Featured Admin10Commandment-1

Published on October 27th, 2015 | by Mike Gill

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Admin Commandment #1 – An Awesome Admin should always… complete the description and help text fields!

We have been thinking about this one for some time and after bringing a dose of commandments to Release Readiness, we feel it’s time to turn our attention to you Awesome Admins.

Over the next 10 weeks we’ll be taking you through the Admin 10 Commandments, dealing with them one at a time.

What is an Admin Commandment I hear you say? Think of it as the ultimate best practice which will serve you, your organisation and ultimately your users.

We start off with a practice that will make your end users’ lives, and your own, far easier if you follow it – and cause a lot of frustration for both if you don’t.

#1 An awesome admin should always complete the description and help text fields

One of the cool things with Salesforce is that once you plant the seed it grows very quickly within your organisation. Something which started off small can spread to many departments and processes within your company.

Now consider how far this seed could spread. Think about how much the company could grown, as well as how many processes and people may interact with Salesforce. This is a lot of change, and even the most organised company would struggle to document the reason for every single system change that has occurred in its history.

But it doesn’t have to. Whenever you create an object or field in Salesforce you can include a description alongside it, as well as additional text next to every field. All information is therefore stored and easy to find through the one system.

AC-1-Description

So why make sure you complete these fields?

Often I’m scratching my head when I see field after field with no text to help me recognise what they are. It gets more annoying whenever someone starts working on new project initiatives and nobody can remember exactly why a field was added to an object in the first place.

This wastes a lot of valuable time trying to figure out things that should’ve been made clear at the start, and can lead to even more issues when you try to fix it.

For instance, the team may decide to add another field which ends up being a duplicate, or they’ll guess what the purpose of the field is, get it wrong and make things even more complicated down the line. The most annoying part is that all of this could have been avoided easily!

When adding a short description to an object or field, all you have to do is write what it is and why it’s there. The amount of effort this takes is so minimal it’s almost criminal not to do it.

Here are some examples to give you an idea of what you should be doing:

Project custom object: An object for tracking and managing Internal IT projects

Estimated Time Remaining custom field: Stores the estimated time remaining for given Project in hours

Immediately our future selves, or – whisper it – our replacements, know what kind of projects we’re tracking and that the time remaining is in hours not days.

Bear in mind the description text is not shown to end users, so make sure whatever you’re writing here is useful for the folks managing, changing and administrating the system – not the end users themselves.

Which brings us to the other part of today’s commandment – help text

Nothing drives user adoption more than concise and informative help text when the user needs it most. For instance, hovering over a field they are unsure about and having a balloon with text appear instantly next to it saves a lot of time and helps explain things quickly.

Equally, nothing frustrates us more than when we see hundreds of fields on a single object with no help text. Trust us when we say your users will hover over fields hoping for help text and – if they see nothing – will start to curse you and the system. Not good adoption vibes.

So what is help text?

AC-1-HelpText

Help text is something which is visible to end users and helps them understand the purpose of the field, so it needs some careful thought put into it.

Ideally, you want a struggling user to be able to get themselves out of a pickle if they forget where they are and what value they should put into a field. This way the help text is helping them but also helping you by saving you time having to either explain it or fix bad data caused by it!

Here’s a good example: if the field is a calculation of one or more fields, it may be handy to tell the user that the value they are seeing is the result of (field x) + (field y).

So there is our first Admin Commandment, one of many to come. Make sure you get those gaps closed, and if you’re doing this already then give yourself a massive pat on the back as you are well on the way to being an Awesome Admin!

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