Every year it gets more dramatic: Chatter, Wave, Lightning, Thunder. Dreamforce announcements are beginning to sound like verses from Norse mythology. I suppose all this is part of being an innovative company. And to be fair, many of these features are great tools. It’s hard to imagine, for example, Appirio doing business without Chatter. But even Chatter, which Salesforce rolled out in 2009, took some time to fully adopt. Likewise, it will take time for most organizations to get the full value from these new features.
So what should Salesforce-enabled customers do with these new products? First of all, just enjoy the effort of a company that is still innovating. It’s easy for companies as successful as Salesforce to become stale in their operations. Secondly, learn and explore the new features as they roll out. For me, just playing with the Wave demo on my phone is a great experience. The more technologists play with new features, the more likely it is they will find amazing use cases for them. Finally, sign up for Trailhead, which — with the launch of Lightning — is clearly the best way to learn about Salesforce.
But more than anything, organizations need to keep in mind the things that have made Salesforce great in the first place. Salesforce will continue to innovate. All of us in the Salesforce ecosystem should explore the new features as they are rolled out, but never forget what first made Salesforce great. Core features like these should always be a priority:
The Standard Objects
In any Salesforce org, you can judge how well Salesforce is being used by how effectively they use the Standard Objects. Things like Accounts, Contacts, Opportunities, Leads, and Cases are the backbone of the CRM system. It’s important to clearly define what each of these objects are and make sure they are used properly. The clearer each of these concepts are, the easier it is to onboard new users and create good reports.
In general, we in the Salesforce ecosystem have largely forgotten how great Salesforce’s approach to Objects truly is. Even a custom Object, when created with just a few clicks, automatically inherits security, a user interface, and a fully-functioning API. Amazing.
Most Salesforce admins spend a lot of time handling security. Usually, the longer a Salesforce Org has been in place, the more roles and profiles there will be. Permission sets have made complex profiles easier to manage, but organizations still benefit by regularly maintaining their data security.
The great thing about how Salesforce handles data security is that the basics are easy to understand. Most admins can master basic security in a few days — the more difficult job is in understanding what data users need to create, read, update, or delete.
It wasn’t that long ago that CRM systems required coding to handle workflow. Things like approvals, kicking off email notifications, or updating other records once required many nested “if-then” statements.
Learning to use Salesforce’s point-and-click workflow effectively can save organizations a great deal of time and money. When business needs change, clicking versus coding is much faster and less risky. Also, when Salesforce gets upgraded 3 times a year, workflow never breaks.
Formulas and validation rules
Similar to formulas in Microsoft Excel, formulas let admins show data in useful ways. Not tied to one object, cross-object formulas can merge data from related objects. This lets administrators create fields that make their users’ jobs easier.
Salesforce’s point-and-click administration also controls the entering of data. Like formulas, the ability to create good validation rules is an important skill for administrators. Validation rules make sure users are up to certain standards when entering data. And with better data, you get a better CRM system.