The Journey Beings
Several years ago at my first ever Salesforce / IT Consultancy I was working with a colleague, who besides teaching me a lot and was in general an awesome work person – always gave it 100%, always helped and always tried to do things the best/right way. Which is why I liked him so much.. anyway. We were working together for a customer who had a genuinely massive and extremely long-winded Sales pipeline and document generation process. On occasion a Sale could take 7 days, someone once said 30…. The document generation for said sale was the main part of this. I had done a few small templates at this point, all small scale “letter to customer”, “invoice”, “change of address confirmation” type stuff so I was picked to work with my colleague on this requirement.
30 days of effort later…..
That effort was reduced to about 2-3 hours with upwards of 20 documents being generated at the press of a button. Admittedly, the Sales process was handled by my colleague and took a lot longer then 30 days but everything to do with the document generation process was all me.
It was a hybrid Visualforce/Apex and Document solutions, filled with IF statements, TableHides, TableLists and more queries then a button could handle. You see Conga has limits, at the time it was 20 queries maximum per template and each template needed 5 or 6, sometimes of the same one. So the solution effectively created a custom link between templates and queries. The APEX built a button on the VF page that used this relationship to keep track of the number of Templates selected for generation so that each Query was only used once until it hit the limit then it prevents extra documents being added to that one request. Along with other toggles that set things like ‘generate as pdf’ or ‘attach to notes & attachments’.
The documents themselves were in some instances 20-30 pages long, filled with combinations of nested tables within IF statements, date and currency manipulation, queries that were getting data from related information several records away, images the changed dependant on what records were picked.
When it was complete, for the customer, it was a hit, the CEO at the time stood up on stage at the big annual global event to share this news – we got name dropped to thousands of people. I. Was. Proud. To this day, this example of what you can achieve with a bit of time and effort and merging of two processes into one has stuck with me and how much of a positive impact my work can have.
A year or two later, I found out (whilst being demo’d how Conga can do certain things) that they were using one of those documents as Sales material to demo. So, I claim blagging rights.
The Following Few Years – My First Certification
This started off something internally at the company. I was the ‘Conga King’, the ‘Go To Conga Guy’ over the years I built many forms, integrated with lots of customers and taught several new people all of the things I had learnt along the way.
Then somewhere through this process, most likely at a Conga event I found out about the Conga University (the first time round) it was early days for the Conga U team, but I sat and passed my Composer cert, I had to build an org with Conga installed, and build some templates to meet requirements. Funnily, it wouldn’t work – one of the things they were asking for at the time wasn’t actually possible. I spent some time with their Support, they redrew their requirement and I passed.
Someone called me ‘Lord Conga’ it stuck.
How I Became the Partner Manager and Lord Conga
When I was joining Hyphen8, I think it was near the end of my final interview, a face to face in a rather swanky venue in London, a question along the lines of “what other not technical Salesforce skills do you have” came up and my answer was somewhat joking along the line of “Well, I was called Lord Conga at one of my previous jobs because I’m Conga Certified..” I remember Elaine jumped on the fact I knew Conga, and how they use it, and that it’s a good tool they use a lot and a lot of Charities think it’s amazing and we ended up discussing the above scenario. The issue was I said “Lord Conga”.
It stuck. My own fault really. It’s now 100% a shared joke internally and I have to admit – I quite like the title.
Since then I’ve been one of the go-to people for Conga support & training. Over the last three years we have formalised our relationship with Conga, became partners and I have been our main point of contact both sides of the fence. Conga University has had a swanky update, it’s got a new portal and we’ve started a drive for 2020 to get a few more people Conga Certified because it genuinely is one of the tools, we use a lot.
The grant making world generates a lot of documentation from award letters, to final reports, terms and conditions and confirmation of payment. All of which Conga does fantastically.
Why Should You Care?
Originally, I was trying to think of how to write a blog about how I became certified, but then I realised, for me it was never just about the certifications – they came with experience of learning and using Conga over the last 7-8 years now. The support that Conga provides has always been top quality. The products they provide, though expensive really are the best on the market. Getting certified was in a lot of ways, rewarding in itself. It shows that I actually do know what I’m talking about and that Conga recognise this, that they too trust that I know their product.
For Hyphen8s customers though, knowing that they are predominantly charities, and expensive products are exactly that, expensive, being a Partner and having our staff be certified shows we are committed to a product that works and that internally we know how to get the most out of the products in question.
Our reputation means the world to us, we strive internally to always do the best whilst keeping it within budget and according out our CSAT we achieved this 9.96 times out of 10. I genuinely believe that our Partnership with Conga, and the Certifications we have make a difference, when we recommend a product it’s because we believe they will benefit from it and the certifications lend it a bit of weight.
The day that isn’t the case, is the day we recommend something else and from conversations I have had with the AEs, VPs and on one occasion the CEO over at Conga – I know they share this viewpoint. If Conga isn’t the right product, they don’t want us to recommend it either.
To find out more about Conga certifications, please see the Conga Certification Programme.