Work Smarter: Four Examples of Process Automation in Salesforce

By Salesforce.org | September 25, 2019 | Ask an Architect, Education Cloud, Nonprofit Cloud

By: Carla Silvado, Principal Customer Success Architect, Salesforce.org, Tom Leddy, Senior Principal Customer Success Architect, Salesforce.org

“My users often complain about being burdened by extra steps in our org processes, steps that often lead to inconsistent entry of data or skipped steps in our designated process. How can I improve our data quality while also giving my users a better experience and driving adoption?”

According to a recent Guidestar Survey, one of the greatest challenges for both nonprofits and education organizations is the lack of time and staff to deal with increasingly complex business processes.

The good news is that there are a number of tools available within the Salesforce Platform that can help automate and streamline some of those processes for users. Declarative tools like Process Builder and Flows can be used by admins with little to no coding experience, while triggers and APEX development are available for more complex use cases.

In part 1 of this blog series, we talked about getting started with automations. Let’s take a look at some common use cases where schools and nonprofits are using these tools to automate manual processes and save time and money.

Automate “Thank You” Emails

What is it?

Almost all organizations send an acknowledgement (usually a thank you) when a gift, such as a charitable donation, is made. And here’s a free tip: if you don’t, you should! Sending prompt letters or emails when you receive a gift is good practice because it keeps your donors engaged, and automating this response is simple.

How Would an Architect Build it?

Use Process Builder to generate and send an email to the donor contact whenever the status on a donation transaction is changed to closed / won (provided they haven’t opted out of email communications). You can even use different email templates for different types of donations and add logic to your flow to select the correct one based on a variety of criteria, including dollar amount, campaign, or event.

Process Builder

Automate Inventory Tracking

What is it?

Whether your nonprofit collects household goods to distribute to families in need, or your school receives donated supplies for thbarcoe new science lab, tracking inventory items is something process automation can make easier and more efficient. As Architects, we suggest using two simple wizard style forms for the “checking in” and “checking out” of items.

How Would an Architect Build it?

Create a flow with two subflows: The first one is used to “check in” donations and create records for them as they arrive. The second one is to “check out” items and update their status to “removed” as they get handed out. As a bonus, flows can be exposed through communities, which eliminates the need for temporary volunteers to have to download the Salesforce app onto their mobile devices.

Example Inventory Management Screen

Automate Wish Lists

What is it?

Currently, you manually track the inventory that comes into your offices or campus. When you start to run low, you update your Amazon Wishlist and then post to your social media to alert donors that you’re in need of support.

How Would an Architect Build it?

This one requires a little bit of coding so you may need a Salesforce developer to help you with it, but Amazon and Facebook both have APIs available for these types of updates. To automate the posts, a trigger can be created on the “after update” event for inventory items that checks to see the total number of items that are left in a category after each checkout and then makes the appropriate posts if the count falls below a specified threshold.

Diagram describing interactions between a developer user, an end user, an application server and data storage

Automate Grant Proposal Reminders and Reviews

What is it?

One reason you may have chosen Salesforce is because we believe in the power of technology and giving back. To date, we’ve given more than $285 million in grants to organizations who are changing the world. Speaking of grants, your organization may manage a grant program as well. Let’s say you leverage staff to write proposals for grant renewals and need those reviewed by a grant coordinator prior to being sent out. Storing grant information as opportunities in Salesforce allows you to attach files, and utilize automation for the review process.

How Would an Architect Build it?

To handle this, we would create an approval process on the Opportunity object with “Opportunity: IsGrantRenewal” set to True and “Stage” set to Ready for Review. We would then have the approver automatically assigned to the person in the role hierarchy with the role of “Grant Coordinator.”

Approval Workflow

More Information on Automation

In addition to the use cases described above, Trailhead offers many other resources for a deeper dive into process automation.

This blog is part two of a three part series on Using Process Automation, and part of our larger “Ask an Architect” content series. Register for our Architect-led Process Automation webinar in October. Last but not least, don’t forget to download our latest whitepaper on the topic.

To learn more about engaging a Salesforce.org Customer Success Architect in your organization, please contact your Account Executive.


About the Authors

Tom LeddyTom Leddy is a Senior Principal Customer Success Architect at Salesforce.org based in the Chicago area. He helps nonprofit and higher education organizations integrate Salesforce into their IT landscapes so they can serve their communities more effectively. He is also an author, public speaker, marathon runner and the president of Pawsitively Famous, Inc. You can connect with Tom on LinkedIn or Twitter.


Carla SilvadoCarla Silvado has worked in the Salesforce ecosystem for twelve years, as a customer, a partner, and now at Salesforce.org as a Customer Success Architect. She helps nonprofits and higher education organizations be more efficient and maximize their technology investments. You can connect with Carla on LinkedIn or Twitter.