I would say that it’s about that time again, but that time is already here. You now have Spring ’15 in your production org. Hopefully, you’re enjoying some of the new features already! To say that this release has some big-ticket items doesn’t really do it justice; Salesforce.com has really upped the ante with each release in recent memory, consistently delivering groundbreaking functionality that is taking their offering to the next level.
It’s surprising how quickly the new releases come and go. It’s easier than you might think to miss some of the key features, especially when your head is down on a project. I’d encourage you to take a few minutes and scan through these five new features to make sure you’re aware of them and, even better, to see if they are directly relevant to you.
Note that many, if not all, of these features have been partially available in beta or via pilot in past releases. All are now generally available with the Spring ’15 release.
Let’s dive right in.
1. Process Builder
The Lightning Process Builder is a workflow tool that helps you easily automate everything from daily tasks, like follow-up emails, to more complex processes, like order renewals and new-hire onboarding. In just a few clicks you can automate business processes and help your organization operate more efficiently.
Let me start by throwing a diagram at you:
You’ll notice above that all paths for implementing business process automation within Salesforce lead to Process Builder. Obviously, it’s not the case that you will not be scrapping all of your workflow rules, flows, and apex classes and triggers and shifting 100% of your automation work over to Process Builder. However, all paths to SFDC automation should at least involve an assessment of Process Builder as the appropriate tool. Simply put, if you can build it via Process Builder, why not?
The short of it is this:
- Process Builder requires no use or knowledge of Apex, Visualforce, or any other code.
- Process Builder has a simple, sleek, easy-to-use interface.
- Process Builder is much more powerful and flexible than workflow rules. There are only a few areas in which workflow rules trump Process Builder and I would expect those gaps to be filled in future releases.
- Process Builder is easier to use than Visual Workflow. True, in this case it’s not as powerful, but there are numerous use cases for which Process Builder would make more sense for the tool than would Visual Workflow.
Here’s a look at a completed process that I recently built:
You can review all of the juicy details of the above process in a related post in the Salesforce Developers Community.
Check out the following documentation for more detail:
2. Action Links
Action links are buttons on posts that, when clicked, can call a Salesforce or third-party API, download a file, or open a Web page. Developers create action links that integrate Salesforce and third-party services into the feed so that users can take action to drive productivity and accelerate innovation. Developers can create action links in their organization and distribute them in packages.
The action links feature brings an extremly valuable advancement to Chatter posts. Previously, posts were basically static. Other than linking to a URL, there really wasn’t much you could do in terms of interacting with a post. That all changes with action links.
There are four types of action links:
- Async API
I think the best way to explain the potential of action links is to show an example.
The above example is part of the Pono music store, in which digital, high-resolution music and portable hi-res music players are sold. In the highlighted post, you can see what appear to be three buttons near the bottom of the post. These are action links.
- “Show” allows you to see all reviews for the selected album from all Community members by dynamically linking to a related topics page.
- “Post Review” is for members who want to provide their own review after seeing the initial post by dynamically sending the user to the product detail page directly to a specific publisher action.
- “Add to Cart” allow users to add a related product to their cart for quick checkout.
These specific action links are intertwined with Cloudcraze, an eCommerce solution natively built on the Salesforce.com platform, so they wouldn’t be available in a standard org. However, you can build your own to extend additional interaction to your users.
To learn more about the “Add to Cart” Action Links example, take a look at my related blog post on CloudCraze + Action Links.
Here’s an example from Salesforce of how Action Links might be used:
Here’s some additional information on utilizing Action Links via the Chatter REST API.
Chatter Questions lets users ask questions in the feed in your Salesforce organization and communities. With Question-to-Case, questions that aren’t resolved can be escalated to cases, making it easier to quickly resolve users’ issues.
This makes a ton of sense. We’ve previously seen “Private Questions” within Q&A (Chatter Answers), but this an additional key enhancement right to the Chatter feed itself.
Here’s the scenario: You have a bustling community with partner and customer input coming from both sides. You notice a post that warrants some kind of internal action. Sure, you can copy the feed text, exit the community, navigate to Cases, click on New, fill out a bunch of fields, paste in the feed text, and save the Case…but is that efficient? Clearly, it’s not. Most of the time, internal users won’t go to that length regularly to bridge the gap between a post and a Case.
I would absolutely recommend looking into this feature for anyone out there managing a community that utilizes Chatter and contains Service Cloud elements (e.g., Case Management).
4. Duplicate Management
Maintaining clean and accurate data is one of the most important things you can do to help your organization get the most out of Salesforce, so we’re excited to introduce Data.com Duplicate Management. Now you can control whether and when you allow users to create duplicate records inside Salesforce; customize the logic that’s used to identify duplicates; and create reports on the duplicates you do allow users to save.
It’s been no secret that Salesforce’s built-in de-duplication capabilities have been sorely lacking for some time. A number of apps have emerged over the years to fill that gap and provide a way to stop the duplication mania.
What makes this so much better than past iterations is the level of control that now exists for admininstrators. You can create your own “matching rules” to identify potential duplicates, identifying specific fields to consider and even having the ability to use fuzzy logic. While you can’t use it on all standard objects (only Accounts, Contacts, and Leads), you can use it on all custom objects.
Of note is that the feature using Data.com Duplication functionality, but does not require a Data.com license. Good stuff!
For more, check out this detailed PDF on Duplicate Management.
5. Field Audit Trail
Field Audit Trail lets you define a policy to retain archived field history data up to 10 years, independent of field history tracking. This helps you comply with industry regulations related to audit capability and data retention.
“Sexy” isn’t exactly the word that comes to mind when one hears about field history retention. It’s not shiny or terribly intriguing. However, it’s important and potentially very useful.
I have personally seen requests for something like this multiple times. Clients want to know what has changed and when it was changed. Sure, field history does that to a degree. While it serves as a nice reference, it’s hard to build a policy around the field history or perform a truly thorough and meaningful audit.
With Field Audit Trail, you can remove clutter from record histories while still retaining the data. You can also query the data if needed, which is great.
Note that this isn’t solely a point-and-click feature. Per Salesforce.com, it is suggested that you “use [the] Metadata API to define a retention policy for your field history. Then use REST API, SOAP API, and Tooling API to work with your archived data.”
There are many more great features in Spring ’15 and I highly encourage you to review the full release. I am sure there’s something for you in there.
Follow me on Twitter (@PhilWeinmeister) for more like this. Thanks!