3 ways to use Salesforce automation to be more efficient

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By: Brent Shively | 3.28.17

Need a reminder to follow up with a potential lead after one week? Want to create a real-time notification when your organization has a brand new member? It’s possible with Salesforce automation: processes, flows, and workflows.

As Salesforce’s technology has grown, their automation features have begun to show immense benefits to users. It’s likely you do not have to think very hard of possible uses where you would benefit from Salesforce automation in your own day-to-day.

Each of these three tools (workflows, processes, and flows) are available on the Salesforce platform but knowing which Salesforce automation to use can be challenging. To help you contextualize some uses, let’s take a look processes, flows, and workflows with examples of how to use each of them.


Processes vs. Flows vs. Workflows

At first glance, these terms seem interchangeable, but they each function very specifically. For a standard Salesforce admin, you will want to focus on learning processes first using Process Builder, Flows with VisualFlow second, and leave the heavier lifting of workflows to a developer or consultant, unless you’re feeling particularly motivated!



Process Builder provides a clear user interface using point-and-click functionality for building out automation with “if/then” statements. Processes are particularly helpful for any internal notifications or reminders, whether that is email, Chatter, or an Activity. They are generally initiated based on a record being created, changed, or reaching a certain age.

One example of a very basic process could be created when a Lead fills out a web-to-lead form. The process could look something like “if a Lead is created with “Source: ‘Web Form”, then create an activity/task for a specific user to follow up”.



Visual Workflow contains some similar functionality to processes. What is truly unique is that flows are triggered by a user manually selecting a button or link. Flows make more sense when you have a need for automation that is not uniformly applicable to a particular business process.

Examples of when to use a Flow can be when a customer service representative takes a call and needs to choose the specific product that relates to the call or when updating a record and the account owner field needs to be updated. When you need to have closer control over when automation needs to be triggered, flows will be your best friend.



Finally workflow rules, the original automation tool with Salesforce. Unlike processes or flows, workflows can be applied declaratively to a single “if/then” statement and exclusive to a single object. A great example, and one of the major benefits of using workflows, is the ability to send outbound emails. This means you can notify a prospect or client automatically via email based on a change to Salesforce.

A challenges of using workflows is it requires a developer to create. You’ll want to be very confident if you want it to trigger regularly because the only way to adjust it will be adding more code.

Pro-tip: While developing any of the above, we highly suggest using this helpful breakdown from Salesforce to confirm you are choosing the best method.


Salesforce automation at your fingertips

Each of these three tools offer a lot of possibilities for creating a “tickler” system within Salesforce, helping your employees balance their workload and not rely on their own methods. It’s a great way to expand usage of the platform and have it work smarter for you. Workflows are a great way to make your employees more efficient.

Looking to better automate your Salesforce instance? Our team of expert developers and consultants are here to help you make Salesforce work for you and your organization.


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