Admins

Tracking Salesforce Changes: The One Custom Object Every Org Must Have

By Stacy O’Leary

When stepping in to a new org, we’re often missing the most critical piece of the puzzle: context. Have you ever stepped into a new org, and thought, “What the heck were these people thinking?!”, or, if you’re diplomatic, “What an interesting way to set this up”. Having a method of tracking Salesforce changes directly in Salesforce is important to the health of every org.

You might be surprised to learn that one particular custom object comes into play here. Let’s take a look at what it is.

Tracking Salesforce Changes

A new admin often has next to no information on how or why somethings were done in a certain way. Even when the prior person is available to answer questions, they certainly don’t have every reason behind changes memorized!

Or, maybe you’re not a new admin/not new to your org but your email inbox looks like this:

As your org and your admin team grow, tracking Salesforce changes becomes critical. This brings context and stability to your org for the long term. For example, you will be able to understand why a particular field was added, who requested that automation, and what the original intent was.

This information is a huge help when you’re doing future enhancements, or deciding what needs to be cleaned up or removed. Having this log will allow you to ‘time-travel’ back to when you made a decision, and why. You’ll be able to understand the impact of that change over time, and be able to make more accurate, well thought out changes in the future.

This guide will show you how to create your own custom Salesforce tickets object for users to submit requests, and for you to track your changes.

Step 1: Create a Custom Object

Get started by creating your custom object. Ensure that you:

  • Allow reporting: You will eventually want to create reports and dashboards based on your Salesforce tickets.
  • Track field history: You need to know the history of most of the fields on this object.
  • Allow search: To find these Salesforce tickets again later.
  • Auto-number naming convention: It’s easier to reference a Salesforce ticket number in reports, dashboards, and descriptions.

Step 2: Add Custom Fields and Arrange the Page Layout

Here’s an example table for planning the custom fields. Tailor these fields, values, and requirements to your business:

Below is an example ticket page layout. My bonus tips include:

  • Customize your highlights panel to see key information at a glance.
  • Read only fields: You may want to make some fields read only for your regular users, and editable only to Administrators.
  • List out both your standard and custom objects in the “Primary Object” picklist.

Step 3: Build Automation

  • When a ticket is created, assign it to the correct user. Send an email to both the creator, the requester, and the new owner.
  • When a ticket is completed, rejected, or canceled, populate the Completed Date. Send an email to the requester.

Step 4: Create Data and Reference Points

  • Create a dashboard for tickets completed per team, tickets completed over time, current open tickets by priority, etc.
  • Create list views for yourself, such as High Priority Tickets, New Tickets, all Open Tickets, Tickets due this week, etc.

Step 5: Training and Accessibility

Ensure it’s easy for users to fill out these Salesforce tickets by creating a training document, and holding training sessions. You could take this enablement one step further with in-app guidance. Add this new object to your Salesforce apps so that users can locate the tickets tab.

Best Practices

  • Adoption: Obviously, this tickets object doesn’t work if you don’t enforce it! At first, your users won’t always remember it’s there, and won’t be in the habit of using it. Start replying to every email and verbal request with, “Did you create a Salesforce Ticket? Please create a Salesforce Ticket and I will get started on your request”.
  • Description fields: There’s a place for a description in many locations in Salesforce – Validation Rules, flows, approval process, custom fields, change sets – the list goes on. The description field is the perfect place to identify why you’re adding this feature. Even just copy-pasting the Salesforce Ticket number gives you and all future admins a reference point for this feature.
  • Use Chatter or Slack: Having a communication log directly with each ticket adds color to the reasoning behind each enhancement, and helps future users understand why a change was made. You also ‘protect your back’ if a user claims you didn’t build something exactly to specifications.

Q&A

We already have Jira. Can’t I use that instead?

Sure, you can, but there are drawbacks. The admin has two work in two systems, or has to manage an integration between the two. You might not have Jira forever, and it’s possible that not all of your Salesforce users are also Jira users.

Having this object directly in Salesforce is the fastest, easiest, and most comprehensive method for your users and administrators. As long as you have Salesforce, you’ll have a permanent record of your changes, too.

Ok, but do I really have to create a custom object? Can’t I just use the Case object?

Again, sure, you can. But keep in mind, your job as Administrators is to make Salesforce easy and accessible for your users. The Case object has been used by many organizations by creating a Record Type for internal tickets.

You and your users are not going to enjoy adding a Record Type filter to every single Case report, for example, you’ll have to repeat the phrase: “You forgot to filter out the Salesforce tickets from your Case report” to every customer service manager.

I’m too busy to create this.

I hear you – and that’s ok, there’s an app for that! Our friends at http://www.tysoapps.com/ have a pre-built, ready to use tickets application that you can begin using today. Or, just search “Change Management” on the AppExchange.

Show Your Admin Value

It can be incredibly challenging to demonstrate your value as an admin (especially a solo admin). Having a log of requests that you have completed demonstrates and documents your value to the management team and your peers.

Here, I can show my manager that the new training that I provided to all users had a direct, positive impact to the number of Requests created quarterly. This increased user satisfaction and reduced the amount of “admin hours” spent on non-essential tasks.

Summary

This guide has showed you how to create a very basic Salesforce tickets object. In an hour (or less), you can have a repository for every change you made in Salesforce, and why.

You can take this further by adding time-based reminders, an approval process, or even projects that contain multiple Salesforce tickets.

In just a few weeks, you’ll notice your completed Salesforce tickets start to pile up, your reports and dashboards filling out, and your team starting to recognize the great work you do. After you’ve been working in this org for a few months or years, you’ll have a fully baked org history that will be invaluable to the org’s future growth.

The Author

Stacy O'Leary

Stacy is a 5x Certified Salesforce Consultant & Full Time Mom

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