In previous Public Sector blog posts, we have talked about the capability of the Salesforce platform to deliver world-class citizen service. But what if a Salesforce customer needs to change their environment to add a new field to a citizen service case or extend Salesforce into the back office to support a business process? In this series of blog posts, we will look at how customers can configure the Salesforce environment and build back-office applications with ease.
Rising to the Challenge
A local authority customer recently asked us whether we could support the food inspection process (rather than replacing an existing back-office application they were interested in building this on the Salesforce platform). In this series of posts, we will go through the steps required to build the application including:
- Changing the data model to include new fields and objects
- Building out business processes with workflows and approvals
- Configuring security and access
- Managing the user interface and deploying to mobile devices
The Salesforce Platform, unlike traditional platforms, supports a declarative development methodology, which we call ‘configuration’. This means that the typical development you would do in code is done via a point-and-click, drag-and-drop interface. This method does not require any advanced skills, but rather, simply a solid understanding of administering Salesforce with our configuration wizards.
Customers can quickly customise objects, fields, workflow, analytics, and more with no IT support or code. Anyone who can use a spreadsheet is able to create apps with drag-and-drop tools, wizards, and forms. With clicks, they can build the business logic and automate workflow whilst UI components and page layouts are automatically generated. Securing data, fields, and apps is as easy as clicking a few checkboxes to enable permissions. Analytics are built into the platform so reports and dashboards can be quickly created and shared with a link that always has the latest data.
The other, more advanced method to highly tailor Salesforce is with code. We call this customisation since a level of coding expertise typically found in IT departments is required. One can leverage our server-side coding layers, Apex code (very much like Java), and Visualforce to create customisations, or your development language of choice (i.e. .NET, C#, Java, PHP, Ruby, etc.), as long as that language can talk web services, so that this process can communicate with our Force.com Web Services API. This optional method is designed for programmers and requires more technical skills.
Developers gain even deeper access to customise and integrate with existing business systems. Developers have access to rich APIs to integrate and can use a cloud IDE or Eclipse for their programming environment.
Typically, our customers leverage on the order of 80% click configuration and 20% or less coding configuration – in fact, we will build the whole food safety inspection application using clicks and not code.
Why is this important?
The problem is that IT has historically been burdened with managing the entire infrastructure required to build and run apps on their servers. These teams have been so focused on keeping all their apps running – just “keeping the lights on” – that they don’t have the bandwidth to innovate and help the business deliver more apps.
The cloud flips this entire equation upside down. Cloud platforms take care of the entire infrastructure for you, so your IT teams can innovate and add more value to your citizens and employees.
What’s next? Join us for the next post where we start building the Food Inspections application by changing the Salesforce data model and adding new custom fields and objects.
In the meantime, check out this Salesforce for Government demo video.
This article was written by Nick Umney, a Salesforce UK Public Sector Expert.