Cloud Coach

Automate Complex Project Processes with Salesforce Visual Flows

9 minutes to read30th of September 2015

Salesforce provides many tools to automate your business’s repetitive processes. These tools include approvals, process builder, workflows, and visual workflows.

A Visual Flow allows you to automate complex business processes. Flows contain variables, resources, and actions. Visual Flows aren’t tied to any one object in Salesforce. They can look up, create, update, and delete records for multiple objects. Salesforce visual flows can be triggered with or without user interaction.

One common use for visual workflows is user surveys.

To start the process or flow, both the process builder and the workflow tool need a record to be changed. Visual flows can be triggered when a user clicks a button, accesses a custom tab, starts a process, or apex is called.  Like process builder and workflows, visual flows support time based actions, but only flows can support user interaction.

There are three types of flows: user provisioning, visual flow, and auto-launched flows.

  • User provisioning flows are a way to provision Salesforce users via a connected app.  
  • A visual flow requires user interaction because it has one or more screens. Flows can be launched from buttons, links, and tabs.
  • An auto-launched flow doesn’t require any user interaction and can be launched automatically by the system. Auto-launched flows run in bulk and without user interaction. They can’t contain steps, screens, choices, or dynamic choices in the active or latest flow version.

Visual flows use the Cloud Flow Designer. The Cloud Flow Designer is a graphical user interface that lets you drag and drop elements onto the canvas to diagram flow structure and configure how it runs. You can do all of this without writing any code.   

A Flow has three phases:

  • Design: Creating flows using the Cloud Flow Designer
  • Manage: Edit existing flows, including activating flows, deactivating, deleting flows, or manually running flows
  • Run: Determine how the flow will be run, whether through a custom button, tab, link, or directly from the flow URL.  

In the Cloud Flow Designer, the Canvas and Explorer tabs display the elements that exist in the flow.

The Palette tab displays the available element types that you can add to the flow by dragging them onto the canvas. Each element represents an action that the flow can execute. Actions can be email alerts, creating a record, deleting a record, updating a record, post to chatter, and submitting a record for approval.  

You can also create variables to collect and store data in your flow that you can then reference throughout the flow. These variables can be text display boxes, text entry boxes, choices, and formulas.

In our example we will create a simple user survey to determine whether the Cloud Coach Project was completed to their satisfaction.

To access Flows in Salesforce, navigate to the Setup area.  

In the left hand menu, select Create > Workflow & Approvals > Flows. This will display any existing flows and is where you will create new Flows.  

In the left hand menu, select Create > Workflow & Approvals > Flows. This will display any existing flows and is where you will create new Flows.  

All flows must begin with a start element. A start element can be any type of element. The green arrow at the top right of the element indicates that this is where the flow starts.  

Our flow begins with a screen to greet the client.  As we are calling the client we will greet them as per the script displayed on the screen.  

We then ask if they would like to participate in our survey. 

As you can see, the next element is a decision. If the client answers yes, we will continue onto the survey client screen. If they decline to participate, we move straight into the thank you screen. 

On the survey screen we can ask several questions. Our first question uses a text entry box to confirm the client’s name.

Our second question uses radio buttons to get the level of service for the project.

The last question is for any more comments. It uses a large text field where we can type their answer.

Limited choice answers, such as radio buttons and pick-lists make reporting easier. However, some user feedback is better captured in their own words. You can collect this information in text areas.

The next step in our flow is to create the satisfaction survey record within Salesforce.

You must already have an object and fields set up to collect the answers. We link this survey to the object so we can create a record for the completed survey.

Within the Record Create element we must select the object. In this case, it is the Project Satisfaction Survey object.

Then select the fields we will map our flow variables to.

Once the survey is completed, we move to the Thank You screen.

Our flow is now completed.

On the Flow screen there may be several flow versions. However, only one flow may be active at any one time. To activate the flow version, simply click on Activate.

We can now complete and submit the surveys. Salesforce will create the survey record and store it in our custom object.

On the Project Satisfaction Survey tab, we can see all of the completed surveys.

How will you use Visual Workflows to automate your business processes?

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