As Salesforce seeks to nudge it’s users’ interactions into a more collaborative environment , they released the oft overlooked Publisher Actions. These handy little bits of functionality allow developers and administrators the ability to give their users a quick and easy way to update records, create child records, or display visualforce pages from the feed or via Salesforce1. The mobile friendly aspect should make the Actions a go to in any solution design, but the more orgs I work with the more I realize – no one is using them.
Why is that?
First, Chatter has to be adopted for them to be utilized. If an organization has not bought into the concept of Chatter, putting business critical actions in the feed will most likely end in frustration and further the organization’s contrary views against Chatter.
Second, it’s a departure from the norm. As we all know, users are extremely resistant to change. Even though it might be more efficient to use Publisher Actions, if users are accustomed to clicking the new button, waiting for the edit screen to render, filling out the information, hitting save, waiting for the page to refresh, clicking on the link to get back to the parent record so that they can repeat the process (or clicking “Save and New” if they think to!), that is exactly what they are going to do.
And third, consultants are hesitant to leverage them because of reasons 1 and 2. As consultants, though, it is our job to ensure our clients are getting the most out of their system by utilizing every tool Salesforce provides as best we can. If they aren’t using Chatter, why not? Pursue that more and show them the collaborative power the Chatter platform holds for their users. Are they stuck in their process, regardless of how inefficient it is? Another aspect of our job is to help guide the conversation until they begin to see the need for a change.
When should I use them?
There are many situations when a Chatter Publisher Action would be a great direction in your design:
1.Creating a child record with information pre-filled:
Gone are the days of creating custom buttons with those time-consuming, albeit useful, URL hacks. With Publisher Actions, you can create child records with as many pre populated fields as you would like, and all with functionality that does not come with a disclaimer on it! And it can save on hours of rework and frustration: It’s a rare occurrence, but if the server your client’s org sits on happens to experience a split, all of the custom buttons that reference the old URL will be useless. So start migrating those over today!
2.Quick in-and-out actions:
If your users need to update a record and get out (like the status of a project or the stage of an opportunity), then an action might fit the bill for you.
If the process would be better served on a mobile device, then publisher actions are the way to go. They make a great addition to the Salesforce1 platform, and can really draw your users in and increase adoption of the system as a whole.
4.You want to do really, really cool things:
One of our clients was relying on Salesforce to track different required pieces of documentation that would be uploaded by their customers/constituents through a very customized Community. The Notes and Attachments related list is great, but if they upload a W2 and the file’s name is fluffywuffycuddlekins.pdf, the related list doesn’t do the user much good as to what in the world fluffywuffycuddlekins.pdf could be. So our approach was to use the Chatter Feed (which also gives the user up to 2GB for the size of their files) and a custom visualforce Publisher Action.
Not only can we control how the file is displayed to the user, we can also do other cool things like show a preset list of document types the user can choose from, give access to the file to customer community members, and tagging the record with a corresponding Topic to be used in List Views and Reporting. And it also shows in the Chatter Feed, where activity can abound (is that really what I look like?).
Nate Hembree is a husband, father of two boys, consultant to non-profits, and considered by many to be quite tall. He enjoys helping non-profits leverage the transformational power of Salesforce to do good better.