In Automation, Blog, Workflow Rules

Mickey Mouse in Fantasia

This week will be a short post. By the time you read this, I will hopefully be walking around Disney World with my twin girls. This has been a trip we’ve been planning for quite some time. As you can imagine, I have Disney on the brain.

When I think of Disney, I can’t help but think of Fantasia.  There’s just something about Mickey Mouse in a Wizard’s hat that I identify with.

In Fantasia, Mickey Mouse is the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. After doing some magical conjuring, the sorcerer goes off to get a cup a coffee or a nap. Mickey decides to try his hand at the hat, waves his hands in the air and wriggles his fingers. His efforts bring the mops and brooms into an automated life to complete Mickey’s chores. This predictably gets out of control and becomes more of a problem than a help. What does this have to do with Salesforce? Well, just like Fantasia, Salesforce magic can also some unforeseen side-effects when wielded by even the most experienced wizard.

Magic Spell: The Workflow Email Alert

We all love workflow email alerts. They can be a great asset to the busy administrator. They help notify users of all sort of great things. Here are two examples of how the the magic of workflow email alerts go awry.

  1. Forgetting Excluding Criteria or Disabling Before Imports
    We write our great workflow rule, but forget that we may need to do an import someday. So we import our records and spam our users with hundreds of emails. A long time ago, this happened to me. I even went one step further and realized that I imported with the wrong status for the record and did an update, which sent another round of email alerts. I didn’t even realize I had forgotten the email alert until I started getting calls and emails.
  2. Forgetting Contact’s Email Does Not Change in a Full Copy Sandbox
    To this day I’m gun shy when it comes to email alerts that send messages to contacts or to hard coded e-mail addresses. These addresses do not change in a full copy sandbox. User’s emails will get the name of the sandbox appended. For example: Today, we can disable emails from sandboxes (yay), but back in the “Good ‘Ole Days” this wasn’t an option. I had forgotten our email alert and did a massive update to contacts to test some code. This kicked off the email’s to our hundreds of customers. I had to go hat in hand to the manager of support and explain why his phone lines may be get a bit busy in the next few minutes. You can imagine the little “whoop” of joy I made when I saw I can disable sandbox emails.

Magic Spell: The Automatic Chatter Post

Chatter feed tracking posts can be fantastic way of communication changes to teams. These system posts can become loud noise when you forget to disable them before doing a large import to create or update information.

  1. Annual Account & Opportunity Alignment
    It’s that time of year. New sales territories get created and people, Accounts, and Opportunities get shuffled around the company. You have to go change owners and fields for hundred or thousands of records. No sweat right? Next thing you know you’re getting phone calls and emails from across the sales organization wondering why you changed this or that and complaints that their chatter feeds are just full of system posts. Not that I have recently had first hand experience with this
  2. Testing Data in Production and Fixing Records 
    We’ve all been there. We have a record in the system that is doing something funky from a formula or workflow rule. So we start testing. (Shame on you for testing in Production!) We’re so focused on getting things figured out and fixed we forget we’re tracking those fields in Chatter. Post, after post, after post show up in the chatter feed. Ooops.

Magic Spell: The Validation Rule

Validation rules are the Admin’s best friend for keeping data clean and processes followed. What happens when this goes awry?

  1. Forgetting About Legacy Data
    We have a new process! So we create a validation rule and we happily move on our way. Weeks later we find ourselves needing to do a mass update against all our data – including old records before that process that the validation rule never applied. OOPS! We forgot to write ourselves a validation out clause. Now we have to either disable the validation rule, change the rule, or falsify data in order to do our update.
  2. Forgetting Validation Rule in Our Automation
    We’re going to be friendly! Our new process includes an approval before the user can move the stage forward. So let’s be nice and automatically change the stage when their approval is accepted. Except, we forgot our validation rules require certain fields to be filled out before you can enter that stage. Now our Approval processes are causing error and users are getting frustrated.

There are many other “Magic Spells” in Salesforce that can go awry. Thankfully, we won’t cause our offices to flood with water from mops constantly overfilling a brimming pool of water. What other types of Salesforce automation have you had unforeseen consequences?

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  • Kira

    Thanks Brian for your insights, they are always appreciated and placed in the back of the brain, so us newbies, attempt to think of these things before the “Whoops” happens. As usual the gotcha’s in SF administration are why we LOVE our job and how this wonderful system keeps us on our toes.

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