Most people are familiar with the Pareto principle in various aspects of their lives and most commonly refer to it as the 80-20 rule.
It's interesting how common this generalisation turns out to be true, be it 80 percent of your sales comes from 20 percent of your products or 80 percent of your customer service cases from 20 percent of your clients — by and large the 80-20 rule applies to a lot of aspects in life.
When customising Salesforce to the needs of your business, the Pareto principle continues to be in effect with 80 percent of configuration able to be done with clicking and dragging and wizard based tools through the setup interface, and for the more advanced 20 percent of business requirements code needs to be written.
It’s exciting to have watched during my 3 years at Salesforce (that is now 9 product releases) how we are constantly working to change the ratio and empower our admin users with the ability to do even more through clicks and have less need to do any programming.
So what is this cliff? It’s a term commonly used by Mike Rosenbaum, our Platform Executive Vice President. The cliff is where you drop ‘off the edge’ of click configuration, where the configuration interface stops and code writing begins.
By empowering admin users with new features like the Lightning Process Builder we are moving the cliff, allowing admin users to travel further and do more before needing to think about code. This means that businesses can respond even faster to their changing needs than ever before, allowing you to stay in front of your competition and service your customers better.
Our annual Dreamforce conference is always spectacular and full of great announcements and previews into the product roadmap. While the new Analytics Cloud took centre stage and a lot of the publicity, I was most excited by the announcements around Salesforce1 Lightning. With the upcoming Spring ’15 release the new Lightning Process Builder is going to be available for our admin users to do more faster, all with click configuration.
Admin users I talk to love the workflow capability in Salesforce and how it automates so many tasks for their users. Today’s workflows help drive great efficiency, but often multiple workflow rules have been needed to cover various scenarios (e.g. one rule for winning an opportunity and another for losing it) and over time they become more complex to manage.
The new Lightning Process Builder now provides the ability to consolidate multiple conditions into one easy to visualise process, and more than this, processes now have a wider range of actions, many of which were previously in the realm of calling a developer to write the code.
As you can see in the image, I can now stage out the actions I wish to be automated for various different conditions and have the ability to utilise a wider range of actions than workflow previously accommodated. Lightning Process Builder allows you to automate creating new records, posting to chatter, submitting for approval or my personal favourite — launching a flow.
The ability to launch a flow as part of a process means you can further extend your automations to do much more advanced functions such as lookup data from multiple places, analyse the data through complex decision trees, loop through relevant data sets and create/update or delete records all through clicks with no code required. Flow is not new, but has previously needed user interaction (e.g. taking a customer service rep through an interactive call script) but now you can build complex flow processes and run them automatically based on conditions you determine in the Lightning Process Builder.
If you still find things that need code, Lightning empowers developers to write reusable components that can be easily accessed by the administrators through the point and click interface. Developers can spend more time solving new problems and administrators can make their Salesforce users happier faster.
So do you think we’re moving the cliff? It strikes me that if Thelma and Louise were Salesforce admin users they’d have run out of fuel long before reaching the edge!