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Power Up with AppExchange

Learning Objectives

  • Define what the AppExchange is and how it can help you.
  • Develop your own AppExchange strategy.
  • Install an app from AppExchange.

Introduction

We know that there’s a lot on your plate as a CIO—sometimes a bit too much, as your app backlog just keeps getting bigger and bigger as the year goes on. There are only so many hours in a day that you can build apps for your colleagues. Do you ever stop and think to yourself that there is an app already out there that you can purchase and build off of? That’s where the AppExchange comes in.

What Is AppExchange?

You’re probably comfortable with the idea of app stores. Whether you’re downloading apps on your phone, tablet, computer, or other device, you have to download and install apps to make the most of your technology. Salesforce is the same way. Earlier, we mentioned that you can embed additional functionality with third-party apps. Salesforce has an ecosystem of partners that use the flexibility of the Salesforce platform to build amazing solutions to extend Salesforce. These include apps, components, Lightning Data, and Bolt Solutions that anyone can use—no matter what industry or department. These solutions are available (some for free, some at a cost) for installation on AppExchange.

The AppExchange home page

Strategies for Success

The AppExchange is full of solutions to virtually any business challenge, ranging from generating documents to managing an entire ERP system for a manufacturing company. The possibilities the AppExchange offers are exciting, but before you start downloading every app in sight, it’s best practice to develop a strategy. A solid AppExchange strategy helps ensure that you’re getting the highest value solutions without duplicating functionality or investing in something that you don’t need.

Follow these steps to develop a good AppExchange strategy.

  1. Identify your stakeholders. Which departments use or plan to use Salesforce? Who is feeling the biggest pain? What other departments will be indirectly impacted?
  2. Collect requirements by identifying business needs and pains. Understand the business problem you are trying to solve. Figure out how many users will use the app, and clarify the timeline and budget.
  3. Research what’s available on AppExchange that best meets your stakeholder requirements based on what you collected in #2.
  4. When you find an app that you think meets your needs, download the app in a test environment (such as a scratch org or sandbox, or a free Developer Edition org). Ensure that the app you’re installing doesn’t interfere with any other apps you’ve installed or customizations you’ve made.
Note

Note

Scratch orgs and sandboxes are types of development and testing environments. Learn more from the Salesforce Help: Sandbox Overview.

If you’re choosing between multiple apps, take some time to evaluate what you’ve tested. Determine whether there are feature gaps or unwanted functionality. If necessary, invite your stakeholders to demo the apps and provide feedback.

You’re ready to go! Time to install and deploy your app in your production environment. Make sure you keep your users in the loop about what’s changing, and provide training and documentation as necessary.

Install Your First App

Once you’ve found the right AppExchange solution for your team, how do you install it? We’ll show you!

Let’s say you find this great app on AppExchange that allows you to track user adoption.

The detail page for the Salesforce Adoption Dashboards app in the AppExchange, including details about the app and a screenshot showing feature adoption dashboards.

To install the app, click Get It Now. This button takes you to the installation wizard that guides you through the installation steps. Here are two key questions to answer during the installation process.

Q: Where do I install the app: production or sandbox?

A: In general, it’s best practice to install apps first in a nonproduction environment like a scratch org, sandbox or Developer Edition org. Testing the app first helps you avoid conflicts in production with things like object names.

Q: Do I give app permissions to admins only, all users, or specific profiles?

A: That depends on who the app is for. If you want to limit access to a particular set of users, plan to modify those user profiles before you install the app.

Where’d My App Go?

Congratulations! You’ve installed your first app. Now, if only you could find it…

An app is installed as a package. To find the package:

  1. From Setup, enter Installed Packages in the Quick Find box.
  2. Click the name of the package you installed. It will be the same name on the AppExchange download page.
  3. Click View Components to see more information about the package. The Package Details page shows you all the components, including custom fields, custom objects, and Apex classes in the package. This information helps you determine whether you have any conflicts in your own customizations.

Some Final Thoughts

As you start to explore AppExchange, be sure to check out free apps provided by Salesforce Labs. The great thing about Salesforce Labs apps, other than being free, is that they’re open source. You can customize them as needed and peek under the hood to see how they work. It’s a great way to learn more about how the platform works.

Speaking of learning more, check out the resource links, and continue on to learn how you can integrate with other third-party systems.

Resources

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