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!

Wednesday, 10 June 2020

[#Blogged] - 5 Best Apps on the AppExchange by Salesforce Labs.

Today I wanted to touch on what I think are 5 of the Best Apps on the AppExchange by Salesforce Labs. If you haven’t heard about the AppExchange, well, you’ve been missing out! The AppExchange is a site where apps are available for integration with your Salesforce instance to help with that nagging problem you may be having. The chances are, you’re not the only company having that headache, and why reinvent the wheel? There is a possibility someone has addressed that issue, and made is readily available for you to check out. Have I grabbed your attention yet?

Apps usually have demos, videos and other information, and user reviews. You can sort the reviews and see what kind of feedback they’re getting. Most apps are not free, and may require a subscription of sorts. But this is where Salesforce Labs comes in -- all of their apps are free and customizable to fit your needs. So, not only do you get solutions from the minds behind the awesome tool you’re using, but you know it is compatible and is supported by the brand you trust. And, did I mention you don’t have to pay anything for it? This is really important, as most companies have limited budgets, or are just starting out, and third party solutions aren’t always a perfect fit for various reasons.

So, in no particular order, here are the 5 Best Apps on the AppExchange by Salesforce Labs.

  • Salesforce Adoption Dashboards

One of the biggest issues many of us face as admins or developers on a company team is Salesforce User Adoption. Although we love our coworkers, many of them are stuck in bad habits of using old spreadsheets and sticky notes to capture valuable data that should be in the system. Understanding the current state of things at your company is crucial - whether you’ve just installed Salesforce, or have recognized a need to get more people on board. This is a great app and provides a ton of value. You can view user login history and whether or not they are using the key features that can help with company productivity. And, it’s not lean, either - you get 42 reports and 3 dashboards (amongst other things like fields and dashboard folders) to make this as customized for your company as possible.

Check it out today: Salesforce Adoption Dashboards

  • orgLimits

This is a fairly new app on the AppExchange, but a really interesting one to consider. Unfortunately, a common issue many companies have is realizing latency in their Salesforce org, only to find out it’s been years since cleanup has been done (if it ever has at all), and they’re at 98% storage capacity. They then have to dig through to see what is taking up the most space, and that can be tedious and stressful. A better solution is to have this on hand, so your team can keep an eye on things throughout the year, and make plans in advance to keep your org clean and address how your records should be stored. This can be used on the utility bar (to keep it readily in sight at all times), or on a Lightning Home/App page or component tab. Take my advice - this is something you don’t want sneaking up on you! Use this link to find this on the AppExchange:  orgLimits

  • Round Robin Assigner 

The Round Robin Assigner is an absolute game changer! Besides case assignment rules and lead assignment rules, there isn’t much more in the way of the ability to Round Robin ownership, without a lot of custom development work. That could be a major pain for teams that functioned around needing a group of users assigned chronologically. You can use this for standard objects like cases, leads, and opportunities, and also for custom objects with an owner field or lookup to the User object. This can be setup in a Process Builder or Flow and seems really easy to customize and configure. Also, they have the source code listed on github for those that really want to get a deeper look behind the functionality. You can find it here: Round Robin Assigner

  • Flow Video Player & File Viewer

Releasing new processes for your company can make for an exciting project, but making sure everyone is on board after the release can be tough. When there’s one of you, but thirty of them, how can you make sure that brand new sales process is visible and accessible should they have questions or need a gentle reminder? Well, now you can embed a video or file into your Lightning Flow Screen. You can even adjust the video size, starting position, and auto-play, to make it just right. Not only can this reduce the strain on your question load after a new release, but helps make your reps more self sufficient. You can find it here: Flow Video Player and File Viewer

  • Consent Capture - Flow Template

In this day and age, consumers are demanding accountability from companies regarding their data and how they may be contacted. Not only is this a consumer preference, but there are actually laws around how your company must handle those preferences, and you can land in big legal trouble if you don’t take this seriously. Thankfully, Salesforce Labs realizes the gravity of this situation, and has made it easy for you to address with the Consent Capture app.  After enabling Data Protection & Privacy in setup, you can install this package and create a flow that helps your users capture your customer preferences on how they’re contacted. This allows you to manage consent records for your contacts, leads, and users, and track expiration of consent, as well as opt-outs. The flow can be customized to fit both your local laws and general business practices, providing guidance for your users to obtain this information, all without needing a legal degree. I dare say this is one that needs consideration, if you don’t already have it. You can find it here: Consent Capture - Flow Template.

If you haven’t already bookmarked the AppExchange, now is the time to do it! There are new apps continually being released by Salesforce Labs, inspired by your own needs that have been echoed in the Success Community and IdeaExchange. You never know when the resolution to your woes are just a few clicks away!

Thursday, 4 June 2020

[#Blogged] - Dynamic Forms & Actions

The great thing about Salesforce is how customizable it can be. If you’ve had your Salesforce org for a while, chances are you have a ton of customization, including specific object fields to capture unique data for your business. Fields are quick and easy to set up and add onto a page layout, but that can lead to a problem or two. Once your Sales or Services department realizes how simple it is to add “just one more field”, you can really rack up a lot. Hopefully, not every field ever created is on the page layout, however, it may be safe to bet they are! While fields are used to capture and display data, not all of them are used for data entry, and not required to be visible all of the time.

If you have departments that demand to see these fields constantly, you can run into headaches of never ending page scrolls. Your nice and neat custom page layout can turn into a long laundry list of data that overwhelms your senses. The next thing you know, one department is complaining about seeing fields requested by another, and how difficult the page can be to use. Unfortunately, that can lead to a lack of user adoption, and make it more frustrating to find the data you really need. And, thus, in the end, the fields you’ve created and displayed aren’t getting utilized for their original purpose.  

Where this really becomes a problem is when you have numerous departments, or roles, that each need to see different information, and thus separate page layouts. The next thing you know, you’re sorting through 5 or 6 page layouts, adjusting that custom object for your sales, services, finance, and every other department that needs to see it. Not only is that an extreme waste of time for you, but opens you up for possibly forgetting to make an adjustment on one of the layouts, leaving those that depend on you without the data they need. 

The great news is, it doesn’t have to be this way! What if I told you Salesforce has produced a solution for Lightning App Builder that can help save you time, and reduce some of those headaches? 

Let’s talk about Dynamic Forms and Dynamic Actions!

What Are Dynamic Forms?

Glad you asked! Dynamic Forms are a new feature of the Lightning App Builder for creating Record Pages to be used on Custom Objects (for now). You can now use sections as you always have with components, but now you can choose Fields, as well (see below). Instead of being limited to the page layout editor, you can drag and drop fields, using the design of your choice.  

How Can Dynamic Forms Help Me?  

Dynamic Forms have a lot to offer in a small package. Not only do they allow more versatility than adjusting layouts before, but they actually allow for better page performance. As you may have noticed, those page layouts with a hundred or so fields can load somewhat slowly. Tabs and Accordion components allow for a more efficient space and load time, since sections can be compressed and expanded. You also have Field Visibility Rules, which provide filters to help control which data is visible based on certain criteria. This is similar to Component Visibility Rules, which reduces the number of page layouts you need, since that can also be controlled by criteria that limits what can be seen. Although the page layout editor typically used to adjust page layouts also allows drag and drop, the size of the Lightning App Builder allows the page to come together as a whole, instead of one long page. The layout management here is just much easier to use. 

Are Dynamic Forms Easy to Use?  

Speaking of easy to use, it’s absolutely a breeze. Once you navigate to the Lightning App Builder for your custom Record Page, instead of just being limited to Components, you now have Fields. 

First, simply grab the Field Section and drag it into the desired component box, on the layout of your choice.

You then grab your desired fields and place them into the section you just created.

You can then set Field Visibility, to meet your specific needs.

You can also use the Advanced Function to use lookup fields as filters.

In just a few minutes, you can have your dynamic forms setup with a conducive design for your needs, with filters in place to make sure the appropriate information is visible. That is a lot faster than numerous page layouts, right?!

Wait, what about Dynamic Actions?

Although this is currently in Beta, I’m still really excited to share! On the Highlights component, you can now have specific actions that also can be limited with filters, to make sure the right users can see it. These Dynamic Actions are listed out, with an orange eye icon to indicate which ones have visibility filters, so you don’t have to spend your time guessing and clicking through the list. Of course, this has to be enabled, but start to finish, now you can fly through adding the necessary actions in a short amount of time.

As someone who has been there in the “different page layout per role” org, I can promise you this feature is going to make your life so much easier. Even beginner admins can navigate through the setup of Dynamic Forms and Dynamic Actions, which is really how it should be! And, honestly, it’s just fun to use. This will be so much more efficient to update, and I can keep my users more satisfied, reducing time spent in the list of fields. I’ll be honest, it kinda makes me want to give my org a little bit of Lightning love right now! Hopefully, you’ll agree, and can see the value in what this offers.

Further Reading:

New Low-Code Innovations For Building the Apps You Need, Fast

Release Notes - Dynamic Forms

Release Notes - Dynamic Actions

Break Up Your Record Details with Dynamic Forms