How VisualForce Pages Can Improve Your Business Process
As the trend towards more flexible and dynamic work environments continues to grow, strong business leaders are perceptively observant of the employee experience. Is it efficient? Are there flaws in the process? Is it simple to train a new user? What can we cut in order to save time? Are we capturing quality data? These questions become very key as your business process becomes more “settled” and requires higher transaction volumes. Once you turn a process that may take many paths into a well-oiled machine that leverages your best practices, then it becomes paramount to provide the supporting infrastructure to maximize the throughput.
In an era where quality data and speed are key drivers of success, business leaders understand the value of efficiency in the workplace. A simple set of VisualForce pages allows you to capture the best of both worlds. They’re an avenue in which you can clean up the business process, eliminate distracting data fields, and allow your team to focus on the business at hand. In this article we are going to talk about how adding VisuaForce pages to your business process can add significant value to your organization.
As many of us on the platform already know, Salesforce has a lot to offer. From Sales and Marketing to Customer Service and Partner Development, the possibilities are almost endless. So the key question for one to consider is not about the complexity of your infrastructure. But instead, are you effectively utilizing the power of the platform?
Visualforce pages are extremely compelling due to the customizable pages that can be built. Creating high-efficiency pages that streamline your employee’s process not only reduces the amount of training required, but also allows them to make fewer mistakes and increase efficiency for high volume tasks. Customizing a user experience that is tailored directly to employee roles and responsibilities eliminates the extraneous noise can truly improve the quality of data flowing into your instance.
As with every project, there are potential upsides and downsides. Let’s take a look at the potential growth opportunities versus the side effects of implementing a Visualforce page.
- Data Quality – Eliminating unnecessary distractions on the page(s) allows your team to focus on the data at hand and ensure you are capturing actionable metrics. The standard Salesforce pages have a lot of bells and whistles and can take you down many paths – many of which may not be valid at all for the end-user in mind
- 100% Customizable Pages – Having the ability to make the page look like anything you want. Whether you are taking the simplistic approach or you need something more branded or highly functional, it’s possible.
- High Efficiency – Streamlining the business process into a few simple pages can drastically improve efficiency. Rather than having a single page with 20-30 data points to fill out, you can avoid the tedious clicking around by creating a single page that automatically populates fields, given specific criteria. One can create a custom flow for creating multiple records within one set sequence as opposed to requiring that Users change from screen to screen in order to create multiple related records
- Custom Branding- One of our customers has numerous satellite offices and needed for their employees to have a consistent and simple interface that mimicked their internal applications. Visualforce was an ideal solution to meet this need
- Minimize Training- One can create pages that are easy to use and built with an intentional design. In businesses with high turnover or a large number of non-technical users, this feature allows each end user to focus on their day-to-day responsibilities and not the difficulties of technologies
- View into External Data Sources and Data
- It is common that businesses with some complexity have external data warehouses that holds the majority of their data for their business/products. Visualforce can put a window into that data into Salesforce (ie for Account X in Salesforce, show a Visualforce on the Account displaying the last time that they logged into our product, show the account balance as a whole, etc) without having to log into another system to get that information
- Can be used in conjunction with third party applications
- As stated previously, one can create a Visualforce flow of different screens so that multiple records can be created. This can also include third party applications within Salesforce (generate a Contract using EchoSign, generate a Quote using Conga, etc)
- Must be built using the Visualforce language provided by Salesforce – This requires substantial knowledge of the Visualforce language. It is a proprietary language but looks like Java.
- Pages must be maintained – As with any custom development, the page must be maintained and updated from time to time in order to support updates to front and backend systems. A change in the page means modifying code typically.
- Streamlining can be difficult – Anytime you link it means a new page and so what it takes good design to minimize the number of clicks., The page count can proliferate as you continue to add options.
Ex 1: Each employee in Company A spent an average of 30 minutes at the end of each day entering data and notes into Salesforce. Although they had Salesforce1 available, it was not optimized and often took longer than usual to update records. This is not scalable and the data was not 100% accurate as it was based on the employee’s ability to take effective notes as well as remember conversations. Now that a VisualForce page is available on their Salesforce1 app, employees are entering data that is more accurate, greatly improving their efficiency by entering data as they receive it, and saving them time at the end of each day.
Ex 2: Company B has a high employee turnover and needs a fool-proof user interface that requires minimal training for the non-technical users. With a set of VisualForce pages, Company B was able to continue capturing relevant and actionable data on their members with minimal training of new employees on their system. Overall, this saved the company valuable time with the on-boarding process and drastically improved the employee experience.
Ex 3: Company C needs to be able to have Sales Representative quickly sign prospects up for services, but there are many steps to complete the process. From start to finish, the prospect has to register, select the Products that he/she is interested in, has to fill out a liability waiver through DocuSign, and generate a Quote for the products/services. Since Visualforce can be used in conjunction with third party applications such as DocuSign or Drawloop, all of these steps can be crated in one seamless, client-facing flow of screens.
As with every project, it’s important to plan ahead, identify the most common occurrences, determine where the roadblocks are and assess the level of effort required. In the end, the main question you should ask yourself is: can you really boil down the process to a single or few pages? Is there high enough volume where the efficiency and usability gains become worthwhile? If you can answer yes to these questions, then it’s time to start thinking about the next steps to improve your processes.
Modest investments in infrastructure can add significant value in both the short and long term. Time savings, less human error and lower training costs are only a few of the added benefits that accompany a simple set of Visualforce pages. The health of your business relies on the efficiency of your employees and a simple set of Visualforce pages can deliver instant, tangible value.