With all of its capabilities, Salesforce of course has limitations. Well, let me rephrase that: perceived limitations based on previous experience. Keep in mind that most organizations rely on traditional software that is not hosted in a browser. Having spent many years as a software developer, I was able to work a lot of dynamic “magic” that cannot be reproduced in Salesforce.
What You See Is What You Get
The classic Salesforce edit layout is fixed. In other words, it does not change in response to user input. Most client-side applications are very dynamic. Validation occurs while typing or moving to another field. Fields appear and become enabled, or the opposite, when certain information is selected. Fields are highlighted based on the value.
Without restoring to code (Visualforce pages, etc.), it is very likely your audience will express disappointment regarding a lack of these “essential” features.
In my experience, this issue is the most common complaint about the user experience in Salesforce. When I started working on this platform I also found it to be somewhat limiting and irritating, particularly because I am acutely aware of what can be achieved in other environments.
There is simply no way you can talk yourself out of this one. I have tried in vain to change the topic, point out all of the other benefits – virtually anything to sweep this under the rug. The reality is that there is no rug to sweep it under.
The most effective argument for me is complete honesty. Like me, you probably became very comfortable with the “validate on save” behavior and have grown to appreciate it. In fact, in many ways it is a simpler, more teachable, and more intuitive interface.
When the topic comes up, which it will, I simply stop the conversation and go into my explanation: “Yes, I know exactly what you are talking about. Salesforce does not employ this approach for performance issues, and short of custom pages we cannot achieve this behavior.” There is no need to dwell on the subject. Simply nip it in the bud.
Is this going to kill the deal? Are they going to dump Salesforce? Definitely not.
Positive Attributes of Simplicity
Let me share with you why I have grown to respect the “validate on save” approach, especially when it comes to non-profits. It has to do with volunteers and training lots of volunteers. Salesforce brings a standardization that is critical in leading a large and transient “workforce.”
This topic actually came up today in our planning meeting. With the current system, the volunteer at the check-in desk inputs the services the client will receive today and proceeds to write everything down on a form. When the client brings the form to the checkout counter, another volunteer verifies that what the client selected is within limits and provides them with any additional items specified on the form.
At this point, all the volunteer would need to do is to search for the customer’s record and fill in the number of food points (Fishbucks) spent today. What surprised me is that a good portion of the time the volunteer is too busy to enter the information, and someone later has to collect the slips and update the computer.
Everyone agreed that part of this was due to a large influx of clients, but not all. A lack of consistent training was also cited as a cause.
In later posts I delve into some of the challenges of even the simple screens we created. What I learned from this is that even the Salesforce interface needed to be shaved down to its bare essence to make the full adoption of the system by volunteers possible.
The real beauty of Salesforce is revealed in features such as the global search, standardized screens, custom view applicable to the role, being able to hide unnecessary information and record types, just to name a few.
In a nutshell, we are better off without all of the bells and whistles. Say good-bye to the traditional client-side application.