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Get Familiar with Flow Builder

Learning Objectives 

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Define the building blocks of Flow Builder.
  • Compare Flow Builder and Process Builder.
  • Explain how to pull data from an org into Flow Builder.
  • Describe the basic data elements of Flow Builder.
  • Differentiate between Fast Field Updates vs Actions and Related Records.

Flow This Way!

Enjoy the following, animated videos that introduce some Flow Builder basic concepts, such as data elements and how to update records efficiently. The quiz at the end of this unit asks questions based on the content of the videos. Be sure to watch the videos so you get the information you need to answer the questions. 

Flow Builder

There are three types of flows you’re most likely to build in Flow Builder: screen flows, record-triggered flows, and autolaunched flows. Watch the video below to learn more about these automations.

View Transcript

[Narrator] Welcome to Flow. With the tool Flow Builder, you can create powerful automations in Salesforce or Flows on any standard or custom object, and all with clicks. Flows can update records, send emails, and guide users to the steps of a complex business process. The first thing you have to decide when opening Flow Builder is the Flow Type. The three most common types of Flows are Screen Flow, Record-Triggered Flow, and Autolaunched Flow.

  • For Screen Flows, imagine a short form or questionnaire that changes based on user answers and existing data. Take for example, a customer survey after a support case is completed. The survey questions might change based on time to resolution or complexity of case. Behind the scenes, the Flow could send an email to the customer and assign follow-up tasks to a support agent.
  • Use Record-Triggered Flows when you want one change to your data to result in additional updates or actions. For example, when a large opportunity closes, send an alert to the right people on your team. Or when an opportunity is created, automatically email the sales team.
  • For Autolaunched Flows, this is when you want a process to start automatically when a specific action is taken. For example, users could click a customized button which uses a Flow behind the scenes to delete all outdated quotes from an opportunity.

Now that you know the most common types of Flows, let's go over the basic layout of Flow Builder. First, there is the Toolbox, where Elements are like your tools. Elements can be interactive, like a screen where users input information; logic-based, like a decision element that will alter the path your Flow follows; or data-based, like creating a new record.

Next up is the canvas. The canvas is the working area where you build a Flow by adding Elements from the Toolbox. As you add elements to the canvas and connect them together, you see a visual diagram of your Flow. In addition to the canvas, there is the Manager section. This is a list of what you've built in your Flow, including the elements you've used, variables, formulas picklist choices and more. Don't worry, there will be more videos that further explain elements like variables in more detail.

Great job; you are now familiar with the three most common Flows and the Flow Builder layout.

Why Automate with Flow Builder?

What makes Flow Builder so special? How can it help you save time? How does any of this relate to goat herding? All good questions. Watch the video below to see how you no longer have to be a developer to create powerful automations in Salesforce.

View Transcript

[Narrator] Let's get right to the point. Salesforce automation helps your org run reliably and efficiently. Fields are updated, pick lists are created, emails are sent and errors are corrected behind the scenes with automation. Automate something once, and save time with every click.

Flow Builder is our most efficient and versatile automation tool to-date. It can automate an incredibly broad range of things in Salesforce. You just need to build it once. What's your plan when a staff member leaves your company to become a goat herder? With a flow in place, you'll only need to manually deactivate their user record. From there, Flow Builder can message the HR team via Slack, email the IT manager, update all records owned by that user based on criteria, communicate with other IT systems and much more. When a staff member leaves, the next steps require accuracy and are time sensitive. Don't rely on a manual checklist if you can automate it.

Flow Builder is a declarative tool, which we like to call no/low code. You no longer have to be a developer to create powerful automations. If you know how objects, records and fields interact, then you're already halfway to understanding flows. No/low code automations are also significantly easier to maintain and support. If you decide to run away and herd goats too, your replacement can skill up on Flow Builder using available resources such as Trailhead.

To recap, Flow Builder is Salesforce's most versatile automation tool. Flow Builder automates communication and data updates. Flow Builder is a declarative tool. Watch out for staff members who start watching a lot of goat herding how-to videos, and as always, test your automations first in a sandbox org.

Flow Builder vs Process Builder

A record-triggered flow can update a Salesforce record 10 times faster than a record-change process built with Process Builder. Not only is Flow Builder more efficient, it just has more features. Watch the video below to see how much more horsepower Flow Builder has than Process Builder. 

View Transcript

[Narrator] Black and white movies upgrading to color. The horse and carriage giving way to the automobile. Reel-to-reel to VHS tape. Spreadsheet to Salesforce. I bet you see where this is going. We couldn't go back to the old ways once we experienced the benefits of new technology. Switching to Flow Builder from Process Builder is the same thing. Flow Builder can do everything Process Builder does and more.

Let's look at some highlights of Flow Builder versus Process Builder. Process Builder and Flow Builder can both create and update records, send emails, and run scheduled actions. However, Flow Builder can also delete records, use data from any Salesforce record, even if it's unrelated, call Slack actions, follow logic paths that branch multiple times, execute multiple flows from a single trigger, debug and test automations without activating first.

Beyond being more powerful, flows are also more efficient and maintainable. And in fact, a record-triggered flow can update a Salesforce record 10 times faster than a record-change process built with Process Builder. You may wonder how could flows be 10 times faster than Process Builder automations. Let's go through an example. If you create a record-triggered flow and you choose fast field updates, then the flow actually executes before the record is even saved, whereas Process Builder must wait for the record to be saved to make the updates and then saves the record again. As you can see, Flow Builder makes fewer stops and therefore arrives more quickly at the destination. More efficient automation equals a better performing sales force org.

So to recap Process Builder versus Flow Builder. Flow Builder and Process Builder can perform some of the same tasks, but Flow Builder has more advanced features, such as using data from any Salesforce record. Flow Builder can update a record up to 10 times faster than Process Builder. And as always, be sure to test your automations in a sandbox first. So join us in the Flow Builder automobile as we speed past the Process Builder horse and carriage.

Get Records

Flow Builder knows nothing about your data. It is a blank canvas. You have to tell Flow Builder what data needs to be grabbed from your Salesforce org. Watch the video below to see how Get Records is like playing a claw arcade game. 

View Transcript

[Narrator] Did you know that Flow is not connected to your data? Flow has no idea what's going on in your Salesforce Org. So how do we get data into a Flow? If only there were a data element to help us get data into Flow? Oh wait, there is.

In order to pull information into Flow, we use the Get Records Data Element. Get Records allows you to choose an object to get records from and even set criteria to decide which records to get. You can get one or many records to work with. Within the record, you can either get all the fields or select just the fields you need.

Once the records are in the Flow, you can work with the information in several ways. You can inform decisions, update the records that you pulled into the Flow, update other records, all of these decisions, updates, et cetera are temporary and exist only in the Flow until the information is sent back to your Salesforce Org. This can be done with the Create, Delete, and Update Records Data Elements. Get Records pulls info into your Flow and the create, delete, and update records elements push that info back into your Salesforce Org.

Let's follow a real world example of these ideas. You need a screen flow where a case is created and automatically assigned. One required field of this flow is Owner, the user to whom the case is assigned. We have to tell the flow which user will own our new case, but the flow only has access to the user who is currently running the flow. To bring that data into Flow, we need to use the get records element to pull in the ID of the user who should own the case. And finally the create record element is added to the Flow to push the new information to your Salesforce Org. The new record, the case, is created and is assigned to the correct user.

Congrats, you've learned how to pull information into your Flow with the Get Records element, and how to push information from your Flow to your Salesforce Org with the Update, Delete, and Create Record elements. And lastly, always test your automations in a sandbox.

Create, Update, and Delete Records

When you want the Flow Builder to push changes from your flow to your Salesforce org, you use a Create, Update, or Delete Records element. Watch the video below to see how it’s more efficient to take a big garbage bag full of quotes to the dumpster than to take each item out one at a time.

View Transcript

[Narrator] What happens inside a flow stays inside a flow. (music scratching) Until you use a Data Element. A data element in flow represents an action that the flow can take. These Elements let you Get Records from your database and pull them into the Flow. They also let you Create Records, Delete Records, and Update Records. We can use the Data Elements to modify one record or a bunch of records.

Let's look at some business use cases. When an opportunity status changes, we can use Create Records to create a new task and assign it to a colleague. When a customer accepts a quote, a Delete Records element can delete the remaining quotes from the opportunity. To delete, create or update multiple records, we first have to put them in a record variable that stores multiple values. Then, we use the Delete Records element to delete all the records at once. It's much more efficient to delete or create or update all of your records at once than to update your records one at a time. And be very, very careful with the Delete Records Element. Test it out in a sandbox first.

There you have it. You now know more about flow elements and how to use them to delete, update or create records in multiple ways. Remember, test in a sandbox org when using these flow elements.

When is the right time to use Actions and Related Records? Is there a wrong time to use Fast Field Updates? Is it lunch time? Watch the video below to get answers to all of these questions and more.

View Transcript

[Narrator] By now you've learned a bit about flow builder and maybe even built some flows. This ain't your first flow-deo, but one thing may still confuse you when building a record triggered flow. Do you want fast field updates or actions and related records? I don't know, you tell me. To find out which you want, ask yourself one question. No, not is it lunchtime yet.

Rather the question is, is this flow updating only the record that triggered the automation? In other words, the record that makes your automation fire in the first place. If you're updating just that record, choose fast field updates. If you're doing anything else such as updating other contact records or sending an email, choose actions and related records.

Let's walk through an example. Let's say our contact moves to a new location, someplace warmer. If we want to make additional updates to just her record, we'd choose fast field updates. For example, we want our automation to update the contacts listed region to Southeast USA. Let's say, instead, we want to send an email to the record owner about our contacts updated region. Then we choose actions and related records. Actions and related records is used for everything else beyond updating the record that triggered the automation. There are also performance issues associated with each choice. Fast field updates actually happen before the record is even saved in Salesforce. Actions and related records happen after the record is saved.

And to recap, both fast field updates and actions and related records can be used in a record triggered flow. The fast field updates option is used when updating the record that triggered the flow. The actions unrelated records is used for all other instances. For better performance speeds, use fast field updates when applicable and as always, be sure to test your flows in a sandbox first. Now it is time for lunch.

Stay on schedule and follow the path to the next unit to keep learning more Flow Builder concepts. Don’t get thrown for a loop! 

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