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Accidentally Leaked? What is the Device Cloud? (UPDATE: Perhaps Not)

Accidentally Leaked? What is the Device Cloud?

The preceding is a screenshot captured from the newly-released Agenda Builder for Dreamforce 2013. But to my knowledge there are no products announced by Salesforce currently called the “Device Cloud”. Given the large amount of sessions at Dreamforce alluding to the “Internet of Things”, this makes a lot of sense! Seems like we’ll get an announcement on this…

UPDATE (10/10/2013 20:07PM CST): A tweet from Adam Seligman, VP of Dev Relations for Heroku and Salesforce, says that no, this is just a typo. One way or another, it’s sure to be a very interesting session!

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Admin’s Best Friend, Part 2

keep-calm-we-re-back

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand we’re back.

In case you missed the last post, we are discussing the advantages of Visual Workflow, or Flow, over other Salesforce automation tools. Also, if you missed the last post, you can, y’know… scroll down. It’s still there. Oh no, don’t worry, I’ll wait.

Just in case your scroll wheel is broken, here’s a quick refresher? We covered that Flow can:

  1. Create Records – One of the only bits of Salesforce automation that can create a record, and it can create more than one at a time too.
  2. Perform If, Then, Else functionality, with Nesting – Branching logic that can make different things happen based on looking up data in Salesforce.

So now let’s move on to…

3. Work with Objects and Fields that Workflow Cannot

Ever wanted to do cross-object workflow from Case to Contact? How about workflow that creates an Event instead of a Task? Workflow that filters based on what department the User is in? Workflow that creates tasks with the owner being retrieved from a User lookup field? Workflow that makes a Chatter post? Workflow that refers to the Record Owner’s manager? Workflow that can do something as FREAKING SIMPLE as fill in a lookup field? (This is a personal point of frustration for yours truly.)

Welcome to the wild, winsome, wicked, and wonderful world of Flow.

Flow can access data from any point in Salesforce, provided you can give it a frame of reference. And it can create data anywhere as well. It can create any type of record, including some that aren’t quite obvious, like Chatter posts, Private Messages, Contact Roles, Case Team members, Opportunity Team members, Account Team members, Public Groups… The list goes on and on.

Within all of the objects available, you can create data and filter choices based on data you wouldn’t have been able to access otherwise. Not only can you access any data in the system to determine your actions (e.g. only creating a record if the Salesperson who clicked it is in a certain territory), but you can use it to access other data that workflow would normally be able to access, but just can’t. Have you ever tried to use workflow to populate the email of the $User’s manager for an approval process? I have. You can’t do it. Not without visual workflow.

Nope, no Manager >> present. I had to make the Manager Email Address field!
Nope, no Manager >> present. I had to make the Manager Email Address field!

4. Make a Single Click into a Workhorse Woolly Mammoth!

Each non-code automation tool in Salesforce has its strengths and weaknesses. Workflow can be chained to run one after another, but using it to move large amounts of data becomes cumbersome and unmanageable. Custom URLs can create records, though they can only do it once. But what if you wanted to do all of those things?

As far as I have found in my work, there is no upper limit on what can be done in Flow. I mean, I’m sure there is a limit SOMEWHERE, but I have yet to hit it, with my wild and woolly adventures therein.

As an example, let’s say you wanted to clone a record 5 times, bringing over 30 fields into the clone each time. Now let’s say it’s a DIFFERENT 30 fields in each clone. Sure, this is a pretty wacky hypothetical that generally falls beyond the realm of what one might ACTUALLY be asked to set up, but I have been asked to set up things that are not too far off. With workflow, you could have the fields populated when the records are created manually, but you’d have to set up 30+ field updates, one for each field that gets brought over. With a custom URL, you would need 5 separate URLs, as you could not create multiple records nor implement the branching.

skyrimmammoths

5. Automate / Drive / Force Process

To be fair, other kinds of button-click automation are also quite adept at providing this kind of service. But stop. Close your eyes. Think about driving process (or as Salesforce evangelist David Schach refers to it, “forcing function”), and think of all the things we just talked about.

Ok, yes, you can open your eyes if you need to go back and read what they were again.

Flow presents, by default, a Wizard-type interface. But what if it was your only method of making something happen?

  • What if you locked down your Opportunity’s Stage field and required the user to click a Flow button to make a change? You can filter it down different paths: if they’re changing the stage to Negotiation, you can ask and require certain information which then gets pushed into Opp fields, or if they’re changing it to Closed Won, you can require different information and even generate other records based on that, like tickets to setup your customer or other custom object records.
  • Do the same thing for Case Status, where if the owner is on your Retention team, you can require him to put in 3 dates for scheduled follow-up calls, and then create those Events for him!
  • Turn your User creation into a guided wizard process, to be sure that every step of the process is covered. (Because we Admins have a TON of things to think and worry about every day, and sometimes those little details just slip our minds, don’t they? Plus it can be a huge time-saver!)
  • Require that a date field be updated through a Flow (I’ll go into this in an upcoming post) so that the date field’s value can be copied into another record in another custom object. If these custom objects are not Master-Detail, you won’t be able to use regular Workflow for those!

flexidrive

When you can drive your Users to work down certain paths:

  • You minimize the demons of procrastination, obstinance, forgetfulness and human error.
  • You ensure a higher standard of work and customer interaction.
  • You ensure higher data quality.
  • You ensure quality metrics and analytics.
  • And you then become able to give your executive team whatever data they need without worrying about how reliable the data is.

Don’t think of it as being authoritarian or restrictive; think of it as ensuring job security for yourself.

Because when you become indispensable to your executives, they’ll do anything to keep you, and keep you happy! And Visual Workflow brought you there. I’d say that’s a tool worth learning, wouldn’t you?

Check it out! Joe Executive likes the cut of our jib! Eiffel Tower.

Check it out! Joe Executive likes the cut of our jib! Eiffel Tower.

Admin’s Best Friend, Part 1

Every admin has a favorite tool in Salesforce. Some live and die by the Data Loader, some have a passionate love affair with Workbench, and some have even made their own custom tools to make their Salesforce lives easier. But me… my best Salesforce friend is a little thing called Visual Workflow, or just Flow for short.

Now I know what some of you may be thinking. “Visualforce? That’s code right? I don’t do code.” Whoa whoa. Nay nay. Visual it may be, but Visualforce it is not. This is an entirely different beast, my friends. And while this beast may be intimidatingly big and hairy, it’s ridiculously helpful. It’s more like a workhorse, or pack animal. But big and hairy. So more like a woolly mammoth.

Look, the whole metaphor works if you just picture yourself as a caveman…

Image by David McCauley, "The Way Things Work"

Image by David McCauley, “The Way Things Work”

Yeah okay, let me start from the beginning.

Most admins are in one of two camps: the camp that doesn’t know what Visual Workflow is, or the camp that thinks it’s too difficult for them to use. And to a degree, that’s ok! Nothing to be ashamed of. The reason most admins fall into one of these two groups is because Salesforce, unfortunately, has not done a lot to change things to the contrary. They simply have not talked very much about Flow, and the past few Release Notes have been practically devoid of any Flow-related changes to grab your attention. They’ve released a few videos trying to explain the whole Flow thing, but because of its complexity, those videos’ approach of “Let’s try to cover as much about Flow as possible in 20 minutes” only means that they don’t really allow for much in the way of detail or absorption.

But we can change this, people! Flow is the key to unlocking a new world of workflow in your system. It will allow you to do automation in Salesforce you never dreamed would be possible without code. It is the true enabler of the “Clicks Not Code” philosophy, the game changer for the next generation of Salesforce. And this is one of the key focal points that this blog will circle around: to provide a series of articles extolling the virtues of Flow and making it easier to start using it in your instance.

geography-teacher-4

Alright, it’s teacher time. The first thing you need to know is what Flow can do. Some might say, “Hey wait, shouldn’t you focus on what Flow IS first?” Usually, I would say yes, but the key point here is that you know its worth. Flow can come across as complicated and having a high bar of entry, but if you’re aware of the crystallized AWESOME that it is capable of, you’re more likely to stick it out to the end. Trust me, it’s worth it. So what can it do that other tools cannot?

1. Create records

muffinbutton

Ever wanted to automatically create a new account, case, or other kind of non-task record using Workflow? Can’t be done, can it? Record creation has long been the domain of APEX and custom-URL buttons. NOT ANYMORE, MY FRIENDS.

Visual Workflow gives you not just the power to edit records, but to create and delete them as well.

  • Want a button that creates 4 pre-determined records with one click? You can do that.
  • Want a button that removes one opportunity product and replaces it with another? You can do that.
  • Want a button that can clone an Opportunity but will only pull over specific fields? YOU CAN DO THAT.
  • And the advantage it has over custom URL buttons is the fact that it can do multiple records at once, even if they are in DIFFERENT OBJECTS. MIND… BLOWN.

IT’S LIKE A BUTTON THAT MAKES MUFFINS. Except it makes records. Which is just as awesome but actually more useful. Unless you have a medical condition that prohibits you from eating any food that is not a muffin. That would be useful, then.

2. If…Then…Else (with Nesting!)

IF-THEN-ELSE-END_flowchart

Anyone with an coding experience will get what that is, but otherwise think of it like extremely advanced filtering for workflow. With regular Workflow, if you wished to do automation that could go down different branching paths based on different sets of criteria, you’d have to write multiple workflow rules, and you’d have a hell of a time trying to get multiples to interact with one another. If your filter criteria are in different objects, you’d just wash your hands of it.

But not so with Visual Workflow! Base your Opp workflow off of your Opportunity History! Create multiple branches that pass information down to the following automated actions, even if you keep branching and branching by more and more filters! Write automation that acts based on a combination of data in your records and questions asked of the user when they start the process!

This screenshot is but a sample from a live Flow running in our instance:

Sample - Priority Flag

You don’t have to get as complex as this in your Flow, but it’s a relief to know that you have the ability if it’s needed!

That’ll do for today’s blog post! Later this week, I’ll publish Part 2, explaining two more awesome button-click-exclusive capabilities of Visual Workflow and what it means when we get all these horses lined up and ready to run.

TO BE CONCLUDED…