Let the Salesforce Requests Flow

Every Admin gets project requests. From the dreaded “I forgot my password” to “I need this report” to larger projects. In my experience, it’s a rare organization that standardizes how these requests get submitted, tracked, and shared.

My preferred method for tracking Salesforce requests and projects is, this will be a surprise, with Salesforce! I’m currently using Cases, but a custom object would work as well. Every time I had a new request, I created a case. Someone calls me? I create a case. Someone sent me an email? I create a case. Someone stopped by said “Can you do this, thanks” and walk away? I create a case.

In an effort to reduce my documentation and provide a single point for people to submit requests, I decided to use Salesforce. I didn’t want to simply make everyone fill out a case to ask for a project. I had specific fields that I wanted to fill out a certain way and certain information I wanted to capture depending on the type of request. I also didn’t want to create additional record types to guide the user into entering data I want base on request.

Normally, I would create a visualforce page and spend a bunch of time writing conditional render attributes on everything plus a custom controller to handle all the extra things. That’s fun, but I wanted something a bit more nimble.

So I decided to go with the Flow.

I’ve really grown to love Flow. If you missed them, check out my other Flow posts: Flow for Roll Up summary formulas and creating a apex plugin within flow .

My Goals

This post is going to be an overview of what my flow does. This isn’t a “How-To build a flow” post. Please let me know in the comments if there anything you want to see more in detail or want to more of a “How-To” post!

I wanted to make sure I met the following objectives:

  • Create a case, capturing the User’s name (Contact) and setting it to my company’s account record
  • Let the user select the Type of project they are requesting
  • Guide the user to provide different information dependent upon the project
  • Assign new Cases to my Queue
  • Assign cases to my Record Type
  • Be accessible within Salesforce
  • Be Accessible outside of Salesforce (bonus)

Based on that list I knew my flow needed to have the following setup:

  • Look up of the User to find their contact record (We create a contact record for each user. The contact has a lookup to their user record)
  • Look up the Account ID for the company account record (using a sandbox so can’t hardcode!)
  • A screen to ask the user what type of project they’re requesting
  • A Decision Element to take the user to sub-project screens based on their selection
  • Separate screens for each type of project I need specific information for
  • Create case Element
  • Confirmation Screen to let the user know their case number

The Whole Flow

Here’s the whole flow. Don’t panic! I know it looks like a lot, but it really isn’t bad once you break it down. Your flow could be much more simple than mine depending on your needs.

The Whole flow

Preparing ForThe User

Preparing for the User

Preparing for the User

Most of my flow occurs before the user even sees their first input screen. You can actually skip 7 of these elements if all people submitting requests are Salesforce users and they also already have contacts. 7 of my elements, the right hand side portions, are there to support people submitting a case without being logged into Salesforce.

Let’s start with the assumption you’re a Salesforce User. Before you see a screen I need to know a series of information:

    • Your Name
    • Your Contact ID
    • The Case Record Type to be assigned
    • The Queue user that will be the owner
    • The AccountID to associate the case
        The first 4 elements starting with the “Record Lookup, Lookup User” going down do exactly this. Based on the user submitting the request, I grab the name of the user. Then I look up the contact for that user and finally get the Case Record Type ID and Queue ID. That’s it. Now I’m ready to go.

The 7 other elements are there for non-salesforce users. Here, I check to see you’re an External User. If you are an external user, I prompt you for your Name and Email address. Then I search for your contact and if it doesn’t exist I create one. After that setup I pass you back to the element that looks for the Case Record Type ID and on our merry way we go. More about making this available to non-salesforce users at the bottom of this post.

User Inputs

First Screen and Decision tree

For Salesforce users, the first screen will ask what team you belong to and what Project you’re requesting. Both of these are single choice field aka a pick list.

The next element is a decision which takes you to a new screen based on the project type selected. The next section is a Record Create element, one for every different project type. This is one area where I may go back change this to a single record create. My original intention was to set a rich text field on the case with the various pieces of information collected. Since those screen inputs are different each screen, I thought I needed individual elements to create the case.

Not so! I discovered a beautiful thing called a “Text template. A text template is basically a variable that you can concatenate multiple other variables and screen inputs into one gorgeous text block. It’s also Rich Text enabled so you can bold text or just do straight HTML. This means you can have multiple Text Templates, one for each project type and only 1 Record Create element. That’ll remove 4 elements from this flow which would be nice.

The Finish

Final Elements

So far we’ve gathered information about the requesting user and information about the project. We just created the case. The finale part of this flow is to provide the user with a confirmation. This is a screen with just output text. I provide them the case number and say thank you for their request.

The other part of this flow helps set the redirect for the user. A Salesforce user will be redirected to the case they just submitted. They can then add case comments or attach files if needed. A non-Salesforce user will be taken to the start of the flow.

Those Non-Salesforce Users

I made this available to non-Salesforce users by making my Visualforce page with the embedded flow available in Force.com Sites. This posed a few interesting challenges. First, users outside of Salesforce need to be able to have Create/Read access on the Contact and Case objects. I have a private sharing model in this Organization so I also needed a sharing rule to give them access to the Account record for our company.

Making the actual flow available after that was easy. I added the Visualforce page to my existing site and shared the link. It is unauthenticated so I do run the risk of people who leave the company submitting a case and potentially other non-employees. I’m the primary person that see these cases so it’s simply to delete those records. Plus, I can always disable the public access if I need to.

Final Notes

A few things I changed from the details above.

  • I removed the Case Record Type ID and opted to have that set by workflow rule. I decided I only wanted users to be able to create my request cases through the flow. I didn’t want them creating “New Case.” This meant I couldn’t assign my record type to the users. Flow only has access to the same setup as the user using it. So I had to be content with them creating a case with the default record type and then updating it via workflow rule.
  • I also added a link to the visualforce page as a Home Page sidebar component. This way it’s available on almost every page within Salesforce
  • For the project type “End User Support” in addition to providing the fields I want, I also give them the link to our Salesforce Support Chatter group

I’m in the early process of rolling this out to people. Feedback from users have been very positive so far. I like this option since it provides me an easy declarative method for adding additional project types in the future. It was also very easy to setup and get working.

Want to see what it looks like? Of course you do! Here’s is a short video. I didn’t go through all the trees, but it does give you an idea of what you can do with the Flow. There’s also no sound. I apologize for that, but I couldn’t get my free recording software to encode the audio properly. http://goo.gl/vmjj7K

A Note From The Editor

A little secret about WizardNews posts. I hate writing Post Titles. I struggle with trying to write titles that are informative, accurate, and grab your attention. One of the more difficult parts is not to interject my sense of humor into the title – too much. For example, alternative titles for today’s post included:

        • Why Salesforce Admins should just go with the Flow
        • Flowing with the projects
        • Setup your own Salesforce Request with Flow

What other titles can you come up with for this week’s blog post?

Let me know in the comments!

Showing 12 comments
  • Yifat
    Reply

    Thanks for the beautifully written post! Indeed a great idea!
    Here’s my suggestion for a title:

    “Task management solution – there is no flaw in using flows”

    • Salesforce Wizard
      Reply

      Thanks Yifat. I like that title! I particular like “no flaw in using flows”

  • Kira
    Reply

    This is a great use for flow given the amount of requests our organization receives on a daily basis. I find it to be more useful when handling requests from all over the company!

    Another Title: “Going With the Flow”

    Thanks Brian!

  • Reply

    This is a great use case and has caused a brainstorm for a current project I am working on that requires both salesforce and non salesforce users to be able to create a ‘Contract Request’ – which is case. Flow might be a good way to do this, the thing that would concern me is the unauthenticated access on a public site. Thanks for sharing!

    • Salesforce Wizard
      Reply

      You are right. It is a concern. On one hand the worse that would happen is spam cases being created.

  • Andrew K Kirk
    Reply

    In regards to the Text Template you mention above, is it possible to add line breaks? I’ve tried adding

    Everytime the breaks are stripped out and I’m left with a blob of text. Also, I’m trying to use this with the SendEmail Apex class provided by Flow Sample Pack.

    • Salesforce Wizard
      Reply

      Andrew,

      You can have line breaks. It defaults as rich text so you can simply use Enter to have a break. Or you can click the T symbol and use to create the line break

      Now the challenge is that you’re using SendEmail apex class. Depending on specifically what that uses it may not actually accept a Rich Text. For example, it may be sending the email as Plain text which would remove any of the line breaks.

      I’m not familiar with the Flow Sample Pack (I’ll have to look at it). My guess though is that it’s being sent as Plain text and you’re losing the Rich Text of the text template

      • Andrew K Kirk
        Reply

        Thanks for the speedy reply. I investigated further and I strongly believe the RTE just doesn’t respect line breaks.

        I did the following:
        1. Use the RTE to change font, font size, color, add list, and added line returns.
        2. I then passed this Text object to my email and further displayed it on screen inside using Flow.
        3. In both instances from #2, the text respected all the rich-text changes related to font, font size, color, and lists. It did NOT respect the line returns.

        After further reading, it seems like this problem experienced by others as well. Thanks for trying to help,

        • Salesforce Wizard
          Reply

          Interesting. I haven’t experienced this. In my situation I’m assigning the text template to a rich text field. Perhaps that makes all the difference

        • Salesforce Wizard
          Reply

          Well I have an idea. I’ll see if it works first

  • Pete, Fifedog, Fife
    Reply

    I was just trying to figure this out… have internal users that don’t have access to cases, platform license, but needed them to create a case from a custom object. All I did was create a VF page with the web2case. I didn’t even think about using sites… great article.

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