We all know that Salesforce offers different tools for automating business processes. As a flexible and scalable CRM platform, it means that Admins are often given multiple options in Salesforce for achieving the same thing, which often leaves us asking: ‘which automation should I use, and when?’
Introducing the Salesforce Automation Guide – a handy page you should all bookmark. Michael Schmidt-Korth, a Senior Technical Architect at Salesforce, has compiled everything you need to know into one place, including limits, and that all-important ‘future-proofness’. Here are some important Admin questions you can answer with this free, self-service resource.
Salesforce Automation Best Practices: for Flow, Process Builder, Workflow, and Apex
When it comes to automation, there’s a lot to learn in terms of best practice. Michael has a skill for writing one-liners that you can learn as rules of thumb:
“Use the simplest tool for your use case – but consider likely future requirements: Process Builder first, then Flows, then Apex (tool of last resort)”
Not only should you learn best practice for each automation option, but evaluate when to use one tools versus another. For example, learning how to use Salesforce flow correctly is important, but learning when to look to Apex for the solution is just as important:
“Do not be deceived by ‘endless possibilities’ and avoid creating too complex flows”
How to Trigger a Flow, Process Builder, Workflow, or Apex?
The ‘functionality’ tab opens up to a double comparison table, which compares the actions, triggers, record access, flow control, and distribution of all 4 Salesforce automation features.
For triggers, specifically, Michael gives us suitable workarounds for the more declarative features, too.
Scalability is “how extensible the approaches are in regards to future requirements and feature requests”
Workflows vs. Process Builder
You may have wondered, ’should I be using workflows or Process Builder?’ Certainly, in terms of scalability, you should look to Process Builder, where you can add additional branches for complex logic, whereas with workflows, you will be limited to one condition (and multiple workflows per object, as a result).
Availability: Why Can’t I Use Apex?
That is determined by the edition of Salesforce you’re using! If you are a Professional Edition customer, you won’t have complete access to Salesforce’s full automation features. If you upgrade to Enterprise Edition, then you will be able to leverage Apex (Workflow rules, and as many Process Builders as you wish!)
Check out the ‘Availability’ tab to see the whole overview.
Why is Future-proofness Important?
Future-proofness is a neat way to say ‘will this feature stick around for the long-term?’ The last thing you will want to do is to build out lots of automation using an automation feature that is slowly phasing out, and won’t receive any improvements!
Luckily, Michael keeps us informed on the Salesforce Life Cycle (whether a product is constantly being updated in each release) and whether that typically requires Admin action.
What are the Per-org and Per-Transaction Limits?
How many active flows and total flows per flow type you are allowed? Which automation features contribute to CPU limits? The maximum criteria nodes and scheduled actions in Process Builder?
Check out the ‘Limits’ tab for the in-depth overview. This section, in particular, is very comprehensive!
A Note From the Guy Himself!
“The tools and options for automating Salesforce keep getting more refined with each release, but it is certainly not easy keeping up with the changes. The line between admin and developer tools gets blurrier as well – which can be a good think, but also daunting. Choice is great but it is important to understand when to take which path. If you start plastering your walls with screenshots of your flow, you’re certainly on the wrong path!”
-Michael Schmidt-Korth, Senior Technical Architect at Salesforce
Bonus: Interactive Automation Spider Diagram
Have a play with the spider diagram on the ‘General’ tab. This diagram plots the factors in one place, and make for interesting exploration:
A note of thanks
I would like to thank Michael for compiling this information. The topic of Salesforce automation feature can often be challenging to learn and keep up to date with. So, thank you! Connect with Michael here.