Watson Analytics (Personal Version): This Looks Like Fun

watson analytics

Fun with Salesforce.com Approval Workflows in a Volunteer Context










Volunteer-run organizations pose some extra thought burdens upon the SF NPE user.  Salesforce is all about hierarchical control — not that there’s anything wrong with that in the contexts where it is appropriate.  But when peer volunteers who are all of equal status have to collaborate, it gets a little bit trickier.  We want a second set of eyes to look at things — but it doesn’t much matter whose eyes they are.

We run basically two types of events:

  • Cocktail Socials at fancy hotels
  • Professional Development Programming (Professor Lectures; Alum Expertise Panels; Career Workshops; Joint Events with other MBA clubs)

Cocktail socials are easy:  pick a date and a venue and about a week’s advance notice (though results are better with greater lead time).  A few simple fields in EventBrite and through the  magic of Zapier, boom:  Facebook, LinkedIn and WordPress are all on, as it were, the same page.  Then Salesforce and MailChimp effectuate, as it were, the cattle call.  Nice and simple.

The other programming spans a wide range of effort and collaboration:

  • identifying subject matter experts for programming guidance
  • identifying panelists to participate
    • these can be in the context of self-generated (i.e. our club-only programming, which is easier) but often we collaborate with our peer clubs, extending complexity and decision cycles (we are, after all, volunteers)
  • identifying a venue (ideally donated, failing that, rented)
  • food and drink
  • budgeting & expense tracking
  • publicity, registration, reception

The scheduling constraints are, as you can imagine, not insubstantial.

So, I created three record types for the Event Force Event object .

Amusing Aside.  Humans are not well equipped to differentiate between Event Force Events and Salesforce Activity (Task/Events) when looking at them in the context of  API-populated drop-down menu: two five-letter words, spelled the same.  And much as there is magic in the point and click admin model, reloading after a mistaken choice always seems to set one back so very far.  But that’s a separate issue.

Aside aside, back to  EF Event and their three Record Types

  • Event Idea
  • Simple Happy Hour
  • Complex Programming

Any volunteer is welcome to put an event idea in the hopper. A workflow distributes an email advising the volunteers to take a look – encouraging discussion on chatter and a formal look on the next  “board” meeting.  With finite bandwidth, an idea can stay in the hopper for a while; they can also be voted down and then the Aborted? checkbox gets a yes.  But more fun is when we decide to go ahead with an Event Idea.  For checks and balances’ sake, a volunteer initiates an approval process, with the auto-generated schema you see below.


Upon approval, the EF Event Record Type changes, and Event Idea becomes Complex Programming, with related lists for subject matter experts and for venues.  The status converts from null to Active Planning, and ideally moves towards Finalized and then to Published.  Though on occasion, not everything is meant to be, and we do have a value of Aborted in the picklist.  So my next task is to develop some objects and workflows to support marketing collateral development and its publishing to EventBrite, WordPress, Facebook Page, LinkedIn Page (& for good measure, Groups) plus newsletter planning through MailChimp & Salesforce.

By contrast, Cocktail Socials (aka Happy Hours) are relatively spontaneous.  That’s a non-approval-based process (though there is an approval on the content elements to be put into the promotional materials).  Select your date & venue,  put that info into EventBrite and watch the cross-population begin.

More about standardizing and scaling our collaboration systems soon.

Thanks for your time.

Amazon Mail: Proficient but Lacking in Context

This review from Managed Admin seems to hit it spot on: it’s a perfectly serviceable offering that is marginally cheaper than Google Apps.  But the nagging question is lack of integration into larger suites of complementary productivity apps.  Mail and just mail — trust me: we’d notice its absence — is still, somehow, simply underwhelming.

Salesforce Spring’15 Webinar

Really regret that I missed it; the recording is not yet published (which, is not unreasonable).

They did publish the slide show, and I’m excited by what’s on some slides such as:

  • Slide 9 (Customer Service Reps can have api access to two social accounts)
  • Slides 12, 13, 14 on visual process builder
  • Slide 33 (VisualForce Mapping)

Definitely a webinar worth watching once the recording is posted, for presentations without the voice-over are a pale imitation.

spring 15 small image


#Tableau 8.2 Business Intelligence & #Salesforce dynamically Linked

It Feels Good.  And you can really see the dramatic difference in productivity now that my client’s team has some focus.

The Link Worked, and It's Much Less Fussy than some of the ODBC Drivers I've Dealt with.
The Link Worked, and It’s Much Less Fussy than some of the ODBC Drivers I’ve Dealt with.

NYT Bits Blog’s Article on Cloud Computing Avoids Hyperbole & Hits the Sweet Spot between Detailed/Informative & Approachable

NYT Article Image

Truly, a must read: here.

Especially intriguing is its approach to detailing how the firms at the forefront consolidate their lead in technology and know-how as much from the economics of power management as from software engineering.

Brava, Grey Lady, Brava.