Thursday, 24 September 2020

[#Blogged] - Salesforce Administrator Guide: Propelling your Career Forward - Part 7

 

Part 7: All about Data Import and Data Export

In Part 7 of our series Salesforce Administrator Guide: Propelling your Career Forward, I want to talk about Data Import and Export.  There will inevitably come a time in your Salesforce Admin career when you will need to handle large amounts of data. Fortunately, this does not mean you will have to spend hours upon hours painstakingly updating each record individually. Whether you will be asked to update large batches of records, or store records periodically for auditing purposes, knowing how to import, export, and manipulate data correctly is a crucial skill to learn early on. Let’s take a look at a few native Salesforce tools that you can utilize to perform these tasks.


Data Import

Importing data is when you take data from another source, such as an excel spreadsheet, and bring that data into Salesforce, matching it appropriately on the records you have already existing. This is referred to as an update. You can also use data import tools to create brand new records, as well.


The Data Import Wizard allows you to import data for both standard and custom objects, as long as the batch sizes are less than 50,000 records. If you have more than that, you can still make updates, but must break down your import into separate batches. 


Image: Data Import Wizard


The Data Import Wizard is fairly easy to use, as long as you have your data appropriately prepared beforehand, and know the API names of the fields you wish to adjust. You can find this tool by searching for “Data Import Wizard” in the Setup > Quick Find menu.

Data Export

There are a few ways to export data from Salesforce into various locations. Although not a tool, per se, an Admin with “Export Reports” permission can choose to create and filter reports to identify necessary information, and export as a .csv file on their computer. This is actually a commonly used step to manipulate data for updates, to be imported back into Salesforce.


There is also a Data Export tool which allows you to set up exports on a schedule. This is great for allowing large amounts of data to be pulled at convenient times of day, such as off-peak hours late at night, so as to not interfere with functionality of your Salesforce org.




And then there’s Data Loader…

Data Loader is also a native tool that does both importing and exporting of data into and out of Salesforce. This is great for loads that the Data Import Wizard cannot handle, and can accommodate up to 5,000,000 records! Data Loader also allows you to update, create or delete records and can be used for objects not available to the Data Import Wizard, as well.


 Image: Data Loader Installation. Find it by Searching “Data Loader” in the Setup > Quick Find menu.


This is not the “end all, be all” list of ways to import and export data, however, it’s a great list to get you started with highly functional tools that are very useful in making the most of your Salesforce journey! 


Thursday, 3 September 2020

[#Blogged] - Salesforce Administrator Guide: Propelling your Career Forward - Part 6

Welcome to Part 6 in my series Salesforce Administrator Guide: Propelling your Career Forward! In Part 6, I want to discuss tools for process automation. As an Admin, you will be asked to not only add fields, or adjust page layouts, but also to implement processes to help your end users get through their day more efficiently. There are a host of tools you can use for various automation requirements, ranging from small and quick to the whole kit and caboodle. Let’s go over three tools for Process Automation, so you can learn how to make your Salesforce org an efficient machine!


Three Tools for Process Automation

Process Automation is not something that should scare you, but should invigorate you. There are a lot of great ways in Salesforce to grab information from one area, populate it in another, or reduce clicks and time spent by your end user. Familiarising yourself with these three tools is essential for taking your career to the next level and can improve your ability to analyse the best options for the job.


Workflow Rules

Workflow rules are great for small, easy changes that have simple requirements and are focused on one object. You can create logic that triggers an action of creating a New Task, New Email Alert, New Field Update, New Outbound Message, or any existing action. In this example, I used a workflow rule to evaluate the Industry field on the Account object to update a separate custom field called “Enterprise Industry”. The action is a field update, which will check the box as “True” if the criteria are met. Quick and easy, Workflow Rules are a great option for these types of automation.


Process Builder

For the past few years, the Process Builder has been the darling of Automation in the world of Salesforce. Due to its ability to execute more actions than a workflow rule, and it's easy to use interface, the Process Builder is a great choice for holding many changes for a single object that need to run upon edit or create. Let’s take the example above for the workflow rule: if you also wanted to add an update for Chatter to go along with your field update, you would set up this scenario in the Process Builder, instead of using a workflow rule. This tool is more versatile and is easy enough for an Admin to use along the various stages of their Salesforce journey.



Flow Builder

This is a more advanced tool, but is one that Admins can still take advantage of, nonetheless. Flow is a step up from Process Builder and is quickly becoming the new favorite tool. Flow has more capabilities all around, is more robust, and is the last step in Admin tools (at the moment) before crossing the threshold into becoming a developer. Flow can do everything from grab records and evaluate before taking action, loop through collections of records to seek or update information, and even make decisions based on input from your end users on a screen. This is worth spending a lot of time exploring and getting some hands-on practice!


Image: Just the tip of the iceberg compared to what this tool can do...


If you can become familiar with those three tools, you can definitely step up your Salesforce skills. Remember, practice is key, so make sure you remain patient, learn from your mistakes, and keep moving forward!


Saturday, 29 August 2020

[#Blogged] - Salesforce Administrator Guide: Propelling your Career Forward - Part 5

 

Part 5: The Lowdown on Salesforce Permissions

In Part 5 of our series Salesforce Administrator Guide: Propelling your Career Forward, let’s take a few minutes to discuss Salesforce Permissions. To be clear, Salesforce permissions run deep and wide, and you will eventually need to put in a decent amount of time to become an expert at this, however, today we’re just going to go over some basic terms to make sure you understand the gist of things.  Let’s dive in!


Image: OWD and Sharing Settings


Organization-Wide Defaults (OWD) - This controls the record level access for the entire org, on whether records should be privately viewed or not. For example, you may not want Sales reps to see each others’ Opportunities, so you can make the Opportunity object private.


Role Hierarchy - As you create users in Salesforce, you determine which Role they may be in, such as Sales rep or Services rep, for example. Specific roles can be nested under others, such as the Sales Rep, which looks up to the Sales Manager, which looks up to the VP of Sales. You can grant record access based on Role Hierarchies to ensure a Manager can always see his rep’s records. 


Sharing Rules - These are another way to work within the OWD you have set, to allow users to see certain records. You can set up Sharing Rules to work with Public Groups that you have established, in order to grant access to certain records with specific criteria. This is a great way to share records across departments.


Manual Sharing - Manual sharing is an option for individuals to share individual records. Maybe your sales rep only needs to share a record with the Service rep once or twice a month, and they only need to see one or two at a time. This would be a good way to allow record sharing without the setup involved for sharing rules.


Field Level Security - Also known as FLS, field level security is where you can allow certain profiles to have access to a field. You may find that some fields should remain hidden from lower level end users, or reserved for a specific department, such as Finance. This allows you to limit clutter and unauthorized permission.


Image: The Role and Profile are located on the User Record


Profiles - Each user record has a profile, which houses object and system permissions. These are separate from roles, in that these give what is known as “CRED” access: Create, Read, Edit, or Delete. This allows your user to take those actions on records, and should be thoughtfully considered before doling out. 


Permission Sets - The idea of Profiles is to give users that need the same permissions their access in a way that’s easiest for you as an Admin. You simply don’t want too many profiles. However, you may find that there are permissions that may be needed for a select group of users that are very specific to an object or setting that others should not have. A permission set can be created and added to the user record to grant that access.


That’s a lot - and only scratching the surface. If you’re looking for a pretty awesome trailhead on this topic, check out the Data Security module.


Wednesday, 19 August 2020

[#Blogged] - Salesforce Administrator Guide: Propelling your Career Forward - Part 4

 We all love Salesforce, but one of the most confusing things about Salesforce may be trying to navigate through all of the places to find what you’re looking for. It can absolutely drive you crazy to see a record or a setting, and find yourself unable to locate it once more, just a few minutes later. Well, I’m here to help you sort it out! In Part 4 of my series Salesforce Administrator Guide: Propelling your Career Forward, I’m going to talk about how to navigate through Salesforce efficiently and some things you can do to make it fit nicely into your daily tasks. 


Part 4: How to Navigate through Salesforce Efficiently

Setup Menu: How to get there and how to use it

The Setup menu is where you essentially, as an admin, control the ‘backend’ of your Salesforce instance. This is where page layouts, user permissions, and other tools are easily available for you to access and customize. 


In order to access your Setup menu, you must select the Setup ‘wheel’ in the top right corner of your layout. You can then select Setup.


Once you select Setup, you are taken to the Setup screen, where you’ll see a tab called “Home”. The Home tab is where you can use the Quick Find search bar to locate the Lightning App Builder, Profiles and User records, as well as anything else that may require setting up or adjusting.


Under Setup, there is also a tab called “Object Manager”, which houses each Salesforce object, both standard and custom. You can then select the object and access information specific to each one, such as page layouts and record types, fields for each object, and even validation rules. This is also where you would create any new custom fields for that object, as well.


The App Launcher: What does it do?

While Setup is the ‘backend’ of Salesforce, the Apps are what your end users will have the most access to, and how you navigate through customer data. Apps are collections of tabs and objects, which contain collections of records. For example, you may have two teams, such as Sales and Services, with different needs. Sales may need to see Accounts, Opportunities, and Leads, but Services may need to see Cases, Accounts, and Reports. You can create two different apps to prevent them from too much clutter on their screens. They each can navigate through their tabs, and learn that to get a list of recently visited accounts, they can select their Accounts tab for that list view. 


If you’re in Setup, but need to navigate back to records, you will select the App Launcher icon in the left corner. From there, you can select the App you’re looking for, or even just search for a specific tab, such as “Accounts”.




Understanding how to navigate between those two worlds of Salesforce will make a huge difference in your day to day functioning. Take time to explore Setup a little more, and you’ll be a whiz in no time!


Thursday, 6 August 2020

[#Blogged] - Salesforce Administrator Guide: Propelling your Career Forward - Part 3

Part 3: 3 Benefits of Joining Community Groups 


So, you’re focusing on furthering your Salesforce Admin career -- that’s great! It’s easy to get inundated by everything Salesforce has to offer, and the pressure to “keep up” with it all. But just relax! You’re not going to learn it all in a day, and there is more to your Admin career than the hard skills themselves. There is a whole network of others who are following the same path as you, and others who have gone before. Why not tap into that network to help you stay on top of your Admin game? 


If you have not heard about Community Groups, you’re in for a treat! This does not mean “Community Cloud” groups, but rather user groups of Salesforce professionals in your area. They are a great way to connect with others locally, and can provide resources to help you along this journey you’re on. They usually meet pretty regularly, and offer events such as webinars, and “Salesforce Saturdays” where you can meet and work through your Salesforce issues together. If you’re stuck on a major issue, collaborating with others who have a variety of experience can help you think outside of the box and find that perfect solution you’re looking for. The positives of the Community group doesn’t just stop there - read on to see more benefits and how to sign up today! 


3 Benefits to Joining your Local Community Group


  1. Access to local Events - This is a huge benefit. It can be easy to get caught in your bubble of work, and the next thing you know, you’re not really expanding your horizons. Local events can range from guest speakers, to local companies offering apps on the AppExchange to explorations of new features. And they’re tailored to a smaller crowd, which can give you a chance to ask those important questions.


  1. Find a Mentor - Especially when starting out as an admin, it can feel like you’re not sure of the path you’d like to take or even where to get started at times. Finding a mentor can be a great way to work with someone from your area who understands the local industry and can offer advice on the best ways to propel yourself forward.


  1. Networking with Others - Your local community group also allows for connecting with others nearby, as well. These connections can be great for future career options and building relationships early, as you stay in touch over the course of your growth. You can also find awesome people to join your team, as well. 



How to Sign Up

To find out more about your local Community Group, login to your Trailhead site, and navigate to the “Community” drop down, where you can see “Community Groups”. 



Once you’re there, you can easily Sign up and search for the city you live in (or one near you) to see about events they’re hosting. Signing up only takes 30 seconds, and you’re in!



This is a great opportunity to help you expand your growth as you’re on this journey of being a Salesforce Admin. What are you waiting for?!? Go Join today!


Thursday, 30 July 2020

[#Blogged] - Salesforce Administrator Guide: Propelling your Career Forward - Part 2

Part 2: Basic Admin Skills to Master in Salesforce

In Part 1 of my series for Salesforce Administrator Guide: Propelling your Career Forward, I discussed things to consider as you pursue your Salesforce Administrator Certification. Here, in Part 2, I want to discuss Basic Admin Skills to Master in Salesforce, whether you already have your certification or it’s a work in progress. If you’re looking to challenge yourself, make it a goal to become more proficient in each of these areas by the end of the year, focusing on one skill every few weeks. Before you know it, you’ll be an efficient Salesforce ninja, ready to tackle new ideas and help your company in ways you never thought possible! Let’s get started!



  1. Creating New objects - As intimidating as it sounds, understanding how to create a new object in Salesforce is a crucial skill you can use as your company continues to grow. Furthermore, with solid knowledge of when it’s appropriate to create a new object, you can help guide solutions to use the best feature for your needs. 

  2. Reporting & Dashboards - This is the bread and butter for management and how they analyze the health of your company and your customers. Get some practice slicing and dicing with different report types, how to summarize a report, and how to manipulate data within the report. Also, explore dynamic dashboards, and practice by assembling a dashboard that could be useful for your Sales team. You’ll be a hero for mastering this skill!

  3. Permissions - As scary as permissions can be, understanding them is crucial for keeping your org in great shape. Make sure you know what Organization Wide Defaults are, and how to use Profiles, Permission Sets, and Field Level Security. Permissions “make or break” so much in your org, from reports, to process flows. This is worth a large investment of your time, and one I highly recommend learning sooner rather than later.

  4. Creating Fields - Understand how to create a custom field, and how those fields differ from Standard Salesforce fields. There are so many different kinds of custom fields, so make sure you play around with each one. This is where it really gets fun, as you can explore which ones are your favorites, and it may spawn some ideas on current projects you’re working on. 

  5. How to Set up a User - Make sure you are comfortable creating a user, and understand the license types you have and the limits of each one. Learn the difference between Freezing a user and Deactivating, and the implications of deactivating a user when they own records. 

  6. Data Cleanup - Knowing how to clean up your data is a really important skill that seems to elude a lot of admins. Learn some best practices you can recommend to your org, and how to backup data with dataloader and also, mass update data. It’s also important to understand what it means to export data, and who should have those permissions. 


As an admin, with these skills under your belt, you’ll be on your way to furthering your career in no time! 


Friday, 24 July 2020

[#Blogged] - Salesforce Administrator Guide: Propelling your Career Forward - Part 1

Part 1: What to Keep in Mind as Your Pursue your Salesforce Administrator Certification

If there is one positive to our ever changing world, it has caused a lot of reflection into our personal and professional lives. COVID-19 has drastically changed the way we work, with remote work options being the norm, and no longer the exception as they were before. This has caused many people to consider their current positions, and how they can perform their tasks more efficiently at home. It has also caused a lot of uncertainty, with many people asking how they can propel their career forward, make a career change altogether, or make themselves more valuable to the companies they currently serve. 

I’m here to offer encouragement and advice from my personal experience. You absolutely can utilize Salesforce to help you excel in all three of those approaches, and I want to use this series to show you how. In this 10 part series, I will explore ways you can take this time and uncertainty and use that anxiety and worry for the betterment of your career. It’s time to focus on some positives, and I’m here to offer guidance on moving in the right direction when it comes to Salesforce and how to make the most of it.

Let’s dive into Part 1: What to Keep in Mind as you pursue your Salesforce Administrator Certification.

A lot of people wonder if it’s “worth it” to get officially certified when it comes to Salesforce exams. They may worry about the cost or time it takes, and whether or not it actually “pays off” in the end. I’m here to tell you “yes, it does!”. Yes, the exams can be a few hundred dollars, however, there are two things to keep in mind here: your company can reimburse you for this with a little persuasion on your part, and if they don’t, it’s still a worthy investment for your career. It’s one thing to say you have a few years of admin experience, but it’s another to be able to show your official certification as proof on sites like LinkedIn or your resume. Plain and simple, companies will take your expertise more seriously if you have the certification to prove it, and may actually pay you a higher salary.

So, what should you keep in mind as you pursue your Salesforce Administrator Certification?

  1. Access the Exam Guide - Make sure you log into your Trailhead org to access the wealth of materials they have available for exam certifications. You can navigate to your exam guide by going to Credentials > Certifications > Selecting “Administrator” > Get the Exam Guide. This outlines exactly what you need to study and the weight of each section.
  2. Do the Trailheads - Salesforce has put together Trailhead modules to help you prepare for your exam, so take advantage of those!
  3. Give yourself time - Make sure you give yourself a good few weeks to prepare for this, and even a few months if you don’t have much experience under your belt. If you lack experience, also consider exploring scenarios in a dev org, so you can practice as much as possible.

Above all else, be patient with yourself! This is a great step you’re taking to challenge yourself and further your career.

Thursday, 9 July 2020

[#Blogged] - Make Your Life Easier with Lightning Email Templates & Org Wide Addresses

One of the biggest complaints from Sales reps is that they spend too much time doing unnecessary administrative work. And, a lot of times, they are indeed correct. There are a lot of things we could be doing as Salesforce Admins and Developers to make the end user experience a little easier. This is not intended in any bit to downplay the awesomeness you bring to the table every day, and the incredible functionality your org now has because of your hard work. But helping your end users, whether it be Sales, Services, or any other customer facing role, is the name of the game. And you really do want them to be as self-sufficient as possible. 

If you boil down the type of work your customer facing roles are doing in Salesforce every day, you can bet those individuals send a lot of emails, and log a lot of activities. If you take it one step further and look at the types of communications they are sending, I bet you see a recurring pattern or theme. They probably send a handful of variations of the same information out to clients throughout the day, but are doing a lot of clicks and keystrokes to make it happen. You will, more than likely, see a lot of checking in on proposals, requests for meetings, and additional white papers or use cases being shared. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel every time. 

Let’s talk about Lightning Email Templates and Organization Wide Addresses. While you can technically use Classic Email Templates to send in your Lightning Org, Lightning Email Templates are housed and created a little differently. By the end of this post, you’ll be a Lightning Email pro! Let’s jump in!

Create a Template from the Salesforce Record

Salesforce is great with allowing flexibility of options for creating what you need. This is one of those times. Let’s say your rep is on their 16th email of the day, and they’ve recognized this is the same email they’ve sent most of the day - checking in on proposals. They go to their activity tab, and select Email, and enter the information as if they were in their own inbox.

Image: Just a regular email.

And at the bottom of the email, they have the option to associate the related to field (i.e. Account, Contact, Opportunity, etc), but it defaults to the record that the email is being sent from. The ability to send attachments, preview, and pop out into a larger screen are all options they can use to their advantage. 

Image: Related To field at the lower part of the Email activity

Before the user Sends the email, the template box can be selected, prompting the user to “Save as a new template”. This can be done after the email is sent, as well, by opening the activity and selecting the template box at that time.

Image: Save your template

There is one suggestion that should be considered - it would make life easier if the Merge field was used, instead of hard coded names. Make sure to use the Merge icon and to insert merge fields before saving as a template.

Once the “Save as New Template” has been selected, a new window will appear, to prompt users for the Template Name, Description, and Folder. Keep in mind, users will have the ability to save their own private email templates. 

Image: Create a template from your email

Once Saved, the templates will be stored in an area outside of Classic Email Templates, however, users can find their template from the icon within the Email Activity when they’re ready to send their next email. Once they select the Template icon, they can select “Insert a template…” and see their Recently Used Templates. Choosing the template will then populate the email message, allowing them to look it over before sending to the customer.

Image: Use a template to save time!

Navigating to Lightning Email Templates

Lightning Email Templates are not as intuitive to find as our old classic templates were. When using Classic Templates, a search can be done in the Home tab of the Setup screen. However, when searching for Lightning Email Templates, you must go to the App Launcher icon, and search for “Email Templates”. 

Image: the App Launcher to find Email Templates

The Email Templates tab will appear on your Navigation bar, and you can see Recent templates, as well as navigate to your Private Folder, if necessary. 

Image: Your List of Lightning Email Templates

System Admins can also choose to create New Email Templates from here, by selecting the button, which will launch a page that looks like this:

Image: New Email Template

Keep in mind that Related Entity Type is the object for which this template can be used upon. This is an easy way for System Admins to address departmental wishes to have more structured templates created for their reps, and to make sure everyone agrees with the tone and verbiage.

When it comes to permissions, you’ll want to make sure your end users do not have “Manage Public Lightning Email Templates”, and that is only locked down to System Admins. You users will, however, need “Lightning Experience User” permissions, as well as access to the folder in which the templates are being stored. 

So there you have it for Lightning Email Templates - wasn’t that easy? Now let’s talk about Organization-Wide Addresses.

Organization-Wide Addresses

Fairly easy to use and set up, Organization-Wide Addresses are a great way to associate an email address to a user profile. This is especially helpful if you have a Services department, and would like a uniformed address for those customer facing roles. That way, customers think they’re responding to “Info@” or “CustomerService@” instead of an individual person. This can help make your company appear more professional, and can add a layer of protection for your employees.

To set this up, in the Setup Home tab, search for Organization-Wide Addresses. Select the “Add” button (not pictured) and you will see the screen below. You can then enter your Display Name, Email Address, and select the profiles you wish to use that address. If you need to select more than one profile, use the Shift key to select multiples.

Image: Setting up Organization-Wide Addresses

Resources & Further Reading:

Email Templates in Lightning Experience

Manage Public and Private Email Templates in Lightning Experience

Considerations for Using Organization-Wide Email Addresses

Access and Sharing for Email Merge Fields, Templates, and Attachments in Lightning Experience





Thursday, 2 July 2020

[#Blogged] - my 5 Most Impressive Takeaways from Trailheadx 2020!

Just last week, we had the privilege of attending the Salesforce Trailheadx 2020 Conference live from our own private workspace. It was just one day, but was filled to the brim with exciting new features and takeaways, bringing more fun energy to the month of June than I could handle! Whether you were a developer, admin, or architect, there was something for everyone. They also had guest speakers (Singer) Jennifer Hudson, (and Comedian) Trevor Noah. You can always count on Salesforce for a good time!

But seriously, they unveiled some really great features that are actual game changers when it comes to getting hands on and making it count. These past few months have been challenging for everyone, and Salesforce really stepped up in producing solutions that change the way we work for the better. They’re making executives more available on a monthly basis, and providing ways for developers like you and I to share ideas and concerns that can really make a difference. They’ve also provided ways to write cleaner, more efficient code that takes less time to implement. And, they are producing documents to help guide you towards better quality solutions when it comes to triggered automation.

I could go on and on about this, but it’s best to just let you read it for yourself! Below are my 5 Most Impressive Takeaways from Trailheadx 2020!

  1. Salesforce Code Builder. When Salesforce partners with a mega champ like Microsoft, you know great things are going to result from two of the biggest beasts in the tech industry. One of those great things is Code Builder. By using Microsoft’s Visual Studio Codespaces, coding just got a lot easier.  It has a web-based IDE, and support for GitHub. All of the tools you need are centrally located, so you can say goodbye to bouncing around from one place to the next, wasting valuable minutes that can add up to hours. And, this isn’t just restricted to Production orgs only -- you can also connect to Sandboxes and scratch orgs. Even better, you can access and write Lightning Web Components from the browser. Code Builder is especially a game changer for those coding beginners, with a friendlier UI that can help produce results without overwhelming confusion, especially with SOQL Queries.  I’m really excited to try this out, and make my (coding) life so much better!
  2. Architect Decision Guide. When it comes to triggered automation, how you devise a solution can leave you paralyzed with analyzing which options to consider to make it just right. How do you know you’re choosing the correct option that gives the most flexibility where it counts when considering the future use of the org? Well, now you have a couple of guides to help you out. Using handy-dandy Quip, Salesforce has released the “Architect’s Guide to Building Forms” and “Architect’s Guide to Building Record-Triggered Automation”. While a bit lengthy, these are really important documents that help to outline your best options when considering solutions. It also goes into detail about the power of Dynamic Forms and the increasing importance of Flow. Check these out today! 
  3. Salesforce Anywhere. If it’s one thing companies learned over the past few months, it’s that to have a chance at being successful, a key factor is enabling your employees to do their jobs anywhere. With Salesforce Customer 360, your teams have never been more efficient! The doors have been opened to functionality that allows your Sales, Services, and Marketing teams to operate from anywhere. Service Cloud Voice and Einstein Call Coaching can help your Customer Service reps become customer assisting rockstars. And, your different teams can connect easier with video conferencing right in Salesforce! Also, employees and new-hires don’t have to wait for the next big gathering to learn more -- they can tackle new skills with Trailhead GO, so they’ll never fall behind. This is a really exciting tool and I’m looking forward to the availability coming up later this year.
  4. Monthly True To The Core (TTTc) Webinars. As the story goes, some years ago, a few developers expressed their exasperation of not feeling heard by Salesforce. That has spawned these interesting talks called True to the Core (#tttc) with high ranking Salesforce drivers like Co-Founder and CTO Parker Harris, along with a team of PM’s to answer questions and to dive into functionality that aims for keeping the platform grounded. It’s for serving those questions that keep you up at night, and really giving a voice to Salesforce developers that have really great ideas for improving functionality. Well now, it’s not just happening around major events -- they’re making this monthly! In my opinion, this is a great way to keep momentum going and goes a long way in keeping people more involved. Win-Win!
  5. Introducing Safe Navigation Operator. This is a major time saver for developers everywhere! We all know the headaches in having to write code formatted to check if IDs are null, and how it can add lines of code to an already long Apex Class. Now, instead of having to write out repeated “IF” statements and checking for null values, we can format with “?” to see if it’s null. Your code is cleaner, and you don’t have to pull out your hair trying to make sure you haven’t missed anything. This is looking to be released in Winter ‘21, but is definitely worth the wait! 

The learning doesn’t stop here! You can still Register for awesome videos and information shared at Trailheadx if you couldn’t make it, and they have put together some great trailheads for Architects, Developers and Admins to continue the journey forward. And, don’t miss out on those hashtags for #tttc! Make sure to register for Circles of Success and Product Demos, while you’re at it. Take advantage of all that Trailheadx 2020 has to offer!

Further Reading and Resources:

Salesforce Introduces New Developer Tools for Building, Scaling, and Shipping Apps

Introducing Salesforce Code Builder

Introducing the Architect Decision Guides

Introducing Salesforce Anywhere

#tttc hashtag on Twitter

 

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

[#Blogged] - 10 Sessions I'm Excited to see at #TDX20

If you’re anything like me, you were so disappointed when you heard about event cancellations or postponements due to the Coronavirus. Salesforce events are great for networking, feeling the vibes as everyone gears up for expanding their knowledge, and challenging yourself to step outside of your comfort zone to acquire new skills. To have that challenged is a blow, especially as you may be trying to ramp up your career to the next level. But here’s the great thing about Salesforce - they didn’t cancel, and not only are they still having events, but they’ve stepped up the game like Salesforce always does! This week, they’re offering “36 Content episodes, 4 Broadcast Channels, 9 Circles of Success, and Over 45 Product Demos” in a one day, massive, “can’t miss” event called Trailheadx!

In case you haven’t guessed, I am so excited to attend Trailheadx this week! I love Salesforce events, but to make this virtual with all of the Salesforce charm is going to be awesome. Let’s face it - virtual events are easier to manage. You don’t have to map out your day, sprinting from one side of a building to another one block away, while cramming a cold sandwich down your throat. You can wake up, get jazzed, and attend in your pyjamas - while focusing on what really matters, which isn’t how you look or how fast you can run. They’re jam packed with knowledge, from experts that are just as refreshed as you are, sharing digestible chunks of career propelling information. Trailheadx also offers technical sessions, so you can work on that nagging issue you can’t seem to solve, all while leaning on other like minded individuals who may have seen it all before. And, you can tweet to Product Managers with some of those questions or fantastic ideas you’ve been mulling over, all while contributing to the greater good of Salesforce for others to benefit from, as well.

 

Image: Easy to register, and easy to login. But, did you expect anything else?

While I could go on and on about how amazing it’s gonna be, why don’t I just show you, instead? In no particular order, here are 10 sessions I’m really excited to see this week at Trailheadx!

  • Enhancing your CRM with Einstein AI. We all know how awesome Einstein is, however, sometimes getting others to see that awesomeness is a little more difficult. If user adoption is still an issue for all of the great Einstein features you have enabled, check out this session to help make believers out of anyone. This is targeted towards architects, developers, and admins, so it’s great for a variety of roles.
  • Improving Quality of Life: Apex Updates to Ship Better Code, Faster. Psst...want some insight into a great feature scheduled for Winter ‘21? I won’t read you the Safe Harbor statement, but be sure to learn about the new language operator and upcoming pilot. Got your attention? Great! Pencil this one in on your calendar. 
  • How to Harness Einstein Vision and Language in any App. Salesforce already understands the power of unspoken language, and taps into the power of modeling data using optical character recognition, Einstein Image Classification, Einstein Intent, and Einstein Sentiment. Learn more about your customers and how they’re feeling in this sampling of how to apply this technology to your company org. 
  • Decluttering your Org. Although ranked as a beginner session, I stand to argue this is one that everyone should attend. A cluttered org can make you want to pull out your hair. It’s messy, hard to work with, and adds a significant drain to your time and energy. Learn how to take an honest assessment of the state of things, and figure out how to comb out that mess! Then, make sure you put that knowledge and inspiration to good use! 
  • Building the COVID-19 Data Platform to Power Data-Driven Response. We would be remiss if we didn’t address the elephant in the room - coronavirus, itself. Salesforce has created the COVID-19 Data Platform, and is showing the power this can have on educating the public. This session also covers how Tableau and MuleSoft were utilized to create such a timely platform, and I’m interested to see how this can be used to benefit the masses across different industries.
  • Lightning Component Development Best Practices. Lightning is great, but it’s been around just long enough to possibly develop some shortcuts and bad habits. This is a great option for those looking to dive into creating Lightning Web Components, and how to follow best practices, and make sure they’re efficient, as well. 
  • Architectural Patterns for Data Privacy with Salesforce. Data Privacy is a huge issue now, with customers absolutely demanding to know how their information is stored, protected and used. Legislation, both nationally and internationally, is weighing heavier on companies that cannot abide by these rules and legitimately protect their customers. This is definitely a “must see” to find out more about the Data Privacy Manager and how you can follow the rules around data retention and rights, and customer consent and preferences. 
  • Transform Your Business with Process Automation. This is another great beginner session that helps for those times when you get stuck in the weeds about which tool to use. If you’ve ever caught yourself spending more time analyzing which automation tool to use than you have actually doing the work, you need to pop into this session. Whether it is a trigger, process builder, or flow, this session will cover best practices and developing the right solution. 
  • Bridge the Digital Divide with Hyper-Scale Customer Data Platform. Marketing and data analysts aren’t left out either, with a session on the *NEW* Customer Data Platform. You can learn how to build integrations and applications that house the whole 360° view of customer health.  
  • Fireside Chat with Special Guest. Would it really be a Salesforce event without a Fireside chat and a Special Guest? Although most of these are usually more motivational than technical, I think passion, enthusiasm, and a little excitement make these sessions worth it. You get to see honest conversation about ways Salesforce is changing the game, and at the end of the day, it’s a great way to top off a few hours of time well spent. 

If you haven’t registered yet, I don’t know what you’re waiting for! Register today, start adding sessions to your calendar, and get ready for a great day!

Thursday, 18 June 2020

[#Blogged] - Can In-App Guidance Replace Validation Rules?

As new features are released throughout the year, it’s natural to wonder if others will be retired in their place. Most of the time, features are continuing to be improved, however, some features are intended for basic functionality, and really don’t need any more pizza. One common mistake Salesforce users make is seeing similar functionality in two different features, and mistake them for being equal options at resolving a problem. As we all know, the tool you choose to resolve your issue can help contribute to smooth growth in a year’s time as your org matures a little, or it can be stifling due to a tangled mess that needs to be reworked. We’ve all been there!

Consider the issue of data entry for your Sales and Services teams. Many orgs have problems with making sure fields are not missing data, or displaying incorrect data. Data quality is a huge struggle with a lot of Salesforce orgs! How do you resolve this? How can you encourage your teams to fill out the appropriate information so your dashboards and reports, marketing teams, and users all see correct information every time? Many people would say Validation Rules, but with new features being released throughout the year, are there other options we should now consider?

Let’s consider a feature that came out in Winter ‘20 called In-App Guidance, for example. Some may wonder if it’s a replacement for Validation Rules. I’m going to explore that thought a little more in this post.

Example of a prompt created for the Account landing page.

What is In-App Guidance?  This is actually a nifty little tool that many have not had time to explore. In-App Guidance is a feature used to support User Engagement, and can be used to guide your users by displaying prompts at various points on the screen. For example, you can set it up to appear in the bottom right corner as a pop up on the Account page, so the user will be reminded about a new feature, or to follow best practices. 

When Should I use In-App Guidance? Have you ever been using a page somewhere, and due to the amount of pop ups, were ready to throw your phone or laptop out the nearest window? Yeah, let’s keep that in mind. You definitely don’t want to overuse In-App Guidance and have the tool lose its lustre. It’s great for reminding your users of information that could be overlooked, or may not fit in a banner, and anything that you’ve changed recently that they may have missed hearing about in your company wide email. Prompts are not the best for really complex procedures or that would generally take too long to read. Remember, you want them to see it, and act on it, but if they’re overwhelmed, they’re just going to close it out.

Is it easy to Use? Confession - I set up my prompts for this blog post in a matter of minutes. In-App Guidance is easy to use, and has a few options so that it’s not overwhelming you with decision points, but allows you to have some say in how it appears. You can choose a floating prompt, which appears in one of six places on the screen, and is great for very short messages that don’t require much action. You can also include a docked prompt which stays anchored, but contains more text, and can even hold an embedded video for your users to reference. You can also influence how frequently it appears with scheduling, so that if dismissed, it will reappear after the amount of days you set. Also, the real kicker here, is that you can view metrics to see who is interacting with the prompt and how frequently. This can help you improve your process over time, to maximize its impact.

In-App Guidance Setup - You can ensure how frequently the prompt appears for your users.

That’s a pretty cool feature, huh? But let’s not forget about our old pal, the Validation Rule! 

What are Validation Rules?  Validation rules are like a parent, letting you know when you’re not doing what is expected! They’re great guardrails for restricting missing or incorrect information from being saved on a record. Validation rules provide a red error message either by the field, or at the top of the page, letting users know what they need to correct before saving the record. And, the record can’t be saved until they correct the issue. 

Image: A Validation Rule Edit page, where Conditions and the Error Message are required to set up the validation rule.

When Should I use Validation Rules? Validation rules can be fairly easy to use, and a simple rule can be constructed in a matter of a few minutes. If you have a field that is really crucial for users to complete, a validation rule is your “tried and true”. You can use it to indicate required fields, or even to restrict the correct type of data, such as limiting numerical data in text fields.

So, Can In-App Guidance Replace Validation Rules?  This is the million dollar question, here - can it and, better yet, should it? Honestly, it depends on what you’re looking to do. The plus that In-App Guidance has on Validation Rules is that it can appear as the page loads, so the user can see what needs to be done without first entering the data incorrectly. However, validation rules can give a hard stop to the user progressing forward unless the data is corrected, thus ensuring the data is correct before the record is saved. While In-App guidance is considered a part of driving User Engagement, I would say validation rules lean more towards data quality. 

 

So, can In-App guidance be used instead of validation rules? Well, if all you are looking for is a gentle reminder instead of a hard stop, then yes. However, if you ask me whether it should, my answer would be no. Both of these tools have their own ideal scenario that allows them to shine as they are intended, and using tools to strive for peak performance is the best way to use Salesforce!