2016 will be the year for the question “When can we start to use Lightning?”

One thing I know for sure is that at the core of every single Salesforce Admin is passion to transform, automate and challenge the status quo of nearly everything around them. And although Christmas is now a distant memory, I can tell you it felt like Christmas with each release in 2015 - especially when it came to all things Salesforce Lightning.

We have now seen the GA releases of:

  • Lightning Experience,
  • Lightning Process Builder,
  • Lightning App Builder,
  • Lightning Components, and;
  • Lightning Design System

I recently wrote an article about what Admins need to know about the Salesforce Lightning Design System.  This really got me thinking about how the role we all know and love, that of  “Salesforce Admin”, will transform thanks to Salesforce Lightning and to the emergence of the “Admineloper”.

1. The Lightning Experience

There is no question that the Lightning Experience is a monumental shift in the User Interface for the Salesforce Platform, tailored to put meaningful data at the fingertips of your users - but what about Admins? How does the release of the Lightning Experience change your ‘Day-to-Day’?  Well, only in every way possible! Let me explain.

2016 will be the year for the question “When can we start to use Lightning?” It won’t be an “If” strategy for your organisation, it will be a “When” strategy.  You may even have some users already using the Lightning Experience. So, understanding the Lightning Experience and being able to craft a rollout strategy, as well as being able to then execute that strategy are going to be important skills to have in your admin tool belt this year (but don’t worry, there is a Trailhead module for that!)

The Salesforce Lightning Experience has already delivered a Salesforce Wave-esk Reports and Dashboards interface. Gorgeous Accounts, Leads and Opportunity pages (not to mention the Kanban influenced Opportunity wall) as well as the pop-out (floating div) email composer.

And if this wasn’t enough, your Sales Users are going to love how Activities are very much front and center in the Lightning Experience, and the new Notes User Interface with the WYSIWYG editor will also get their engines revving... So what’s my point here??  Well, whilst your Sales Team is busy selling, they may not notice every new feature that is available in the Lightning Experience, especially as new features are released (Safe Harbour and all that) so keeping your user-base up to date with features that will allow them to work smarter and faster will be music to their ears. This will form a part of your long term adoption strategy,  so have a think about how you are going to keep your users informed. Here are some ideas to get your brain juices flowing:

  • Run a “lunch and learn” session every month and start a chatter group to share updates

  • Stalk (nicely) your Sales guys and gals around the office to see how they are using the app and offer them ideas on how they could take advantage of the Lightning Experience even more.

  • Consider finding out when your local User Group is running topics on the latest release and bring along some of your colleagues (be sure to encourage them with the promise of Pizza!)

2. Less code more clicks

APEX Trigger ... What’s that?  With the release of the Lightning Process Builder there has been a significant reduction in needing to turn to writing code to deliver custom functionality to your users. And when you combine the power of Visual Flow within The Lightning Process Builder you are able to do some pretty powerful stuff and without the need to think about Test Coverage... Here are just a handful of ways Admins are harnessing the power of Process Builder and Visual Flow:

  • Automatically Add a New User to a Public Group or Queue
  • Automatically Invite customers to chatter
  • Schedule Chatter Posts
  • Deep Clone Records with Flow
  • Auto Add/Remove Permission Sets
  • Add Topics to multiple records
  • Two Factor Authentication (with login flow)
  • Reminder email to upload chatter profile photo
  • Out of office notification for Chatter

Just to name a few ...

When it comes to clicks before code, Salesforce really have put their money where their mouth is with the release of the Lightning Process Builder and its connectivity to Visual Flow. Salesforce Admins will now be at the front line ‘developing’ custom and sophisticated solutions for organisations using these tools and Advanced Admins will be relied upon more and more to understand, build and enhance these declarative solutions. So, if you are looking to take your Salesforce career to the next level, might I suggest becoming one with Process Builder and Visual Flow.   

If I have tickled your fancy and your are keen to take up the challenge to be an Automation genius this year be sure to check Rakesh Gupta’s (MVP) site www.automationchampion.com.  He has a massive library of guides and tutorials to get you up to speed (including all those mentioned above). Mind = blown.  

3. The Inspector Gadget Effect

On the same theme of less code more clicks, the ability to make custom apps on the Salesforce1 platform using the Lightning App Builder, Lightning Components and the Lightning Design System is going to be another huge area of growth and opportunity this year.

There has already been a significant increase in the number of Components available on the appexchange; everything from Signature Capture to Quick Approvals to managing your meetups and chatter polls. It’s certainly worth having a look around appexchange.salesforce.com/components. It won’t be long before Admins will drag and drop functionality into custom apps as if there was no other way to do it… Code pfft. (OK OK, with fairness to our Developer friends, we will never tell you this to your face, but we do in fact think of you as all powerful magicians, or in the case of Steven Herod, Bob Buzzard or Anup Jadhav … Demi-Gods … but I digress)

Admins will also start teaming up with Developers to produce custom components that can be used and reused in your Lightning Apps, and whilst Developers are tinkering away on the custom code Admins will also be able to lend a hand with bringing the app to life with the Lightning Design System.  This is where Admins will be able to reference aspects of the Design System in Developers Code to bring through the look and feel of Salesforce Lightning, without having to write a single line of CSS, pretty cool eh! Fear not, there is also a Trailhead Module for learning about that...

So here is another big opportunity for Admins, because Lightning will rapidly become the new way to build and deliver apps on the Salesforce platform. Start off your year diving right in on exploring how you can solve problems and create sophisticated apps using the lightning toolset, as this will soon become a line in the job description of a Salesforce Admin.

Bringing it all together

For a long time, Salesforce Admins have taken a stand and challenged the type of value that the ecosystem can expect from Admins. Salesforce has really listened to this and in turn have provided the community with a range of tools that will allow Admins to deliver even more value to organisations and projects alike. It’s going to be a big year for the Salesforce Admin - you will find yourself becoming more and more like an “Admineloper”, transforming your organisation and challenging the status quo with a number of ridiculously cool tools at your disposal. Enjoy!

p.s Be sure to check out the Spring ‘16 release on Youtube to see the latest updates to Salesforce Lightning!

About the Author

Scott is a Salesforce.com expert at Accenture who is passionate about organisation transformation through the adoption of cloud technologies that ultimaely improve the effectiveness of organisations.

Having an academic and professional background in Banking and Finance as well as  Tax Law (Australian) Scott understands the commercial landscape very well and blends his knowledge of technology with his academic background which allows him to work with every aspect of business users and stakeholders to ensure the  organisational objectives are well defined and executed.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily state or reflect those of Accenture.