Podcast

Mike Barnes: Overcoming Common Challenges of 2020

Podcast

Mike Barnes: Overcoming Common Challenges of 2020

Podcast

Mike Barnes: Overcoming Common Challenges of 2020

Podcast

Mike Barnes: Overcoming Common Challenges of 2020

Podcast

Mike Barnes: Overcoming Common Challenges of 2020

Podcast

Mike Barnes: Overcoming Common Challenges of 2020

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Podcast

Mike Barnes: Overcoming Common Challenges of 2020

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November 19, 2020
Podcast

Mike Barnes: Overcoming Common Challenges of 2020

32:48
MIN
/
November 19, 2020
About the Episode
When there’s no conference room to collaborate in, what do you do? Mike Barnes, Director of Salesforce.com Administration at GOLFNOW, digs into the innovative solutions he’s using to overcome some of the biggest roadblocks of 2020. From working remotely to adapting to contactless service, he covers a lot of changes his team navigated this year. Throw in some tech talk and Salesforce, and you’ve got yourself a jam-packed episode.
Episode Highlights

The experience comes first
When adapting to digital or contactless services, always make the customer experience your top priority. 


Change is constant
Don’t be afraid of change, it is what helps you improve and move forward. 


Focus on problems
Avoid adopting new technology without first identifying a problem or pain point to address.

Meet our Guest

If you were to define Mike Barnes with a simple phrase, it would be problem solver. As the Director of Salesforce.com Administration at GOLFNOW, Mike’s charged with solving some of the organization's biggest problems. With nearly 20 years of experience in technology, he knows how to tackle complex issues and create innovative solutions. He’s dedicated to breaking down barriers for his teammates and is always on the lookout for ways to be more efficient and productive.

Chris Byers: Welcome to Ripple Effect, I am Chris Byers with Formstack. Today, we are featuring Mike Barnes, the director of Salesforce.com Administration for GOLFNOW.

For any of us familiar with the golf industry, many things come to mind. Beautiful scenery, afternoons outside the office, comfortable accommodations and time spent just kind of enjoying the game. What you don't often think about is technology. And Mike's going to share with us today how GOLFNOW is reimagining the golf experience for avid players around the world.

Mike, welcome to the show. Before we get started, first, if you could just kick start with a snapshot of what GOLFNOW does.

Mike Barnes: Sure. So golf now is the worldwide online way to book rounds for golf. So you want to play somewhere just like about anything else you're going to be looking for these days for shopping, usually online is the way to go. So GOLFNOW is your marketplace. This is your one stop shop for golf or booking rounds of golf anywhere in the world.

Chris Byers: As you've kind of taken a look at this year. I'm curious, what are some unique challenges that your customers, even who are trying to book online, have experienced because of just all that's going on this year?

Mike Barnes: So, you know, the booking experiences become more critical with, you know, COVID-19 and the lockdowns that have occurred. Many courses were shut down, as were most businesses, for a good amount of time in the spring. And when they were able to reopen, fortunately, golf was able to reopen, was one of the earlier things you could do, simply because it is a naturally socially distanced event. And one of the challenges with the booking side of things has been when you arrive at the golf course, typically have to go in the pro shop and pay for your round. And there's interaction. You're indoors and with GOLFNOW we have the option that you can book online and prepay for your round. So many courses have opted in with us to allow for prepaid rounds.

Just something that has blown up for our business has gone really big because the courses realize they want to limit interactions, you know, face to face interactions with the golfers if they can avoid it. And with our payments products, we can offer that to the golf courses so that they can offer that in turn to the golfers that are booking with them.

Chris Byers: What do you think you've done differently than other organizations, maybe like you, that are kind of more innovative and have helped people be more successful right now?

Mike Barnes: Our audience is a golfer, you know, they're the ones that we're trying to get out to book some rounds and get out and play. However, the customer who we are servicing is the golf course, and we provide backend technology that helps the course operate their business. So you can think of golf now, sort of as like the open table of golf. We provide the backend technology to help operate the pro shop and also the front end technology for people to connect with that golf course. So we're providing both aspects of the experience so that we can provide a seamless experience. So folks are booking their rounds online. It automatically shows on the electronic tee sheet the golf course. And that way we also provide other technology that helps the course run their business, whether it's food and beverage as part of their operation, if they have memberships, there's a number of different ways that we provide different pieces of technology to help different golf courses, depending on how their golf course is structured.

Chris Byers: We're all thinking about how do we reimagine the work kind of world around us because of so many of the changes that we're experiencing. As you kind of step back and think about 2020, about 2021 in the future, what do you think it means to reimagine work, especially for golf clubs?

Mike Barnes: So, I mean, I can say that, you know, golf clubs, they're learning how to service their customer and maintain the necessary distance that's required. Now, to do that, we have some really innovative tools that have come out, including our the G1 tool. So G1 basically allows you to show up at the golf course. The starter can check you in via iPad. So the intent is to avoid having to go into the clubhouse, but know that there's some inherent risk to the golf course that they don't come in the clubhouse. They're not going to maybe pick up some golf balls or view the merchandise. But with the G1, there's the opportunity to sell directly from the iPad as well. Hey, it looks like, you know, you needed golf balls last time you were here. Do you need another sleeve? Sure. Yeah. So they can place orders, get things they need directly from the iPad with the you know, with limited interaction. Same with somebody servicing the golf course, driving around on a golf cart, selling beverages and such, out on the golf course. Same kind of experience where they have the iPad and with knowledge of the customer that they're interacting with, they can identify, OK, this looks like you know, you generally get this kind of beverage or are you ready for another? Are you ready for a hot dog? You know, whatever it is that you need, they can serve it, help provide a higher level of touch and service to the golfer who's out on the course having that capability as well as be able to do it with, again, limited interaction. Those tools are really helping drive better experience for the golfer and for the golf course itself.

Chris Byers: And what would you say for yourself? How are you thinking about kind of your own work change and how this impacts your day to day?

Mike Barnes: So, yeah, for me, it's been a different world. Right. So where we all at GOLFNOW are currently working from home. We have been since March. We did a trial in mid-March and never came home from the trial. So it was like a Thursday, Friday trial. And we were told by the afternoon on Friday, we're going to go ahead and just keep this going because they determined everybody could effectively work from home. We have Microsoft teams, among other Microsoft products. So with teams we are able to communicate pretty effectively. I usually see some people more face to face now than I did before because our offices, you know, are a bit big. And sometimes it takes a lot of time to get up and walk from building to building or from place to place. So it's a little more efficient, you know, to be here and pop people on teams instantly instead of having to walk across the way or hop on the phone when I may not see them face to face. So it's been a different experience. I wasn't sure if I would enjoy working from home, frankly, but after doing it now for the last number of months, and I really do enjoy it, I really find that I'm a bit more efficient. I'm able to get more done. And I'm also a little healthier myself getting up in the morning, getting out of the house a little bit, where normally I'd be getting up, getting ready and getting in the car for a commute. So the time that I would spend commuting has now been replaced with exercise, which I really appreciate that, and I hope other folks are able to get the same out of it.

Chris Byers: Yeah, you know, there's something for me about I used to travel quite a bit more. And I think just the consistency of being at home most of the time has actually allowed me to eat a lot better. So I agree. It's been a unique benefit, at least in my life. So give us a sense of what is a day in your role look like? Give us a glimpse into it.

Mike Barnes: Sure. So we have a somewhat structured system where we use Salesforce to manage all of the requests that come to us. We'd run weekly sprints. We try to keep a reasonable amount of work each week. And then we also have day to day support. So right now it's just me and one other full time admin that do Salesforce, you know, primary Salesforce administration every day. And we have 700 plus users. So quite a few users for very few admins. But we're able to do that because I think we have a good process. We also have a great team lead. So what we've realized we had to do because we're interfacing with numerous departments, at least a dozen different departments just within GOLFNOW. Right. You have a marketing team. You have a sales team. We have a technology team. We have a bunch of different teams that all have different needs from us. We've set up a team lead within each of those departments that we meet, at least weekly, to discuss what's in the next week's sprint. Here's what we've done this week for you. Here's what's coming up in next week's sprint, if we need to make some adjustments. Hey, this is a real high priority item that we shift things around.

We do that every week. That's part of the weekly process and otherwise the day is, you know, get up, check, see what's, you know, the obligatory email and teams chats. Got to try to keep those in check. But I try to only check those two or three times a day at most. Otherwise, I am, you know, occasionally in meetings. But I try to keep the meetings focused on the cases that I have in the queue and then it really works. Just working through the cases in the que, calling people if I have questions, continue to develop Salesforce, develop workflow. We use a heavy amount of workflow at GOLFNOW just to keep everything straight. So there's a number of different technology and tools we use. And so I have to support all that. So every day there's, you know, there could be nominal things, some bugs, self created bugs or issues that are things aren't working the way they are intended for specific use case and such. I spend half my week really supporting and fixing issues and we're looking to make things more stable long term. And the other part is, you know, building new features that folks are requesting to help them be more efficient with what they're doing.

Chris Byers: One of the interesting things you mentioned was 700 users. And so when I think about it, well, people often think about change with kind of this negative feeling. And I know that when you need to make a change, it's going to impact a lot of people. I'm curious, how do you go about approaching change and making that feel like a positive thing for the users around you?

Mike Barnes: Well, I mean, the good news about the culture at GOLFNOW is they are definitely not afraid of change. We are constantly going through it. It's never ending. But it's always considered to be positive because it's moving the business forward. So we've had a number of acquisitions over the years to expand our business. There's been some, of course, internal development, but there's also been acquiring of outside business. So seven and a half years ago, I got to GOLFNOW and I thought this is a pretty simple business. We're just posting tee times online and we have a sales team that's out trying to recruit golf courses to post their tee times online. That was the scope of the business; the businesses that has since expanded quite a bit. And one of the first things we did was acquire two tee sheet companies because we knew we wanted to get into the tee sheet business. So one was the BRS Golf out of Belfast, Northern Ireland, and the other was for reservations out of Chicago.

They're now fully integrated part of GOLFNOW, that was one of the first projects, first two parallel projects I was put on to get them embedded into our Salesforce processes to bring them in so that the changes continued where we've internally we built Golf Advisor. We were collecting all kinds of ratings and reviews for golf courses through GOLFNOW.com. When you booked your round or finished your round, you got a request to tell us what you thought about your experience. We realized we had aggregated the largest number of rating reviews on golf courses anywhere, so we've spun that up into Golf Advisor. So that's now it's own product where we continue to provide the most rating reviews on golf courses anywhere in the world.

So we've also, you know, more recently acquired These Links Golf, which is also out of Chicago and they are helping us expand our business, our footprint. But it also requires a lot of work on the team internally to integrate the businesses and such. Change has been constant, there's always been something new every year, there's always something new that's changing how we think about the business or some new technology that we want to get out and promote and sell to help improve the experience for golfers. And so that has definitely kept us on our toes. The latest thing is smart play. So smart play is going to be a new way, a new technology for helping golfers get the most out of their game. It's a really new feature, again, new tool built internally inside of GOLFNOW. And it's going to help, I think, change our business for the better. Change has not been something that's been scary at GOLFNOW, it's something that we've embraced. And that's the reason, frankly, the reason I'm working here, because there's always something new and exciting to learn and new problems to solve. And it's not a stale business by any means.

Chris Byers: So I would love to hear how you would suggest how you would think, you know, encourage people to think about building their low-code, no-code toolboxes.

Mike Barnes: Absolutely. So I'm not a trained developer. I've had some development courses in college, but I started out as an electrical engineer. And so I worked as an electrical engineer, I did machine control and automation. So I worked with low-code tools from the time I was an intern in college. As my career evolved and I ended up here and doing Salesforce.com now for a living, I realized it's the same kind of logic, the same kind of thought process, automation, logic that you as an engineer have to think through. How are we going to get from these inputs to these outputs? And there's the stuff in the middle that nobody really understands and it can be done with code.

There's definitely a lot of great developers out there who build some pretty amazing tools, including developers on the GOLFNOW staff who are building out the tools within GOLFNOW because they're novel tools. They are custom and they're proprietary. So they're being developed line by line code. When it comes to operating a business, though, there are plenty of tools out there that are already built and there's plenty of commonalities between businesses that you can use similar tools across many different businesses. There's all kinds of workflow, automation, things you can do that do not have to write apex code to get done. In fact, I've kind of made it a point from the time I got into using Salesforce is that I wanted to avoid code wherever possible. There are some cases you can't avoid it. There are places where we have to do API integrations, things that do require some custom APACS. But those are the exception for us.

The rule is we're using process builder, using flow, we're using Formstack for forms instead of writing our own HTML, we're using a squid for the front instead of writing ora components inside Salesforce. So I recommend just identifying the tools that you need that will work for you. There's plenty of tools out there across many different platforms that integrate with Salesforce. And then there, of course, are things outside of Salesforce as well that you can look at. I found that a group of tools that work really well for me and meet my needs. The answer I want to be able to give to my team is yes when they say, hey, can we do this? You know, early in my Salesforce career, I was like, well, Salesforce doesn't really do that. Or, you know, the answer was typically sure we can do that, but can require custom code. And here's what that's probably going to cost to get that built. Now, the answer is typically, yes, I have a tool for that and I can do it and I can do it for you pretty quickly. We can get that done. I'm not going to have to recruit an external developer. I can think through the process and build it with the low-code declarative tools that are available to me now.

Chris Byers: If you have those low-code no no-code tools, it kind of presumes that you've actually got a problem that you want to solve. How is it you go about discovering, you know, it's time to actually change a process and then what's the first step you need to take?

Mike Barnes: Our team is constantly coming up with new ways they want to run the business, whether it's information they need to gather or it's how we want to interact with our customers. That's typically the basis, right? We have something we want to sell. There's something we want to be able to do for our customers that we don't really have the tools to do now. So for my perspective, you know, I'm helping advise what we can get done. But we have a bunch of brilliant people who are coming in and saying all the time, here's what I need to be able to deliver to our customers. And that's where it ultimately all funnels down to having the focus on the customer that, hey, we want to make sure we're delivering to them ultimately the best service that we can deliver.

So we meet at least once a week and more often if there's a special project or something that's happening and we identify, OK, well, here's what we want to be able to deliver the customer. Here's what we want to do. What do we need to get there? So we work our way back to the technology. It's not hey, here's a cool, fancy piece of technology we can deploy. Let's see how we can fit this in. That's usually not the process that we're taking. It's usually let's identify the problem. Let's figure out what tools we might need to solve the problem. And then we back our way into the technology that's going to help us get there the most efficient way possible. Typically, low-code tools for me have been the most efficient way there simply because the time to development is so much faster. And it doesn't require getting external expertise. It doesn't require me pulling your valuable GOLFNOW developers into Salesforce projects, because better for them to be out developing GOLFNOW, developing the proprietary technology. And let me handle the business technology in a low-code way where I can.

Chris Byers: So you mentioned in that conversation there, this idea of customers. So even internally, you have customers at times and sometimes you're focused on the external customer. What does it mean to have kind of a client first mindset?

Mike Barnes: Well, I mean, I'm trying to make everybody as efficient as possible, remove the barriers to them getting what they need to get done. So whether that's going to be the golfer trying to book a round or our partner trying to sign a sales contract or our finance team trying to make sure invoices get sent out properly, I'm trying to remove barriers to them getting their work done, what they need to get done. Because if I can do that, if I can remove those barriers, then I can make everybody happier because, hey, I don't have these roadblocks in the way. I don't have these delays. I'm able to move right through to get done what I need to get done. So whether it's, as you mentioned, another internal customer who has a request for us or it's next for our customer, I'm always focused on what can I do to make their life easier. And generally what makes their life easier makes my life more complicated. But I'm OK with that because that's my job. I solve puzzles, I solve problems. And if they can present me a cool problem, I'm happy to go figure out what's going to make it work for them.

Chris Byers: Yeah, I actually appreciate that idea that for some of those who are actually building the solution, it isn't always an easier life. You may be helping people save a lot of time, which of course is saving the organization money, but it's something you have to support and you have to to be involved in. Absolutely. I'm curious, what do you think it means really, to modernize your customers kind of workplace there, to help them rethink their work? How do you think you helped them do that?

Mike Barnes: Well, you know, I try to get them to tell me what they actually need. That's probably the hardest part, I think, with being in the position of mine is getting people to actually tell you when they have a problem instead of working around it. One of the nicknames I got early on was Spreadsheet Killer because people were just living off spreadsheets because they had been living on spreadsheets forever. And they could own the spreadsheet and they knew how the spreadsheet worked. Of course, there's a lot of inherent flaws with living on spreadsheets, which can get stale and get static. Different people own different versions of it and it gets bad. So that's just, again, an example of how some folks work and trying to get them to tell me, hey, what are you doing now that we can make better? And sometimes they don't see the problem. They don't see that their spreadsheet is really not the most efficient way to get done what you've done. But eventually those all come to light. Right. It's hey, I want to get reporting on what's happening over here. Well, that's being done on so and so spreadsheet. Well get them out of there. I've got to get that data into that to get into Salesforce. Let's give them a process in Salesforce that will work, so that they can then own the data there instead of own it on the spreadsheet.

The second problem that we have is less frequent, but occasionally folks want to come in and provide the design to us, OK, I want this object with this field and this workflow and it's like, well, no, hold on, let's back up. Tell me, what is the problem you're trying to solve? Like, what issue are you having and what is the outcome you want to achieve? So asking those questions and backing people off of the design side of things said, let me let me handle the design. I'm happy to include you in the design and I'm happy to have you provide input is what you think might work best. You're operating the business. You tell me what problem you have and what outcome you'd like to achieve. Once I figure out those things, I whiteboard. That's one thing I do miss about being in the office is, you know, I have my big whiteboard and be able to, you know, draw a bunch of things out with people in the office and kind of come up and imagine the solution there. I can get up and talk about it, that usually sometimes clears my head a little bit to think through the potential issues. But just be able to do those sort of things. I need to find a way to do that better from home. I will jot things and draw things out on paper and pen just because I have to visualize it quite often before I can build. But the trick is, you know, identifying the problem, figuring out what the endpoint the person wants and then figure out what you need to build in the middle that's going to get them there.

Chris Byers: Will tell us how you take that example of the whiteboard, what are the ways you're reimagining, how to get that solved kind of going forward, that whiteboarding experience, that design experience.

Mike Barnes: Oh, gosh. Well. Like I said, I'm still drawing on my piece of paper and with pen, obviously it's kind of funny for a technology kind of person to live off pen and paper, but I guess that may say more about my generation and age. But, yeah, definitely need to use the tools I have available in teams and whatnot to maybe if I need a different tool, find a different tool. That's probably something I need to figure out now as well. What tools are available to me that I can then, you know, draw things out on the screen with other people, you know, able to see it as opposed to my pen and paper, which is just, you know, just for me. So that's definitely something, one of the things on the roadmap as this staying home here seems to be interminable, I don't see any end coming to it anytime soon. For us being a technology business, we're very fortunate that we don't have to, there's no absolute need to be in an office environment. So we're very, very fortunate in this current state of the world to have that option to be able to be home.

At the same time, it does pose some challenges where before we could all get in a conference room, whiteboard things out, and we were just used to that, you know, being the way we could get things done. I could snap some pictures with my phone of the whiteboard, then leave the meeting and I'd have everything I needed. So being able to whiteboard those things out. That's definitely a problem I need to figure out how am I going to solve.

Chris Byers: So I'm sure many people who are listening or saying, wow, sounds like GOLFNOW is fairly well resourced for building solutions to lots of problems internally. Building workflows, have the tools, have the team. For those who are kind of feeling a bit overwhelmed right now and saying man, I really want to kind of jump into this. What do you think the first step is they need to think about and just saying, just put something in place and just begin that process. What are some things that come to mind?

Mike Barnes: Well, yeah, if I was going to get started if I was in a business that didn't have Salesforce, I definitely would look at it very closely. I launched Salesforce at the company I was with prior to my current company about 10 years ago. And that was really my first taste of it. I'd heard of Salesforce, you know, in passing prior to that. But we needed at that time, the prior company needed a new CRM, the CRM we had was basically no better than a glorified electronic Rolodex. And we needed something a little better than that. So we tried some other solutions that I won't mention here. But Salesforce we just found was the best solution that we could find on the market. And it met all the needs that we wanted at the time and all the needs we couldn't possibly have anticipated in the future.

The next thing is to take full advantage of the tools you have within Salesforce.com itself. So there's so much automation you can do. Again, when I got here at GOLFNOW, there was very little automation done. They were using Salesforce to track activity, to track meetings and phone calls, and that was about it. They did have some opportunities. They did a little bit with that and they did some other things. But there was practically no automation in place. It was very, very light what was in place. So I came in. I was initially the lone Salesforce admin, of course the business was a bit smaller back then, fewer users. But we went through and just found out, hey, where are the pain points? And that's again, if you're looking for something to solve first in your business, figure out where the pain points are. You probably know where they are. If you're not using Salesforce, or you're not using it well, you probably already know these are things that are always a problem. Go solve those first. Let's get you know, get underneath those pain points, identify what everyone does not like about how their business works right now and find a way to solve it with automation.

One of the examples is we had it early on in the current board, we were tracking everything and we still track a lot of things by market. We kind of divide the world up into specific markets. And one of the challenges was we had a market on the account and then they had to set a market on the opportunity and there was a market on other objects as well in Salesforce. So you ended up with tracking the same information, multiple places, but every opportunity had an account relationship. So, I mean, it sounds pretty simple. It sounds pretty basic. And it was. It was just a formula to say, hey, just pull the market from the account into the opportunity. I mean, doing something simple like that just so that, hey, our markets don't align between our count report and our opportunity report. Well, because you're putting the information in three different times. So three different people are potentially putting three different pieces of information. Trying to get data cleanliness is probably one of the most challenging things in any CRM. Just trying to keep your data clean. So the fewer touch points you have with any particular piece of data, definitely the better. Very, very early, probably the first week thing that I did, I realized this is a real problem. Let's solve that and just keep finding the pain points and keep running them down and and solve one thing at a time. It's the old elephant adage, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. So don't look at this whole mess and be like, oh, man, we're never going to solve this thing. Find out, here's one little point that if we could solve that would give us the biggest win. Find the low hanging fruit. That's the easy stuff. I mean, I'm at the point where we've kind of picked all the low hanging fruits. So now I'm solving much more complex, larger problems. And I frankly, I find it more interesting and much more fun to solve the larger problems than the low hanging fruit. But the low hanging fruit is easy and a great way to get started.

Chris Byers: Well, as we kind of wrap up today, a couple of quick questions that I think people will appreciate. First is, what's your one piece of advice for embracing simplicity in business processes?

Mike Barnes: Oh, goodness. So definitely have a plan. I mean, this is something that didn't come to me all at once, but over time, do a lot of research in your field. So for Salesforce, search the Salesforce ideas, search the Salesforce message posts because a lot of folks are already asking the questions that you're asking. And so one of the best things I think I found is just keeping a consistent format and also use a lot of notes. I wish I'd done this earlier than I did early on. You have a description field in Salesforce on everything. You have descriptions, put in notes. That's more of a developer best practice that I've learned more recently that, you know, a developer when you see a line of code, you'll see a lot of commented text. Right. It's commented out of the code, but it's there for your reference and using that so that when you come back seven years later and you're looking at why do we have this in place, you can answer your own question.

And one of the ways we're doing that, again, help keep things simple is we track all of our activity, all the things, all the requests that we're getting. We track through cases already. So to make things simple, so I'm not having to regurgitate what I was asked to do. I simply put a case reference in the description. So if I ever have to go back to something, I have a reference ID, I can just go then look up that case. I can say, OK, well, here's exactly why I built it. Here's all the chatter about what happened. I don't have to get crazy wordy with description notes. I mean, we already again, the same objective of not duplicating the same information multiple places in Salesforce, we try to live up to that also with how we track our notes with things we're building. Hey, we were doing everything based on a case. Let's just reference the case and let's keep all the notes in one place in the case itself. So that's the advice I wish I had gotten seven, 10 years ago would be to do what I'm doing now, which we only learned over time. First, make sure to handle everything out of cases, try to avoid handling things out of email and teams chats. I mean, those things do happen. But we generally if it's not a quick, quick win or immediate problem, that's, you know, shutting people down, we try to divert them back into case and get it cued up in an orderly fashion, as opposed to just constantly taking all the noise from both sides or from all sides. Which can to happen. So again, that's why the second piece of advice is make sure you're using some process to to route everything in. As long as you have something that you're tracking the requests and that you can then work from, that will help you keep things organized. That's been one of my biggest pieces of advice. Stay organized, keep it simple, and go from there.

Chris Byers: And last question. Can you share your go to productivity tip?

Mike Barnes: Oh, goodness. Go to productivity tip. So, trying to think of from my personal standpoint, it's I mean, especially working from home, it's easy to get distracted. And, you know, there's plenty of other things going on. My wife thinks because I'm here, if I'm not on a phone call, I must be available. So trying to you know, if you have the capability to separate yourself, have a separate room and also stay to a schedule. So we've been pretty good. Every day we get up, we try to get out of bed by seven o'clock, try to get out and ride our bikes or go for a walk, spend a half hour, just, you know, getting the blood pumping. And I think there's been nothing better I could have done for myself than to do that and have that kind of morning routine, then come back, get cleaned up and then get to work. So it's just having a standard routine has really helped me to stay focused. So when I'm at work, I'm at work. And then, you know, then the hardest part, I think, for me is just cutting it off at the end of the day, because, I mean, dinner time, you know, usually comes and I'll try to make that the end. OK, it's time for dinner. So we're going to cut things off for today and move on to the family part portion of the evening. So that's definitely been a challenge. Just stay productive by focusing that, hey, this is my work time.

Chris Byers: Yeah, I think that speaks to a lot of what what we all need. It starts with personal productivity and getting the right energy for the work that we've got ahead. So I love that. Well, Mike, thanks for joining us today. It's been a great conversation and appreciate you joining us on Ripple Effect.

As we kind of wrap this episode up featuring Mike Barnes, there are a couple of takeaways to highlight. First is have a client first mindset and dive into problems to really understand for your customers what is their problem and what is the outcome that they're looking for. Build that no-code toolset. It's the way that you're going to help kind of remove barriers and help people save time in their work and make their lives easier. And then build relationships. That's the way that you can really understand and source where are other problems that I need to solve. How can we actually get those taken care of?

Thanks so much for joining us today. It's been a great conversation here on Ripple Effect, and we're curious what you think of it. Give us a review or shout out online, tell us how we're doing and we'd love to hear your feedback on this particular episode or Ripple Effect in general.


Podcast

Mike Barnes: Overcoming Common Challenges of 2020

Podcast

Mike Barnes: Overcoming Common Challenges of 2020

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Chris Byers: Welcome to Ripple Effect, I am Chris Byers with Formstack. Today, we are featuring Mike Barnes, the director of Salesforce.com Administration for GOLFNOW.

For any of us familiar with the golf industry, many things come to mind. Beautiful scenery, afternoons outside the office, comfortable accommodations and time spent just kind of enjoying the game. What you don't often think about is technology. And Mike's going to share with us today how GOLFNOW is reimagining the golf experience for avid players around the world.

Mike, welcome to the show. Before we get started, first, if you could just kick start with a snapshot of what GOLFNOW does.

Mike Barnes: Sure. So golf now is the worldwide online way to book rounds for golf. So you want to play somewhere just like about anything else you're going to be looking for these days for shopping, usually online is the way to go. So GOLFNOW is your marketplace. This is your one stop shop for golf or booking rounds of golf anywhere in the world.

Chris Byers: As you've kind of taken a look at this year. I'm curious, what are some unique challenges that your customers, even who are trying to book online, have experienced because of just all that's going on this year?

Mike Barnes: So, you know, the booking experiences become more critical with, you know, COVID-19 and the lockdowns that have occurred. Many courses were shut down, as were most businesses, for a good amount of time in the spring. And when they were able to reopen, fortunately, golf was able to reopen, was one of the earlier things you could do, simply because it is a naturally socially distanced event. And one of the challenges with the booking side of things has been when you arrive at the golf course, typically have to go in the pro shop and pay for your round. And there's interaction. You're indoors and with GOLFNOW we have the option that you can book online and prepay for your round. So many courses have opted in with us to allow for prepaid rounds.

Just something that has blown up for our business has gone really big because the courses realize they want to limit interactions, you know, face to face interactions with the golfers if they can avoid it. And with our payments products, we can offer that to the golf courses so that they can offer that in turn to the golfers that are booking with them.

Chris Byers: What do you think you've done differently than other organizations, maybe like you, that are kind of more innovative and have helped people be more successful right now?

Mike Barnes: Our audience is a golfer, you know, they're the ones that we're trying to get out to book some rounds and get out and play. However, the customer who we are servicing is the golf course, and we provide backend technology that helps the course operate their business. So you can think of golf now, sort of as like the open table of golf. We provide the backend technology to help operate the pro shop and also the front end technology for people to connect with that golf course. So we're providing both aspects of the experience so that we can provide a seamless experience. So folks are booking their rounds online. It automatically shows on the electronic tee sheet the golf course. And that way we also provide other technology that helps the course run their business, whether it's food and beverage as part of their operation, if they have memberships, there's a number of different ways that we provide different pieces of technology to help different golf courses, depending on how their golf course is structured.

Chris Byers: We're all thinking about how do we reimagine the work kind of world around us because of so many of the changes that we're experiencing. As you kind of step back and think about 2020, about 2021 in the future, what do you think it means to reimagine work, especially for golf clubs?

Mike Barnes: So, I mean, I can say that, you know, golf clubs, they're learning how to service their customer and maintain the necessary distance that's required. Now, to do that, we have some really innovative tools that have come out, including our the G1 tool. So G1 basically allows you to show up at the golf course. The starter can check you in via iPad. So the intent is to avoid having to go into the clubhouse, but know that there's some inherent risk to the golf course that they don't come in the clubhouse. They're not going to maybe pick up some golf balls or view the merchandise. But with the G1, there's the opportunity to sell directly from the iPad as well. Hey, it looks like, you know, you needed golf balls last time you were here. Do you need another sleeve? Sure. Yeah. So they can place orders, get things they need directly from the iPad with the you know, with limited interaction. Same with somebody servicing the golf course, driving around on a golf cart, selling beverages and such, out on the golf course. Same kind of experience where they have the iPad and with knowledge of the customer that they're interacting with, they can identify, OK, this looks like you know, you generally get this kind of beverage or are you ready for another? Are you ready for a hot dog? You know, whatever it is that you need, they can serve it, help provide a higher level of touch and service to the golfer who's out on the course having that capability as well as be able to do it with, again, limited interaction. Those tools are really helping drive better experience for the golfer and for the golf course itself.

Chris Byers: And what would you say for yourself? How are you thinking about kind of your own work change and how this impacts your day to day?

Mike Barnes: So, yeah, for me, it's been a different world. Right. So where we all at GOLFNOW are currently working from home. We have been since March. We did a trial in mid-March and never came home from the trial. So it was like a Thursday, Friday trial. And we were told by the afternoon on Friday, we're going to go ahead and just keep this going because they determined everybody could effectively work from home. We have Microsoft teams, among other Microsoft products. So with teams we are able to communicate pretty effectively. I usually see some people more face to face now than I did before because our offices, you know, are a bit big. And sometimes it takes a lot of time to get up and walk from building to building or from place to place. So it's a little more efficient, you know, to be here and pop people on teams instantly instead of having to walk across the way or hop on the phone when I may not see them face to face. So it's been a different experience. I wasn't sure if I would enjoy working from home, frankly, but after doing it now for the last number of months, and I really do enjoy it, I really find that I'm a bit more efficient. I'm able to get more done. And I'm also a little healthier myself getting up in the morning, getting out of the house a little bit, where normally I'd be getting up, getting ready and getting in the car for a commute. So the time that I would spend commuting has now been replaced with exercise, which I really appreciate that, and I hope other folks are able to get the same out of it.

Chris Byers: Yeah, you know, there's something for me about I used to travel quite a bit more. And I think just the consistency of being at home most of the time has actually allowed me to eat a lot better. So I agree. It's been a unique benefit, at least in my life. So give us a sense of what is a day in your role look like? Give us a glimpse into it.

Mike Barnes: Sure. So we have a somewhat structured system where we use Salesforce to manage all of the requests that come to us. We'd run weekly sprints. We try to keep a reasonable amount of work each week. And then we also have day to day support. So right now it's just me and one other full time admin that do Salesforce, you know, primary Salesforce administration every day. And we have 700 plus users. So quite a few users for very few admins. But we're able to do that because I think we have a good process. We also have a great team lead. So what we've realized we had to do because we're interfacing with numerous departments, at least a dozen different departments just within GOLFNOW. Right. You have a marketing team. You have a sales team. We have a technology team. We have a bunch of different teams that all have different needs from us. We've set up a team lead within each of those departments that we meet, at least weekly, to discuss what's in the next week's sprint. Here's what we've done this week for you. Here's what's coming up in next week's sprint, if we need to make some adjustments. Hey, this is a real high priority item that we shift things around.

We do that every week. That's part of the weekly process and otherwise the day is, you know, get up, check, see what's, you know, the obligatory email and teams chats. Got to try to keep those in check. But I try to only check those two or three times a day at most. Otherwise, I am, you know, occasionally in meetings. But I try to keep the meetings focused on the cases that I have in the queue and then it really works. Just working through the cases in the que, calling people if I have questions, continue to develop Salesforce, develop workflow. We use a heavy amount of workflow at GOLFNOW just to keep everything straight. So there's a number of different technology and tools we use. And so I have to support all that. So every day there's, you know, there could be nominal things, some bugs, self created bugs or issues that are things aren't working the way they are intended for specific use case and such. I spend half my week really supporting and fixing issues and we're looking to make things more stable long term. And the other part is, you know, building new features that folks are requesting to help them be more efficient with what they're doing.

Chris Byers: One of the interesting things you mentioned was 700 users. And so when I think about it, well, people often think about change with kind of this negative feeling. And I know that when you need to make a change, it's going to impact a lot of people. I'm curious, how do you go about approaching change and making that feel like a positive thing for the users around you?

Mike Barnes: Well, I mean, the good news about the culture at GOLFNOW is they are definitely not afraid of change. We are constantly going through it. It's never ending. But it's always considered to be positive because it's moving the business forward. So we've had a number of acquisitions over the years to expand our business. There's been some, of course, internal development, but there's also been acquiring of outside business. So seven and a half years ago, I got to GOLFNOW and I thought this is a pretty simple business. We're just posting tee times online and we have a sales team that's out trying to recruit golf courses to post their tee times online. That was the scope of the business; the businesses that has since expanded quite a bit. And one of the first things we did was acquire two tee sheet companies because we knew we wanted to get into the tee sheet business. So one was the BRS Golf out of Belfast, Northern Ireland, and the other was for reservations out of Chicago.

They're now fully integrated part of GOLFNOW, that was one of the first projects, first two parallel projects I was put on to get them embedded into our Salesforce processes to bring them in so that the changes continued where we've internally we built Golf Advisor. We were collecting all kinds of ratings and reviews for golf courses through GOLFNOW.com. When you booked your round or finished your round, you got a request to tell us what you thought about your experience. We realized we had aggregated the largest number of rating reviews on golf courses anywhere, so we've spun that up into Golf Advisor. So that's now it's own product where we continue to provide the most rating reviews on golf courses anywhere in the world.

So we've also, you know, more recently acquired These Links Golf, which is also out of Chicago and they are helping us expand our business, our footprint. But it also requires a lot of work on the team internally to integrate the businesses and such. Change has been constant, there's always been something new every year, there's always something new that's changing how we think about the business or some new technology that we want to get out and promote and sell to help improve the experience for golfers. And so that has definitely kept us on our toes. The latest thing is smart play. So smart play is going to be a new way, a new technology for helping golfers get the most out of their game. It's a really new feature, again, new tool built internally inside of GOLFNOW. And it's going to help, I think, change our business for the better. Change has not been something that's been scary at GOLFNOW, it's something that we've embraced. And that's the reason, frankly, the reason I'm working here, because there's always something new and exciting to learn and new problems to solve. And it's not a stale business by any means.

Chris Byers: So I would love to hear how you would suggest how you would think, you know, encourage people to think about building their low-code, no-code toolboxes.

Mike Barnes: Absolutely. So I'm not a trained developer. I've had some development courses in college, but I started out as an electrical engineer. And so I worked as an electrical engineer, I did machine control and automation. So I worked with low-code tools from the time I was an intern in college. As my career evolved and I ended up here and doing Salesforce.com now for a living, I realized it's the same kind of logic, the same kind of thought process, automation, logic that you as an engineer have to think through. How are we going to get from these inputs to these outputs? And there's the stuff in the middle that nobody really understands and it can be done with code.

There's definitely a lot of great developers out there who build some pretty amazing tools, including developers on the GOLFNOW staff who are building out the tools within GOLFNOW because they're novel tools. They are custom and they're proprietary. So they're being developed line by line code. When it comes to operating a business, though, there are plenty of tools out there that are already built and there's plenty of commonalities between businesses that you can use similar tools across many different businesses. There's all kinds of workflow, automation, things you can do that do not have to write apex code to get done. In fact, I've kind of made it a point from the time I got into using Salesforce is that I wanted to avoid code wherever possible. There are some cases you can't avoid it. There are places where we have to do API integrations, things that do require some custom APACS. But those are the exception for us.

The rule is we're using process builder, using flow, we're using Formstack for forms instead of writing our own HTML, we're using a squid for the front instead of writing ora components inside Salesforce. So I recommend just identifying the tools that you need that will work for you. There's plenty of tools out there across many different platforms that integrate with Salesforce. And then there, of course, are things outside of Salesforce as well that you can look at. I found that a group of tools that work really well for me and meet my needs. The answer I want to be able to give to my team is yes when they say, hey, can we do this? You know, early in my Salesforce career, I was like, well, Salesforce doesn't really do that. Or, you know, the answer was typically sure we can do that, but can require custom code. And here's what that's probably going to cost to get that built. Now, the answer is typically, yes, I have a tool for that and I can do it and I can do it for you pretty quickly. We can get that done. I'm not going to have to recruit an external developer. I can think through the process and build it with the low-code declarative tools that are available to me now.

Chris Byers: If you have those low-code no no-code tools, it kind of presumes that you've actually got a problem that you want to solve. How is it you go about discovering, you know, it's time to actually change a process and then what's the first step you need to take?

Mike Barnes: Our team is constantly coming up with new ways they want to run the business, whether it's information they need to gather or it's how we want to interact with our customers. That's typically the basis, right? We have something we want to sell. There's something we want to be able to do for our customers that we don't really have the tools to do now. So for my perspective, you know, I'm helping advise what we can get done. But we have a bunch of brilliant people who are coming in and saying all the time, here's what I need to be able to deliver to our customers. And that's where it ultimately all funnels down to having the focus on the customer that, hey, we want to make sure we're delivering to them ultimately the best service that we can deliver.

So we meet at least once a week and more often if there's a special project or something that's happening and we identify, OK, well, here's what we want to be able to deliver the customer. Here's what we want to do. What do we need to get there? So we work our way back to the technology. It's not hey, here's a cool, fancy piece of technology we can deploy. Let's see how we can fit this in. That's usually not the process that we're taking. It's usually let's identify the problem. Let's figure out what tools we might need to solve the problem. And then we back our way into the technology that's going to help us get there the most efficient way possible. Typically, low-code tools for me have been the most efficient way there simply because the time to development is so much faster. And it doesn't require getting external expertise. It doesn't require me pulling your valuable GOLFNOW developers into Salesforce projects, because better for them to be out developing GOLFNOW, developing the proprietary technology. And let me handle the business technology in a low-code way where I can.

Chris Byers: So you mentioned in that conversation there, this idea of customers. So even internally, you have customers at times and sometimes you're focused on the external customer. What does it mean to have kind of a client first mindset?

Mike Barnes: Well, I mean, I'm trying to make everybody as efficient as possible, remove the barriers to them getting what they need to get done. So whether that's going to be the golfer trying to book a round or our partner trying to sign a sales contract or our finance team trying to make sure invoices get sent out properly, I'm trying to remove barriers to them getting their work done, what they need to get done. Because if I can do that, if I can remove those barriers, then I can make everybody happier because, hey, I don't have these roadblocks in the way. I don't have these delays. I'm able to move right through to get done what I need to get done. So whether it's, as you mentioned, another internal customer who has a request for us or it's next for our customer, I'm always focused on what can I do to make their life easier. And generally what makes their life easier makes my life more complicated. But I'm OK with that because that's my job. I solve puzzles, I solve problems. And if they can present me a cool problem, I'm happy to go figure out what's going to make it work for them.

Chris Byers: Yeah, I actually appreciate that idea that for some of those who are actually building the solution, it isn't always an easier life. You may be helping people save a lot of time, which of course is saving the organization money, but it's something you have to support and you have to to be involved in. Absolutely. I'm curious, what do you think it means really, to modernize your customers kind of workplace there, to help them rethink their work? How do you think you helped them do that?

Mike Barnes: Well, you know, I try to get them to tell me what they actually need. That's probably the hardest part, I think, with being in the position of mine is getting people to actually tell you when they have a problem instead of working around it. One of the nicknames I got early on was Spreadsheet Killer because people were just living off spreadsheets because they had been living on spreadsheets forever. And they could own the spreadsheet and they knew how the spreadsheet worked. Of course, there's a lot of inherent flaws with living on spreadsheets, which can get stale and get static. Different people own different versions of it and it gets bad. So that's just, again, an example of how some folks work and trying to get them to tell me, hey, what are you doing now that we can make better? And sometimes they don't see the problem. They don't see that their spreadsheet is really not the most efficient way to get done what you've done. But eventually those all come to light. Right. It's hey, I want to get reporting on what's happening over here. Well, that's being done on so and so spreadsheet. Well get them out of there. I've got to get that data into that to get into Salesforce. Let's give them a process in Salesforce that will work, so that they can then own the data there instead of own it on the spreadsheet.

The second problem that we have is less frequent, but occasionally folks want to come in and provide the design to us, OK, I want this object with this field and this workflow and it's like, well, no, hold on, let's back up. Tell me, what is the problem you're trying to solve? Like, what issue are you having and what is the outcome you want to achieve? So asking those questions and backing people off of the design side of things said, let me let me handle the design. I'm happy to include you in the design and I'm happy to have you provide input is what you think might work best. You're operating the business. You tell me what problem you have and what outcome you'd like to achieve. Once I figure out those things, I whiteboard. That's one thing I do miss about being in the office is, you know, I have my big whiteboard and be able to, you know, draw a bunch of things out with people in the office and kind of come up and imagine the solution there. I can get up and talk about it, that usually sometimes clears my head a little bit to think through the potential issues. But just be able to do those sort of things. I need to find a way to do that better from home. I will jot things and draw things out on paper and pen just because I have to visualize it quite often before I can build. But the trick is, you know, identifying the problem, figuring out what the endpoint the person wants and then figure out what you need to build in the middle that's going to get them there.

Chris Byers: Will tell us how you take that example of the whiteboard, what are the ways you're reimagining, how to get that solved kind of going forward, that whiteboarding experience, that design experience.

Mike Barnes: Oh, gosh. Well. Like I said, I'm still drawing on my piece of paper and with pen, obviously it's kind of funny for a technology kind of person to live off pen and paper, but I guess that may say more about my generation and age. But, yeah, definitely need to use the tools I have available in teams and whatnot to maybe if I need a different tool, find a different tool. That's probably something I need to figure out now as well. What tools are available to me that I can then, you know, draw things out on the screen with other people, you know, able to see it as opposed to my pen and paper, which is just, you know, just for me. So that's definitely something, one of the things on the roadmap as this staying home here seems to be interminable, I don't see any end coming to it anytime soon. For us being a technology business, we're very fortunate that we don't have to, there's no absolute need to be in an office environment. So we're very, very fortunate in this current state of the world to have that option to be able to be home.

At the same time, it does pose some challenges where before we could all get in a conference room, whiteboard things out, and we were just used to that, you know, being the way we could get things done. I could snap some pictures with my phone of the whiteboard, then leave the meeting and I'd have everything I needed. So being able to whiteboard those things out. That's definitely a problem I need to figure out how am I going to solve.

Chris Byers: So I'm sure many people who are listening or saying, wow, sounds like GOLFNOW is fairly well resourced for building solutions to lots of problems internally. Building workflows, have the tools, have the team. For those who are kind of feeling a bit overwhelmed right now and saying man, I really want to kind of jump into this. What do you think the first step is they need to think about and just saying, just put something in place and just begin that process. What are some things that come to mind?

Mike Barnes: Well, yeah, if I was going to get started if I was in a business that didn't have Salesforce, I definitely would look at it very closely. I launched Salesforce at the company I was with prior to my current company about 10 years ago. And that was really my first taste of it. I'd heard of Salesforce, you know, in passing prior to that. But we needed at that time, the prior company needed a new CRM, the CRM we had was basically no better than a glorified electronic Rolodex. And we needed something a little better than that. So we tried some other solutions that I won't mention here. But Salesforce we just found was the best solution that we could find on the market. And it met all the needs that we wanted at the time and all the needs we couldn't possibly have anticipated in the future.

The next thing is to take full advantage of the tools you have within Salesforce.com itself. So there's so much automation you can do. Again, when I got here at GOLFNOW, there was very little automation done. They were using Salesforce to track activity, to track meetings and phone calls, and that was about it. They did have some opportunities. They did a little bit with that and they did some other things. But there was practically no automation in place. It was very, very light what was in place. So I came in. I was initially the lone Salesforce admin, of course the business was a bit smaller back then, fewer users. But we went through and just found out, hey, where are the pain points? And that's again, if you're looking for something to solve first in your business, figure out where the pain points are. You probably know where they are. If you're not using Salesforce, or you're not using it well, you probably already know these are things that are always a problem. Go solve those first. Let's get you know, get underneath those pain points, identify what everyone does not like about how their business works right now and find a way to solve it with automation.

One of the examples is we had it early on in the current board, we were tracking everything and we still track a lot of things by market. We kind of divide the world up into specific markets. And one of the challenges was we had a market on the account and then they had to set a market on the opportunity and there was a market on other objects as well in Salesforce. So you ended up with tracking the same information, multiple places, but every opportunity had an account relationship. So, I mean, it sounds pretty simple. It sounds pretty basic. And it was. It was just a formula to say, hey, just pull the market from the account into the opportunity. I mean, doing something simple like that just so that, hey, our markets don't align between our count report and our opportunity report. Well, because you're putting the information in three different times. So three different people are potentially putting three different pieces of information. Trying to get data cleanliness is probably one of the most challenging things in any CRM. Just trying to keep your data clean. So the fewer touch points you have with any particular piece of data, definitely the better. Very, very early, probably the first week thing that I did, I realized this is a real problem. Let's solve that and just keep finding the pain points and keep running them down and and solve one thing at a time. It's the old elephant adage, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. So don't look at this whole mess and be like, oh, man, we're never going to solve this thing. Find out, here's one little point that if we could solve that would give us the biggest win. Find the low hanging fruit. That's the easy stuff. I mean, I'm at the point where we've kind of picked all the low hanging fruits. So now I'm solving much more complex, larger problems. And I frankly, I find it more interesting and much more fun to solve the larger problems than the low hanging fruit. But the low hanging fruit is easy and a great way to get started.

Chris Byers: Well, as we kind of wrap up today, a couple of quick questions that I think people will appreciate. First is, what's your one piece of advice for embracing simplicity in business processes?

Mike Barnes: Oh, goodness. So definitely have a plan. I mean, this is something that didn't come to me all at once, but over time, do a lot of research in your field. So for Salesforce, search the Salesforce ideas, search the Salesforce message posts because a lot of folks are already asking the questions that you're asking. And so one of the best things I think I found is just keeping a consistent format and also use a lot of notes. I wish I'd done this earlier than I did early on. You have a description field in Salesforce on everything. You have descriptions, put in notes. That's more of a developer best practice that I've learned more recently that, you know, a developer when you see a line of code, you'll see a lot of commented text. Right. It's commented out of the code, but it's there for your reference and using that so that when you come back seven years later and you're looking at why do we have this in place, you can answer your own question.

And one of the ways we're doing that, again, help keep things simple is we track all of our activity, all the things, all the requests that we're getting. We track through cases already. So to make things simple, so I'm not having to regurgitate what I was asked to do. I simply put a case reference in the description. So if I ever have to go back to something, I have a reference ID, I can just go then look up that case. I can say, OK, well, here's exactly why I built it. Here's all the chatter about what happened. I don't have to get crazy wordy with description notes. I mean, we already again, the same objective of not duplicating the same information multiple places in Salesforce, we try to live up to that also with how we track our notes with things we're building. Hey, we were doing everything based on a case. Let's just reference the case and let's keep all the notes in one place in the case itself. So that's the advice I wish I had gotten seven, 10 years ago would be to do what I'm doing now, which we only learned over time. First, make sure to handle everything out of cases, try to avoid handling things out of email and teams chats. I mean, those things do happen. But we generally if it's not a quick, quick win or immediate problem, that's, you know, shutting people down, we try to divert them back into case and get it cued up in an orderly fashion, as opposed to just constantly taking all the noise from both sides or from all sides. Which can to happen. So again, that's why the second piece of advice is make sure you're using some process to to route everything in. As long as you have something that you're tracking the requests and that you can then work from, that will help you keep things organized. That's been one of my biggest pieces of advice. Stay organized, keep it simple, and go from there.

Chris Byers: And last question. Can you share your go to productivity tip?

Mike Barnes: Oh, goodness. Go to productivity tip. So, trying to think of from my personal standpoint, it's I mean, especially working from home, it's easy to get distracted. And, you know, there's plenty of other things going on. My wife thinks because I'm here, if I'm not on a phone call, I must be available. So trying to you know, if you have the capability to separate yourself, have a separate room and also stay to a schedule. So we've been pretty good. Every day we get up, we try to get out of bed by seven o'clock, try to get out and ride our bikes or go for a walk, spend a half hour, just, you know, getting the blood pumping. And I think there's been nothing better I could have done for myself than to do that and have that kind of morning routine, then come back, get cleaned up and then get to work. So it's just having a standard routine has really helped me to stay focused. So when I'm at work, I'm at work. And then, you know, then the hardest part, I think, for me is just cutting it off at the end of the day, because, I mean, dinner time, you know, usually comes and I'll try to make that the end. OK, it's time for dinner. So we're going to cut things off for today and move on to the family part portion of the evening. So that's definitely been a challenge. Just stay productive by focusing that, hey, this is my work time.

Chris Byers: Yeah, I think that speaks to a lot of what what we all need. It starts with personal productivity and getting the right energy for the work that we've got ahead. So I love that. Well, Mike, thanks for joining us today. It's been a great conversation and appreciate you joining us on Ripple Effect.

As we kind of wrap this episode up featuring Mike Barnes, there are a couple of takeaways to highlight. First is have a client first mindset and dive into problems to really understand for your customers what is their problem and what is the outcome that they're looking for. Build that no-code toolset. It's the way that you're going to help kind of remove barriers and help people save time in their work and make their lives easier. And then build relationships. That's the way that you can really understand and source where are other problems that I need to solve. How can we actually get those taken care of?

Thanks so much for joining us today. It's been a great conversation here on Ripple Effect, and we're curious what you think of it. Give us a review or shout out online, tell us how we're doing and we'd love to hear your feedback on this particular episode or Ripple Effect in general.


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Mike Barnes: Overcoming Common Challenges of 2020

From the challenges of working remotely to adapting to contactless service, Mike Barnes of GOLFNOW discusses how to overcome problems we all have faced in 2020.
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Chris Byers: Welcome to Ripple Effect, I am Chris Byers with Formstack. Today, we are featuring Mike Barnes, the director of Salesforce.com Administration for GOLFNOW.

For any of us familiar with the golf industry, many things come to mind. Beautiful scenery, afternoons outside the office, comfortable accommodations and time spent just kind of enjoying the game. What you don't often think about is technology. And Mike's going to share with us today how GOLFNOW is reimagining the golf experience for avid players around the world.

Mike, welcome to the show. Before we get started, first, if you could just kick start with a snapshot of what GOLFNOW does.

Mike Barnes: Sure. So golf now is the worldwide online way to book rounds for golf. So you want to play somewhere just like about anything else you're going to be looking for these days for shopping, usually online is the way to go. So GOLFNOW is your marketplace. This is your one stop shop for golf or booking rounds of golf anywhere in the world.

Chris Byers: As you've kind of taken a look at this year. I'm curious, what are some unique challenges that your customers, even who are trying to book online, have experienced because of just all that's going on this year?

Mike Barnes: So, you know, the booking experiences become more critical with, you know, COVID-19 and the lockdowns that have occurred. Many courses were shut down, as were most businesses, for a good amount of time in the spring. And when they were able to reopen, fortunately, golf was able to reopen, was one of the earlier things you could do, simply because it is a naturally socially distanced event. And one of the challenges with the booking side of things has been when you arrive at the golf course, typically have to go in the pro shop and pay for your round. And there's interaction. You're indoors and with GOLFNOW we have the option that you can book online and prepay for your round. So many courses have opted in with us to allow for prepaid rounds.

Just something that has blown up for our business has gone really big because the courses realize they want to limit interactions, you know, face to face interactions with the golfers if they can avoid it. And with our payments products, we can offer that to the golf courses so that they can offer that in turn to the golfers that are booking with them.

Chris Byers: What do you think you've done differently than other organizations, maybe like you, that are kind of more innovative and have helped people be more successful right now?

Mike Barnes: Our audience is a golfer, you know, they're the ones that we're trying to get out to book some rounds and get out and play. However, the customer who we are servicing is the golf course, and we provide backend technology that helps the course operate their business. So you can think of golf now, sort of as like the open table of golf. We provide the backend technology to help operate the pro shop and also the front end technology for people to connect with that golf course. So we're providing both aspects of the experience so that we can provide a seamless experience. So folks are booking their rounds online. It automatically shows on the electronic tee sheet the golf course. And that way we also provide other technology that helps the course run their business, whether it's food and beverage as part of their operation, if they have memberships, there's a number of different ways that we provide different pieces of technology to help different golf courses, depending on how their golf course is structured.

Chris Byers: We're all thinking about how do we reimagine the work kind of world around us because of so many of the changes that we're experiencing. As you kind of step back and think about 2020, about 2021 in the future, what do you think it means to reimagine work, especially for golf clubs?

Mike Barnes: So, I mean, I can say that, you know, golf clubs, they're learning how to service their customer and maintain the necessary distance that's required. Now, to do that, we have some really innovative tools that have come out, including our the G1 tool. So G1 basically allows you to show up at the golf course. The starter can check you in via iPad. So the intent is to avoid having to go into the clubhouse, but know that there's some inherent risk to the golf course that they don't come in the clubhouse. They're not going to maybe pick up some golf balls or view the merchandise. But with the G1, there's the opportunity to sell directly from the iPad as well. Hey, it looks like, you know, you needed golf balls last time you were here. Do you need another sleeve? Sure. Yeah. So they can place orders, get things they need directly from the iPad with the you know, with limited interaction. Same with somebody servicing the golf course, driving around on a golf cart, selling beverages and such, out on the golf course. Same kind of experience where they have the iPad and with knowledge of the customer that they're interacting with, they can identify, OK, this looks like you know, you generally get this kind of beverage or are you ready for another? Are you ready for a hot dog? You know, whatever it is that you need, they can serve it, help provide a higher level of touch and service to the golfer who's out on the course having that capability as well as be able to do it with, again, limited interaction. Those tools are really helping drive better experience for the golfer and for the golf course itself.

Chris Byers: And what would you say for yourself? How are you thinking about kind of your own work change and how this impacts your day to day?

Mike Barnes: So, yeah, for me, it's been a different world. Right. So where we all at GOLFNOW are currently working from home. We have been since March. We did a trial in mid-March and never came home from the trial. So it was like a Thursday, Friday trial. And we were told by the afternoon on Friday, we're going to go ahead and just keep this going because they determined everybody could effectively work from home. We have Microsoft teams, among other Microsoft products. So with teams we are able to communicate pretty effectively. I usually see some people more face to face now than I did before because our offices, you know, are a bit big. And sometimes it takes a lot of time to get up and walk from building to building or from place to place. So it's a little more efficient, you know, to be here and pop people on teams instantly instead of having to walk across the way or hop on the phone when I may not see them face to face. So it's been a different experience. I wasn't sure if I would enjoy working from home, frankly, but after doing it now for the last number of months, and I really do enjoy it, I really find that I'm a bit more efficient. I'm able to get more done. And I'm also a little healthier myself getting up in the morning, getting out of the house a little bit, where normally I'd be getting up, getting ready and getting in the car for a commute. So the time that I would spend commuting has now been replaced with exercise, which I really appreciate that, and I hope other folks are able to get the same out of it.

Chris Byers: Yeah, you know, there's something for me about I used to travel quite a bit more. And I think just the consistency of being at home most of the time has actually allowed me to eat a lot better. So I agree. It's been a unique benefit, at least in my life. So give us a sense of what is a day in your role look like? Give us a glimpse into it.

Mike Barnes: Sure. So we have a somewhat structured system where we use Salesforce to manage all of the requests that come to us. We'd run weekly sprints. We try to keep a reasonable amount of work each week. And then we also have day to day support. So right now it's just me and one other full time admin that do Salesforce, you know, primary Salesforce administration every day. And we have 700 plus users. So quite a few users for very few admins. But we're able to do that because I think we have a good process. We also have a great team lead. So what we've realized we had to do because we're interfacing with numerous departments, at least a dozen different departments just within GOLFNOW. Right. You have a marketing team. You have a sales team. We have a technology team. We have a bunch of different teams that all have different needs from us. We've set up a team lead within each of those departments that we meet, at least weekly, to discuss what's in the next week's sprint. Here's what we've done this week for you. Here's what's coming up in next week's sprint, if we need to make some adjustments. Hey, this is a real high priority item that we shift things around.

We do that every week. That's part of the weekly process and otherwise the day is, you know, get up, check, see what's, you know, the obligatory email and teams chats. Got to try to keep those in check. But I try to only check those two or three times a day at most. Otherwise, I am, you know, occasionally in meetings. But I try to keep the meetings focused on the cases that I have in the queue and then it really works. Just working through the cases in the que, calling people if I have questions, continue to develop Salesforce, develop workflow. We use a heavy amount of workflow at GOLFNOW just to keep everything straight. So there's a number of different technology and tools we use. And so I have to support all that. So every day there's, you know, there could be nominal things, some bugs, self created bugs or issues that are things aren't working the way they are intended for specific use case and such. I spend half my week really supporting and fixing issues and we're looking to make things more stable long term. And the other part is, you know, building new features that folks are requesting to help them be more efficient with what they're doing.

Chris Byers: One of the interesting things you mentioned was 700 users. And so when I think about it, well, people often think about change with kind of this negative feeling. And I know that when you need to make a change, it's going to impact a lot of people. I'm curious, how do you go about approaching change and making that feel like a positive thing for the users around you?

Mike Barnes: Well, I mean, the good news about the culture at GOLFNOW is they are definitely not afraid of change. We are constantly going through it. It's never ending. But it's always considered to be positive because it's moving the business forward. So we've had a number of acquisitions over the years to expand our business. There's been some, of course, internal development, but there's also been acquiring of outside business. So seven and a half years ago, I got to GOLFNOW and I thought this is a pretty simple business. We're just posting tee times online and we have a sales team that's out trying to recruit golf courses to post their tee times online. That was the scope of the business; the businesses that has since expanded quite a bit. And one of the first things we did was acquire two tee sheet companies because we knew we wanted to get into the tee sheet business. So one was the BRS Golf out of Belfast, Northern Ireland, and the other was for reservations out of Chicago.

They're now fully integrated part of GOLFNOW, that was one of the first projects, first two parallel projects I was put on to get them embedded into our Salesforce processes to bring them in so that the changes continued where we've internally we built Golf Advisor. We were collecting all kinds of ratings and reviews for golf courses through GOLFNOW.com. When you booked your round or finished your round, you got a request to tell us what you thought about your experience. We realized we had aggregated the largest number of rating reviews on golf courses anywhere, so we've spun that up into Golf Advisor. So that's now it's own product where we continue to provide the most rating reviews on golf courses anywhere in the world.

So we've also, you know, more recently acquired These Links Golf, which is also out of Chicago and they are helping us expand our business, our footprint. But it also requires a lot of work on the team internally to integrate the businesses and such. Change has been constant, there's always been something new every year, there's always something new that's changing how we think about the business or some new technology that we want to get out and promote and sell to help improve the experience for golfers. And so that has definitely kept us on our toes. The latest thing is smart play. So smart play is going to be a new way, a new technology for helping golfers get the most out of their game. It's a really new feature, again, new tool built internally inside of GOLFNOW. And it's going to help, I think, change our business for the better. Change has not been something that's been scary at GOLFNOW, it's something that we've embraced. And that's the reason, frankly, the reason I'm working here, because there's always something new and exciting to learn and new problems to solve. And it's not a stale business by any means.

Chris Byers: So I would love to hear how you would suggest how you would think, you know, encourage people to think about building their low-code, no-code toolboxes.

Mike Barnes: Absolutely. So I'm not a trained developer. I've had some development courses in college, but I started out as an electrical engineer. And so I worked as an electrical engineer, I did machine control and automation. So I worked with low-code tools from the time I was an intern in college. As my career evolved and I ended up here and doing Salesforce.com now for a living, I realized it's the same kind of logic, the same kind of thought process, automation, logic that you as an engineer have to think through. How are we going to get from these inputs to these outputs? And there's the stuff in the middle that nobody really understands and it can be done with code.

There's definitely a lot of great developers out there who build some pretty amazing tools, including developers on the GOLFNOW staff who are building out the tools within GOLFNOW because they're novel tools. They are custom and they're proprietary. So they're being developed line by line code. When it comes to operating a business, though, there are plenty of tools out there that are already built and there's plenty of commonalities between businesses that you can use similar tools across many different businesses. There's all kinds of workflow, automation, things you can do that do not have to write apex code to get done. In fact, I've kind of made it a point from the time I got into using Salesforce is that I wanted to avoid code wherever possible. There are some cases you can't avoid it. There are places where we have to do API integrations, things that do require some custom APACS. But those are the exception for us.

The rule is we're using process builder, using flow, we're using Formstack for forms instead of writing our own HTML, we're using a squid for the front instead of writing ora components inside Salesforce. So I recommend just identifying the tools that you need that will work for you. There's plenty of tools out there across many different platforms that integrate with Salesforce. And then there, of course, are things outside of Salesforce as well that you can look at. I found that a group of tools that work really well for me and meet my needs. The answer I want to be able to give to my team is yes when they say, hey, can we do this? You know, early in my Salesforce career, I was like, well, Salesforce doesn't really do that. Or, you know, the answer was typically sure we can do that, but can require custom code. And here's what that's probably going to cost to get that built. Now, the answer is typically, yes, I have a tool for that and I can do it and I can do it for you pretty quickly. We can get that done. I'm not going to have to recruit an external developer. I can think through the process and build it with the low-code declarative tools that are available to me now.

Chris Byers: If you have those low-code no no-code tools, it kind of presumes that you've actually got a problem that you want to solve. How is it you go about discovering, you know, it's time to actually change a process and then what's the first step you need to take?

Mike Barnes: Our team is constantly coming up with new ways they want to run the business, whether it's information they need to gather or it's how we want to interact with our customers. That's typically the basis, right? We have something we want to sell. There's something we want to be able to do for our customers that we don't really have the tools to do now. So for my perspective, you know, I'm helping advise what we can get done. But we have a bunch of brilliant people who are coming in and saying all the time, here's what I need to be able to deliver to our customers. And that's where it ultimately all funnels down to having the focus on the customer that, hey, we want to make sure we're delivering to them ultimately the best service that we can deliver.

So we meet at least once a week and more often if there's a special project or something that's happening and we identify, OK, well, here's what we want to be able to deliver the customer. Here's what we want to do. What do we need to get there? So we work our way back to the technology. It's not hey, here's a cool, fancy piece of technology we can deploy. Let's see how we can fit this in. That's usually not the process that we're taking. It's usually let's identify the problem. Let's figure out what tools we might need to solve the problem. And then we back our way into the technology that's going to help us get there the most efficient way possible. Typically, low-code tools for me have been the most efficient way there simply because the time to development is so much faster. And it doesn't require getting external expertise. It doesn't require me pulling your valuable GOLFNOW developers into Salesforce projects, because better for them to be out developing GOLFNOW, developing the proprietary technology. And let me handle the business technology in a low-code way where I can.

Chris Byers: So you mentioned in that conversation there, this idea of customers. So even internally, you have customers at times and sometimes you're focused on the external customer. What does it mean to have kind of a client first mindset?

Mike Barnes: Well, I mean, I'm trying to make everybody as efficient as possible, remove the barriers to them getting what they need to get done. So whether that's going to be the golfer trying to book a round or our partner trying to sign a sales contract or our finance team trying to make sure invoices get sent out properly, I'm trying to remove barriers to them getting their work done, what they need to get done. Because if I can do that, if I can remove those barriers, then I can make everybody happier because, hey, I don't have these roadblocks in the way. I don't have these delays. I'm able to move right through to get done what I need to get done. So whether it's, as you mentioned, another internal customer who has a request for us or it's next for our customer, I'm always focused on what can I do to make their life easier. And generally what makes their life easier makes my life more complicated. But I'm OK with that because that's my job. I solve puzzles, I solve problems. And if they can present me a cool problem, I'm happy to go figure out what's going to make it work for them.

Chris Byers: Yeah, I actually appreciate that idea that for some of those who are actually building the solution, it isn't always an easier life. You may be helping people save a lot of time, which of course is saving the organization money, but it's something you have to support and you have to to be involved in. Absolutely. I'm curious, what do you think it means really, to modernize your customers kind of workplace there, to help them rethink their work? How do you think you helped them do that?

Mike Barnes: Well, you know, I try to get them to tell me what they actually need. That's probably the hardest part, I think, with being in the position of mine is getting people to actually tell you when they have a problem instead of working around it. One of the nicknames I got early on was Spreadsheet Killer because people were just living off spreadsheets because they had been living on spreadsheets forever. And they could own the spreadsheet and they knew how the spreadsheet worked. Of course, there's a lot of inherent flaws with living on spreadsheets, which can get stale and get static. Different people own different versions of it and it gets bad. So that's just, again, an example of how some folks work and trying to get them to tell me, hey, what are you doing now that we can make better? And sometimes they don't see the problem. They don't see that their spreadsheet is really not the most efficient way to get done what you've done. But eventually those all come to light. Right. It's hey, I want to get reporting on what's happening over here. Well, that's being done on so and so spreadsheet. Well get them out of there. I've got to get that data into that to get into Salesforce. Let's give them a process in Salesforce that will work, so that they can then own the data there instead of own it on the spreadsheet.

The second problem that we have is less frequent, but occasionally folks want to come in and provide the design to us, OK, I want this object with this field and this workflow and it's like, well, no, hold on, let's back up. Tell me, what is the problem you're trying to solve? Like, what issue are you having and what is the outcome you want to achieve? So asking those questions and backing people off of the design side of things said, let me let me handle the design. I'm happy to include you in the design and I'm happy to have you provide input is what you think might work best. You're operating the business. You tell me what problem you have and what outcome you'd like to achieve. Once I figure out those things, I whiteboard. That's one thing I do miss about being in the office is, you know, I have my big whiteboard and be able to, you know, draw a bunch of things out with people in the office and kind of come up and imagine the solution there. I can get up and talk about it, that usually sometimes clears my head a little bit to think through the potential issues. But just be able to do those sort of things. I need to find a way to do that better from home. I will jot things and draw things out on paper and pen just because I have to visualize it quite often before I can build. But the trick is, you know, identifying the problem, figuring out what the endpoint the person wants and then figure out what you need to build in the middle that's going to get them there.

Chris Byers: Will tell us how you take that example of the whiteboard, what are the ways you're reimagining, how to get that solved kind of going forward, that whiteboarding experience, that design experience.

Mike Barnes: Oh, gosh. Well. Like I said, I'm still drawing on my piece of paper and with pen, obviously it's kind of funny for a technology kind of person to live off pen and paper, but I guess that may say more about my generation and age. But, yeah, definitely need to use the tools I have available in teams and whatnot to maybe if I need a different tool, find a different tool. That's probably something I need to figure out now as well. What tools are available to me that I can then, you know, draw things out on the screen with other people, you know, able to see it as opposed to my pen and paper, which is just, you know, just for me. So that's definitely something, one of the things on the roadmap as this staying home here seems to be interminable, I don't see any end coming to it anytime soon. For us being a technology business, we're very fortunate that we don't have to, there's no absolute need to be in an office environment. So we're very, very fortunate in this current state of the world to have that option to be able to be home.

At the same time, it does pose some challenges where before we could all get in a conference room, whiteboard things out, and we were just used to that, you know, being the way we could get things done. I could snap some pictures with my phone of the whiteboard, then leave the meeting and I'd have everything I needed. So being able to whiteboard those things out. That's definitely a problem I need to figure out how am I going to solve.

Chris Byers: So I'm sure many people who are listening or saying, wow, sounds like GOLFNOW is fairly well resourced for building solutions to lots of problems internally. Building workflows, have the tools, have the team. For those who are kind of feeling a bit overwhelmed right now and saying man, I really want to kind of jump into this. What do you think the first step is they need to think about and just saying, just put something in place and just begin that process. What are some things that come to mind?

Mike Barnes: Well, yeah, if I was going to get started if I was in a business that didn't have Salesforce, I definitely would look at it very closely. I launched Salesforce at the company I was with prior to my current company about 10 years ago. And that was really my first taste of it. I'd heard of Salesforce, you know, in passing prior to that. But we needed at that time, the prior company needed a new CRM, the CRM we had was basically no better than a glorified electronic Rolodex. And we needed something a little better than that. So we tried some other solutions that I won't mention here. But Salesforce we just found was the best solution that we could find on the market. And it met all the needs that we wanted at the time and all the needs we couldn't possibly have anticipated in the future.

The next thing is to take full advantage of the tools you have within Salesforce.com itself. So there's so much automation you can do. Again, when I got here at GOLFNOW, there was very little automation done. They were using Salesforce to track activity, to track meetings and phone calls, and that was about it. They did have some opportunities. They did a little bit with that and they did some other things. But there was practically no automation in place. It was very, very light what was in place. So I came in. I was initially the lone Salesforce admin, of course the business was a bit smaller back then, fewer users. But we went through and just found out, hey, where are the pain points? And that's again, if you're looking for something to solve first in your business, figure out where the pain points are. You probably know where they are. If you're not using Salesforce, or you're not using it well, you probably already know these are things that are always a problem. Go solve those first. Let's get you know, get underneath those pain points, identify what everyone does not like about how their business works right now and find a way to solve it with automation.

One of the examples is we had it early on in the current board, we were tracking everything and we still track a lot of things by market. We kind of divide the world up into specific markets. And one of the challenges was we had a market on the account and then they had to set a market on the opportunity and there was a market on other objects as well in Salesforce. So you ended up with tracking the same information, multiple places, but every opportunity had an account relationship. So, I mean, it sounds pretty simple. It sounds pretty basic. And it was. It was just a formula to say, hey, just pull the market from the account into the opportunity. I mean, doing something simple like that just so that, hey, our markets don't align between our count report and our opportunity report. Well, because you're putting the information in three different times. So three different people are potentially putting three different pieces of information. Trying to get data cleanliness is probably one of the most challenging things in any CRM. Just trying to keep your data clean. So the fewer touch points you have with any particular piece of data, definitely the better. Very, very early, probably the first week thing that I did, I realized this is a real problem. Let's solve that and just keep finding the pain points and keep running them down and and solve one thing at a time. It's the old elephant adage, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. So don't look at this whole mess and be like, oh, man, we're never going to solve this thing. Find out, here's one little point that if we could solve that would give us the biggest win. Find the low hanging fruit. That's the easy stuff. I mean, I'm at the point where we've kind of picked all the low hanging fruits. So now I'm solving much more complex, larger problems. And I frankly, I find it more interesting and much more fun to solve the larger problems than the low hanging fruit. But the low hanging fruit is easy and a great way to get started.

Chris Byers: Well, as we kind of wrap up today, a couple of quick questions that I think people will appreciate. First is, what's your one piece of advice for embracing simplicity in business processes?

Mike Barnes: Oh, goodness. So definitely have a plan. I mean, this is something that didn't come to me all at once, but over time, do a lot of research in your field. So for Salesforce, search the Salesforce ideas, search the Salesforce message posts because a lot of folks are already asking the questions that you're asking. And so one of the best things I think I found is just keeping a consistent format and also use a lot of notes. I wish I'd done this earlier than I did early on. You have a description field in Salesforce on everything. You have descriptions, put in notes. That's more of a developer best practice that I've learned more recently that, you know, a developer when you see a line of code, you'll see a lot of commented text. Right. It's commented out of the code, but it's there for your reference and using that so that when you come back seven years later and you're looking at why do we have this in place, you can answer your own question.

And one of the ways we're doing that, again, help keep things simple is we track all of our activity, all the things, all the requests that we're getting. We track through cases already. So to make things simple, so I'm not having to regurgitate what I was asked to do. I simply put a case reference in the description. So if I ever have to go back to something, I have a reference ID, I can just go then look up that case. I can say, OK, well, here's exactly why I built it. Here's all the chatter about what happened. I don't have to get crazy wordy with description notes. I mean, we already again, the same objective of not duplicating the same information multiple places in Salesforce, we try to live up to that also with how we track our notes with things we're building. Hey, we were doing everything based on a case. Let's just reference the case and let's keep all the notes in one place in the case itself. So that's the advice I wish I had gotten seven, 10 years ago would be to do what I'm doing now, which we only learned over time. First, make sure to handle everything out of cases, try to avoid handling things out of email and teams chats. I mean, those things do happen. But we generally if it's not a quick, quick win or immediate problem, that's, you know, shutting people down, we try to divert them back into case and get it cued up in an orderly fashion, as opposed to just constantly taking all the noise from both sides or from all sides. Which can to happen. So again, that's why the second piece of advice is make sure you're using some process to to route everything in. As long as you have something that you're tracking the requests and that you can then work from, that will help you keep things organized. That's been one of my biggest pieces of advice. Stay organized, keep it simple, and go from there.

Chris Byers: And last question. Can you share your go to productivity tip?

Mike Barnes: Oh, goodness. Go to productivity tip. So, trying to think of from my personal standpoint, it's I mean, especially working from home, it's easy to get distracted. And, you know, there's plenty of other things going on. My wife thinks because I'm here, if I'm not on a phone call, I must be available. So trying to you know, if you have the capability to separate yourself, have a separate room and also stay to a schedule. So we've been pretty good. Every day we get up, we try to get out of bed by seven o'clock, try to get out and ride our bikes or go for a walk, spend a half hour, just, you know, getting the blood pumping. And I think there's been nothing better I could have done for myself than to do that and have that kind of morning routine, then come back, get cleaned up and then get to work. So it's just having a standard routine has really helped me to stay focused. So when I'm at work, I'm at work. And then, you know, then the hardest part, I think, for me is just cutting it off at the end of the day, because, I mean, dinner time, you know, usually comes and I'll try to make that the end. OK, it's time for dinner. So we're going to cut things off for today and move on to the family part portion of the evening. So that's definitely been a challenge. Just stay productive by focusing that, hey, this is my work time.

Chris Byers: Yeah, I think that speaks to a lot of what what we all need. It starts with personal productivity and getting the right energy for the work that we've got ahead. So I love that. Well, Mike, thanks for joining us today. It's been a great conversation and appreciate you joining us on Ripple Effect.

As we kind of wrap this episode up featuring Mike Barnes, there are a couple of takeaways to highlight. First is have a client first mindset and dive into problems to really understand for your customers what is their problem and what is the outcome that they're looking for. Build that no-code toolset. It's the way that you're going to help kind of remove barriers and help people save time in their work and make their lives easier. And then build relationships. That's the way that you can really understand and source where are other problems that I need to solve. How can we actually get those taken care of?

Thanks so much for joining us today. It's been a great conversation here on Ripple Effect, and we're curious what you think of it. Give us a review or shout out online, tell us how we're doing and we'd love to hear your feedback on this particular episode or Ripple Effect in general.


Chris Byers: Welcome to Ripple Effect, I am Chris Byers with Formstack. Today, we are featuring Mike Barnes, the director of Salesforce.com Administration for GOLFNOW.

For any of us familiar with the golf industry, many things come to mind. Beautiful scenery, afternoons outside the office, comfortable accommodations and time spent just kind of enjoying the game. What you don't often think about is technology. And Mike's going to share with us today how GOLFNOW is reimagining the golf experience for avid players around the world.

Mike, welcome to the show. Before we get started, first, if you could just kick start with a snapshot of what GOLFNOW does.

Mike Barnes: Sure. So golf now is the worldwide online way to book rounds for golf. So you want to play somewhere just like about anything else you're going to be looking for these days for shopping, usually online is the way to go. So GOLFNOW is your marketplace. This is your one stop shop for golf or booking rounds of golf anywhere in the world.

Chris Byers: As you've kind of taken a look at this year. I'm curious, what are some unique challenges that your customers, even who are trying to book online, have experienced because of just all that's going on this year?

Mike Barnes: So, you know, the booking experiences become more critical with, you know, COVID-19 and the lockdowns that have occurred. Many courses were shut down, as were most businesses, for a good amount of time in the spring. And when they were able to reopen, fortunately, golf was able to reopen, was one of the earlier things you could do, simply because it is a naturally socially distanced event. And one of the challenges with the booking side of things has been when you arrive at the golf course, typically have to go in the pro shop and pay for your round. And there's interaction. You're indoors and with GOLFNOW we have the option that you can book online and prepay for your round. So many courses have opted in with us to allow for prepaid rounds.

Just something that has blown up for our business has gone really big because the courses realize they want to limit interactions, you know, face to face interactions with the golfers if they can avoid it. And with our payments products, we can offer that to the golf courses so that they can offer that in turn to the golfers that are booking with them.

Chris Byers: What do you think you've done differently than other organizations, maybe like you, that are kind of more innovative and have helped people be more successful right now?

Mike Barnes: Our audience is a golfer, you know, they're the ones that we're trying to get out to book some rounds and get out and play. However, the customer who we are servicing is the golf course, and we provide backend technology that helps the course operate their business. So you can think of golf now, sort of as like the open table of golf. We provide the backend technology to help operate the pro shop and also the front end technology for people to connect with that golf course. So we're providing both aspects of the experience so that we can provide a seamless experience. So folks are booking their rounds online. It automatically shows on the electronic tee sheet the golf course. And that way we also provide other technology that helps the course run their business, whether it's food and beverage as part of their operation, if they have memberships, there's a number of different ways that we provide different pieces of technology to help different golf courses, depending on how their golf course is structured.

Chris Byers: We're all thinking about how do we reimagine the work kind of world around us because of so many of the changes that we're experiencing. As you kind of step back and think about 2020, about 2021 in the future, what do you think it means to reimagine work, especially for golf clubs?

Mike Barnes: So, I mean, I can say that, you know, golf clubs, they're learning how to service their customer and maintain the necessary distance that's required. Now, to do that, we have some really innovative tools that have come out, including our the G1 tool. So G1 basically allows you to show up at the golf course. The starter can check you in via iPad. So the intent is to avoid having to go into the clubhouse, but know that there's some inherent risk to the golf course that they don't come in the clubhouse. They're not going to maybe pick up some golf balls or view the merchandise. But with the G1, there's the opportunity to sell directly from the iPad as well. Hey, it looks like, you know, you needed golf balls last time you were here. Do you need another sleeve? Sure. Yeah. So they can place orders, get things they need directly from the iPad with the you know, with limited interaction. Same with somebody servicing the golf course, driving around on a golf cart, selling beverages and such, out on the golf course. Same kind of experience where they have the iPad and with knowledge of the customer that they're interacting with, they can identify, OK, this looks like you know, you generally get this kind of beverage or are you ready for another? Are you ready for a hot dog? You know, whatever it is that you need, they can serve it, help provide a higher level of touch and service to the golfer who's out on the course having that capability as well as be able to do it with, again, limited interaction. Those tools are really helping drive better experience for the golfer and for the golf course itself.

Chris Byers: And what would you say for yourself? How are you thinking about kind of your own work change and how this impacts your day to day?

Mike Barnes: So, yeah, for me, it's been a different world. Right. So where we all at GOLFNOW are currently working from home. We have been since March. We did a trial in mid-March and never came home from the trial. So it was like a Thursday, Friday trial. And we were told by the afternoon on Friday, we're going to go ahead and just keep this going because they determined everybody could effectively work from home. We have Microsoft teams, among other Microsoft products. So with teams we are able to communicate pretty effectively. I usually see some people more face to face now than I did before because our offices, you know, are a bit big. And sometimes it takes a lot of time to get up and walk from building to building or from place to place. So it's a little more efficient, you know, to be here and pop people on teams instantly instead of having to walk across the way or hop on the phone when I may not see them face to face. So it's been a different experience. I wasn't sure if I would enjoy working from home, frankly, but after doing it now for the last number of months, and I really do enjoy it, I really find that I'm a bit more efficient. I'm able to get more done. And I'm also a little healthier myself getting up in the morning, getting out of the house a little bit, where normally I'd be getting up, getting ready and getting in the car for a commute. So the time that I would spend commuting has now been replaced with exercise, which I really appreciate that, and I hope other folks are able to get the same out of it.

Chris Byers: Yeah, you know, there's something for me about I used to travel quite a bit more. And I think just the consistency of being at home most of the time has actually allowed me to eat a lot better. So I agree. It's been a unique benefit, at least in my life. So give us a sense of what is a day in your role look like? Give us a glimpse into it.

Mike Barnes: Sure. So we have a somewhat structured system where we use Salesforce to manage all of the requests that come to us. We'd run weekly sprints. We try to keep a reasonable amount of work each week. And then we also have day to day support. So right now it's just me and one other full time admin that do Salesforce, you know, primary Salesforce administration every day. And we have 700 plus users. So quite a few users for very few admins. But we're able to do that because I think we have a good process. We also have a great team lead. So what we've realized we had to do because we're interfacing with numerous departments, at least a dozen different departments just within GOLFNOW. Right. You have a marketing team. You have a sales team. We have a technology team. We have a bunch of different teams that all have different needs from us. We've set up a team lead within each of those departments that we meet, at least weekly, to discuss what's in the next week's sprint. Here's what we've done this week for you. Here's what's coming up in next week's sprint, if we need to make some adjustments. Hey, this is a real high priority item that we shift things around.

We do that every week. That's part of the weekly process and otherwise the day is, you know, get up, check, see what's, you know, the obligatory email and teams chats. Got to try to keep those in check. But I try to only check those two or three times a day at most. Otherwise, I am, you know, occasionally in meetings. But I try to keep the meetings focused on the cases that I have in the queue and then it really works. Just working through the cases in the que, calling people if I have questions, continue to develop Salesforce, develop workflow. We use a heavy amount of workflow at GOLFNOW just to keep everything straight. So there's a number of different technology and tools we use. And so I have to support all that. So every day there's, you know, there could be nominal things, some bugs, self created bugs or issues that are things aren't working the way they are intended for specific use case and such. I spend half my week really supporting and fixing issues and we're looking to make things more stable long term. And the other part is, you know, building new features that folks are requesting to help them be more efficient with what they're doing.

Chris Byers: One of the interesting things you mentioned was 700 users. And so when I think about it, well, people often think about change with kind of this negative feeling. And I know that when you need to make a change, it's going to impact a lot of people. I'm curious, how do you go about approaching change and making that feel like a positive thing for the users around you?

Mike Barnes: Well, I mean, the good news about the culture at GOLFNOW is they are definitely not afraid of change. We are constantly going through it. It's never ending. But it's always considered to be positive because it's moving the business forward. So we've had a number of acquisitions over the years to expand our business. There's been some, of course, internal development, but there's also been acquiring of outside business. So seven and a half years ago, I got to GOLFNOW and I thought this is a pretty simple business. We're just posting tee times online and we have a sales team that's out trying to recruit golf courses to post their tee times online. That was the scope of the business; the businesses that has since expanded quite a bit. And one of the first things we did was acquire two tee sheet companies because we knew we wanted to get into the tee sheet business. So one was the BRS Golf out of Belfast, Northern Ireland, and the other was for reservations out of Chicago.

They're now fully integrated part of GOLFNOW, that was one of the first projects, first two parallel projects I was put on to get them embedded into our Salesforce processes to bring them in so that the changes continued where we've internally we built Golf Advisor. We were collecting all kinds of ratings and reviews for golf courses through GOLFNOW.com. When you booked your round or finished your round, you got a request to tell us what you thought about your experience. We realized we had aggregated the largest number of rating reviews on golf courses anywhere, so we've spun that up into Golf Advisor. So that's now it's own product where we continue to provide the most rating reviews on golf courses anywhere in the world.

So we've also, you know, more recently acquired These Links Golf, which is also out of Chicago and they are helping us expand our business, our footprint. But it also requires a lot of work on the team internally to integrate the businesses and such. Change has been constant, there's always been something new every year, there's always something new that's changing how we think about the business or some new technology that we want to get out and promote and sell to help improve the experience for golfers. And so that has definitely kept us on our toes. The latest thing is smart play. So smart play is going to be a new way, a new technology for helping golfers get the most out of their game. It's a really new feature, again, new tool built internally inside of GOLFNOW. And it's going to help, I think, change our business for the better. Change has not been something that's been scary at GOLFNOW, it's something that we've embraced. And that's the reason, frankly, the reason I'm working here, because there's always something new and exciting to learn and new problems to solve. And it's not a stale business by any means.

Chris Byers: So I would love to hear how you would suggest how you would think, you know, encourage people to think about building their low-code, no-code toolboxes.

Mike Barnes: Absolutely. So I'm not a trained developer. I've had some development courses in college, but I started out as an electrical engineer. And so I worked as an electrical engineer, I did machine control and automation. So I worked with low-code tools from the time I was an intern in college. As my career evolved and I ended up here and doing Salesforce.com now for a living, I realized it's the same kind of logic, the same kind of thought process, automation, logic that you as an engineer have to think through. How are we going to get from these inputs to these outputs? And there's the stuff in the middle that nobody really understands and it can be done with code.

There's definitely a lot of great developers out there who build some pretty amazing tools, including developers on the GOLFNOW staff who are building out the tools within GOLFNOW because they're novel tools. They are custom and they're proprietary. So they're being developed line by line code. When it comes to operating a business, though, there are plenty of tools out there that are already built and there's plenty of commonalities between businesses that you can use similar tools across many different businesses. There's all kinds of workflow, automation, things you can do that do not have to write apex code to get done. In fact, I've kind of made it a point from the time I got into using Salesforce is that I wanted to avoid code wherever possible. There are some cases you can't avoid it. There are places where we have to do API integrations, things that do require some custom APACS. But those are the exception for us.

The rule is we're using process builder, using flow, we're using Formstack for forms instead of writing our own HTML, we're using a squid for the front instead of writing ora components inside Salesforce. So I recommend just identifying the tools that you need that will work for you. There's plenty of tools out there across many different platforms that integrate with Salesforce. And then there, of course, are things outside of Salesforce as well that you can look at. I found that a group of tools that work really well for me and meet my needs. The answer I want to be able to give to my team is yes when they say, hey, can we do this? You know, early in my Salesforce career, I was like, well, Salesforce doesn't really do that. Or, you know, the answer was typically sure we can do that, but can require custom code. And here's what that's probably going to cost to get that built. Now, the answer is typically, yes, I have a tool for that and I can do it and I can do it for you pretty quickly. We can get that done. I'm not going to have to recruit an external developer. I can think through the process and build it with the low-code declarative tools that are available to me now.

Chris Byers: If you have those low-code no no-code tools, it kind of presumes that you've actually got a problem that you want to solve. How is it you go about discovering, you know, it's time to actually change a process and then what's the first step you need to take?

Mike Barnes: Our team is constantly coming up with new ways they want to run the business, whether it's information they need to gather or it's how we want to interact with our customers. That's typically the basis, right? We have something we want to sell. There's something we want to be able to do for our customers that we don't really have the tools to do now. So for my perspective, you know, I'm helping advise what we can get done. But we have a bunch of brilliant people who are coming in and saying all the time, here's what I need to be able to deliver to our customers. And that's where it ultimately all funnels down to having the focus on the customer that, hey, we want to make sure we're delivering to them ultimately the best service that we can deliver.

So we meet at least once a week and more often if there's a special project or something that's happening and we identify, OK, well, here's what we want to be able to deliver the customer. Here's what we want to do. What do we need to get there? So we work our way back to the technology. It's not hey, here's a cool, fancy piece of technology we can deploy. Let's see how we can fit this in. That's usually not the process that we're taking. It's usually let's identify the problem. Let's figure out what tools we might need to solve the problem. And then we back our way into the technology that's going to help us get there the most efficient way possible. Typically, low-code tools for me have been the most efficient way there simply because the time to development is so much faster. And it doesn't require getting external expertise. It doesn't require me pulling your valuable GOLFNOW developers into Salesforce projects, because better for them to be out developing GOLFNOW, developing the proprietary technology. And let me handle the business technology in a low-code way where I can.

Chris Byers: So you mentioned in that conversation there, this idea of customers. So even internally, you have customers at times and sometimes you're focused on the external customer. What does it mean to have kind of a client first mindset?

Mike Barnes: Well, I mean, I'm trying to make everybody as efficient as possible, remove the barriers to them getting what they need to get done. So whether that's going to be the golfer trying to book a round or our partner trying to sign a sales contract or our finance team trying to make sure invoices get sent out properly, I'm trying to remove barriers to them getting their work done, what they need to get done. Because if I can do that, if I can remove those barriers, then I can make everybody happier because, hey, I don't have these roadblocks in the way. I don't have these delays. I'm able to move right through to get done what I need to get done. So whether it's, as you mentioned, another internal customer who has a request for us or it's next for our customer, I'm always focused on what can I do to make their life easier. And generally what makes their life easier makes my life more complicated. But I'm OK with that because that's my job. I solve puzzles, I solve problems. And if they can present me a cool problem, I'm happy to go figure out what's going to make it work for them.

Chris Byers: Yeah, I actually appreciate that idea that for some of those who are actually building the solution, it isn't always an easier life. You may be helping people save a lot of time, which of course is saving the organization money, but it's something you have to support and you have to to be involved in. Absolutely. I'm curious, what do you think it means really, to modernize your customers kind of workplace there, to help them rethink their work? How do you think you helped them do that?

Mike Barnes: Well, you know, I try to get them to tell me what they actually need. That's probably the hardest part, I think, with being in the position of mine is getting people to actually tell you when they have a problem instead of working around it. One of the nicknames I got early on was Spreadsheet Killer because people were just living off spreadsheets because they had been living on spreadsheets forever. And they could own the spreadsheet and they knew how the spreadsheet worked. Of course, there's a lot of inherent flaws with living on spreadsheets, which can get stale and get static. Different people own different versions of it and it gets bad. So that's just, again, an example of how some folks work and trying to get them to tell me, hey, what are you doing now that we can make better? And sometimes they don't see the problem. They don't see that their spreadsheet is really not the most efficient way to get done what you've done. But eventually those all come to light. Right. It's hey, I want to get reporting on what's happening over here. Well, that's being done on so and so spreadsheet. Well get them out of there. I've got to get that data into that to get into Salesforce. Let's give them a process in Salesforce that will work, so that they can then own the data there instead of own it on the spreadsheet.

The second problem that we have is less frequent, but occasionally folks want to come in and provide the design to us, OK, I want this object with this field and this workflow and it's like, well, no, hold on, let's back up. Tell me, what is the problem you're trying to solve? Like, what issue are you having and what is the outcome you want to achieve? So asking those questions and backing people off of the design side of things said, let me let me handle the design. I'm happy to include you in the design and I'm happy to have you provide input is what you think might work best. You're operating the business. You tell me what problem you have and what outcome you'd like to achieve. Once I figure out those things, I whiteboard. That's one thing I do miss about being in the office is, you know, I have my big whiteboard and be able to, you know, draw a bunch of things out with people in the office and kind of come up and imagine the solution there. I can get up and talk about it, that usually sometimes clears my head a little bit to think through the potential issues. But just be able to do those sort of things. I need to find a way to do that better from home. I will jot things and draw things out on paper and pen just because I have to visualize it quite often before I can build. But the trick is, you know, identifying the problem, figuring out what the endpoint the person wants and then figure out what you need to build in the middle that's going to get them there.

Chris Byers: Will tell us how you take that example of the whiteboard, what are the ways you're reimagining, how to get that solved kind of going forward, that whiteboarding experience, that design experience.

Mike Barnes: Oh, gosh. Well. Like I said, I'm still drawing on my piece of paper and with pen, obviously it's kind of funny for a technology kind of person to live off pen and paper, but I guess that may say more about my generation and age. But, yeah, definitely need to use the tools I have available in teams and whatnot to maybe if I need a different tool, find a different tool. That's probably something I need to figure out now as well. What tools are available to me that I can then, you know, draw things out on the screen with other people, you know, able to see it as opposed to my pen and paper, which is just, you know, just for me. So that's definitely something, one of the things on the roadmap as this staying home here seems to be interminable, I don't see any end coming to it anytime soon. For us being a technology business, we're very fortunate that we don't have to, there's no absolute need to be in an office environment. So we're very, very fortunate in this current state of the world to have that option to be able to be home.

At the same time, it does pose some challenges where before we could all get in a conference room, whiteboard things out, and we were just used to that, you know, being the way we could get things done. I could snap some pictures with my phone of the whiteboard, then leave the meeting and I'd have everything I needed. So being able to whiteboard those things out. That's definitely a problem I need to figure out how am I going to solve.

Chris Byers: So I'm sure many people who are listening or saying, wow, sounds like GOLFNOW is fairly well resourced for building solutions to lots of problems internally. Building workflows, have the tools, have the team. For those who are kind of feeling a bit overwhelmed right now and saying man, I really want to kind of jump into this. What do you think the first step is they need to think about and just saying, just put something in place and just begin that process. What are some things that come to mind?

Mike Barnes: Well, yeah, if I was going to get started if I was in a business that didn't have Salesforce, I definitely would look at it very closely. I launched Salesforce at the company I was with prior to my current company about 10 years ago. And that was really my first taste of it. I'd heard of Salesforce, you know, in passing prior to that. But we needed at that time, the prior company needed a new CRM, the CRM we had was basically no better than a glorified electronic Rolodex. And we needed something a little better than that. So we tried some other solutions that I won't mention here. But Salesforce we just found was the best solution that we could find on the market. And it met all the needs that we wanted at the time and all the needs we couldn't possibly have anticipated in the future.

The next thing is to take full advantage of the tools you have within Salesforce.com itself. So there's so much automation you can do. Again, when I got here at GOLFNOW, there was very little automation done. They were using Salesforce to track activity, to track meetings and phone calls, and that was about it. They did have some opportunities. They did a little bit with that and they did some other things. But there was practically no automation in place. It was very, very light what was in place. So I came in. I was initially the lone Salesforce admin, of course the business was a bit smaller back then, fewer users. But we went through and just found out, hey, where are the pain points? And that's again, if you're looking for something to solve first in your business, figure out where the pain points are. You probably know where they are. If you're not using Salesforce, or you're not using it well, you probably already know these are things that are always a problem. Go solve those first. Let's get you know, get underneath those pain points, identify what everyone does not like about how their business works right now and find a way to solve it with automation.

One of the examples is we had it early on in the current board, we were tracking everything and we still track a lot of things by market. We kind of divide the world up into specific markets. And one of the challenges was we had a market on the account and then they had to set a market on the opportunity and there was a market on other objects as well in Salesforce. So you ended up with tracking the same information, multiple places, but every opportunity had an account relationship. So, I mean, it sounds pretty simple. It sounds pretty basic. And it was. It was just a formula to say, hey, just pull the market from the account into the opportunity. I mean, doing something simple like that just so that, hey, our markets don't align between our count report and our opportunity report. Well, because you're putting the information in three different times. So three different people are potentially putting three different pieces of information. Trying to get data cleanliness is probably one of the most challenging things in any CRM. Just trying to keep your data clean. So the fewer touch points you have with any particular piece of data, definitely the better. Very, very early, probably the first week thing that I did, I realized this is a real problem. Let's solve that and just keep finding the pain points and keep running them down and and solve one thing at a time. It's the old elephant adage, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. So don't look at this whole mess and be like, oh, man, we're never going to solve this thing. Find out, here's one little point that if we could solve that would give us the biggest win. Find the low hanging fruit. That's the easy stuff. I mean, I'm at the point where we've kind of picked all the low hanging fruits. So now I'm solving much more complex, larger problems. And I frankly, I find it more interesting and much more fun to solve the larger problems than the low hanging fruit. But the low hanging fruit is easy and a great way to get started.

Chris Byers: Well, as we kind of wrap up today, a couple of quick questions that I think people will appreciate. First is, what's your one piece of advice for embracing simplicity in business processes?

Mike Barnes: Oh, goodness. So definitely have a plan. I mean, this is something that didn't come to me all at once, but over time, do a lot of research in your field. So for Salesforce, search the Salesforce ideas, search the Salesforce message posts because a lot of folks are already asking the questions that you're asking. And so one of the best things I think I found is just keeping a consistent format and also use a lot of notes. I wish I'd done this earlier than I did early on. You have a description field in Salesforce on everything. You have descriptions, put in notes. That's more of a developer best practice that I've learned more recently that, you know, a developer when you see a line of code, you'll see a lot of commented text. Right. It's commented out of the code, but it's there for your reference and using that so that when you come back seven years later and you're looking at why do we have this in place, you can answer your own question.

And one of the ways we're doing that, again, help keep things simple is we track all of our activity, all the things, all the requests that we're getting. We track through cases already. So to make things simple, so I'm not having to regurgitate what I was asked to do. I simply put a case reference in the description. So if I ever have to go back to something, I have a reference ID, I can just go then look up that case. I can say, OK, well, here's exactly why I built it. Here's all the chatter about what happened. I don't have to get crazy wordy with description notes. I mean, we already again, the same objective of not duplicating the same information multiple places in Salesforce, we try to live up to that also with how we track our notes with things we're building. Hey, we were doing everything based on a case. Let's just reference the case and let's keep all the notes in one place in the case itself. So that's the advice I wish I had gotten seven, 10 years ago would be to do what I'm doing now, which we only learned over time. First, make sure to handle everything out of cases, try to avoid handling things out of email and teams chats. I mean, those things do happen. But we generally if it's not a quick, quick win or immediate problem, that's, you know, shutting people down, we try to divert them back into case and get it cued up in an orderly fashion, as opposed to just constantly taking all the noise from both sides or from all sides. Which can to happen. So again, that's why the second piece of advice is make sure you're using some process to to route everything in. As long as you have something that you're tracking the requests and that you can then work from, that will help you keep things organized. That's been one of my biggest pieces of advice. Stay organized, keep it simple, and go from there.

Chris Byers: And last question. Can you share your go to productivity tip?

Mike Barnes: Oh, goodness. Go to productivity tip. So, trying to think of from my personal standpoint, it's I mean, especially working from home, it's easy to get distracted. And, you know, there's plenty of other things going on. My wife thinks because I'm here, if I'm not on a phone call, I must be available. So trying to you know, if you have the capability to separate yourself, have a separate room and also stay to a schedule. So we've been pretty good. Every day we get up, we try to get out of bed by seven o'clock, try to get out and ride our bikes or go for a walk, spend a half hour, just, you know, getting the blood pumping. And I think there's been nothing better I could have done for myself than to do that and have that kind of morning routine, then come back, get cleaned up and then get to work. So it's just having a standard routine has really helped me to stay focused. So when I'm at work, I'm at work. And then, you know, then the hardest part, I think, for me is just cutting it off at the end of the day, because, I mean, dinner time, you know, usually comes and I'll try to make that the end. OK, it's time for dinner. So we're going to cut things off for today and move on to the family part portion of the evening. So that's definitely been a challenge. Just stay productive by focusing that, hey, this is my work time.

Chris Byers: Yeah, I think that speaks to a lot of what what we all need. It starts with personal productivity and getting the right energy for the work that we've got ahead. So I love that. Well, Mike, thanks for joining us today. It's been a great conversation and appreciate you joining us on Ripple Effect.

As we kind of wrap this episode up featuring Mike Barnes, there are a couple of takeaways to highlight. First is have a client first mindset and dive into problems to really understand for your customers what is their problem and what is the outcome that they're looking for. Build that no-code toolset. It's the way that you're going to help kind of remove barriers and help people save time in their work and make their lives easier. And then build relationships. That's the way that you can really understand and source where are other problems that I need to solve. How can we actually get those taken care of?

Thanks so much for joining us today. It's been a great conversation here on Ripple Effect, and we're curious what you think of it. Give us a review or shout out online, tell us how we're doing and we'd love to hear your feedback on this particular episode or Ripple Effect in general.


Collecting payments with online forms is easy, but first, you have to choose the right payment gateway. Browse the providers in our gateway credit card processing comparison chart to find the best option for your business. Then sign up for Formstack Forms, customize your payment forms, and start collecting profits in minutes.

Online Payment Gateway Comparison Chart

NOTE: These amounts reflect the monthly subscription for the payment provider. Formstack does not charge a fee to integrate with any of our payment partners.

FEATURES
Authorize.Net
Bambora
Chargify
First Data
PayPal
PayPal Pro
PayPal Payflow
Stripe
WePay
ProPay
Monthly Fees
$25
$25
$149+
Contact First Data
$0
$25
$0-$25
$0
$0
$4
Transaction Fees
$2.9% + 30¢
$2.9% + 30¢
N/A
Contact First Data
$2.9% + 30¢
$2.9% + 30¢
10¢
$2.9% + 30¢
$2.9% + 30¢
$2.6% + 30¢
Countries
5
8
Based on payment gateway
50+
203
3
4
25
USA
USA
Currencies
11
2
23
140
25
23
25
135+
1
1
Card Types
6
13
Based on payment gateway
5
9
9
5
6
4
4
Limits
None
None
Based on payment gateway
None
$10,000
None
None
None
None
$500 per transaction
Form Payments
Recurring Billing
Mobile Payments
PSD2 Compliant

Chris Byers: Welcome to Ripple Effect, I am Chris Byers with Formstack. Today, we are featuring Mike Barnes, the director of Salesforce.com Administration for GOLFNOW.

For any of us familiar with the golf industry, many things come to mind. Beautiful scenery, afternoons outside the office, comfortable accommodations and time spent just kind of enjoying the game. What you don't often think about is technology. And Mike's going to share with us today how GOLFNOW is reimagining the golf experience for avid players around the world.

Mike, welcome to the show. Before we get started, first, if you could just kick start with a snapshot of what GOLFNOW does.

Mike Barnes: Sure. So golf now is the worldwide online way to book rounds for golf. So you want to play somewhere just like about anything else you're going to be looking for these days for shopping, usually online is the way to go. So GOLFNOW is your marketplace. This is your one stop shop for golf or booking rounds of golf anywhere in the world.

Chris Byers: As you've kind of taken a look at this year. I'm curious, what are some unique challenges that your customers, even who are trying to book online, have experienced because of just all that's going on this year?

Mike Barnes: So, you know, the booking experiences become more critical with, you know, COVID-19 and the lockdowns that have occurred. Many courses were shut down, as were most businesses, for a good amount of time in the spring. And when they were able to reopen, fortunately, golf was able to reopen, was one of the earlier things you could do, simply because it is a naturally socially distanced event. And one of the challenges with the booking side of things has been when you arrive at the golf course, typically have to go in the pro shop and pay for your round. And there's interaction. You're indoors and with GOLFNOW we have the option that you can book online and prepay for your round. So many courses have opted in with us to allow for prepaid rounds.

Just something that has blown up for our business has gone really big because the courses realize they want to limit interactions, you know, face to face interactions with the golfers if they can avoid it. And with our payments products, we can offer that to the golf courses so that they can offer that in turn to the golfers that are booking with them.

Chris Byers: What do you think you've done differently than other organizations, maybe like you, that are kind of more innovative and have helped people be more successful right now?

Mike Barnes: Our audience is a golfer, you know, they're the ones that we're trying to get out to book some rounds and get out and play. However, the customer who we are servicing is the golf course, and we provide backend technology that helps the course operate their business. So you can think of golf now, sort of as like the open table of golf. We provide the backend technology to help operate the pro shop and also the front end technology for people to connect with that golf course. So we're providing both aspects of the experience so that we can provide a seamless experience. So folks are booking their rounds online. It automatically shows on the electronic tee sheet the golf course. And that way we also provide other technology that helps the course run their business, whether it's food and beverage as part of their operation, if they have memberships, there's a number of different ways that we provide different pieces of technology to help different golf courses, depending on how their golf course is structured.

Chris Byers: We're all thinking about how do we reimagine the work kind of world around us because of so many of the changes that we're experiencing. As you kind of step back and think about 2020, about 2021 in the future, what do you think it means to reimagine work, especially for golf clubs?

Mike Barnes: So, I mean, I can say that, you know, golf clubs, they're learning how to service their customer and maintain the necessary distance that's required. Now, to do that, we have some really innovative tools that have come out, including our the G1 tool. So G1 basically allows you to show up at the golf course. The starter can check you in via iPad. So the intent is to avoid having to go into the clubhouse, but know that there's some inherent risk to the golf course that they don't come in the clubhouse. They're not going to maybe pick up some golf balls or view the merchandise. But with the G1, there's the opportunity to sell directly from the iPad as well. Hey, it looks like, you know, you needed golf balls last time you were here. Do you need another sleeve? Sure. Yeah. So they can place orders, get things they need directly from the iPad with the you know, with limited interaction. Same with somebody servicing the golf course, driving around on a golf cart, selling beverages and such, out on the golf course. Same kind of experience where they have the iPad and with knowledge of the customer that they're interacting with, they can identify, OK, this looks like you know, you generally get this kind of beverage or are you ready for another? Are you ready for a hot dog? You know, whatever it is that you need, they can serve it, help provide a higher level of touch and service to the golfer who's out on the course having that capability as well as be able to do it with, again, limited interaction. Those tools are really helping drive better experience for the golfer and for the golf course itself.

Chris Byers: And what would you say for yourself? How are you thinking about kind of your own work change and how this impacts your day to day?

Mike Barnes: So, yeah, for me, it's been a different world. Right. So where we all at GOLFNOW are currently working from home. We have been since March. We did a trial in mid-March and never came home from the trial. So it was like a Thursday, Friday trial. And we were told by the afternoon on Friday, we're going to go ahead and just keep this going because they determined everybody could effectively work from home. We have Microsoft teams, among other Microsoft products. So with teams we are able to communicate pretty effectively. I usually see some people more face to face now than I did before because our offices, you know, are a bit big. And sometimes it takes a lot of time to get up and walk from building to building or from place to place. So it's a little more efficient, you know, to be here and pop people on teams instantly instead of having to walk across the way or hop on the phone when I may not see them face to face. So it's been a different experience. I wasn't sure if I would enjoy working from home, frankly, but after doing it now for the last number of months, and I really do enjoy it, I really find that I'm a bit more efficient. I'm able to get more done. And I'm also a little healthier myself getting up in the morning, getting out of the house a little bit, where normally I'd be getting up, getting ready and getting in the car for a commute. So the time that I would spend commuting has now been replaced with exercise, which I really appreciate that, and I hope other folks are able to get the same out of it.

Chris Byers: Yeah, you know, there's something for me about I used to travel quite a bit more. And I think just the consistency of being at home most of the time has actually allowed me to eat a lot better. So I agree. It's been a unique benefit, at least in my life. So give us a sense of what is a day in your role look like? Give us a glimpse into it.

Mike Barnes: Sure. So we have a somewhat structured system where we use Salesforce to manage all of the requests that come to us. We'd run weekly sprints. We try to keep a reasonable amount of work each week. And then we also have day to day support. So right now it's just me and one other full time admin that do Salesforce, you know, primary Salesforce administration every day. And we have 700 plus users. So quite a few users for very few admins. But we're able to do that because I think we have a good process. We also have a great team lead. So what we've realized we had to do because we're interfacing with numerous departments, at least a dozen different departments just within GOLFNOW. Right. You have a marketing team. You have a sales team. We have a technology team. We have a bunch of different teams that all have different needs from us. We've set up a team lead within each of those departments that we meet, at least weekly, to discuss what's in the next week's sprint. Here's what we've done this week for you. Here's what's coming up in next week's sprint, if we need to make some adjustments. Hey, this is a real high priority item that we shift things around.

We do that every week. That's part of the weekly process and otherwise the day is, you know, get up, check, see what's, you know, the obligatory email and teams chats. Got to try to keep those in check. But I try to only check those two or three times a day at most. Otherwise, I am, you know, occasionally in meetings. But I try to keep the meetings focused on the cases that I have in the queue and then it really works. Just working through the cases in the que, calling people if I have questions, continue to develop Salesforce, develop workflow. We use a heavy amount of workflow at GOLFNOW just to keep everything straight. So there's a number of different technology and tools we use. And so I have to support all that. So every day there's, you know, there could be nominal things, some bugs, self created bugs or issues that are things aren't working the way they are intended for specific use case and such. I spend half my week really supporting and fixing issues and we're looking to make things more stable long term. And the other part is, you know, building new features that folks are requesting to help them be more efficient with what they're doing.

Chris Byers: One of the interesting things you mentioned was 700 users. And so when I think about it, well, people often think about change with kind of this negative feeling. And I know that when you need to make a change, it's going to impact a lot of people. I'm curious, how do you go about approaching change and making that feel like a positive thing for the users around you?

Mike Barnes: Well, I mean, the good news about the culture at GOLFNOW is they are definitely not afraid of change. We are constantly going through it. It's never ending. But it's always considered to be positive because it's moving the business forward. So we've had a number of acquisitions over the years to expand our business. There's been some, of course, internal development, but there's also been acquiring of outside business. So seven and a half years ago, I got to GOLFNOW and I thought this is a pretty simple business. We're just posting tee times online and we have a sales team that's out trying to recruit golf courses to post their tee times online. That was the scope of the business; the businesses that has since expanded quite a bit. And one of the first things we did was acquire two tee sheet companies because we knew we wanted to get into the tee sheet business. So one was the BRS Golf out of Belfast, Northern Ireland, and the other was for reservations out of Chicago.

They're now fully integrated part of GOLFNOW, that was one of the first projects, first two parallel projects I was put on to get them embedded into our Salesforce processes to bring them in so that the changes continued where we've internally we built Golf Advisor. We were collecting all kinds of ratings and reviews for golf courses through GOLFNOW.com. When you booked your round or finished your round, you got a request to tell us what you thought about your experience. We realized we had aggregated the largest number of rating reviews on golf courses anywhere, so we've spun that up into Golf Advisor. So that's now it's own product where we continue to provide the most rating reviews on golf courses anywhere in the world.

So we've also, you know, more recently acquired These Links Golf, which is also out of Chicago and they are helping us expand our business, our footprint. But it also requires a lot of work on the team internally to integrate the businesses and such. Change has been constant, there's always been something new every year, there's always something new that's changing how we think about the business or some new technology that we want to get out and promote and sell to help improve the experience for golfers. And so that has definitely kept us on our toes. The latest thing is smart play. So smart play is going to be a new way, a new technology for helping golfers get the most out of their game. It's a really new feature, again, new tool built internally inside of GOLFNOW. And it's going to help, I think, change our business for the better. Change has not been something that's been scary at GOLFNOW, it's something that we've embraced. And that's the reason, frankly, the reason I'm working here, because there's always something new and exciting to learn and new problems to solve. And it's not a stale business by any means.

Chris Byers: So I would love to hear how you would suggest how you would think, you know, encourage people to think about building their low-code, no-code toolboxes.

Mike Barnes: Absolutely. So I'm not a trained developer. I've had some development courses in college, but I started out as an electrical engineer. And so I worked as an electrical engineer, I did machine control and automation. So I worked with low-code tools from the time I was an intern in college. As my career evolved and I ended up here and doing Salesforce.com now for a living, I realized it's the same kind of logic, the same kind of thought process, automation, logic that you as an engineer have to think through. How are we going to get from these inputs to these outputs? And there's the stuff in the middle that nobody really understands and it can be done with code.

There's definitely a lot of great developers out there who build some pretty amazing tools, including developers on the GOLFNOW staff who are building out the tools within GOLFNOW because they're novel tools. They are custom and they're proprietary. So they're being developed line by line code. When it comes to operating a business, though, there are plenty of tools out there that are already built and there's plenty of commonalities between businesses that you can use similar tools across many different businesses. There's all kinds of workflow, automation, things you can do that do not have to write apex code to get done. In fact, I've kind of made it a point from the time I got into using Salesforce is that I wanted to avoid code wherever possible. There are some cases you can't avoid it. There are places where we have to do API integrations, things that do require some custom APACS. But those are the exception for us.

The rule is we're using process builder, using flow, we're using Formstack for forms instead of writing our own HTML, we're using a squid for the front instead of writing ora components inside Salesforce. So I recommend just identifying the tools that you need that will work for you. There's plenty of tools out there across many different platforms that integrate with Salesforce. And then there, of course, are things outside of Salesforce as well that you can look at. I found that a group of tools that work really well for me and meet my needs. The answer I want to be able to give to my team is yes when they say, hey, can we do this? You know, early in my Salesforce career, I was like, well, Salesforce doesn't really do that. Or, you know, the answer was typically sure we can do that, but can require custom code. And here's what that's probably going to cost to get that built. Now, the answer is typically, yes, I have a tool for that and I can do it and I can do it for you pretty quickly. We can get that done. I'm not going to have to recruit an external developer. I can think through the process and build it with the low-code declarative tools that are available to me now.

Chris Byers: If you have those low-code no no-code tools, it kind of presumes that you've actually got a problem that you want to solve. How is it you go about discovering, you know, it's time to actually change a process and then what's the first step you need to take?

Mike Barnes: Our team is constantly coming up with new ways they want to run the business, whether it's information they need to gather or it's how we want to interact with our customers. That's typically the basis, right? We have something we want to sell. There's something we want to be able to do for our customers that we don't really have the tools to do now. So for my perspective, you know, I'm helping advise what we can get done. But we have a bunch of brilliant people who are coming in and saying all the time, here's what I need to be able to deliver to our customers. And that's where it ultimately all funnels down to having the focus on the customer that, hey, we want to make sure we're delivering to them ultimately the best service that we can deliver.

So we meet at least once a week and more often if there's a special project or something that's happening and we identify, OK, well, here's what we want to be able to deliver the customer. Here's what we want to do. What do we need to get there? So we work our way back to the technology. It's not hey, here's a cool, fancy piece of technology we can deploy. Let's see how we can fit this in. That's usually not the process that we're taking. It's usually let's identify the problem. Let's figure out what tools we might need to solve the problem. And then we back our way into the technology that's going to help us get there the most efficient way possible. Typically, low-code tools for me have been the most efficient way there simply because the time to development is so much faster. And it doesn't require getting external expertise. It doesn't require me pulling your valuable GOLFNOW developers into Salesforce projects, because better for them to be out developing GOLFNOW, developing the proprietary technology. And let me handle the business technology in a low-code way where I can.

Chris Byers: So you mentioned in that conversation there, this idea of customers. So even internally, you have customers at times and sometimes you're focused on the external customer. What does it mean to have kind of a client first mindset?

Mike Barnes: Well, I mean, I'm trying to make everybody as efficient as possible, remove the barriers to them getting what they need to get done. So whether that's going to be the golfer trying to book a round or our partner trying to sign a sales contract or our finance team trying to make sure invoices get sent out properly, I'm trying to remove barriers to them getting their work done, what they need to get done. Because if I can do that, if I can remove those barriers, then I can make everybody happier because, hey, I don't have these roadblocks in the way. I don't have these delays. I'm able to move right through to get done what I need to get done. So whether it's, as you mentioned, another internal customer who has a request for us or it's next for our customer, I'm always focused on what can I do to make their life easier. And generally what makes their life easier makes my life more complicated. But I'm OK with that because that's my job. I solve puzzles, I solve problems. And if they can present me a cool problem, I'm happy to go figure out what's going to make it work for them.

Chris Byers: Yeah, I actually appreciate that idea that for some of those who are actually building the solution, it isn't always an easier life. You may be helping people save a lot of time, which of course is saving the organization money, but it's something you have to support and you have to to be involved in. Absolutely. I'm curious, what do you think it means really, to modernize your customers kind of workplace there, to help them rethink their work? How do you think you helped them do that?

Mike Barnes: Well, you know, I try to get them to tell me what they actually need. That's probably the hardest part, I think, with being in the position of mine is getting people to actually tell you when they have a problem instead of working around it. One of the nicknames I got early on was Spreadsheet Killer because people were just living off spreadsheets because they had been living on spreadsheets forever. And they could own the spreadsheet and they knew how the spreadsheet worked. Of course, there's a lot of inherent flaws with living on spreadsheets, which can get stale and get static. Different people own different versions of it and it gets bad. So that's just, again, an example of how some folks work and trying to get them to tell me, hey, what are you doing now that we can make better? And sometimes they don't see the problem. They don't see that their spreadsheet is really not the most efficient way to get done what you've done. But eventually those all come to light. Right. It's hey, I want to get reporting on what's happening over here. Well, that's being done on so and so spreadsheet. Well get them out of there. I've got to get that data into that to get into Salesforce. Let's give them a process in Salesforce that will work, so that they can then own the data there instead of own it on the spreadsheet.

The second problem that we have is less frequent, but occasionally folks want to come in and provide the design to us, OK, I want this object with this field and this workflow and it's like, well, no, hold on, let's back up. Tell me, what is the problem you're trying to solve? Like, what issue are you having and what is the outcome you want to achieve? So asking those questions and backing people off of the design side of things said, let me let me handle the design. I'm happy to include you in the design and I'm happy to have you provide input is what you think might work best. You're operating the business. You tell me what problem you have and what outcome you'd like to achieve. Once I figure out those things, I whiteboard. That's one thing I do miss about being in the office is, you know, I have my big whiteboard and be able to, you know, draw a bunch of things out with people in the office and kind of come up and imagine the solution there. I can get up and talk about it, that usually sometimes clears my head a little bit to think through the potential issues. But just be able to do those sort of things. I need to find a way to do that better from home. I will jot things and draw things out on paper and pen just because I have to visualize it quite often before I can build. But the trick is, you know, identifying the problem, figuring out what the endpoint the person wants and then figure out what you need to build in the middle that's going to get them there.

Chris Byers: Will tell us how you take that example of the whiteboard, what are the ways you're reimagining, how to get that solved kind of going forward, that whiteboarding experience, that design experience.

Mike Barnes: Oh, gosh. Well. Like I said, I'm still drawing on my piece of paper and with pen, obviously it's kind of funny for a technology kind of person to live off pen and paper, but I guess that may say more about my generation and age. But, yeah, definitely need to use the tools I have available in teams and whatnot to maybe if I need a different tool, find a different tool. That's probably something I need to figure out now as well. What tools are available to me that I can then, you know, draw things out on the screen with other people, you know, able to see it as opposed to my pen and paper, which is just, you know, just for me. So that's definitely something, one of the things on the roadmap as this staying home here seems to be interminable, I don't see any end coming to it anytime soon. For us being a technology business, we're very fortunate that we don't have to, there's no absolute need to be in an office environment. So we're very, very fortunate in this current state of the world to have that option to be able to be home.

At the same time, it does pose some challenges where before we could all get in a conference room, whiteboard things out, and we were just used to that, you know, being the way we could get things done. I could snap some pictures with my phone of the whiteboard, then leave the meeting and I'd have everything I needed. So being able to whiteboard those things out. That's definitely a problem I need to figure out how am I going to solve.

Chris Byers: So I'm sure many people who are listening or saying, wow, sounds like GOLFNOW is fairly well resourced for building solutions to lots of problems internally. Building workflows, have the tools, have the team. For those who are kind of feeling a bit overwhelmed right now and saying man, I really want to kind of jump into this. What do you think the first step is they need to think about and just saying, just put something in place and just begin that process. What are some things that come to mind?

Mike Barnes: Well, yeah, if I was going to get started if I was in a business that didn't have Salesforce, I definitely would look at it very closely. I launched Salesforce at the company I was with prior to my current company about 10 years ago. And that was really my first taste of it. I'd heard of Salesforce, you know, in passing prior to that. But we needed at that time, the prior company needed a new CRM, the CRM we had was basically no better than a glorified electronic Rolodex. And we needed something a little better than that. So we tried some other solutions that I won't mention here. But Salesforce we just found was the best solution that we could find on the market. And it met all the needs that we wanted at the time and all the needs we couldn't possibly have anticipated in the future.

The next thing is to take full advantage of the tools you have within Salesforce.com itself. So there's so much automation you can do. Again, when I got here at GOLFNOW, there was very little automation done. They were using Salesforce to track activity, to track meetings and phone calls, and that was about it. They did have some opportunities. They did a little bit with that and they did some other things. But there was practically no automation in place. It was very, very light what was in place. So I came in. I was initially the lone Salesforce admin, of course the business was a bit smaller back then, fewer users. But we went through and just found out, hey, where are the pain points? And that's again, if you're looking for something to solve first in your business, figure out where the pain points are. You probably know where they are. If you're not using Salesforce, or you're not using it well, you probably already know these are things that are always a problem. Go solve those first. Let's get you know, get underneath those pain points, identify what everyone does not like about how their business works right now and find a way to solve it with automation.

One of the examples is we had it early on in the current board, we were tracking everything and we still track a lot of things by market. We kind of divide the world up into specific markets. And one of the challenges was we had a market on the account and then they had to set a market on the opportunity and there was a market on other objects as well in Salesforce. So you ended up with tracking the same information, multiple places, but every opportunity had an account relationship. So, I mean, it sounds pretty simple. It sounds pretty basic. And it was. It was just a formula to say, hey, just pull the market from the account into the opportunity. I mean, doing something simple like that just so that, hey, our markets don't align between our count report and our opportunity report. Well, because you're putting the information in three different times. So three different people are potentially putting three different pieces of information. Trying to get data cleanliness is probably one of the most challenging things in any CRM. Just trying to keep your data clean. So the fewer touch points you have with any particular piece of data, definitely the better. Very, very early, probably the first week thing that I did, I realized this is a real problem. Let's solve that and just keep finding the pain points and keep running them down and and solve one thing at a time. It's the old elephant adage, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. So don't look at this whole mess and be like, oh, man, we're never going to solve this thing. Find out, here's one little point that if we could solve that would give us the biggest win. Find the low hanging fruit. That's the easy stuff. I mean, I'm at the point where we've kind of picked all the low hanging fruits. So now I'm solving much more complex, larger problems. And I frankly, I find it more interesting and much more fun to solve the larger problems than the low hanging fruit. But the low hanging fruit is easy and a great way to get started.

Chris Byers: Well, as we kind of wrap up today, a couple of quick questions that I think people will appreciate. First is, what's your one piece of advice for embracing simplicity in business processes?

Mike Barnes: Oh, goodness. So definitely have a plan. I mean, this is something that didn't come to me all at once, but over time, do a lot of research in your field. So for Salesforce, search the Salesforce ideas, search the Salesforce message posts because a lot of folks are already asking the questions that you're asking. And so one of the best things I think I found is just keeping a consistent format and also use a lot of notes. I wish I'd done this earlier than I did early on. You have a description field in Salesforce on everything. You have descriptions, put in notes. That's more of a developer best practice that I've learned more recently that, you know, a developer when you see a line of code, you'll see a lot of commented text. Right. It's commented out of the code, but it's there for your reference and using that so that when you come back seven years later and you're looking at why do we have this in place, you can answer your own question.

And one of the ways we're doing that, again, help keep things simple is we track all of our activity, all the things, all the requests that we're getting. We track through cases already. So to make things simple, so I'm not having to regurgitate what I was asked to do. I simply put a case reference in the description. So if I ever have to go back to something, I have a reference ID, I can just go then look up that case. I can say, OK, well, here's exactly why I built it. Here's all the chatter about what happened. I don't have to get crazy wordy with description notes. I mean, we already again, the same objective of not duplicating the same information multiple places in Salesforce, we try to live up to that also with how we track our notes with things we're building. Hey, we were doing everything based on a case. Let's just reference the case and let's keep all the notes in one place in the case itself. So that's the advice I wish I had gotten seven, 10 years ago would be to do what I'm doing now, which we only learned over time. First, make sure to handle everything out of cases, try to avoid handling things out of email and teams chats. I mean, those things do happen. But we generally if it's not a quick, quick win or immediate problem, that's, you know, shutting people down, we try to divert them back into case and get it cued up in an orderly fashion, as opposed to just constantly taking all the noise from both sides or from all sides. Which can to happen. So again, that's why the second piece of advice is make sure you're using some process to to route everything in. As long as you have something that you're tracking the requests and that you can then work from, that will help you keep things organized. That's been one of my biggest pieces of advice. Stay organized, keep it simple, and go from there.

Chris Byers: And last question. Can you share your go to productivity tip?

Mike Barnes: Oh, goodness. Go to productivity tip. So, trying to think of from my personal standpoint, it's I mean, especially working from home, it's easy to get distracted. And, you know, there's plenty of other things going on. My wife thinks because I'm here, if I'm not on a phone call, I must be available. So trying to you know, if you have the capability to separate yourself, have a separate room and also stay to a schedule. So we've been pretty good. Every day we get up, we try to get out of bed by seven o'clock, try to get out and ride our bikes or go for a walk, spend a half hour, just, you know, getting the blood pumping. And I think there's been nothing better I could have done for myself than to do that and have that kind of morning routine, then come back, get cleaned up and then get to work. So it's just having a standard routine has really helped me to stay focused. So when I'm at work, I'm at work. And then, you know, then the hardest part, I think, for me is just cutting it off at the end of the day, because, I mean, dinner time, you know, usually comes and I'll try to make that the end. OK, it's time for dinner. So we're going to cut things off for today and move on to the family part portion of the evening. So that's definitely been a challenge. Just stay productive by focusing that, hey, this is my work time.

Chris Byers: Yeah, I think that speaks to a lot of what what we all need. It starts with personal productivity and getting the right energy for the work that we've got ahead. So I love that. Well, Mike, thanks for joining us today. It's been a great conversation and appreciate you joining us on Ripple Effect.

As we kind of wrap this episode up featuring Mike Barnes, there are a couple of takeaways to highlight. First is have a client first mindset and dive into problems to really understand for your customers what is their problem and what is the outcome that they're looking for. Build that no-code toolset. It's the way that you're going to help kind of remove barriers and help people save time in their work and make their lives easier. And then build relationships. That's the way that you can really understand and source where are other problems that I need to solve. How can we actually get those taken care of?

Thanks so much for joining us today. It's been a great conversation here on Ripple Effect, and we're curious what you think of it. Give us a review or shout out online, tell us how we're doing and we'd love to hear your feedback on this particular episode or Ripple Effect in general.


Chris Byers: Welcome to Ripple Effect, I am Chris Byers with Formstack. Today, we are featuring Mike Barnes, the director of Salesforce.com Administration for GOLFNOW.

For any of us familiar with the golf industry, many things come to mind. Beautiful scenery, afternoons outside the office, comfortable accommodations and time spent just kind of enjoying the game. What you don't often think about is technology. And Mike's going to share with us today how GOLFNOW is reimagining the golf experience for avid players around the world.

Mike, welcome to the show. Before we get started, first, if you could just kick start with a snapshot of what GOLFNOW does.

Mike Barnes: Sure. So golf now is the worldwide online way to book rounds for golf. So you want to play somewhere just like about anything else you're going to be looking for these days for shopping, usually online is the way to go. So GOLFNOW is your marketplace. This is your one stop shop for golf or booking rounds of golf anywhere in the world.

Chris Byers: As you've kind of taken a look at this year. I'm curious, what are some unique challenges that your customers, even who are trying to book online, have experienced because of just all that's going on this year?

Mike Barnes: So, you know, the booking experiences become more critical with, you know, COVID-19 and the lockdowns that have occurred. Many courses were shut down, as were most businesses, for a good amount of time in the spring. And when they were able to reopen, fortunately, golf was able to reopen, was one of the earlier things you could do, simply because it is a naturally socially distanced event. And one of the challenges with the booking side of things has been when you arrive at the golf course, typically have to go in the pro shop and pay for your round. And there's interaction. You're indoors and with GOLFNOW we have the option that you can book online and prepay for your round. So many courses have opted in with us to allow for prepaid rounds.

Just something that has blown up for our business has gone really big because the courses realize they want to limit interactions, you know, face to face interactions with the golfers if they can avoid it. And with our payments products, we can offer that to the golf courses so that they can offer that in turn to the golfers that are booking with them.

Chris Byers: What do you think you've done differently than other organizations, maybe like you, that are kind of more innovative and have helped people be more successful right now?

Mike Barnes: Our audience is a golfer, you know, they're the ones that we're trying to get out to book some rounds and get out and play. However, the customer who we are servicing is the golf course, and we provide backend technology that helps the course operate their business. So you can think of golf now, sort of as like the open table of golf. We provide the backend technology to help operate the pro shop and also the front end technology for people to connect with that golf course. So we're providing both aspects of the experience so that we can provide a seamless experience. So folks are booking their rounds online. It automatically shows on the electronic tee sheet the golf course. And that way we also provide other technology that helps the course run their business, whether it's food and beverage as part of their operation, if they have memberships, there's a number of different ways that we provide different pieces of technology to help different golf courses, depending on how their golf course is structured.

Chris Byers: We're all thinking about how do we reimagine the work kind of world around us because of so many of the changes that we're experiencing. As you kind of step back and think about 2020, about 2021 in the future, what do you think it means to reimagine work, especially for golf clubs?

Mike Barnes: So, I mean, I can say that, you know, golf clubs, they're learning how to service their customer and maintain the necessary distance that's required. Now, to do that, we have some really innovative tools that have come out, including our the G1 tool. So G1 basically allows you to show up at the golf course. The starter can check you in via iPad. So the intent is to avoid having to go into the clubhouse, but know that there's some inherent risk to the golf course that they don't come in the clubhouse. They're not going to maybe pick up some golf balls or view the merchandise. But with the G1, there's the opportunity to sell directly from the iPad as well. Hey, it looks like, you know, you needed golf balls last time you were here. Do you need another sleeve? Sure. Yeah. So they can place orders, get things they need directly from the iPad with the you know, with limited interaction. Same with somebody servicing the golf course, driving around on a golf cart, selling beverages and such, out on the golf course. Same kind of experience where they have the iPad and with knowledge of the customer that they're interacting with, they can identify, OK, this looks like you know, you generally get this kind of beverage or are you ready for another? Are you ready for a hot dog? You know, whatever it is that you need, they can serve it, help provide a higher level of touch and service to the golfer who's out on the course having that capability as well as be able to do it with, again, limited interaction. Those tools are really helping drive better experience for the golfer and for the golf course itself.

Chris Byers: And what would you say for yourself? How are you thinking about kind of your own work change and how this impacts your day to day?

Mike Barnes: So, yeah, for me, it's been a different world. Right. So where we all at GOLFNOW are currently working from home. We have been since March. We did a trial in mid-March and never came home from the trial. So it was like a Thursday, Friday trial. And we were told by the afternoon on Friday, we're going to go ahead and just keep this going because they determined everybody could effectively work from home. We have Microsoft teams, among other Microsoft products. So with teams we are able to communicate pretty effectively. I usually see some people more face to face now than I did before because our offices, you know, are a bit big. And sometimes it takes a lot of time to get up and walk from building to building or from place to place. So it's a little more efficient, you know, to be here and pop people on teams instantly instead of having to walk across the way or hop on the phone when I may not see them face to face. So it's been a different experience. I wasn't sure if I would enjoy working from home, frankly, but after doing it now for the last number of months, and I really do enjoy it, I really find that I'm a bit more efficient. I'm able to get more done. And I'm also a little healthier myself getting up in the morning, getting out of the house a little bit, where normally I'd be getting up, getting ready and getting in the car for a commute. So the time that I would spend commuting has now been replaced with exercise, which I really appreciate that, and I hope other folks are able to get the same out of it.

Chris Byers: Yeah, you know, there's something for me about I used to travel quite a bit more. And I think just the consistency of being at home most of the time has actually allowed me to eat a lot better. So I agree. It's been a unique benefit, at least in my life. So give us a sense of what is a day in your role look like? Give us a glimpse into it.

Mike Barnes: Sure. So we have a somewhat structured system where we use Salesforce to manage all of the requests that come to us. We'd run weekly sprints. We try to keep a reasonable amount of work each week. And then we also have day to day support. So right now it's just me and one other full time admin that do Salesforce, you know, primary Salesforce administration every day. And we have 700 plus users. So quite a few users for very few admins. But we're able to do that because I think we have a good process. We also have a great team lead. So what we've realized we had to do because we're interfacing with numerous departments, at least a dozen different departments just within GOLFNOW. Right. You have a marketing team. You have a sales team. We have a technology team. We have a bunch of different teams that all have different needs from us. We've set up a team lead within each of those departments that we meet, at least weekly, to discuss what's in the next week's sprint. Here's what we've done this week for you. Here's what's coming up in next week's sprint, if we need to make some adjustments. Hey, this is a real high priority item that we shift things around.

We do that every week. That's part of the weekly process and otherwise the day is, you know, get up, check, see what's, you know, the obligatory email and teams chats. Got to try to keep those in check. But I try to only check those two or three times a day at most. Otherwise, I am, you know, occasionally in meetings. But I try to keep the meetings focused on the cases that I have in the queue and then it really works. Just working through the cases in the que, calling people if I have questions, continue to develop Salesforce, develop workflow. We use a heavy amount of workflow at GOLFNOW just to keep everything straight. So there's a number of different technology and tools we use. And so I have to support all that. So every day there's, you know, there could be nominal things, some bugs, self created bugs or issues that are things aren't working the way they are intended for specific use case and such. I spend half my week really supporting and fixing issues and we're looking to make things more stable long term. And the other part is, you know, building new features that folks are requesting to help them be more efficient with what they're doing.

Chris Byers: One of the interesting things you mentioned was 700 users. And so when I think about it, well, people often think about change with kind of this negative feeling. And I know that when you need to make a change, it's going to impact a lot of people. I'm curious, how do you go about approaching change and making that feel like a positive thing for the users around you?

Mike Barnes: Well, I mean, the good news about the culture at GOLFNOW is they are definitely not afraid of change. We are constantly going through it. It's never ending. But it's always considered to be positive because it's moving the business forward. So we've had a number of acquisitions over the years to expand our business. There's been some, of course, internal development, but there's also been acquiring of outside business. So seven and a half years ago, I got to GOLFNOW and I thought this is a pretty simple business. We're just posting tee times online and we have a sales team that's out trying to recruit golf courses to post their tee times online. That was the scope of the business; the businesses that has since expanded quite a bit. And one of the first things we did was acquire two tee sheet companies because we knew we wanted to get into the tee sheet business. So one was the BRS Golf out of Belfast, Northern Ireland, and the other was for reservations out of Chicago.

They're now fully integrated part of GOLFNOW, that was one of the first projects, first two parallel projects I was put on to get them embedded into our Salesforce processes to bring them in so that the changes continued where we've internally we built Golf Advisor. We were collecting all kinds of ratings and reviews for golf courses through GOLFNOW.com. When you booked your round or finished your round, you got a request to tell us what you thought about your experience. We realized we had aggregated the largest number of rating reviews on golf courses anywhere, so we've spun that up into Golf Advisor. So that's now it's own product where we continue to provide the most rating reviews on golf courses anywhere in the world.

So we've also, you know, more recently acquired These Links Golf, which is also out of Chicago and they are helping us expand our business, our footprint. But it also requires a lot of work on the team internally to integrate the businesses and such. Change has been constant, there's always been something new every year, there's always something new that's changing how we think about the business or some new technology that we want to get out and promote and sell to help improve the experience for golfers. And so that has definitely kept us on our toes. The latest thing is smart play. So smart play is going to be a new way, a new technology for helping golfers get the most out of their game. It's a really new feature, again, new tool built internally inside of GOLFNOW. And it's going to help, I think, change our business for the better. Change has not been something that's been scary at GOLFNOW, it's something that we've embraced. And that's the reason, frankly, the reason I'm working here, because there's always something new and exciting to learn and new problems to solve. And it's not a stale business by any means.

Chris Byers: So I would love to hear how you would suggest how you would think, you know, encourage people to think about building their low-code, no-code toolboxes.

Mike Barnes: Absolutely. So I'm not a trained developer. I've had some development courses in college, but I started out as an electrical engineer. And so I worked as an electrical engineer, I did machine control and automation. So I worked with low-code tools from the time I was an intern in college. As my career evolved and I ended up here and doing Salesforce.com now for a living, I realized it's the same kind of logic, the same kind of thought process, automation, logic that you as an engineer have to think through. How are we going to get from these inputs to these outputs? And there's the stuff in the middle that nobody really understands and it can be done with code.

There's definitely a lot of great developers out there who build some pretty amazing tools, including developers on the GOLFNOW staff who are building out the tools within GOLFNOW because they're novel tools. They are custom and they're proprietary. So they're being developed line by line code. When it comes to operating a business, though, there are plenty of tools out there that are already built and there's plenty of commonalities between businesses that you can use similar tools across many different businesses. There's all kinds of workflow, automation, things you can do that do not have to write apex code to get done. In fact, I've kind of made it a point from the time I got into using Salesforce is that I wanted to avoid code wherever possible. There are some cases you can't avoid it. There are places where we have to do API integrations, things that do require some custom APACS. But those are the exception for us.

The rule is we're using process builder, using flow, we're using Formstack for forms instead of writing our own HTML, we're using a squid for the front instead of writing ora components inside Salesforce. So I recommend just identifying the tools that you need that will work for you. There's plenty of tools out there across many different platforms that integrate with Salesforce. And then there, of course, are things outside of Salesforce as well that you can look at. I found that a group of tools that work really well for me and meet my needs. The answer I want to be able to give to my team is yes when they say, hey, can we do this? You know, early in my Salesforce career, I was like, well, Salesforce doesn't really do that. Or, you know, the answer was typically sure we can do that, but can require custom code. And here's what that's probably going to cost to get that built. Now, the answer is typically, yes, I have a tool for that and I can do it and I can do it for you pretty quickly. We can get that done. I'm not going to have to recruit an external developer. I can think through the process and build it with the low-code declarative tools that are available to me now.

Chris Byers: If you have those low-code no no-code tools, it kind of presumes that you've actually got a problem that you want to solve. How is it you go about discovering, you know, it's time to actually change a process and then what's the first step you need to take?

Mike Barnes: Our team is constantly coming up with new ways they want to run the business, whether it's information they need to gather or it's how we want to interact with our customers. That's typically the basis, right? We have something we want to sell. There's something we want to be able to do for our customers that we don't really have the tools to do now. So for my perspective, you know, I'm helping advise what we can get done. But we have a bunch of brilliant people who are coming in and saying all the time, here's what I need to be able to deliver to our customers. And that's where it ultimately all funnels down to having the focus on the customer that, hey, we want to make sure we're delivering to them ultimately the best service that we can deliver.

So we meet at least once a week and more often if there's a special project or something that's happening and we identify, OK, well, here's what we want to be able to deliver the customer. Here's what we want to do. What do we need to get there? So we work our way back to the technology. It's not hey, here's a cool, fancy piece of technology we can deploy. Let's see how we can fit this in. That's usually not the process that we're taking. It's usually let's identify the problem. Let's figure out what tools we might need to solve the problem. And then we back our way into the technology that's going to help us get there the most efficient way possible. Typically, low-code tools for me have been the most efficient way there simply because the time to development is so much faster. And it doesn't require getting external expertise. It doesn't require me pulling your valuable GOLFNOW developers into Salesforce projects, because better for them to be out developing GOLFNOW, developing the proprietary technology. And let me handle the business technology in a low-code way where I can.

Chris Byers: So you mentioned in that conversation there, this idea of customers. So even internally, you have customers at times and sometimes you're focused on the external customer. What does it mean to have kind of a client first mindset?

Mike Barnes: Well, I mean, I'm trying to make everybody as efficient as possible, remove the barriers to them getting what they need to get done. So whether that's going to be the golfer trying to book a round or our partner trying to sign a sales contract or our finance team trying to make sure invoices get sent out properly, I'm trying to remove barriers to them getting their work done, what they need to get done. Because if I can do that, if I can remove those barriers, then I can make everybody happier because, hey, I don't have these roadblocks in the way. I don't have these delays. I'm able to move right through to get done what I need to get done. So whether it's, as you mentioned, another internal customer who has a request for us or it's next for our customer, I'm always focused on what can I do to make their life easier. And generally what makes their life easier makes my life more complicated. But I'm OK with that because that's my job. I solve puzzles, I solve problems. And if they can present me a cool problem, I'm happy to go figure out what's going to make it work for them.

Chris Byers: Yeah, I actually appreciate that idea that for some of those who are actually building the solution, it isn't always an easier life. You may be helping people save a lot of time, which of course is saving the organization money, but it's something you have to support and you have to to be involved in. Absolutely. I'm curious, what do you think it means really, to modernize your customers kind of workplace there, to help them rethink their work? How do you think you helped them do that?

Mike Barnes: Well, you know, I try to get them to tell me what they actually need. That's probably the hardest part, I think, with being in the position of mine is getting people to actually tell you when they have a problem instead of working around it. One of the nicknames I got early on was Spreadsheet Killer because people were just living off spreadsheets because they had been living on spreadsheets forever. And they could own the spreadsheet and they knew how the spreadsheet worked. Of course, there's a lot of inherent flaws with living on spreadsheets, which can get stale and get static. Different people own different versions of it and it gets bad. So that's just, again, an example of how some folks work and trying to get them to tell me, hey, what are you doing now that we can make better? And sometimes they don't see the problem. They don't see that their spreadsheet is really not the most efficient way to get done what you've done. But eventually those all come to light. Right. It's hey, I want to get reporting on what's happening over here. Well, that's being done on so and so spreadsheet. Well get them out of there. I've got to get that data into that to get into Salesforce. Let's give them a process in Salesforce that will work, so that they can then own the data there instead of own it on the spreadsheet.

The second problem that we have is less frequent, but occasionally folks want to come in and provide the design to us, OK, I want this object with this field and this workflow and it's like, well, no, hold on, let's back up. Tell me, what is the problem you're trying to solve? Like, what issue are you having and what is the outcome you want to achieve? So asking those questions and backing people off of the design side of things said, let me let me handle the design. I'm happy to include you in the design and I'm happy to have you provide input is what you think might work best. You're operating the business. You tell me what problem you have and what outcome you'd like to achieve. Once I figure out those things, I whiteboard. That's one thing I do miss about being in the office is, you know, I have my big whiteboard and be able to, you know, draw a bunch of things out with people in the office and kind of come up and imagine the solution there. I can get up and talk about it, that usually sometimes clears my head a little bit to think through the potential issues. But just be able to do those sort of things. I need to find a way to do that better from home. I will jot things and draw things out on paper and pen just because I have to visualize it quite often before I can build. But the trick is, you know, identifying the problem, figuring out what the endpoint the person wants and then figure out what you need to build in the middle that's going to get them there.

Chris Byers: Will tell us how you take that example of the whiteboard, what are the ways you're reimagining, how to get that solved kind of going forward, that whiteboarding experience, that design experience.

Mike Barnes: Oh, gosh. Well. Like I said, I'm still drawing on my piece of paper and with pen, obviously it's kind of funny for a technology kind of person to live off pen and paper, but I guess that may say more about my generation and age. But, yeah, definitely need to use the tools I have available in teams and whatnot to maybe if I need a different tool, find a different tool. That's probably something I need to figure out now as well. What tools are available to me that I can then, you know, draw things out on the screen with other people, you know, able to see it as opposed to my pen and paper, which is just, you know, just for me. So that's definitely something, one of the things on the roadmap as this staying home here seems to be interminable, I don't see any end coming to it anytime soon. For us being a technology business, we're very fortunate that we don't have to, there's no absolute need to be in an office environment. So we're very, very fortunate in this current state of the world to have that option to be able to be home.

At the same time, it does pose some challenges where before we could all get in a conference room, whiteboard things out, and we were just used to that, you know, being the way we could get things done. I could snap some pictures with my phone of the whiteboard, then leave the meeting and I'd have everything I needed. So being able to whiteboard those things out. That's definitely a problem I need to figure out how am I going to solve.

Chris Byers: So I'm sure many people who are listening or saying, wow, sounds like GOLFNOW is fairly well resourced for building solutions to lots of problems internally. Building workflows, have the tools, have the team. For those who are kind of feeling a bit overwhelmed right now and saying man, I really want to kind of jump into this. What do you think the first step is they need to think about and just saying, just put something in place and just begin that process. What are some things that come to mind?

Mike Barnes: Well, yeah, if I was going to get started if I was in a business that didn't have Salesforce, I definitely would look at it very closely. I launched Salesforce at the company I was with prior to my current company about 10 years ago. And that was really my first taste of it. I'd heard of Salesforce, you know, in passing prior to that. But we needed at that time, the prior company needed a new CRM, the CRM we had was basically no better than a glorified electronic Rolodex. And we needed something a little better than that. So we tried some other solutions that I won't mention here. But Salesforce we just found was the best solution that we could find on the market. And it met all the needs that we wanted at the time and all the needs we couldn't possibly have anticipated in the future.

The next thing is to take full advantage of the tools you have within Salesforce.com itself. So there's so much automation you can do. Again, when I got here at GOLFNOW, there was very little automation done. They were using Salesforce to track activity, to track meetings and phone calls, and that was about it. They did have some opportunities. They did a little bit with that and they did some other things. But there was practically no automation in place. It was very, very light what was in place. So I came in. I was initially the lone Salesforce admin, of course the business was a bit smaller back then, fewer users. But we went through and just found out, hey, where are the pain points? And that's again, if you're looking for something to solve first in your business, figure out where the pain points are. You probably know where they are. If you're not using Salesforce, or you're not using it well, you probably already know these are things that are always a problem. Go solve those first. Let's get you know, get underneath those pain points, identify what everyone does not like about how their business works right now and find a way to solve it with automation.

One of the examples is we had it early on in the current board, we were tracking everything and we still track a lot of things by market. We kind of divide the world up into specific markets. And one of the challenges was we had a market on the account and then they had to set a market on the opportunity and there was a market on other objects as well in Salesforce. So you ended up with tracking the same information, multiple places, but every opportunity had an account relationship. So, I mean, it sounds pretty simple. It sounds pretty basic. And it was. It was just a formula to say, hey, just pull the market from the account into the opportunity. I mean, doing something simple like that just so that, hey, our markets don't align between our count report and our opportunity report. Well, because you're putting the information in three different times. So three different people are potentially putting three different pieces of information. Trying to get data cleanliness is probably one of the most challenging things in any CRM. Just trying to keep your data clean. So the fewer touch points you have with any particular piece of data, definitely the better. Very, very early, probably the first week thing that I did, I realized this is a real problem. Let's solve that and just keep finding the pain points and keep running them down and and solve one thing at a time. It's the old elephant adage, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. So don't look at this whole mess and be like, oh, man, we're never going to solve this thing. Find out, here's one little point that if we could solve that would give us the biggest win. Find the low hanging fruit. That's the easy stuff. I mean, I'm at the point where we've kind of picked all the low hanging fruits. So now I'm solving much more complex, larger problems. And I frankly, I find it more interesting and much more fun to solve the larger problems than the low hanging fruit. But the low hanging fruit is easy and a great way to get started.

Chris Byers: Well, as we kind of wrap up today, a couple of quick questions that I think people will appreciate. First is, what's your one piece of advice for embracing simplicity in business processes?

Mike Barnes: Oh, goodness. So definitely have a plan. I mean, this is something that didn't come to me all at once, but over time, do a lot of research in your field. So for Salesforce, search the Salesforce ideas, search the Salesforce message posts because a lot of folks are already asking the questions that you're asking. And so one of the best things I think I found is just keeping a consistent format and also use a lot of notes. I wish I'd done this earlier than I did early on. You have a description field in Salesforce on everything. You have descriptions, put in notes. That's more of a developer best practice that I've learned more recently that, you know, a developer when you see a line of code, you'll see a lot of commented text. Right. It's commented out of the code, but it's there for your reference and using that so that when you come back seven years later and you're looking at why do we have this in place, you can answer your own question.

And one of the ways we're doing that, again, help keep things simple is we track all of our activity, all the things, all the requests that we're getting. We track through cases already. So to make things simple, so I'm not having to regurgitate what I was asked to do. I simply put a case reference in the description. So if I ever have to go back to something, I have a reference ID, I can just go then look up that case. I can say, OK, well, here's exactly why I built it. Here's all the chatter about what happened. I don't have to get crazy wordy with description notes. I mean, we already again, the same objective of not duplicating the same information multiple places in Salesforce, we try to live up to that also with how we track our notes with things we're building. Hey, we were doing everything based on a case. Let's just reference the case and let's keep all the notes in one place in the case itself. So that's the advice I wish I had gotten seven, 10 years ago would be to do what I'm doing now, which we only learned over time. First, make sure to handle everything out of cases, try to avoid handling things out of email and teams chats. I mean, those things do happen. But we generally if it's not a quick, quick win or immediate problem, that's, you know, shutting people down, we try to divert them back into case and get it cued up in an orderly fashion, as opposed to just constantly taking all the noise from both sides or from all sides. Which can to happen. So again, that's why the second piece of advice is make sure you're using some process to to route everything in. As long as you have something that you're tracking the requests and that you can then work from, that will help you keep things organized. That's been one of my biggest pieces of advice. Stay organized, keep it simple, and go from there.

Chris Byers: And last question. Can you share your go to productivity tip?

Mike Barnes: Oh, goodness. Go to productivity tip. So, trying to think of from my personal standpoint, it's I mean, especially working from home, it's easy to get distracted. And, you know, there's plenty of other things going on. My wife thinks because I'm here, if I'm not on a phone call, I must be available. So trying to you know, if you have the capability to separate yourself, have a separate room and also stay to a schedule. So we've been pretty good. Every day we get up, we try to get out of bed by seven o'clock, try to get out and ride our bikes or go for a walk, spend a half hour, just, you know, getting the blood pumping. And I think there's been nothing better I could have done for myself than to do that and have that kind of morning routine, then come back, get cleaned up and then get to work. So it's just having a standard routine has really helped me to stay focused. So when I'm at work, I'm at work. And then, you know, then the hardest part, I think, for me is just cutting it off at the end of the day, because, I mean, dinner time, you know, usually comes and I'll try to make that the end. OK, it's time for dinner. So we're going to cut things off for today and move on to the family part portion of the evening. So that's definitely been a challenge. Just stay productive by focusing that, hey, this is my work time.

Chris Byers: Yeah, I think that speaks to a lot of what what we all need. It starts with personal productivity and getting the right energy for the work that we've got ahead. So I love that. Well, Mike, thanks for joining us today. It's been a great conversation and appreciate you joining us on Ripple Effect.

As we kind of wrap this episode up featuring Mike Barnes, there are a couple of takeaways to highlight. First is have a client first mindset and dive into problems to really understand for your customers what is their problem and what is the outcome that they're looking for. Build that no-code toolset. It's the way that you're going to help kind of remove barriers and help people save time in their work and make their lives easier. And then build relationships. That's the way that you can really understand and source where are other problems that I need to solve. How can we actually get those taken care of?

Thanks so much for joining us today. It's been a great conversation here on Ripple Effect, and we're curious what you think of it. Give us a review or shout out online, tell us how we're doing and we'd love to hear your feedback on this particular episode or Ripple Effect in general.


Chris Byers: Welcome to Ripple Effect, I am Chris Byers with Formstack. Today, we are featuring Mike Barnes, the director of Salesforce.com Administration for GOLFNOW.

For any of us familiar with the golf industry, many things come to mind. Beautiful scenery, afternoons outside the office, comfortable accommodations and time spent just kind of enjoying the game. What you don't often think about is technology. And Mike's going to share with us today how GOLFNOW is reimagining the golf experience for avid players around the world.

Mike, welcome to the show. Before we get started, first, if you could just kick start with a snapshot of what GOLFNOW does.

Mike Barnes: Sure. So golf now is the worldwide online way to book rounds for golf. So you want to play somewhere just like about anything else you're going to be looking for these days for shopping, usually online is the way to go. So GOLFNOW is your marketplace. This is your one stop shop for golf or booking rounds of golf anywhere in the world.

Chris Byers: As you've kind of taken a look at this year. I'm curious, what are some unique challenges that your customers, even who are trying to book online, have experienced because of just all that's going on this year?

Mike Barnes: So, you know, the booking experiences become more critical with, you know, COVID-19 and the lockdowns that have occurred. Many courses were shut down, as were most businesses, for a good amount of time in the spring. And when they were able to reopen, fortunately, golf was able to reopen, was one of the earlier things you could do, simply because it is a naturally socially distanced event. And one of the challenges with the booking side of things has been when you arrive at the golf course, typically have to go in the pro shop and pay for your round. And there's interaction. You're indoors and with GOLFNOW we have the option that you can book online and prepay for your round. So many courses have opted in with us to allow for prepaid rounds.

Just something that has blown up for our business has gone really big because the courses realize they want to limit interactions, you know, face to face interactions with the golfers if they can avoid it. And with our payments products, we can offer that to the golf courses so that they can offer that in turn to the golfers that are booking with them.

Chris Byers: What do you think you've done differently than other organizations, maybe like you, that are kind of more innovative and have helped people be more successful right now?

Mike Barnes: Our audience is a golfer, you know, they're the ones that we're trying to get out to book some rounds and get out and play. However, the customer who we are servicing is the golf course, and we provide backend technology that helps the course operate their business. So you can think of golf now, sort of as like the open table of golf. We provide the backend technology to help operate the pro shop and also the front end technology for people to connect with that golf course. So we're providing both aspects of the experience so that we can provide a seamless experience. So folks are booking their rounds online. It automatically shows on the electronic tee sheet the golf course. And that way we also provide other technology that helps the course run their business, whether it's food and beverage as part of their operation, if they have memberships, there's a number of different ways that we provide different pieces of technology to help different golf courses, depending on how their golf course is structured.

Chris Byers: We're all thinking about how do we reimagine the work kind of world around us because of so many of the changes that we're experiencing. As you kind of step back and think about 2020, about 2021 in the future, what do you think it means to reimagine work, especially for golf clubs?

Mike Barnes: So, I mean, I can say that, you know, golf clubs, they're learning how to service their customer and maintain the necessary distance that's required. Now, to do that, we have some really innovative tools that have come out, including our the G1 tool. So G1 basically allows you to show up at the golf course. The starter can check you in via iPad. So the intent is to avoid having to go into the clubhouse, but know that there's some inherent risk to the golf course that they don't come in the clubhouse. They're not going to maybe pick up some golf balls or view the merchandise. But with the G1, there's the opportunity to sell directly from the iPad as well. Hey, it looks like, you know, you needed golf balls last time you were here. Do you need another sleeve? Sure. Yeah. So they can place orders, get things they need directly from the iPad with the you know, with limited interaction. Same with somebody servicing the golf course, driving around on a golf cart, selling beverages and such, out on the golf course. Same kind of experience where they have the iPad and with knowledge of the customer that they're interacting with, they can identify, OK, this looks like you know, you generally get this kind of beverage or are you ready for another? Are you ready for a hot dog? You know, whatever it is that you need, they can serve it, help provide a higher level of touch and service to the golfer who's out on the course having that capability as well as be able to do it with, again, limited interaction. Those tools are really helping drive better experience for the golfer and for the golf course itself.

Chris Byers: And what would you say for yourself? How are you thinking about kind of your own work change and how this impacts your day to day?

Mike Barnes: So, yeah, for me, it's been a different world. Right. So where we all at GOLFNOW are currently working from home. We have been since March. We did a trial in mid-March and never came home from the trial. So it was like a Thursday, Friday trial. And we were told by the afternoon on Friday, we're going to go ahead and just keep this going because they determined everybody could effectively work from home. We have Microsoft teams, among other Microsoft products. So with teams we are able to communicate pretty effectively. I usually see some people more face to face now than I did before because our offices, you know, are a bit big. And sometimes it takes a lot of time to get up and walk from building to building or from place to place. So it's a little more efficient, you know, to be here and pop people on teams instantly instead of having to walk across the way or hop on the phone when I may not see them face to face. So it's been a different experience. I wasn't sure if I would enjoy working from home, frankly, but after doing it now for the last number of months, and I really do enjoy it, I really find that I'm a bit more efficient. I'm able to get more done. And I'm also a little healthier myself getting up in the morning, getting out of the house a little bit, where normally I'd be getting up, getting ready and getting in the car for a commute. So the time that I would spend commuting has now been replaced with exercise, which I really appreciate that, and I hope other folks are able to get the same out of it.

Chris Byers: Yeah, you know, there's something for me about I used to travel quite a bit more. And I think just the consistency of being at home most of the time has actually allowed me to eat a lot better. So I agree. It's been a unique benefit, at least in my life. So give us a sense of what is a day in your role look like? Give us a glimpse into it.

Mike Barnes: Sure. So we have a somewhat structured system where we use Salesforce to manage all of the requests that come to us. We'd run weekly sprints. We try to keep a reasonable amount of work each week. And then we also have day to day support. So right now it's just me and one other full time admin that do Salesforce, you know, primary Salesforce administration every day. And we have 700 plus users. So quite a few users for very few admins. But we're able to do that because I think we have a good process. We also have a great team lead. So what we've realized we had to do because we're interfacing with numerous departments, at least a dozen different departments just within GOLFNOW. Right. You have a marketing team. You have a sales team. We have a technology team. We have a bunch of different teams that all have different needs from us. We've set up a team lead within each of those departments that we meet, at least weekly, to discuss what's in the next week's sprint. Here's what we've done this week for you. Here's what's coming up in next week's sprint, if we need to make some adjustments. Hey, this is a real high priority item that we shift things around.

We do that every week. That's part of the weekly process and otherwise the day is, you know, get up, check, see what's, you know, the obligatory email and teams chats. Got to try to keep those in check. But I try to only check those two or three times a day at most. Otherwise, I am, you know, occasionally in meetings. But I try to keep the meetings focused on the cases that I have in the queue and then it really works. Just working through the cases in the que, calling people if I have questions, continue to develop Salesforce, develop workflow. We use a heavy amount of workflow at GOLFNOW just to keep everything straight. So there's a number of different technology and tools we use. And so I have to support all that. So every day there's, you know, there could be nominal things, some bugs, self created bugs or issues that are things aren't working the way they are intended for specific use case and such. I spend half my week really supporting and fixing issues and we're looking to make things more stable long term. And the other part is, you know, building new features that folks are requesting to help them be more efficient with what they're doing.

Chris Byers: One of the interesting things you mentioned was 700 users. And so when I think about it, well, people often think about change with kind of this negative feeling. And I know that when you need to make a change, it's going to impact a lot of people. I'm curious, how do you go about approaching change and making that feel like a positive thing for the users around you?

Mike Barnes: Well, I mean, the good news about the culture at GOLFNOW is they are definitely not afraid of change. We are constantly going through it. It's never ending. But it's always considered to be positive because it's moving the business forward. So we've had a number of acquisitions over the years to expand our business. There's been some, of course, internal development, but there's also been acquiring of outside business. So seven and a half years ago, I got to GOLFNOW and I thought this is a pretty simple business. We're just posting tee times online and we have a sales team that's out trying to recruit golf courses to post their tee times online. That was the scope of the business; the businesses that has since expanded quite a bit. And one of the first things we did was acquire two tee sheet companies because we knew we wanted to get into the tee sheet business. So one was the BRS Golf out of Belfast, Northern Ireland, and the other was for reservations out of Chicago.

They're now fully integrated part of GOLFNOW, that was one of the first projects, first two parallel projects I was put on to get them embedded into our Salesforce processes to bring them in so that the changes continued where we've internally we built Golf Advisor. We were collecting all kinds of ratings and reviews for golf courses through GOLFNOW.com. When you booked your round or finished your round, you got a request to tell us what you thought about your experience. We realized we had aggregated the largest number of rating reviews on golf courses anywhere, so we've spun that up into Golf Advisor. So that's now it's own product where we continue to provide the most rating reviews on golf courses anywhere in the world.

So we've also, you know, more recently acquired These Links Golf, which is also out of Chicago and they are helping us expand our business, our footprint. But it also requires a lot of work on the team internally to integrate the businesses and such. Change has been constant, there's always been something new every year, there's always something new that's changing how we think about the business or some new technology that we want to get out and promote and sell to help improve the experience for golfers. And so that has definitely kept us on our toes. The latest thing is smart play. So smart play is going to be a new way, a new technology for helping golfers get the most out of their game. It's a really new feature, again, new tool built internally inside of GOLFNOW. And it's going to help, I think, change our business for the better. Change has not been something that's been scary at GOLFNOW, it's something that we've embraced. And that's the reason, frankly, the reason I'm working here, because there's always something new and exciting to learn and new problems to solve. And it's not a stale business by any means.

Chris Byers: So I would love to hear how you would suggest how you would think, you know, encourage people to think about building their low-code, no-code toolboxes.

Mike Barnes: Absolutely. So I'm not a trained developer. I've had some development courses in college, but I started out as an electrical engineer. And so I worked as an electrical engineer, I did machine control and automation. So I worked with low-code tools from the time I was an intern in college. As my career evolved and I ended up here and doing Salesforce.com now for a living, I realized it's the same kind of logic, the same kind of thought process, automation, logic that you as an engineer have to think through. How are we going to get from these inputs to these outputs? And there's the stuff in the middle that nobody really understands and it can be done with code.

There's definitely a lot of great developers out there who build some pretty amazing tools, including developers on the GOLFNOW staff who are building out the tools within GOLFNOW because they're novel tools. They are custom and they're proprietary. So they're being developed line by line code. When it comes to operating a business, though, there are plenty of tools out there that are already built and there's plenty of commonalities between businesses that you can use similar tools across many different businesses. There's all kinds of workflow, automation, things you can do that do not have to write apex code to get done. In fact, I've kind of made it a point from the time I got into using Salesforce is that I wanted to avoid code wherever possible. There are some cases you can't avoid it. There are places where we have to do API integrations, things that do require some custom APACS. But those are the exception for us.

The rule is we're using process builder, using flow, we're using Formstack for forms instead of writing our own HTML, we're using a squid for the front instead of writing ora components inside Salesforce. So I recommend just identifying the tools that you need that will work for you. There's plenty of tools out there across many different platforms that integrate with Salesforce. And then there, of course, are things outside of Salesforce as well that you can look at. I found that a group of tools that work really well for me and meet my needs. The answer I want to be able to give to my team is yes when they say, hey, can we do this? You know, early in my Salesforce career, I was like, well, Salesforce doesn't really do that. Or, you know, the answer was typically sure we can do that, but can require custom code. And here's what that's probably going to cost to get that built. Now, the answer is typically, yes, I have a tool for that and I can do it and I can do it for you pretty quickly. We can get that done. I'm not going to have to recruit an external developer. I can think through the process and build it with the low-code declarative tools that are available to me now.

Chris Byers: If you have those low-code no no-code tools, it kind of presumes that you've actually got a problem that you want to solve. How is it you go about discovering, you know, it's time to actually change a process and then what's the first step you need to take?

Mike Barnes: Our team is constantly coming up with new ways they want to run the business, whether it's information they need to gather or it's how we want to interact with our customers. That's typically the basis, right? We have something we want to sell. There's something we want to be able to do for our customers that we don't really have the tools to do now. So for my perspective, you know, I'm helping advise what we can get done. But we have a bunch of brilliant people who are coming in and saying all the time, here's what I need to be able to deliver to our customers. And that's where it ultimately all funnels down to having the focus on the customer that, hey, we want to make sure we're delivering to them ultimately the best service that we can deliver.

So we meet at least once a week and more often if there's a special project or something that's happening and we identify, OK, well, here's what we want to be able to deliver the customer. Here's what we want to do. What do we need to get there? So we work our way back to the technology. It's not hey, here's a cool, fancy piece of technology we can deploy. Let's see how we can fit this in. That's usually not the process that we're taking. It's usually let's identify the problem. Let's figure out what tools we might need to solve the problem. And then we back our way into the technology that's going to help us get there the most efficient way possible. Typically, low-code tools for me have been the most efficient way there simply because the time to development is so much faster. And it doesn't require getting external expertise. It doesn't require me pulling your valuable GOLFNOW developers into Salesforce projects, because better for them to be out developing GOLFNOW, developing the proprietary technology. And let me handle the business technology in a low-code way where I can.

Chris Byers: So you mentioned in that conversation there, this idea of customers. So even internally, you have customers at times and sometimes you're focused on the external customer. What does it mean to have kind of a client first mindset?

Mike Barnes: Well, I mean, I'm trying to make everybody as efficient as possible, remove the barriers to them getting what they need to get done. So whether that's going to be the golfer trying to book a round or our partner trying to sign a sales contract or our finance team trying to make sure invoices get sent out properly, I'm trying to remove barriers to them getting their work done, what they need to get done. Because if I can do that, if I can remove those barriers, then I can make everybody happier because, hey, I don't have these roadblocks in the way. I don't have these delays. I'm able to move right through to get done what I need to get done. So whether it's, as you mentioned, another internal customer who has a request for us or it's next for our customer, I'm always focused on what can I do to make their life easier. And generally what makes their life easier makes my life more complicated. But I'm OK with that because that's my job. I solve puzzles, I solve problems. And if they can present me a cool problem, I'm happy to go figure out what's going to make it work for them.

Chris Byers: Yeah, I actually appreciate that idea that for some of those who are actually building the solution, it isn't always an easier life. You may be helping people save a lot of time, which of course is saving the organization money, but it's something you have to support and you have to to be involved in. Absolutely. I'm curious, what do you think it means really, to modernize your customers kind of workplace there, to help them rethink their work? How do you think you helped them do that?

Mike Barnes: Well, you know, I try to get them to tell me what they actually need. That's probably the hardest part, I think, with being in the position of mine is getting people to actually tell you when they have a problem instead of working around it. One of the nicknames I got early on was Spreadsheet Killer because people were just living off spreadsheets because they had been living on spreadsheets forever. And they could own the spreadsheet and they knew how the spreadsheet worked. Of course, there's a lot of inherent flaws with living on spreadsheets, which can get stale and get static. Different people own different versions of it and it gets bad. So that's just, again, an example of how some folks work and trying to get them to tell me, hey, what are you doing now that we can make better? And sometimes they don't see the problem. They don't see that their spreadsheet is really not the most efficient way to get done what you've done. But eventually those all come to light. Right. It's hey, I want to get reporting on what's happening over here. Well, that's being done on so and so spreadsheet. Well get them out of there. I've got to get that data into that to get into Salesforce. Let's give them a process in Salesforce that will work, so that they can then own the data there instead of own it on the spreadsheet.

The second problem that we have is less frequent, but occasionally folks want to come in and provide the design to us, OK, I want this object with this field and this workflow and it's like, well, no, hold on, let's back up. Tell me, what is the problem you're trying to solve? Like, what issue are you having and what is the outcome you want to achieve? So asking those questions and backing people off of the design side of things said, let me let me handle the design. I'm happy to include you in the design and I'm happy to have you provide input is what you think might work best. You're operating the business. You tell me what problem you have and what outcome you'd like to achieve. Once I figure out those things, I whiteboard. That's one thing I do miss about being in the office is, you know, I have my big whiteboard and be able to, you know, draw a bunch of things out with people in the office and kind of come up and imagine the solution there. I can get up and talk about it, that usually sometimes clears my head a little bit to think through the potential issues. But just be able to do those sort of things. I need to find a way to do that better from home. I will jot things and draw things out on paper and pen just because I have to visualize it quite often before I can build. But the trick is, you know, identifying the problem, figuring out what the endpoint the person wants and then figure out what you need to build in the middle that's going to get them there.

Chris Byers: Will tell us how you take that example of the whiteboard, what are the ways you're reimagining, how to get that solved kind of going forward, that whiteboarding experience, that design experience.

Mike Barnes: Oh, gosh. Well. Like I said, I'm still drawing on my piece of paper and with pen, obviously it's kind of funny for a technology kind of person to live off pen and paper, but I guess that may say more about my generation and age. But, yeah, definitely need to use the tools I have available in teams and whatnot to maybe if I need a different tool, find a different tool. That's probably something I need to figure out now as well. What tools are available to me that I can then, you know, draw things out on the screen with other people, you know, able to see it as opposed to my pen and paper, which is just, you know, just for me. So that's definitely something, one of the things on the roadmap as this staying home here seems to be interminable, I don't see any end coming to it anytime soon. For us being a technology business, we're very fortunate that we don't have to, there's no absolute need to be in an office environment. So we're very, very fortunate in this current state of the world to have that option to be able to be home.

At the same time, it does pose some challenges where before we could all get in a conference room, whiteboard things out, and we were just used to that, you know, being the way we could get things done. I could snap some pictures with my phone of the whiteboard, then leave the meeting and I'd have everything I needed. So being able to whiteboard those things out. That's definitely a problem I need to figure out how am I going to solve.

Chris Byers: So I'm sure many people who are listening or saying, wow, sounds like GOLFNOW is fairly well resourced for building solutions to lots of problems internally. Building workflows, have the tools, have the team. For those who are kind of feeling a bit overwhelmed right now and saying man, I really want to kind of jump into this. What do you think the first step is they need to think about and just saying, just put something in place and just begin that process. What are some things that come to mind?

Mike Barnes: Well, yeah, if I was going to get started if I was in a business that didn't have Salesforce, I definitely would look at it very closely. I launched Salesforce at the company I was with prior to my current company about 10 years ago. And that was really my first taste of it. I'd heard of Salesforce, you know, in passing prior to that. But we needed at that time, the prior company needed a new CRM, the CRM we had was basically no better than a glorified electronic Rolodex. And we needed something a little better than that. So we tried some other solutions that I won't mention here. But Salesforce we just found was the best solution that we could find on the market. And it met all the needs that we wanted at the time and all the needs we couldn't possibly have anticipated in the future.

The next thing is to take full advantage of the tools you have within Salesforce.com itself. So there's so much automation you can do. Again, when I got here at GOLFNOW, there was very little automation done. They were using Salesforce to track activity, to track meetings and phone calls, and that was about it. They did have some opportunities. They did a little bit with that and they did some other things. But there was practically no automation in place. It was very, very light what was in place. So I came in. I was initially the lone Salesforce admin, of course the business was a bit smaller back then, fewer users. But we went through and just found out, hey, where are the pain points? And that's again, if you're looking for something to solve first in your business, figure out where the pain points are. You probably know where they are. If you're not using Salesforce, or you're not using it well, you probably already know these are things that are always a problem. Go solve those first. Let's get you know, get underneath those pain points, identify what everyone does not like about how their business works right now and find a way to solve it with automation.

One of the examples is we had it early on in the current board, we were tracking everything and we still track a lot of things by market. We kind of divide the world up into specific markets. And one of the challenges was we had a market on the account and then they had to set a market on the opportunity and there was a market on other objects as well in Salesforce. So you ended up with tracking the same information, multiple places, but every opportunity had an account relationship. So, I mean, it sounds pretty simple. It sounds pretty basic. And it was. It was just a formula to say, hey, just pull the market from the account into the opportunity. I mean, doing something simple like that just so that, hey, our markets don't align between our count report and our opportunity report. Well, because you're putting the information in three different times. So three different people are potentially putting three different pieces of information. Trying to get data cleanliness is probably one of the most challenging things in any CRM. Just trying to keep your data clean. So the fewer touch points you have with any particular piece of data, definitely the better. Very, very early, probably the first week thing that I did, I realized this is a real problem. Let's solve that and just keep finding the pain points and keep running them down and and solve one thing at a time. It's the old elephant adage, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. So don't look at this whole mess and be like, oh, man, we're never going to solve this thing. Find out, here's one little point that if we could solve that would give us the biggest win. Find the low hanging fruit. That's the easy stuff. I mean, I'm at the point where we've kind of picked all the low hanging fruits. So now I'm solving much more complex, larger problems. And I frankly, I find it more interesting and much more fun to solve the larger problems than the low hanging fruit. But the low hanging fruit is easy and a great way to get started.

Chris Byers: Well, as we kind of wrap up today, a couple of quick questions that I think people will appreciate. First is, what's your one piece of advice for embracing simplicity in business processes?

Mike Barnes: Oh, goodness. So definitely have a plan. I mean, this is something that didn't come to me all at once, but over time, do a lot of research in your field. So for Salesforce, search the Salesforce ideas, search the Salesforce message posts because a lot of folks are already asking the questions that you're asking. And so one of the best things I think I found is just keeping a consistent format and also use a lot of notes. I wish I'd done this earlier than I did early on. You have a description field in Salesforce on everything. You have descriptions, put in notes. That's more of a developer best practice that I've learned more recently that, you know, a developer when you see a line of code, you'll see a lot of commented text. Right. It's commented out of the code, but it's there for your reference and using that so that when you come back seven years later and you're looking at why do we have this in place, you can answer your own question.

And one of the ways we're doing that, again, help keep things simple is we track all of our activity, all the things, all the requests that we're getting. We track through cases already. So to make things simple, so I'm not having to regurgitate what I was asked to do. I simply put a case reference in the description. So if I ever have to go back to something, I have a reference ID, I can just go then look up that case. I can say, OK, well, here's exactly why I built it. Here's all the chatter about what happened. I don't have to get crazy wordy with description notes. I mean, we already again, the same objective of not duplicating the same information multiple places in Salesforce, we try to live up to that also with how we track our notes with things we're building. Hey, we were doing everything based on a case. Let's just reference the case and let's keep all the notes in one place in the case itself. So that's the advice I wish I had gotten seven, 10 years ago would be to do what I'm doing now, which we only learned over time. First, make sure to handle everything out of cases, try to avoid handling things out of email and teams chats. I mean, those things do happen. But we generally if it's not a quick, quick win or immediate problem, that's, you know, shutting people down, we try to divert them back into case and get it cued up in an orderly fashion, as opposed to just constantly taking all the noise from both sides or from all sides. Which can to happen. So again, that's why the second piece of advice is make sure you're using some process to to route everything in. As long as you have something that you're tracking the requests and that you can then work from, that will help you keep things organized. That's been one of my biggest pieces of advice. Stay organized, keep it simple, and go from there.

Chris Byers: And last question. Can you share your go to productivity tip?

Mike Barnes: Oh, goodness. Go to productivity tip. So, trying to think of from my personal standpoint, it's I mean, especially working from home, it's easy to get distracted. And, you know, there's plenty of other things going on. My wife thinks because I'm here, if I'm not on a phone call, I must be available. So trying to you know, if you have the capability to separate yourself, have a separate room and also stay to a schedule. So we've been pretty good. Every day we get up, we try to get out of bed by seven o'clock, try to get out and ride our bikes or go for a walk, spend a half hour, just, you know, getting the blood pumping. And I think there's been nothing better I could have done for myself than to do that and have that kind of morning routine, then come back, get cleaned up and then get to work. So it's just having a standard routine has really helped me to stay focused. So when I'm at work, I'm at work. And then, you know, then the hardest part, I think, for me is just cutting it off at the end of the day, because, I mean, dinner time, you know, usually comes and I'll try to make that the end. OK, it's time for dinner. So we're going to cut things off for today and move on to the family part portion of the evening. So that's definitely been a challenge. Just stay productive by focusing that, hey, this is my work time.

Chris Byers: Yeah, I think that speaks to a lot of what what we all need. It starts with personal productivity and getting the right energy for the work that we've got ahead. So I love that. Well, Mike, thanks for joining us today. It's been a great conversation and appreciate you joining us on Ripple Effect.

As we kind of wrap this episode up featuring Mike Barnes, there are a couple of takeaways to highlight. First is have a client first mindset and dive into problems to really understand for your customers what is their problem and what is the outcome that they're looking for. Build that no-code toolset. It's the way that you're going to help kind of remove barriers and help people save time in their work and make their lives easier. And then build relationships. That's the way that you can really understand and source where are other problems that I need to solve. How can we actually get those taken care of?

Thanks so much for joining us today. It's been a great conversation here on Ripple Effect, and we're curious what you think of it. Give us a review or shout out online, tell us how we're doing and we'd love to hear your feedback on this particular episode or Ripple Effect in general.


Chris Byers: Welcome to Ripple Effect, I am Chris Byers with Formstack. Today, we are featuring Mike Barnes, the director of Salesforce.com Administration for GOLFNOW.

For any of us familiar with the golf industry, many things come to mind. Beautiful scenery, afternoons outside the office, comfortable accommodations and time spent just kind of enjoying the game. What you don't often think about is technology. And Mike's going to share with us today how GOLFNOW is reimagining the golf experience for avid players around the world.

Mike, welcome to the show. Before we get started, first, if you could just kick start with a snapshot of what GOLFNOW does.

Mike Barnes: Sure. So golf now is the worldwide online way to book rounds for golf. So you want to play somewhere just like about anything else you're going to be looking for these days for shopping, usually online is the way to go. So GOLFNOW is your marketplace. This is your one stop shop for golf or booking rounds of golf anywhere in the world.

Chris Byers: As you've kind of taken a look at this year. I'm curious, what are some unique challenges that your customers, even who are trying to book online, have experienced because of just all that's going on this year?

Mike Barnes: So, you know, the booking experiences become more critical with, you know, COVID-19 and the lockdowns that have occurred. Many courses were shut down, as were most businesses, for a good amount of time in the spring. And when they were able to reopen, fortunately, golf was able to reopen, was one of the earlier things you could do, simply because it is a naturally socially distanced event. And one of the challenges with the booking side of things has been when you arrive at the golf course, typically have to go in the pro shop and pay for your round. And there's interaction. You're indoors and with GOLFNOW we have the option that you can book online and prepay for your round. So many courses have opted in with us to allow for prepaid rounds.

Just something that has blown up for our business has gone really big because the courses realize they want to limit interactions, you know, face to face interactions with the golfers if they can avoid it. And with our payments products, we can offer that to the golf courses so that they can offer that in turn to the golfers that are booking with them.

Chris Byers: What do you think you've done differently than other organizations, maybe like you, that are kind of more innovative and have helped people be more successful right now?

Mike Barnes: Our audience is a golfer, you know, they're the ones that we're trying to get out to book some rounds and get out and play. However, the customer who we are servicing is the golf course, and we provide backend technology that helps the course operate their business. So you can think of golf now, sort of as like the open table of golf. We provide the backend technology to help operate the pro shop and also the front end technology for people to connect with that golf course. So we're providing both aspects of the experience so that we can provide a seamless experience. So folks are booking their rounds online. It automatically shows on the electronic tee sheet the golf course. And that way we also provide other technology that helps the course run their business, whether it's food and beverage as part of their operation, if they have memberships, there's a number of different ways that we provide different pieces of technology to help different golf courses, depending on how their golf course is structured.

Chris Byers: We're all thinking about how do we reimagine the work kind of world around us because of so many of the changes that we're experiencing. As you kind of step back and think about 2020, about 2021 in the future, what do you think it means to reimagine work, especially for golf clubs?

Mike Barnes: So, I mean, I can say that, you know, golf clubs, they're learning how to service their customer and maintain the necessary distance that's required. Now, to do that, we have some really innovative tools that have come out, including our the G1 tool. So G1 basically allows you to show up at the golf course. The starter can check you in via iPad. So the intent is to avoid having to go into the clubhouse, but know that there's some inherent risk to the golf course that they don't come in the clubhouse. They're not going to maybe pick up some golf balls or view the merchandise. But with the G1, there's the opportunity to sell directly from the iPad as well. Hey, it looks like, you know, you needed golf balls last time you were here. Do you need another sleeve? Sure. Yeah. So they can place orders, get things they need directly from the iPad with the you know, with limited interaction. Same with somebody servicing the golf course, driving around on a golf cart, selling beverages and such, out on the golf course. Same kind of experience where they have the iPad and with knowledge of the customer that they're interacting with, they can identify, OK, this looks like you know, you generally get this kind of beverage or are you ready for another? Are you ready for a hot dog? You know, whatever it is that you need, they can serve it, help provide a higher level of touch and service to the golfer who's out on the course having that capability as well as be able to do it with, again, limited interaction. Those tools are really helping drive better experience for the golfer and for the golf course itself.

Chris Byers: And what would you say for yourself? How are you thinking about kind of your own work change and how this impacts your day to day?

Mike Barnes: So, yeah, for me, it's been a different world. Right. So where we all at GOLFNOW are currently working from home. We have been since March. We did a trial in mid-March and never came home from the trial. So it was like a Thursday, Friday trial. And we were told by the afternoon on Friday, we're going to go ahead and just keep this going because they determined everybody could effectively work from home. We have Microsoft teams, among other Microsoft products. So with teams we are able to communicate pretty effectively. I usually see some people more face to face now than I did before because our offices, you know, are a bit big. And sometimes it takes a lot of time to get up and walk from building to building or from place to place. So it's a little more efficient, you know, to be here and pop people on teams instantly instead of having to walk across the way or hop on the phone when I may not see them face to face. So it's been a different experience. I wasn't sure if I would enjoy working from home, frankly, but after doing it now for the last number of months, and I really do enjoy it, I really find that I'm a bit more efficient. I'm able to get more done. And I'm also a little healthier myself getting up in the morning, getting out of the house a little bit, where normally I'd be getting up, getting ready and getting in the car for a commute. So the time that I would spend commuting has now been replaced with exercise, which I really appreciate that, and I hope other folks are able to get the same out of it.

Chris Byers: Yeah, you know, there's something for me about I used to travel quite a bit more. And I think just the consistency of being at home most of the time has actually allowed me to eat a lot better. So I agree. It's been a unique benefit, at least in my life. So give us a sense of what is a day in your role look like? Give us a glimpse into it.

Mike Barnes: Sure. So we have a somewhat structured system where we use Salesforce to manage all of the requests that come to us. We'd run weekly sprints. We try to keep a reasonable amount of work each week. And then we also have day to day support. So right now it's just me and one other full time admin that do Salesforce, you know, primary Salesforce administration every day. And we have 700 plus users. So quite a few users for very few admins. But we're able to do that because I think we have a good process. We also have a great team lead. So what we've realized we had to do because we're interfacing with numerous departments, at least a dozen different departments just within GOLFNOW. Right. You have a marketing team. You have a sales team. We have a technology team. We have a bunch of different teams that all have different needs from us. We've set up a team lead within each of those departments that we meet, at least weekly, to discuss what's in the next week's sprint. Here's what we've done this week for you. Here's what's coming up in next week's sprint, if we need to make some adjustments. Hey, this is a real high priority item that we shift things around.

We do that every week. That's part of the weekly process and otherwise the day is, you know, get up, check, see what's, you know, the obligatory email and teams chats. Got to try to keep those in check. But I try to only check those two or three times a day at most. Otherwise, I am, you know, occasionally in meetings. But I try to keep the meetings focused on the cases that I have in the queue and then it really works. Just working through the cases in the que, calling people if I have questions, continue to develop Salesforce, develop workflow. We use a heavy amount of workflow at GOLFNOW just to keep everything straight. So there's a number of different technology and tools we use. And so I have to support all that. So every day there's, you know, there could be nominal things, some bugs, self created bugs or issues that are things aren't working the way they are intended for specific use case and such. I spend half my week really supporting and fixing issues and we're looking to make things more stable long term. And the other part is, you know, building new features that folks are requesting to help them be more efficient with what they're doing.

Chris Byers: One of the interesting things you mentioned was 700 users. And so when I think about it, well, people often think about change with kind of this negative feeling. And I know that when you need to make a change, it's going to impact a lot of people. I'm curious, how do you go about approaching change and making that feel like a positive thing for the users around you?

Mike Barnes: Well, I mean, the good news about the culture at GOLFNOW is they are definitely not afraid of change. We are constantly going through it. It's never ending. But it's always considered to be positive because it's moving the business forward. So we've had a number of acquisitions over the years to expand our business. There's been some, of course, internal development, but there's also been acquiring of outside business. So seven and a half years ago, I got to GOLFNOW and I thought this is a pretty simple business. We're just posting tee times online and we have a sales team that's out trying to recruit golf courses to post their tee times online. That was the scope of the business; the businesses that has since expanded quite a bit. And one of the first things we did was acquire two tee sheet companies because we knew we wanted to get into the tee sheet business. So one was the BRS Golf out of Belfast, Northern Ireland, and the other was for reservations out of Chicago.

They're now fully integrated part of GOLFNOW, that was one of the first projects, first two parallel projects I was put on to get them embedded into our Salesforce processes to bring them in so that the changes continued where we've internally we built Golf Advisor. We were collecting all kinds of ratings and reviews for golf courses through GOLFNOW.com. When you booked your round or finished your round, you got a request to tell us what you thought about your experience. We realized we had aggregated the largest number of rating reviews on golf courses anywhere, so we've spun that up into Golf Advisor. So that's now it's own product where we continue to provide the most rating reviews on golf courses anywhere in the world.

So we've also, you know, more recently acquired These Links Golf, which is also out of Chicago and they are helping us expand our business, our footprint. But it also requires a lot of work on the team internally to integrate the businesses and such. Change has been constant, there's always been something new every year, there's always something new that's changing how we think about the business or some new technology that we want to get out and promote and sell to help improve the experience for golfers. And so that has definitely kept us on our toes. The latest thing is smart play. So smart play is going to be a new way, a new technology for helping golfers get the most out of their game. It's a really new feature, again, new tool built internally inside of GOLFNOW. And it's going to help, I think, change our business for the better. Change has not been something that's been scary at GOLFNOW, it's something that we've embraced. And that's the reason, frankly, the reason I'm working here, because there's always something new and exciting to learn and new problems to solve. And it's not a stale business by any means.

Chris Byers: So I would love to hear how you would suggest how you would think, you know, encourage people to think about building their low-code, no-code toolboxes.

Mike Barnes: Absolutely. So I'm not a trained developer. I've had some development courses in college, but I started out as an electrical engineer. And so I worked as an electrical engineer, I did machine control and automation. So I worked with low-code tools from the time I was an intern in college. As my career evolved and I ended up here and doing Salesforce.com now for a living, I realized it's the same kind of logic, the same kind of thought process, automation, logic that you as an engineer have to think through. How are we going to get from these inputs to these outputs? And there's the stuff in the middle that nobody really understands and it can be done with code.

There's definitely a lot of great developers out there who build some pretty amazing tools, including developers on the GOLFNOW staff who are building out the tools within GOLFNOW because they're novel tools. They are custom and they're proprietary. So they're being developed line by line code. When it comes to operating a business, though, there are plenty of tools out there that are already built and there's plenty of commonalities between businesses that you can use similar tools across many different businesses. There's all kinds of workflow, automation, things you can do that do not have to write apex code to get done. In fact, I've kind of made it a point from the time I got into using Salesforce is that I wanted to avoid code wherever possible. There are some cases you can't avoid it. There are places where we have to do API integrations, things that do require some custom APACS. But those are the exception for us.

The rule is we're using process builder, using flow, we're using Formstack for forms instead of writing our own HTML, we're using a squid for the front instead of writing ora components inside Salesforce. So I recommend just identifying the tools that you need that will work for you. There's plenty of tools out there across many different platforms that integrate with Salesforce. And then there, of course, are things outside of Salesforce as well that you can look at. I found that a group of tools that work really well for me and meet my needs. The answer I want to be able to give to my team is yes when they say, hey, can we do this? You know, early in my Salesforce career, I was like, well, Salesforce doesn't really do that. Or, you know, the answer was typically sure we can do that, but can require custom code. And here's what that's probably going to cost to get that built. Now, the answer is typically, yes, I have a tool for that and I can do it and I can do it for you pretty quickly. We can get that done. I'm not going to have to recruit an external developer. I can think through the process and build it with the low-code declarative tools that are available to me now.

Chris Byers: If you have those low-code no no-code tools, it kind of presumes that you've actually got a problem that you want to solve. How is it you go about discovering, you know, it's time to actually change a process and then what's the first step you need to take?

Mike Barnes: Our team is constantly coming up with new ways they want to run the business, whether it's information they need to gather or it's how we want to interact with our customers. That's typically the basis, right? We have something we want to sell. There's something we want to be able to do for our customers that we don't really have the tools to do now. So for my perspective, you know, I'm helping advise what we can get done. But we have a bunch of brilliant people who are coming in and saying all the time, here's what I need to be able to deliver to our customers. And that's where it ultimately all funnels down to having the focus on the customer that, hey, we want to make sure we're delivering to them ultimately the best service that we can deliver.

So we meet at least once a week and more often if there's a special project or something that's happening and we identify, OK, well, here's what we want to be able to deliver the customer. Here's what we want to do. What do we need to get there? So we work our way back to the technology. It's not hey, here's a cool, fancy piece of technology we can deploy. Let's see how we can fit this in. That's usually not the process that we're taking. It's usually let's identify the problem. Let's figure out what tools we might need to solve the problem. And then we back our way into the technology that's going to help us get there the most efficient way possible. Typically, low-code tools for me have been the most efficient way there simply because the time to development is so much faster. And it doesn't require getting external expertise. It doesn't require me pulling your valuable GOLFNOW developers into Salesforce projects, because better for them to be out developing GOLFNOW, developing the proprietary technology. And let me handle the business technology in a low-code way where I can.

Chris Byers: So you mentioned in that conversation there, this idea of customers. So even internally, you have customers at times and sometimes you're focused on the external customer. What does it mean to have kind of a client first mindset?

Mike Barnes: Well, I mean, I'm trying to make everybody as efficient as possible, remove the barriers to them getting what they need to get done. So whether that's going to be the golfer trying to book a round or our partner trying to sign a sales contract or our finance team trying to make sure invoices get sent out properly, I'm trying to remove barriers to them getting their work done, what they need to get done. Because if I can do that, if I can remove those barriers, then I can make everybody happier because, hey, I don't have these roadblocks in the way. I don't have these delays. I'm able to move right through to get done what I need to get done. So whether it's, as you mentioned, another internal customer who has a request for us or it's next for our customer, I'm always focused on what can I do to make their life easier. And generally what makes their life easier makes my life more complicated. But I'm OK with that because that's my job. I solve puzzles, I solve problems. And if they can present me a cool problem, I'm happy to go figure out what's going to make it work for them.

Chris Byers: Yeah, I actually appreciate that idea that for some of those who are actually building the solution, it isn't always an easier life. You may be helping people save a lot of time, which of course is saving the organization money, but it's something you have to support and you have to to be involved in. Absolutely. I'm curious, what do you think it means really, to modernize your customers kind of workplace there, to help them rethink their work? How do you think you helped them do that?

Mike Barnes: Well, you know, I try to get them to tell me what they actually need. That's probably the hardest part, I think, with being in the position of mine is getting people to actually tell you when they have a problem instead of working around it. One of the nicknames I got early on was Spreadsheet Killer because people were just living off spreadsheets because they had been living on spreadsheets forever. And they could own the spreadsheet and they knew how the spreadsheet worked. Of course, there's a lot of inherent flaws with living on spreadsheets, which can get stale and get static. Different people own different versions of it and it gets bad. So that's just, again, an example of how some folks work and trying to get them to tell me, hey, what are you doing now that we can make better? And sometimes they don't see the problem. They don't see that their spreadsheet is really not the most efficient way to get done what you've done. But eventually those all come to light. Right. It's hey, I want to get reporting on what's happening over here. Well, that's being done on so and so spreadsheet. Well get them out of there. I've got to get that data into that to get into Salesforce. Let's give them a process in Salesforce that will work, so that they can then own the data there instead of own it on the spreadsheet.

The second problem that we have is less frequent, but occasionally folks want to come in and provide the design to us, OK, I want this object with this field and this workflow and it's like, well, no, hold on, let's back up. Tell me, what is the problem you're trying to solve? Like, what issue are you having and what is the outcome you want to achieve? So asking those questions and backing people off of the design side of things said, let me let me handle the design. I'm happy to include you in the design and I'm happy to have you provide input is what you think might work best. You're operating the business. You tell me what problem you have and what outcome you'd like to achieve. Once I figure out those things, I whiteboard. That's one thing I do miss about being in the office is, you know, I have my big whiteboard and be able to, you know, draw a bunch of things out with people in the office and kind of come up and imagine the solution there. I can get up and talk about it, that usually sometimes clears my head a little bit to think through the potential issues. But just be able to do those sort of things. I need to find a way to do that better from home. I will jot things and draw things out on paper and pen just because I have to visualize it quite often before I can build. But the trick is, you know, identifying the problem, figuring out what the endpoint the person wants and then figure out what you need to build in the middle that's going to get them there.

Chris Byers: Will tell us how you take that example of the whiteboard, what are the ways you're reimagining, how to get that solved kind of going forward, that whiteboarding experience, that design experience.

Mike Barnes: Oh, gosh. Well. Like I said, I'm still drawing on my piece of paper and with pen, obviously it's kind of funny for a technology kind of person to live off pen and paper, but I guess that may say more about my generation and age. But, yeah, definitely need to use the tools I have available in teams and whatnot to maybe if I need a different tool, find a different tool. That's probably something I need to figure out now as well. What tools are available to me that I can then, you know, draw things out on the screen with other people, you know, able to see it as opposed to my pen and paper, which is just, you know, just for me. So that's definitely something, one of the things on the roadmap as this staying home here seems to be interminable, I don't see any end coming to it anytime soon. For us being a technology business, we're very fortunate that we don't have to, there's no absolute need to be in an office environment. So we're very, very fortunate in this current state of the world to have that option to be able to be home.

At the same time, it does pose some challenges where before we could all get in a conference room, whiteboard things out, and we were just used to that, you know, being the way we could get things done. I could snap some pictures with my phone of the whiteboard, then leave the meeting and I'd have everything I needed. So being able to whiteboard those things out. That's definitely a problem I need to figure out how am I going to solve.

Chris Byers: So I'm sure many people who are listening or saying, wow, sounds like GOLFNOW is fairly well resourced for building solutions to lots of problems internally. Building workflows, have the tools, have the team. For those who are kind of feeling a bit overwhelmed right now and saying man, I really want to kind of jump into this. What do you think the first step is they need to think about and just saying, just put something in place and just begin that process. What are some things that come to mind?

Mike Barnes: Well, yeah, if I was going to get started if I was in a business that didn't have Salesforce, I definitely would look at it very closely. I launched Salesforce at the company I was with prior to my current company about 10 years ago. And that was really my first taste of it. I'd heard of Salesforce, you know, in passing prior to that. But we needed at that time, the prior company needed a new CRM, the CRM we had was basically no better than a glorified electronic Rolodex. And we needed something a little better than that. So we tried some other solutions that I won't mention here. But Salesforce we just found was the best solution that we could find on the market. And it met all the needs that we wanted at the time and all the needs we couldn't possibly have anticipated in the future.

The next thing is to take full advantage of the tools you have within Salesforce.com itself. So there's so much automation you can do. Again, when I got here at GOLFNOW, there was very little automation done. They were using Salesforce to track activity, to track meetings and phone calls, and that was about it. They did have some opportunities. They did a little bit with that and they did some other things. But there was practically no automation in place. It was very, very light what was in place. So I came in. I was initially the lone Salesforce admin, of course the business was a bit smaller back then, fewer users. But we went through and just found out, hey, where are the pain points? And that's again, if you're looking for something to solve first in your business, figure out where the pain points are. You probably know where they are. If you're not using Salesforce, or you're not using it well, you probably already know these are things that are always a problem. Go solve those first. Let's get you know, get underneath those pain points, identify what everyone does not like about how their business works right now and find a way to solve it with automation.

One of the examples is we had it early on in the current board, we were tracking everything and we still track a lot of things by market. We kind of divide the world up into specific markets. And one of the challenges was we had a market on the account and then they had to set a market on the opportunity and there was a market on other objects as well in Salesforce. So you ended up with tracking the same information, multiple places, but every opportunity had an account relationship. So, I mean, it sounds pretty simple. It sounds pretty basic. And it was. It was just a formula to say, hey, just pull the market from the account into the opportunity. I mean, doing something simple like that just so that, hey, our markets don't align between our count report and our opportunity report. Well, because you're putting the information in three different times. So three different people are potentially putting three different pieces of information. Trying to get data cleanliness is probably one of the most challenging things in any CRM. Just trying to keep your data clean. So the fewer touch points you have with any particular piece of data, definitely the better. Very, very early, probably the first week thing that I did, I realized this is a real problem. Let's solve that and just keep finding the pain points and keep running them down and and solve one thing at a time. It's the old elephant adage, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. So don't look at this whole mess and be like, oh, man, we're never going to solve this thing. Find out, here's one little point that if we could solve that would give us the biggest win. Find the low hanging fruit. That's the easy stuff. I mean, I'm at the point where we've kind of picked all the low hanging fruits. So now I'm solving much more complex, larger problems. And I frankly, I find it more interesting and much more fun to solve the larger problems than the low hanging fruit. But the low hanging fruit is easy and a great way to get started.

Chris Byers: Well, as we kind of wrap up today, a couple of quick questions that I think people will appreciate. First is, what's your one piece of advice for embracing simplicity in business processes?

Mike Barnes: Oh, goodness. So definitely have a plan. I mean, this is something that didn't come to me all at once, but over time, do a lot of research in your field. So for Salesforce, search the Salesforce ideas, search the Salesforce message posts because a lot of folks are already asking the questions that you're asking. And so one of the best things I think I found is just keeping a consistent format and also use a lot of notes. I wish I'd done this earlier than I did early on. You have a description field in Salesforce on everything. You have descriptions, put in notes. That's more of a developer best practice that I've learned more recently that, you know, a developer when you see a line of code, you'll see a lot of commented text. Right. It's commented out of the code, but it's there for your reference and using that so that when you come back seven years later and you're looking at why do we have this in place, you can answer your own question.

And one of the ways we're doing that, again, help keep things simple is we track all of our activity, all the things, all the requests that we're getting. We track through cases already. So to make things simple, so I'm not having to regurgitate what I was asked to do. I simply put a case reference in the description. So if I ever have to go back to something, I have a reference ID, I can just go then look up that case. I can say, OK, well, here's exactly why I built it. Here's all the chatter about what happened. I don't have to get crazy wordy with description notes. I mean, we already again, the same objective of not duplicating the same information multiple places in Salesforce, we try to live up to that also with how we track our notes with things we're building. Hey, we were doing everything based on a case. Let's just reference the case and let's keep all the notes in one place in the case itself. So that's the advice I wish I had gotten seven, 10 years ago would be to do what I'm doing now, which we only learned over time. First, make sure to handle everything out of cases, try to avoid handling things out of email and teams chats. I mean, those things do happen. But we generally if it's not a quick, quick win or immediate problem, that's, you know, shutting people down, we try to divert them back into case and get it cued up in an orderly fashion, as opposed to just constantly taking all the noise from both sides or from all sides. Which can to happen. So again, that's why the second piece of advice is make sure you're using some process to to route everything in. As long as you have something that you're tracking the requests and that you can then work from, that will help you keep things organized. That's been one of my biggest pieces of advice. Stay organized, keep it simple, and go from there.

Chris Byers: And last question. Can you share your go to productivity tip?

Mike Barnes: Oh, goodness. Go to productivity tip. So, trying to think of from my personal standpoint, it's I mean, especially working from home, it's easy to get distracted. And, you know, there's plenty of other things going on. My wife thinks because I'm here, if I'm not on a phone call, I must be available. So trying to you know, if you have the capability to separate yourself, have a separate room and also stay to a schedule. So we've been pretty good. Every day we get up, we try to get out of bed by seven o'clock, try to get out and ride our bikes or go for a walk, spend a half hour, just, you know, getting the blood pumping. And I think there's been nothing better I could have done for myself than to do that and have that kind of morning routine, then come back, get cleaned up and then get to work. So it's just having a standard routine has really helped me to stay focused. So when I'm at work, I'm at work. And then, you know, then the hardest part, I think, for me is just cutting it off at the end of the day, because, I mean, dinner time, you know, usually comes and I'll try to make that the end. OK, it's time for dinner. So we're going to cut things off for today and move on to the family part portion of the evening. So that's definitely been a challenge. Just stay productive by focusing that, hey, this is my work time.

Chris Byers: Yeah, I think that speaks to a lot of what what we all need. It starts with personal productivity and getting the right energy for the work that we've got ahead. So I love that. Well, Mike, thanks for joining us today. It's been a great conversation and appreciate you joining us on Ripple Effect.

As we kind of wrap this episode up featuring Mike Barnes, there are a couple of takeaways to highlight. First is have a client first mindset and dive into problems to really understand for your customers what is their problem and what is the outcome that they're looking for. Build that no-code toolset. It's the way that you're going to help kind of remove barriers and help people save time in their work and make their lives easier. And then build relationships. That's the way that you can really understand and source where are other problems that I need to solve. How can we actually get those taken care of?

Thanks so much for joining us today. It's been a great conversation here on Ripple Effect, and we're curious what you think of it. Give us a review or shout out online, tell us how we're doing and we'd love to hear your feedback on this particular episode or Ripple Effect in general.


Chris Byers: Welcome to Ripple Effect, I am Chris Byers with Formstack. Today, we are featuring Mike Barnes, the director of Salesforce.com Administration for GOLFNOW.

For any of us familiar with the golf industry, many things come to mind. Beautiful scenery, afternoons outside the office, comfortable accommodations and time spent just kind of enjoying the game. What you don't often think about is technology. And Mike's going to share with us today how GOLFNOW is reimagining the golf experience for avid players around the world.

Mike, welcome to the show. Before we get started, first, if you could just kick start with a snapshot of what GOLFNOW does.

Mike Barnes: Sure. So golf now is the worldwide online way to book rounds for golf. So you want to play somewhere just like about anything else you're going to be looking for these days for shopping, usually online is the way to go. So GOLFNOW is your marketplace. This is your one stop shop for golf or booking rounds of golf anywhere in the world.

Chris Byers: As you've kind of taken a look at this year. I'm curious, what are some unique challenges that your customers, even who are trying to book online, have experienced because of just all that's going on this year?

Mike Barnes: So, you know, the booking experiences become more critical with, you know, COVID-19 and the lockdowns that have occurred. Many courses were shut down, as were most businesses, for a good amount of time in the spring. And when they were able to reopen, fortunately, golf was able to reopen, was one of the earlier things you could do, simply because it is a naturally socially distanced event. And one of the challenges with the booking side of things has been when you arrive at the golf course, typically have to go in the pro shop and pay for your round. And there's interaction. You're indoors and with GOLFNOW we have the option that you can book online and prepay for your round. So many courses have opted in with us to allow for prepaid rounds.

Just something that has blown up for our business has gone really big because the courses realize they want to limit interactions, you know, face to face interactions with the golfers if they can avoid it. And with our payments products, we can offer that to the golf courses so that they can offer that in turn to the golfers that are booking with them.

Chris Byers: What do you think you've done differently than other organizations, maybe like you, that are kind of more innovative and have helped people be more successful right now?

Mike Barnes: Our audience is a golfer, you know, they're the ones that we're trying to get out to book some rounds and get out and play. However, the customer who we are servicing is the golf course, and we provide backend technology that helps the course operate their business. So you can think of golf now, sort of as like the open table of golf. We provide the backend technology to help operate the pro shop and also the front end technology for people to connect with that golf course. So we're providing both aspects of the experience so that we can provide a seamless experience. So folks are booking their rounds online. It automatically shows on the electronic tee sheet the golf course. And that way we also provide other technology that helps the course run their business, whether it's food and beverage as part of their operation, if they have memberships, there's a number of different ways that we provide different pieces of technology to help different golf courses, depending on how their golf course is structured.

Chris Byers: We're all thinking about how do we reimagine the work kind of world around us because of so many of the changes that we're experiencing. As you kind of step back and think about 2020, about 2021 in the future, what do you think it means to reimagine work, especially for golf clubs?

Mike Barnes: So, I mean, I can say that, you know, golf clubs, they're learning how to service their customer and maintain the necessary distance that's required. Now, to do that, we have some really innovative tools that have come out, including our the G1 tool. So G1 basically allows you to show up at the golf course. The starter can check you in via iPad. So the intent is to avoid having to go into the clubhouse, but know that there's some inherent risk to the golf course that they don't come in the clubhouse. They're not going to maybe pick up some golf balls or view the merchandise. But with the G1, there's the opportunity to sell directly from the iPad as well. Hey, it looks like, you know, you needed golf balls last time you were here. Do you need another sleeve? Sure. Yeah. So they can place orders, get things they need directly from the iPad with the you know, with limited interaction. Same with somebody servicing the golf course, driving around on a golf cart, selling beverages and such, out on the golf course. Same kind of experience where they have the iPad and with knowledge of the customer that they're interacting with, they can identify, OK, this looks like you know, you generally get this kind of beverage or are you ready for another? Are you ready for a hot dog? You know, whatever it is that you need, they can serve it, help provide a higher level of touch and service to the golfer who's out on the course having that capability as well as be able to do it with, again, limited interaction. Those tools are really helping drive better experience for the golfer and for the golf course itself.

Chris Byers: And what would you say for yourself? How are you thinking about kind of your own work change and how this impacts your day to day?

Mike Barnes: So, yeah, for me, it's been a different world. Right. So where we all at GOLFNOW are currently working from home. We have been since March. We did a trial in mid-March and never came home from the trial. So it was like a Thursday, Friday trial. And we were told by the afternoon on Friday, we're going to go ahead and just keep this going because they determined everybody could effectively work from home. We have Microsoft teams, among other Microsoft products. So with teams we are able to communicate pretty effectively. I usually see some people more face to face now than I did before because our offices, you know, are a bit big. And sometimes it takes a lot of time to get up and walk from building to building or from place to place. So it's a little more efficient, you know, to be here and pop people on teams instantly instead of having to walk across the way or hop on the phone when I may not see them face to face. So it's been a different experience. I wasn't sure if I would enjoy working from home, frankly, but after doing it now for the last number of months, and I really do enjoy it, I really find that I'm a bit more efficient. I'm able to get more done. And I'm also a little healthier myself getting up in the morning, getting out of the house a little bit, where normally I'd be getting up, getting ready and getting in the car for a commute. So the time that I would spend commuting has now been replaced with exercise, which I really appreciate that, and I hope other folks are able to get the same out of it.

Chris Byers: Yeah, you know, there's something for me about I used to travel quite a bit more. And I think just the consistency of being at home most of the time has actually allowed me to eat a lot better. So I agree. It's been a unique benefit, at least in my life. So give us a sense of what is a day in your role look like? Give us a glimpse into it.

Mike Barnes: Sure. So we have a somewhat structured system where we use Salesforce to manage all of the requests that come to us. We'd run weekly sprints. We try to keep a reasonable amount of work each week. And then we also have day to day support. So right now it's just me and one other full time admin that do Salesforce, you know, primary Salesforce administration every day. And we have 700 plus users. So quite a few users for very few admins. But we're able to do that because I think we have a good process. We also have a great team lead. So what we've realized we had to do because we're interfacing with numerous departments, at least a dozen different departments just within GOLFNOW. Right. You have a marketing team. You have a sales team. We have a technology team. We have a bunch of different teams that all have different needs from us. We've set up a team lead within each of those departments that we meet, at least weekly, to discuss what's in the next week's sprint. Here's what we've done this week for you. Here's what's coming up in next week's sprint, if we need to make some adjustments. Hey, this is a real high priority item that we shift things around.

We do that every week. That's part of the weekly process and otherwise the day is, you know, get up, check, see what's, you know, the obligatory email and teams chats. Got to try to keep those in check. But I try to only check those two or three times a day at most. Otherwise, I am, you know, occasionally in meetings. But I try to keep the meetings focused on the cases that I have in the queue and then it really works. Just working through the cases in the que, calling people if I have questions, continue to develop Salesforce, develop workflow. We use a heavy amount of workflow at GOLFNOW just to keep everything straight. So there's a number of different technology and tools we use. And so I have to support all that. So every day there's, you know, there could be nominal things, some bugs, self created bugs or issues that are things aren't working the way they are intended for specific use case and such. I spend half my week really supporting and fixing issues and we're looking to make things more stable long term. And the other part is, you know, building new features that folks are requesting to help them be more efficient with what they're doing.

Chris Byers: One of the interesting things you mentioned was 700 users. And so when I think about it, well, people often think about change with kind of this negative feeling. And I know that when you need to make a change, it's going to impact a lot of people. I'm curious, how do you go about approaching change and making that feel like a positive thing for the users around you?

Mike Barnes: Well, I mean, the good news about the culture at GOLFNOW is they are definitely not afraid of change. We are constantly going through it. It's never ending. But it's always considered to be positive because it's moving the business forward. So we've had a number of acquisitions over the years to expand our business. There's been some, of course, internal development, but there's also been acquiring of outside business. So seven and a half years ago, I got to GOLFNOW and I thought this is a pretty simple business. We're just posting tee times online and we have a sales team that's out trying to recruit golf courses to post their tee times online. That was the scope of the business; the businesses that has since expanded quite a bit. And one of the first things we did was acquire two tee sheet companies because we knew we wanted to get into the tee sheet business. So one was the BRS Golf out of Belfast, Northern Ireland, and the other was for reservations out of Chicago.

They're now fully integrated part of GOLFNOW, that was one of the first projects, first two parallel projects I was put on to get them embedded into our Salesforce processes to bring them in so that the changes continued where we've internally we built Golf Advisor. We were collecting all kinds of ratings and reviews for golf courses through GOLFNOW.com. When you booked your round or finished your round, you got a request to tell us what you thought about your experience. We realized we had aggregated the largest number of rating reviews on golf courses anywhere, so we've spun that up into Golf Advisor. So that's now it's own product where we continue to provide the most rating reviews on golf courses anywhere in the world.

So we've also, you know, more recently acquired These Links Golf, which is also out of Chicago and they are helping us expand our business, our footprint. But it also requires a lot of work on the team internally to integrate the businesses and such. Change has been constant, there's always been something new every year, there's always something new that's changing how we think about the business or some new technology that we want to get out and promote and sell to help improve the experience for golfers. And so that has definitely kept us on our toes. The latest thing is smart play. So smart play is going to be a new way, a new technology for helping golfers get the most out of their game. It's a really new feature, again, new tool built internally inside of GOLFNOW. And it's going to help, I think, change our business for the better. Change has not been something that's been scary at GOLFNOW, it's something that we've embraced. And that's the reason, frankly, the reason I'm working here, because there's always something new and exciting to learn and new problems to solve. And it's not a stale business by any means.

Chris Byers: So I would love to hear how you would suggest how you would think, you know, encourage people to think about building their low-code, no-code toolboxes.

Mike Barnes: Absolutely. So I'm not a trained developer. I've had some development courses in college, but I started out as an electrical engineer. And so I worked as an electrical engineer, I did machine control and automation. So I worked with low-code tools from the time I was an intern in college. As my career evolved and I ended up here and doing Salesforce.com now for a living, I realized it's the same kind of logic, the same kind of thought process, automation, logic that you as an engineer have to think through. How are we going to get from these inputs to these outputs? And there's the stuff in the middle that nobody really understands and it can be done with code.

There's definitely a lot of great developers out there who build some pretty amazing tools, including developers on the GOLFNOW staff who are building out the tools within GOLFNOW because they're novel tools. They are custom and they're proprietary. So they're being developed line by line code. When it comes to operating a business, though, there are plenty of tools out there that are already built and there's plenty of commonalities between businesses that you can use similar tools across many different businesses. There's all kinds of workflow, automation, things you can do that do not have to write apex code to get done. In fact, I've kind of made it a point from the time I got into using Salesforce is that I wanted to avoid code wherever possible. There are some cases you can't avoid it. There are places where we have to do API integrations, things that do require some custom APACS. But those are the exception for us.

The rule is we're using process builder, using flow, we're using Formstack for forms instead of writing our own HTML, we're using a squid for the front instead of writing ora components inside Salesforce. So I recommend just identifying the tools that you need that will work for you. There's plenty of tools out there across many different platforms that integrate with Salesforce. And then there, of course, are things outside of Salesforce as well that you can look at. I found that a group of tools that work really well for me and meet my needs. The answer I want to be able to give to my team is yes when they say, hey, can we do this? You know, early in my Salesforce career, I was like, well, Salesforce doesn't really do that. Or, you know, the answer was typically sure we can do that, but can require custom code. And here's what that's probably going to cost to get that built. Now, the answer is typically, yes, I have a tool for that and I can do it and I can do it for you pretty quickly. We can get that done. I'm not going to have to recruit an external developer. I can think through the process and build it with the low-code declarative tools that are available to me now.

Chris Byers: If you have those low-code no no-code tools, it kind of presumes that you've actually got a problem that you want to solve. How is it you go about discovering, you know, it's time to actually change a process and then what's the first step you need to take?

Mike Barnes: Our team is constantly coming up with new ways they want to run the business, whether it's information they need to gather or it's how we want to interact with our customers. That's typically the basis, right? We have something we want to sell. There's something we want to be able to do for our customers that we don't really have the tools to do now. So for my perspective, you know, I'm helping advise what we can get done. But we have a bunch of brilliant people who are coming in and saying all the time, here's what I need to be able to deliver to our customers. And that's where it ultimately all funnels down to having the focus on the customer that, hey, we want to make sure we're delivering to them ultimately the best service that we can deliver.

So we meet at least once a week and more often if there's a special project or something that's happening and we identify, OK, well, here's what we want to be able to deliver the customer. Here's what we want to do. What do we need to get there? So we work our way back to the technology. It's not hey, here's a cool, fancy piece of technology we can deploy. Let's see how we can fit this in. That's usually not the process that we're taking. It's usually let's identify the problem. Let's figure out what tools we might need to solve the problem. And then we back our way into the technology that's going to help us get there the most efficient way possible. Typically, low-code tools for me have been the most efficient way there simply because the time to development is so much faster. And it doesn't require getting external expertise. It doesn't require me pulling your valuable GOLFNOW developers into Salesforce projects, because better for them to be out developing GOLFNOW, developing the proprietary technology. And let me handle the business technology in a low-code way where I can.

Chris Byers: So you mentioned in that conversation there, this idea of customers. So even internally, you have customers at times and sometimes you're focused on the external customer. What does it mean to have kind of a client first mindset?

Mike Barnes: Well, I mean, I'm trying to make everybody as efficient as possible, remove the barriers to them getting what they need to get done. So whether that's going to be the golfer trying to book a round or our partner trying to sign a sales contract or our finance team trying to make sure invoices get sent out properly, I'm trying to remove barriers to them getting their work done, what they need to get done. Because if I can do that, if I can remove those barriers, then I can make everybody happier because, hey, I don't have these roadblocks in the way. I don't have these delays. I'm able to move right through to get done what I need to get done. So whether it's, as you mentioned, another internal customer who has a request for us or it's next for our customer, I'm always focused on what can I do to make their life easier. And generally what makes their life easier makes my life more complicated. But I'm OK with that because that's my job. I solve puzzles, I solve problems. And if they can present me a cool problem, I'm happy to go figure out what's going to make it work for them.

Chris Byers: Yeah, I actually appreciate that idea that for some of those who are actually building the solution, it isn't always an easier life. You may be helping people save a lot of time, which of course is saving the organization money, but it's something you have to support and you have to to be involved in. Absolutely. I'm curious, what do you think it means really, to modernize your customers kind of workplace there, to help them rethink their work? How do you think you helped them do that?

Mike Barnes: Well, you know, I try to get them to tell me what they actually need. That's probably the hardest part, I think, with being in the position of mine is getting people to actually tell you when they have a problem instead of working around it. One of the nicknames I got early on was Spreadsheet Killer because people were just living off spreadsheets because they had been living on spreadsheets forever. And they could own the spreadsheet and they knew how the spreadsheet worked. Of course, there's a lot of inherent flaws with living on spreadsheets, which can get stale and get static. Different people own different versions of it and it gets bad. So that's just, again, an example of how some folks work and trying to get them to tell me, hey, what are you doing now that we can make better? And sometimes they don't see the problem. They don't see that their spreadsheet is really not the most efficient way to get done what you've done. But eventually those all come to light. Right. It's hey, I want to get reporting on what's happening over here. Well, that's being done on so and so spreadsheet. Well get them out of there. I've got to get that data into that to get into Salesforce. Let's give them a process in Salesforce that will work, so that they can then own the data there instead of own it on the spreadsheet.

The second problem that we have is less frequent, but occasionally folks want to come in and provide the design to us, OK, I want this object with this field and this workflow and it's like, well, no, hold on, let's back up. Tell me, what is the problem you're trying to solve? Like, what issue are you having and what is the outcome you want to achieve? So asking those questions and backing people off of the design side of things said, let me let me handle the design. I'm happy to include you in the design and I'm happy to have you provide input is what you think might work best. You're operating the business. You tell me what problem you have and what outcome you'd like to achieve. Once I figure out those things, I whiteboard. That's one thing I do miss about being in the office is, you know, I have my big whiteboard and be able to, you know, draw a bunch of things out with people in the office and kind of come up and imagine the solution there. I can get up and talk about it, that usually sometimes clears my head a little bit to think through the potential issues. But just be able to do those sort of things. I need to find a way to do that better from home. I will jot things and draw things out on paper and pen just because I have to visualize it quite often before I can build. But the trick is, you know, identifying the problem, figuring out what the endpoint the person wants and then figure out what you need to build in the middle that's going to get them there.

Chris Byers: Will tell us how you take that example of the whiteboard, what are the ways you're reimagining, how to get that solved kind of going forward, that whiteboarding experience, that design experience.

Mike Barnes: Oh, gosh. Well. Like I said, I'm still drawing on my piece of paper and with pen, obviously it's kind of funny for a technology kind of person to live off pen and paper, but I guess that may say more about my generation and age. But, yeah, definitely need to use the tools I have available in teams and whatnot to maybe if I need a different tool, find a different tool. That's probably something I need to figure out now as well. What tools are available to me that I can then, you know, draw things out on the screen with other people, you know, able to see it as opposed to my pen and paper, which is just, you know, just for me. So that's definitely something, one of the things on the roadmap as this staying home here seems to be interminable, I don't see any end coming to it anytime soon. For us being a technology business, we're very fortunate that we don't have to, there's no absolute need to be in an office environment. So we're very, very fortunate in this current state of the world to have that option to be able to be home.

At the same time, it does pose some challenges where before we could all get in a conference room, whiteboard things out, and we were just used to that, you know, being the way we could get things done. I could snap some pictures with my phone of the whiteboard, then leave the meeting and I'd have everything I needed. So being able to whiteboard those things out. That's definitely a problem I need to figure out how am I going to solve.

Chris Byers: So I'm sure many people who are listening or saying, wow, sounds like GOLFNOW is fairly well resourced for building solutions to lots of problems internally. Building workflows, have the tools, have the team. For those who are kind of feeling a bit overwhelmed right now and saying man, I really want to kind of jump into this. What do you think the first step is they need to think about and just saying, just put something in place and just begin that process. What are some things that come to mind?

Mike Barnes: Well, yeah, if I was going to get started if I was in a business that didn't have Salesforce, I definitely would look at it very closely. I launched Salesforce at the company I was with prior to my current company about 10 years ago. And that was really my first taste of it. I'd heard of Salesforce, you know, in passing prior to that. But we needed at that time, the prior company needed a new CRM, the CRM we had was basically no better than a glorified electronic Rolodex. And we needed something a little better than that. So we tried some other solutions that I won't mention here. But Salesforce we just found was the best solution that we could find on the market. And it met all the needs that we wanted at the time and all the needs we couldn't possibly have anticipated in the future.

The next thing is to take full advantage of the tools you have within Salesforce.com itself. So there's so much automation you can do. Again, when I got here at GOLFNOW, there was very little automation done. They were using Salesforce to track activity, to track meetings and phone calls, and that was about it. They did have some opportunities. They did a little bit with that and they did some other things. But there was practically no automation in place. It was very, very light what was in place. So I came in. I was initially the lone Salesforce admin, of course the business was a bit smaller back then, fewer users. But we went through and just found out, hey, where are the pain points? And that's again, if you're looking for something to solve first in your business, figure out where the pain points are. You probably know where they are. If you're not using Salesforce, or you're not using it well, you probably already know these are things that are always a problem. Go solve those first. Let's get you know, get underneath those pain points, identify what everyone does not like about how their business works right now and find a way to solve it with automation.

One of the examples is we had it early on in the current board, we were tracking everything and we still track a lot of things by market. We kind of divide the world up into specific markets. And one of the challenges was we had a market on the account and then they had to set a market on the opportunity and there was a market on other objects as well in Salesforce. So you ended up with tracking the same information, multiple places, but every opportunity had an account relationship. So, I mean, it sounds pretty simple. It sounds pretty basic. And it was. It was just a formula to say, hey, just pull the market from the account into the opportunity. I mean, doing something simple like that just so that, hey, our markets don't align between our count report and our opportunity report. Well, because you're putting the information in three different times. So three different people are potentially putting three different pieces of information. Trying to get data cleanliness is probably one of the most challenging things in any CRM. Just trying to keep your data clean. So the fewer touch points you have with any particular piece of data, definitely the better. Very, very early, probably the first week thing that I did, I realized this is a real problem. Let's solve that and just keep finding the pain points and keep running them down and and solve one thing at a time. It's the old elephant adage, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. So don't look at this whole mess and be like, oh, man, we're never going to solve this thing. Find out, here's one little point that if we could solve that would give us the biggest win. Find the low hanging fruit. That's the easy stuff. I mean, I'm at the point where we've kind of picked all the low hanging fruits. So now I'm solving much more complex, larger problems. And I frankly, I find it more interesting and much more fun to solve the larger problems than the low hanging fruit. But the low hanging fruit is easy and a great way to get started.

Chris Byers: Well, as we kind of wrap up today, a couple of quick questions that I think people will appreciate. First is, what's your one piece of advice for embracing simplicity in business processes?

Mike Barnes: Oh, goodness. So definitely have a plan. I mean, this is something that didn't come to me all at once, but over time, do a lot of research in your field. So for Salesforce, search the Salesforce ideas, search the Salesforce message posts because a lot of folks are already asking the questions that you're asking. And so one of the best things I think I found is just keeping a consistent format and also use a lot of notes. I wish I'd done this earlier than I did early on. You have a description field in Salesforce on everything. You have descriptions, put in notes. That's more of a developer best practice that I've learned more recently that, you know, a developer when you see a line of code, you'll see a lot of commented text. Right. It's commented out of the code, but it's there for your reference and using that so that when you come back seven years later and you're looking at why do we have this in place, you can answer your own question.

And one of the ways we're doing that, again, help keep things simple is we track all of our activity, all the things, all the requests that we're getting. We track through cases already. So to make things simple, so I'm not having to regurgitate what I was asked to do. I simply put a case reference in the description. So if I ever have to go back to something, I have a reference ID, I can just go then look up that case. I can say, OK, well, here's exactly why I built it. Here's all the chatter about what happened. I don't have to get crazy wordy with description notes. I mean, we already again, the same objective of not duplicating the same information multiple places in Salesforce, we try to live up to that also with how we track our notes with things we're building. Hey, we were doing everything based on a case. Let's just reference the case and let's keep all the notes in one place in the case itself. So that's the advice I wish I had gotten seven, 10 years ago would be to do what I'm doing now, which we only learned over time. First, make sure to handle everything out of cases, try to avoid handling things out of email and teams chats. I mean, those things do happen. But we generally if it's not a quick, quick win or immediate problem, that's, you know, shutting people down, we try to divert them back into case and get it cued up in an orderly fashion, as opposed to just constantly taking all the noise from both sides or from all sides. Which can to happen. So again, that's why the second piece of advice is make sure you're using some process to to route everything in. As long as you have something that you're tracking the requests and that you can then work from, that will help you keep things organized. That's been one of my biggest pieces of advice. Stay organized, keep it simple, and go from there.

Chris Byers: And last question. Can you share your go to productivity tip?

Mike Barnes: Oh, goodness. Go to productivity tip. So, trying to think of from my personal standpoint, it's I mean, especially working from home, it's easy to get distracted. And, you know, there's plenty of other things going on. My wife thinks because I'm here, if I'm not on a phone call, I must be available. So trying to you know, if you have the capability to separate yourself, have a separate room and also stay to a schedule. So we've been pretty good. Every day we get up, we try to get out of bed by seven o'clock, try to get out and ride our bikes or go for a walk, spend a half hour, just, you know, getting the blood pumping. And I think there's been nothing better I could have done for myself than to do that and have that kind of morning routine, then come back, get cleaned up and then get to work. So it's just having a standard routine has really helped me to stay focused. So when I'm at work, I'm at work. And then, you know, then the hardest part, I think, for me is just cutting it off at the end of the day, because, I mean, dinner time, you know, usually comes and I'll try to make that the end. OK, it's time for dinner. So we're going to cut things off for today and move on to the family part portion of the evening. So that's definitely been a challenge. Just stay productive by focusing that, hey, this is my work time.

Chris Byers: Yeah, I think that speaks to a lot of what what we all need. It starts with personal productivity and getting the right energy for the work that we've got ahead. So I love that. Well, Mike, thanks for joining us today. It's been a great conversation and appreciate you joining us on Ripple Effect.

As we kind of wrap this episode up featuring Mike Barnes, there are a couple of takeaways to highlight. First is have a client first mindset and dive into problems to really understand for your customers what is their problem and what is the outcome that they're looking for. Build that no-code toolset. It's the way that you're going to help kind of remove barriers and help people save time in their work and make their lives easier. And then build relationships. That's the way that you can really understand and source where are other problems that I need to solve. How can we actually get those taken care of?

Thanks so much for joining us today. It's been a great conversation here on Ripple Effect, and we're curious what you think of it. Give us a review or shout out online, tell us how we're doing and we'd love to hear your feedback on this particular episode or Ripple Effect in general.


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