospect, I would have started here instead of going right in and configuring. The slide deck on that site gives a great overview of features.
  • I’ve been keeping a Google document of my progress each day, benefits of NPSP, and documentation issues I’ve found.
  • It’s important to keep it simple by understanding what the feature does before diving in.
  • I decided that the easiest way to do this is to to act as if I am studying for the Nonprofit Cloud certification exam. In fact, I may or may not have signed up for the exam…

Configurations Made and Skills Learned

  • Set Up Batch Gift Entry (which I think is still relevant??? But can’t tell because Salesforce deprecates products pretty quickly)
  • Set Up Customizable Rollups
  • Hard Credit and Soft Credit Automation
  • Address Management
  • Installed and Configured Program Management Module (holy custom objects :x)
  • Accounting Subledger – What is it?! Why should I care?!

This Week’s Focuses

  • Engagement plans
  • Levels
  • Gift Entry
  • Recurring Donations
  • Payments
  • Getting through 8 hours of vids for real life consultants

Future Focuses

  • Campaigns and mailing lists
  • Case management
  • Reports workbook and common reports
Adding Google Calendar to My Mac’s Dock and The Value of Taking a Step Back — January 14, 2021

Adding Google Calendar to My Mac’s Dock and The Value of Taking a Step Back

I recently purchased a second monitor. For some reason, this felt like a decadent, hedonistic act to me, like buying Teslas for the police while education budgets get cut. It’s possible that I have just been inside too long, though. :~)

As a result of this purchase, I have started thinking more about ergonomics, productivity, and workflow. Mostly how to use each monitor. I decided it would be super helpful to see my daily calendar in one portion of the screen. Ideally, it would act more like an app than a browser window.

I’ll start by saying that I’m on a Mac and I have an aversion to Outlook. Additionally, I do like Apple’s Calendar app. It is clean-looking (like most Apple products) and it sits right on my dock. It doesn’t get lost in my endless tabs.

But there are downsides of using it, too. I prefer working in Google for a variety of reasons, including the cute graphics they put on my calendar and the ease of adding a Hangout to a meeting.

Today I decided to Google “Add Google Calendar to Dock on a Mac”. Within seconds I found a StackExchange article about how to do this and installed a program called Fluid. Fluid allows users to create an “App” out of any web link and add it to their dock.

I installed the software and, in five minutes, had a new icon on my dock.

Step 1: Install the software

You can install the software here: https://fluidapp.com/

Step 2: Create the App

Note: I used a custom icon because the favicon option didn’t work. The downside of this is that it’s statically saying it’s the 31st, instead of changing with the date like Apple Calendar does.

Step 3: Add to Dock

I added the icon to my dock. It’s not exactly transparent on the edges but good enough.

Google calendar icon in dock
Brand new Google calendar icon!
Now when I open it, it looks like an app and not a browser window! Won’t get lost in tabs! Hoorah!

This Fluid app has some other use cases as well. For instance, I can make “Apps” for my Salesforce CRM homepage or a list of common links I use. I can also have them launch when I turn on my computer.

I find it really valuable to take inventory of things that bother me about my setup at work and at home – whether it’s that I can’t see my little screen or I don’t know how to store a lint roller. I usually spend some time every month trying to fix these issues. I realize that with certain tasks, these small annoyances create a lot of avoidance and stress. Sometimes taking the time to Google something can prevent a lot of pain later.

I remember reading about this in The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin a few years ago. She mentions that although it’s common knowledge that spending excessively won’t bring true joy, sometimes spending money on tools to fix (or taking time to troubleshoot) day-to-day issues is extremely gratifying.

Do you have a small annoyance inventory? What small annoyance can you alleviate today?

Chronicles of Setting up NPSP from Scratch: Days 1 and 2 — January 7, 2021

Chronicles of Setting up NPSP from Scratch: Days 1 and 2

Hello readers,

Happy January / “end of ze world” week!

Wanted to share what I’m working on, outside of feeling existential dread.

My nonprofit org is using Salesforce but we are not on NPSP or Lightning. It is not ideal.

We are currently looking for a partner to do a needs assessment of our org. In order to deepen my understanding of NPSP and also “sell” this project internally, I have decided to make an attempt at setting up NPSP with minimal sample data. I have never used NPSP before so my only points of reference are Trailhead, Salesforce documentation, and being part of the NPSP Videography project.

Day 1 – Setup

Yesterday (January 6, 2021), I created a dev org and installed NPSP. Taking it slooooow.

Day 2 – The Basics

Today I created some record types that weren’t available in the installation. I also created a new user with a new profile that I can use for testing.

Then I noticed that there is a whole guide on configuration steps that I can draw from. I’m curious as to why this guide includes creation of buttons instead of actions but I assume that there’s a reason for that.

Challenges So Far

Now some observations on challenges so far…

Since I know the core Salesforce product and nonprofit terminology, NPSP is quite intuitive. However, I am having trouble staying focused, especially as I try to write out everything I do.

I started to think about why this type of task – reading instructions, making configurations, and documenting – is so daunting for me. I like printouts of instructions, but that’s not eco-friendly or space-friendly. I like pen and paper, but my handwriting is so bad and the output is something I would have to type later anyway. I have two screens, but that doesn’t feel like enough.

As someone who is (self-diagnosed) neurodivergent, I need some simpler ways of working. Perhaps I can display the documentation on my iPad. Perhaps I need to learn more Mac keyboard shortcuts in order to move from one screen to another.

I think what I’m learning about reducing clicks and being able to seamlessly switch between tasks (reading, writing, configuring) is going to help me in system design in the future.

2020 Review and 2021 Goals — January 3, 2021

2020 Review and 2021 Goals

Happy New Year, readers. Many of you are my personal friends and I am so happy that we are alive at the same time and can spend time together virtually. I am excited for the day when I can meet some of you in real life.

In reflecting, the year 2020 brought a lot of introspection, pain, and growth for me.

Some (unexpected) highlights:

  • Started this blog.
  • Cut my hair.
  • Quit drinking alcohol.
  • Went vegetarian.
  • Took singing lessons.
  • Was gifted a record player and started a record collection.
  • Completed 50% of my Masters program.
  • Learned to cook and found a few go-to meals.
  • Took up knitting again.

This year (2021) is going to be a maintenance year. In addition, I’d like to make the following changes:

  • Start making arrangements to live alone, without roommates, for the first time.
  • Learn more about technology (keeping this broad on purpose).
  • Finish most of the coursework in my program.
  • Find fun ways to move my body every day.

I know that the universe/Higher Power has my back.

I wish you all a safe, healthy, joyous, humorous year.

Me & a rock that says "Somebody somewhere loves you"
A rock we found while hiking yesterday.

Love,

Melanie

Sporadic Notes on Flow and Marketing Attribution — December 9, 2020

Sporadic Notes on Flow and Marketing Attribution

I’ve been working in Salesforce Flow…a lot. I am a novice but have really enjoyed learning about software development best practices through a point-and-click tool.

My use case has been the very simple (sarcasm) marketing problem of attribution.

We send out emails with the call to action to donate. We segment our audiences based on whether they’ve donated in the past year, previous years’ donations, etc. and send different campaigns to each segmented group. I’d like to be able to understand roughly how much money came from each campaign.

“Use campaign influence!” you say. However, it is clear as dirt to me how to set that up or what it even does, so I’m going to do this my way by creating a flow that will probably hit all the governor limits.

So, for starters/background, we use Cazoomi Syncapps to sync Mailchimp with Salesforce.

Here’s how it works:

  1. We send out an email to a group of people via Mailchimp. This segment could be created in Mailchimp or Cazoomi (which has a Salesforce > Mailchimp sync option)
  2. Cazoomi automatically creates a campaignand campaign members for each person who received the email in Salesforce.
  3. Cazoomi also syncs open and click rates into Salesforce

What Cazoomi doesn’t do is track conversions of donations. We have relied on Google Analytics to do this.

So here’s my flow building process…

  1. Describe the actions in English, as if a human was doing it.
    1. Start with a donation. Which donations are included? Just won ones coming in from online.
    2. Look to the donor name.
    3. See if the donor received any emails for this end-of-year campaign.
    4. See if those emails happened before the close date of the opportunity so that we can be somewhat confident of the attribution.
    5. Find the closest campaign member and update the donation/opportunity with that campaign.
  2. Translate the above notes to fields and limitations. For instance, for step #1, I filtered out anything that didn’t come in from online and wasn’t Closed Won.
  3. Build out the flow, keeping in mind limitations of the flow function and its quirks. Some notes I found were:
    1. LIMITATIONS:
      1. Within the GET function, I’d love to be able to query on multiple levels using dot notation. For instance, it would be great to be able to find all Campaign Members where the Parent Campaign is “End of Year Campaign”.
      2. I can’t find all of the campaign members and store them to a variable, and then find all of the campaign IDs and store them to a variable; I have to use a loop.
    2. TIPS:
      1. When I am building for one record, if you are planning to scale up the flow, a good hint is to actually create a record variable for that record. Then, when it comes time to edit the flow to perform on a group of records, attempt to delete that record variable. It will show you a list of everything you have to replace.
      2. Name the variables with what type they are (e.g. Updated_opps_collection or Initial_opp_single_var)
      3. In my flow, I had to use an integer variable to figure out the closest campaign date to the close date (without going over). If I change this flow to operate on multiple Donation records, I will need to clear this value with every iteration of the loop.
  4. Debug using the Debug option.
  5. Create a button that deploys the flow.
  6. Deploy using a change set.

This is my final solution (adapted to be a nightly scheduled flow, which I haven’t tested yet). In the automated Tips section of the flow it says that I shouldn’t be doing database queries within a loop but I’m not sure how to avoid that in this case:

I also tried to figure out how to get this attribution to happen in bulk from a campaign but kept running into SOQL query limits, so I am probably doing something wrong.

In a different post, I will explain my interpretation of each type of action in flow to try to help others decode it. Stay tuned.

Reflections on Gratitude, Healing, and Privilege — November 26, 2020

Reflections on Gratitude, Healing, and Privilege

It’s Thanksgiving, a holiday with controversial roots, marinated in colonialism and violence.

On the flip side, today has me reflecting on gratitude and how gratitude helps change the brain, heal trauma, and even fight capitalism.

Earlier this year, I went through something traumatic in my personal life, and the trauma was multiplied by the pandemic. I was willing to do anything to feel okay. Because of that, I sought out a support system, and someone in my new support system urged me to make gratitude lists.

At first, I was very turned off by the idea. To me, gratitude lists felt like the “psychology tool” equivalent of a “live, laugh, love” sign.

However, I love data and psychology, so I was drawn to the idea that gratitude changes your brain. Saying “thank you” to others, finding things to be grateful for, and appreciating qualities in others genuinely improves people’s quality of life.

The science of it (the affect on hormones like dopamine and serotonin, and how gratitude affects the nervous system) is in the second link below.

Gratefulness wheel!

Some musings on gratitude:

  • Sometimes people who grew up in chaos (e.g. having parents who are addicted to substances like alcohol or drugs or processes like work, sex, gambling or even anger) learn to thrive off of negative feelings. Our brains love repetitive patterns. Gratitude can help the brain get hooked on positive emotions.
  • For people who seek out spikes of “happy hormones” from external sources (Instagram Likes, anyone?), gratitude helps our bodies take that joy-making process in-house. This makes me think of, “Happiness is an inside job”
  • Gratitude fights toxic capitalism by helping us take inventory of what we have before searching for more. While in a state of gratitude, additional desires come from a place of abundance, not scarcity or suffering.
  • Words of gratitude should be used with care. For instance, other people’s misfortunes do not exist to become inspiration p*rn. Also, when trying to help a loved one, saying “at least you don’t–” or “be thankful that–” are not helpful ways to acknowledge their pain.
  • It’s hard to write about gratitude without acknowledging privilege. I have a lot of privilege (white, middle class, cisgender-passing, and educated.) I have never been in a place in my life where I couldn’t get my basic needs met. I imagine that in these situations, gratitude does help, but I’m not going to make a statement like “Everyone should be making gratitude lists.” That is out of my lane; I just know that gratitude is helpful to me.
  • Gratitude lists can look different for different people. The writer of the first article below says she asks herself every day “What did I do today that ‘future me’ will thank me for?” I love this because it shows each day as a way to nurture future versions of yourself.

Today I am in a group chat where we share our gratitudes every day. I enjoy reading others’ and they often spark fun conversations.

I have noticed that mine are similar from day to day, which for me means that I am building a life full of blessings.

References

How a Twist on Gratitude Journaling Helped My Recovery

The Neuroscience of Gratitude and How it Affects Anxiety and Grief

The Joys of Salesforce Admin Office Hours — November 24, 2020

The Joys of Salesforce Admin Office Hours

A few weeks ago, I put Office Hours on the calendar to discuss Salesforce, how a college professor might.

The goal of this hour is to create a relaxed space to talk about tech, hear people’s system woes and use cases, and conduct some training. It’s been a super enlightening, collaborative time so far!

Thank you to my wonderful coworker Michelle Shen for creating this graphic and inspiring this blog post.

My HQ office, like many others, went remote in early 2020. We no longer have sporadic meetings and space to catch up over coffee. This allows some open time to catch up and share what’s important to us right now.

This designated time has also had the unexpected benefit of helping my teammates see what others are working on and how their roles fit in with other people’s.

Plus, I can listen to users in a more personal setting than just via email / submitting tickets and really take the time dive into their issues with them. The people who show up want to learn about the business and the inner workings of the system, and I love to help them understand!

Highly recommend other admins to implement this.

Setting Up Internal IT Support with Email-to-Case — November 23, 2020

Setting Up Internal IT Support with Email-to-Case

If I were a recipe blogger, I’d probably write about how I got into a snuggly sweater and curled up with a cup of tea and lovely set of Salesforce support docs to set up Email-to-Case this afternoon.

But I’m not that person, so I’ll just start writing.

The Business Problem

We needed a way to collect internal IT support requests. We used to have a a technology request form, but it was awkward to point someone to a form every time they had a simple question.

How We Solved It

We set up email-to-case to solve this issue. This was up and running in a few hours, which is a testament to Salesforce’s help docs and the awesome community.

In this post, I will detail some funny barriers I ran into setting up the creation of the support cases. We are currently trying to figure out how to communicate with users (e.g. case comments, carrier pigeon, etc.)

The way email-to-case works is that users send to an actual email address such as support@fakeorganization.org. You have your IT department set up forwarding so that when a person emails that address, the email is forwarded to a special Salesforce email (e.g. help@salesforce.blahblahblah.com), and that creates a case.

There are a few options that you can set up on Email-to-Case, such as default owner, what to do with files, and domains and email addresses that are allowed to create cases.

The main advantage to Email-to-Case is that it’s more similar to how someone might communicate with another person than, say, filling out a lengthy form.

The disadvantage is that we don’t capture as much data for routing purposes. For instance, moving forward, my manager and I will split up the systems we administer. When there is just an email (rather than a series of picklists), there is some manual case transferring that needs to occur.

As pre-work, I:

  • Created an organization support email address – let’s say it’s called support@fakeorganization.org. I imagine this could also work with a listserv but I didn’t do it that way.
  • Created a special record type called “Tech Request”
  • Created each user as a contact in Salesforce with their company email in the email field (because of the way Cases work, this step was necessary)

I had never set up email-to-case before. I used the Salesforce help documentation to set this up so I won’t spend too much time detailing that.

I did run into a few hiccups along the way which I would like to share:

  1. At first I was not able to verify the Salesforce email through Gmail. When you set up email forwarding through Gmail, there is an extra verification step. The system sends an email to the recipient email (so that would be help@salesforce.blahblahblah.com). Since that’s not a real email, this took some Googling. I eventually found this help article to set up Email Snapshots. I set up an email snapshot for that same help@salesforce.blahblahblah.com address and that allowed me to see my verification code.
  2. I accidentally created a recursive loop by creating a queue with the same email address as we were using for help requests (support@fakeorganization.org), enabling email on it, and auto-assigning to this queue. Don’t do this.
  3. Email signatures were looking very ugly and clunky when the cases were coming in. I fixed this by creating a process builder on Case that removes everything after the “–“:
  1. Criteria:
AND(Not(Isblank([Case].RecordTypeId)),[Case].RecordType.Name = "Tech Request",ISNEW(),CONTAINS([Case].Description ,"-- "))

2. Field Update:

LEFT([Case].Description,FIND("--",[Case].Description)-1)

This will glitch out if someone includes “– ” in the body of their ticket. I also don’t know if it works anywhere except Gmail. But good enough. #rogueadmin

What’s Next

Next, we need to figure out a process for supporting users that is intuitive but also helps us track our work. Maybe we will even implement support metrics. Maybe there is a Service Cloud Cert in my future? Okay, I shouldn’t get ahead of myself.

My 5-Year Plan is Dead — November 20, 2020

My 5-Year Plan is Dead

Okay, I admit… that was a clickbait-y title. I am feeling dramatic tonight.

Five years ago, I believed I needed a plan. I was working in a sales coordinator role at a startup but I knew I didn’t want to go into sales, so it felt dead-end.

I had no focus, but I felt this panicked urge to transition? What would I do next? What if I just ended up in the same place, doing the same job my whole life? That would be terrible, right?

I remember having a sheet of paper with 5 very different jobs (from copywriter to data analyst) with pro’s and con’s of each. I had no focus and created a lot of suffering for myself.

Around that time I read The Start-up of You, which mentioned making loose plans but also being flexible (“riding waves”). That advice stayed with me.

Fast forward to today. This mindset has served me well. It taught me to listen.

I was able to break into tech by listening to some sound career advice from a trusted colleague. Since then I have pursued volunteer opportunities just because they seem interesting to me, and I have listened to my instincts on when to move on from a commitment as well. I have learned to pursue what excites me; this includes leaving a Masters program that I felt didn’t align with my personality and starting one that is the perfect mix of my interests (a sociology degree with an analytics focus.)

My anxiety and intense desire to plan everything in my life sometimes causes me to want to burn everything to the ground and start over. But I am slowly learning to be okay with uncertainty and simply enjoy where I am. Surrendering and listening. Connecting and growing.

In fact, today, I would go as far as to say that there are some jobs that I wouldn’t mind doing my whole life. I have always thought that I should have direct reports by a certain age, be a VP by a certain age, etc. This feels like a product of the dark side of Lean In culture and #girlboss grind culture. I was pursuing goals for the wrong reasons.

Today, I am whole as myself. I am happy where I am.