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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.

With a Smile - Episode #191 of CloudFocus Weekly

Winter 15 sales and service enhancements, the Salesforce.com Salesforce1 fund and the new virus threat.
With a Smile - Episode #191 of CloudFocus Weekly

With a Smile - Episode #191

Salesforce.com Service Enhancements in Winter 15

It’s all about enhancing and refining the service cloud features in this Winter 15 release.
Salesforce.com Service Enhancements in Winter 15

Salesforce.com Service Enhancements in Winter 15

Enhanced searching and navigation on cases are the main themes that run through the Service release notes for Winter 15. The ease of the search functionality can make a huge impact on the efficiencies of users in Salesforce by decreasing the amount of time it takes them to find information. It is so great to see this much energy put into upgrading the search functionality. Also, they’ve made it even easier to navigate the case feed and console,allowing as much information to be accessible in one place. I will walk you through the enhancements that are definitely worth mentioning.


Case Feeds

As noted above, Case Feeds have become easier to search and navigate than in earlier releases and it just continues improve with this release. Here are highlights of some great enhancements coming our way.

  • Show Agents More Case Information in Less Space with Compact feed

  • Add and Work with Addresses More Easily in Case Feed Email Messages

  • Case Feed Files Component Supports Drag-and-Drop

Compact feed allows agents to see more information about the case in the Console without having to scroll as much. You can see the case history more easily. Having this information directly in front of you will help you resolve these cases that much faster. Now within email actions, when you search by name you will see a hover list with associated email addresses. You can literally start typing the 1st few letters of the name and the options will begin to pop up. You will also be able to drag and drop attachments right into the Case Feed File Component. These enhancements will help you really provide better case support in less time.


Knowledge

Knowledge has really been making some strides in ensuring information is more accessible and this Winter 15 release is no different.

  • Monitor Salesforce Knowledge Search Activity

  • Nex-Gen Knowledge Search Gives Users More Relevant Article Search Results

A new article-related object, called Knowledge Search Activity, has been created that will allow anyone managing Knowledge to build custom report types. These report types will allow managers to generate reports that will provides information about how the articles are performing. The managers can use this data to make informed decisions about needed improvements that will benefit end users. And now…..drum roll please…...Nex-Gen Knowledge Search, which was only a pilot for the summer release, is now officially happening this Winter 15. This enhancement has literally made the search feature smarter. You cannot underestimate how critical it is to have searching be as easy as possible. The upgrades are a bit technical but are so worth mentioning here. It provides “faster indexing” (records searchable quicker upon save), “improved alphanumeric search” (able to now search for URLs, phone number, emails), and “improved tokenization” (texts broken down into small chunks to make searches faster, great for searching in different languages). These searching capabilities will make finding information a much better experience and you can focus more on resolving issues rather than trying to find information.


Salesforce Console for Service

Summer 14 provided great enhancements to help you have as much information at your fingertips to provide the best support and with Winter 15, it’s only getting better. 

  • Articles Suggested for Cases are More Relevant (Beta)

  • Users Get the Latest Search Capabilities

  • Add the Files and Case Expert Tools to the Salesforce Console

  • New Look and Feel for Salesforce Console

Although only in beta, the upgrade to searching for more relevant articles is worth mentioning as a part of the theme of search enhancements. The search engine will have better functionality to help find the articles that most closely match your search words. SmartSearch is now included in Salesforce Console. There is no longer a need to use the dialog box to select the object type to search and you can customize how the search results will appear. What were previously only tools on the feed based case layout in the sidebar component in Summer 14 release, the ability to attach files to cases and find other agents knowledgeable in particular areas can now actually be added as console components. You can see any files associated with cases and add them to email messages. I won’t go into too much detail on the new look and feel for the Salesforce consoles but wanted to highlight a few. Lookup Component can now display multiple columns. Users can get details about items in related list component by simply hovering over the related list item. Inline editing can now be used in the lookup component (how cool is that?).


I can literally go on and on with talking about the many great service enhancement but will stop here. I hope I have given you a taste of what’s to come and have excited you as agents everywhere to start, if you have not already, checking out these great enhancements in the Winter 15 Release notes to learn more. The easier it is for you to navigate to the information you need and search and find relevant items, the faster you can work to resolve cases, making your job a whole lot easier. Isn’t that exciting?


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.


Apple Announcements - Episode #190 of CloudFocus Weekly

New iPhone, Apple Pay and a watch, we discuss them all as we go over the pros, cons and features we are excited about.
Apple Announcements - Episode #190 of CloudFocus Weekly

Apple Announcements - Episode #190

Why Sales Teams Should Be Excited About Winter '15

A look into some new features released in Winter '15 that sales teams should be excited about.
Why Sales Teams Should Be Excited About Winter '15

Why Sales Teams Should Be Excited About Winter '15

We at Arkus are big sports fans and there is no better time of year then the start of the NFL season.  We know that many of you are preparing for your fantasy football season so to help save you some time so you can focus on your weekly lineups, we cut through the 300+ page Winter 15 release notes and provide you with a series of blogs highlighting the key features you should be aware of.  For those Sales Cloud focused people, here are a few features worth mentioning.

Territory Management 2.0 (Now Generally Available)

In Summer 14 Territory Management 2.0 went into Beta and with Winter 15 it is now generally available.  I didn’t spend any time on it in the last blog so here is a quick overview of the much needed overhaul.  The two key areas to note are flexibility and ease of use.  Territory Management now provides the ability to model much more complex scenarios for assigning accounts to your sales teams. This is done by creating territory types and then using assignment rules to assign the accounts out.  In addition to adding more complex scenarios, Salesforce made it is very easy to configure.  Once you begin to setup the configuration you are given the ability to preview how the assignment rules will work out without having to deploy it.  Newly configured territories go into a “Planning” state where you can see this preview and once you are satisfied with the results you can easily move it to an “Active” state to deploy it.  If this is something of interest for your organization, I highly suggest you dive into the release notes to get the specifics around features and functions so you can understand what it can and cannot do. One thing to note, Territory Management 2.0 cannot be enabled in existing organizations that have Customizable Forecasting enabled. If this is the case for you, I would suggest you reach out to Salesforce to see what options you may have.

Salesforce for Outlook Enhancements

Since the Outlook Panel got a facelift a little while back, Salesforce has continued to make it a priority and key focus area in each release. With Winter 15 it is no different.  Here are a couple key changes worth noting for sales.  For one, users can now see the side panel from Outlook Tasks, and add their Outlook tasks to Salesforce records. Users can add Outlook tasks to multiple Salesforce contacts and to one additional record that accepts tasks, like an account or an opportunity. For those who spend a lot of their time in Outlook and leverage Outlook tasks, this should enhance their experience.  A couple others worth mentioning is the ability to only select specific attachments you want to add to Salesforce and the ability to pick specific folders you want to sync with.  Both nice little additions to the feature set.

Quick Hits (NFL Pun Intended

There wasn’t another specific feature worth giving its own paragraph so here are a few quick ones that are worth mentioning.  

  • Convert a lead via Salesforce1. (beta)

  • Account and Contract Fields on Orders can be updated along with a new Owner field.

  • Custom Field Splits released in Summer 14 is now available in Enterprise Edition.

  • Forecast on custom currency fields on opportunities is now generally available.

  • Notes can now be added by Forecast managers for each adjusted forecast amount.


Not the most exciting release for sales but there are some nice new features and enhancements in Winter ‘15 and I would recommend you take a look at our rapid reaction blog as well as skim through the release notes to see if anything else catches your attention. Also, stay tuned for a review on some of the cool Service Cloud features in our next blog post.

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

Wearing Thin - Episode #189 of CloudFocus Weekly

Salesforce rebrands the Communities (we think) and goes all in on wearables as the impending Apple news hits the wires.
Wearing Thin - Episode #189 of CloudFocus Weekly

Wearing Thin - Episode #189

Salesforce Winter 15 Release Notes Rapid Reaction

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

Salesforce Winter 15 Release Notes Rapid Reaction

This time around for Winter 15 I have been enjoying the new HTML version of the release notes. This marks the first time that I have not read a Salesforce release notes in a PDF format. I quite enjoyed the HTML format of the release notes, they were easy to consume, very responsive, and had good search ability. As always here are some quick hits on some interesting features coming in Winter 15.

Duplicate Management (Beta)

For years we have had to rely upon 3rd party products to help prevent duplicate data and help to keep our Salesforce instances clean in terms of data quality. With Winter 15 we get a beta version of duplicate prevention across Accounts, Contacts, and Leads. All other objects are currently not supported (including Person Accounts which is a bit of a shame). Duplicate rules are defined by system administrators. The rules can specify what to do when a duplicate is found whether to allow the user to save the record anyway or completely block the record from getting saved. Aside from that the admin has the ability to define what constitutes a duplicate. As this is a beta there are some limitations that should be taken into consideration (all documented in the release notes) but all in all I’m glad to see Salesforce start to assist with data quality as it relates to duplicates.

Add Custom Lookup Fields on Activities (Beta)

I know, I know, the first two features I selected are both in Beta but to me they are extremely impactful from a data management and usability perspective. I cannot even count the number of times that I have needed to add a lookup to a Task or Event record in Salesforce because of the need to always relate the Activity to multiple “what” records. Example being an Event that is both related to an Opportunity as well as a custom object called “Fund” - this happens all the time where we need to go beyond one “what “ record.

Deploy Performance Summary Cycles More Effectively

Work.com performance summaries are now easier to deploy. You still have to paste in a list of usernames into a text field which isn’t optimal but at least you can include an entire list of users well in advance and not worry about if a user becomes inactive once it is time to deploy. Before Winter 15 if you have an inactive user in your list of users being assigned to a specific cycle it will fail to deploy. You then have to go through a process of removing them from the cycle which is a pain. Having the ability to just have inactive users in the list of users in the cycle makes management of cycles a whole lot easier.

Show Agents More Case Information in Less Space with Compact Feed

I am a huge proponent of Case Feed. I love the user interface for Cases. Not such a huge fan of Feed Based Layouts on other objects but on Cases it is brilliant. With Winter 15 you can turn on “compact feed” and have the ability to see even more data in less space. The new feed layout takes all the filters and navigational elements that existed on the left hand side of the page and moves it to a slim horizontal panel just below the highlights panel and above the feed. This should allow for much easier navigation to emails, status changes, chat logs, community posts, and logged calls. All the things that a productive service agent needs to get their jobs done faster.

See Salesforce Events in a Weekly View

Viewing Salesforce Events in Salesforce1 just got a lot easier and a lot more user friendly. From the Events navigational menu a user can now view and event list for a week and drilling down into viewing events in a list for a specific day, including previous days. As big users of the actual Salesforce calendar I am glad to see some investment made here as opposed to just focusing on the Today app which uses the calendar on the device as opposed to Salesforce events. For users who are using the mobile browser version (I can’t quite understand why these have to be different) you can now create Salesforce events right from within the app. Tons of productivity gains here, especially if you are allowed to add multiple attendees.

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

Warmest Winter Ever - Episode #188 of CloudFocus Weekly

The Salesforce Winter 15 pre-release notes are out and we dive in to some of the big ticket items and hidden gems we are excited about.
Warmest Winter Ever - Episode #188 of CloudFocus Weekly

Warmest Winter Ever - Episode #188

Core Banking Integration with Salesforce

A look at some of the considerations, tips and hints for integrating core banking solutions with Salesforce.com.
Core Banking Integration with Salesforce

Core Banking Integration with Salesforce

Integration can mean a lot of things from a simple custom link to a real time movement of data between two different systems. In the following use cases we are going to look at the integration of banking cores such as Jack Henry, Fiserv and FIS into Salesforce; discussing some of the pitfalls and best practices along the way.

Integration Types

The first area to dig into are the two types of typical integrations. Real time integrations are where the two systems are sharing data as fast as they can. An example of this would be in the account opening process where a bank wants a newly closed won opportunity to send a realtime message to the core banking solution to establish the new financial account. Data items like the account number and customer data coming directly from Salesforce. This could also be done the other way, originating from the banking core to Salesforce, with the limitations usually on the banking cores lack of accessibility to programming interfaces.

The second, and more popular integration type, is in batch. This is where a large volume of data is moved from one system to the other in a scheduled and automated fashion. For example, a bank might want to populate client data from their core into Salesforce so they will build a batch process to extract the data from the core, transform it to fit into the new Salesforce data model and load it using the Salesforce APIs. This would typically be scheduled to happen once or twice a day and while the data is not real time, for a customer relationship management purpose, it is usually sufficient. This process of extracting, transforming and loading (ETL anyone?) brings us to the tools of the trade.

Tons of Tools

Any integration is going to need some tools but picking the best one for the job can be a lot to manage. The first thing to consider is the use of what I would call "flat loaders" such as the Salesforce.com Data Loader or free tools such as Jitterbit. For these, the data coming from the core has to be well organized and singular in nature. For example, each file needs to contain only one type of data (Clients) and not need any transformation (formatting, splitting or other complex manipulation). While most banking cores have tools to get the data out, it is usually not as clean as it needs to be including lots of duplicates and mixed data. This is when you would need a bigger tool (queue JAWS score).

The next step up (and it is a big step) is the Extract Transform Load (ETL) software from such providers as Informatica, Jitterbit, Talend, Actian and Boomi. These are either cloud or on-premise tools that have built in connectors allowing for complex logic such as grabbing a set of files from an SFTP site, sorting, de-duping and transforming the data and then upserting it into Salesforce in a brand new data model. These tools come with drawbacks of extra expense ($500 a month and up) and complexity but will provide better overall support and handling of larger data sets. Not a must, but highly recommended.

New Data Model

The next hurdle is the complex nature of core banking data that is originating from a traditional database schema but needs to end up in Salesforce which only supports some basic database concepts. Two issues to keep in mind is the many-to-many relationship of banking products to customers in that a customer can have many banking products (Savings, Checking, Debit) but those products also can have many different customers attached to them (Signers, Owners, Primary, Secondary, Account Holders, Organizations). Building the correct data model will make any data integration much easier.

The second consideration is complexity of different types of entities such as clients, customers, prospects, organizations, trusts, businesses and households. While some, such as clients seem like easy matches to Salesforce.com Contacts, others, like Trusts or Housesholds, are not as clear cut. Depending on the data source and business objective the answers to some of these questions can be handled at the core or on platform. For example, here at Arkus we have built out a custom householding application that runs on the Salesforce1 platform and does the work of much older, slower, and expensive householding applications. That, though, is a blog post for another time.

Process Flow & Record Ownership

The last consideration is the flow and ownership of the data. Most banking cores don't have a concept of data ownership so matching that up with Salesforce, where every record must be owned by a Salesforce licensed user, can be a challenge. Best practice is to work with the business to figure out where record ownership matters (Opportunities) and where it might not matter at all (Households) than working that into the integration logic.

It is also important to take into consideration the flow of the data from the core into Salesforce and what is editable. In a daily batch example, any data element that is coming from the core should be locked down in Salesforce as any changes will just be overwritten during the next run. The tip here is to use record types and page layouts to control the different fields and when they can and cannot be edited.

There is a lot to consider in doing a core banking integration and while it is certainly not impossible, the more upfront thought and planning that is put into it can lead to a greater level of success.

If you have questions, suggestions or other tips on doing large scale integrations feel free to post them below in comments, in the Success Community, on our Facebook page or to message me directly at @JasonMAtwood.

Passing Your Salesforce Certified Release Exam

Four things keeping you from passing your Release Exam & strategies for keeping your Salesforce.com credentials, whatever's in your way.
Passing Your Salesforce Certified Release Exam

Passing Your Salesforce Certified Release Exam

Getting a Salesforce.com credential provides quite a bit of value to your career. As the certification website announces, “Get cloud-certified. Become indispensable.” However, keeping your credentials does require taking shorter, additional re-certification exams throughout the year. This blog post will cover strategies to re-certify.

A little more about what & why first. As each Salesforce.com certified administrator or developer knows, there are a couple available tracks to follow in certifying with Salesforce.com. These tracks are based on either the Administrator (ADM201) or the Developer (DEV401) certifications. If the prerequisite exam for your advanced certification(s) was ADM201, then you’ll need to make sure you maintain that credential with the release exam announcement to those holding ADM201. The converse is true for DEV401.

The short five to twelve or so question exams are released on the cadence of the Salesforce releases. So when Winter is rolled-out in your instance in Fall, the release exam is soon to follow. (And since Summer ‘14 was recently released, those release exams are now available!) The questions are open-book and you can also exit the exam then re-enter another day if you need more study time.

Just know, if you are both Developer & Administrator certified you will need a release exam six times per year. And if you don’t take your release exam, in a while you will lose your hard-earned credentials. The release exams are intended to ensure that every certified professional stays up to speed on the latest features and functionality. So in that sense, they really are good for you! So why are you hesitating? 

1. You have to take both release exams… which is overwhelming.

I’d say the strategy in this case is to find a cadence that works for you. I prefer taking the Developer re-certification first, then taking the Administrator one, as most of the questions in the DEV401 re-certification exams reappear in the ADM201. So, I know that if I don’t do well in the former I likely won’t pass the latter.

However, some I know do the reverse. A friend of mine recently described in front of the entire local user group that he takes the Administrator exam first then the Developer re-certification, since he knows that the Administrator will take him eight minutes and the Developer will take him four. Either way you do it, develop your own strategy & cadence…own it.

2. You didn’t take last release & haven’t caught up yet.

If you go into release exam time without your prior one, you will have to start with the last one and catch up. And you can’t let it go even one more release or you’ll lose your certification. Say you received the Spring 14 recert exam notification, and made a mental note, but didn’t yet take it. Then the Summer 14 notice came out a few weeks back. Now you have until the Winter 14 release to catch up.

Not only that, once you do take Spring 14’s re-certification exam after Summer 14 goes live, you’ll be at risk of answering Spring’s exam with items from Summer’s functionality. Hey, it happens, but should it? So let’s make sure to get on top of this.

Dedicate an hour to watching the release training videos, taking screenshots of pertinent slides, then take the recertification exam. Rinse & repeat for the next release as quickly as possible. You’ll feel much less on edge and stressed. Not to mention that staying current on your release exams also means you get to keep your other advanced Salesforce.com certifications.  All hail the certified professional.

3. You think it’s gonna be a piece of cake…but you failed before.

Confidence, good. Speeding through without being thorough, not so good. You get twenty or thirty minutes, it’s open book, so go through the exam questions a couple times. The first time, mark the answers that you’re not 100% confident on with the “mark for review” flag. The next time you go through your exam questions, take time to search for answers in the release notes, review your notes or screenshots from the release videos, and answer the remaining questions. Before you hit submit, take note of any topics or features you still may not feel confident in…and...submit.

If you don’t pass, you know what you need to dig into on review. Take a few days to go over it a little more. Log into your developer instance and play with and test the feature. Then, before they announce any new releases, take your exam again. You’ll be on much better ground.

4. You’re too busy with your “real” work. You’ll get to it later.

If you know Salesforce.com functionality and work with a good chunk of features, it shouldn’t take long. It often takes me less than ten minutes per release exam. Maybe eleven minutes, since I need to log into the certification site, open up the release notes & my screenshots. Just be careful about leaving it too long. As we mentioned before, you risk lapsing in your certification. And can you really do your day job while you study for the full exam again? We didn’t think so.

For the story on this straight from Salesforce.com, download their Release/Maintenance Process + Resources Overview to review their most recent process & resources available. Haven’t yet taken a certification? Check out Go to the Salesforce Certification site for information on certifying, official study guides & to sign up for an exam. 

Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have additional points or questions on re-certifying, find me on Twitter at @SeriouslyKyla or comment on the Salesforce Success Community, our Facebook page or comment below.


Passing The Buck - Episode #187 of CloudFocus Weekly

Passing the re-certification exams, the key factors to a closed won opportunity and the viral ALS ice bucket challenge.
Passing The Buck - Episode #187 of CloudFocus Weekly

Passing The Buck - Episode #187

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