Wed, 1 July 2020
Flow Builder & Automation with John Kucera
Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we bring on John Kucera, a Product Manager at Salesforce. We find out all the latest and greatest things that Flows are capable of and why it’s worth it to make the switch from Process Builder.
Join us as we talk about the new live ListViews feature, how you can automate hundreds and thousands of record changes (with debugging), and now is the best time ever to get started with Flows.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with John Kucera.
Powerful automation in just a few clicks.
One of the biggest changes going into Summer 20 is the ability to trigger Flows when you save a Record. Right now in Process Builder, there are a lot of limitations if you want to build a series of triggers or get records queries. “All this power that people love with Flow you now can invoke directly on record saves,” John says, “you have one tool which can do almost all of your declarative automation.”
We know that improving the Process Builder ListView has been a popular request, and the improvements in Summer 20 are the result. You can now have live ListViews with Flow for any of these Record Triggers that you create. “You can have custom ListViews to see them the way you want, you can see the most recent one you edited or different views for different users,” John says, and even make adjustments live in the Flow. After Summer 20, you should start with Flow and see if you can build everything you need there, only moving to Process Builder for the known gaps.
Why now is a great time to get started with Flows.
If you haven’t yet delved into Flows, now’s a great time to get started. John and his team have worked hard over the past few years to hide and automate variables so you can build things more easily. “We really think that now is a fantastic time for anyone who was deterred by Flow to give it a second look, especially for Record Triggers,” he says. This gives you access to all sorts of automation that can help you streamline your business processes and keep track of things like never before, all with clicks and no need for code.
There are a lot of abilities Flows give you that were previously only doable with Apex coding. You can batch edit upwards of 250,000 records a day, and schedule that to happen in anticipation of, for example, a contract ending. Most importantly, there’s now an easy debugging process so you don’t accidentally end up with 250,000 errors the next morning. With learning Flows, John’s advice is pretty simple: “Start small, get your confidence, and really invest in learning these fantastic tools.”
Using Screen Flow Analytics to improve your processes and what comes next.
There are so many new features that John and his team are still working on catching up in the Flow release notes, so make sure to listen to the full episode to get all the details. Another massive feature coming to your org is Screen Flow Analytics. “Wouldn’t it be amazing if you knew how long people take to finish your process so you can identify which paths were taken most,” John asks, “so you can identify where things are potentially either confusing and problematic or broken?” You can create dashboards to do just that, and you and your business partners can subscribe to them to get insights automatically pushed to you every month. It’s also a great way to show usage numbers and demonstrate the value of the tools that you create.
Looking forward, John and his team are looking to establish more parity between Process Builder and these new features they’ve added to Flows. Look for improvements to debugging, screens, and more. At the end of the day, it’s all about making these tools easier for admins to do more and take advantage of all of the power offered by the Salesforce platform.
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Full Show Transcript
Gillian: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast where we talk about product, community and careers to help you be an awesome admin. I'm Gillian Bruce, and today we are joined by the one and only, John [Qusara] , who is one of our amazing product leaders here at Salesforce, and he has some really fun things to talk about as it comes to the summer 20 release. John, welcome to the podcast.
John: Thank you for having me. I'm super excited to be here.
Gillian: Yeah, you're a returning guest I believe. This has been a while though.
John: It has.
Gillian: Well, I'm really happy to have you on and you've got so many fun things to share that I know admins are going to be very excited about. So what is one of your favorite things that's coming out in the summer release for admins?
John: All right. So Oh my goodness, we now can trigger Flows when you save a record. Woo hoo.
Gillian: I think everyone's doing a happy dance as they hear that.
John: So this is huge. I know this is going to create some panic, "Oh, are you going to take my Process Builder away," and things like that. But first I'm going to tell you why this is amazing. So in Process Builder, which is of course your fantastic record triggering automation today, you can't do all these amazing things. What if you want to have one decision that then as a second decision? You kind of have that weird, awkward way to do it, but it's hard. What if you actually want to get related information? Okay, I want to update the opportunity, but I want to see all of the different products around it and I want to query, and then do conditions on that? You can't do these queries, these get records. Flow lets you do that.
Gillian: That's... Yeah, that is huge. I mean, I'm just thinking this totally changes the world a little bit because it's a whole different way of thinking about how you can actually set up some of this automation. It's a lot simpler and it actually can kind of change your strategy a little bit because you don't have to do all of these extra steps and-
John: Yes, it's so much easier for all of that. You get all the power in one place, and for so many of you out there that have voted on the idea to improve the Process Builder list view, this kind of is the delivery of that. You now have a real, live, amazing list view with Flow so that any of these records trigger Flows that you create, you can have custom list views to sort them the way you want. You can make sure you see what is the most recent one that I edited. You can have different ones for different people, different list views for them. Oh my goodness, let's say you actually want to go and create the process and then you realize you needed to add a picklist value and object manager, then you need to go back and refresh that it can see that picklist value. You're not going to be taken back to the crappy Process Builder list view. You just stay on the Flow because we actually have URLs with Flows.
Gillian: That is definitely game changing. I know I built my first legit Flow with the new and improved Flow builder earlier this year coming back from leave. It was one of the first trail head badges that I earned and I was like, "Oh, I can use Flow now. This is so exciting," because before I was like, "Yeah, so that's a little difficult for me to understand."
John: Flow has come a long way. It's got all this scariness like, "Oh my goodness, variables." We basically don't have variables in Process Builder and in Flow, where you have to create a variable and then a variable and a variable. Well, the team's been on a massive, massive campaign to basically hide and automate the variables. So if you looked at Flow a year ago or two years ago, oh my goodness you are in for a world of difference because we took away more than half of the steps to create all of this stuff. So you no longer have to create a variable when you're doing a "get records". When you're doing [ScreenFlows 00:04:49], you don't have to create variables when you add stuff to refer to things. We made it way, way simpler, much closer to how Process Builder works for all these things.
Gillian: Yeah, so let's talk about that just a little bit. So maybe for folks who literally like me were kind of a little intimidated by Flow and maybe never went down there, and maybe even some of these terms like loops and stuff is new for them. Can you give me kind of a real simple use case example of why a record trigger would be awesome when might you want to use a loop?
John: Yes. So I was working with a nonprofit and they basically wanted to have end users create a list of... I'm going to call is... Sorry, this is going to sound technical, but bill of materials. So their use case was they run events and they have different advertisers. When somebody gives them a half a million dollars, they basically say, "This is what you get. You get these 10 things. You get primo advertising in our newsletter. You get a big banner at the concert. You also get a mention over here."
Gillian: Well, yeah and then now if you need to update any piece of that, it's in one place. You don't have to go to all these different places to modify this one part of the automation, right?
Gillian: That's really cool. So I know another thing that has come up in the community a few times is, especially for people who are maybe more developer minded who have been doing this for awhile, is the ability to test your work and figure out what's going on. I know there's been some improvements in that area. Can you talk a little bit about that?
John: Yes. So for scheduled Flows, which are amazing if you aren't aware of them, what if you could run batch jobs without running code, but at the same scale that Apex batch jobs let you run code. So 250,000 records a day can be processed. So this is huge. Let's say you have a scenario where every 30 days or... Sorry, on contract end, you want to make sure that your account managers are doing a bunch of stuff. In the old ways you might do a delays like, okay, the contract was created, wait 365 days and kick things off. Horribly confusing because of [inaudible] stuff.
Gillian: That's awesome. I know a lot of people will be very happy about that as well.
John: Yes and we have not yet done debugging for before save updates and for these new record triggers, which happen after save, but that is hot in our roadmap and hopefully in the October release, you'll see that too.
Gillian: Forward looking statement.
John: Yes, Forward looking statement, but not just scheduled Flows. Rollback. So wouldn't it be amazing if when you were testing out your Flow, it didn't create all this data and it didn't change all the records. So you could just run that test over and over and over and over again and figure out what's not working. We have that, rollback. We're calling this rollback. So now with auto launch Flows... So not the record trigger one, sorry not yet, but for auto launch Flows, if you kick these off and you're debugging them, you no longer have to create the records and delete them later. You don't have to then undo all the stuff you did. So this drastically shortened the iteration cycle when you're trying to make rapid development, which is especially important in these times where you need to move faster than ever.
Gillian: Yeah, God, that's great. I mean, it sounds like your team has been very, very busy, John, over the last year.
John: We apologize to the community. We have basically built so much that we are way behind on our release notes and almost everything that we have built is not actually live in our release notes yet.
Gillian: Well, that's why you're on the podcast. So everybody can just listen to this and understand what's going on.
John: Salesforce exclusive on the Admin Podcast.
Gillian: Exactly. Hey, hot off the press, direct to you everybody. Here you go, hearing it here, but that's great. So, John, can you tell me a little bit... Clearly you've all been doing a lot of work and I know that you definitely listened to the community. Can you tell me a little bit about how your team kind of decided to focus on these elements and kind of bring these to life at this point and kind of how you make those decisions?
John: Yes, I'll attempt to be short on this. We take obviously tons of input from tons of places, especially the community. Specifically for record triggers, one of the big complaints was, "Why do you have two tools? When do I use each for? I know Process Builder, I kind of love it. I sort of know Flow is like that, but I don't quite get it."
Gillian: Yeah, I remember that.
John: Flow was the first lightning web component builder. So the team... Hats off them. Way before me, they made these really hard technical choices to be bleeding edge on new technology. So originally, Process Builder was going to be the one tool to rule them all, but then the team and UI platform came out with this amazing lightning web component technology. So we decided we want the Flow builder platform to be the platform of the future. Let's put all the stuff there so that when we're making debugging, it works for everything. It works for screens. It works for scheduled Flows. It works for these record change triggers and then we can basically build it once and apply to everybody like the list view.
Gillian: I mean, it's so cool because I think when people learn that kind of, under the hood or whatever, Flow is really the root of it all. I think that helps people understand, A, how important it is to learn Flow, but B, how powerful it is. Hey, if you could do Process Builder, now you can do Flow because it's the same principles, right? Now that is where you can live essentially. Hey, I've been in many orgs and demo orgs with many, many lists of Process Builder processes and the fact that now I can view all of those in Flow is very, very, very useful.
John: And [inaudible] so that you can be like, "Okay, what are all the ones with these keywords in them? Or just give me the record trade one." It's so much better now.
Gillian: That's awesome.
John: Especially encourage all... Again, all those people that haven't tried Flow in a while, start small. So in spring we released before save updates. These are pretty constrained. Basically, these are lightning fast ways to say, "Okay, I saved a lead and I want to check if the lead status is equal to web, if so, update the checkbox for website on the lead record." So that's what it does. You check the record, you make a change on that record and it executes 10 times faster than Workflow rules and Process Builder. They are a lot easier to get started with. So start with something like before save updates, which by the way, are more than 50% of what all of you do out there is just update things on the same record that was saved.
Gillian: That's great advice. I know I think you've got some other cool stuff coming. Is there anything else that you want to talk about on the podcast and maybe not is in the release notes?
John: Oh God. There's much. It's funny. I don't actually remember what is actually live in the release notes right now. So sorry. Another massive, massive improvement that is coming out is ScreenFlow analytics. So this is fantastic, especially for service cloud customers, but really for anybody. Wouldn't it be amazing if you knew how much time people spent between screen one and screen two or screen two and screen three? What if you actually knew how long people take to finish your processes so that you can identify which paths were taken most? Where are you having all these blocks? Where are things potentially either confusing and problematic or broken?
Gillian: I mean, I can immediately see admins using this and loving it and bringing it to a meeting with executives and being like, "Look, this process was like this. Then I tweaked these things. Look at all the hours I've been saving our team." This is... I mean, that is an incredibly powerful tool, especially for admins I feel.
John: Yeah, because it's one of those things where it's like, okay, if I build it, did they come? I can answer that question!
John: [crosstalk] using it. Are they getting value out of it? You can then say, "Hey, look, I created this amazing ScreenFlow. By the way, here's the value that I created for the company. People then were able to execute this 10,000 times, or I don't know, 100 times over the week. Multiply that by the hours saved." This is a fantastic way to prove the value of all of this great investment that you have. That's never been available before.
Gillian: Yeah. I mean, I think what's really fun is I think especially over the last few years, there's been so many tools in this theme of helping admins demonstrate the value that they're creating and adding to the organization. I mean, with things like Optimizer and... I mean, especially like... There's more tools now to help admins really demonstrate the difference that they're making and I think, especially now that everyone's moving fast and probably transforming and trying new things more than they ever have before, this is so important for admins.
John: It's so relevant. I was just listening to [Jen Lee's 00:17:44] webinar last week and oh my goodness, the story of that banking was amazing. On March 30th, they got a call from their business partner saying, "We need to be able to support these small business loan applications." Twelve hours later, they had something live on their community to start taking loans and they were able to do more loan applications in five weeks than the previous 14 years combined. You can't do that without automation. They're able to do that fantastically quick, thanks to all these tools that we have.
Gillian: Yeah. There's been a few stories like that that have bubbled up. We had Jeff Berger on the podcast talking about how he built a similar app for his local bank, and I think over a period of a day or something. People, especially admins right now, really have a huge opportunity to make a huge impact and these tools are helping them do so, which is... Thank you, John. Thank you and the team for doing this.
John: No, thank you to all of our customers. You're the ones that gave us all these great ideas of what to do and we just want to try to empower you all so that you can do your best work in these crazy times.
Gillian: Yeah. So John, what are you... We had a little bit of sneak peak into some road map stuff. What are you excited about in the next few releases, again, forward looking statement [inaudible]
John: So much. Part of the reason... It's funny. I tell my team that I tend not to stress too much about any one feature because there's just so much opportunity in this space to make things better and there's so much need and demand. Some of the things that are very top of mind would be things like with these new record change updates for Flow, we need to make sure we have effectively parody with Process Builder. We don't have that out of the gate. There's things like checking is changed. I want to say if the lead status changed, then do something. We don't have that today, I believe both in their criteria and formulas, and that's something we need to do.
Gillian: Well, it's similar... It reminds me of talking to [Vin] about dynamic pages and some of the improvements there. It's kind of a similar ability to use visibility to hide or display parts of what your users are seeing on the screen based on the data on the backend. It's-
Gillian: So cool.
John: What Vin has with dynamic forms is fantastic. So it is a really good way to say I want to show just these fields for one object. Flow's screens can do that, but frankly it takes a little bit more work. Where Flow really shines though, is you can have components that are not tied to an object. What if you just want to have a question like, "Hey, do you want to apply for something or not?" You don't have to say that to the database. You can have just that check box in the screen and you can have that show and hide the other stuff. What if you want to update both the contact and the account at the same time? Flow screens are really, really good for that. So all of these rich capabilities are fantastic and we've got different tools for what use cases you have in mind.
Gillian: That's awesome. Well, tons of amazing more stuff... More amazing things to come with Flow. You keep it flowing, John. I love it.
John: Keep it flowing. Those little puns are everywhere. It's amazing.
Gillian: I can't get away with recording a podcast without at least letting one pun go.
John: Got the [inaudible 00:22:04]. It's fantastic.
Gillian: That is awesome. So, John, I really appreciate you taking the time to join us today and share some of these incredible innovations your team has built and are continuing to build.
John: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. One other... Hopefully we don't end it on this note, but a caution for people using communities and alert, alert, alert. If you have ScreenFlows in public communities, in this release, certain things will change if you do not take action. I don't know that we've terribly well communicated this. So I just want people to have a heads up. If you are updating or deleting data in a public community, that will stop working if you take no action in a Flow. If you have a Flow, which say creates an account, then you use that account ID to then create a contact. That will stop working if you take no action in this next release.
Gillian: All right. So if you're using Flows in public communities, make sure to go to, what is it, learncommunitycloud.com?
John: Yes. Learncommunitycloud.com. It is a [inaudible] site. It's not a security threat. It's all good.
Gillian: It's important to mention, yes. [crosstalk]
John: Fishing, spidey sense.
Gillian: So yeah, public community people make sure that you check that out because we don't want to have any unfortunate surprises. So thank you for sharing that with us. John, on a fun note, we talked a lot about product. I am inspired by all the things that you've shared with us, but I would like to know, what is one of the... We've all been doing a lot of cooking these days because we've been home What's one of your favorite things that you or the family has been cooking at home?
John: Oh goodness. So we have been making lots of chicken dishes. So you might say that we had some Instacart snafus where you might say order a bag of 10 small potatoes, and instead of getting the $3.99 bag of that, you get 10 organic potatoes for $50. Perhaps you order two pounds of chicken, really hypothetically, and you end up getting nine pounds of chicken. So we have had, let's call it industrial scale cooking adventures in our household.
Gillian: Lots of chicken and potatoes, huh?
John: So one of those that was a really fun recipe was a version of Parmesan chicken. We did nine pounds of that just a week and a half ago, which was actually surprising how quickly our small family of four can eat nine pounds of chicken. [inaudible] we did another four pounds of, what was this, Portuguese chicken, some people call it I think Spanish chicken. So both were really, really tasty. How about you, Gillian? Do you have any great dishes?
Gillian: Well so thankfully my husband has been doing most of the cooking because he loves it. So he has been working the Weber quite hard and smoking all kinds of various things we've also been getting from Instacart. We had a surprise Instacart edition of a bok choy last week. Never cooked with bok choy, but we decided, "Hey, let's make stir fry because apparently it's what you're supposed to do with bok choy," and it was delicious.
John: That is amazing. Don't you love those spice of life, just those happenings that expand our horizons?
Gillian: Totally, totally. It's been pretty fun. Our kitchen has been getting a lot of work.
John: I bet. Ours as well.
Gillian: It sounds like you're ready to open a chicken catering company after all this.
John: I think so. Maybe that's the next career opportunity when software is no longer a thing.
Gillian: Well, I don't think it's going anywhere anytime soon. So John, I want to thank you again so much for taking the time to chat with us and share with us all the amazing Flow innovations and a little peek into what's to come. Any final parting thoughts you want to share with our admins today?
John: Thank you all for all the inspiration, all the guidance and basically all the questions on the community as well. One of the things I didn't mention was we just launched automation components. Basically a bunch of you created these fantastic lightning web components and Apex actions so that the broader community doesn't have to write code to do these things. So all of our admins have these available. So thank you thank you to the community for all of your fervent investments, as well as the five amazing songs I've heard about Flow over the last year.
Gillian: Only five? I'm surprised. I'm sure there's more.
John: They probably are hiding. We loved your songs. I have a montage.
Gillian: All right, we'll keep the songs coming. Keep the innovations coming. John, thank you so much for joining us. As always, if you want to learn more about being an awesome admin, you can go to admin.salesforce.com, where you will find blogs, podcasts, and even some great virtual events, learning journeys. We have our Be An Innovator learning journey that's happening now. That is how you can learn how to build dynamic pages with the one and only Vin, who was on the podcast not too long ago. You can find us at Twitter at SalesforceAdmns, no "I". Myself at GillianKBruce and John, you are on Twitter as well. You want to share your handle?
John: Yes, nothackedJK.
Gillian: Great Twitter handle.
John: [inaudible] story we can tell another time on that one.
Speaker 2: All right. Well thank you again so much for joining us and we'll catch you next time in the cloud.