The AppAssessor #16: GridBuddy In-Depth Review

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One-line Pitch: – All the data you want in a single, editable grid within Salesforce.
Highlights

– Switch up your Salesforce into a grid (or Kanban!)

– Pull records into one view, even from unrelated objects (beyond reporting capabilities)

– Take countless possible actions on these records, in mass.

I

ntroduction

 

GridBuddy is a ‘leader in grid-based SaaS solutions’. GridBuddy’s concept is simple: create a grid as a layer over your Salesforce data. It may sound basic, but what this switch in interface can do is remarkable – the ability to deliver the data users need in one screen, to view (even unrelated) records together, and add/update large volumes of data, minus any friction. Although primarily focused on sales productivity, other profiles around the business will share a keen interest in the tool – marketers, service agents and Admins should all pay attention.

This AppExchange app was recently acquired by Validity, who are on a mission to know the true quality of your Salesforce data and its impact on your business. With a reputation for their ‘best-of-breed’ suite, the move by Validity proves that this tool has an exceptional offering – and one that I was keen to explore.

This in-depth review will cover GridBuddy’s top features, the use cases and potential impact, plus set up effort and pricing.

“We’ve had GridBuddy for a few years now, and we continue to blow minds as we find new use cases for it.”

Now, prepare for this overview to blow your mind.

Features

 

 

 

Interface

As usual, I started by looking at the GridBuddy user interface and navigation. Users can access AppBuddy through the ‘Grids’ tab or via the App Launcher.

I excitedly described GridBuddy as powered-up List Views, so users will take to the grid interface naturally, taking advantage of in-line editing and record create right within the grid – all in all, bringing a new-found efficiency to working with data (the fewer clicks, the better, right?).

Collapsible sections keep the grid decluttered, while giving users access to edit more fields if required; Admins can decide which fields are key (always display) and which are minor (more on the Admin capabilities later).

Filters

You may recall the one-line pitch I gave to GridBuddy? I’m going to rephrase and add emphasis:

“All the data you could ever want in a single, editable grid within Salesforce”

This sets the scene for the topic of filters. Filters make pulling in the specific users are looking for with a couple of clicks.

 

Filters are powerful, especially here, when they are cross-object. What this means, practically, is distilling and serving up key information cross-team; for example:

  • A sales user could see open/high priority cases related to their opportunities
  • A service agent could see open/high value opportunities related to the case they’re working.

Not only does this use case help general cohesion between two traditionally disparate teams, each team can prioritise their workload to any change in status that arises.

Ready Grids

There are 18 pre-built ‘ready grids’, that come out-of-the-box and address different personas around your organisation. There are ‘ready grids’ for:

  • ‘Account 360’
  • Accounts Missing
  • Campaign Management
  • Case Update
  • Contact Cleanse
  • Lead/Contact Management
  • Leads/Contacts with Missing Data
  • Lead Distribution
  • Past Due Opportunities
  • Sales Rep/Manager Forecast
  • Sales Rep/Manager Pipeline
  • Task Management

I will dig into these grids and more later in the ‘Use Cases’ section.

Kanban

I’m a big fan of working in Kanban, so when I found the Kanban view, GridBuddy became the grid that keeps on giving! (see what I did there?)

The Kanban is particularly great for anyone wanting to get more ‘hands on’ with their pipeline management. Kanban is a real value-add, making pipeline management and forecasting an engaging experience – this can also be switched into a time series format. You’re suddenly seeing your pipeline play out over different dimensions, over time and probability:

Data Visualisation: Conditional Formatting & Charts

Conditional formatting increases productivity for obvious reasons, for example, using a red highlight for a case that has been open for too long:

Similar to conditional formatting, visualising data in chart format goes a long way, to paint a picture of the data that’s laid out monotonously in rows. Simple, yet effective.

 

Here’s the chart wizard from an Admin’s point of view, but shows the options available:

Actions

Users can trigger an automated action to fire on the selected records in the grids.

The ‘most wanted’ of the standard out-of-the-box actions are Convert Lead, Clone Record, Mass Create (some shown in the image below)

The sky is the limit for custom actions and extensions, but a few that could whet your appetite are ‘Add to Marketo’, ‘Send Engage Email’ (for Salesforce Engage Users’, ‘Loft It’, or connect to your telephony system with a ‘Call’ action (we will come back to how Admins can add these from the Grid Wizard later).

Grid Wizard

The ‘Grid Wizard’ is the Admin Interface, also accessible from the App Launcher. As the term ‘Wizard’ suggests, the building process is hassle-free, mostly point-and-click (unless you want to extend into code).

The guided building process walks Admins through 3 stages:

  • Grid Configuration
  • Select Fields & Actions
  • Define Filters

There are handy prompts that crop up during building, so you can diagnose issues there and then, for example, flags for any required fields you need to include.

Forge Cross-object Relationships

That’s correct – objects don’t need to have a relationship on the Salesforce schema level to be pulled into a Grid together! When selecting objects, every object in your org will be listed – both related and unrelated objects.

Field choice will appear in the next panel, clearly marking which fields are related and unrelated.

The whole experience feels similar to building a custom report type, except that this time, I had access to anything I fancied. With the ability to piece together any object, there’s no way of reaching a ‘dead-end’ with related objects like you do in report types.

You don’t need to fret about data access – no matter what you add to your grid, GridBuddy will respect any user-level permissions set in Salesforce profiles or roles. Plus, Admins can define Grid-specific permissions for the whole grid/by object, for example, whether the user can create new records or delete existing records. Validation Rules on every object are enforced in the Grid.

Customisable Look & Feel

There’s the added bonus of white-labeling the tool, to keep it aligned with your corporate look and feel (stylesheets).

Mobile Ready

The tool is available on mobile (optimized for the Salesforce1 Mobile App), meaning that user productivity can continue, uninterrupted.

 

 

Use Cases

“We’ve had GridBuddy for a few years now, and we continue to blow minds as we find new use cases for it.”

I want to echo this customer review from the introduction because it hits the nail on the head. From the first moment I got my hands on GridBuddy, I knew that this ‘use cases’ section would end up the beefiest. It rapidly became a long section, because there are practically limitless ways you can use GridBuddy.

Account Management

I can’t resist using the cliche ‘360 degree view’ of the account, because it’s true! You can view every record related to an account, including viewing open opportunities & open cases in one view. Great for transparency between the Sales, Service, and Customer Success teams, before someone makes a foolish step!

Sales Rep Forecast

I showcased the Kanban view earlier, and how this goes a long way in making pipeline forecasting an engaging experience. You’re suddenly seeing your pipeline play out over different dimensions, over time and probability – plus the chance to get ‘hands-on’ and edit right from the grid:

Quick Quoting

Even if your organisation isn’t ready for CPQ, organisations that use products on opportunities and quotes know how clunky it can be to make updates to quotes line items quickly. Remember, you could also add opportunity fields into the grid also, eliminating the constant switching.

Event Follow-up

Campaigns are often a tricky object to work with. Asking Sales Reps to add prospects they met on the tradeshow floor is a sizeable request, especially when having to add the lead, create the follow-up task, and choose the correct campaign (think for one tradeshow you could have booth scans, presentation attendees, demo leads). You could do all three from one grid, and remove the friction for Reps to enter data fast and correctly.

It’s a pain when tricky reporting stands in the way of something as pressing as following up with event attendees. You can pull in event attendees belonging to multiple campaigns – see the contact or lead record, and any open activities that need actioning. While on one screen, reps can tackle follow-up in one go without leaving the one grid.

Mobile Data Entry

As GridBuddy is mobile-ready, being able to add and update data on-the-go, from one screen, will help paint a ‘real-time’ picture of your CRM data (the holy grail).

Updating Campaign Member Status

A grid listing multiple campaigns and their members will enable marketers to mass update each member’s status, such as ‘Attended’ or ‘To be called’. I think this is a big plus point for marketers using tools that they have not integrated with Salesforce – a standalone webinar tool is one that springs to mind!

Another nice touch, is seeing which email addresses are valid before launching an email campaign. I saw how BriteVerify could be plugged in to bring in a status of valid/invalid, which goes a long way in improving campaign deliverability and database clean up.

Identify Non-standard Duplicates

With the robust filtering available, you could use Gridbuddy to identify duplicates that no duplicate rule in Salesforce could ever catch. Without wanting to get too ‘into the weeds’ on the topic of duplicates, Admins can use grids to spot duplicate records with duplicate related objects. To take action, Admins can then selectively delete any of the main records and related objects at once (without requiring a 2, 3 or more step process!).

Updating Naming Conventions

This may seem like a petty task, but inconsistent naming structures for records will come back to bite you – Opportunities and Campaign names are two that spring to mind!

 

 

 

Impact

GridBuddy has racked up no less than 230+ reviews, 96% of which are top-notch 5-stars.  (note: none below 4 star!)

I’ve condensed down the tool’s potential impact into 5 areas:

Productivity & Adoption

This is self-explanatory – how much time this single app can save someone is remarkable.

Security

All data management through the Grids are kept ‘on platform’. As I’ve already alluded to, Grids are reminiscent of Excel spreadsheets, which means users won’t be tempted to export data into a more workable format for them.

Data Governance and Quality

Grids can be leveraged for Admins and org Data Gurus to define key fields that should be completed for each object. In this way, there’s a unified definition of what a good record is across the organization, and accountability for each individual to take care of the data they own/create.

Empower anyone to do regular sanity checks, for example, reviewing their owned Leads with missing information:

It will be a welcomed alternative to excessive use of validation rules, that trip users up – and only when they stumble across them!

Admin Efficiency

In cases where updating via an import is not an option (eg. mass-update across two objects), GridBuddy has the power to save Admins hours of headache-inducing data management!

Budget-friendly

Aside from the cost being very generous (see ‘Pricing’ section), GridBuddy veers organisations away from buying multiple apps. GridBuddy can handle use cases that would otherwise require a cocktail of apps. There’s a special saving for customers on Salesforce Professional Edition, that cannot take advantage of features such as workflow rules (field updates) and cross-object filters in reports (available only in Enterprise Edition and above).

 

 

 

Setup

GridBuddy can be downloaded from the AppExchange listing, as you would for any other managed package.

I am conscious about using the phrase plug-in-and-play when it comes to Salesforce and it’s partner products – but the installation and set up is so simple, that ‘plug-in-and-play’ is justified!

Reading the reviews, I couldn’t help but smile at the consistent, overwhelmingly positive responses from customers, gushing over how the team goes above and beyond to service, with lightning-fast response times, and striving for total satisfaction.

“Exactly the level of support and more. Like spotting a unicorn.”

There’s a Live Chat function to reach support, and a knowledge base for Admins, accessed through the Grid Wizard.

 

Pricing

 

GridBuddy is listed on the AppExchange, starting at $24 USD per user per month.
(NB: as with other solutions from Validity, GridBuddy is offered in a number of bundles, providing value for both Sales/Service Productivity as well as the Admins and Ops side).

Glancing back at the use cases covered, I’m thinking that even solving one productivity friction would be worth it! It’s a price point that opens up efficiency to budget-conscious businesses, who can now access a kind of powered-up CRM that traditionally only organizations with a cocktail of apps have enjoyed.

There’s currently a free trial available, where you can take GridBuddy for a spin for 1 month.

 

Conclusion

 

Have I said the word ‘grid’ too many times yet? GridBuddy is clearly a champion app that will command respect from sales users, and one that has been in countless Admin’s toolboxes over the years.

There were really only a couple of minor improvements I could suggest for the product, for example, being able to set rules for multiple clauses, eg. close date is before today, and the amount is over $100,000. Another thought would be pulling in data from multiple systems and not just Salesforce (currently, it needs to be Salesforce field data), allowing us to see Grids containing data from multiple sources – but I think I’m being spoilt!

GridBuddy really is a smart choice, especially for the price and the productivity friction it can solve pretty much from day 1 in a Salesforce org. I thoroughly enjoyed my investigation into GridBuddy, and will continue to spot more advanced use cases in my day job as a consultant.

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