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Need to track duration at every Salesforce opportunity stage?

We all know Salesforce is an incredible platform for managing sales operations. Opportunity Stages define an organization’s sales process. In this blog, we are going to calculate the time taken by an Opportunity stage till it reaches the “Closed Won” or “Closed Lost” stage.
This functionality plays a crucial role in Pipeline management. This reveals information on how long it takes for salespeople to advance through each Opportunity stage.

New Opportunity Records 

We can record the Opportunity Stage Change dates for new records using FLOWS. 

Step 1: Select “Record-Triggered Flow” in the “New Flow” pane and click “Create”.

 

Step 2: Choose an “Opportunity” object and set the trigger condition to “A record is  created or Updated”.

Step 3: Add a decision element. Create separate outcomes for Opportunity stages for which we need to calculate the duration till it reaches “Closed Won/Closed Lost”  Stage,

Step 4: Create test fields with the datatype “Date” for tracking the Stage change dates in Opportunity. 

Step 5: Add an Update triggering element for each stage and map the Current Date to the test  field created in step 4. Mapping “Negotiation/Review Date” to Current Date,

Flow

Finally our flow looks as shown below,

Formula Field Creation

Step 6: Using formula fields, we can proceed with calculating the time taken from each Stage until Closed Won/Closed Lost. 

For calculating the time span between the “Initial Engagement Date” and “Closed Won  Date”,

Calculating the duration between “Initial Engagement Date” and “Closed Lost  Date”,

Please use “Opportunity History Report” to record Stage Durations of existing Opportunity records.

Demo 

Please watch this video that demonstrates the above process.

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Talk the right amount in meetings!

TL;DR – Just look at the post image to help you talk the right amount in meetings.

We – humans – love to talk, that’s in our genes. That’s how humans evolved to become one of the most innovative life forms – by passing information between our tribes, our friends, and our children. One thing we have less though is the time!

It’s the most important currency for all of us and we get annoyed when we don’t use it properly such as binge-watching a show on Netflix or when someone else hijacks our time by inviting us to an “emergency” meeting. As you might all agree, meetings are the known villains in the corporate world, but no one can stop this supervillain (which I don’t think they all are, but that’s for another post). In fact, if you search on the web, you will find numerous stats about meetings – one such page says that nearly 55 million meetings are held per week in the US alone. 55 Million Meetings!

Despite the time sink these meetings cause, we forget about this annoyance as soon as we are in a meeting. We start talking immediately. We do love talking, don’t we? We talk about how smart we are, how time-pressed we are, and how important the work we are doing is. We talk about the weather, kids, pets, traffic, holidays, bad networks, and everything else under the sky.

Many experts started to notice this trend and recently, as a result of this, there has been a lot of focus on reducing the time we talk and increasing the time we listen. You would have heard one of the many quotes upon this idea such as ‘You have two ears and one mouth, so listen more and talk less.’ – all of which I agree with. There is a lot of value in listening; both from a getting work done perspective and from an empathetic perspective.

But, does that mean talking is all bad, especially in meetings? Yes and no! Let me explain!

Before I started writing this post, I was reflecting on the numerous meetings I have attended in the last few years. I was trying to see if I could come up with a way that people could use to categorize meetings and identify ones where we need to talk less, and the ones where we need to talk a bit more.

The idea here is not to oversimplify meetings but to provide a simple mental model to remind ourselves about our objective for the meeting. So in this blog, I present the l’Sup model!

You will see a simple graph below which visualizes this model. The fun meetings and social get-togethers don’t fall under any of these categories. Let there be no restrictions in those meetings provided you’re amongst your friends or family!

No alt text was provided for this image

In this model, I group the meetings into 4 broad categories:

  • Learn meetings – Your objective is to learn from these meetings. You are there to learn about one of the following: a concept, project status, or a new skill.
  • Steer meetings – Your objective is to give proper directions to your colleagues around a certain project or initiative. You are there to listen and provide steer with utmost clarity.
  • Update meetings – Your objective is to provide updates on something you’re working on, and answer any questions. You will also need to capture any feedback coming out of these meetings.
  • Present meetings – Your objective is to present a topic to a large set of audience – a keynote address can be a good example

On one end of the spectrum, we have the dark green learning meetings; on the other, we have the lighter green present meetings.

There is a reason why I used shades of green in the above line – to convey the point that talking is not all that bad.

For example, in an update meeting, you need to talk to ensure the sponsors and stakeholders are aware of what’s going on in your initiative. If you don’t do that, people will lose confidence in the initiative because they don’t know the latest updates and changes. At the same time, if you talk too much as a sponsor in an update meeting, you don’t give an opportunity for the project lead to give a proper status update. As a sponsor, this is a meeting where you have come to learn about the status. Now I hear you say, this is all complex.

I present you the l’Sup Model, see the blog post image, this is a simple line graph really. The X-axis tells you how much you should talk and Y-axis lists your objectives from those meetings. As you see, not all meetings will need stone-cold silence from you.

You can use this model as a compass to decide how long you want to talk in a meeting. The key thing is for you to decide your objective at least 5 minutes before the meeting. Here are some tips to make this model work for you.

Let’s say you’re someone who would like to express your thoughts, the minute you think about it. Have a notepad, write that thought down and wait!

If you are someone who doesn’t like to talk in meetings but have an update meeting. Plan ahead, prepare the slides, and pre-empt the questions.

Remember, if you’re in a learn meeting and you’re in a leadership position, prioritize the questions you ask. In my experience, this automatically reduces the time you talk.

You can also use the famous Bezos meeting rules too.

In summary, talking is not all that bad in meetings if it is inline with your objective for the meeting and you can use the l’Sup model as a compass for your meeting. This is just based on my experience observing meetings generally. You can use this as a mental heuristic to remind yourself about your meeting objective and talk time before the meeting.

Talk the right amount and prosper!

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To Agile or Not To Agile – Part 1

I am often asked the question on when someone should use Agile to deliver Salesforce and Data Projects; I could go the typical consultant way and say: ‘well…it depends!’ – but of course, I don’t want to do that! However, before I could either give you the answer or a framework to approach this question, we need to look at a few aspects of it. If you’re an impatient person (trust me, I was one!), wait till the next article on this topic, I plan to summarise a matrix which can guide you.

Now, let’s get back to the topic!

I am assuming you know what Agile and Salesforce are, but if you’re not familiar with either of them, please click on the links which provides a good summary and have been page ranked well by Google too. 🙂

I hope you made it back to this article without vanishing into a Wikipedia or a Youtube Rabbit hole! Nevertheless, let’s begin by using a scenario to explain this topic easily.

Scenario

Imagine you have taken up a new role in Acme Inc as the Salesforce Programme Manager. Acme Inc has a lot of impatient stakeholders – I mean what are the chancesD!? They would like you to hit the ground running with a Greenfield Salesforce project that also involves large scale data migration. The CTO asks you the million dollar question – do you think we can get this done in 6-8 sprints? This is your first meeting with the CTO and obviously you would like to make a good impression, I get that!

You carefully drink a sip of your coffee from the vending machine and gather your thoughts (As a side note, you’re mildly annoyed that the machine creates a lot of waste for making one cup of coffee!).

Firstly, the CTO has assumed that this project will be implemented using an Agile methodology. Your job is to validate this assumption. Any seasoned Project Manager like you will have the knack of buying a little time before coming up with a more informed response. You know that very well, so you respond to the CTO by saying that from your experience 6-8 sprints are enough to deliver such projects, but… you saw a few requirements which may need some further looking into. You carefully dodge that bullet without introducing that anchor bias around 6-8 sprints.

The key is to have a long pause after that ‘but…‘ which is dramatic enough for the CTO to notice.

The Next Steps

You’re thinking about the CTO’s question as you walk back to your desk with your brand new laptop from Danny – the IT Lead. You assure yourself that you know well about the framework to choose between Agile and Waterfall – the Stacey Matrix, and have used it in your previous projects.

You’re discussing about the question with Ed, who’s a curious Salesforce Project Analyst sitting next to you. You have just met Ed, but he’s not shy of asking questions. He looks at you and says, ‘What the heck is a Stacey Matrix?’ You patiently explain to Ed that the Stacey Matrix is a way of looking at management strategies to solve complex problems.

You say: “Firstly, you classify the problem into the following buckets- Simple, Complicated, Complex and Chaos. You do this based on 2 factors:

  • uncertainty on what needs to be happen to solve the problem
  • uncertainty around how it should be implemented.

The sweet spot for Agile are the problems which fall under the Complex category. These are projects in which you roughly know what needs to happen to solve an issue – but require feedback to solidify the design. In addition, you don’t know how to implement the full solution.”

Ed is not convinced, and he asks you to explain it using the Salesforce project you’re about to do. You love a good challenge as it improves the quality of the outcome, so you ask Ed a few questions, in an effort to do an initial classification of the project based on Stacey Matrix. Ed knows a lot about this project, as he has been a part of the initial discovery exercise.

    1. Is this a Greenfield project? i.e. Are we planning to implement a brand new Salesforce instance?
    2. Does it involve large scale data migration?
    3. Do we to integrate Salesforce with any other applications?
    4. Are the stakeholders open to using Salesforce’s out of the box features? Do we expect them to ask for big customisations?
    5. Can we use release some features of the Salesforce quickly to a set of users? As an example, the sales team can start using the Lead to Opportunity functionality for new businesses straight away?
    6. Do we have a strong Salesforce Product Owner and Scrum Master in the team?
    7. Is the CI/CD pipeline working efficiently?

You ask Ed the above questions, to which he says that he must attend a meeting now, but he has promised to come back within an hour with responses to these questions. Meantime, I suggest you set up your new laptop and schedule that meeting with the CTO to provide an update on the timeline ;-). Good luck!

We will cover the responses and whether we can do this project using Agile methodolody in the next part- feel free to add more questions while we are waiting for Ed to come back from his meeting!

References

  1. Stacey RD. Strategic management and organisational dynamics: the challenge of complexity. 3rd ed. Harlow: Prentice Hall, 2002.
  2. Dinnie Muslihat. (2018) Agile Methodology: An Overviewat: https://zenkit.com/en/blog/agile-methodology-an-overview/ [Accessed 02 Jan. 2021]
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Women Empowerment in Southern India

The term – Women Empowerment – has been referred to in many areas of empowering women including education, employment, decision making, health, safety, etc. It is fundamental to the economic and social progress of the local community, state, nation, and planet.

The need for Women Empowerment: –

It is a painful fact that every country of the world, be it developing or developed, has a history that speaks volumes about the ill-treatment of women. Women are subjected to various kinds of physical and mental tortures, in their own family and also in society.

Though, the situation has improved considerably from the past, more so in the developed countries. But the countries like India and some in the African continent still lag behind, despite the improvements.

Women in some societies are treated as a commodity in many rural areas. They are expected only to do household chores, cook food, clean utensils, and clothes, etc. Educating a woman or a girl child is considered taboo and a waste of time and money.

They are also not allowed to socialize or do a job or business as per their will. Everything that they do must be approved by the men in the family. A situation like this is absolutely unacceptable and poses a major hindrance to the development of a nation.

In some societies, women are still discriminated against on their gender. They are not given the same right as men. Women are still paid less, expected to clean, etc. Women are still strict by their culture and family.

Importance of Women Empowerment

Empowering women is to give women the right. Women can have equal rights to participate in education, society, economy, and politics. Empowerment helps to reduce domestic violence and women are not abused by any factors such as sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and physical abuse.

Areas to focus

Education is the most important factor in empowering women. If you educate a man, you educate an individual, however, if you educate a woman you educate a whole family. A woman who is educated is able to secure a job for herself and meet her family’s everyday requirements. She becomes financially independent and makes her own decisions. Education brings prosperity not only to the woman and her family but also to the nation.

There are various ways in how one can empower women. The individuals and government must both come together to make it happen. Education for girls must be made compulsory so that women can become literate to make a life for themselves.

Women must be given equal opportunities in every field, irrespective of gender. Moreover, they must also be given equal pay. We can empower women by abolishing child marriage. We teach women to raise their voices against any abuse.

Women empowerment in India

Women during the Vedic period enjoyed equal status with men in all aspects of life. Women were educated in the Vedic period. Rigvedic verses suggest that women were married at a mature age and were probably free to select their own husband in a practice called Swayamvara or live-in-relationship called Gandharva marriage. In the Vedic age, women remain unmarried for higher studies. Women’s education has been highly appreciated in Atharva Veda. Manu emphasized that it was the duty of parents to give their daughters integral education. However, there was a gradual decline in female education during the later Vedic age. This may be considered an old story by many, but the very thought of such women empowerment excites me.

Salesforce and Women Empowerment: –

Salesforce is a global web-based application and cloud computing company best known for its Customer Relationship Management (CRM) product. They specialize in Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) to help users handle all of their business needs.

Salesforce is a fantastic company for women and families. Equality is a core value of salesforce. Recently, the first CEO of Salesforce, Marc Benioff found out his female employees were paid less than men. His response is a priceless leadership lesson. The pay gap between men and women at Salesforce was immediately rectified. He raised the salaries of women across the country. Marc Benioff is very cautious about eliminating gender bias by implementing clear policies and guidelines against gender pay gaps and making sure salaries are regularly reviewed for gender impartially. Salesforce nicely empowers and engages women in the workplace.

In a little town in Southern India, we at Sweet Potato Tec are training women in Salesforce to achieve their dreams. They are empowered and fearless in challenging people with great questions. I, as a mentor to SPT, consider this as the greatest success of my role. I hope SPT continues to do a greater role in Women’s empowerment.

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My Internship Teaching Experience

My name is Nambi. I am currently a Software Developer in Sweet Potato Tec. Sweet Potato Tec is a Salesforce consulting company providing services to the UK and US-based customers.


I joined this company on 24 August 2017. We have been conducting free internship courses for college students for the past 3 years successfully.

I am one of the trainers who spearhead this internship program. I would like to share my teaching experience in this blog.

During my internship student teaching experience, I spend a lot of time preparing each topic. I work hard to research different ways to present the information for each topic.

I look for activities that my interns would easily understand. We provide hands-on work for interns at the end of every session.

While training the interns I learned new things as well, mainly because the interns ask a lot of great questions which improved my thought processes too. At the end of the internships, I asked the interns to provide feedback about my teaching, as it would help improvise my teaching skills.

We also guided the interns to do their own projects individually in salesforce. I am really proud to see the interns shaping their future in Salesforce.

I wish to continue this going forward as well as to share my knowledge with many people. In Sweet Potato Tec, we have a goal to let the local community know about this technology free of cost.

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Mentor Point !!…

My name is Kamala. I work with Sweet Potato Tec, a Salesforce Consulting Company.

In this blog, I would like to share information about our Free Internship Program. I started my journey in Sweet Potato Tec as Intern in Dec 2017 to Jan 2018, in a batch of 6 Students. The mentors who take internship provide great insights in a new technology called Salesforce. I was able to get a deeper understanding of Salesforce after my interactions with my mentors.
During the completion of my internship, I heard about a role which has become available in Sweet Potato Tec. I attended the interview and got selected. Now I am a proud mentor for the new Interns.

Currently, we do Internship Programmes for a duration of maximum three months depending on the interns’ availability stipulated by their Colleges or University. We also guide them for the final year project as a free of cost initiative.

Our internship program provides the following benefits

1. Hands-on experience and practical knowledge in salesforce
2. Provides commercial experience which someone may not learn in classrooms.
3. Develops global perspective in learning.

While learning, I kept my mind open, asked a lot of questions which my mentors patiently answered, and was able to increase my confidence levels significantly.
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, the internships classes are now virtual, but we connect with the interns on a regular but flexible schedule. Internship provides a win-win opportunity to both interns and SPT. I am very excited about the prospects of this Programme.😊

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Age is just a number!

Firstly, you may wonder why a 65-year retired person embarked on this journey to become a Salesforce Admin.

I(Ananthavalli also known as Ananthi) started the journey with my young friend Kamala for two reasons;  the primary reason is to know about this emerging technology which is used in my son’s company, and the second reason is to spend my retirement life in a purposeful and enthusiastic way. As a retired chemistry professor, I didn’t know anything about software or for that matter about computers. That’s the beauty of Salesforce though…with a little bit of guidance and keenness to learn you will be able to do wonders with this technology.

So, how did I manage to learn this cloud-based CRM application and passed the admin certification?

The Salesforce Admin certification exams are not exactly the type of tests you can prepare the night before. In fact, I set a goal for myself to pass the exam 8 months before taking it.

Kamala and I browsed the Salesforce Certification site to read about the administrator track and got the Salesforce certification Administrator guide. You can download it by clicking the below link.

https://trailhead.salesforce.com/help?article=Salesforce-Certified-Administrator-Exam-Guide

I learned about the basics of these techniques theoretically from SFDC guide and Trailhead. Then I started putting them to practice with a developer salesforce org. I also looked at the historical tickets with Sweet Potato Tec to understand the nuances with Salesforce.

I also posted a question on the developer forum to hear from the experts. A couple of them even took time to respond to my basic question, which made me very happy.

Lastly, I took the time to do the practice exams on proprofs.com and other websites regularly. I completed around 2,500 questions along with Kamala during this time. We focused on the areas which I didn’t score well immediately after my mock exams.

I have to say thanks to a number of people online, complete strangers – who helped with top tips and links. I have pasted some of them below. That’s how I prepared for the Salesforce admin certification…I will write another post soon to describe how I went about in completing the test.

You can find my certification here
Certification Details

https://www.johngarvens.com/how-to-analyze-your-salesforce-certification-exam-results/

https://blog.merivis.org/study-salesforce-admin-exam/

https://explorationsintosalesforce.wordpress.com/adm201-index/

https://www.sfdcnotes.com/admin-0-introduction/

https://www.sfdcnotes.com/admin-0-introduction/

https://quizizz.com/admin/quiz/

http://focusonforce.com/salesforce-adm-201-exam-questions/

https://www.whizlabs.com/learn/course/salesforce-online-course/quiz/

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Exciting announcement about our Joint Venture!

‘Connecting Business’ and ‘Sweet Potato Tec’ announce Joint venture to enhance their long-standing relationship  – 03rd August 2020, London, England.

Connecting Business Limited (‘CB’) and Sweet Potato Tec Limited (‘SPT’), are delighted to announce the establishment of a joint venture to further expand their long-standing working relationship with the aim of strengthening their combined resources to deliver scalable Salesforce.com CRM and associated technologies, to further support profitable revenue growth for clients and partners.

“The joint venture will leverage the outstanding Salesforce strategic advisory, process consulting and technical capabilities of ‘SPT’ and the considerable sales, operations and marketing expertise of ‘CB’.  We are very excited about this venture “, said Swami Bala of ‘SPT’.

‘SPT’ have a solid team of resources that cover the full suite of Salesforce.com capabilities as well as the ability to integrate all and any necessary third-party applications whether native and or via API.

“Together, we offer clients and partners a business focused approach that understands the end to end business process, sales and pipeline modelling, how to leverage big data and deploy targeted marketing campaigns”, said Lee Nightingale of ‘CB’.

We have the experience to explain the ‘what’s in it for me’ to all departments, ensuring the Strategy, People and Technology are all aligned – to enable optimal success.

Our aim is to work with scale-up organisations pushing fast growth and to sure up their existing position by streamlining processes across the organisation.

To learn more about the two companies, please visit:

http://connectingbusiness.co.uk and http://sweetpotatotec.com

For further information on either company or to speak to us about this joint venture, please call 0844 2720071 or email

[email protected] or [email protected]

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Learn How To Learn -Part 3-Digital Transformation & Personal Mastery

In the age of rapid adoption of new tech tools, it becomes important for one to adapt and evolve during these times of change. The last 3 months had brought in the digital transformation what the industry was trying for the last couple of years. As per a Forbes article, already, 70% of companies had digital transformation in place or were working on one, but it seems most companies were not far enough along to make Covid-19 a non-issue.

I indeed wrote an article on COVID 19 and the digital transformation in my LinkedIn page. Now after 3 months, looking into various aspects of digital transformation and its impact of personal mastery, I felt to share my viewpoints on the same.

This blog will drive and address personal mastery and digital transformation in the following standpoints

  1. Digital adoption in certain industries
  2. Impact of employees towards the digital adoption
  3. Personal mastery towards evolving digital economy

Let’s start with the most relatable industry to our reader, the Information Technology industry…

1. Information Technology

With sudden Work from Home (WFH), coming in to play, most of the organizations in IT industry were forced to adopt this. Being in IT, they have to showcase their adoption quicker than other industries. A cloud first company, i.e a product or a service provider company whose work is completely dependent on a cloud environment were quick to move. Followed by the other companies. However, the ones they swiftly moved are their communication and collaboration platforms.

This is where the initial hurdles started to come up. Though, Work from home, was quick to adopt, the challenge was effective time management and the new slang of the time “Zoom fatigue”. Being continuously online, either on video call or conference call, employees started to feel tiredness and they slowly started to realize the productivity was actually going down day by day. The Work from Home is a framework that needs to be adopted.

The below digital transformation image is a reference from Forbes article.

The simple reason is when an individual feels they have too much time in hand and they start to plan all ambitious task to do in the same time. It’s like one trying to learn a new course online like python development, then planning to learn about leadership, in parallel trying to learn so music instrument or anything do with their hobbies or passion. When these multiple things play along with the regular WFH model, one brain is constantly in a kind of elevated communication, while in actual there is no firm work that’s happening.
 
This is similar to have a buffet of variety of foods and really not knowing to enjoy the one that’s tasty. The simple reason is narrowing down one’s focus. Choose your stage, where you are in this transformation. Are you in visionary, or envision or execution stage?
 
 
 
  “The secret to genius is not genetics but daily ritual married with perseverance”
 
The best way to do, follow the theory of filtration. List down all your aspirations from certification to your hobbies. Then give a priority value say from 1-5 (1 be low impact value, while 5 be high impact value). Now, relate the activity, as how it would impact your near time future or your long-term goal.
 
Now, take only two, one for the near time future, one for long term goal. This shall enable you to focus and develop the skills in right direction.
 
 
2. Travel and tourism
 
This is an industry which got affected the most. Though, the industry runs online from ticket booking to hotel booking etc, what led to massive impact is the industry runs on an important factor called as experience. Though experience-based technology solutions like Virtual reality or Augmented reality are still evolving. This had an impact on the employees too. With sudden closure of certain business segments impacted the employees to a large extent. There were redundancies. This raises a question about how this industry can adapt as well as the employees.

Reference: Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Being an experience driven industry, the first and foremost is preparing themselves for an online as well as virtual presence. The business should upgrade or redevelop their portal or website which can give them more of content driven (dynamic /video contents) rather than static content. Use the social media platforms to share your uniqueness.

   “Don’t go with mass, then you would be one among the other social presence.”

Start to build a unique virtual experience of certain portfolio of your business. Release those experiences, through some ecommerce platforms as an experience, rather than as content share.

The above can be one of the evolution components for the travel and tourism industry. The employees depending upon their role can become experience ambassadors. Let’s assume a hotel receptionist can better explain customer handling of different nationalities, how effectively he or she manages. They can use the online platform, to build content, share those contents as well as work as experience ambassadors on the free lance platforms. The most important this is knowing – What you want to do?

Probably, an airhostess who got laid off, during this period, can look at building an experience portfolio. They can start of use social media for sharing their content, collaborate with their colleagues together, start a podcast, blogging platforms or email list.

  “The best investment you will ever make is investing in your best self.” – Robin Sharma

In both the above scenario’s within IT as well as Travel and tourism, personal mastery is about the discipline of focusing one’s vision and continuously evolving. It’s about perseverance with patience towards one’s goal.

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Learn How To Learn -Part 2– COVID – The Frontline experience

Agilan is someone whom I respect a lot, because he has this unassuming personality but has a wealth of knowledge about wide ranging topics. He’s a vivid reader and has the uncanny knack of focusing on the right things which makes him happy. It’s only right to post a picture of him in his full PPE kit while serving in the intensive care unit to treat COVID patients. This blog has a lot of learnings; prioritising tasks, empowering people, handling failures, celebrating successes – Enjoy reading and learning.

Over to Agilan now….

Remember, this is a 3 part blog series, you can find the introduction here

LEADING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC RESPONSE – A FRONTLINE EXPERIENCE

We are living through a pandemic that has claimed nearly 400,000 lives so far and is continuing to wreak its devastation around the world.This global outbreak has changed our lives profoundly affecting everything from international travel to meeting your next door neighbour for a cup of tea and a chat. It is the worst health, social and economic crisis the world has seen in decades.

I am a Consultant in intensive care medicine working at an NHS hospital just outside London and led my department in preparing for this pandemic and managing the surge of patients affected by COVID19. I would like to share some of my experiences. In any hospital, you will find the sickest patients in its intensive care department. These patients usually have one or more organ system failure and will be treated with life support measures including ventilators and dialysis machines in an effort to keep them alive giving them a chance to recover. It is a small but highly specialised area of the hospital run by a team of ICU staff whose skills take years to acquire.

As the pandemic started moving across the world, it became obvious that the UK was not going to be spared. We were facing an extreme situation where the intensive care facilities were going to be completely overwhelmed. When a healthcare system runs out of intensive care capacity, patients who otherwise would have survived will die because they cannot be provided with the treatment that they need.

Looking at the data from Italy and Spain, it was clear that we were less than 2 weeks from the peak of the pandemic. Intensive care capacity had to be expanded by at least five fold and perhaps even more which was completely unprecedented. The pandemic preparation had multitudinous workstreams. The hospital stopped all the non-emergency work to focus on COVID. Entire wards were cleared to make space and create the foot print for the expanded intensive care. Oxygen supply pipes were upgraded so that they could cope with the huge number of patients requiring large quantities of it. Ventilators and other equipment were ordered and alternatives were procured and commissioned. Huge effort was put into getting hold of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) in an extremely crowded marketplace.

Top of the list for me was to create an vastly expanded intensive care team with the right skills and structure so that we could save as many lives as possible. We had to set this up in a matter of days. The oil tanker travelling at speed had to be turned around. And turn around it did. Literally on a sixpence. Due to the coordinated efforts from the whole team, intensive care facilities were created for COVID patients up to five times the usual number in our ICU.

In normal circumstances, the ICU team is a group of close knit individuals who have forged their relationships over many years. The new team is going to be made of disparate individuals from various parts of the hospital, all coming together towards the common goal of saving the lives of the worst affected patients. Understandably, there was a lot of fear and anxiety among staff who are going to be on the coalface treating patients affected by a hitherto unknown, highly contagious and potentially fatal disease.

They had to walk into the battle head on while the rest of the country was being asked to physically take themselves away from society by the imposed lockdown. Many of them were in the older age group or health conditions themselves which made them vulnerable to dying from the virus. They also feared for the safety of their families, worried that they might take the virus home.

Every minute of every day, there were bad news stories in the media reporting the escalating death rates and individual tragedies. As the pandemic progressed and we started admitting people into the intensive care unit at an alarming rate. These were some of the sickest patients we have ever managed. Inevitably, several staff members and their loved ones were also taken ill with COVID and had a terrible time recovering from it. We had to witness the death of one of our beloved colleagues after a long fight.

But the sense of duty and the resolve to fight for our patients was strong throughout. I truly applaud every single member of the team for their devotion to the cause and their selflessness. Such an amazing team has to be supported and protected so that they can do their jobs safely. We trained those who required additional training to work in the ICU. They were provided support, supervision and feedback which made the new staff not only safe but also empowered to deliver care in an environment that could otherwise have been alien and intimidating. Clearly, it is not possible to provide all the intensive care skills and expertise with an ultrashort training. But it was incredible to see how much transferable skills were available within the organisation and with the right support how quickly people can adapt.

If I have to look for a silver lining, it must be that the extraordinary circumstances have shattered a lot of bureaucratic barriers that tend to hold people back and impede progress. I experienced the team spirit and solidarity getting stronger through this crisis.The team had countless instances of heartbreak. After losing several patients to the virus, we discharged our first patient from the ICU only to find out that he died unexpectedly the next day. It was a moment of profound shock. But the team grieved together and supported each other and continued to care for the other patients.

We also celebrated our successes together. Every patient discharged was applauded on their way out by the whole team which were incredibly uplifting moments. The appreciation and support from the public was wonderful. NHS workers suddenly found themselves to be everyone’s heroes and deservedly so. There was a tsunami of messages and cards which decorated the corridors of the hospital reminding you of all the people rooting for you. There were donations of PPE, hand creams and food appreciating all the hard work that the healthcare workers were doing.

Our core value of compassion shines brightly as we work through this terrible virus. We know that there is a lot more that we could and a lot more that we could have done better. But the commitment and compassion from this team has made a difference in a lot of people’s lives and will continue to do so.