Keep your Automation Simple

I’ll start this off by saying I’m guilty of not always keeping it simple.  But, I strive for simplicity.  Just because you can build something in Salesforce 10 different ways, doesn’t mean all 10 of those ways are right.  The solutions we implement often have a great deal to do with the skills and budget your Org has available.  Back when I was a Solo Admin, I was very guilty of duct taping together solutions, because the alternative solution was to have nothing.  We didn’t have the budget to hire developers for all of our ideas.

The purpose of this post is to discuss how we can simplify our solutions to make them easier for us to comprehend and maintain.  We’re going to walk through this set of requirements our project champion gave us:

  1. On Closed Won Opportunities, Alert Accounting with an Email
  2. Automatically Create a new Project for our Account Manager to run.
  3. Update the Account Owner to be the Account Manager
  4. Alert the Account Manager of their new Project, with a link to take them straight to the project.

Let’s take a first pass at solving this…


This accomplishes everything that we were looking to do.  We can now send the project champion a note saying that it has been completed… right?  Hold on!

Looking at this solution from end-to-end, how easy is this going to be for me to maintain?  On the surface, it’s pretty basic, but would an outsider easily comprehend it?

Let’s take another pass at simplifying it…


We were able to simplify our automation by putting the Email Alerts into the Process Builder and Flow.  This looks easier to maintain and understand than our first process.  I would be tempted to call it quits here, but I think we could simplify the process further.

So, let’s take one last pass at simplifying this…


I’m feeling pretty good about this now.  Everything is in one location, and I can see all of my automation around this scenario in one spot!  Personally, I would go with our third and final solution if I was going to implement this automation.  Don’t go crazy and (when possible) and have Workflow Rules, Process Builder, Flow, and APEX all working together for one piece of automation.

Maximizing Productivity with the Utility Bar

For those of you that are still waiting to get struck by lightning, here’s another feature that you can marvel at until you make the move over (for those of you not using a console).  For me, this is going to be something I will look to start implementing in all of the Org’s I’m working in that are using Lightning.  I was excited about this feature, and already deployed it to my internal Org.  Previously, the Utility Bar only available in a console app, but now it is available for everyone regardless of if you’re in a console app or not.

Here’s a quick look at our Utility Bar in action:


Now, let’s talk about how this works, and why this can maximize productivity for you and End Users.  If you are in Lightning, you can go edit an existing App.  If you’re just getting started with Lightning, you’ll need to navigate to the App Manager and create a new Lightning App.  In the Lightning App wizard you’ll find the Utility Bar as the middle option.


What can we do?  Pretty much whatever we want!  There are 10 standard items already in there for us, but you can also develop your own custom Lightning Components that can be used in the Utility Bar.


Let’s say we want to add a Filter List (List View) onto our Bar… say our Opportunities Closing This Month.  Sure, that might be in the Recently Viewed List Views on the Opportunity Tab, but it isn’t guaranteed to be there.

Under the Utility Item Properties we’re able to customize the Icon, Width, & Height.  You’ll see that we can also have it load when you open the App.  This is is a feature you’ll typically want to run if your doing something like CTI.


Back when Lightning Experience just came out, you had to download the images from Lightning Design System.  Not anymore, you can now reference the Utility Icons on their site with just the Icon’s name (  Be thoughtful in the Icon you select, make sure it makes sense for your Users.

Width & Height

This is one of those things you’ll want to adjust as you test and see the actual size of the component you’re using is on the screen.


Now that we set our size, let’s determine what Object, existing List View (filter), and how many records we want to return.


Simple as that, we’ve added our first Utility Bar Item!!  Let’s do another and put in some of our Key Links that people want to see.  All we need to do is select the Rich Text option and then paste in our Links for the End Users to access.


After you Save, your Utility Bar is ready for action!


How to Optimize your Process Builder and Quick Action Speeds

Process Builder and Actions (Quick Actions) are two of my favorite declarative tools that Salesforce has.  I’ve had a few posts on Actions and how powerful they can be when you add in Process Builder and even sometimes Flow.  I’ve also specifically had a few posts on how to write your Process Builders so that you can optimize them for speed (read here).  Now, this idea on today’s post does go against the concept of having One Process Builder per Object, but I think it does pose a good argument against it.  That argument is SPEED!

I’ve seen scenarios where we want to use Actions to create record(s).  What if you want to create an Action that creates an Opportunity, which in affect you want to have the Opportunity Team dynamically updated, and maybe a few Tasks automatically assigned to the new Opportunity Owner?  This is all stuff that a simple Process on the Opportunity Object will run perfectly, right?  Yes.  However, that automation can bring your Action to a crawl.

The Influence

The inspiration for this post comes directly from some of my work in Apex.  I discovered what Future Methods were when writing some really fun code a while back.  In short, it just attempts to perform the action in the future, as opposed to during your current transaction (creating or updated a record).  This allows you to bypass some limits that you might have otherwise had.

The Solution

By moving our Actions from the Immediate Actions to Scheduled Actions and placing the Set Time to 0 Hours After [date field] to ensure that it fires almost instantly after the record creation or update.

Schedule 0 Hours.png

After setting the time, add in your Actions.



The real advantage here is speed.  By being able to delay certain actions from taking place in the transaction, you’re able to increase your save times.  The result is a faster experience for your End Users.  I don’t think I need to add anything to that 🙂


Disadvantages & Considerations

I’m aware that the list of disadvantages for the one advantage might comes off like one of those drug commercials with 30 seconds full of side affects… but here we go 🙂

The biggest disadvantage to me is that the record(s) that you might be creating or updating won’t be “ready” instantly.  If the User using the Action is also the one whose expecting some of those Actions to happen automatically, then maybe it isn’t the best solution for them.

As I mentioned at the start of this post, this does go against the One Process Builder per Object design pattern.  If you have a scheduled action, you’re not able to do the “evaluate next” inside your Process.  That post, like this one, is not a mandate that you must follow.  As the Admin/Dev running your Org, you should be able to make an educated decision on what is best for your scenario.

The last consideration around implementing this is understanding its impact on testing.  It is much harder to test something that happens in the future.  This affects your manual testing and any Apex Test Classes.  I would be surprised if you didn’t have any scheduled actions in your Process Builders and Workflow Rules… so it isn’t like this type of action isn’t being used today by many of us.

Putting it all together

The goal of this post is to not say you must use delayed Process Builder actions.  It is simply to add one more tool to your tool belt for when you’re working with Process Builder and Flow.  These concepts are not one-size-fits-all… adjust the concepts to fit your Org.

Assigning Variables to Flows in Lightning Pages

As of Spring ’17, we will have a much easier User Experience for anyone attempting their first Flow in a Lightning Page.  You now are able to pick which variable you want to pass the Record ID into.  Sounds great, right?  Let’s dive right in!

Select the variable to pass the Record ID into

Now with the check of a box, you’re able to select which variable you want to pass the Record ID into.  You can name it whatever you’d like now!  Also, you can pass in a static value into any of the variables, so that you’re able to tell where your Flow might have been used (since you can have a different Lightning Page for different Record Types or Apps.


What if you already setup a Flow when this was launched in Winter ’17?  Don’t worry, Salesforce has you covered:

If you created a Text input variable called recordId for the flow component during Winter ’17, the checkbox is automatically selected when your org upgrades to Spring ’17. This default selection happens only when your org upgrades to Spring ’17. If you create a Text variable called recordId in Spring ’17 or later, the checkbox is not selected by default.

Things to consider

#1 – No Merge Fields (for now)

Many of you are probably thinking about passing in a merge field.  You’ll need to hold off on that for the time being.  My guess is it might come in the future, once this is Generally Available and out of BETA.  But, for now, if you try and get clever and use something like {!Record.Name} or {!Account.Name} you’re going to have a bad time!


#2 – Keep your Inputs Clean

I touched this on my Flowception post (essentially, making your Flows reusable), but you’ll want to make sure that you only make the variables you need to an Input Type.  If you have too many variables marked as Input or Input and Output, you’re going to have a long and cluttered list.  Be thoughtful and only make a variable an Input if it needs to be.




Case, Lead, and Opportunity Age Tracking [Unmanaged Packages]

One of the more popular posts that I’ve had is How to track the Case Age of each Status.  This is one of those posts that is focused on the Case scenario, but the concept applies to many of the Objects in Salesforce.  What I’ve done is create three packages:

  1. Case Status Age
  2. Opportunity Stage Age
  3. Lead Status Age
    • Installation Notes: 
      1. Add the Lead Status Values to the Status Picklist on the Lead Status Age Object
      2. Update the IsClosed__c field to be TRUE for your Closed Lead Status Values
      3. Verify Permissions.End Users don’t need access to Create/Edit/Delete the Lead Status Age Object.
      4. Add the Related List to your Lead Page Layout
      5. Create Reports & Dashboards

These are all set for you to install.  For a better understanding of how this works, please do read up on the post mentioned above.  If you have any suggestions that would improve these packages, please leave a comment or message me on twitter to let me know.

In addition, I’ve decided to launch a new page to house all of my unmanaged packages that I’ll be making available.  You’ll see another tab at the top of my blog called Packages that will be your go-to for this.  I look forward to adding additional packages that hopefully will provide value to you!


4 Easy Ways to Improve Your Org’s Lightning Experience Adoption

#1 Optimize the Home Page

Add a Rich Text Component to create your Home Page Links to key Reports, Dashboards, List Views, External Resources, and other items.  It is all about creating a streamlined process that is enjoyable to the End User.


I like to use Bold Text to break up the links into different sections.


Clean up the page, get rid of excess.  Think about what the User really wants to see when they login to Salesforce.  If Top Deals doesn’t really work well for your Business, then remove it from the Layout.  Drag in your a Report Chart or other components that makes sense for your End Users.


#2 Utilize Default Tabs

This small trick is one of my favorite parts of Lightning Experience.  I’m now able to set what the default starting point for a page is.  This is fantastic, because going to an Order you’ll typically want to see Order Lines (if you use them).  For a Contact you might care to see the Details first.  With the ability to default the tabs, we’re able to adjust this on every layout!


#3 Customize the Highlights Panel

You have the ability to put a few key fields on the top of your page.  By doing this, you can give the End User a constant spot to look at those key Status, Amount, and Owner fields.  Unfortunately we’re limited currently in the number of fields we can display, so be selective of what you do display.  I prefer to use Image Formulas up here to give a quick visual representation of the record, as opposed to plain text, when possible. These fields are managed with Compact Layouts.


#4 Get Creative with the Layouts

You’re not married to a layout.  You can create your own Layout from one of the templates available.  This ability to control not just the fields, but the whole page’s layout without any code is really awesome, don’t hesitate to use this feature.  You do have to create a New Lightning Page from within Setup.  You can’t hit Edit Page on a record and create a new layout template that way.


How to add Quick Actions and a Link in Wave Analytics

If you’re using a Table inside your Dashboard or Lens, as you start to drill down into the data you probably want to either navigate to the record or perform an action. Currently, that is not something Wave is setup to do out-of-the-box.  While this is not a very hard thing to setup, it could be somewhat confusing for any Administrator that is trying to learn Wave.  By the end of this you’ll post you’ll hopefully have no issues adding the Open Record and Actions to your Dataset, and understand some of the quirks associated with the feature.

The first thing to note, is this is Dataset specific.  This change has to take place on every Dataset that you want the ability to drill into.

Before we get started, let’s see what we’re going to accomplish in this blog post:



Quick Actions & Record Open Enabled


Navigate to your Dataset

We want to navigate to our Dataset by selecting Edit under the Dataset.


Download the XMD JSON

You’ll see a blue download icon, hit that to download the file.


Open & Reformat the JSON

When I open the XMD file in Sublime, you’ll notice it isn’t formatted in a readable way.  I would recommend getting a plugin that will reformat this for you.  If that isn’t an option for you, no big deal, I’ve found this site to be great at formatting and helping you troubleshoot errors.  After it is formatted, it should look something like this (if you’re working with a clean Dataset):


Understanding the Parameters

Great, so we’ve got the code formatted to work with now.  Let’s talk about what paremters we have available to work with:

  1. recordIdField
    • This is the field that enables your Actions and the Link to the record.
  2. Field
    • The name of the dimension that the menu appears on in dashboard and lens charts and tables.
      • Let me make sure it is clear — you can not add this to a Measure
    • This ideally is a unique value to enhance the end user experience.  If it is not, make sure you use the recordDisplayFields parameter to improve the user experience.
  3. recordDisplayFields
    • If you put your action and record open on a field that isn’t unique in your table, Salesforce will ask you to select the record that you want to work with.
  4. linkTemplate
    • The default for this is to the Record Id field (the row’s Id).  However, you can use this parameter to setup a custom URL that you send the User to.
  5. linkTooltip
    • This is used if you want the Record Open to have a hover message.
  6. sfdcActions
    • By default the Actions will be displayed as your Page Layout’s Actions.  If you want to modify the values in Wave, then you’ll want to customize this to create your own custom list.
  7. linkTemplateEnabled
    • Default is TRUE.  Set this to FALSE if you want to turn the Link off and only have the Actions.
  8. salesforceActionsEnabled
    • Default is TRUE.  Set this to FALSE if you want to turn the Actions off and only have the Link.

What it looks like together


Update the XMD JSON

Now you just need to upload the updated JSON file into the Dataset, and then hit Update Dataset


Select Update Dataset


All that is left for you to do now is run your Dataflow again so that our updates are put in place.  After your Dataflow finishes running, go in and validate that you now have the Record Link and Quick Actions working!  It looks like this:


I would recommend looking at this article if you want to do a deep dive into this.