Popularity can be hard, but not when it comes to websites; all I had to do was look at the statistics provided by Google Analytics. A quick click of the mouse, a filter or two, and here is the top 10 list for 2016 by reads.
No surprise that Dreamforce is a popular topic and blog post, and Pete walks us through the highs of Dreamforce 16. I personally will remember Dreamforce 16 as my 10th in a row and the year Trailhead branding took over Salesforce.
It feels a little strange talking about Spring 16 when Spring 17 has been released to all our production orgs. Spring is always an interesting release, sometimes the worst (Spring 14 anyone?) and sometimes the best (Spring 11 anyone?). Take a stroll down release lane with Justin.
Our second question in the top ten list? Yes. Yes it is. Holly covers the much loved, but not-very-well understood Omni-Channel. (Hint: It is part of the Service Cloud and bringing work to you whether you want it or not.)
No question here, this is a great blog post (if I do say so myself). Yes, we sometimes go industry specific in our release notes series, and this time I took on Financial Services. Spring was certainly in the air.
Salesforce Communities is another growing hot topic here on the Arkus blog, as we now cover it in detail from how-tos to release note reactions. Ashley brought us some insight into the great templates that everyone should know about.
Breaking the top 5 is Holly's post about round robin lead assignment. It is one of those things that we get questions about all the time, isn't built into Salesforce, but does have a great AppExchange solution. Round and round you go, where you stop, only the blog will know.
Summer already? Well it was then and almost is now. Justin once again reacted in a rapid fashion to the release notes, calling out the ones that stuck out. Looking back, associating contacts with multiple accounts was still the big news in Summer.
It is always someone's first time at Dreamforce (did I mention it was my 10th?). Shannon shared her experience from the newbie set of eyes, which is always a good read for those about to take the plunge. Dreamforce 17 is just around the corner.
Not sure if it was the Slack or the Chatter (probably Slack) but this post drew a lot of attention. It was retweeted by Slack and is still read pretty often, as the question gets asked more and more. Personally, while we at Arkus still use both, the line is sometimes hard to define.
This was the hands down most popular blog post of 2016 by far. I can still see Roger dancing around the office as he wrote it, totally excited by the topic and his execution of it. You can certainly read his passion in the post.
So that was the top ten list, without much ado. If you had a favorite of the bunch, leave that comment below, on our Facebook page, in the Success Community or Power of Us Hub or directly @JasonMAtwood
Got duplicates? You bet, based upon the topic coming up regularly in many conversations and social media posts. Duplicates are significantly painful in more ways than one - from lower adoption rates to higher levels of effort and cost. This post delves into the subject in order to assist you in both understanding common causes and providing guidance in developing your duplicate management strategy.
Is It Just Us?
First and foremost, please be assured that it’s not just your organization that is riddled with “dupes”. Due to the fact there is not a way to completely eradicate the issue, let’s face it, we are all in this together. Duplicates are not unique for your configuration or users; in fact this problem rears its ugly head for anyone who is using a database, and yes even Salesforce orgs are not immune to it.
Are They Really That Bad?
Duplicate records are costly in many ways and are a leading cause of low adoption rates. When dupes appear, users often go to the place of “gee, maybe this data is suspect” or “why do I even bother entering in my accounts or contacts”. This lack of confidence is detrimental to strong adoption. Have you ever called upon a donor or prospect, only to find out that someone else on your team has already reached out to them? That is more than egg on your face; it speaks to the integrity of your organization. Add to that the increased costs of inaccurate mailing lists, the amount of effort spent to validate and scrub the data, and you see where this is heading. You have trouble with a capital “T,” which rhymes with “D,” and that stands for “Decimating”. Duplicates are a deal breaker folks, but the good news is that you can create processes and utilize some tools to identify, eradicate, and just plain get your arms around these puppies.
Can I Just Stop Them From Happening?
No, it is impossible to totally prevent and eliminate these nasty duplicates, but don’t be distressed; there are ways to minimize the amount by analyzing their roots and taking corrective action where needed. In order to win the war, you first need to know your enemy. Keep in mind that in most implementations there are many ways that records get created. It’s worthwhile to identify and document these for your organization because dependent upon the entry point there are different approaches to take and tools to use.
Your list might look something like this:
- Manual data entry
- Importing lists
- Integration of external third party systems that you use to manage events, registrations, communications, donations, etc.
- Apps that sync email, tasks and events
Trailhead And Native Duplicate Management To The Rescue
A great place to start is learning about duplicates with the Trailhead module “Duplicate Management” that is devoted specifically to providing you with the knowledge to tackle the issue. It will take you through Salesforce’s native Duplicate Management functionality that I recommend you configure and enable as soon as possible after testing in a sandbox. Salesforce has also provided us with the 'Potential Duplicates' component in Lightning Experience that displays duplicates of existing records on lead, account, and contact home pages that can both alert and allow users with appropriate permissions to merge records - similar to the functionality that is available in Classic.
Important to note is that while the “Block” or “Alert” features sound like a great idea, be careful to consider the effect that they will have on your integration or third party apps. For example, if Contact creation is being blocked when someone is submitting an online donation, how will the tool you are using to capture the donations in Salesforce handle that? What will the submitter’s experience be, and will the donation still go through?
Some other actions to consider before you begin configuring Duplicate Management include checking that you are maintaining a current backup of your data, benchmarking to document the quantity of objects and duplicates, and be sure you have end-to-end testing plans in place. Remember that you can utilize sandboxes to test out various configuration criteria. Additionally, be sure that you create the custom report types along with a process to view them regularly (possibly schedule for distribution weekly?).
What About All The Other Tools?
There are plenty of tools available to help you manage and even prevent duplicates, but be sure to do your homework. Most people that have deployed a successful duplicate management strategy use a combination of different tools and processes to help them minimize the issue. Refer to the list of entry points that you compiled and take a look at each of these to see if you can fine-tune them to reduce or prevent duplicates. Don’t forget to review your manual entry process and see if additional user training or modifying layouts (or both) can make a difference. Then review and test out apps that can help you analyze and merge the suspect records. There are plenty of free and paid options to check out; a few of the more popular ones include DemandTools, DupeBlocker, Cloudingo, and RingLead. You can also browse the AppExchange, as the list of duplicate management apps grows daily.
My recommendation has to be DemandTools, for its unmatched performance. It takes time to learn the tool, and it can seem complicated at times, but there are free training workshops available, great help content, and nonprofits are eligible for a free license. It is worth the time and investment in this tool because it will greatly aid in getting and keeping your data clean. As a bonus, you will also obtain the PeopleImport app free of charge to help you cleanly import lists of people.
Incorporating a strong duplicate management strategy is a critical component of a successful Salesforce implementation and should be revisited regularly, to ensure that you are using the right tools and your users are up to speed on the importance of maintaining accurate data.
There are so many tips, tricks, and tools for this topic that it is not possible to include them all. Did I miss some of your favorites? Want to share your experiences or opinions? Please feel free to reach out on the Arkus Facebook page, in the comments below, in the Success Community, or to me directly via Twitter at @sfdcclicks.
Here are some tools I find to be real time savers that can easily be adopted into your toolset. This is by no means a comprehensive list. I won’t be including tools that most are likely fairly familiar with, like Google Drive or Gotomeeting. Here we go.
Toggl - Time tracking
I’ve been through a few time trackers now. Some are too basic, and others are trying too hard. None that I know of have the flexibility and functionality of Toggl. Yes, in essence, it's just a timer, but what makes it a timesaver (pun intended) is the ability to start or stop a timer conveniently and easily without having to dig around and remind yourself to do it. Some of my favorite features include:
Embedded timers - When you install the Toggl Chrome extension, the tool places timers next to items on your favorite websites, including Salesforce and Google Drive. Just click the timer next to the opportunity name and off you go.
Pomodoro timer - Pomodoro is a technique to help break your work sessions into chunks in order to maximize productivity. Toggl can be set to remind you to take a couple minute break every 25 minutes, or you can adjust the interval to whatever you like.
Keyboard shortcuts - easily continue or stop a timer via custom keyboard shortcuts
Idle time tracking - Ever stepped away for while and forgot to turn off your timer. Toggl tracks idle time and asks if you would like to discard or keep the time once you return to your computer.
Sftoolkit.co - Cloud Tools for Salesforce
@benedwards44 deserves some major props here. Sftoolkit is made up of 7 extremely handy tools: Org Doctor, Org Compare, Data Compare, Switch, Schema Lister, Field Creator and Package Builder. This cloud-based set of tools has a little something for everyone. As a consultant, I find ‘Schema Lister’ to be one of my favorite ways to extract an org’s metadata, prior to a migration. It makes data mapping a breeze. If seeing your org’s metadata, as a well organized spreadsheet, produced in a matter of minutes doesn’t sound like a minor miracle right now, someday soon it will. So, keep this one in your back pocket.
Another favorite here is Switch. Switch centralizes access to activating and deactivating workflow and validation rules, flows, and, last but not least, triggers in your org. It’s not worth going to sftoolkit, selecting the Switch tool and logging into your org just to deactivate a single workflow rule. If, on the other hand, you’re deactivating many rules or flows of different kinds or for different objects, in preparation for a data migration or mass update, this could be a huge time saver. Triggers get a special mention, due to the fact that one does not simply deactivate a trigger in Salesforce. Code must be updated and redeployed. This is where Switch makes an otherwise lengthy task a push button operation. Impressive stuff. It should be mentioned from a development perspective, that custom settings can be added to a trigger’s code to essentially create an on/off switch that can be easily updated in production and sandbox orgs alike. Here’s an example. Listen to Cloud Focus Weekly episode 204 for more info about Sftoolkit and switch.
Jitterbit Cloud DataLoader - Data Loading
For many, this is probably pretty old news, but I think it’s worth mentioning again. If you work in a lot of orgs, the ability to save multiple Salesforce org credentials directly in the application makes creating queries or updates simple and fast, with no need to enter credentials every time. I find this particularly handy with having to retry an insert or update that fails. The data transformation or mapping screen in the Jitterbit Loader is a great bit of user interface that’s very intuitive. For small scale migrations or regular data loading tasks, Jitterbit has the feel of a stripped down ETL tool, with the simplicity of a basic data loader. A great tool for any admin or consultant.
OmniFocus + GTD - Explaining the importance of OmniFocus and the rabbit hole that is Getting Things Done in the honorable mention section of this list would be laughable. If this is the first time you’re stumbling across it, this blog post could change your life. Kickoff with one of @JasonMAtwood’s many blogs on the subject. You’re welcome.;)
Sublime Text + MavinsMate - This one’s for the dev oriented. MavinsMate turns your favorite text editor, as long as it’s Sublime Text, into your new development console for Salesforce. For a more thorough review check out @RogerMitchell’s blog post comparing IDEs for Salesforce.
Text Expander - This is a remarkably simple yet incredibly powerful tool, probably also considered a bit of an oldy but also an essential. TextExpander creates an endless list of ‘snippets’ that, when their corresponding abbreviation is typed, expand out to the full text of the snippet. I.e. when I type “,hlw” it expands out to “Have a lovely weekend”. Things get even more awesome when you discover the full capability of TextExpander. An article here just scratches the surface.
MyNoise - This can only be considered a time saver if awesome background noise helps you focus. The amazing list of noise generators assembled on MyNoise will drown out the distractions and give you super-powered focus. I recommend starting with a basic thunder storm and exploring from there.
There are an endless array of tools to select from and pair with, in the world of cloud computing today. These are some of my favorites at the moment, and I hope you get some use out of them as well.
If you haven’t noticed by some of the recent posts on the Arkus Blog, Lightning is here to stay. And that is reinforced with every release by the massive amounts of additions and tweaks to the platform. Some big, and some small, let’s talk about some of the new features being brought to us by the ever-evolving Salesforce Lightning Experience in the Spring 17 release.
Ever find yourself in a position trying to remember John what's-his-name from the company you spoke to last month? Yeah, me too… but breathe a sigh of relief, there is a new feature to help people like us. Now you can easily search for a specific Contact within your org by using the Account Name as help. For example, typing in ‘Ryan Arkus’ in your search bar would bring back yours truly. I think this is a great new feature.
Sometimes you read the release notes and you come across something that makes you think, “Wait… how was that not already a feature?” This is one of those situations. You can now stop having to remember to log into Salesforce and check those reports every Monday morning. Subscribe to up to five reports and have the report emailed to you on a set schedule: daily, weekly, or monthly. In the email you’ll receive a link, click on it and be directed right to the report. This is a nice little jump in convenience for LEX.
Customization is king, am I right? Flow has yielded a sometimes frustrating, but ultimately rewarding experience every time, and I have learned to really like it. For those who are unfamiliar with Flow, it’s an application that can execute logic, interact with the Salesforce database, call Apex classes, and collect data from users. You can now build and add a Flow component to your Lightning Pages just like you would any other component. Imagine the possibilities! This new feature provides a new level of customization and flexibility to Lightning Pages.
One of my favorite things about working with Salesforce is that creating efficiency is at the core of everything I do. With this update, you can quickly show details associated to the record that you are viewing. This means that you could show details of a Contact associated to a Case or show information about a Parent Account right from the Account record. If by chance, there is nothing to show here because there is no record to show, you can create a new record or choose to link one yourself right from the page. This Lightning enhancement only serves to increase efficiency and you have to love that.
If you are an LEX user and are tired of having to regularly check in on dashboards for updates, this enhancement should excite you. You’ll now have the ability to go to a dashboard, click ‘Follow’, and receive updates via Chatter. It’s little things like these that Lightning is missing and I am glad to know that they are taking another step in this release.
Spring 17 continues to improve upon Lightning functionality. Future releases promise more and more added functionality and I, for one, cannot wait! If you have any ideas on potential additions or tweaks that you think should be made to Salesforce Lightning, please post them on the IdeaExchange and don’t forget to go vote on already existing ideas.
How do you feel about the new Spring 17 LEX additions? Want to share your experiences or thoughts? Share them with me on the Arkus Facebook page, in the comments below, in the Success Community, or to me directly via Twitter at @RyanOwensRPO.
New Learning Paths
Up until last year, Trailhead was geared towards what I’ll now call “regular ole’ badges.” As a user you would go down a trail, completing modules, until you earned a badge for completing the entirety of the trail. This was a really cool start and an excellent way of learning the basics, while keeping things fresh and fun with badging. There was something missing though. The trails didn’t go deep enough into real world scenarios or dive far enough into technical details to really learn at a deep level. Enter the Superbadge.
Lightning Experience Specialist
As of writing this post, there are five available Superbadges. I currently have only one and am working my way through another. The reason why I only have one and am working on the other is that these Superbadges take time, serious time. They are real projects and help to learn complex functionality at a very practical and applicable level. The one that I have completed is the Lightning Experience Specialist Superbadge.
The trail states that it will take approximately 4-6 hours to complete, and they were not kidding. This did take a legitimate full six hours to go from start to finish, and that does not even include the fact that there are a number of pre-requisite modules and trails that are necessary to complete before you can start on the Superbadge.
When Lightning Experience rolled out, it was a bevy of marketing and pitches about how it was going to change everything for the better. It was hard for me to see early on because to me, having used Classic for about ten years, it was just “different Salesforce”. I didn’t even know where to start. I really applaud Salesforce for putting in the effort to create a learning path in the form of this Superbadge. Without it, I would still be poking around release notes and Googling everything I need to change things in Lightning Experience. The Superbadge explores Lightning in detail, from custom pages to process builder and even flow. What surprised me in a very delightful way was how much, as an administrator, you can do within Lightning Experience. By going through this trail I gained a whole new perspective and appreciation for Lightning Experience that I otherwise would not have had.
Salesforce is starting to accredit partners and recognize people with these Superbadges. It is right there on your Partner Community profile, as well as your Success Community profile and will start to show up on your AppExchange listings. I can imagine a world where these Superbadges become the technical enablement of the future. It is pretty close already, as you’ll know if you’ve completed any of these Superbadges. They really are in-depth,challenging, and are exactly what the community needs to learn new technologies, as Salesforce continues to innovate and morph in different ways.
I mentioned above that I am making my way through another Superbadge. I’m working on the Security Specialist Superbadge, which is estimated at another 4-6 hours. This one would be more of a reinforcement of existing knowledge, but you never know what might be thrown at you, and you can never stop learning and having fun if you go down the trail with Superbadges.