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Process Builder: What it can and can't do

4.12.16 By: consultant

Admin Alert! In a recent Ask an Admin submission, one reader wanted to know more about Process Builder, so we got out the big guns and brought in our developer, Aaron Von Reuter. In addition to being a kick-ass developer, Aaron rides a Ducati and is a martial arts expert. He definitely knows what's up with the latest and greatest. Aaron explains, “We’ve been hearing a lot of buzz lately about Process Builder, and one of our consultants that attended Dreamforce this past year said one of her favorite sessions was about what Process Builder.  The session covered when it’s the right tool to use and is a great resource, but it takes experience to know when and where to use Process Builder.”

So sit back, relax, and let the stylings of Aaron Von Reuter get you up to speed.

What is Process Builder?

Process Builder was made to help accomplish exactly what its name suggests: build (automated) processes. It’s a workflow tool that allows your system admin to create new processes without writing code, and creates shortcuts for users to accomplish repetitive and time consuming tasks with the click of a button.

You can use Process Builder to perform most actions a workflow accomplishes, and then some. By determining a set of criteria and outlining a subsequent action, any action that results in meeting that criteria will trigger the action. For example, here are five cool things you can automate:

  • Assign tasks

  • Update related records

  • Create a record

  • Send an email

  • Launch or consolidate workflows

  • Business processes

As a purple belt in Jiu-Jitsu, I can tell you that the philosophies are similar.  In Jiu-Jitsu you can manipulate an opponent by anticipating their intended direction and altering it to get the upper hand. Process builder isn’t that much different! It’s a manipulation of a user’s action to reorient them in the direction you want them to go.  

Process Builder Limitations

We’ve talked about some of the things you CAN do with Process Builder. Let’s talk about some of the limitations, so you don’t end up being blindsided. Here are some of the things it doesn’t do:

  • Delete records

  • Clone a record and it’s values

  • Update unrelated records

  • Send an outbound message without code

Since Process Builder is a sophisticated way of taking a shortcut, it’s reasonable to expect there to be a couple of dead ends and roadblocks along the way. Make sure you know what they are before embarking on your journey.

How to Learn More about Process Builder

There’s a couple ways to improve your understanding of Process Builder. First off, you can take the Process Builder trailhead, which is Salesforce’s gamified tutorial on the subject.  Second, there’s a wealth of material online from youtube videos to blogs like this one.

As always, some problems can’t be solved by blogs alone. If your team needs assistance trying to figure out if you should use a Workflow, Visualflow or Apex Trigger, don't hesitate to ask an admin.

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