If you were expecting 9 Noteworthy Features (see Summer ’13 and Winter ’14 posts), don’t worry – the Salesforce Spring ’14 release has as much to offer as previous releases, and covering the 6 meaty features below seemed enough for one post. Actually, you’ll be seeing a second Spring ’14 blog from me soon that covers some of the enhancements that are time and money-savers.
This past year has brought a paradigm shift in the Salesforce ecosystem. Salesforce1 and its promise to provide the data and functionality that users need anywhere at anytime is probably the most emphasized component of this pro-customer strategy. The focus is not so much on a specific device (mobile, tablet, etc.), but on the fact that what customers want to do can be done on any device.
The Spring ’14 release builds on the Salesforce1 core functionality and brings a slew of new features along with it. Here are six noteworthy features in the Spring ’14 release that warrant a closer look:
1. Salesforce1 Enhancements
Salesforce’s take: The Salesforce1 app lets users stay up to date on their most important records, activities, conversations, and dashboards — from wherever they are.
My thoughts: Salesforce is heavily focused on Salesforce1 and it shows, as they are releasing 15+ enhancements to Salesforce1 in this release alone. There are some nice additions and I would expect to see this trend continue for some time. Here are my personal favorites:
- Access Salesforce Communities in Salesforce1
- Add dashboards to the Salesforce1 navigation menu
- Do more with files in the feed
- Call, log calls to, or send email to leads
- View embedded report charts on record detail pages
- Access social networking with Twitter for accounts, contacts, and leads
- Access via mobile to: Opportunity Products, Opportunity Team, Orders, Quotes, Quote Line Items
Accessing Communities in Salesforce1 is arguably the biggest gain here. The ability to interact with leads will also be a major benefit to a number of organizations. The other improvement I would point out is the integration with Twitter – also a nice enhancement.
2. Named Dashboard Filter Values
Salesforce’s Take: Reduce screen clutter by assigning a nickname to a group of values you’ve identified as one filter selection, then save and reuse those values. By providing different named views of a single dashboard, you multiply the dashboard’s utility without having to edit the underlying reports or dashboard components.
My thoughts: This feature, if taken advantage of, could have significant value for both users and admins in the Salesforce arena. This feature not only provides the ability to give users filters to apply to an existing dashboard, but also the ability to name them to provide the most context possible for the users. Why is this a benefit for admins? Because requests from users will decrease if admins intelligently provide dashboard filters for them; users will have what they need and won’t have to ask for additional levels of visibility.
3. Orders — Generally Available
Salesforce’s Take: Orders are now generally available. Use Orders to customize your order management process. An order is an agreement between a company and a customer to provision services or deliver products with a known quantity, price, and date. Order products represent those services or products. Depending on your company’s needs, you might require your users to add orders to a contract or allow them to be added directly to an account.
My thoughts: The reality is that if you work with/for an organization whose business involves significant order volume or complexity, the standard Order object won’t solve all your problems. It may not even meet your basic transactional needs. That being said, there are a number of firms using Salesforce that could benefit from a standard data model that includes orders. The presence of Order as a standard object isn’t a magic wand, but it opens the door for those who have avoided creating a custom object for placing orders. Additionally, it eases the process for integration with an outside system, with which orders can be synced, reported on, and even shared with customers via a Community.
So, while this isn’t flashy or ground-breaking, I would anticipate this being an extremely valuable enhancement to a number of companies.
4. TEXT() Function Picklist Support Expanded
Salesforce’s Take: The TEXT() formula function now converts picklist values to text in approval rules, approval step rules, workflow rules, auto-response rules, escalation rules, assignment rules, and custom buttons and links.
My thoughts: This is a welcome and very useful change. There are ways around this current limitation, but having the ability to use the TEXT() function in these additional 7 areas simplifies and expedites configuration significantly.
Here’s a quick comparison of availability before/after Spring ’14:
5. Data Import Wizard
Salesforce’s Take: The Data Import Wizard provides a unified interface that lets you import data for a number of standard Salesforce objects, including accounts, contacts, leads, and solutions. The wizard also lets you import data for custom objects.
My thoughts: This data import wizard doesn’t actually provide much new or additional functionality, but is a positive step for SFDC usability. It consolidates the Account, Contact, Lead, Solution, and custom import wizards into one. The other reason that this is noteworthy is that it takes a step back in terms of functionality. A number of features that are supported in the individual wizards are not supported in the new, unified wizard. Make sure you’re aware of these limitations:
6. Flexible Sorting in Reports & Other Analytics Enhancements
Salesforce’s Take: In a report with multiple grouping levels, sort groupings by the summary value that defines each grouping.
My thoughts: This is actually a very useful enhancement for those of you report junkies out there. Today, you can define groupings during report creation, but the sorting is by default and can’t be done at multiple grouping levels.
A few other analytics enhancements that are worth mentioning are:
- Hide Unused Report Types – Declutter the screen when creating a new report
- Floating Headers in Summary and Matrix Reports – Eliminate the need to scroll up/down or left/right frequently while analyzing a report
- API Access to List Views – Create/custom list views via the Metadata API
Make sure to read the release notes yourself for the latest detail.
Enjoy the spring!