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8/11/2022
10 minutes

Salesforce Business Process Automation: How To Work With Declarative Tools

Written by
Team Copado
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With the right automation, a business can deliver a personalized customer experience to millions of different devices simultaneously in only a few moments. Salesforce makes developing these applications accessible through its low-code environment. Of course, there's also risk involved when you automate business-critical processes. An error can have ripple effects throughout an entire system. Although testing is vital to prevent defects from reaching production and slowing down business, many tools are limited. Either they don’t work with customizations — the reason you’re using Salesforce in the first place — or it takes specialized technical knowledge to create and maintain test scripts. The best testing solutions are just as low-code and declarative as Salesforce itself. 

Building Automated Salesforce Business Processes 

Salesforce has been critical for closing the development gap in business processes. Consider all the end-to-end elements involved in lead management. Leads come in from a variety of sources, whether it’s online traffic, past accounts, referrals, or somewhere else. They need to be tracked and assigned to the right person. This must happen rapidly, as time is of the essence. Because the business process expert is intimately familiar with this process, they're the best person to guide the creation of any technology solutions around it. Salesforce automation tools allow them to do just that.

Consider a common task like lead management. A user may want to create a program that automates the lead assignment workflow. The user would:

  1. Set assignment rules: Businesses can apply existing assignment criteria to fields within Salesforce to automate salesperson selection and onboarding. Criteria for automated assignment could be the geographical distance between the salesperson and the lead or a common area of interest. For example, a lead coming from a used car lot in South Dakota would automatically be paired with the first available salesperson in South Dakota with automotive experience.
  2. Send a response: Auto response templates can use the information you gather to initiate and maintain contact. In the South Dakota lead example, the response module would include a template email — created specifically for auto industry customers — from the assigned representative. It may even trigger a calendar invite for a phone call or event.
  3. Track status: The user creates a status module to keep track of where the lead is in the process and sets follow-up rules based on the specific status. 
  4. Convert: The final stage transfers the lead into the customer database, mapping all the information in the file to the appropriate fields and maintaining a historical record. 

An automated process that took developers years to tackle takes just four steps to accomplish in Salesforce. This happened through advancements in declarative and low-code programming. 

Declarative vs. Imperative Programming

It's important to clarify the difference between declarative and imperative programming to understand how development has changed. These are the generally accepted definitions of imperative versus declarative programming being discussed. 

 

Imperative

Declarative 

Imperative programming focuses on the "how" of program execution. A series of steps is provided to reach an end goal. It's up to the developer to guide the program and tell it specifically what to do through a sequence of commands. 

Declarative programming centers on the "what" in the situation. The system is told what programs to execute and what needs to be done, rather than given the specific steps to get there. 

 

The four-step solution to lead assignment explained above is an excellent example of declarative programming in action. It's based on what the user wants to happen, not how to get there. If that automation was created in an imperative language, it would be far longer and hard to scale. That’s not to say that declarative tools are perfect. There are limitations to consider. 

Common Issues with Low-Code Declarative Tools 

The biggest problem with low-code declarative tools is also one of the biggest benefits; they make development much more accessible. Individuals can create highly customized solutions in a point-and-click environment. However, this also means you could end up with duplicate applications, larger technical debt, and tools that only work properly in certain Salesforce environments.

There's also the risk of low-code developer blind spots. They're not doing what they should because they're not even aware it's required. Testing is a great example. Someone creating a solution may not know how important testing is when creating an automated tool. They assume the platform protects them, but even low-code applications can be misconfigured.

Consider the South Dakota example again. The user creates a program to send out an automated email response for all new leads, but accidentally includes a field meant for internal use only in the body. The user runs the program and accidentally sends out hundreds of emails with private user data exposed. While this is an extreme example it also shows why testing is important. The stakes are high.

However, traditional automated testing tools to support Salesforce can be difficult to implement and maintain. Setup is often complicated, scripts are complex and hard to read, and you need specialized knowledge to create and maintain tests.

Overcoming Testing Challenges 

If someone is developing in a low-code environment, they should test in a low-code environment. Low-code testing tools are designed specifically with low-code developer blind spots in mind. Copado Robotic Testing is a great example.

One major challenge in testing is creating test cases. The developer has to create an example of the expected outcome for the test to evaluate the program. These test cases are the foundation of the program and if done incorrectly, limit effectiveness. For a new developer, they also pose a major learning curve.

Copado's low-code approach includes a visual recorder that monitors business users as they go through the process themselves. It collects that information and turns it into the exact criteria needed to establish a test case.

AI capabilities are helpful as well. Salesforce is a dynamic platform with a lot of new features and updates rolled out regularly. Static testing can't keep up; you end up with broken tests and constant maintenance. AI-enabled features allow tests to self-heal in response to changes, prompt fixes, and predict release quality.

Salesforce business process automation is a powerful tool that is ushering in the next stage of development. As more users take advantage of low-code and declarative tools it will be important to maintain standards. Automated, AI-enabled testing supports these needs while keeping pace with the speed of development.

 

 

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