It’s still August and we’re all trying to cling to the end of the summer. Meanwhile salesforce is moving on to winter already (mentally, I feel we need an Autumn release so we can deny the winter is really coming for a few more months). The Winter 15 release notes were rolled out last week (sneakily while I was on vacation) and we have just over 300 pages of release notes (303 pages in all!), to absorb.
For Summer 14, we broke down and did the feature write-up in three posts and we’re going to keep with that format for Winter 15. The posts will be broken out as follows:
- Part 1 – Sales, Salesforce1 and the general platform
- Part 2 – Service Cloud
- Part 3 – Collaboration – Chatter, Communities and Work.com
Obviously, there can be some overlap between these topics, but I’ll do my best to reference this where applicable. Let’s have at it. As always, in no particular order here are some of what we think are the most interesting new features:
- Salesforce1 – Shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, but Salesforce1 is the overwhelming focus of Winter 15. Over 50 of the new features are for Salesforce1 & SalesforceA, and that is on top of the 40+ new features that came out in Summer 14. Here are some of the more interesting ones:
- Action Bar – The Action Bar replaces the old + icon that was on each record and is now the place to initiate any action you are looking to do to a record. It’s a nice compact look and feel and this makes it clearer what can be done vs. having to click the + to see that you can actually do something like take a photo. You have some control over the order the actions appear, and also the ability to add some custom actions to the bar. In addition, these actions are also available on the related list views – which is nice as you don’t have to click into a record anymore.
- Attach Files from your Device – You can now attach files to a Chatter Feed directly from Salesforce1. This includes uploading files directly from your device which is a very nice touch.
- Search Suggestions – Even though you know you’re not supposed to, most of us have tried using Salesforce1 while driving. Search suggestions is a feature to help that process out as search will now make suggestions for the record you are looking for as you’re typing – similar to how Google Search suggests search strings. Even if you’re not driving, very handy.
- Duplicate Management – We talk about the feature itself below, but looks like Salesforce1 is built to work with the new Duplicate Alert/Block feature. (I guess Marc was serious when he said every new feature must work in mobile) A nice mobile interface to alert users when they are potentially adding a duplicate from their phone. When you think about it, this is pretty critical – and an area 3rd parties would probably struggle to do well – as more Sales users work only from their mobile devices, they will be trying to move faster. If you thought it was tough to get a Sales Rep to search for a company before entering a new one before, it’ll be even worse from the phone.
- Lead Conversion – This is in beta, but this was a critical miss in Salesforce1 previously. Users can now convert leads from Salesforce1. Sounds like there may be some known limitations with the beta (which they don’t list) so test this one out before turning on.
- Opportunity Products – Another missing feature from previous releases that is corrected with Winter 15. Users can now add Opportunity Products to Opportunities.
- Approvals – There is now a view for all Pending Approvals. Easily see all Approvals you have to review. Very slick.
- Report Enhancements – Some nice reporting enhancements. Improved drill down capability from dashboards. Also, a nice addition to be able to view the full text of truncated data on a report / dashboard with a click, and then go right into the record (see below). Dashboard filters and floating report headers now work and you can now share Dashboards in Chatter in Salesforce1 as well.
- Log Calls Faster – A new streamlined way to users to log a call with only the key fields visible. Should reduce complaints.
- Duplicate Record Management – I guess it was inevitable (maybe even overdue?) that data.com would head into the duplicate management business. With Winter 15, you will have the ability to use Data.com to do inline blocking and alerting of duplicate records. This is more of what tools like DupeBlocker have done for us in the past, but still isn’t the bulk clean-up of duplicates like what you’d use DemandTools for. From the release notes it’s not clear how “fuzzy” the matching can be. With some tools – like CRMFusion’s – you can include fuzzy matching logic that does matching like knowing Jim is short for James as a first name, or knowing GearsCRM and GearsCRM, Inc. are the same even though it’s not an exact match. It does look like you have the ability to create matching rules to determine what you consider a match and that you can create multiple rule sets. For this first roll-out, looks like it only works on Accounts, Contacts and Leads and that it will not look across objects (can’t block a duplicate Lead if a Contact exists). In addition, the Quick Create ignores the blocker – shocker there. Quick Create is like the bane of every admin’s existence! (surprised there isn’t a meme cursing Quick Create out there already – and yes, I looked) Finally, just a warning, for Winter 15 this is a beta feature and this one has a direct impact on your data and users, so play with this one a bit before turning it on in production. One other thing that I’d recommend here is before turning this on, double check how this works with AppExchange products that you have hooked up. I could see tools like Marketo, Hubspot, etc. choking on this. Might be fine, but be careful.
- Activity Enhancements – A couple of enhancements to Activities, including one that has been an occasional nuisance for years. You can now create custom lookup fields on Activities instead of having to use the Related to Who/What fields in all instances. This is beta, but should be pretty easy to test out. This will definitely be handy in some places – especially particular types of Activities. In addition to this, users can now control whether they receive new task notifications in their preferences. As an admin, you control whether this is available to the users, but this is a nice feature to offer to the users as it’s a pretty common complaint to turn off the alerts from tasks being assigned to them.
- Territory Management 2.0 – We covered Territory Management 2.0 in our Summer 14 write-up, so I won’t go into much details here other than to say this is a huge improvement over the old Territory Management function. It was in beta for Summer 14 and with Winter 15 is now fully available.
- Forecasting – Some more big changes to Forecasting – some of which were in Pilot in Summer 14. First off is the ability to forecast off of custom fields. This was probably the single biggest reason our customers passed on using forecasting as a lot of organizations use a custom field as their key field. This is a huge change to forecasting, and will have us going back to a lot of customers to re-evaluate their forecasting approach. Next, salesforce continues their expansion of the Opportunity Splits functionality, and now supports Overlay Splits within forecasting. I have to imagine a lot of these changes are being driven by Salesforce’s own sales teams’ needs, as they are just getting bigger and more complex as salesforce grows. These are features not everyone needs, but when you do, it’s a deal-breaker if they aren’t supported. Finally, a nice touch for all managers is the ability to add a comment to your adjustment – just like you’d add a comment to a a cell in Excel. Very handy.
- Salesforce for Outlook – More updates to Salesforce for Outlook which just gets better and better. If we could just minimize the sidebar more than the semi-fat blue bar, I can’t think of anymore complaints users can come up with here. With Winter 15, users can now specify which attachments on an email will go to salesforce, versus having to blast them all over (see below). In addition, users now have more control over which folders the sync will look at. This is extremely handy as a lot of users want different folders to move their private contacts to in Outlook and this gives them that flexibility to do at anytime. Finally, now the sidebar works with Outlook Tasks as well allowing users to select an Outlook task and push that to a specific record in salesforce. Huge improvement if you’re an Outlook tasks user.
- Access to Event Logs – I almost missed this one the first time through the notes, but this one could be huge for admins. There’s not a lot of information here, but it looks like you can now have API access to your instance’s event logs. Looks like no UI access, so you need someone to be able to hit this with the API to retrieve them but theoretically, this would give you data on what different users are doing within the salesforce for the last 30 days. This could solve the “Joe just gave his notice – tell me EVERYTHING he did in the past 7 days” fire drills. One thing that is slipped into the bullet list is “log files are available based on CreatedDate for the last 30 days when organizations purchase User Event Monitoring” – which means there might be an additional cost for this feature. We’ll try to get more details on this one.
- Deploy changes with Active Jobs – If you push code changes from your sandbox, you know how aggravating this has been. Finally, we can deploy to production without having to turnoff all of the batch jobs – and remembering to turn them back on!
Alright, that’s it for Sales, Salesforce1 and Chatter. Next up will be Part 2 covering the changes to Service Cloud. Have a great end to the summer everyone!