In Automation, Blog, Dreamforce, Flow, Fun Stuff, Tips & Tricks

Dreamforce Follow- up: Know When to Flow ‘Em

At Dreamforce, Mark Ross, Bill Takacs and I did a session called “Know when to Flow ‘Em.” The goal was to provide some simple examples of using the various automation tools and provide some guidance on which tool you should select and when.

I think there is a lot of confusion over the various automation tools and when they should use each tool. My impression is people were looking for some hard and fast rules. Use Process Builder only when XYZ and use Workflow Rules when ABC except when this occurs.

The truth is there aren’t any hard fast rules. There’s only some guidelines that I can recommend based on my experience of working with people and in my own orgs. These guidelines are admittedly simple because they are simply guides and not rules. The demos we used were also simple since the goal is to describe the guidelines and not show how a tool works or how to do something with a particular tool.

That’s said, what are the guidelines?

My first guideline is to choose the simplest, most effective tool.

For example, I need to have a field update on the Account when an Opportunity is won. How can I do this? I could use APEX and write a trigger. I could use Flow and/or Process Builder. I could also use Workflow Rules. The most effective solution is Workflow Rules and Process Builder. Which do I choose? Well both are equally effective, but Workflow rules are vastly simpler. So for a single field update that is segregated from any other actions that need to occur, I would lean toward using a Workflow rule.

Another example, I want to automatically tweet a message when an Opportunity closes. The simplest tools: Workflow rules, Process Builder and Flow, aren’t very effective. I have to use Apex to do the call out to Twitter.

My second guideline is use what is going to the easiest to update in the future.

Maybe you need to do Flow for some aspects and you could use Process Builder or Workflow rules for others. For an example you’re doing a field update and creating records for every product on the Opportunity when it is closed. The simplest solution would to use Workflow when you can and only use Process Builder and Flow for the more complicated parts.

While that works, you now split your single workflow process into multiple areas. When it comes to quickly review all the pieces or update it, you have to look in multiple places. This means you’re left to documentation and your memory. In this situation it would be better not to use Workflow rules and try to centralize things around Process Builder and Flow – where Flows are simply actions being called in a Process.

Which leads me to the third guideline what’s the easiest to document and maintain. Mark will argue that you should put everything into the Flow and just use Process Builder to call the Flow. This is where guidelines are important. That makes sense based on our guideline. From my standpoint it also makes sense to use Flow only where you have to use the power of the Flow and have different actions for the field updates.

That’s basically it. There are not hard fast and easy rules here. Just make sure that the tool you choose:

  1. Can perform the actions you need (effective)
  2. Is the simplest option while still
  3. Being easy to document and maintain going forward.

The session was recorded. So you should be able to find the slides and hopefully the video when it is released in the session chatter:

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