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The Salesforce Rap Battle! Config D vs. Custom JZ

To Object or Not Object, That Is The Question

We’ve all been there as Salesforce Consultants or Solution Architects; a client is thrilled about the Service Cloud rollout and the amazing adoption rate by jadded SMEs when suddenly someone on the client side blurts out, “Wow, wouldn’t it be nice if we could do X, that would be a huge win!” One hour later we find ourselves lost inside a tornado of solution-ing, which we’ve all been advised not to get caught up in, but we still do it. Everyone has an opinion and it soon becomes a battle-of-the-bands.

Rap battle! Rap battle!

The junior consultant recommends a new custom object, relationship this, dashboard that–BAM! The client cheers and applauds but has no idea what was really recommended. The project manager counters with resourcing this, change order that, new SOW–BAM! And finally, the Solution Architect parachutes in grabs the mic, sub case to case, out-of-the-box this, best practice that–BAM! Mic drop!  Zen sweeps over the room as someone in change management sprays essential oil aroma therapy as everyone looks to the client.

The Client has that Deer-in-the-Headlight Look

Enter the Proof of Concept or POC. Those familiar with the amazing power of the Force.com platform know they can quickly jump into a dev sandbox and within a couple hours, produce a working model of what the client had asked to see. If you’re still in the wire-frame/mockup mindset, don’t go there! If there is a custom branded look that is absolutely necessary put it off until after you’ve nailed the POC.

Pre-flight Check List

Don’t just jump in the Force.com airplane and start pulling knobs and twisting dials. Make sure you’ve got your flight plan well organized.

  1. Document the requirements. Check.
  2. Validate the requirements with the customer. Check.
  3. Login to the sandbox environment. Double check!
  4. Configure like a Salesforce Rock Star! Big bold check!

I added a new record type to cases, a few additional custom fields, a workflow rule, and built what I was certain would be an academy award winning “standard” feature POC within the service cloud org. And there she sat, all configured and working pretty, just like I recommended based on my years of experience. I stopped to considered.  I looked back at the requirements, making sure I didn’t leave something off the table. In my review I found an off the cuff comment made by the key stake holder, “Fewer clicks is better. Don’t confuse them.” I counted the clicks it took to complete the designed process and it took a eleven clicks or touches for you iOS mobile users.

I Wasn’t Satisfied, Things Could Be Better

I had decided to configure a sub case or a related case to a case that already existed. When it came to closing cases related to cases however, the click counts, and potential user confusion grew. I remembered what the junior consultant recommended days earlier about the custom object. I had my own internal rap battle weighing what I knew Salesforce would want me to do and what was potentially a better experience for the end user. I could have debated myself all afternoon but I decided to execute a new flight plan in mid-flight and just go ahead and build it–just like that junior consultant recommended. I created a new custom object, related it to the case, added the fields, recreated workflows and stepped back again. The click counts went drastically down to 4 and the user confusion factor fell to almost zero. I tried both options on the iPad and the winner was so blindingly obvious I had to shake my head.

Show Off with Video

I decided to really wow the client by screen capturing an iPad video interaction of the POC from the perspective of a field rep and it flowed really well. I added some narration and bit of background music, ’cause that’s how I roll. 🙂 She showed the video to the team at their status meeting and BAM!

“You guys made me look like the hero!” exclaimed the happy client.

Lessons Learned

  1. Listen closely to what the client has to say; they are the true measure of success.
  2. Just because there’s something pre-built in Salesforce that meets the conceptual ask of the client, don’t think it’s the best solution for the end user.
  3. Sometimes the most junior person on the team has the best idea. Ugh, did I just admit that?

Oh, and to all you Salesforce Consultants and Solution Architects, “May the Force.com be with you!”

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