Validation Checkbox: One little Field = One Big Win

We all want our users to be happy, right?

Sure, we may occasionally threaten to give them a read-only profile or lock them out altogether… but in all seriousness, ease of use is crucial if you want any kind of user adoption. And while you can’t just say yes to every single request that comes your way, it’s not hard to find a quick win here and there that will make things easier for your users. This post is about one of those wins.

I don’t know about you, but every org I have ever worked in has had multiple validation rules around setting opportunities to Closed Won. Here is a sample set of some common opportunity validation rules:

Now, put yourself in the shoes of a brand new sales user who is not yet familiar with the process and all of its rules. Imagine the frustration when this new sales rep tries to close an opportunity, but is immediately hit with a stack of errors like this:

To admins, those errors all make sense. We built them. We know how they work. But our users hate those big red errors more than anything! I’ve lost count of how many people have complained about my validation rules – and I honestly can’t blame them. Too many errors at once can be confusing, overwhelming, and at the very least, annoying.

From the point of view of a sales user… instead of closing your opportunity and just crossing your fingers and hoping that it will save without any errors, wouldn’t it be nice if you had an indicator that told you it was actually ready to close? Something like this?

Admins – this is where you can make magic happen.

If you have a large group of validation rules that are all based on a common criteria – in this example, setting an opportunity to Closed Won – you can save your users from all those errors with one simple checkbox!

First, start by creating a formula checkbox field. Then, combine all of your validation rules into a formula that will return a value of true if the record meets all validation criteria. Here is the field I created to replace the validation rules listed above:

Important: don’t forget to put specific details in the field’s help text! You don’t want to tell a user that their opportunity is no good, and then not explain why.

Once you’ve got a validation checkbox in place, you can deactivate that list of validation rules! Here’s what I did:

1. Carefully evaluated my existing validation rules (you’ll see that I had one rule that was based on Probability, not on the Stage being set to Closed Won – so I left that rule active.)

2. Deactivated the validation rules that were included in my validation checkbox.

3. Created a new validation rule using only the checkbox.

This is a win for admins as well as users, because you’ll have fewer validation rules to look at when you are troubleshooting validation errors in code, from mass updates, etc.

Bonus: You know that terribly vague “Unable to Submit for Approval: This record does not meet the entry criteria or initial submitters of any active approval processes” error? Well, your users never have to see it again. A validation checkbox is also a great way to let them know if a record is ready to submit for approval! (Or we can keep voting up this idea for the rest of our careers…)

What else would you use a validation checkbox for? Case closure? Quote validation? Lead ready-for-conversion?

Data Loader Gotchas

I love Data Loader.

Seriously, it is one of my favorite things. I remember my excitement when, as a baby admin, I downloaded Data Loader and discovered the magic of updating thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of records at a time!

I also remember the intense frustration of my biggest Data Loader mistakes. There are so many settings and formatting quirks that are just too easy to miss! Here are my Top 10 Data Loader gotchas:

Batch size: You may want to adjust the batch size (found in Data Loader Settings) of an insert or update, based on how much automation and code your org has in place. If a lot of workflows, processes, and/or Apex code will be firing during your mass update, it’s a good idea to reduce the batch size to avoid getting too many errors. Whenever I get “record locked” or “Apex CPU” errors in my Data Loader error log, I reduce the batch size by half and reload the records that errored out. Pro tip: want a bigger batch size? Check the Bulk API box and you can update thousands of records per batch instead of hundreds.

Null values: This is a great feature with a big gotcha. If you want to insert null values into fields during your update, check the Insert Null Values box. It will delete any values in the fields that you’ve left blank in your upload file. Here’s the gotcha: that box stays checked until you uncheck it! Always take a look at your Data Loader Settings before you begin a upload, to see if you’ve left that box checked. Vote for this idea to get a warning when the box is checked.

Lead assignment: Many admins don’t know this, but you can run a set of leads through your lead assignment rules by entering the Assignment Rule ID into a box in the Data Loader Settings. Awesome, right? Sure… until you go back to do a lead update and accidentally reassign over 400,000 leads because you left that ID there. (In case you were wondering – yes, that is a true story!) Again, this is in your Data Loader Settings – always make sure the Assignment Rule setting is blank if you do not want to reassign leads while you are mass updating them.

Sandbox vs. production: Don’t forget to change the login URL when you switch from your production org to sandbox, and vice versa! Otherwise you will be slamming your head against the wall, wondering why your username and password aren’t working.

Security token: If you are using password authentication, don’t forget to add your security token at the end of your password. Pro tip: I have a folder in my inbox that is specifically for security token reset emails, because I have so many Salesforce orgs and sandboxes that I update with Data Loader.

Missing objects: Can’t find the object you are looking for in the object list? Check the Show all Salesforce objects box – it will expand the list to include objects such as Opportunity Product, Contact Role, Price Book Entry, and many more. Check out this great idea for a setting to default this box to be checked – and vote it up!

Date formatting: My least favorite mass uploads include date fields – or worse, date/time fields. Unfortunately, the super-detailed documentation that existed in the past has been removed. But I did find this question in the Answers community that offers a great answer (including screen shots of the lost documentation) for both date fields and date/time fields. Note: this is for US-formatted dates.

Converted leads: I almost called this one “files that you get from other people” – because one of the biggest gotchas of all is bad data. And your users won’t always know the best way to export the data you need for a mass update (non-.csv-formatted files, no record IDs, etc.). But converted leads is one of the biggest causes of errors that I’ve ever had, so it gets its own place on the list. Make sure that when you export leads from a report, you’ve filtered out converted records. And if you got the file from another user – make sure that they did the same!

Validation rules: This one bites me in the backside almost every time I mass update records. In a perfect world, we would never create a validation rule without first going back and making all existing records meet the rule. Any of you live in that perfect world? Yeah, me neither. If you are updating old records, you may get a lot of validation rule errors – so make sure you’ve deactivated any rules that you think might be troublesome. Warning: don’t forget to turn those rules back on afterward! Vote for this idea to disable validation rules during Data Loader updates.

Email alerts: Do you have workflow rules or processes that send email alerts when records are created or updated, or when a specific field is changed? Make sure you are aware of any alerts that may be fired by your mass update, so that you can shut them off if necessary.

Whether you are an experienced admin or just starting out, these are easy mistakes for any of us to make! Watch out for the gotchas and your data loading will be much easier.

Bonus gotcha: Make sure you download the latest version of Data Loader (Setup | Data Management | Data Loader) before TLS 1.0 encryption is disabled in March!

Social Media: Should I really post this?

At Dreamforce 2011, I met up with a small group who called themselves “girly geeks” for an informal happy hour. They were welcoming and genuine. They were supportive and encouraging. They were fiercely committed to making sure that the voice of women had a place in the Salesforce ecosystem. They rekindled the passion I had for my Salesforce admin work, and inspired me to get involved in both my local community and the online community.

When I returned from that year’s Dreamforce, I started attending my local user group meetups. I started writing a Salesforce blog. And for the first time in my professional life, I started engaging with the Salesforce community online. These things were all very new to me! Especially communicating via the internet in a professional capacity, rather than just in my personal life.

When I first became active on Twitter and in the Success Community, I was anxious about everything I posted. It took me a while to find my “voice” and feel completely comfortable, both as a blogger and as someone sharing information in the community. Over time – and as the internet has become increasingly negative and unkind – I’ve developed some guidelines for how and what I post, and questions that I like to ask myself.

  • Be helpful or useful! Don’t post without a purpose. (What is my goal in posting this?)
  • Make sure the post is clear, and easily consumable. (Have I made what I want to convey obvious to anyone who might read it?)
  • Don’t be offensive or negative. (Am I being condescending? Am I reacting to another post without thinking? Am I needlessly debating a point to prove someone wrong?)
  • Mean what you say. (Is this really the information that I want to be sharing?)
  • Don’t blindly retweet or repost things, especially links to articles. (Did I read the whole article? Do I truly agree with this, enough to share it?)
  • Be yourself and speak your mind. (Is it genuine? Is this how I would sound if I said it out loud?)

And one more rule that I have – more for peace of mind than for posting – never, ever base your personal worth of the number of likes, reposts, or retweets you get. It’s awesome when other people share or respond to what you post. But if you posted something because you truly wanted to share it, then that is enough.

These apply to comments/responses to other people’s posts, too! However you participate in social media, mindfulness is key. Think before you post. Be curious, not condescending. Find your voice, be yourself, and have fun with it!

Related post: Making the Most of the Success Community

Life After Dreamforce

Dreamforce 2016 was my ninth Dreamforce. Every year, it’s the same roller-coaster ride: the adrenaline rush when I get registered (really, when I book my hotel), the build-up to Agenda Builder going live, the excitement in the Success Community as the date gets closer… and then of course the thrilling chaos of the week!

But then, I come home. I go back to work. I am immediately buried under all the things that did not get done while I was gone. And all of the great ideas that I brought home from Dreamforce just sort of fade into the background.

This year, my Dreamforce Resolution was to not do that again. And it’s been very difficult – because really, who has time after Dreamforce to put all those great new ideas into practice? Here’s how I’m making it happen:

1. I’m watching session recordings!

My agenda was ridiculous. I bookmarked at least three sessions per time slot and attended only one (obviously), at best. Some of them were amazing, and I want to re-watch them. Some of them looked great, but I missed them. Good news! Most sessions have a recording right there in the Chatter feed. So I have been going back, and watching the ones that I missed or wanted to see again. Some of my favorites: Triggers for Admins, What You Need to Know to Flow, Building Apps with Visual Workflow: Deep Dive, and Harness the Power of Lightning with App Builder. I can also re-watch the keynotes on the Dreamforce site, or search and browse sessions on the Dreamforce YouTube channel.

Note: this isn’t easy. I had to literally put time on my calendar for it. One night a week, during lunch, the occasional Saturday night session binge-watching, etc. But I’m still doing it. And it’s serious re-inspiration!

2. I’m revisiting my notes!

Do you write down notes and ideas during Dreamforce? What do you do with them afterward? (I know, right? Oh yeah, those notes…) I tend to take very minimal notes because the sessions are recorded, so most of my notes are little reminders like “investigate this feature” or “try this trick to fix that report,” etc. Go back through your notes! Once again, I used my calendar for this and created a small block of time for each thing that I wanted to revisit.

3. I’m staying connected!

Remember all those people you met/watched present/applauded at Dreamforce? Follow them on Twitter. Follow them in the Success Community. Dreamforce may be only once a year, but follow Dreamforce on Twitter and you can be inspired all year long! (I think I’m paraphrasing Dickens there…) However you like to connect, stay connected.

That’s it! My three simple ways to stay close to Dreamforce in between Dreamforces. So don’t get the post-Dreamforce blues. Set aside time – even if it’s only an hour a week – and you can be re-inspired too. See you at #DF17!