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The official Arkus blog provides your weekly dose for all thing Salesforce. Stay on top of the latest, most relevant Salesforce features, applications, and best practices.

Summer 15 Release Notes - Episode #216 of CloudFocus Weekly

It might not actually be summer, but Salesforce Summer 15 is on the way so we go over a bunch of new features and things we are excited about.
Summer 15 Release Notes - Episode #216 of CloudFocus Weekly

Summer 15 Release Notes - Episode #216

Salesforce Service Enhancements in Summer 15

Efficiency is the name of the game with the service cloud features in this Summer 15 release.
Salesforce Service Enhancements in Summer 15

Salesforce Service Enhancements in Summer 15

There are so many exciting features in this Summer 15 release for Service Cloud that narrowing them down actually became a real challenge. So instead, this blog is going to give you a taste of several great features coming our way that will inspire you to want to learn more. Every release brings service features and enhancements that increase efficiency and productivity for agents but this release has taken it to another level.


Push Work to Qualified, Available Support Agents with Omni-Channel (Beta)

It would have been great to have a drum roll for this feature. Omni-Channel is a customer service solution that not only pushes work to agents but routes them to qualified agents within the console. What makes this even better is that any Salesforce object can be changed into a work item and placed within a queue using service channels and then omni-channel will route them to the right agent(s). With this feature, you can prioritize which items get completed first and determine which agents can work on a specific item. Agents will not have to manually pick items from queues anymore. The best part of this is that it all happens in real time. How cool is that?

Omni-Channel is only in beta version for this release but you can enable this feature and provide feedback via IdeaExchange. So be one of the first to try this great feature.


Add In-App Support to Your Mobile App with SOS Video Chat and Screen Sharing (Beta)

This exciting feature allows agents to see the customers they are speaking with at the time of the service. This mobile support service is called SOS and with a simple button, it allows one-way video or two-way video chat. With SOS, information about customers can be easily accessed by agents during calls and customers can share their screens to allow agents to guide them in resolving issues. SOS is also integrated with Omni-Channel and can be routed to the most equipped agents. SOS is in beta version but is definitely a feature worth checking out as well.


Macros Increase Efficiency

Macros, a feature that allows agents to complete repetitive tasks, has some notable enhancements. With macros, agents will now be able to:

  • Run Bulk Macros on Multiple Records at the Same Time

  • Search Salesforce Knowledge and Attach Articles to Cases

  • Automatically Post to Social Networks

  • Replace Field Values in a Case

These are just touching on a few of the enhancements that are allowing agents and managers to do more to increase efficiency using macros.


Case Feeds & Email to Case

Both of these features had enhancements worth mentioning. Case feed posts and comments can now be edited, which was not a possibility before. Now agents can highlight feed items that are visible externally. So they can easily tell what internal versus external users see. With Email to Case, email feed items can now be displayed in HTML within the compact feed layout. This allows agents to see inline emails within customer emails. Also, agents are now able display user signature prior to the email thread rather than at the bottom, which was the default. These enhancements for both features are giving agents even more control over what they can edit and see.


Live Agent

Live agent is already such a great feature that allows real time support and this release brings enhancements that make this feature even better for agents.

  • Transfer a Workspace with Chat Transfer or Conference

  • Conference Multiple Agents Into Chats

  • Block Unwelcome Chat Visitors (by IP Address)

  • Automatically Set Agents’ Status to Away When Chat Request Times Out

  • New Button Lets Customers Cancel a Pending Chat Request

With these enhancements, the agent’s workload becomes that much easier to manage by allowing them to get support as needed (smooth transitioning of a chat from one agent to another or easily conferencing in other agents). Having small changes like blocking unwelcome chats, automatically setting status away and letting customer cancel chats can make such a big difference when managing a lot of customers.


Features to Quickly Highlight

There have been so many great features highlighted but could not end this blog without mentioning just a couple more at a glance.

  • Social Customer Service - This feature integrates Radian6 with the Service Cloud. This release brings enhancements like easier customization of the Social Customer Service apex class (not requiring code), access to additional social post fields, and ability to delete inbound error posts to maintain Social Hub rules just to name a few.

  • Service Cloud Cookbook - This is a very useful new feature for developers or system administrators. It provide sample codes for customizing the Service Cloud. This can be anywhere from customizing the console to personalizing a Live Agent chat window.


Hopefully, you can now see why it was so difficult to choose from this list of prominent features. If this has piqued your interest, check out the Summer 15 release notes to get more details on these and other great features not mentioned here.   


If there are additional features in this release that are standing out to you, please feel free to comment below, in the Success Community, on our Facebook page, or directly at me on Twitter @sylviacabral44.


Why Sales Teams Should Be Excited About Summer 15

A look at what sales teams should be excited about in the new Salesforce Summer 15 release.
Why Sales Teams Should Be Excited About Summer 15

Why Sales Teams Should Be Excited About Summer '15

In the Northeast, winter decided to stay with us through Spring but that has not stopped Salesforce from pushing ahead with Summer ‘15.   We are treated with 340 plus pages of notes outlining new and enhanced Salesforce features and functions. If you missed the first part  of our review series, feel free to check out our rapid reaction blog. In the second part we get a bit more focused and dive into the world of the Sales Cloud. Here are some features every sales team should be excited about and why.

Work.com

Any good sales manager knows the importance of goal setting and a timely feedback system.  As a new user of Work.com and as the head of sales at Arkus, I can understand why Salesforce went down this route to integrate this functionality into its core. There is no better place to manage your goals and feedback than in a system where all the data lives that drives it. It is not perfect but Salesforce continues to add a lot more functionality and flexibility to Work.com and hasn’t stopped with this release.  In Summer ‘15 Salesforce introduces more Thanks and Skill features along with Enhanced Feedback (Pilot) and Enhanced Performance Summaries.  A few specifics worth mentioning are managers can now create and assign goals for their employees along with having a new view to see all goals set for their team.  In Pilot, Enhanced Feedback provides the ability for users to manage feedback offers and requests all in one view. Lastly, it provides more flexibility in that it lets you customize feedback, including creating custom fields and layouts related to feedback requests. There are more worth taking a look at so I would suggest you take a few minutes to read them here to see if any more catch your eye.

Cumulative Forecast Rollups

Salesforce Forecasting has really gotten better over the last year with its flexibility and focus on a more collaborative forecasting experience.  For those who aren’t familiar with what it is, instead of a sales rep submitting and adjusting forecasts, it starts with the sales manager reviewing their direct reports and adjusting their forecasts from there. The focus shifts to the opportunity records which adjust the forecast in real time.  Salesforce introduces Cumulative Forecast Rollups with this release which rolls up opportunities from more than one forecast category into cumulative forecast amounts. With individual forecast category rollups, each total and subtotal represents opportunities from only one of the individual forecast categories like Commit and Best Case which gives a clearer view of the total monthly or quarterly sales numbers.

Quick Hits

Here are a few quick ones that are worth mentioning:  

  • Salesforce Notes has been enhanced to allow for Rich Text, which allows users to add bulleted lists, numbered lists and text formatting.  (BETA)

  • Data.com Prospecting Insights for Accounts is a new feature that combines D&B company details and industry intelligence in a new quick-view snapshot.

  • Email Connect is a new feature which allows you to sync your users’ contacts and events between Exchange-based email systems and Salesforce, and view them and other sales-related records directly in Microsoft® Outlook Web App (OWA).

There are many other enhancements in Summer ‘15 which might be of interest to you.  I would recommend you take a look at our rapid reaction blog as mentioned above as well as skim through the release notes to see if anything else catches your attention.

Please feel free to comment below, on the Salesforce Success Community, on our Facebook page, or directly at me on Twitter @Salvatoriello

Salesforce Summer 15 Release Notes Rapid Reaction

It’s that time of the year once again where we Salesforce geeks get to dig in and read some release notes.
Salesforce Summer 15 Release Notes Rapid Reaction

Salesforce Summer 15 Release Notes Rapid Reaction

This time around for Summer 15 we have the newly enhanced HTML version of the notes to enjoy. Here are a few of my favorite features that I think will be extremely impactful and I know that I’m looking forward to using and/or telling people about.

Here are some of my favorite features in the new release.

Data Loader for Mac

While there are a plethora of data loading tools out there on the market it’s nice to finally have an official data loader from Salesforce. For years us Mac users have been utilizing LexiLoader (with much success) but it always had the “unofficial” tag on it. Welcome to OS X Data Loader, we are happy you are here. Take note, if you are already using LexiLoader, Salesforce recommends that you uninstall it prior to installing the new Data Loader for Mac.

Create Custom App Pages with the Lightning App Builder

To boil this feature down to its most basic function, as an administrator you can now create your own version of the Today app on Salesforce1 Mobile. You can build pages that act as applications within the side navigation that do things like display lists of records based on criteria, display dashboard charts, show recent items, include custom Visualforce pages, or even have 3rd party components that will be made available on the AppExchange. This is a drag and drop interface to build custom mobile applications without knowing how to write a line of code, kind of reminds me of the first time I hopped into the setup page of Salesforce and realized I could build and design a fully functional web application without any coding knowledge; in the long run this is a very powerful addition to the platform.

Use New Tools to Manage Performance Summary Cycles (Pilot)

I don’t necessarily like to pick pilot features but this one looks like a potential game changer when it comes to Work.com. For the last year or so slowly but surely the Work.com application has become more and more a part of the core Salesforce platform. Performance Summaries are a big deal when it comes to collecting feedback and doing assessments around a person’s work. Summaries have been and continue to be very clunky when it comes to defining a cycle, adding questions, defining answers, and so on. In this new pilot which is only available in sandboxes Performance Cycles look and feel like standard Salesforce objects. There are tools built in for uploading spreadsheets of who to assign to a specific cycle, you can create custom fields, page layouts, and list views for all your performance summaries. I’m looking forward to the time when the entire Work.com suite is completely on platform and works like all other Salesforce objects work.

Enable Feed Post Editing in Custom Profiles

Before I get into the feature, I find it kind of odd that in the name of the feature it specifically calls out the fact that this can be enabled via a custom profile but no mention whatsoever in the notes about permission sets. Anyway, a long asked for feature is finally arriving whereby a user can be enabled to edit their own Chatter post and in addition be given the permission to edit Posts on records that they own, even if the post is made by another user. There have been countless times where I’ve made a spelling error in a post, forgot to @mention someone in a post, or generally just felt like I wanted to refine what I said in the post. My only recourse was to delete the post and start over. Now with this new permission users will be able to edit Chatter posts. I know lots of people will be happy as this Idea had over 24,000 points as of writing this blog post.

Lots of pages left out of this rapid reaction as I’ll leave it to the specialists to talk more about sales, service, and development as the weeks roll on.

Please feel free to comment below, on the Salesforce Success Community, on our Facebook page, or directly at me on Twitter @JustEdelstein.

Got It Finished - Episode #215 of CloudFocus Weekly

A review of the updated GTD book, more discussion of Salesforce suitors and thoughts on keeping it independent.
Got It Finished - Episode #215 of CloudFocus Weekly

Got It Finished - Episode #215

A Review of Getting Things Done by David Allen (2015)

After almost fifteen years David Allen has updated the productivity book that sparked an industry and changed my life.
A Review of Getting Things Done by David Allen (2015)

A Review of Getting Things Done by David Allen (2015)

Anyone who knows me for more than a minute knows I am huge fan of David Allen and practitioner (some say preacher) of the Getting Things Done (GTD) productivity methodology. Here at Arkus it is core to our organizational belief system so it is with great excitement that I get to review the re-written "Gettings Things Done".

The Original

The original Getting Things Done was published in 2001 and started a productivity movement that grows by leaps and bounds. The book landed in my hands in 2004 after a bout with serious procrastination and some Google searching for "how to solve procrastination." The original reviews got me to read the book and I have never looked back.

In a quick nutshell GTD is about getting things out of your mind and into a system that alleviates stress and increases productivity. The 5 key concepts of capture, clarify, organize, reflect and engage make up the pillars of the methodology and do produce results.

The original content of the book have grown more and more dated, from references to PDAs to a lack of real digital task managers made people reading the book after 2010 feel a little lost. The core philosophies of course, have remained intact.

Updated Content

The first noticeable change in the rewrite is the removal of very specific tools and technologies. David Allen has tried to make this book readable for the next 15 years without another re-write so while there are references to "smart phones", "digital systems" and "social media" that is about as far as he goes. He writes more about being agile with your systems rather than being specific which helps with the longevity of the book but makes it less instructional than the original.

Another big change is a new reflective tone in the book, that encapsulates the last 15 years of experience as the original book has grown into a movement. It gives the book even more gravitas since Allen now references almost 40 years of personal experience and knowledge.

The last thing that struck me was the downplaying of contexts. In the original text Contexts were more pronounced, as he talked about things you do "At Computer" and "At Calls." Contexts over the last fifteen years have changed and morphed as the Internet is almost always available and we carry devices that can do almost everything a full desktop computer could do a decade ago.

New Chapters

The most interesting part of the new book comes in the last two new chapters. In Chapter 14 "GTD and Cognitive Science" David Allen does a recap of some major scientific research that has been done in the last 15 years giving new evidence to how the mind works and how systems like GTD are increasingly important . The last Chapter "The Path of GTD Mastery" was my favorite and is almost worth the reread alone as he lays out the different levels of mastering the methodology. It was interesting to compare my last decade plus of working in, around, and with GTD to his perception of mastery. Maybe not a Jedii, but darn close.

Overall the new book doesn't feel very new, but more updated with enough to make it worth the price of admission. If you are a long time GTD'er and haven't read the book a second or third time, this is all the reason to do so. If you are starting from the very start of your GTD journey than you didn't miss anything in the first book and this one will get you off to a great start. My one big takeaway from having done this for so long is how much the book Getting Things Done is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of information for complete mastery. Over the years I have found his audio series, interviews, and other books to be the majority of my education.

Have you read the old or new book? Join the conversation below, on our Facebook Page, in the Salesforce Success Community or directly to me @JasonMAtwood

Summer Whispers - Episode #214 of CloudFocus Weekly

Salesforce takeover over rumors, using Drawloop for non-profits, DropBox Notes, Apple Watch impressions and Summer 15 release notes are out.
Summer Whispers - Episode #214 of CloudFocus Weekly

Summer Whispers - Episode #214

Impact Evaluation for Non-Profits with Drawloop

Using Salesforce data and Drawloop to generate stylized dashboards and decks to send to influencers and constituents.
Impact Evaluation for Non-Profits with Drawloop

Impact Evaluation for Non-Profits with Drawloop

Measuring the impact of a non-profit is critical to both its growth and constituent base. This generally takes the form of an “annual report” style document, including a combination of large blocks of text and compelling charts. Salesforce dashboards and reports with charts offer great functionality, but at times fall short; the formatting options available may not allow us to change how a bar chart looks, and it’s not feasible to deliver dashboards to non-Salesforce users.

Instead of usual Arkus blog posts, we’re going to take this hypothetical journey as a non-profit, and talk about the organization’s needs for stylized impact dashboarding with social outreach programs and fundraising that relies heavily upon corporate and foundational gifts.

Our Salesforce instance has grown over the past few years with the Non-Profit Starter Pack to track our contacts, donations, and events, and customizations to track our causes, affiliated people, attributed donations, and survey results using one of the many survey tools available on the AppExchange. We’ve reached a point where our board and constituents have expressed interest in understanding metrics about our program growth and demographics, fundraising performance and variance from targets, and metrics about our organization. Some of our board members do not have Salesforce licenses, and require that the finished product is styled and “on-brand”, including logos, colors, and typefaces.


Data Before Design

The first step on this journey is to understand the objective of our impact evaluation report, and what data we need to display. Our board and core team wish to highlight metrics about where the organization is today, comparing data over time, and the breakdown of donors and causes. By listing these out in the table below, we’re able to better understand how data populates our dashboards, and how to visualize this in our final document.

Reporting NeedWays to VisualizeWhere the Data Exists
Donations vs Target Funds Raised by Quarter Bar chart with line graph for targets Donations object, Reporting object
Average Organization Size by Annual Revenue Brackets Pie / donut chart Organizations object
Age Ranges of Volunteers Bar chart Contact object
Average Age of Volunteers Metric Contact object
% of Satisfied Volunteers (based on survey results) Metric Survey Results object
% of Volunteers Willing to Support Next Year (based on survey results) Metric, pie / donut chart Survey Results object
# of Full-Time Staff Metric, line graph Reporting object
Annual Budget Metric, line graph Reporting object

All of these data points can be retrieved and displayed in a Salesforce dashboard based on our objects described above with the exception of the last two; not all of our staff are users of Salesforce, and we don’t handle any granular budgeting in Salesforce. To have the “# of Full-Time Staff” and “Annual Budget” appear in our report, we can either type them directly into the template, or store them in a new custom object within Salesforce. We’ve decided to call this our “Reporting” object, and it has a few fields that we’ll fill out every quarter to show the change of high level numbers over time. This structure keeps it dynamic, and prevents us from embedding hardcoded numbers into our template.


Building Reports & Templates

Now that we feel comfortable with our data, we can start to build the Salesforce reports and template to support our finished document built with Drawloop. To keep things simple, we can use a single report per object and handle any filtering and calculations with Drawloop’s Excel as Middleware feature, and in some cases this is required as Salesforce reports include null values for their averages (which will skew native dashboards). This feature unlocks the power that Excel offers, such as COUNTIF and SUMIFS, and even PivotTables; data from each Salesforce report will appear as a tab in an Excel file, and formulas on a separate tab can be used to handle any logic and calculations.


Here are a few benefits to offloading the logic into the Excel as Middleware feature:

  • Using “complex” formulas that are not supported by Salesforce, or would cause report proliferation

  • Defining temporary variables and segments that are used only in the context of reporting (e.g. government classifications vs internal tiers to define a program)

  • Data can be massaged or reformatted without incurring the technical debt of having Salesforce formula fields


A downside to consider is that we are baking logic into a single Excel workbook, which requires familiarity with how the data is being manipulated and how Excel formulas work, as they can range from simple to utterly complex. It is important to keep the source reports static as well, as any changes made to the filters could potentially throw off the produced dashboard (garbage in, garbage out).


Our summarized data in Excel becomes a series of “named ranges”, where a label is associated with one or many cells. This label becomes the bridge between a single datapoint in our Word template (with mail merge notation <<MyRangeName>>), or associated to a chart within the document. The rest of the logic is behind the scenes, as Drawloop pushes the Salesforce reports data into the Excel sheets, and then uses whatever ranges we’ve defined to populate our Word template.


Polishing & Delivery

Running the report a few times and comparing the data is the last step of the process before the finished document is ready for the spotlight. It’s best to go back to the Salesforce reports data, check the Excel sheets used by the “middleware” feature, and ensure that the numbers pass a sniff test (or are aligned with internal reporting already in place). The last step is to define how the document is sent out, whether ad hoc or on a scheduled basis, and the recipients. Recipients are not limited to Salesforce users, and the documents can be triggered on button click if you wanted to further customize the reporting process to reflect the current user’s details (e.g. name, title, etc).


We’ve left out the technical details for how to create each element in this journey, largely because the process is tailored to the specific use cases of an organization and its reporting needs. By leveraging a third-party app to handle the composition and distribution of your impact reporting, it’s possible to spend less time focusing on key reporting windows and re-focus that time on core activities within the organization.


Are you starting to think about impact reporting from Salesforce, or have you been leveraging the platform for your impact evaluation dashboards and decks already? Feel free to leave your questions and comments below, on our Facebook page, or via Twitter @RogerMitchell.


App Pick Updates - Episode #213 of CloudFocus Weekly

Formula magic, Apple Watch day and we go over our top 5 App Picks of the last year (or two).
App Pick Updates - Episode #213 of CloudFocus Weekly

App Pick Updates - Episode #213

Formula Magic With Salesforce

The common and not so common formulas to utilize for Salesforce configuration.
Formula Magic With Salesforce

Formula Magic With Salesforce

Formulas are not only a very important field type, they are also used in the creation of validation rules, workflow rules, and buttons for customization of Salesforce instances. You can get really creative with the combination of formulas, roll-up summary fields, and workflow rules to avoid turning to custom development. Here are a few formulas I’ve come across in the community (modified to work for my requirements) and general ones that are just good to have in your arsenal to utilize. Taking into consideration the field API names may be different for you….

Purpose: End Date calculation based on Start Date and Picklist
Situation: Calculate an end date based on a start date plus a certain time frame set in a picklist.  This end date had to be exact, meaning, days in a month and leap year both had to be taken into consideration. Thanks to the Salesforce Success Community, and with the help of Steve Molis and Chris Edwards (Thanks Guys!), a good starting point was found at this location. The issue however is that the situation called for a need to account for a pick list, so as a result I ended up revising the formula to include the addition of ‘CASE’ scenario. Be aware however, if the Start Date is a formula field you may run over in characters. In which case you would want to create a workflow rule and put this formula into a workflow rule to update the end date instead of creating an end date formula field.  Here’s what the end result looked like:

 

Purpose: Calculate the % of opportunities won on an individual account

Situation: You want to figure out for accounts what percent of opportunities related to them are closed won. The two fields used are roll up summary fields on the account looking at the opportunity object. It looks like this:

IF( Total_Opportunities__c > 0, Won_Opportunities__c / Total_Opportunities__c, 0)

Purpose: Close date is in the past
Situation: This is a simple check to see if an opportunity is still open but the close date is in the past. It looks like this:

AND(IsClosed = FALSE, CloseDate < TODAY())

Purpose: Calculating the age of a contact
Situation: This is a common formula we typically use to calculate a persons age based on their birth date.  It looks like this:

IF(MONTH(TODAY())>MONTH(Birthdate),YEAR(TODAY())-YEAR(Birthdate),IF(AND(MONTH(TODAY())=MONTH(Birthdate),DAY(TODAY())>=DAY(Birthdate)),YEAR(TODAY())-YEAR(Birthdate),(YEAR(TODAY())-YEAR(Birthdate))-1))

Purpose: Change the default settings in Lead Conversion Button
Situation: This was a request to change some of the default setting in the Lead conversion button. The request included setting the name of the task subject, set the task as ‘high’ and ‘In Progress’, a default due date, and unchecking the reminder box.  What you need to do is create a custom button on the lead. There are several elements you can change which you can find here. Be aware however this is considered a hack and with every Salesforce release you would want to check to make sure the elements are still valid.  This is what the formula ended up looking like:

window.location.href="/lead/leadconvert.jsp?IsReminderSet_fu=0&sem=0&tsk5_fu='Contact New Converted Lead: {!Lead.LastName}&tsk4_fu={!Today()+3}&tsk13_fu=High&tsk12_fu=In Progress&id={!Lead.Id}&RetURL=/{!Lead.Id}";


The Salesforce Success Community is an excellent resource when you are trying to troubleshoot how to build a specific formula or determine why your formula is erroring out. I recommend a few locations in the community like Answers, or Groups like Who owes me a beer?!? and Formulas - Help, Tips and Tricks. Searching for a similar issue first in any of these locations is always a best way to start then posting in any of these locations.

Do you have challenging or interesting formulas in your back pocket?  Please feel free to share in comment below, on our Facebook page, or directly at me on Twitter @LeiferAshley or in the Success Community.

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