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Audit Trail – A Hidden Gem

This is a cross post from the Cloud for Good blog. Earlier this week a friend wanted to know how best to troubleshoot an error message he, and his users, were getting. Every time anyone tried to access ANY record, they got an error that looked like this: “UNABLE_TO_LOCK_ROW : unable to obtain exclusive access to this record” That’s bad!  No one could work inside Salesforce! This meant that somewhere, something had changed to cause all the records in their org to be locked.  How does my friend figure out what changed so he can quickly un-do it? The Audit Trail to the rescue!! WHAT IS IT? The Audit Trail helps you track the recent Setup changes that you and other administrators have made to your organization. This is especially useful in organizations with multiple administrators. The setup Audit Trail history shows you the 20 most recent Setup changes made to your organization. It lists: The date and time (with timezone) of the change. Who made it (by username). What the change was. Here’s an example: To view the setup Audit Trail history, click Setup –> Security Controls –> View Setup Audit Trail. WHAT PERMISSIONS DO I NEED TO VIEW THE AUDIT TRAIL? In order to view the Audit Trail, you’ll need “View Setup and Configuration” permission. WHAT DOES IT TRACK? The Audit Trail tracks lots of things. For example: changing a page layout, changing tab names, or changing activity settings. Click here for a complete list of all the thing the Audit Trail tracks. WHY WOULD I NEED THIS? The Audit Trail is useful for troubleshooting. Because it captures date/time,...

Don’t Be a Fish Out of Water: Preparing for a Salesforce Migration

This is a cross post from the Cloud for Good blog. Each Salesforce organization is housed at one of Salesforce’s data centers. Salesforce calls these groupings of clients instances and it is a good practice as a system administrator to be aware of which instance your organization is on.  You can find your Salesforce instance by looking at the URL once you’re logged into your Salesforce organization.  Your instance is the combination of letters and numbers after “https://” and before “Salesforce.com.”  If you’re a client in North America it will start with “na” followed by a number.   Why is this bit of information useful?  This is what you need to look up the system status for your Salesforce organization if you’re experiencing issues.  Salesforce posts the system health for each instance on a daily basis, noting if there are any known service disruptions or performance issues.  You can find that information by clicking here.  Also when Salesforce rolls out a new release, the date and time your organization will get the release is determined by your Salesforce instance. Because of the rapid growth of Salesforce, there are times when a particular instance’s performance starts to be impacted.  When Salesforce observes this negative performance they take action by moving the instance to a new data center to better accommodate the growth and bring service performance back up to their performance standards. Salesforce has just announced that all organizations on instance NA10 are going to be migrated to a new data center in January, 2014. If your organization is on NA10 your system administrator should have received an email from...

Avoiding Growing Pains Through Good Governance

This is a cross post from the Cloud for Good blog. At Dreamforce 2013, I had the opportunity to spend time with our fantastic Cloud for Good team, see some great sessions, meet some of our amazing customers and co-present two separate sessions.  One of those sessions was entitled ‘Growing Pains:  Scaling Your Salesforce Implementation’ and I worked with fellow MVP’s Mary Pustejovsky and Brian Kwong to discuss some of the issues and considerations that customers of any sort should take into account when expanding their use of Salesforce (you can see the session slides and here the audio on YouTube here). I thought it might be useful to expand on one of the topics covered in more detail:  Establishing Good Governance. If you Google/Bing/Yahoo the term Governance, you will be presented with a variety of definitions, but fundamentally they boil down to ‘a method or system of government or management’.  In non-profit (and even general corporate) terms governance is most often referred to in terms of the relationship between the Board of Directors and the organization and the rules that establish how organizations will function. When working with Salesforce.com (or any system for that matter), following the principles of good governance can make life easier for administrators and users alike by providing a clear and consistent framework to manage change over time and defining processes to resolve conflicting requirements.  In our experience, governance is often an evolutionary process, consisting of three stages:  Monarchy, Democracy and Republic Stage 1:  Monarchy For many organizations, nonprofits in particular, the use of the system often starts off in a very limited fashion, supporting...

Preparing for Your Data Import: Some Useful Excel Tips and Tricks

This is a cross post from the Cloud for Good blog. Filters are kinda sorta great… What’s the first thing I do whenever I open a new spreadsheet? I filter it. Why? Because filtering is a great way to quickly analyze your data. Need to see which columns are and aren’t populated? Filtering is for you. Have users who don’t like to enter the same value, the same way twice? Use a filter to locate the inconsistencies. You may have used Sorts to handle similar scenarios, but filters give you more control. Using them, you can also avoid having to constantly rearrange the rows of your data, lowering the odds of making a mistake. What cool things can you do with filters? Say Goodbye to Empty Columns – A column with no data in it is a column you don’t need to import. I like a lean import file, and that means removing the clutter of blank columns. Spot a Bad Date or Phone – Filtering is a great way to quickly spot bad or missing dates, which can cause those pesky import errors. It can also clue you in to phone numbers that are inconsistently formatted. Make Sure It’s the Right List You’re Picking – Picklists in Salesforce are not very forgiving. It may be a small dot, but “Jr” and “Jr.” are not the same suffix. Filters can help you see those data vagaries. Then, a Find and Replace will equal a sparkly clean picklist. Work the Combinations – Filters are also a great way to check consistency across columns, for example, to check the data integrity...

5 Ways to Make it Easy for People to Fill Out Your Form (And Decrease the Dropout Rate)

This is a cross post from the Cloud for Good blog. So, you’ve set up an online form. Now you’re ready to rake in the data! But maybe the responses (i.e., the filled-out forms) aren’t pouring in as quickly as you thought they would. When you check what’s going on through the analytics, you notice that the completion rate is low, and the dropout rate is high. Which means most of the people who open your form don’t fill it out — they just close the tab and leave. Why? Your visitors might be confused and frustrated. There could be obstacles in the form that you’re not aware of. Picture this: You’re driving somewhere. You’re the only car on the road. The drive is smooth and effortless. But the road gets rocky and uneven, so your drive becomes more and more unpleasant. Then you approach a cluster of giant potholes in the road. You stop. They’re so deep that you might actually get stuck if you try to cross. Are you going to risk it? Or are you going to make a U-turn and try another road? Yep, you can see where this is going. It might be silly to compare a form to a road, but most visitors will take the easy route. If your form presents any sort of obstacle, you’re going to lose respondents. On the other hand, if you make it easy to fill out a form, your respondents will be happier — and more likely to keep going. The main thing you should keep in mind is that a form should be easy to...