Salesforce is a popular CRM system for Sales and other customer-facing teams, and many rely on it to perform business-critical tasks.
For this reason, many also choose to automate it, in order to optimize use of time and resources.
If you are on the lookout for a tool to automate Salesforce, or you’re already using one, but want to make sure that you’re getting the most out of it, this guide is for you.
In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at what Salesforce automation means and what possibilities there are within RPA (robotic process automation) and test automation. At the end of this guide, you’ll also find a short introduction to how to choose your tool.
What is Salesforce automation?
Before we dig into specific use cases for Salesforce test automation and RPA, let’s first make sure we’re on the same page in terms of what Salesforce automation is.
When many people talk about Salesforce automation, they’re referring to automation within Salesforce (often abbreviated to SFA).
The purpose of SFA is, like any type of automation, to increase productivity and reduce the amount of tedious, repetitive work. Many processes that go on within Salesforce are prime candidates for automation, in fact, according to one study, sales reps spend about 17% of their time on entering data, and 21% of their time on writing mails – two types of tasks that can very well be automated. The study also showed that sales reps only spend about 21% of their time on selling – time that could be increased if other tasks were automated.
One simple example of a type of SFA is when a lead is created through a Salesforce form, and the sales rep receives a notification to follow up on that lead. This is an automated functionality offered within the Salesforce tool.
In addition to this functionality, there are also other types of automation that go on outside Salesforce, and that therefore require external tools.
Under this category fall both RPA and test automation. Let’s start with RPA.
RPA for Salesforce
RPA (Robotic Process Automation) for Salesforce is used to perform tasks, typically tasks that include reading, transferring or transferring data between Salesforce and another tool or database.
A simple example of this could be reading an excel sheet with scraped leads and automatically transferring them to Salesforce on a scheduled basis. It could also be reading data in Salesforce and transferring it to an excel sheet, or perhaps another CRM system, where you want your customer details to be updated without any human interference.
Large businesses and enterprises typically have many systems and tools that can benefit from automation. This is typically done by setting up automatic transfer of data on a scheduled basis or by trigger, to ensure always updated and synced information across systems, and to avoid any errors that can otherwise occur when a human is responsible for the task.
The number of Salesforce processes that can be automated are virtually endless – at least if you select an automation tool that works across all technologies.
Test automation for Salesforce
The second type of automation that goes on outside Salesforce is test automation. As the name suggests, this type of automation is about testing, or verifying, integrations or connections between Salesforce and other systems and tools.
For example, an enterprise might have a customer website, where users can purchase their products. Once a user purchases something, the enterprise wants this information to be updated in their Salesforce account. Here, test automation can verify that that action was in fact performed, and can notify someone or take an action if it wasn’t.
Imagine, for example, an enterprise that has customers in 25 different countries and relies on their website to sell their product. If they’re system connections are down – even for a short amount of time – and they are not immediately notified, customer information may be lost and the enterprise risks a substantial loss in profit.
An automation tool can thereby be used to ensure that these connections work properly.
Examples of what can be automated in Salesforce
A good case for automation is typically a case that is repetitive, tedious and error-prone.
As mentioned in the previous section, there are internal and external types of Salesforce automation as well as test automation and RPA. Next are a few examples of types of RPA and test automation of Salesforce.
RPA for Salesforce examples
In RPA, robots essentially imitate the actions of humans, but do so in a much faster and less error-prone manner. Of course, not all actions can (or should) be performed by robots; it is only the predictable, rule-based, and repetitive tasks that are performed better by robots - and Salesforce has lots of these tasks.
By automating these tasks, sales reps can spend less time on manual work, and the number of errors can be reduced. This gives them more time to focus on what matters most in sales: Building strong customer relationships and making more deals.
Here are a few examples of Salesforce processes you can automate:
- Extracting data from emails or voice calls
- Transferring data between Salesforce and external systems
- Interpreting and manipulating data to complete standard transactions such as processing returns
- Updating or syncing data between Salesforce and legacy systems
- Responding to customer requests through chat bots or automated emails
- Inserting lead data into Salesforce captured from events or campaigns
- Generating custom reports from Salesforce
- Finding information faster in Salesforce
- Integrating Salesforce with other business applications
This last point - integrating Salesforce with other business applications – is where many businesses experience substantial gain from RPA, particularly large organizations who have a complex web of systems that are otherwise difficult to integrate.
As many businesses come to rely on these integrations to run their business critical processes, they also need to test these integrations to verify that everything works as it should. This brings us to our next examples: Test automation.
Test automation for Salesforce examples
Test automation is different from RPA in that it is about verifying processes rather than performing them. Many businesses have tailored connections between Salesforce and other internal or external systems. This could for example be a legacy system, a website, or a database.
Test automation for Salesforce serves the sole purpose of checking that these connections are working as they should. These tests cannot be performed with Salesforce, as the tool itself cannot be a part of the tool being tested. Much like you cannot define a word by using the word itself. For this purpose, external tools must be used.
This brings us to our next question: How do you choose your Salesforce automation tool? Should you choose a tool that works with test automation or RPA (or both), and should you look beyond Salesforce to see what else you can automate?
How to choose your Salesforce automation tool
Salesforce is just one tool that can be automated. Many businesses find that, with time, they see the need to automate across tools, systems and technologies.
This is a factor that should be taken into consideration when looking into choosing the right automation tool for Salesforce.
Next, let’s take a look at what other factors should be considered when selecting an automation tool. Overall, there are three things you’ll want to take into consideration when researching your options.
1. Make sure that the tool fully supports Salesforce automation
The first factor you should consider is of course whether the tool is optimal for Salesforce automation. Use the previous section in this guide to clarify what it is that you want to automate – is it a functionality within Salesforce, or is it between Salesforce and other external tools or technologies, and do you want to use test automation or RPA (or both).
Many try Selenium, as it’s free and can automate anything in a browser. Selenium does have it’s drawbacks however. You can find everything you need to know about using Selenium to automate Salesforce in this blog post.
2. Make sure that the tool is scalable
If you’re taking a strategic approach to automation, you’ll also be considering how you can scale the use of your chosen automation tool down the road. Even if you only see the need to automate one specific Salesforce functionality or integration now, you may find the need to automate additional aspects in the near future. For this reason, you should look for a tool that will work across several technologies. Doing so will give you a higher return on your tool investment over time.
3. Make sure the tool is user-friendly
The last important factor to take into consideration is how easy the tool is to use. The user interface, as well as the amount of coding that the tool requires are good indicators of this. Deciding who will be responsible for setting up and maintaining automation flows is crucial in this aspect, because the tool’s complexity should be based on their capabilities. If you already now know that you will want to use the tool throughout a team with mixed skill sets, it’s safer to choose a tool that doesn’t require coding, and that has an easily understandable user interface.
If you are on the lookout for a Salesforce automation tool that will help you automate across technologies, at scale, without requiring you to write a single line of code, then LEAPWORK’s no-code automation platform might be the solution for you.