“Business as (un)usual”

So, like many other businesses out there, we’re now all working from home while under the Government lockdown.

The transitions from a logistical and technical perspective went relatively smoothly. At oe:gen, we’d made the decision to run our complete operation cloud-based a couple of years ago. Being a Salesforce partner influenced part of the decision, but also not having to employ people to maintain an internal infrastructure was the bigger driving force.

A couple of weeks prior to any Government restrictions being announced, we “stress-tested” the company and had everyone work from home for a day. This was in part informed by our Disaster Recovery process, to ensure normal business could be continued if we couldn’t use our offices. Three weeks later, we’re all working from home.

But what about the most important bit of this – the human part?

As a business we’ve always been open to flexible working and allow our team to choose when they’re in the office and when they work from home. There are times when you need those few days working from home to get some tasks done without any interruptions.

In a normal world, this all works fine. But in the current climate, there are added issues to deal with.

There’s the fact you’re working from home every day. You could be on your own and not getting contact with other people as you would in an office. You could be sharing your home office with your partner. There could be children to look after too. And that’s on top of dealing with the Covid-19 lockdown situation.

Everyone at oe:gen has had some sort of challenge to overcome during the first 2-weeks of remote working and the impact of Covid-19 becoming more real. But in spite of all of this, we’ve maintained a great team spirit and kept delivering projects.

I’ve seen and heard a lot of people say “business as usual”, but things are far from usual. We’re adapting to new world order and finding our way through it – this is what human beings are great at, adapting to change in challenging circumstances.

I must say I’ve been amazed by the response of our team to the current situation. Not that I ever doubted their ability, but how they’ve come together even more as a team to support each other and help the business through these tough times.

I feel very humbled to be leading a team of people like the ones at oe:gen – I never imagined in my life I would be surrounded by such a talented, dedicated, caring, honest and nice bunch of people as we have here.

Not all success can be measured by money, I feel massively successful already because of the culture and team ethic we have all created here at oe:gen.

Stay safe and look after each other.

Pete
oe:gen’s Managing Director

Tips to help ease anxiety

Bombarded with news bulletins and social media round the clock, it’s no surprise that misinformation, myths and mass hysteria are prevalent among us whilst we hunker down in our homes during the current Coronavirus pandemic.  

So, how can we help the anxiety – whether you’re isolating alone or with others? If you’re working from home, how can you and your team ease your worries?

1. Create a Worry Window  

Although it’s said that ‘information is power’, too much information or incorrect information can make your anxiety worse and lead to catastrophising. 

Accessing the right information is important, so seek out more reliable sources and try not to ‘Doctor Google’ everything. If you are having symptoms – head to NHS.co.uk or call 111.  

Also, bear in mind that symptoms of anxiety can be similar to those of Covid-19 including shortness of breath and tightness in the chest, this happens when our cortisol levels are raised.  

Limit your exposure to any information, set aside an hour or half an hour to listen to or read the news and peruse social media at the beginning and end of each day – this will also help with dealing with uncertainty as we’re constantly learning more and moving forward. Remember, this will end.  

2. Distract yourself  

Do this guilt-free!  

Boxsets, Netflix, film marathons and gaming consoles mean that we have an almost unlimited source of distraction – use this time to enjoy these things, when are you ever going to be in such a unique situation as this again? 


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Spring clean, clear out those cupboards, rearrange your furniture – turn a distraction into something that you find yourself totally absorbed in. 

Isolation doesn’t mean loneliness

3. Talk

If you are worried about your health, your work or just need to have a bit of a rant about how frustrated you are, do it.  Call or FaceTime family, friends or colleagues. Have meetings over video link so that you feel more connected. 

4. Routine, routine, routine  

This is even more important now that we find ourselves confined to our homes, especially if you already suffer from anxiety.  

  • Get up at a reasonable time, get dressed and ready for the day – there are only so many times you can dodge a video meeting due to you still being in your underpants or dressing gown! 
  • Plan out your day, break for exercise, get some fresh air or to read a book. 
  • *Cue inevitable groan* – don’t drink too much, especially if you suffer from anxiety as it won’t help. Although, if you are a parent, perhaps allow yourself an extra glass or two…


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  • GO TO BED – there is a temptation to stay up later than usual, try and follow your normal bedtime routine so you feel refreshed in the morning. 

5. Sadness is inevitable

This is an unprecedented time, it is tough, it is unique, but it won’t last forever.  Reach out – offer to do something for someone else, a friend, neighbour or colleague – helping someone else is a great way to alleviate your anxiety and help yourself. 

We are all in this together! 

What we’re doing at oe:gen 

  • Teams chats – we have our ‘kitchen table’ lunchtime video chats for anyone to join, a Friday drinks virtual catch up, and video meetings to stay connected. 
  • Encourage flexibility at such an uncertain time – allowing people to set their own hours in order to help with looking after children whilst working and getting enough ‘downtime’. 
  • Tips – we’re all talking every day and finding ways to help each other out. 

**My Top Tip – Put the radio on a low/med volume in the background whilst working to feel more connected to the outside world** 

Here are some useful links:  

NHS.co.uk  

Mind.org.uk 

Sane.org.uk 

Calm.com 

Marketing feels really weird right now. Here are some tips.

I’m sure, like me, you’ve seen some odd marketing messaging going around. My ever-growing inbox is reminiscent of that time we all freaked out over GDPR. And I get it, I really do – it’s tricky to navigate our marketing efforts currently, and we’re all going through a bit of a wobble, myself included.

But what’s particularly odd about the few bad attempts I’ve seen is the tone. I mean, listen, Modibodi, I love you, I support you, and I get that your products are particularly helpful during this crisis, but I really don’t want to see your ‘#nopanicperiod’ hashtag right now. C’mon.

Luckily, marketers are usually fairly adaptable by nature (you’ve gotta be in this gig!) and we’ve got a great community pulling together to share ideas and talk about our concerns. Here’s what we’ve learnt this week…

1. Don’t stop your communications

So, first up, it’s clear that communication has never been more important. And only 8% of consumers think brands should stop advertising due to the coronavirus outbreak. So it’s not a case of stopping your advertising altogether until this passes. What’s key is the way we’re communicating. People just want to be helped, right now, just as they always have. And I think what we’re currently experiencing is really highlighting that.

2. Be human

With the above in mind, your communications should be reassuring, transparent, positive, and empathetic. Now is not the time for hard-selling, but instead being helpful, guiding others, and building and strengthening relationships. Check-in with your community, ask them how they’re doing.

It’s also a time for some positive and light-hearted relief from the outside world, so try not to bang on about the devastating stuff we’re all going through right now, the news is covering enough of that for us.

3. Yes, everyone is online right now, but…

That doesn’t mean you’ve got to totally spam your socials. For one, you’re putting unnecessary pressure on yourself in this hard time, and you’re probably overwhelming your audience too. Once or twice a day is probably enough.

What should you post? Well, you could share knowledge and tips that will help ease your audience’s worries – which can be any number of things like homeschooling the kids, family wellbeing, mental wellbeing, and job security. It’s also a good time to post something fun, light and carefree for a bit of relief from it all.

4. Bear in mind how you want your business to be viewed in the future

Another great point that was made by a fellow marketer was that after all this, people will be looking for new opportunities away from jobs where they’ve now realised the employers haven’t treated them well. This is going to highlight what people want and need from their jobs. And the same goes for brands they’d like to associate with and buy from. Susan Hallam recently posted a lovely quote from Fred Rogers, which I thought was perfect:

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

Why wouldn’t you want to be remembered as one of the helpers?

5. Be as personal as you can

Without face-to-face meetings, personalising your messages to people is pretty damn tricky. I know that despite all our Salesforce work being done remotely, the oe:gen team love getting to know our customers onsite whenever they get a chance to, so this is something we’re truly missing right now.

But videos and webinars will help with this, and I’m already seeing lots of helpful video-based stuff being posted around, which is really lovely.

6. Plan, plan, plan

From listening to other marketers on one of those helpful webinars I spoke of above (thanks, Business Marketing Club!), there seems to be a lot of emphasis on planning for the future. It’s going to be a crowded marketplace when this is all over as events and things get pushed back, which is also something to be mindful of. 

To sum up…

It seems planning and listening to the wider community, the markets, and internally has never been more important. Things are going to be changing constantly, so we need to be flexible, adjust our tone, and make sure we’re supporting our teams and our community.

I think we just need to remember that we’re all in this together, we’re all human beings pacing around our living rooms carrying a mixed bag of weighty feelings (and quarantine snacks), and we all need a little help right now. So let’s help each other.

Updates on safety and wellbeing at oe:gen

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to affect people around the world, our responsibility to our team during this important time is paramount.

oe:gen have always been a people-first company and are prepared to take any action to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our team and customers. Each one of us has a role to play in preparing ourselves and our families to help prevent any further outbreaks. If we each do our part, we can help lessen the risk for everyone.

Right now, we’re following our partner’s example. Salesforce has been one of the first global companies to take action during the outbreak — having a heightened awareness of their responsibility to their employees, customers, and partners and postponing all of their World Tour events until further notice.

We also found out last week that this year’s Sales Innovation Expo is being postponed – which is a decision that we fully support. The team at SIE20 have told us the expo is now scheduled to take place on the 10th and 11th of November, instead.

With this developing situation, we’re making sure our whole team can all comfortably work from home if they want to and have been communicating NHS advice on how to lessen our chances of catching and spreading the virus. And while we’ve always offered flexible remote working here at oe:gen, on Monday, we made sure everyone worked from home, just to see how we’d get on if the office isn’t accessible in the coming weeks.

Other precautionary measures we’re currently taking are asking our team members to stay home if they’re experiencing symptoms of illness of any kind and encouraging frequent hand-washing and the use of our office hand sanitisers and cleaning sprays.

These preparations are important on an individual level, of course, but they can also have an impact on our society as a whole. Our elderly and ill neighbours, NHS workers, and those who are less able to prepare themselves may be counting on us right now.

We’ll provide further updates via our social media accounts as things change. In the meantime, we encourage everyone to continue doing what they can to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those around them.

The tools we use to get development done

Back in 2006, oe:gen began as a web design and development company. Throughout the years, we’ve been keeping up with the change of demand, going from standard websites to complex Salesforce Communities (and jumping over a few obstacles along the way). On this weird and wonderful journey, we’ve consistently strengthened our skills to nail the user experience of each of our projects, as well as trialled an insane amount of tools to see which are the best fit.

All this hard work has lead to what we are today – a Silver Salesforce partner full of over 30 experts in building beautiful, fully branded Salesforce Communities that our customers (and their customers) love to use.

In case you were curious about how we create these customer experiences, here are some of those tried and tested tools we continue to use.

Development 

Primary tool: JetBrains WebStorm with Illuminated Cloud 2 

We fell in love with WebStorm and Illuminated Cloud 2 as soon as we used them.  We were on the lookout for a solid, performant, extensible development environment for Salesforce, and WebStorm with Illuminated Cloud 2 met that brief superbly.  Some of our favourite features include the great code completion, refactoring, customizable linting, git integration and general layout/usability of the app. 

Honourable mention: VSCode with the Salesforce Extension Pack (and loads of other extensions) 

We have developers here at oe:gen who like to be “individual” and therefore opt to use VSCode with the Salesforce Extension Pack, plus Jira, Spotify and many other extensions that slow their machines down.  Bless them.  This is fine, we’re not dictators here, so long as they don’t come running to us when they can’t deploy a Lightning Component. 

Deployment 

Primary tool: ClickDeploy 

We’ve read about and trialled several metadata deployment tools in our time, but ClickDeploy meets our current needs very well.  It’s a huge step-up over traditional changesets, while still being very user-friendly, allowing us to deploy code and config quickly without spending hours RTFM-ing (Google it).  We’re on the cusp of upgrading to the top tier, Enterprise, for all the CI / CD gubbins that brings. 

Source Control 

Primary tool: Git with BitBucket 

Need I really say anything about Git?  We moved over to BitBucket from GitHub shortly after a certain software behemoth got their claws on it and haven’t looked back.  We love the native integration with Jira and the configurable branch permissions. 

Project/Task Management 

Primary tool: Jira Cloud 

oe:gen have dabbled in simpler tools like Trello in the past, but none really cut the mustard quite as Jira does.  It took us many, many months to accept Jira for what it is and to learn how to customize it to meet our needs, but now we’re (mostly) there. 

Collaboration 

Primary tool: Microsoft Teams 

We use Teams.  We’d probably prefer to use Slack.  Sometimes you don’t get what you want in life, okay?  Teams has come a long way since its early days where the application would hang regularly and notifications were none-existent.  It’s not perfect, but neither was Game of Thrones.  You still watched all of it, didn’t you? 

Knowledge Sharing 

Primary tool: Salesforce Communities with CMS Content 

Being experts in Salesforce Communities, we thought it’d make sense if we created an Employee Community where our team could go to get information about the company, our tools and processes.  We’re mid-development, but are seeing a lot that we like about Salesforce CMS. 

Our value of continuous improvement means we’re constantly keeping an eye out for better ways to do development here at oe:gen. But these guys have become favourites in our toolkit. If you want to find out more about how we build our “best in class by far” Salesforce Communities, chat to us today!

Tips for user adoption

We all know that one of the big bugbears of any changes you make as an Admin or Developer is getting users to like it. Here are some of the main tips for making sure you really get across to your users why changes will help them.

Training

Your Admins and Devs have been working hard to produce a platform that’ll make your sales reps and users more efficient to increase sales. Before anybody can get their hands on the system, it’s important that they’re properly trained, so they can understand how to use the changes as well as understand what’s different and exactly why the change was needed.

Within the training of teams, you might want to create some exercises to make it more engaging and less of a “this is what’s happening, tough luck” approach. Make sure these exercises are appropriate for each team you train, as different areas of the business might be using Salesforce in a different way.

When you’re training users, whether this is on a new Salesforce org, or on some changes within a current one, users can get quite tired as there is usually a lot to take in. You need to make sure that breaks are used to allow trainees to get the most of the session.

Train the trainer

You’ll also need to choose who’s going to be training. You might have multiple Admins/Devs or even some super-users who’ll be going away to teach these users. One approach to training is a ‘train the trainer’ approach. This means the admins and people who are very familiar with the system will train some key users of the system.

These users will then go away and train the rest of the team. This can sometimes be a better approach because usually the users will be more comfortable with these key users, so feedback will come more easily.

If you’re just making changes in the system, it might be worth getting some opinions on where training should be given in other areas of the system, which don’t necessarily relate to the change in hand. This can be used as a refresher to the team to help them understand the capabilities of Salesforce and make their job easier.

Rolling out

The rollout can be done in a few different approaches, and one that is recommended is giving access to some key users within the company. These key users can then get their hands on it to see how it handles normal, day to day operational use. This can then be rolled out to other teams in the business.

For example, say you’ve changed the fields on the opportunity object and want to let some key ‘super-users’ test it out and give any initial feedback before rolling it out to different areas of the team.

In the early stages of the rollout, its best to take things slow — allow time for users to get used to the new system. They will more than likely struggle to navigate, and whoever deals with internal cases/questions will be getting a lot of enquiries.

Be aware there might be a lot of errors as well. When users get their hands on things, they usually find things you didn’t when initially testing. There will probably be some permissions errors where users get too much/little access to areas of Salesforce. At this stage, it is up to the implementations team to keep everybody happy and get them all through this learning curve.

So, you just failed a Salesforce Cert? Me too. Here’s what I learned.

tips after failing your salesfore certifications

We’ve been having a bit of a drive here lately at oe:gen, a Salesforce Certification drive! We’ve all been pushing ourselves in the last few months (with a bit of friendly internal competition) to up our cert game and try to gain credentials in all the different areas we specialise! People have been attaining certs left and right, bells are ringing, and cake is being eaten, but what happens when the unfortunate happens and… you… fail.

Take a guess who this happened to…

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That’s right, I can admit it! I’m Alex, a Salesforce Consultant and just last week I failed a Salesforce Certification. But you know what? It happens, and there’s a few things I learned from the experience that I’d like to share with you.

Be proud of yourself

The first thing most of us do when we fail is begin to question our own ability, which sometimes isn’t even related to the test/exam/inflatable obstacle course we just fell off… we internalise these thoughts and start believing that we’re frauds for daring to try and not succeed (see Imposter syndrome). We forget that the pursuit of knowledge and ability is something we should be hugely proud of and failing is just a small bump in the road. So, go you for trying!

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Certs are hard for a reason

Having attained a few certs previously, I wholly began underestimating and underappreciating how much experience is needed to pass these exams. Failing one has given me a new appreciation for them and realisation:

CERTS. ARE. HARD. AS. NAILS.

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It’s easy to forget this simple fact, but look back at the recommended pre-requisites of one the next time you’re thinking of taking a cert. Most of them have a number of Trailhead Trails you should complete beforehand and at least 6 months to 1 years’ experience hands on using the platform. If these exams were easy, then the accomplishment of attaining them would be far less rewarding.

Get back on that horse and start studying

The immediate gut reaction to failing anything is usually the want to give up and throw in the towel. It might be only a small thought, but I personally get this niggle in my head for a couple of hours… but then I try to get myself reinvigorated with the material.

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Firstly, I try to look back on why I failed, and how the Salesforce Cert gives you a percentage based on each section is really helpful here. Looking at where I was strong and where I completely dropped the ball (I’m looking at you Salesforce Engage section!) gives me great guidance on where I need to go do some extra studying and focus my attention. This leads into my last point…

Get that exam rebooked!

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Yeah! You heard me! Use your scores from each section to figure out how far off you were from passing. There’s even a handy calculator someone made here that will work out your overall percentage score if you want to get specific. Then, set yourself a new target date to get the exam booked again. Think about it, you have the knowledge from before, you’re going to study up on the parts you weren’t so great at and you now know a little more about how the questions are structured; you got this!

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Sales and marketing lessons we can learn from horror movies

I have a few passions in life; one of them is writing helpful articles for sales and marketing folks, and another is horror movies. So, to honour the spookiest day of the year, I’m going to combine (absolutely shoehorn) the two. Let’s see how this turns out…

Read moreSales and marketing lessons we can learn from horror movies

Find us in the crowds at Dreamforce with what3words!

Dreamforce is back in action on Tuesday 19th November, so we’re heading over to San Francisco again! And this time, we’ll be using our customer’s app, what3words to navigate around the biggest event in the Salesforce world.

What’s what3words, you ask? Well, it’s an app that’s really simplified location finding. It assigns each 3m square in the whole world a unique three-word address that will never change.

For example, ///intervals.using.tapes marks the entrance to oe:gen’s Nottingham office.

The creator of what3words used to work in the music industry and noticed that in the music world, technicians and musicians were getting lost trying to find live events every day. So after experiencing a few too many ‘navigation nightmares’, Chris Sheldrick asked his mathematician school friend, Mohan Ganesalingam, for help with an algorithm to make precise GPS coordinates more concise and easier for people to use.

These three-word addresses are as accurate as GPS coordinates but are much easier to say and share.  People use what3words to find their tents at festivals, navigate to venues, direct emergency services to the right location, and more.

It’s pretty much perfect for navigating San Francisco and the huge space that Dreamforce occupies. Paul will be using it to find his way around and meet up with his pals. If you’d like to grab a drink with Paul in San Fran — be that caffeinated, soft, or alcoholic — send him a little message via this Pardot landing page and he’ll arrange something with you!

Salesforce Women in Tech: Jayne-Anne Gadhia, Salesforce’s UK & Ireland CEO

It might be because it’s October so I’ve started my annual binge-watching of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or it could be because our quarterly Salesforce Women in Tech event is just around the corner. But this week, we’re all about inspiring, awesome women. And that’s why we’re putting a spotlight on Salesforce’s new Chief Executive of UK and Ireland, Jayne-Anne Gadhia.

Jayne-Anne Gadhia, Founder of the start-up, Snoop, has been chosen to lead Salesforce’s UK and Ireland business, which is the largest market for Salesforce outside of the US!

I did a bit of research on Gadhia, and it turns out she was one of the founders of Virgin Direct in 1995 before spending five years at RBS. She became Chief Executive of Virgin Money in 2007, stepping down in 2018 following its takeover by CYBG. And she’s considered one of the financial services industry’s ‘most senior and best-known women’.

In 2015, the Government asked Gadhia to lead a review into the representation of women in senior managerial roles in financial services. In response to her recommendations in the review, HM Treasury launched the Women in Finance Charter. And now, there are over 330 firms of all shapes and sizes across financial services that are signed up to the commitments of the Charter – from global banks to credit unions, the largest insurance companies to the smallest fintech start-ups – with headquarters in the UK, USA, Europe and Asia.

As you can tell, Gadhia is a huge advocate for gender diversity in business. And in November 2016, she was appointed as the UK Government’s Women in Finance Champion, becoming a founder member of its Business Diversity and Inclusion Group in July 2017.

According to her Wikipedia page, she’s also been open about her experiences of depression and believes that better work-life balance can improve work performance. This is something which we’ve always been passionate about here at oe:gen.

Plus, if you follow her on Twitter, you’ll see how active she is about fighting climate change, advocating for equal pay, and other important causes close to our hearts.

It also mentions that in 2018, Gadhia was named Leader of the Year at the Lloyds Bank National Business Awards and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. She was even awarded a CBE in the 2014 New Year Honours and made a Dame in the 2019 New Year’s Honours list!

Marc Benioff and Keith Block said in a joint statement: “Jayne-Anne is one of the most respected CEOs in the UK and we are thrilled to welcome her to Salesforce. With Jayne-Anne’s leadership, we are well-positioned to move into the next stage of growth and success for Salesforce, our customers, partners and communities.”

We’re always pumped to be a part of the Salesforce community, and seeing an important role model like Jayne-Anne lead the UK and Ireland business has made us even prouder to shout about Salesforce. I wonder if she’ll be up for speaking at our next Salesforce Women in Tech event?