Apps We Love Gridbuddy

As a team with our customers, we are continually updating lots of records at once. As much as we love Salesforce, sometimes it needs a little help with this and that’s where Gridbuddy comes into play.

Full Disclosure: This is a continuation of an occasional series of apps that we either use and/or have recommended to clients. Some of these amazing ISV’s allow us free access within our own system so that we can understand its functionality and how it can apply to our clients. Our relationship with Gridbuddy goes back many years and if it were a dog, it would be old enough to order its own beer. To that we say, “Cheers!”

What is this Again?

I could talk about the functionality of Gridbuddy, but I think this video does a great job:


Instead of talking directly about features, let me discuss with some internal examples.

Reporting Tool…

Yes, Salesforce has an excellent reporting and analytic tool. There is no reason why not to continue to use that function. Even if you have Salesforce Analytics (Wave) or Tableau, you will probably still work and use the built-in reporting tool. But that’s another blog post.

A key aspect of Gridbuddy is its inherent ability to show detail of not just the parent, but also the children. While it is not a pivot table or matrix, the reporting tool and its summary abilities are not there, but it does have the ability to show good shares of data in an excel file. And if you need the detail, that is helpful, as well.

Ever try to report on a long text area fields? Go and try it in Salesforce reporting. It truncates it! Gridbuddy? Nope. All those fields in all there wondrous glory, all formatted like you left it. Easy-peasy.

Another feature we like is that the export function also breaks apart the children into separate tabs and includes the salesforce ID’s. This makes mass editing and working with data loading tools easier for an admin.

Notice that for each object in salesforce - there is a separate tab. This makes data quality projects a bit easier
Notice that for each object in salesforce – there is a separate tab. This makes data quality projects a bit easier

Respect the Record Type

It may seem not a large deal but if you have record types you know that its important to protect the fields and field accessibility layered into our app. While salesforce does a decent job of protecting us when using the standard page layouts, its important that other editors also enforce those rules. Gridbuddy will enforce your record type’s field protections and so even if a user attempts to make a mass edit – the system will stop them from saving.

Thinking WAY Outside the Box

Unfortunately we cannot show a screen shot of this but there was a client that wanted to center their salesforce usage on only Gridbuddy screens. Fortunately it is possible with a some ingenuity to allow your users to do almost all of their day-to-day effort using Gridbuddy. For example:

  • Use Visualforce and the Tab function to create a tab for each grid in the sales process.
  • Define your grids so that there is a grid for each stage in your opportunity pipeline.
  • As Opportunity stages change, the records will naturally flow from one grid to another.
  • Consider using workflow actions to record completed call activity records based on information stored as fields on the opportunity.
  • Consider creating a call back date field on the opportunity so that each grid is sorted based on a call schedule.

There are so many options to consider for this tool. Again Gridbuddy does a great job of defining their core components but we wanted to highlight some features that are typically not shown in the standard tool.

Apps We Love – TaskRay

We have gone through several different project management systems both built outside and inside of Salesforce. We have settled on TaskRay as it provides the right amount of complexity along with enough ease so that we don’t have the need for a full-time person managing the software.

This is first of an occasional series in Salesforce apps that we either use internally and/or recommend to clients. Some of these amazing ISV’s allow us access to their apps for free. They do this so that we understand their functionality and help our clients determine if this product is their “best fit”.

I will let BracketLabs describe how the tool works “out of the box”:

We looked and/or used several tools in the past:

  • We tried milestones but it was far more complex and challenging to maintain
  • We then used key aspects of milestones with our own custom build and it was “ok”, but we needed a stronger UI.
  • Trello was next and it was certainly a staff favorite in terms of usability. We also liked the ability to invite our customers in to participate for free. But the time keeping was a challenge and paying for Harvest just didn’t seem necessary.
  • An here we are with TaskRay.

Unlike other systems, we have the ability to make dramatic customizations and adjustments to construct TaskRay to fit our needs. Since we’re a consulting shop our needs are specific. And also the tools sits on Salesforce so the ability to make adjustments is wide.  This post is dedicated to show how we have cut, pasted, folded, and primped this tool to fit our needs instead of showing you the basics. Ultimately that is the hallmark of great software: fantastic features out of the box, but the ability to create it to be your own.

Make it Pseudo-Agile
We’re not a devout supporter of the “Agile Process”. (The Agile devout please forgive us) But we do like the ability to track requirements for each part of the project and how that helps the customer. In our system we achieved that by simply utilizing three fields in each task:

  • What is the description of the task? What are we doing?
  • What are the assumptions before starting this task?
  • What acceptance criteria will be used to demonstrate completion of the task?

To do this we created a few fields on the TaskRay task object and added them to the field set. Now our taskray task screen looks like this

our pseudo-agile screen
our pseudo-agile screen

Note that we are still using the Description field to store details but now we also store our acceptance and assumptions on the task. This makes it easier down the road to check our work.

Making Mass Edits

With that we can use our Gridbuddy integration to make mass edits to our tasks. (hint great product) Now we built all kinds of craziness to combine the two. Fortunately those two companies got together and made the whole process easier.

Hours Tracking and Budgeting
Now for tracking of hours there are budgeted hours vs. actual hours. Both have a place in TaskRay. We just had to perform some creative engineering. But for most experienced salesforce admins, this is simple efforts.

For budgeting, we have a simple number field on each task. These values roll-up to the project automatically.

We store a simple budgetary number on each task
We store a simple budgetary number on each task

 

We also store values on the project record for billing rates and for different types of work. This allows us to do some calculations on the effort with time entry. Each task is categorized based on these selected work types.

On the project record we store total hours for different types of work and roll-ups of hours spent versus budget
On the project record we store total hours for different types of work and roll-ups of hours spent versus budget

 

Speaking of time entry, we again use a custom object to track that. Since all time entries are tied to task records, we know the work type and billing rate automatically. This has been good for our team to understand the value of time as those 15 minutes spent on an email cost the client $$. Each of these time entries update values on both the task and the project record, so that we as a management team know hours utilized. And since we use a simple Hyperlink formula field, from task:

Right from the task itself we can create our time entries
Right from the task itself we can create our time entries

When a user sees the time entry screen many of the values are filled in for them:

Fortunately most of the time entry values are entered for the user
Fortunately most of the time entry values are entered for the user

We also developed a visualforce page that is utilized on Salesforce1 for time entry. That can be a huge timesaver, as well.

When we first developed this work, much of the updating was accomplished through APEX coding. With the introduction of the Process Builder – now its done through configuration.

 

You Too Can Do This
We love companies that understand that customer service is paramount and BracketLabs is no exception. They have been a source of inspiration and a sounding board for ideas as we continue to work with the product.  I know that we are only using about a third of the product’s features and yet we are successful.

Even if you are a single person shop, this tool can help you realize and prioritize without consuming all of your day. In the end, you still have to deliver something. We suggest you take it out for a test drive and decide if it fits your needs.