Quickly Develop Your Process Automation Skills in Salesforce (Yes…with Trailhead)

Written by , | Mar 03, 2016

Happy New Fiscal Year! We’ve just crossed into Salesforce’s FY17. By now, Trailhead has completely taken over the world and badges are a requirement for all technical positions across the globe had a huge impact on how individuals have come to learn (and love) Salesforce. It’s been out since late 2014 and has helped many individuals obtain effective, hands-on experience without having an adverse impact on hair loss or color changes. The reality is that if you haven’t blazed a trail yet, it’s time.


Like many of you, I have seen my fair share of training apps over the years. They are usually dry and somewhat of a labor to walk through. “Hands-on” elements are occasionally encountered, but they are rarely incorporated into the training modules as more than simple references. In other words, whether or not you do the exercises correctly (or do them at all) has no real bearing on your progress within the training.

What sets Trailhead apart and makes it so valuable for learning the platform is that Salesforce.com has built into Trailhead an integration with a dev org of your choice. This not only allows for hands-on, workshop-style exercises, but the work is actually verified via automated tests that can be kicked off by the user. Don’t miss what I’m saying here – Salesforce checks your exercise work and makes sure that it’s correct before you can complete a module in Trailhead. That is a very good thing!

Remarkably, as of March 2016, there are 67 Trailhead modules. Here is a list of all current modules:

  • Accounts & Contacts
  • Advanced Formulas
  • Apex Basics & Database
  • Apex Integration Services
  • Apex Testing
  • Apex Triggers
  • App Customization
  • App Customization Lite
  • Application Lifecycle Management
  • Asynchronous Apex
  • Business Value of Equality
  • CRM Basics
  • Change Management
  • Chatter Basics
  • Coaching & Feedbac
  • Data Management
  • Data Modeling
  • Data Security
  • Diversity and Inclusion Strategies
  • Donation Management
  • Event Monitoring
  • Formulas & Validations
  • Fundraising Basics
  • Great Management
  • HTML5 & Hybrid
  • ISV App Strategy
  • ISV Basics
  • Impact of Unconscious Bias
  • Leads & Opportunities
  • Lightning App Builder
  • Lightning Components
  • Lightning Connect
  • Lightning Design System
  • Lightning Experience Basics
  • Lightning Experience Chatter Basics
  • Lightning Experience Data Management
  • Lightning Experience Development
  • Lightning Experience Features
  • Lightning Experience Reports & Dashboards
  • Lightning Experience Rollout
  • Microsoft Integration Basics
  • Microsoft Integration Benefits
  • Mobile Basics
  • Native Android
  • Native iOS
  • Offline Management
  • Process Automation
  • Reports & Dashboards
  • Salesforce Basics
  • Salesforce Cloud Benefits
  • Salesforce Ecosystem
  • Salesforce Platform Basics
  • Salesforce Success Model
  • Salesforce Technology Basics
  • Salesforce User Basics
  • Salesforce User Tour
  • Salesforce1 Mobile Basics
  • Service Cloud Basics
  • Spring ’16 Release
  • UI Customization
  • User Management
  • Visualforce & Lightning Experience
  • Visualforce Basics
  • Visualforce Mobile
  • Wave Analytics Basics
  • Wave Desktop Exploration
  • Wave Mobile Exploration

You may notice that Salesforce has expanded beyond the technical realm and included business function modules such as Change Management, Donation Management, and Coaching & Feedback.

There’s one module in particular that I’d like to point as my personal favorite: Process Automation. Salesforce.com’s arsenal of Process Automation tools is expanding and I would highly encourage you to stay on top of the changes. All you need is ~90 minutes and a developer account (your own org).


The Process Automation module gives a nice overview of four process automation tools offered by Salesforce.com:

  • Lightning Process Builder
  • Visual Workflow
  • Workflow
  • Approval Processes

There are five sections and corresponding “challenges” within the module. I’ll walk through each.

Choosing the Right Automation Tool

This section will allow you to:

  • Describe and compare the different options for automating business processes in Salesforce
  • Determine which tool is right for a given use case

I really love the comparison chart in this section. Make sure to take a look at it; it clearly delineates the functionality offered by each of the process automation tools.

Go directly to this Trailhead section here.

Automating Processes with the Lightning Process Builder

This section will help you to:

  • Define the key components used to create an automated process in the Process Builder.
  • Describe a business process that can be automated using the Process Builder.
  • Set up a process to update the address fields on all of an account’s contacts when that account’s address field is updated.

I am huge fan of Process Builder and I haven’t kept that a secret. This section gets you up and running with this relatively new tool. Make sure to check it out, if you’re not already familiar with Process Builder.


Go directly to this Trailhead section here.

Creating Wizards with Visual Workflow

This section will help you to:

  • Define what a flow is and what it’s comprised of
  • Describe what types of business processes you should use a flow for
  • Build a flow that creates an account, a contact, and an opportunity

Visual Workflow is fairly involved and this Trailhead section won’t make you an instant expert. However, it’s a great start. Visual Workflow can do everything that can be done in Process Builder, with some additional functionality available. That doesn’t mean that you’ll always want to use it over Process Builder. However, for more complex declarative development, it is a great tool.


Go directly to this Trailhead section here.

Automating Time-based Actions with Workflow

This section will allow you to:

  • Describe what types of business processes you should use a workflow rule for
  • Define a workflow rule and what it’s comprised of
  • Set up a workflow rule that escalates a case and assigns a follow-up task
  • Set up a workflow rule that updates a field on a record at a particular time

Many of you will already be familiar with workflow rules, but this is a great refresher course.


Go directly to this Trailhead section here.

Routing Records with Approvals

This section will help you to:

  • Define an approval process, and list its key components.
  • Describe the types of business processes that can be automated using approval processes.
  • Set up an approval process to automatically manage when an account changes from a prospect to a new customer.

You might not normally group approval processes with the other three tools, but it does fit, as it enables business process automation.

Go directly to this Trailhead section here.

The bottom line…if you’re looking to learn Salesforce, get on Trailhead and check out Process Automation or any of the other modules. Enjoy!

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