Workflow, Process Builder, and Flow – Comparing and contrasting the differences in power between “the big three” Salesforce automation tools
Using Salesforce automation tools effectively can help streamline many of your redundant business processes and improve efficiency. We like to look at Salesforce automation tools represented in the lightweight, middleweight, and heavyweight leagues. Could a featherweight be what you need? Or is it a job for a super heavyweight?
Automation Leagues – Which Tool Do I Use?
Lightweight – Workflow Rules
Workflow rules simplify things such as assigning tasks, updating fields (local to the object), and/or both based on triggers like time (after 2 days, etc.). You can also use workflows to send automated emails. Keep in mind that you’ll have to plan to not heavily cross any other related objects for their field’s values. There are some limitations to workflows, as they’ll fire only when a record is created or saved.
Middleweight – Process Builder
If you want an automation tool that is more flexible and scalable, Process Builder is great to do things like update a bunch of child records, run a flow, allow for several different variations of operation, create a record, or all of the above in one automation. Process Builders can run multiple actions under multiple sets of criteria. Use Process Builder for simple if/then statements – one Process Builder will accept multiple if/then statements. If you are looking to iterate through a set of records, you’ll need a more powerful tool… a heavyweight.
Heavyweight – Flow (VisualFlow)
VisualFlow is an application that makes it easier for users and the system to work on complex logic. For example, it can help you build a UI to guide your users through a set of procedures, store and distribute various record values from all over the Org to be leveraged in unique ways, and/or be iterated through a specified set of records using Loops to perform very nuanced updates. Flows can run all sorts of robust operations, including Apex, – and anything the others mentioned above can do – all in one place. VisualFlow is a more advanced option with a learning curve, so approach this with caution.
While it can be difficult to decide which to use, trial and error and slowly implementing Salesforce automation gets easier with time.
And there you have the Salesforce automation tool championship players, ladies and gentlemen. Still unsure of which tool to place your bets on? Checkout this Trailhead module for more info.