It’s been a year since our last flow-focused blog post when we talked about the…
1. Salesforce Spring 22 Features – Lightning Sales Cloud, Einstein Sales Cloud, and General Enhancements
5. Salesforce Spring 22 Features – Salesforce Flow
It’s happening; can you feel it? Flow is on the rise and the Spring 22 is full of tasty new features!
In our Winter 22 Flow Post, we discussed the Salesforce announcement that Workflow Rules and Process Builders were going away. Salesforce is staying on message and sprinkling that notification around your orgs like so much confetti. When you open Workflow Rules or Process Builder, there are now messages encouraging you to try Flow. (As if you’d need to be persuaded, am I right!?)
I’m sticking true to form and I’m going to nerd out on some of the release notes, then tie them together with some, “why does this matter to me?” commentary, because Salesforce doesn’t just release features for the fun of it, usually there is a purpose (unless it’s the confetti feature).
Convert Workflow Rules to Flow (Beta)
First up, we have an on-platform tool (in beta) to convert Workflow Rules to Flow. (Process Builders should be next in line.) The conversion tool does exactly what it says does – it takes your Workflow Rule and makes a Flow. It even offers to swap them out by deactivating your WFR and activating your Flow. We haven’t had a chance to fully run this tool through the wringer, but it seems to make smart choices – like selecting a before-save record-triggered Flow versus an after-save one. It sets the entry criteria and run conditions as well. The tool even helpfully suggests testing the Flow before activating it (remember that I’m all about that Flow Debugger and you should be too).
So… what? I had 99 Workflow Rules and now I have 99 Flows – did I gain anything? Well, if all you did is the “lift and shift” by converting your WFR to Flow, no you haven’t gained much besides buying a little time as Workflow Rules are retired. You’ve transferred your technical debt but you haven’t really paid it down. Instead, you should audit your automation as part of this conversion process.
- Do you still need that WFR?
- Could the logic be combined with other rules?
- Should you have three separate Flows with different entry criteria, or one Flow with no entry criteria and three decision elements?
Given that some Flow features are only available when you have entry criteria, these decisions are not straightforward, which is why we’re suggesting you thoroughly review your existing automations.
We’ve worked with many organizations that were beginning to replace their Workflow Rules with Process Builders. Our recommendation was to create one Process Builder per Object that was essentially a coordinator – performing actions, sending emails, launching other automations, etc. The Gears team has spent a lot of time testing different scenarios to understand if this pattern holds true in Flow and defining is what this means for Flow best practices. Keep that in mind while I nerd out on this next feature…
Flow Trigger Order
Oh man, oh man, we get to exert some control over the order of execution. That “one Process Builder per object” rule was because you didn’t really know which PB would be run first. If PB A did some stuff based on the Case Status, but PB 2 updated the Case Status, would it all happen as expected? Who knows – it was a gamble, unless you consolidated your actions into a single Process Builder. Now that we’re putting all the chips on Flow, Salesforce gave us a way to manage this for ourselves.
The release notes have a well-developed sequence of execution (order number, alphabetical by API name, created date). This means you don’t have to specify the trigger order unless you’re ready for it. But you should be thinking about this as you’re converting Workflow Rules into Flow. Those 99 Flows-that-used-to-be-WFR can now be ordered!
And to tie this together, we have…
Flow Trigger Explorer
I’ve long preached the value of studying Salesforce Order of Execution. Though it’s a bit of a trap – on the one hand, it’s a highly technical topic that is easy to file under “Salesforce under the hood, doing its thing.” On the other hand, there are situations where you wrestle with the order of execution without even knowing. For example, you’re using a formula field or roll-up summary in your automation, do you know when that field is calculated with respect to when the automation is running and using it? It could be important…
Why am I rambling on about this? Well with Spring 22, Salesforce is getting a little more transparent about it. You can see all the Flow automations happening in Flow Trigger Explorer! It’s “only” a list of Flows, but I put that in quotes because with WFR and PB going away, this is a great hub of information. You can start to visualize all the stuff that’s going on in your org. You see what happens before the record is saved, after it’s saved, and then what happens asynchronously (also with a toggle for when the record is Created, Updated, or Deleted).
This is so exciting because you can start to see what’s going on with a record instead of just looking at a list of automations and trying to build a mental map. I’d like to see more visualization around scheduled actions, but I imagine that will become more important when the PB Convert Tool comes around.
Flows and Approval Processes
Before we come down from all that heady, technical architect stuff, I’d like to call out one more nugget that is so simple that it barely warrants a full sentence in the release notes, but it is truly a game-changer.
Approval field updates now execute record-triggered Flows!
I’m grabbing the confetti cannon for this one. How many times have you built an amazing Flow that does cool stuff when an Opportunity is approved by an approval process because Salesforce (and I) said that Flow is the way of the future, but it didn’t work? And why!? Never mind, it works now! Excuse me while I go refactor a bunch of orgs…
I probably confessed this before, but I’ll confess again that I don’t use auto-layout all that much. I think that’ll have to change now. First, new Flows now default to auto-layout. You can still change to free form, but the fact that it’s no longer the default signals the direction that Salesforce is going.
Second, there are some nifty features like opening a sub-Flow from the canvas or cross-linking elements. For all my bluster about OCD and perfectly straight connectors, perhaps the auto-layout is worth a look.
Save a little time and insert some commonly used items into your Flow. It appears that there are only two pre-built shortcuts for us – update triggering record and send email alert. I think these are good ideas for shortcuts, but I’m wondering what comes next. Will admins define their own shortcuts? Will there be an ecosystem of installable shortcuts, like there is with actions and components? Will there be AI-generated shortcuts? I’m hopeful that this ends up being an exciting and useful feature that helps people become more comfortable and productive with Flow and not another complication that ends up distracting more than helpful.
Flow Alongside Other Features
I want to keep rambling on about other nifty things in this release but I’m running out of tea. In addition to improving Flow for its own sake, with all the features above, there are Flow improvements in relation to other areas of Salesforce.
For example, Omni Flows are a big deal. Harry mentioned this in the Spring 22 Service Cloud blog post, but it’s easy to miss in all his excitement over Service Cloud. Salesforce is advocating to combine all your routing logic into Flow. Actions like adding skill requirements, building screen pops, or routing work can all be folded into Flow. Just like Flow Trigger Explorer brings all your object automation to one place, Omni Flow brings all your routing to one place!
Next Best Action is now Flow-first. This means instead of building Strategies, you build Flows for your recommendations. There is also Orchestrator, which is now Generally Available in Spring 22. This is one of those things that could really be a whole blog post, or series of blog posts, unto itself.
What an exciting release! I’m clearly geeked about how all these features are coming together and it’s thrilling to see Salesforce coordinating and iterating towards meaningful platform improvements. GearsCRM is offering several options for getting you set up with Flow, assisting you through this feature transition, and enhancing your org’s automation capabilities. Please reach out and one of our Solution Architects will get back to you!