Phil's Salesforce Tip of the Week

Org Shape and Critical Incidents – Phil’s Salesforce Tip of the Week #451

Tip 1 – Org Shape

Thank you to our Architect and fellow MVP Mike Gill for this one…”The Org shape feature has had a bit of rough ride to get here, those familiar with the history of the feature will know this. Now it is officially available to all as a Public Beta, anyone can take it for a spin!

What is it? – Create an org shape to mimic your baseline setup – scratch orgs have been largely difficult to adopt due to the complexity of getting your Scratch Org setup to look like a Sandbox or Production Org. Org Shape allows you to easily create Scratch Orgs which match you Production Org in terms of licenses, features, settings and limits. The once impossible task of getting your scratch org looking like a production org is now possible.”

Take a look here for more details.

Mike also adds:

“If you don’t know the benefits of scratch orgs – here are some- As we move into a more DevOps centric world, scratch orgs provide a unprecedented level of control around org management which is necessary for CI/CD
– Ability to track changes easily and pull down only the changes you want
– It forces better developer practices – such as modularisation”

Tip 2 – Critical Incidents

Some of the Community saw this management come into affect this week, after issues on Wednesday…so if you want to learn about Critical Incidents, from either side of the desk, take a look at this Trailhead module.

Final Tip – Sign up

Remember if you have enjoyed this week’s tip then sign up for the weekly email, direct to your inbox here!


Nkosi Ncube, Developer – Meet the Galacticos

Continuing in our series in which you get to meet and learn more about the Cloud Galacticos team, say ‘hello’ to Nkosi, one of our Developers. I caught up with Nkosi via email to find out more about him and his experiences.

Nkosi Ncube, Developer

Hi Nkosi, thanks for finding a few minutes to help people learn a bit more about you. Can you give us a bit of background about yourself and your history with Salesforce?

Coming from an Automotive Engineering background,  I have always had passion for IT and just couldn’t find the domain that excited me. I did Cisco, MCSE but was not captivated until by chance I came across Salesforce. It was via the video ‘Introduction to Salesforce App Development’ on Udacity, by Samantha Ready sometime in 2014. I then started my certification journey, building on my IT foundation laid at University. I managed to get two small projects after my 2nd certification and haven’t looked back since. Since joining Cloud Galacticos have worked on a variety of projects for different entities.


Nkosi at a User Group Social at Bundobust

So how did you find Phil and the Cloud Galacticos?

When I discovered Salesforce I then went on a networking drive. My plan was to meet the top influencers in the industry, and without a doubt Phil is one of them!  I met Phil and Paul at the first User Group meet I attended  in Leeds in 2015 at of course the default meeting eatery Bundobust.


Aside from Salesforce and working at Cloud Galacticos, what else do you enjoy doing?

I enjoy playing the bass guitar at church, usually in front of one thousand people every Sunday!  I also enjoy playing golf. The family likes to travel and do road trips, the last one being Holland.  I have also got back into running. 


We recently featured a success story with Data Protection People that I know you were key in helping be successful. Can you tell us a bit more about your role as a Developer and what that involves?

The Data Protection People project was exciting in that it had quite a broad scope, both declarative and apex code based.  Automation of their flagship product meant development of the user interface on top of heavily automated processes. The most important thing after gathering the requirements is to plan before doing any actual development. 

If it can be done declaratively I try to use that, and use code where absolutely necessary. Also apply coding best practices in general. Finally, in relation to Salesforce, ensure test class coverage is achieved not just coverage but assertion of the expected outcomes.


What tips would you have in working with clients remotely, or working remotely in general?

Being responsive is very assuring to the customer and maintaining regular contact, preferably daily.  Also, agree on a body of work and time estimates and deliver. Regular breaks are mandatory in my view because it’s very easy to get your head down on something and not take a break. It’s not healthy in the long run, so I usually take a long walk during lunch.


Thanks Nkosi for your time and insight into your life. We have a few other team members to interview in due course. Watch this space!



Team Member Gains Conga Composer Certification

Everyday is a school day at Cloud Galacticos. We like to encourage our team to keep on learning and developing their Salesforce skills, especially as we operate in a fast moving and dynamic environment. One of our most recent team members to gain a new certification is Nkosi, who passed his Conga Composer Certification. We caught up with him to find out more…


What Made You Decide to Take the Exam?

I did the Conga cert because I have been using Conga products for two of our clients, which involves contracts and Batch document generation so to validate my experience it made sense to do the certification.

What Was Involved?

The exam involved knowledge of the full suite of Conga products. From a Salesforce perspective knowledge of Advanced SOQL queries is essential. You also need to understand Microsoft Word and PowerPoint merge functions well.  The exam consists of 50 questions, 60 minutes long, and open book.  But don’t let it being open book fool you, there is no time to look up anything!

What are the Benefits of the Cert?

Conga is the leading document generation software it is likely to become a default option for document generation for most business given the current Covid-19 situation for contracts etc. I think becoming Conga Certified is a great way to demonstrate your expertise to your employer, earn recognition from your peers, and gain status as a respected member of Conga’s certified admin community.

Was it a Tough Exam?

Yes, it was. With it being a fairly new certification program there is not much material to use, so it’s either you know the product, experience, or read through the entire documentation.  The other issue about the exam is once you move to the next question you can’t go back to review the last question. So you have to get it right the first time and given you have approximately one minute per question, it doesn’t give you many options.  I passed it on the second attempt. The first attempt was to get the idea what the exam entails, however the questions change on each sitting.

What Does Passing the Cert Mean to you in Terms of Your Daily Work?

Most importantly, it means the clients have confidence in that I can deliver their requirements. I’m also currently working on Batch documentation requirement for a client which involves Conga Trigger, and Conga Merge, plus many other functions. 

Do You Have Any Other Certs You Plan to Take in the Future?

Yes, from the Conga University, the next one will be Contracts which I hope to take soon. While for Salesforce, I’m in the process of sitting the Salesforce Architecture exams as well as the NPSP cert.



Rhiannon McCorkindale, Lead Developer – Meet the Galacticos

Continuing our series in which we get to meet and learn more about the Cloud Galacticos team, say ‘hello’ to Rhiannon McCorkindale, one of our Lead Developers. I caught up with Rhiannon via email to find out more about her and her experiences.

Rhiannon McCorkindale, Lead Developer

Hi Rhiannon, thanks for finding a few minutes to help people learn a bit more about you. Can you give us a bit of background about yourself and your history with Salesforce?

I started working with Salesforce over 12 years ago when the nonprofit I worked for implemented it to replace an onsite server and custom-built CRM. I was involved in the requirements gathering process and quickly trained up to become the Systems Administrator. Since then I have learnt Apex code and other programming languages, and recently sat one of the Architect exams.

Wow, that is a long time working with Salesforce! So how did you find Phil and the Cloud Galacticos?

I met Phil through my colleague (and fellow Galacticos) Neel when I was working as a Salesforce Developer at an Investment Management company in London. I wanted to do something different so moved into consultancy and started working for Phil.

Aside from Salesforce and working at Cloud Galacticos, what else do you enjoy doing?

I moved house recently so most of my spare time has been spent decorating and learning how to garden. I also play an instrument called a tzouras (a small bouzouki). It is used to play rebetiko music, which is also known as the ‘greek blues’.

Rhi, Emma, and Val at World Tour London

Can you tell us a bit more about your role as a Lead Developer and what that involves?

At Cloud Galacticos we can sometimes wear a few different hats and it is different for each project too. I can be involved in requirements gathering, architecture and design, implementing declarative development, documenting systems and then of course coding.

What tips would you have in working with clients remotely? Or working remotely in general?

I think it is important to have a routine and a separate space for working if you can. I always make time for a break to go for a walk in the day. Communication when working remotely is key. Some meetings definitely require a face-to-face approach, although at the moment this all has to happen over zoom or other conferencing tools. We generally keep in touch using messaging systems such as slack. 

With all your experience of working with Salesforce do you have a favourite and least favourite feature?

As most of my earlier experience was really coding on the core CRM modules, I think using a Trigger Handler Framework brings a lot of benefits especially for clients who don’t have them implemented and therefore don’t have much control over the order of execution. I wouldn’t say least favourite, but there are always challenges when clients have previously used a combination of process builders, flows and code.

Paul, Neel, Rhi, and Phil at Inspire East

Finally, what about tips for anyone starting out with Salesforce?

Trailhead is really useful. It didn’t exist as a resource when I first started using Salesforce, the hands-on modules and trying things out in playgrounds means you can gain some experience in things you haven’t used before.


Thanks Rhiannon for your time and insight into your life. We have quite a few other team members to interview in due course. Watch this space.

Phil's Salesforce Tip of the Week

Phil’s Salesforce Tips – A Special Week #150th Edition

To celebrate my 150th consecutive week, I reached out to fellow members of the Salesforce community, to ask what Tips they would like to share. And I am excited to share these with you all today! Here are 10 GuestBloggers, and a special 11th guest, who has influenced me over my years as a Salesforce blogger. Thank you to you all for contributing, and reading, here’s to another 150!

Tip #1 Sarah Burton (Clear Channel UK) – “Salesforce Administrator of 5 years experience but still learning every day”

It’s ok to say No*

Admins need to ensure that we question ideas and processes that we get asked to implement. There are 3 questions I ask – ‘What’s in it for the users?’, ‘Is it Simple?’ and ‘Does it stick to the original Vision?’

*as long as you back it up with a good reason!

Tip #2 Tracey Morris (Jisc) – “Awesome Admin for UK wide non-profit digital technology in education & research charity”

As a busy Admin I have to prioritise what I’m doing – be it training, support or development (or all 3 at once) – so having a process in place where users can make change requests without interrupting me is a no-brainer. The user is happy because they’re being listened to and I’m happy because I can look at their requests when it’s convenient for me.

Tip #3 Naveen Gabrani (Astrea IT Services) – “Salesforce architect responsible for mapping business problems on Salesforce”

Focus on actionables after Dreamforce. Keep a notebook or a smartphone handy at the event. As you attend a session or a keynote, or meet a vendor at the cloud expo, make a quick note of anything you like, a useful tip for the users, an app you need to try out, a technology you need to build expertise on. After you are back follow up on these items. Give a presentation to the management or the users on interesting things you learnt. To get best returns on the investment you have made at Dreamforce, the most important time is the month after the Dreamforce.

Tip #4 Laura Guenther (Apttus) – “Certified Admin at Apttus”

Be smart about solving problems – utilize the Success Community:
Browse the Success Community for Answers, if you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, post your own question. More than likely, someone out there, somewhere, has had the same issue as you and has solved it. You will get a response in less time than it will take you to troubleshoot. Be sure to join groups to participate in discussions and gain access to additional resources. You’ll save yourself a lot of headaches and precious time.

Tip #5  Rachel Natik (Cloud 4 Good) – “Cloud Consultant at Cloud 4 Good, 3X Certified”

Try this free App called ‘List Browse‘. I haven’t come across another app that does this functionality. You can select records in a list view, click browse and you can go through them one by one (and edit them!).

Tip #6 Selina Suarez (New Leaders) – “2015 Awesome Admin Award Winner at the Salesforce World Tour, New York City”

When starting a new project, prior to formal Salesforce Requirements gathering, ideally your first conversations should revolve around business process and not technology. Take the time to find out what people actually do on a day to day basis. Observe and ask questions.  This is your opportunity to uncover opportunities to offer solutions perfectly matched to the client’s needs.

Tip #7 Simon Edwards (Color Consultancy) – “Playing around with all things Salesforce since 2006”

If you are like me, and end up with lots of similar long report names this little ‘undocumented feature’ will allow you to display the report name on 2 separate lines when viewing the report. Just add a colon (e.g. Accounts: Most Recent) to your report name! Many thanks to Scott Hemmeter for this great trick.

Tip #8 Randi Thompson (Apex Revenue Technologies) – “Solo Admin using Enterprise Sales & Service Clouds for 60 users”

I love the capability to create custom URL buttons. Even though Process Builder and Publisher Actions have made a lot strides, there are still many instances (especially on the Task object) where a custom URL button is invaluable.

Tip #9 Steve Williams (BigKite Consulting) – “Salesforce Admin gone Consulting”

When dealing with a request for a new email notification respond by asking your user what immediate action the email will trigger. If they cannot think of one they will likely be better served by a Report or Dashboard. That way you have saved then from having to delete an unnecessary email and provided a way for them to access the information when they are ready to do something with it.

Tip #10 Mike Arthur (RiverUsk) – “Certified Admin, Consultant, Developer in Edinburgh”

I recently had a situation where a Visualforce page was exactly what was needed to solve a requirement.  Except I had never written any code in Salesforce and Cobol wouldn’t cut it.  I had heard of Trailhead, Salesforce’s free, online learning resource, and it helped me learn the skills to build my page!  The topics range from basic to advanced, including ‘Reports and Dashboards’, ‘Chatter Basics’, ‘Data Security’, ‘Apex Triggers’, ‘Visualforce Basics’, ‘Change Management’ and many more. Modules typically take 20-30 minutes to complete. Head on over and get learning!

And finally, a bonus ‘Tip’ from Salesforce Admin Evangelist…THE ButtonClick Admin…Mike Gerholdt 

My advice for being a great Salesforce Admin- don’t  overindulge on tips and tricks. It’s like having cake for breakfast, sure it sounds good- and probably fixes your hunger problem- but it’s not sustainable. Great leaders, philosophers, and visionaries didn’t change the world on a trick they learned. They did it by mastering their craft, by learning habits, applying those habits, and sometimes failing. You can’t be afraid to try something new and fail. Failure is how we learn and how we grow. Don’t be afraid to do the work- it’s easy to just ask for help right away, but try a few solutions first, see what works, and go from there.


Thanks to our friends at Apttus !