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A Quick Custom CRM Solution with Salesforce Process Builder


By Julian Joseph

Woman Using Salesforce

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

Salesforce has great out-of the-box functionality, but there will be a time when you need a more custom CRM solution.

Maybe you want to better segment donors with a custom field or create a new record when a specific action occurs.

One way to approach customizing Salesforce is to use Process Builder, a built-in tool that can automate complex tasks with a few clicks and no coding.

Process Builder’s simple interface. You can define triggers, objects, actions, and results with just a few clicks.

Is Process Builder Right For You?

It might be. Salesforce created Process Builder to make custom CRM implementation easier for their users. The key word here is “custom.” A custom solution should only be used for a very unique situation.

In many cases, your organization is not alone in its needs from Salesforce. Chances are someone out there already uses it similarly and there’s a good chance a solution already exists. In fact, it might exist within Salesforce or a commonly used package like the Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP).

Before jumping right into Process Builder, research whether a custom CRM solution already exists. Here’s how:

1. Google

It sounds simple, but Google is a great place to start. It’s likely Google will retrieve comprehensive results from popular Salesforce user forums. Here is a list of strong sample search terms:

  • “Salesforce State and Country Picklists”
  • “Salesforce Create Contacts for Opportunities”
  • “Salesforce Roll-up Campaign Data”
  • “Salesforce Automatically Rename Opportunity Names”
Pro Tip
Remember to include the word “Salesforce” in each of your searches.

It’s fine if the solution you find is a bit too technical for your organization. At the very least, you’ll discover whether what you’re looking for is even possible and, if yes, how difficult it will be to set up and implement.

2. Check Salesforce and Salesforce Apps

I find new Salesforce or Salesforce app functionalities on a daily basis. Why build a custom solution when it’s built-in and you can count on it being used daily by thousands of other users and supported directly by Salesforce?

For example, did you know Salesforce has a built-in contact merge feature? Did you know Salesforce has a recycle bin? Did you know Nonprofit Success Pack has settings to automatically create payments, refresh rollups, and rename opportunities?

All of these are settings or features that probably be recreated to varying degrees with Process Builder, but clicking a checkbox for a Salesforce supported setting is much simpler and more reliable.

If it’s not built in, maybe there’s an app for that. Check out Salesforce’s AppExchange and apply some of those Google search terms you tried out before.

Next, Test Process Builder

Okay, you’ve done your research and you’re still not sure Process Builder is right for your situation, but you’re confident that you should at least try it out. Here’s how:

1. Use a Sandbox

When you’re talking data, it’s always a best practice to use a test environment, also called a sandbox. Sandboxes are copies of your production settings, apps, and even data depending on the type of sandbox you choose.

If it’s your first time setting up a sandbox, attend a Salesforce webinar on the subject or jump into a Trailhead unit to help get you started.

Julian Joseph

Classy for Salesforce Support Rep

2. Learn How To Build a Process

In a previous article, I talked up Salesforce’s awesome learning platform, Trailhead.


There is an entire module on process automation (pictured above) and even a dedicated, 20 minute lesson about Process Builder.

This module will jump start your discovery process, but the best next step is build a process yourself.

Pro Tip
If you’re struggling to reference a particular Salesforce record as you build a process, try switching between the record’s 15 and 18 digit Salesforce IDs.

How Can I Use Process Builder?

There are almost infinite ways to use Process Builder, but here are a few common use cases for nonprofits:

  • Update a custom field based on another field
  • Create a custom object record for every new record of another object
    • Example:Create a custom object record from another package every time Classy for Salesforce creates a new opportunity record.
  • When Salesforce creates a related record, post an update to Chatter
    • Example:Notify your Director of Development when a contact’s Total Raised field is greater than $1,000.

Remember, Process Builder can’t do everything. Even if it can solve your challenge, it may not be the best tool for the job. At some point down the road you may ask yourself, “Should I create a 20th process and further complicate my data structure, or is it time to find the right partner?”

If you’ve done your due diligence with research and testing, you’ll be much more confident about answering that question.

This is a guest post by Julian Joseph. Julian started as a Classy client and now heads up Classy for Salesforce support. He enjoys making repetitive process more efficient and loves all objects standard or custom.

Classy + Salesforce = Scale

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