Tips for Data Loading, and the best (free!) options

What’s Data Loading?

Entering data for a record in Salesforce is part of the platform’s core functionality. But what if data needs to be added, updated, or deleted for five records? Or 25? Or 8 million?

Depending on the amount of data that we’re talking about, it could be mildly irritating, a major pain in the bum, or simply impossible to make those changes manually. Data Loading is the term we use for making mass updates to our data, and there are a number of tools available to help us do it.

Use cases

The most common use cases for a Data Loading tool are:

  • Exporting data from an org,perhaps to migrate to another system,
    make a back-up, or create a “sample” of our data that we can then import into a sandbox org.
  • Inserting data, either from another system, another org.
  • Deleting multiple records.
  • Updating multiple records.

The options

Unsurprisingly Salesforce’s AppExchange is a good place to look for Data Loading apps. Most of them are not free, and as we all like free stuff (and there are dozens of apps) I’m only going to talk about a few of the options that are free (but still with great features).

Data Import Wizard

Salesforce has it’s own built-in Data migration
tools, called Data Import Wizard (for importing data) and Data Export Wizard (for, well, you know). They’re accessed within your org’s Setup, and are really easy to use because the formatting is similar to the native editing environment in Salesforce.

Data Loader

This is an external application which can be used via the web app at dataloader.io or the desktop app. The web app has free and paid plans so be sure that the free plan meets your needs.

Jitterbit’s Cloud Data Loader

Part of Jitterbit’s Harmony platform, but can be used in isolation at no cost. There’s no web app but installing the desktop app is so easy even I could do it.

So which is numero uno?

The specific use case, as well as personal preference, has a big impact on which tool would be most suitable. Some people I know really like the Data Loader desktop app; I’m more of a fan of Jitterbit’s offering. But they do have some limitations which no amount of fanboyism can ignore, so here’s a summary of the features of the three tools.

Data Loading — Best Practices

No matter which option you use, how you use it is obviously very important. So here are my top 6 best practices for importing and exporting data to your Salesforce org:

  • If you’re updating or deleting data, make a backup of your data first. Always.
  • Test a batch of records first. Five should do the trick. If you’re importing or inserting records, remember not to include those five records when you do the actual import!
  • If something goes wrong you can use the Mass Delete feature to delete up to 250 records at a time without the need of a Data Loading tool.
  • Disable workflow processes, validation rules and Apex triggers. If your Sales Director gets an auto email notification whenever a record is added, and you mass-insert 50,000 of them, he’s not gonna be a happy chap.
  • Ensure that roles, profiles and sharing rules permit the required levels of access before performing the data import, especially if the data is sensitive.
  • Create a data template for each object, typically the field names. If records are already in the database, exporting a record will give you a CSV file with the required fields (i.e. your data template!)

Clean data

We all love a nice, smooth data load, don’t we? There are some things that can be done to help make this a reality. Here are my top 6 tips on cleaning data before it’s inserted or updated to your org:

  • Consolidate values. Have one common value, so instead of “SF”, “San Francisco” and “San Fran” all referring to the same thing, have one true value.
  • Use existing picklist values. Replace values in your data that are not in the object’s picklist value set with values that are.
  • Use the correct parent record IDs, so child records will be related to the correct parent when they are imported.
  • Reduce the possibility of importing dirty data by using Lookup fields, automated field updates (with a Process Builder for example), or formula fields in your org; you can then omit the data values for those fields from the import completely!
  • Replicate the object’s field names in the data import file’s column names. This will help the “automapping” feature of the data loading tool to map the columns to the right fields.
  • Include the Record Owner ID for each record if possible. Otherwise, all imported records will get the user who imported the data as the Record Owner.

Using Excel to help clean your data

Excel can be used in a number of ways to clean your data. Here are my top 6:

  • The Sort function to sort by a column; this then helps to manually see duplicates.
  • Filter helps to see records with similar field values, which can then be consolidated to a single value.
  • If the source data file contains formulas, Save As CSV saves the resulting values, not the formulas.
  • Find and Replace helps to standardise fields by replacing or deleting data (for example removing letters so only numbers remain).
  • Concatenate combines values from more than one column, which is useful for things like combining a phone area code and phone number if they are in separate columns. (And Text to Columns does the opposite).
  • Format Cells helps standardise values. So if you need to ensure every value in a column starts with a 0, this is your guy.

The brand new Trailhead Go app

Salesforce has recently released its new app — Trailhead Go. This is an app for both Android and IOS that puts all your beloved Trailhead trails in your hand to use on the fly!

Image from Salesforce.com

To use the app, you need to either create or already have a Trailhead account. At the bottom of the app is a navigation pane, which contains the following tabs:

  • Today
  • Learn
  • Search
  • Profile
  • More

Today

On the Today tab is a summary of Badges, Trails and Trailmixes in progress, this is a great place to look if you have a spare 20 minutes to finish off a trail and learn something new.

Learn

On the Learn Tab is where you’ll find your recommendations. These consist of Modules, Projects, Trails and Trailmixes. I’d advise going here if you want to start a new badge and learn something new.

Search

On the Search tab, there’s a recommendation on what to search for, as well as a search bar where you can search for Trails, Modules and more! If you have something in mind you want to learn, search it in there. It’ll search for keywords for you.

For example, I’m looking to learn about Process Builder. So I’ll search “Process Builder”, and it’ll show me everything with ‘Process builder’ keywords.

Profile

This is where you can see your Trailblazer profile, including how many badges and points you have with your rank, a doughnut chart of your skills based on completed badges, recently-passed badges, and your info.

More

The more tab is a bit like the settings tab. You can find help, send feedback, go to the Application Settings (which I believe isn’t working at the moment), and then there’s Campfire Mode.

Campfire mode allows you to change the interface of Trailhead Go, as standard its white with all the backgrounds being light. By using this toggle, you’re able to make it black (a dark setting).

One thing that I’ve found that they’ll hopefully fix by the next update, is the fact you’re not able to change the language. So far, the only way I’ve found how to change the language is to uninstall the app and then go to the desired country’s app store. For example, I want the app in English, so I’ll go to the UK app store.

So far, this app has been enthusiastically welcomed by the Trailblazer community. Which isn’t a surprise seeing as it’s been requested for several years!

If you haven’t already, download it and get Trailblazing on the go here!

Trailhead: what it is and Trails to get you started

The Salesforce Women in Tech Group

Whether you’re new to Salesforce or not, Trailhead is your mentor when it comes to learning the platform.

For those of you who’ve never used it before, Trailhead is a learning experience platform that teaches you how to use Salesforce. It pushes bite-sized, engaging content to gain new skills and improve on existing ones, with quizzes and practice tests to make sure you get to grips with each area of the system.

Trailhead works off badges and points. A trailblazer will work through modules and units to collect points. Then, these badges and points will continue to build upon your profile the more you work yourself through the trails.

There is a bit of a structure to it:

Trail

At the top is a Trail, which is a guided learning path that focuses on an area/topic. For example, Salesforce Basics could be a trail, walking you through the basics of the platform.

Module

Each Trail is composed of multiple modules, and these modules cover a specific skill or area of knowledge. For example, within the Salesforce Basics Trail, there might be a Navigating Salesforce module.

Unit

Each module contains units, which is the bulk of what Trailhead is. Each unit begins with a set of learning objectives, and contains videos and text to help you understand that topic.

Assessment

At the end of each unit, there will be a multiple-choice quiz or hands-on challenge, which will test your knowledge on what you’ve just learnt.

Project

In a project, you’ll follow steps while building what you’re learning in a test Salesforce Environment. This means you’ll be able to get hands-on inside a test org. An example of this could be a step-by-step guide on how to create a new Opportunity.

Superbadge

A Superbadge is a large-scale project that gives you a chance to show off your expertise. Each one has prerequisites which need to be completed before unlocking the Superbadge. These prerequisites will be Projects and Modules, which are standalone and not part of a trail. They’re probably the hardest part of Trailhead and will require a fair bit of experience to be able to complete.

Trailmix

A Trailmix is a personalized Trail. You can combine it with modules, projects, Superbadges or other Trails. And these can be published for everybody to access, as well. For example, there are some really good Trailmixes on Trailhead where people have made a learning path of the best modules to learn a certain topic. In the rest of this blog, I’ll be showing off some of these, as well as some of the best Trails/projects/modules.

A quick note before going through the resources when you’re new to Salesforce — on Trailhead, you can find these by going to the search bar and searching for them.

Admin Beginner

One of the first Trails that I suggest is the ‘Admin Beginner’ Trail. Salesforce has a hashtag for admins in Salesforce, this is #AwesomeAdmin, which can be used on multiple social media platforms to see what admins are up to! Salesforce calls this trail the ‘start to your #AwesomeAdmin journey’.

This Trail takes you through various areas of Salesforce, from the platform basics to reports and dashboards.

Learn Admin Essentials in Lightning Experience

This one is a fairly large Trail for admins, but it’s important for starting off on Salesforce. Salesforce has two UI’s, an old and a new, called Classic and Lightning. This trail helps you master the fundamentals of administering a Salesforce org.

Taking you through modules from preparing users, to data management tools.

Salesforce User Basics

If you are going to be the end-user of Salesforce, this is a great course. It will take you through how to work with your admin, to learning the basics of Salesforce and how it works.

Developer Beginner

If you are looking to become a developer of Salesforce (write Apex Code and do customizations for Salesforce), then this Trail is a must! Leverage your existing development skills to build apps fast on the Salesforce Platform.

There are also some really key modules on here around the data structure and modelling of Salesforce, flows, formulas and validations. These are all key areas of Salesforce for both Admins and Developers. However, later on in this course, there will be some apex work which won’t be suited for Admins, so this Trail is best suited for Devs.

Admin Intermediate

Once you have started to get to grips with Salesforce, and have completed the Admin beginner, this trail would be a good place to go to really start to build off of the foundations of your knowledge. ‘Supercharge your skills and apps by using point-and-click tools to solve common business needs’, which as an admin for a company, will be a frequent role of your job.

This app will take you through various parts of Salesforce including setting up the Mobile App, AppExchange Basics, Security etc.

Admin Advanced

‘Reach all-star admin status by tackling more advanced Salesforce features. This trail should be completed once you have done the Admin Intermediate, which will take you through Advanced Formulas, Salesforce Connect, Company-Wide Org Settings. This badge will really start to hone on your Salesforce skills.

Get Started with Sales Cloud

The chances are, your company will be using some feature of Sales Cloud. Sales Cloud is very wide, covering a large area of Salesforce capabilities. It will take you through how to roll out Sales Cloud managing Users and Data, and the basics of configuring Sales Cloud.

Service Cloud Essential Basics

If you’re an Admin who’s new to Service Cloud, this trail will be great for getting you up to speed with the basics. I’d take this trail followed by the ‘Get Started with Service Cloud for Lightning Experience’ trail, as this one is quite short, and talks about key terminology and other various things you will need to know to work in the Service industry.

If you’d like to find some more trails and modules to take on, from Trailhead, go to the ‘learn’ drop-down tab, and select what sort of level of the Salesforce Structure you want to learn from (Trailmix, Trail, Module or Project).

Once selected, you can filter the options down. For example, if you’re a new admin to Salesforce, you could select Beginner as one of the filters, and Admin as another, which would be perfect for you! You can also filter off of products (the different cloud offerings) and tags (Salesforce Topics, e.g. Apex).

Hope this brought some light onto how to start learning how to use Salesforce. Happy Trailblazing!

Say hello to the new Salesforce Content Management System

It’s no secret that these days, companies are striving to create, deliver and personalise content for their customers. And according to Salesforce’s latest ‘State of the Connected Customer’ report, 78% of customers expect consistent experiences across departments. That’s why Salesforce has just announced its hybrid CMS!

Salesforce says the trouble with legacy CMS’ is that they’re designed for a single touch-point, rather than the ‘ever-evolving, omnichannel customer journey‘ of today. Salesforce’s CMS is designed to easily help us create and deliver content to any channel or device, and connect that content to your customer data.

What’s different about Salesforce CMS’ features?

It’s flexible

You can choose a content type, or create custom types and quickly draft the content in the app, without really needing any technical skills at all.

For example, if you want to add content to an experience built with Salesforce, you can choose from two of the CMS’ “what-you-see-is-what-you-get” tools: Experience Builder and Commerce Page Designer.

You can build a great experience by simply dragging content components right onto the website, portal, forum, or commerce storefront you’re using. But both tools are developer-friendly too, which is perfect if your design and development teams want to build the experience with code.

If you want to deliver content into a third-party site, experience, or mobile app, you can also use their headless APIs to do that smoothly. And it also has multi-language and translation features to help you scale.

It’s connected

Instead of blindly creating content, your teams will have access to their customer data to help inform their decisions and personalise their content. Plus, Salesforce CMS lets you actually turn your data into content. No, seriously. They say you can take a CRM record from your CRM and translate the rows and columns into rich, visual content, such as a banner or engaging promotional CTA. Pretty cool, that.

Salesforce CMS is also a shared service, meaning you can collaborate across teams who use:

  • Salesforce Platform
  • Service Cloud
  • Community Cloud
  • Customer 360.

And according to Salesforce, soon Commerce Cloud and Marketing Cloud will be added to that list, too.

It’s hybrid

Your teams can create a variety of content in one central location and then distribute it to any digital touch-point. You can also create content collections, which are like playlists of content that can be added to different experiences.

And this can be any format — blogs, news, events, social, email and more. You can start new projects with a single click, visualise that content in every format before publishing, build custom content, and drag components right into your site as needed.

Your content will also be dynamic — adapting to wherever it appears, meaning there’s no need to recreate content for different touchpoints. You won’t need to worry as the experience, branding and assets will stay just as you intended across each interaction.

Connecting a CMS to the world’s best CRM instantly sounded like a fab idea to me, especially since at oe:gen, we’re always looking out for ways to give better, more personalised digital experiences. Learn more about Salesforce CMS via this link!

Best Chrome Extensions for Salesforce Admins and Developers

If you’re a frequent Salesforce user, you’ve probably noticed that there are loads of Chrome extensions that can be installed to make your day-to-day life easier. But which are really worth your time?

This blog is going to focus more so on Admins and Developers more than end-users, but I’ll specify if any of these are also good for end-users. So, let’s dive in.

Salesforce Advanced Code Searcher

For Developers

This helps you get your code a few clicks shorter, as well as being able to search any string in your code.

You can also search your code components in your salesforce instances:

  • Apex Classes
  • Apex Triggers
  • Visualforce Pages
  • Visualforce Components

Salesforce Lightning Inspector

For Developers

The Salesforce Lightning Inspector opens up and improves your Lightning Component development, giving you access to a wealth of data about your running applications and components.

ORGanizer for Salesforce

For Admins & Developers

ORGanizer for Salesforce is a tool that allows you to recognise Salesforce tabs on your browser.

Salesforce Coloured Favicons

For Admins & Developers

Similar to ORGanizer for Salesforce, this can allow you to change the Salesforce favicon to different colours to be able to easily identify different salesforce orgs, which can also work for different sandbox instances.

Salesforce DevTools

For Developers

A powerful toolkit for Salesforce Developers, which includes Object references, ERD’s, Apex code generator, Query Editor, with others.

Enhanced Salesforce Dashboard

For Admins & Developers

The main feature of this is it allows you to auto-refresh dashboards of up to 7 columns, which gives you real-time information as Salesforce only allows you to refresh daily, weekly or monthly.

LastPass

For Admins & Developers & Users

LastPass is a great way to store usernames and passwords. We use this at oe:gen and when we are having to log into lots of different orgs and sandboxes throughout the day, this is a great way to quickly populate the login form with the orgs username and password.

Salesforce Change Set Helper

For Admins & Developers

Change-set with sort, view all, and additional information, such as last modified date, which allows comparison with all orgs.

Salesforce Workbench Tools for Google Chrome

For Admins & Developers

This is a Google Chrome extension for logging into Salesforce Workbench from an active Salesforce Session.

Salesforce ID Clipper

For Admins & Developers

This helps you get Salesforce IDs from records and links to your clipboard, which works in Lightning and in Communities.

Salesforce Community Page Optimizer

For Developers

Analyse, debug and improve the performance of your Lightning application. It analyses your lightning base community/apps and identifies performance optimization opportunities.

Cisco Webex

For Admins & Developers & Users

As a Salesforce Admin and Consultant, I have to take a lot of online meetings to confer with clients to scope out what they want and be able to check in with them to make sure what we’re building on Salesforce meets their expectations. The most useful bit about Webex is being able to screen-share — this really helps when we are trying to explain something.

Salesforce Chrome Extensions

For Admins & Developers & Users

This allows you to integrate your Gmail account with Salesforce, so you can access Salesforce records inside Gmail.

Grammarly

For Admins & Developers & Users

Grammarly is a great way to check and correct spelling errors. When I’m writing an email or comment on some form of Kanban board, it’s great to have spelling errors highlighted before I press the send button to stop myself looking silly!

Fuze

For Admins & Developers & Users

Fuze is a VoIP integration with Salesforce that lets you call people straight from a Salesforce record. This doesn’t only work for Salesforce records, but any website with a phone number field on it.

Integrating Creditsafe with Salesforce

Creditsafe is a software that lets you check potential customers and suppliers’ credit in seconds. And as a business, it’s important which prospects to peruse while maintaining a balanced portfolio. By being able to understand the credit risk associated with each customer, you can help shield your business from the risk of prolonged debt.

Thankfully, as you might’ve guessed by the title, Creditsafe integrates with Salesforce, which creates a lethal weapon when it comes to onboarding leads! You can put the Creditsafe Visualforce Page on a Lead Lightning Page and be able to check and store a company’s credit score (I do love a good rhyme).

Creditsafe has around 8000 sources where it gets its data, and these are all updated as frequently as daily, so you will be getting real-time data.

Once Creditsafe is all set up, it’s as simple as the press of a button. As your Account/Lead record will already be created, all you have to do is go to the section where you have set up Creditsafe on the page, then press the ‘Find Company’ button. It will use the information already in the record to search for the company and return related results. Select the correct company, and with the fields you mapped, it will populate fields on the record. So simple.

One of my favourite things about Creditsafe for Salesforce is the field mapping. You can have custom fields as well as all the fields that come with the Creditsafe package, and map them to whatever Creditsafe stores about the company, which helps you gain more information about a lead. This is vital to be able to get a better understanding of a client and choose the right customers for you.

If you’re interested in Creditsafe, this is where it gets a bit more technical as we go into the capabilities of what it can do. Just like a lot of managed packages, you can add it to the Lightning Page or the Page Layout, depending on what your preference is. I prefer it on the Page Layout, so then the Visualforce Page is right next to all the related fields, all in one section. There are a number of fields that come with the package, and here at oe:gen, we use:

  • Creditsafe Rating
  • Creditsafe Limit
  • Last Refreshed
  • Creditsafe Number
  • Company Status
  • Creditsafe Company Type
  • Employees
  • Pre-tax profit
  • Shareholder Funds.

But this isn’t all they offer. There are lots of other fields that can be put onto a record to get a better insight into a customer. Some others include:

  • Registered company address Company telephone number
  • International score
  • SIC code
  • Director details
  • Ultimate holding company
  • Company website
  • Event history.

Creditsafe works on a pay-per-search basis. You purchase the number of searches you want, and that’s what you get until you run out. I believe it’s subscription-based so you can say I want 5000 searches a year, and it renews, but if it runs out, you can buy more.

These are the four things that Creditsafe says are the capabilities of integrating with Salesforce:

  • Append credit scores & limits to company records
  • Automate your credit & lending decisions
  • Enhance customer records and prospect data
  • Monitor important company changes in your customer base.

Creditsafe have an amazing customer support and setting it up inside your Salesforce org is really simple. Here at oe:gen we struggled with the difference between the Canvas App and the Visualforce Page (I would strongly recommend using the Visualforce Page), as the Canvas App can only go across one column, which makes it a bit squished, compared to the Visualforce Page which can go across both columns on a Page Layout.

To sum up, Creditsafe is a credit checking software which can be installed from Salesforces AppExchange and put onto your lead and account records. They also have a free trial on their website with limited capabilities where you can try it out and see if it fits your business! So why not give it a go?

Is Salesforce right for your nonprofit?

Rallying donors, engaging with your community and hitting your fundraising targets isn’t easy when you’ve got hardly any time, resources or IT budget. And even if you were to install new technologies to help you overcome your everyday challenges, the chances are they won’t be tailored enough to suit your specific organisation’s needs. The struggle is most certainly real for nonprofits doing demanding, important work with limited resources. Could Salesforce be the answer?

Read moreIs Salesforce right for your nonprofit?

The benefits of integrating Salesforce with Sage

Salesforce is obviously a powerful tool for your sales team to manage contacts and orders, but you’re probably using a couple of other systems or applications to manage your business. Perhaps you’re using dedicated ERP system, such as Sage 200 / 300, or an accounting package, such as Sage 50.

The challenge that arises from this scenario is the disconnection between the systems and lack of data sharing. It can deprive Salesforce users of critical information required to drive sales and revenues, and can cause a significant amount of repetitive, bi-directional data entry.

Read moreThe benefits of integrating Salesforce with Sage

Salesforce Spring ‘19 Release Highlights

Spring is coming! Despite feeling like winter hasn’t really got going yet in the UK, a new Salesforce release is just around the corner. Here are our picks for the most interesting and exciting elements of the Spring ‘19 release.

As usual, please take all of these with a healthy pinch of salt, as they aren’t set in stone and may be subject to change ahead of go-live. We’ve broken the highlights down into three sections; for users, for admins and for developers.

Read moreSalesforce Spring ‘19 Release Highlights

Salesforce apps: buy vs. build

A dilemma: to buy a purpose-built app that already exists on the market, or to build a custom solution? Salesforce themselves absolutely rave about the AppExchange, where you can find a whole host of features that can be seamlessly integrated into your CRM. But what if you’ve been toying with the idea of building something a little more tailored instead of buying? Here are some things to think about before deciding what’s best for your business.

Read moreSalesforce apps: buy vs. build