Winter '19 Release - Key Goodies for the Busy Nonprofit Admin

Three times a year, Salesforce releases a whole new set of awesome features and improvements. It's one of the reasons we love this platform and the Winter 19' Release brings some big Lightning improvements, and so much more.

Let's jump in to the Winter '19 Release! You can click on any of the green titles to see more details!

Lightning UI Gets Some Serious Upgrades

Search in Lists/Reports - The newest “Search” bar you didn't realize you were missing

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  • This is a very welcome addition that makes navigating reports and report folders a breeze.

Keep it Compact or Comfy

Comfy

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Compact

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A new take on the core Salesforce UI that many of your users will find more efficient and effective.

Feedback is key- Now, when users switch to Classic, you can ask them why!

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Encourage brief, one-sentence answers. You can do this by customizing the text if you want.

  • Mention this addition to key users in your org so they know it's coming. Consider emailing them or tagging them in a chatter message.

  • Pro-Tip: Once you get feedback, research the feature users were switching to Classic to complete, and communicate with them. Try providing them with a timeline of when SF might enable this in LEX and/or provide potential apps or solutions that would allow them to stay in Lightning. When users provide feedback, they want to know it's being put to good use. And if you don't have a clear solution yet, use it as an opportunity to encourage a stronger dialogue.

  • TL;DR - Don't introduce a new feedback mechanism for users, receive feedback, and then ignore it. That's bad.

NUMBER FILTERS IN SEARCH RESULTS

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Now you can isolate the records you need with specific values, right in your search more easily in Lightning. For example, users will be able to find a specific gift amount within a list.

Don't lose your text when getting timed out!

Nothing's more frustrating than losing your work. No more!

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Now Available in Lightning

Control Sharing for your List ViewsShare with Public Groups or Roles

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Too many list views make it difficult for your users to find the list of records they need. If you've trained users to use List-views (hint: you should), how did it go when you explained they had to wade through the list-views to find the one they need? No more!

Others:

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Process Builder & Flow (Visual Workflow)

Part of every Admin's toolkit, these powerful tools get some love this release.

View all Processes on an object when creating a new Process Builder

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The beauty of Process Builder is that it allows you to combine multiple operations in a single process, allowing you to eliminate extra components. This makes your life as an Admin easier. In addition, it allows more control; with multiple processes on one object, you can't control which fires first.

  • This new feature reminds you to check before you add, helping you to eliminate what we call “technical debt.” Technical debt is extra baggage in your org that comes from having to put out too many fires. While this feature won't stop you from adding a process (or reduce the number of fires), it might help!

New Flow Fields and Screen Components for Better User Interaction

  • See the full list above of new fields added with special features not previously available

    • Dependent pick-lists

    • Toggle Buttons & Sliders (found in many popular survey tools, now available in Flow)

    • Email, Phone, Name and URL fields that provide automatic validation

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Remember Previous Values

  • Ever have a user go “Back” in one of your flows only to find what they entered disappeared? No more! Note, this requires comfort with Flow and Input and Output variables.

Communities

The Community Cloud is one of the most powerful services that the Salesforce platform offers, linking constituents, partners, chapters, affiliates, and more into a single source of collaboration and knowledge sharing. In every release, I like to see what Communities features have been added. Here are three that stand out:

Flows accessible by GUEST USERS (no login needed)

  • No screen-shot here and don't let the short content found in that link fool you! What excites me about this so much is that it opens up another way for you to collect information without turning to a 3rd-party form application. Gaining access to Flow for non-logged-in users has great potential for many uses cases!

Threaded Conversations

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A small, but welcome formatting addition that makes it easier to for user to drill-down into conversations without losing their place in the overall chat.

Better, More Refined Audience Targeting with Lightning Components

  • You have had the ability to customize different components based on the audience with custom criteria, but were restricted by only certain operators. With these enhancements, you'll have a lot more control, with a lot less work.

  • Some examples: 

    • In a Volunteer community, you could have a component regarding an event that shows up only for those within a set of regions (1 or 2 or 3). Ideally, you would just use the “OR” and now you can.

    • In an Affiliate community, you could show a component with an inline form application for a grant or other program, and show it only to those who quality based on data in your Salesforce.

    • In a Partner community of service providers, showing information to ALL members EXCEPT a particular group wasn't easy. Now you can simply exclude via “Does Not Equal” or “Does NoT Contain”

Others

Field History - 18-Month Limit NOW ENFORCED

  • While this isn't a great new feature, it is certainly one of the most important parts of Winter '19.

  • Salesforce has always stated that they would keep field history data for up to 18 months, though this was hardly enforced. Starting with Winter '19, this will be enforced.

    • If you have Field History data enabled (from “Field History Tracking” in Setup for each object), and some records contain values that are older than 18 months, you will lose this data.

    • Option 1: Purchase the Field Audit Trail add-on; reach out to your Account Executive to inquire about nonprofit discounts.

    • Option 2: Check out the release notes link above and export your field history data during the grace period which starts when your org receive the Winter '19 Upgrade. Review your org and identify how critical field history after 18 months is to your organization. Consider the Field Audit Trail add-on cost and compare to alternatives such as a consistent archiving policy in an external system for example.

    • Options 3: Do nothing and work within the 18-month limitation. Every organization is different, so while we generally would not recommend this, it will impact some organizations more than others. The price of the add-on may not be worth it for your organization. Do you need to know the value of a field from a year and a half ago? Maybe not.

  • If you aren't sure what to do, try reaching out to the team here at Now IT Matters. We have experience with LDV (large data volume orgs), archiving, and data-retention policies and how they impact nonprofit organizations. 

Field References (Pilot)- (Where have you been all my life?)

  • While it requires a Salesforce support request, and has some limitations, this is one of the best additions to the admin toolkit in Winter '19. There are too many times to count where I ran into an issue, and wish I could find out where the field in question was used so I could trouble-shoot more efficiently. While there are some workarounds, this fully supported feature is a tremendous time-saver.

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Pardot - Ditch the separate login

  • Pardot users are now fully integrated into Salesforce. No more need for a separate username and password. Login just the same as everyone else and have all users using the same system. 


Finally, before I sign-off, two things to mention:

  1. This and other releases are for the overall platform and affect all Salesforce users. Your experience with Salesforce will vary, based on your use of specific Salesforce.org solutions.

  2. Based on what your organization does (and uses), you get updates and new features to that application, in addition to those directly from Salesforce. For example, the Non Profit Success Pack gets updates nearly every two weeks. Don't forget these! You may find that some key features you rely on are updated more frequently than the tri-annual cycle.

    1. If you use the Nonprofit Cloud and the NPSP, make sure to check this out for some light reading ;) 

Ryan Berens is a Consultant at Now IT Matters. You can follow him on Twitter here.

Why Reinvent the Wheel? Three Apps to Ease Your Non-Profit Life

Reilly Ellis recently used these apps for a Now It Matters Client. We will be making use of them now that she introduced them to us. They are either free for non-profits or free with use limits.

Super Clone (free for non-profits) - LuminosityCRM, LLC - AppExchange

Super Clone is a pack of three pages that help with cloning, editing, and copying standard or custom objects with their related lists.

After playing with Super Clone via their “Test Drive” org, I am impressed with its functionality.  I can go to record and choose to clone all or part of it to a different record.

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In this case, I am pretending that ABC Capital is a foundation that donates to my non profit. The foundation has decided to split into two different entities (as foundations do). Some programs and program officers will be will be moving to  NEW ABC Capital and some will stay with ZYX Capital.

So, I choose to clone the Organization Account.   Then I can choose which records from the Contacts and Opportunities related lists should be assigned  to each new account. I can even edit as I go along.

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Here’s my new record for NEW ABC Capital:

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I can configure the app to fit my needs, easily deciding which fields users are able to edit and see. I can also control actions for each field.

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I can imagine several other non-profit use cases for the app which allows users to clone records along with related lists.

Salesforce Campaigns are sometimes tediously click-heavy. Two smart apps give users the ability to quickly find and record information so they can get on to the important business of fund-raising.

Campaign Call Down Manager - Salesforce Labs - AppExchange

Quickly allow reps to call down a list of Leads and Contacts associated with a particular campaign. Reps can update Campaign Member Status and quickly add an activity to Leads and Contacts without leaving the page.

This neat one page app allows users to skip clicking back and forth between Leads and Contacts and campaigns. In this example I am pretending that my Campaign is an annual conference and I’m keeping track of who has responded to invitations.

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I go to the Campaign Call Down Manager tab. Then I choose  my campaign and select by status and/or owner. In this case, I call campaign members who I own and  who have responded to our invitation. I can make my notes and change the status of members right on the page.

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If I want to see more or less information I simply click “settings” which is conveniently located right below my pull-down choices. I can easily choose which information I need to see right now:

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Once I click save, the information is right where I need it.

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AAkonsult Campaign Status - AAkonsult Pty Ltd - AppExchange

Tired of having to setup Campaign Member Status's every single time you create a new Campaign. Simply setup a list of default status values by Campaign Type and the system automatically assigns.

Just as it says on the package, AAkonsult Campaign Status lets you set up a default list of Campaign Member status values for each campaign type and automatically assigns them based on criteria that you configure.  You get to skip some steps - really useful for organizations with a lot of campaigns to manage.

Once you download the app, you navigate to it via the app launcher. Then choose the Campaign Status Defaults tab. I am pretending that I am setting up a campaign for an annual cocktail party that my organization throws for its press contacts each year. It’s a Public Relations type and I have four possible Campaign Member Statuses set up: Invited (this is my default), Responded Yes, Cancelled, and Attended. I set these up in my Campaign Member picklist.

Now I’m ready to begin using the Campaign Status Default App. I navigate to the app and go to the Campaign Status Defaults tab.

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Choose the Campaign Type for which you want to set your default. Make it active and choose add/update.

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In the related list choose new to add a default value.

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Enter the sequence. In this case, I chose “1” as I want the default set to the first interaction I have with my Campaign Members. Then choose the status you want to set as the default. (I previously set up “Invited” as a possible choice in my Campaign Member Status picklist.) Finally tick the “Default” checkbox.

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Now I set up my campaign:

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I make sure that the campaign type is correct:

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Then I add my Campaign Members.

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My default choice is available to me.

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And I can check to see that all the information is correct.

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The Campaign Status Default app helps us avoid clicks and get back to the important task of planning the party for our press contacts.

Jenifer Alonzo is a Certified Salesforce Administrator and Consultant at Now IT Matters.

Leadership Lessons from Cheryl Porro

Leadership Lessons from Cheryl Porro

Great leaders lead with heart.

  1. Great leaders prioritize connection and relationship with people, regardless of their level or status, because they believe that everyone has something to teach.

  2. Great leaders take time to mentor others.

  3. Great leaders prioritize their own health and well-being.

  4. Great leaders create a culture where failure is treated as a learning experience.

  5. Great leaders admit when they need to pull back and regroup.

Jenny Lockie: Big Sky Dreamin' + NPSP in Bozeman, Montana

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I’ve been to the main event, Dreamforce, in San Francisco, when I lived there - and this is Bozeman’s inaugural event. This is a great opportunity for Bozeman and is perfect for anyone living in Montana. This city has a surprising amount of tech companies and workers. Not many people outside of Montana know this, so it’s a great way for Bozeman to get on the Salesforce and tech maps and let people know that we are here.

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Two speeches stood out to me at Big Sky Dreamin’: One was done by one of our clients, The Commit Foundation, which is a veterans organization that helps new veterans transition to new careers after their Military service. Brian Rauch, the Data Analytics Manager, was highlighting the work they do - and one statistic particularly stood out - He was speaking about the suicide rates of military members and how they dramatically rise once they return home and begin to integrate with normal society. It’s actually more dangerous for veterans after they come home, so they need a place to transition back into society more seamlessly. Salesforce also has a program called VetForce which trains military members in Admin skills and other Salesforce certifications.

 

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The other presenter was Sandi Nuss Zellner -- she was originally a very active person and music teacher. Then she was diagnosed with a Chiari malformation and had to have brain surgery. She was unable to return to teaching music, because the cacophony of the instruments become physically painful for her.  She was also unable to continue her active lifestyle. The loss of so much in her life was so emotionally painful that, after becoming a brain surgery survivor, she then became a suicide survivor. After surviving the suicide attempt, she discovered Salesforce, and working through hundreds of Trailheads gave her a new focus in life. Shortly after starting to learn Salesforce, she attended Dreamforce and found the Ohana which gave her a new community. 

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NPSP day, organized by Ryan Ozimek, was also held in Bozeman.

NPSP days allow nonprofits to come together to network, sharpen their Salesforce skills, and find out how other nonprofits are using Salesforce.  Just a couple of the nonprofits with multiple staff members at the NPSP day, were Montana Conservation Corps and Hopa Mountain. MCC is teaching their young staff how to use Salesforce and they created an internal group to meet, discuss and build their skills. Hopa Mountain works primarily with rural and tribal citizen leaders (both adult and youth) who are improving education, ecological health and economic development.  

The NPSP day was hosted by Thrive, (and they also loan their space for the Bozeman nonprofit user groups.) Thrive focuses on working with families and children: They partner with local schools and the liasons at the schools will pair volunteers with a child to mentor.

Looking forward to 2019, I would love to see these two events come together in one week. The ability to connect the NPSP group with attendees of Big Sky Dreamin’ would be fantastic, and people would be able to plan a trip to Bozeman to attend both events. 

WITness Success + Why It Matters (by Angela Adams)

I recently took my 10 year old to WITness Success

 Ready to fly to Denver!

Ready to fly to Denver!

She attended a few sessions with me, had a blast with a new friend, and collected ALL THE SWAG. (Seriously. I am a proud no-swag taker. She made up for my six+ years of not taking any swag in one day.)

 My little one, her fast friend, and their swag.

My little one, her fast friend, and their swag.

A few days after we returned home, I asked my daughter what she learned from attending WITness Success with me.

I expected her to say something akin to "Well, dearest mother, I learned foundations for building a career in tech. By the time I am 12 years of age, I plan to have two Salesforce certifications and have built an app."

How did she respond?

She likes when the plane takes off much better than when it lands.

She liked all the stickers and her Equality hoodie.

She liked hearing me present ("You were so professional!").

She liked meeting my friends, especially my friend with the cool glasses.

Maybe my expectations were just a little unrealistic for a 10 year old. 

So why does it matter? Why did I fly my daughter to Denver? 

Generally, her context of professional women has been that women are singers or dancers, nurses, or teachers.

Then there's me.

She knows that I work for Now IT Matters and I am a Salesforce consultant. She's told me many times she's going to work for Salesforce when she grows up. A common household imaginative role play is "Let's play Now IT Matters" which consists of her and her brother pulling out their computers and pretending to talk to clients. 

I work from home and she sees me on the phone and computer all day, but doesn't really know what I do.

 A recent video call in which I was photobombed by both my daughter and the puppy.

A recent video call in which I was photobombed by both my daughter and the puppy.

I wanted her to gain a broader context.

I wanted her to see HUNDREDS of successful women in tech.

I wanted her to see women who looked like her claiming their space in the Salesforce ecosystem -- Leah McGowen-Hare and Leandria Streeter -- and ROCKING IT.  

When we discussed this fact, that my goal in bringing her on the trip was broadening context, she looked at me as if to say, as a 10 year old often does, "Duh, Mom!" and said "Yes! That was really cool. There were a lot of women there! They were all really nice and made me feel welcomed."

She didn't need to talk about it much more, but I realized right then that what mattered was the welcome.

Being there in the room, running around with her new friend Z, collecting dozens of pairs of socks, all helped her to feel she belonged.

I think welcoming is the thing that the Salesforce #Ohana does best.

In a world that is deeply divided, the art of hospitality and making room for a welcome matters significantly. Making space for others to be themselves and belong is a gift. 

Being welcomed by the amazing WITness Success #Ohana helped my little one envision a future where she is a successful woman in tech. And since we've been home she's been begging to "do Salesforce" -- she loves Trailhead and we have a plan to run a BAM! event in the future. 

Thank you, WITness Success, for a beautiful event and for welcoming little O. 

---

Soundtrack: Sara Groves, Why It Matters

Shonnah Hughes + Ohana Community Love

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It has been an amazing summer with a whirlwind of community events. I had the pleasure and privilege of attending a few Salesforce community led events. I love these events because they are designed to be more intimate and accessible. They provide the Salesforce community an alternative to the larger Salesforce events such as Dreamforce and TrailheadX. Community events provide the same content, knowledge share and networking that you would find at the larger events -- but at a reduced rate, so that everyone interested can attend. I call these community events “Chicken Soup for the Soul” -- they help me recharge and reinvigorate my energy.

TEXAS Dreamin’

This is always one of my favorites. They say everything is bigger in Texas and I would agree. The community love that I felt while I was in Texas was HUGE! The leaders of the group describe this event as a “Texas-sized Ohana community led conference that provides knowledge + inspiration while celebrating anyone who uses Salesforce.” One of my favorite TXD18 moments was the keynote given by Salesforce’s Chief Equality Officer Tony Prophet. Tony highlighted how Salesforce is championing equality for all, and also detailed how the community in Texas is blazing the equality trail. A local example is Vetforce. Vetforce is a Salesforce job training and career accelerator program for military service members, veterans and spouses. More information about that can be found here

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Toya Gatewood and I gave a presentation entitled “The Power of One”. We had great attendance and received amazing feedback. It was truly a great time engaging with the community in a meaningful way. I was show so much love in Texas by so many people but I have to give a special shout out to Joni and Jace Bryan, Stephanie Herrera and Holly Firestone!

Midwest Dreamin’

I am originally from the Midwest and this was the very first community event I ever attended, beginning in 2014. This is one of my top events to go to every year and I even volunteer for this event. Midwest Dreamin' is one of the first organized community events and is lead by some amazing people. Each year I can see the growth and success, and as a matter of fact I can recall something significant happening to me or someone I know. I met Toya Gatewood for the very first time at this event and she is one of my very best friends today. I have presented a number of times at this event and have also learned more than I can ever repay back to the community from this event. This year I got to meet some of my Now IT Matters team members at this event. We are a remote consulting company so this is how we get to see each other. The keynote given by Salesforce’s Chief Product Manager Brett Taylor was phenomenal. Midwest Dreamin’ will always hold a very special place in my heart because of all of this!

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Big Sky Dreamin’

This was the first time I had ever been to Montana and also happened to be the inaugural event. I was skeptical about going to Bozeman, Montana, but Tim Lockie, the founder of Now IT Matters, resides there and is originally from Bozeman. He suggested that I come out and we do a joint session with another colleague. I agreed, and so Tim, Shiv and I presented on ‘Diversifying Your Portfolio’. This session was a new concept designed to help individuals understand the benefit of having a diverse workforce. Tim and Shiv did an amazing job articulating how they have seen success multiply when they invest in their employees. Lockie explained, “CFO’s have asked ‘Why would you give them training experience -- they could leave and it's a dead investment?’ and I replied, ‘What if I don’t and they stay?’”  

The keynote was given by Salesforce’s VP for Strategic Research, Peter Coffee. He was so on point, (one speaker I had never seen before) and my favorite quote from his presentation was “New solutions require wildly different perspectives.”  The closing keynote by Zayne Turner was informative and insightful. She highlighted the fact that you need ‘Joy’ when building solutions. Sandi Zellner left no one with a dry eye in the room when she told her personal Salesforce journey. She was brave and inspiring! This event was small but mighty and I can see the greatness that is to come for next year’s event.

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The beauty of these community events is that everyone is welcome. You can feel the love flowing through every session, every speaker and all the hard work that it takes to put on these events. If you have the opportunity to a community event don't pass it up! Trust me, you will not regret it! So thank you to all the community teams who work tirelessly to entertain, educate and delight us. You are the REAL MVP’s!!!

Join my colleagues and I at Dreamforce in San Francisco, on September 25-28, 2018. We hope to see you there!

 

How to get Fiscal Year NPSP Rollups with Custom Fiscal Year Enabled by Michelle Regal

Inheriting a Salesforce org from another administrator can be both freeing and frustrating. One major source of frustration we’ve seen recently? New admins logging into their new-to-them orgs, only to find that the previous admin enabled Custom Fiscal Years.

*cue melancholy music*

This is horrifying for a couple of reasons, mainly

1. Your organization does not have custom fiscal years. Say it with me: “My organization does not have custom fiscal years.” That’s right, if your organization’s fiscal year is a standard 365 days (no matter when it starts), then you do not need Custom Fiscal Year enabled.
2. Once you turn on Custom Fiscal Year, you can’t turn it off. Ever. Even Salesforce Support can’t turn it off for you. You’ll need to start a whole new instance of Salesforce.
3. All of your NPSP rollup fields that calculate donations based on Fiscal Year are invalid because they aren’t compatible with the Custom Fiscal Year setting.

So what’s an admin to do?

After shaking your fists at the sky and crying out in frustration, head over to the AppExchange and install Declarative Lookup Rollup Summaries (DLRS)* in your Salesforce instance, because we’re going to solve your donation rollup problem!

Once you have DLRS installed in your org, you’ll need to create a few fields on the Opportunity and Contact objects to help with the rollup calculations.

First, create a number formula field to calculate the Fiscal Year on the Opportunity (Donation). The formula should look something like this:

CASE(
  MONTH( CloseDate ),
  1, (Year( CloseDate )),
  2, (Year( CloseDate )),
  3, (Year( CloseDate )),
  4, (Year( CloseDate )),
  5, (Year( CloseDate )),
  6, (Year( CloseDate )),
  (Year( CloseDate))+1)

In this example, a donation made on 2/1/2016 (February 1st, 2016)  would be assigned as Fiscal Year 2016, while a donation made on 7/1/2016 (July 1st, 2016) would be assigned as Fiscal Year 2017. 

Update the formula so the CASE function includes a line for every month in the calendar year before your fiscal year start. For example, this organization’s fiscal year starts on July 1 (7/1), so I included a CASE condition for months 1-6.

Create a currency field on the Contact to hold the sum of donations for a particular fiscal year (i.e. Sum of Donations FY2017). This is where the result of your DLRS rollup summary will go. 

Next, create the Lookup Rollup Summary to sum the amount of all related Opportunities (Donations) that are Closed Won and fall in that fiscal year. The key is setting the Criteria: StageName = 'Closed Won' AND Fiscal_Year__c = 2017. 

Fiscal Year NPSP Rollups

Similarly, if you want to count the number of donations in a particular fiscal year, you just need to create a number field on the Contact object to hold the amount and create a Lookup Rollup Summary where the Aggregate Operation is Count.

But what if I just want a field that calculates for THIS fiscal year?

The only way to automate that is with custom Apex code. However, you can “hack” a solution with DLRS by just updating the year specified in the Relationship Criteria to the current fiscal year. (You’ll just need to remember to update it each time a new FY rolls around.) Just remember to click Save and then Calculate when you update the year so all your Contact records get updated.

* Make sure to read through the DLRS documentation to learn about how the rollup summaries work, latest release features, and any limitations.
 

Your Salesforce Needs Some Design Love (Part Three) by Reilly Ellis

Usability Testing (You are not your users)

The most important thing to remember about design is that you are not your users. The design principles that I previously covered will help you set the groundwork for a usable system, but the best way to see if your system is usable is to test your users using it.

Remember the law of familiarity. Admins are in Salesforce all the time. What makes sense to you may because of your history with the platform may not make sense to someone who is just in Salesforce to enter program data.

The is doubly true when you’re doing a redesign or introducing a new feature. You’ve developed familiarity with your design through the time that you spent creating it. It can be hard for you to tell if something makes sense because of its design or because you’ve developed a learned association.

Usability Testing vs. User Acceptance Testing

You’ve probably does user tests in your system before, but it’s likely those were user acceptance tests. User acceptance testing checks to see if your systems working correctly, for instance, does the “Total Payments” rollup accurately calculate all the payments?

Usability testing checks if your users are using your system correctly. For instance, do they know what the “Total Payments” field is? Do they use it like you want them to use it?
 

Usability Testing in Six Steps

1. Identify users

Survey a range of users - new users, super users, and users who still struggle.

2. Introduce a scenario or task

This is what you’ll be testing! Something like, “create a new contact” or “find the date of someone’s last donation.”

3. Ask the user to narrate their thoughts while they complete the task

Their narration will give you insight into your design. What parts do they understand? What parts are they missing?

4. Observe the user complete the task (silently!)

This may be the hardest part of user testing - but it’s important for you to stay silent. You won’t always be there to guide them when they’re using Salesforce.

5. Ask follow-up questions after the task

This is your chance to dig in to the actions you observed and get more feedback on the design.

6. Iterate & repeat!

Make the necessary changes, find more users, and repeat!

…….

Usability Testing Quick Tips

Not everything is perfectly intuitive the first time around. You can test “learnability” by asking the same user to complete the same task multiple times. If they get it after a couple tries, great! If they still need help weeks later, you should reassess your design.

If you or your users don’t have time for dedicated usability testing - wrap it in with training. When your users ask you how to complete as task, have them show you how they do it first before you show them. This will give you some quick insight to the usability of your design.

Your Salesforce Needs Some Design Love (Part Two) by Reilly Ellis

Gestalt Principles (Why we group the things we do)

Visually, our brains like groups. They’ll take small, simple images and form them into groups. They’ll take large, complex images and break them up into groups. Our brains do this so that the information is easier to process. (Spot a trend?)

Gestalt principles explain how and why we create what groups or associations.

Used well, the gestalt principles can help make your interface easier to understand.

Used poorly, they can create confusion where people group things together that are different.

There are eight in total, but I’m going to review the most relevant below.

Laws of Similarity & Proximity

The law of similarity states that we group similar elements together.

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That’s why you can easily identify the blue rectangles as one group and the yellow circles as another.

The law of proximity states that we group close things together.

That’s why we don’t see one group of blue rectangles - we see three groups separated by whitespace. In the right hand group, the yellow outline helps us mark out a subset of two squares.

The laws of proximity and similarity come into play in page layouts and field names.

Here are two page layouts. In the first one, I threw the fields onto the page. There are only nine fields, how hard can it be to understand?

On the second one, however, I considered the laws of proximity and similarity and designed the page to facilitate the users’ understanding.

 Version 1

Version 1

 Version 2

Version 2

Let’s take a closer look. The first version has some groupings, but are they what we want?

 

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In the red box, we can see that all fields are in the same section, so they are all given the same level of importance.

In the purple box, the “Background Check Complete” and the “Background” fields are next to each other and share similar names, so they’re easy to group together. However, in this instance, the “Background” field refers to a contact’s general background instead of their background check, so that grouping is misleading.

There are some fields that I want the user to associate together, but because they’re violating the principles of proximity and similarity, it can be harder to make that connection.

The “Background Check Complete” and “BG Check Date” relate to each other, but are separated and use different names.

“Volunteer Type” and “Donor Status” are both measuring an Active/Inactive quality of the contact, but it’s harder to see them as similar measurements since their names are dissimilar.

Now that’s take a look at the second version where I used deliberate spacing and naming to facilitate different groupings.

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The top section is now distinct and it’s clear which fields are more important. With a name change, it’s also easy to tell that the “Volunteer Status” and “Donor Status” are measuring similar things.

The “Background Check Status” and the “Background Check Date” are next to each other and clearly associated. In turn, the “Background” field is now visually separated from the background check information, so it’s easier to keep the two meanings separate.

Just as you can create deliberate groupings with gestalt principles, you can create deliberate separations by violating the principles.

Lightning Path is a really good example. You’re visually separating the fields from the rest of the group, so it’s easier for the user to find them.

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Law of Familiarity (or Past Experiences)

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The law of familiarity says that our past influences how we see things.

That’s why, even though floppy disks haven’t been used for years, they’re still synonymous with “save.” People who have never used a floppy disk will recognize a save icon because they’re familiar with it from other systems.

This law is also why it’s important to pay attention to business process when designing your Salesforce instance. It’ll be easier for users to understand a process or layout that is familiar to them from their other work. For instance, ordering the Contact fields in the same way they’re ordered on a paper volunteer intake form.

However, the law of familiarity can tricky. It can convince you to maintain a poor design just because your users are familiar with it. Be on the lookout for this and when redesigning a page, consider the other principles first. But, if you need a tiebreaker between two good designs, go with the one that’s more familiar to your users.

The law of familiarity is the weakest gestalt principle, so chances are that your users will quickly adjust to a well-done redesign.

The emphasis here is on “well-done.”

If you’re going to do a redesign, consider it carefully. Think about the last time your favorite app did a redesign. If the new design was usable, you probably caught on quickly and appreciated the new flow. But if the new design wasn’t usable, it may have caused frustration. Not only did they did the app designers rip away your familiar associations, they didn’t give you an easy to use design to replace it.

Hick’s Law

Hick’s Law isn’t actually a gestalt principles, but it’s definitely relevant to your Salesforce design. It states that the time it takes someone to make a decision increases logarithmically with the number of choices.

Essentially, the more choices you present to your user, the longer it takes for them to find the one they want.

You can mitigate this extra time by limiting choices. You can create dependent picklists or filter your Lightning components so they only show up when relevant. 

 Picklists and Subcategories

Picklists and Subcategories

You can also limit the number of choices by grouping lots of smaller choices into several larger choices.

Let’s take a look at those page layouts again through the lens of Hick’s Law.

hicks law 1.png

In the first one, all the fields are in the same group. So in order to choose one field, like Volunteer Start Date, you have to sort through nine options.

hicks law 2.png

In this layout, since the sections are grouped together based on proximity, there are only a total of six choices: three to find the correct section and three to find the Volunteer Start Date field in that section.

Gestalt Principles + Hick’s Law Recap

  1. Design your names and page layouts to facilitate understanding of your fields.

  2. Try to mirror your users’ real life or previous experiences in the page layout, but don’t let your users familiarity with a poor design trick you into maintaining that poor design.

  3. Do your best to reduce the number of choices presented to your users through filtered Lightning components, dependent picklists, or meaningful grouping on your page.

Stay tuned for part three! 

Your Salesforce Needs Some Design Love (Part 1) by Reilly Ellis

Your Salesforce Needs Some Design Love.

(Don’t worry, everyone’s does.)

I recently had the pleasure of presenting at Force Academy LA on psych and visual design principles that can help improve the usability of your Salesforce instance. We'll be posting highlights of my talk broken out into three parts.

  1. Cognitive Load (Our brain power is limited)

  2. Gestalt Principles (Why we group things the way we do)

  3. Usability Testing (You are not your users)

Cognitive Load (Our brain power is limited)

Psychologists call the amount of brain power we have in our working memory “cognitive load.” We don’t have a lot of it. It matters that our cognitive load, our brain power, is limited because we use our brain to process unfamiliar things, make decisions, and learn new concepts.  

The cognitive load theory is a psych theory that says people learn easier when we reduce cognitive load. Essentially, the more brain power we can reserve for learning, the better.

Learning is relevant to our Salesforce design. The first time that someone interacts with your system - they’re learning. Your long-time users who have never really gotten it, who ask you how to complete the same task 10 times, they’re learners too.

Good design reduces the cognitive load so our brains don’t get tired trying to process the design and still have space to process the information.

There are two types of cognitive load that directly relate to visual design - intrinsic cognitive load and germane cognitive load.

Intrinsic Cognitive Load

Intrinsic cognitive load is the difficulty level of information being learned.

A great example of this is math equations. When you were first learning complex equations, if your teacher asked you to do this problem, it would have been difficult:

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Instead, they probably broke it down for you into smaller steps. First the parenthesis, then the exponent, and then the division.

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Each of these steps is simple, so they have low cognitive load. This makes the cognitive load of the problem itself lower, and therefore easier to learn.

We can see intrinsic cognitive load come into play for Salesforce admins in the emails and instructions that we send to users.

Version 1

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Version 2

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GeRMANE Cognitive Load

Germane Cognitive Load is the difficulty level of creating schemas.

Schemas are patterns that we identify in order to help us categorize the word. Once we have a schema, we can make sense of new things based on that schema.

Take, for instance, a kid who is just learning her animals. In her animal schema, she has two categories: mammals and reptiles. When she’s first introduced to lizards, she sees they have scaly skin. Based on this information, she categorizes lizards in her animal schema as reptiles and then she suddenly make more guesses about them - like they’re probably cold blooded and lay eggs.

Essentially, schemas are like cheat sheets.

Germane cognitive load is measures how difficult it is to creating those meaningful categorizations, those cheat sheets, in the first place.

A great example of this in Salesforce is naming conventions.

Can you find the process that updates an Opportunity’s status?

This is a version of something that I’ve seen in real life and may be familiar to you. Whenever someone creates a process, they use their own, different, naming convention. Every time I go in to update a process, I have to read through all the names to find the one I’m looking for, instead of the design facilitating that search.

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Part of the reason this page is so difficult is that there are a bunch of different schemas. For instance, the processes in red have the object first. The processes in purple have the action first, but they’re using similar words to describe the same action. My brain needs to spend some extra time processing if “change” and “update” actually belong together.

The process that I’m looking for, the one that updates the opportunity status, uses yet another schema - department first.

Because of the lack of consistency, this page’s germane cognitive load is high. Yes, I will eventually find the process I’m looking for, but my brain has to filter through a bunch of other stuff to get there.

Cognitive Load Recap

  1. Reduce the intrinsic cognitive load of instructions by breaking them down into smaller steps.

  2. Reduce the germane cognitive load of your system by paying attention to naming conventions and other places where you can add consistency to your system.

Stay tuned for our blog post next week to learn about Gestalt Principles!