Martie Burris is a Senior Project Manager here at Salesforce  working on our Work.com solution helping businesses with the pandemic. In this episode, we talk about the process of developing Work.com, the core features it has, and how developers can customize it.

 

Martie started as a consultant, always knowing she wanted to work at the intersection of business and technology. At one point, she tried to explain to her manager what she wanted to do and that ultimately led her to her role as a project manager. Tune in to learn from her story and expertise and how Work.com could be a unique opportunity for developers.

 

 

Show Highlights:

  • Why Salesforce is uniquely qualified to deliver Work.com.
  • How Work.com came together.
  • The working parts of Work.com and how they all flow together.
  • The new normal for employees today.
  • Best practices for the implementation of Work.com.
  • A walk-through of the entity-relationship diagram and what it does for Work.com.
  • The role of Trailhead and MuleSoft in Work.com.
  • Things developers can experiment with and extend in the program.

 

Links:

  1. Work.com Development Guide: https://developer.salesforce.com/docs/atlas.en-us.workdotcom_dev_guide.meta/workdotcom_dev_guide/wdc_cc_overview.htm
  2. Martie on Twitter: https://twitter.com/martieburris
  3. Martie on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/meetmartie/

 

Episode Transcript

Martie Burris:

I knew I always wanted to work at the intersection of business and technology. I didn’t know how it was going to happen in practice. I remember being a consultant, my first job, and trying to explain to my manager what I wanted to do, which ultimately became what a product manager is.

Josh Birk:

That is Martie Burris, a senior product manager here at Salesforce working on work.com. I’m Josh Birk, a developer evangelists for Salesforce, and here on the Salesforce Developer Podcast, you’ll hear stories and insights from developers for developers. Today, we sit down and talk with Martie about the development of work.com, its features, and how developers can customize it. However, first, I wanted to talk about something that’s near and dear to Martie’s heart.

Martie Burris:

Floating Chair is my baby. Floating chair was birthed out of me moving to the Bay Area and meeting a Black student at Stanford at one of those like tech meetups. She’s like, “You’re the first female Black product manager I’ve ever met.” I’m like, and she’s like, “Will you mentor me? I’m like, “Girl, you went to Stanford. You do not need a mentor you are blind.” She’s like, “No, no, seriously.”

Martie Burris:

I started working with her and then over the course of that, like probably like six months, she got her first product job. One of the things she said to me, she’s like, “You really should try to scale this out and help more people. You actually have really good advice.” I’m like, “I don’t know.” I just put it out on LinkedIn one day and I’m like, “If you want free career advice, I’ll help.” I got the biggest outpouring.

Martie Burris:

I’ve been doing it now for a few years and Folding Chair has a mission and basically are opportunity is to create space for people. It comes from a Shirley Chisholm quote about, “If there’s not space at the table then a bring a folding chair.”

Martie Burris:

That’s what we’ve doing for the last two years. Bringing folding chairs for the Black and Brown product managers of color. I think we’ve created, what are we at $4.5 million in salaries and we’ve got almost 30 product managers placed in just under two years and I’m the single coach. I’ve spent a lot of my free time doing this pre-coaching, but it’s been one of the most fulfilling things, if not the most fulfilling thing I’ve done in my career for sure.

Josh Birk:

That is awesome. Okay. To help frame in the relevance of this topic, just kind of a side question, how’s working from home?

Martie Burris:

I really like it. People are really shocked to know, but I’m a serious introvert. You wouldn’t know it. I hide it really well, but I’m a serious introvert. The idea, that I am in my house, I have an excuse not to leave for the last six months, has been amazing. I’ve been so productive. This has been some of the most productive work time I’ve had in my career. It’s been amazing. [crosstalk 00:02:49]

Martie Burris:

It’s not a guilty feeling because I know that hasn’t been everyone’s reality, but as a person who’s living alone, in silence, who’s a true introvert, and needs time alone to recharge, I couldn’t ask for anything better. Granted now the restrictions have released, I do have some friends who come over unannounced, but if that’s the worst of it, I can handle it.

Josh Birk:

No, I totally understand because it’s like we can have sympathy for our extroverted humans, but just earlier today on Twitter, I’m a public speaker and I’m also a closet introvert. It’s that weird time where it’s like, do you miss it? Some parts that I do. Like being with the community and seeing people, but some parts of it not so much. One thing I don’t really miss is trying to figure out if somebody’s trying to handshake, fist bump, or wants a hug.

Martie Burris:

That is a very accurate interaction, but it’s always like you guys are doing the weird hug towards each other and you’re not knowing where you’re at.

Josh Birk:

Right, right. Then you have to back off and yeah, it’s a decision tree I don’t really need. I’m good too.

Josh Birk:

Okay. Elevator pitch time. What is the elevator pitch for work.com?

Martie Burris:

Work.com is our opportunity to not only help the world the way Salesforce does best, but to help employees, students, and companies return back to work safely when it works best for them.

Josh Birk:

Cool. Okay. To follow up on that a little bit, do you feel like Salesforce is a platform kind of uniquely qualified for delivering work.com?

Martie Burris:

Abso freaking lutely. I would say something else, but I don’t know if I’m allowed to say that on the podcast, but yeah, that was one of the things that I got out of the building it. Especially coming from the Heroku Tech Stack over into the Salesforce Proper Tech Stack, I did not know how robust it was and I’m an internal employee.

Martie Burris:

Now having to work on that, this huge point in my career, and doing this is very, very massive thing that has literally helped the world get back to normal. It’s been amazing and everything from the openness of our platform, the fact that you can pretty much plug anything else into it. The robust nature of the app exchange. We have an app for everything. We are literally enterprise app store and we have an app for everything.

Martie Burris:

Leveraging that we have an ecosystem of partners. Mark’s a celebrity, he’s friends with everyone. He could call whoever he needs to help us work through problems. We need the CDC to help us with recommendation. Oh, Mark’s got it. You know what I mean? It’s very, very cool to see how all the different places came together because it was literally done by almost every cloud of Salesforce was involved in some way or another.

Josh Birk:

Actually tell me a little bit about that because I want to get into details, but work.com was something that came together very quickly right?

Martie Burris:

Very quickly. I remember I went on PTO, I was off work for a week and a half. I came back and I had an email from my boss that said, “Mark wants us to work on this thing. I think you can help. Just schedule some time.” Within six weeks we built work.com from concept, to real software, six weeks flat. When I tell you none of this stuff existed, not even the data model, nothing existed. Six weeks to full working software, amazing.

Josh Birk:

That’s crazy.

Martie Burris:

Best team on earth.

Josh Birk:

Okay so let’s talk a little bit, at a high level what are the working parts of work.com?

Martie Burris:

At a high level, we’re doing a few things. The biggest thing we deliver from Salesforce platform was the command center. The command center is this kind of executive level overview of everywhere you do business. It’s got lots of these widgets in there, and it’s got this custom UI you don’t see anywhere else in Salesforce that allows you to look at all these things. It even has a tableau COVID-19 tracker that lets you see where all the hotspots are forming all across the world. It’s plugged into some external data sources too. It’s really awesome.

Martie Burris:

We also have Shift Management that allows for space and facilities planning. Think of that as now only a few people can be in a certain room at a time or even an elevator at a time. Shift Management helps you manage who’s and what place. Contact Tracing helps you manage who’s in what place if you’ve had incident. If you do need to go figure out who’s coming contact with you. That’s when you hear the stories of, it was at a party and then all these people got it. Contact Tracing is how they figured it out. We have the Contact Tracing Solution in there.

Martie Burris:

Let’s see. We also have the ERM response or the Emergency Response Management Solution in there from our friends over in Industries. Wellness, forgot about [crosstalk 00:07:48] how did I forget about wellness. Wellness is your COVID survey. If you even tried to go outside and you’ve had to take it in and it’s basically that. Have you had it come in contact with someone? All of that kind of information. Now providing that information so you can return back to your office, or your school building, or whatever the case may be, it’s done throughout the Wellness app.

Josh Birk:

Got you. Tell me a little bit about how that kind of all flows together? As an employee, am I kind of self-servicing to take the Wellness app and does that flow back into contact tracing depending on the results?

Martie Burris:

Actually, yeah. That’s exactly how it works. If you’re an employee and you decide to come back to work and your company’s was really smart and purchased work.com. The first thing you’re going to do is on your phone, in your email, or text or something, you’re going to get something that says, “Take your wellness survey.” It actually has curated questions that we worked with CDC and WHO on and experts within our health cloud organizations as well to come up with these curated list of questions. You’re going to answer those.

Martie Burris:

Once you answer those, it creates something called your wellness status and your wellness status is now something that is tracked by your company. The amazing thing is though we leverage the consent framework so you are consenting to giving your data and you can choose not to consent and that’s totally fine. We’ve advised tons of companies to be okay with, “If your employee doesn’t want to give that, it’s okay. Here’s some steps and here’s some things that you can do to work around it.”

Martie Burris:

Basically that wellness status is like a key for you in the system. Once it says, “Hey, yes, you’re available to come into work.” Then you’re prompted to do your Shift Management aspect. Your Shift Management aspect basically says to you, “I can not go to work,” and because now all of us have a different opinion of what work hours looks like, maybe you’re homeschooling, maybe you’re maybe babysitting, maybe you literally just don’t want to come into work certain days because you’re just more comfortable at home given the pandemic. You can say, “Hey, these are what I want to come in.” This isn’t that like a time-tracking tool. It’s more of a space planning tool.

Martie Burris:

It helps your facilities managers, your real estate folks, your office managers plan who’s going to be in the office and when. Those are the two pieces that work together. If for instance, you did get sick and your wellness status changed, then you just would lose your shifts for that week and they would go to someone else and your real estate folks will just work on getting someone else in, who can come into the office. If you don’t want to come in at all, you don’t have to.

Martie Burris:

I think that’s my favorite part about all of that is we tried to give as much agency to the employee as possible. To one, control their data, but also come back to work when it makes sense for them and encourage our customers to do the same. Not only are we encouraging them with the software, but we’re encouraging them with the way that we’re treating our employees at Salesforce by giving them that choice.

Josh Birk:

Got it. No, that’s a really interesting and I think it’s almost a philosophical question about balancing that agency versus transparency, and privacy, and all of these things that once we start talking about health data is just really so important.

Martie Burris:

It’s huge, it’s huge. It’s something we’ve never done really an enterprise level software. That’s a part of PII. A company has never had to collect. They’ve never needed to know whether or not you were well enough to come to work. Now there’s a piece of data that is now tracked about you.

Martie Burris:

It was definitely something that we thought very carefully and considerately about. How do we not only keep that data private in the system? So some random Joe smell can’t find that your personal health data, but also how do we give employees agency to understand how their data’s being used in the system, give them transparency. How do we promote ethical and compliant workplace? I mean, encourage our customers to do that as well.

Martie Burris:

We put a lot of what I would say, like hard rules in place, as we sowed the software as to how it needs to be used and can’t be used as part of implementation. We did as much as we could to really protect employees in that way, but it’s definitely something that is different and it’s the future of data. Part of the new normal ways companies now are collecting that data and they will be collecting it for the foreseeable future.

Josh Birk:

If I’m that employee and I wake up, I’ve got the fever, I’ve got the chills, I can’t smell anything, once that’s reported, how exactly does Contact Tracing get involved?

Martie Burris:

Yeah, that’s a great question. There’s a couple of different ways. Depending on how a company is implemented, they may have contract tracers in place where you can just say call to a hotline or something like that and say, “Hey, I’ve had an encounter,” or you can say it through your wellness survey like, “Hey, I’m sick.” One of the two.

Martie Burris:

Either way, even if you do it through the survey, it still links back to Contact Tracing. We do it directly to the contact tracer it’ll work that way too. Once that happens an encounter is taking place. What’s going to happen is you’re going to get a phone call and someone’s going to say, “Where were you?” Within the Contract Tracing Solution, we’re allowed to see where somebody was, who else was in that space during that time, you’d also give a timeframe. “I was at McDonald’s for two hours, with two coworkers on this date.”

Martie Burris:

Then it starts to create what we call it, contact [crafts 00:13:05] that help manage the encounter. You can see everyone who’s come in contact with that person at work and depending on what version of Contact Tracing a company is using, possibly at home too because there’s actually two solutions. There’s a private sector and a public sector, but more often than not, they’re using the Contact Tracing for the business sector.

Martie Burris:

They’re looking and saying, “Okay, so who are all the coworkers you came in contact with? Anyone in the office, the lobby,” and they’re going through all these different spaces with you. Basically once they’ve figured all that out, your work is done. Then it’s up to the contact tracer to continue to alert people that they’ve been exposed, that they need to get tested, and some of our customers even have testing facilities right onsite. People can go downstairs and take a test and then go home for the day. They actually don’t even have to make it a huge deal if they don’t need to. They can just say, “Hey, take your test and see you see when the results come back.”

Josh Birk:

I want to talk a little bit about implementation and technical details, but I’m going to throw kind of a I guess theoretical, hypothetical or maybe the better word. I think you’re uniquely qualified to answer this in some ways because I’m guessing you’ve visualized this.

Josh Birk:

We’re talking about a lot of very large changes to the day-to-day life of an employee. We’ve kind of touched on those, but can you kind of give me, what’s the summary of the new normal until there’s a vaccine and we kind of get out of… What’s the day in the life of the employee going to look like now?

Martie Burris:

It’s changed quite a bit and I think the culture of the company is going to define just how easy this is, but I think the number one thing that you can always look at this as a silver lining that comes from this is, we’ve pushed the boundaries of the future of work.

Josh Birk:

Got you.

Martie Burris:

Even jobs that can never be seen as virtual, never be seen in a digital age are done in a digital manner now. Even very simple things, like one of the things that I had to get a new driver’s license. Finally, the California DMV has a website that allows you to do these things.

Josh Birk:

No.

Martie Burris:

Finally. It took so long, like this was never a thing. You always have to go sit in the office and fill out the paperwork and they have now taking these things online. The thing is now as a worker, not only do I have agency to work more remotely and freely, jobs that it also from a recruiting standpoint, opens up the opportunities that are available to you.

Martie Burris:

Now that things can be done online, you can work for any company. I was talking to a friend who recruits at Facebook and she’s like, “It’s opened up our recruiting pool is so big. People who never want us to live in Menlo Park and live in the Bay Area now have an opportunity to work at a company like Facebook.” Or, if they’re smart. They work for the right Mark and they work with us, but it opens up these cool opportunities. I think it is empowered employees in a way that we couldn’t track. You have more agency over your career than you’ve ever had before.

Josh Birk:

That’s really interesting. It kind of hits me personally because one of the reasons I became a developer evangelist was because Salesforce wanted somebody stationed in the Midwest. It was the first time anybody had a conversation with me about working at Salesforce that did not include moving to the Bay Area, which was not high on my list of things to do.

Josh Birk:

I have to say, I’m very jealous and now considering moving to the Bay Area because here in Chicago, you do still have to go to the DMV and people are reporting them. It’s just a nightmare. It’s just a nightmare. It’s like bring a chair and a book because if you thought it was bad before, it’s bad now. So because my wife and I are in the same situation. Our driver’s license actually expired a couple of months ago.

Josh Birk:

Yeah, let’s talk a little bit about tech and starting with implementation. Work.com is a managed package and what should I think about when I’m moving it? Should I be moving it into my org, should I be moving into a separate org, what are some best practices there?

Martie Burris:

Yeah. A big one, probably a new one for old-school Salesforce people is we’re actually requiring a net new org that we’re calling, your work.com org, or HR org, or however you want to think about it, but we’re actually requiring that the managed package that is work.com be installed in an org separate from your CRM and business data.

Martie Burris:

The reason for that is to continue to promote that employees having agency over their data. You have to separate it from business functions. You don’t even want to take the chance of mingling that data. That’s for ethical reasons, compliance reasons. We don’t want to introduce software that harms. Whether that’s harming an employee or opens up the company to liabilities, we don’t want to do that. That’s the hugest thing.

Martie Burris:

Then within that, the other thing to understand is because it is a platform play, if you do want to grab things at app exchange, one of the things I worked on personally was getting a host of partners ready with work.com ready solutions, the day we went GA. So if you want to get those, those are also representatives and makes up extension managed and unmanaged packages depending on what you want to add in.

Josh Birk:

Got it. That’s interesting because it’s sort of like from an architectural point of view, you’re closing the door from me, even if I was doing it for rational reasons, adding a wellness status to my contact field or anything like that? From my CRM data.

Martie Burris:

Yeah, from your CRM data.

Josh Birk:

Not within the work.org?

Martie Burris:

Exactly.

Josh Birk:

Yeah.

Martie Burris:

Yep. So we’re separating those things out. I think the other thing that’s really cool is we introduced the employee data model and work.com sits on the employee data model. The employee data model was actually supposed to go beta this summer. It’s just supposed to be something that people could see a test out. It is already GA and has been GA for months now. It’s what work.com sits on.

Martie Burris:

It has connections because it was a full platform play. It’s got connections to everything from Trailhead, to the survey consent framework. It has things, it’s linked also to user and the individual. I think we were also doing some work to even link it out even more because as we put this thing out, it’s just grown tremendously, and the asks and needs of what the employee data model can do have just grown out of this world. Some cool technology we released in that.

Josh Birk:

Okay. Let’s talk about that in more detail. I know that this is a podcast we’re doing it in audio. I would love to be able to see an entity relationship diagram, but kind of walk me through that data model. Maybe some of the design decisions around it and what does it do for work.com?

Martie Burris:

Yeah, let’s start. If you’re looking at the data model, the first thing you’re going to see is employee at the center of the employee object and all the attributes that hang off of that.

Martie Burris:

The next thing you would see as a direct relationship to the individual object. The reason we did that is because the individual object gives you with that, came for free from a development standpoint, the option to have both the consent framework and a survey framework in there. The consent framework was really important because I mean, that’s the thing I’ve been mentioning. We got to have consent. We have to have employees bought into this.

Martie Burris:

The other thing that you’re going to have connected to that is what we’re calling the crisis management object. That allows you to look at any crisis that happens. You don’t have to just use your command center and things like that for pandemic, you can also use it for the hurricanes that happened or tornadoes or whatever thing that you consider a crisis.

Martie Burris:

A crisis could be as simple as burnout. I have a burnout problem and I want to manage that. You can put your crisis in there. The nice thing about the crisis piece is it segments out that data. If you’re looking at this data and you’re trying to dilute depending on how you’ve set up your permissions and all that, basically you can see data related to your pandemic, but if you were to switch crisis’s, you would only see data related to that specific crisis.

Martie Burris:

The other thing that we have within that framework as well is we have the ability to look at things by location. We have all the location pieces in there, and we have the manager pieces in there. Those objects allow us not only to see who works for who, but it also lets us see where people are. That’s how we’re using it in the command center because what we realized is, and I’m sure everyone is aware of this, every state, every country is in different stages of reopening.

Martie Burris:

One of the things you want to be aware of is how are employees in space A affected because that may be different from how they’re affected in some other place. Those are some of the other objects that are there in the core employee data model.

Martie Burris:

Then within that, it’s connected then to all of the other apps and widgets. So Trailhead, Contact Tracing, Shift Management are also broken off as their own data models that are attached to the employee objects and then plugging [inaudible 00:21:57].

Josh Birk:

Interesting. What is the role, I mean, I know the role of Trailhead, but specifically for this, how are those objects pulling into work.com?

Martie Burris:

Yeah. Trailhead, that’s a great use case to talk through, reskilling. Going back into the workplace now, post COVID is a completely different experience and you’re going to have to train your employees. You’re going to have to let them know what the new procedures and processes are. The best way to do that is to use Trailhead. Trailhead came out with some pre-built content kits that make it easy for employers to come up with that training and then to share it out to their employees as they returned back to work.

Josh Birk:

Got it. Very neat. I kind of want to close the loop a little bit on the continent and privacy aspect of it. If I’m a developer and I’m touching this data model, are there specific things that are do or do nots, when it comes to working with the consent model?

Martie Burris:

I would say, no. I would say you’re pretty safe there. Do play with it. Do you create something. It’s extensible. The most amazing part of all this is it was built on Salesforce platform. It is meant to be extended. It’s meant to be played with. Go out there, try it. Try to extend it, create different apps, do things, and push it to its max. I love to see the creative things that have come out, just in these last few minutes and how people are using this new employee data model.

Josh Birk:

Yeah, let’s go into more detail on that. I think some of it you were saying is actually already on the app exchange, but what are some interesting examples of ways that developers have embraced and extended this?

Martie Burris:

Yeah. I think one of the things I’ve seen a lot of extensions of the Contact Tracing app or how people are wanting to do that within individual implementations. One of the things people probably have heard about, is there’s so many different ways to do Contact Tracing. You can use Bluetooth signals, you can use batch data and pull those things together to get even more accurate view of who was in a place by knowing through who’s cell phone was there or knowing who scanned a place.

Martie Burris:

They can take that contact tracing piece and they can blow our Contact Tracing out way more and plug into a company’s badging system or into their corporate device system. Now you have a very specific view of how people are moving in a space, who’s in that space, when they left that space, and so that you don’t have to rely on people remembering, “Oh, I think I was there from 2:00 to 3:00.” You can actually look at batch data and see exactly where they were. Now it’s actually uploaded into the Contact Tracing tool and makes it so much easier for the contact tracer or person who’s managing encounters, to know what happened because the data is being fed right into the system.

Josh Birk:

Is there a project in your head that if a developer’s listening to this right now, you would love for them to try to tackle?

Martie Burris:

That’s a good question. Actually, yeah. One of the things we announced is a partnership with Workday, as a result of this. I’d love to see more people leveraging Salesforce and Workday together to create very unique things. We go hand-in-hand for a lot of employees, HRs or system of record for [HCM 00:25:10] and we are their CRM, but with our introduction of this, and with MuleSoft building an accustom accelerator, using Workday data, allowing you to port things over. You can actually build really cool custom dashboards and apps using some of that data from both Workday and Salesforce together. I know tons of customers [inaudible 00:25:31] do that.

Josh Birk:

Nice. How else does MuleSoft play into this?

Martie Burris:

Yeah, so MuleSoft is how data is getting into the system. Whether that is from the initial implementation or more specifically, it’s that Workday piece.

Martie Burris:

One of the things they did was they use there are any point framework and they came up with the Workday Accelerator, which allows you to connect your Workday data directly into Salesforce, for use to work.com. We’ve already mapped some of those fields together and so it works very seamlessly and it provides a bi-directional sync between your system of record, which is Workday, and your employee engagement system over in work.com.

Josh Birk:

Do you think it’s fair to kind of paraphrase what we’re talking about is that there’s not a specialized skill set for this for trying to work with work.com because it’s built on the platform. If you’re a platform developer, you have the skills, but it is at least a very unique opportunity?

Martie Burris:

It is a unique opportunity, but I would look at it as a call to action. If you’re sitting at home and you’re a developer, and you know how to build things, this is a great opportunity to get your hands dirty on software that’s helping people. That helps open opportunities up during the pandemic.

Martie Burris:

There’s so much technology that’s been needed. You have to remember, little kids have to go back to school, students have to go back to college, you and I are having to go back to the office eventually. If you have an opportunity and you have creative ideas, the sky’s the limit and companies are looking for things to help. Everyone’s looking. Everyone’s in a pandemic right now. This is one thing that touches every citizen in the world. If you want to build something on a global scale that’s really going to help people, now is the best time.

Josh Birk:

That’s our show. Now we will include in the show notes, links to the documentation about how to get your hands on the manage package for work.com and getting it into a scratch org or your partner developer edition. Now, before we go, I did ask Martie after her favorite non technical hobby?

Martie Burris:

Anything involving flowers. If I was not a tech nerd, I’d be a florist.

Josh Birk:

Nice, nice. That’s awesome. My wife is a florist and it’s a wonderful hobby to have in the middle of a pandemic because at least you still get to play with some dirt.

Martie Burris:

It’s so true.

Josh Birk:

I want to thank Martie for the great conversation and information. Of course, as always my thanks to you for listening. Now, if you want to learn more about this podcast, head on over to developer.salesforce.com/podcast, where you can hear old episodes, see the show notes, and have links to your favorite podcast service. Thanks again and I’ll talk to you next week.

 

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