Today, I am excited to have a new post in the Origins series where we hear from Admin Heroes on how they got their start with Salesforce. Today’s story comes from Melissa VanDyke. Enjoy!

My story begins as a drifter; I simply had a deep desire to know how every industry operated. I worked for a real estate broker, a title company, and a gas station, at four restaurants as a waitress, a repo company (yes, repossessing cars), in the merchant credit card industry, and at the corporate office of a bank and a pizza franchise. I also earned an associates degree in graphic design and multi media. All this by the time I was 22 years old!

Finally, at 23, I landed a temp position for an amazing real estate investment trust (REIT) and I would call this industry my hope for the next 9 years.

This company gave me so many opportunities to grow, and I found my true passion around process improvement! I was always naturally the person responsible for training new hires in all of the positions I had held over the years, and my exposure to so many industries (and my perspective as a trainer) enabled me to understand process better than most.

During my 9-year career in the REIT industry I earned a BA in project management while implementing a large 2-year CRM project for my 50-70 person legal department. I was the subject matter expert and the associate project manager. It was my first time being exposed to CRM software but it was love at first sight. I realized quickly that learning how to administer and customize this type of software would enable me to use my skills to make people’s lives easier through continuous process improvement!

Now 20 years later, I manage a team of Administrators and we bring continuous value to our organization through implementing successful process improvement projects that align with our stakeholder’s strategies.

Over the years, I have learned some valuable lessons that I have now made a regular part of my practice and a foundation for my team.

Roll Up Your Sleeves and Get Stakeholders Involved

At the start of a project, take some time to identify the current state with enthusiasm. Roll your sleeves up, round up the important players and schedule a kick off meeting. Let them know you need their help and make them understand how critical they are to the success of the project.

If you can get them to walk you through what currently happens in the process you will be able to deliver a better product in the long run because you can account for all of the gaps. For example, when they say they want ‘x’ in the future state, but you know that change will impact another department, you can proactively get the other department involved in the decision-making.

These little wins make for a smoother implementation and a better product. Plus, once the team realizes you are serious about communication and keeping everyone involved in the decision-making they will learn to trust you and will also naturally become more invested. This means better adoption (an admins best friend!!).

Create a Feedback Loop Using Chatter

Use a Chatter group for the feedback loop when you deploy a new product/app. I highly recommend providing documentation on how to use what you have designed and include a link to a Chatter group where people can post their questions or issues.

Having all the feedback go to your email is a black hole (no one else has access so you can’t have a team of people monitoring it), where a Chatter group is organic so users will help other users and you can have super users get involved.

Familiarize Yourself with Formula Fields

If you are just starting off, take the time to force yourself to become a pro at using formula fields and workflow rules. Your life will be so much easier out of the gate! This is something I wish I had done from the start when I think back at things I would do differently.

You can find me at or on Twitter at @MVD_Melissa.


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