Archive for the ‘Documentation’ Category

Using Logic and Conditionals When Generating Documents

Sunday, July 30th, 2017

Sending a well crafted thank you letter to your donors is an essential part of your non-profit’s fundraising efforts. Acknowledging a donor in a timely manner increases giving and also improves donor retention. And when you need to send large numbers of such letters, you would want to automate the process so that members of your staff can send them off with a couple of clicks. This is when you need Apsona’s Document Generator to set up the process seamlessly.

A use case – Consider a scenario where you need to send your donors a thank you letter after a successful campaign. In this case, the content or the body of the letter is the same for all donors, but the signatures on the letters are determined by the donation amount. Donors who have donated $500 or more get a thank-you letter signed by the President of the organization. Those who have donated between $250 and $500 get letters signed by the Executive Director, and donors who have given under $250 get a letter signed by the Philanthropy Officer.

Setup – Setting up the merge with Apsona’s Document generator is a four-step process: Create a template, creating the data sources for the template, map your data, and generate documents. As the body of the letter is the same for all the donors, the template will only need to have the required merge fields or place-holders for the relevant data to be filled in. With Apsona’s support for conditional directives (i.e., if-then-else), you can selectively include or exclude content in your document based on data conditions. In the use case we are looking at, it is the different signatures on the letters determined by the donation amount.

template1

In the above template, we have just four merge fields as place-holders: First name (Donor name), Donation amount, date the payment was received and the Household name. The data for the merge fields are available in the Contact object, and the data for the merge fields in the body are available in the Opportunity object, and the two are linked via the Primary Contact lookup in the Opportunity object. So you can create a simple Opportunity report that extracts all the necessary data fields to generate this document.

The signature area contains conditional directives to drive the logic outlined above:

«IF Opportunity_Amount>=500»John Doe
President«ELSE IF Opportunity_Amount>=250»Jane Doe
Executive Director«ELSE IF Opportunity_Amount>=100»Jill Doe
Philanthropic Officer
«ELSE»John Doe
President «ENDIF»

In the above example, we use four directives, IF, ELSE IF, ELSE and ENDIF, to provide the logic. Each directive is created as a standard Word merge field. The code in the above example looks for the template field Opportunity_Amount. The text of the signature is interspersed with the directives so that the required logic is implemented.

It is important to ensure that each IF directive must be followed at some later point by a corresponding ENDIF directive so that the text segments that produce the signatures are clearly differentiated from the main body of the document. The document generator checks for this condition, and if a violation is detected, it might produce an error message like the one below.

IF

The example here shows the If – Then – Else conditionals in the signature are of the letter but you can get really creative and use it from the address and body of the letter as well. Detailed documentation on the If -then- Else conditionals is available on the Apsona website. Here is the link.

Apsona Charts and dashboards

Friday, July 10th, 2015

Segment, slice and dice your data at will with Apsona’s Charting and dashboard add-on. This new add-on is the latest entrant to the Apsona suite of products. The question we were frequently asked was, “As Apsona reporting is so powerful, why can we not see the report data as charts and in dashboards?” Now, with Apsona’s Charting and dashboards, you can visualize and analyze your data in real time, right within your Salesforce org in your browser – there is no exchange of data with an external data warehouse.

Apsona charting supports several types of charts – horizontal and vertical bar charts, pie and line charts, KPI’s and Pivot tables. More chart types are on the way. You can create powerful charts with it – charts that cannot be constructed with native Salesforce. One example that comes to mind is a chart with multiple “layers”.  A multi-layer chart is one that contains two or more charts overlaid on each other.  For example, you can create a two-layer chart with one layer containing Campaign and expenditure information, overlaid with a second layer containing Campaign and Opportunity revenue information.  This way, you can get a side-by-side view of two related metrics (expenditure and revenue) in the same chart – even if those metrics are not available from the same report or object. You can also apply filter conditions to each layer if required. Layers can be added to vertical and horizontal bar charts.

Another powerful visualization available is the pivot table. With this device, you can use multiple dimensions in the rows and columns and metrics in the cells. You can also use multiple metrics in the cells, and essentially get all of the benefits of an Excel pivot table right in your browser.

Most organizations set goals and use metrics to measure performance towards those goals. This is where dashboards come in handy. You can now present the storyboard of your data as an Apsona dashboard. An Apsona dashboard is basically a collection of Apsona charts. It can include a combination of charts, and can easily be edited and previewed, and its charts resized and repositioned. You can add an Apsona dashboard to a Salesforce Home page and also as a related list in a Salesforce object.

demodashboard

To try out Apsona Charting and dashboards, please click the Feedback link in Apsona for Salesforce and send us a request. We look forward to feedback and suggestions on this add-on.

 

 

Updating data without VLOOKUP with Apsona

Saturday, January 31st, 2015

Apsona for Salesforce has built-in tools that can highlight data quality issues, which you can find and replace when ever the need arises. Most businesses are aware that bad data quality can be a huge drain on their productivity and profitability. If you have an active Salesforce org you will always need to update data on a regular basis. Phone numbers, email addresses or mailing addresses of contacts and leads might need updating from time to time. Such mass updating cannot be done natively in Salesforce, but can be done with Apsona.

Here is a real use case. After running a mailing campaign, a user obtains a list of mail recipients who have unsubscribed. So she needs to remove the email address from the corresponding a set of contact records and replace the field value to null. She also wants to update the “Email Opt Out” checkbox for all the mail recipients. The recipient list is a CSV file with just the email addresses that have to be removed. Contact ID’s or even a First and Last name are not available.

With Apsona, you can match such a set of data records in a CSV format against your Salesforce data, and obtain the record ID for each record, if one is available. In this case, you use the email addresses CSV file as the data source and take advantage of Apsona’s import tool. You will be able to match the CSV data records against Salesforce data in steps 1 and 2 of the import/update process. In step 3, instead of clicking the Import button, you will need to click the ‘Download match results’ link. The resulting download will contain your data (the email addresses) with an additional first (leftmost) column containing the unique record IDs of the matched records. So we already not have the ID’s with just a few clicks. Half way there already.

Now for the replace part. In the downloaded file add another column called Email (Null values) and leave the cell values blank. Use the import tool again and choose the update action. Use the Contact ID as the look up field in step 1 and map the Email (null values) columns to Email in step 2. Complete the update in step 3 and you are done.

In the example, we saw how to find the unique ID’s and replace the field data values with a few clicks without having to go though the tedious VLOOKUP function in Excel. http://apsona.com/blog/updating-data-without-vlook-up-with-apsona/ http://apsona.com/blog/updating-data-without-vlook-up-with-apsona/ http://apsona.com/blog/updating-data-without-vlook-up-with-apsona/ http://apsona.com/blog/updating-data-without-vlook-up-with-apsona/ http://apsona.com/blog/updating-data-without-vlook-up-with-apsona/

Download Apsona for Salesforce from the AppExchange and try out your use cases. The app had a 30 day free trial.

Happy New Year from the Apsona Team

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

As 2014 draws to a close, we thought you’d be happy to hear from the two Apsona elves that are hard at work creating new features to serve you better. So here are some features you might like.

  • The field selector for creating filters and for adding fields to reports is now easier to use as well as searchable for both objects and fields. You might look at the screen shots in our documentation, and better yet, try it out!
  • Administrators can now manage their Document and Mail merge licenses from within the Apsona application.
  • Document and Excel merge actions can now be invoked directly from either a detail page button or a Salesforce sidebar component, e.g., from the left side of your Salesforce home page. Visit our website for more information about this.
  • You can now generate address labels from the document merge tool.
  • As always, if you see bugs or glitches, or have questions or suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

    Thank you for supporting the Apsona apps. Wish you the very best for 2015 and beyond.

    The Apsona team
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    How To Generate Documents and Emails with Apsona

    Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

    Apsona’s new merge tool allows you to quickly generate Word, Excel and email directly from your Salesforce org. You can generate end-of-year tax summaries and thank-you letters to your donors, or a proposal or quote to your customer, as a Word document. You can choose to send donors an email via a HTML template if you want to go paperless. And you can also render your pledged and posted donations into a multi-sheet Excel report, complete with charts and pivot tables. All of this functionality is included in one package – Apsona Document and Mail Merge.

    Here are some of the key benefits of the Apsona merge add-on.

    • Entirely browser-based:  The merge process works entirely within your browser, and has no interaction with any external services. So your data never leaves your browser. This is unlike many competing products, which typically ferry your data over to the vendor’s server and carry out the merge process there.
    • Flexible field naming in templates: Template building is quick and easy: you don’t need to adhere to any particular naming convention of Salesforce field names. When you create the template, you simply make up any field names you want, and Apsona will discover those names and let you match them with data fields.
    • Compatible with existing templates: If you have already created document templates for competing products, Apsona’s merge tool can usually use them directly with no change.
    • Powerful data retrieval ability: You can leverage Apsona’s powerful reporting capabilities as the data source for the merges. Data can be retrieved directly from a Salesforce object, or from any Apsona report – single step or multi-step. Thus you can combine fields from multiple objects into one template. You can even include calculated (aggregate) fields such as total donation amount in the last six months, or the most recent gift date last year – calculations that might not be available through roll-up fields. Filters can be added to an existing merge on the fly.
    • Integrated with Salesforce buttons: The merge add-on integrates into Salesforce detail pages via custom buttons. Setting up a button is simple: Generate the code for the button from within Apsona and paste the code into the button’s JavaScript area. No need to mess with template IDs, query IDs or URLs, unlike competing products.

    Example: Sending a thank-you letter. A thank-you letter typically includes merge fields from the Contact object, such as the name and address. It might also include merge fields for sub-lists, e.g., a list of donations by that contact, containing the date, amount and campaign of each donation. To create such a merge:

    • To include a list of donations by the contact, you can build a table in the document template. The rows of the table might contain Donation merge fields, such as amount, payment method and donation date. As with other similar products, the leftmost cell in the table should include the TableStart field, which specifies a record group name following a colon. The rightmost cell in the table should similarly include the TableEnd field. These two markers indicate the region of the document that must be replicated, once for each Donation.
    • The data source for a template can be obtained from pre-built Apsona reports, or directly from an object. For example, the Contact information can come from the Contact object, and the list of donations can be obtained from a Donation report. Before running a pre-built merge template, you can also apply additional filter terms that are not specified in the Donation report.

    You can also generate customized emails using email templates stored in your Salesforce Communication Templates. As with documents, the tool can recognize merge fields in the email template and generate customized emails from the corresponding data. It can even attach a generated Word document with a generated email before sending it off. It can also handle email templates made with letterheads.

    A system administrator can set up merge actions using templates and their data sources, and all that the end user has to do is run an existing merge action whenever the need arises. The administrator can also manage merge actions, e.g., identify unused ones and delete them.

    You can try out the Document merge, Excel merge, Email merge and Email and Document merge when you download the Apsona for Salesforce app from the AppExchange. For more details, please visit our website or email us at support@apsona.com.

    We would like to thank Idealist Consulting for hosting this blog entry.

    Searching across a chain of objects in Salesforce

    Saturday, December 28th, 2013

    Salesforce users often need to search for data records in one object that depend on conditions in a related object. Frequently, the dependency carries over to multiple related objects, or to chains of such relationships. For example, suppose you need to find all the Campaigns that have targeted the contacts from your Partner accounts. To retrieve those Campaign records, your primary search condition is imposed on the Account object (looking for Partner accounts). Having found those accounts, you must find the Contacts in those accounts, and then the Campaign Member records of those Contacts, and finally the Campaigns to which those member records refer. Thus we have a four-object chain of dependencies that must be traversed to produce the results you need.

    Such a query is not very easily constructed in native Salesforce. But Apsona for Salesforce provides the tools you need to solve problems like this. The way Apsona solves the problem is by repeatedly applying the idea of a filter, to produce what is called a nested filter, as follows. A filter is simply a name given to a specific search condition, associated with a specific object. For example, you can create a filter on the Account object, that asks for Account Type matching Partner, and name it Partner Accounts. You can then apply this filter in the Contact object, since the Contact is related to (actually, a child of) the Account object. When doing so, you would retrieve the Contacts of your Partner accounts, and you would use the Partner Accounts filter as a nested filter. You have thus carried a search condition on the Account object over to the related Contact object. You can then repeat this step over the entire chain of objects, thus producing the result you want. See the diagram below, showing the relationships among these objects.

    Here is the series of steps to produce your results:

    1. Start with the “primary” object that drives the filter condition. In this case, it is the Account object, since we start with the condition derived from partner accounts. Create a filter on the Account object, identifying your Partner Accounts. You can do this either in the console view (list-and-detail) or in the tabular views in Apsona. Save it with the name “Partner Accounts.”
    2. Create a filter on the Contact object. In doing so, if you open the Account panel of the filter builder, and select the record id field of the Account object, you will see the “in filter” option available. Select that option, and then select the “Partner Accounts” filter. Save this filter with the name “Contacts from Partner Accounts.”
    3. Create a filter on the Campaign Member object, using the Contact filter created in step 2, in the same way.
    4. Finally, create a filter on the Campaign object using the Campaign member filter from step 3.

    What we did here was make a filter on the primary object, namely Account, and applied the filter to the related object namely Contact. You can repeat this process as many times as you want, thus carrying filter conditions across a chain of relationships. We use the term nested filter to refer to a filter that uses another filter within it, in this manner.

    Searches, filters and reports in Apsona work across the board whether it is retrieve data for campaign management, sales management or case management. Apsona for Salesforce can be downloaded from our AppExchange listing for a 30 day free trial, and works with all editions of Salesforce.

    Thank-you Letters with Apsona’s Document Merge

    Friday, August 30th, 2013

    Thank-you appreciation letters by snail mail are the lifeblood of  nonprofit organizations. The donor needs to be convinced that he/she has made a  right investment and the donation will be used wisely. Appreciation letters need to be sent not only after every donation, but also once or twice a year. Personalizing the letters is key to a positive experience, but when this has to be repeated to hundreds of users, it is a major challenge to small/medium non profit organizations. The cost and effort of producing such personalized letters several times a year can be rather daunting.

    Apsona’s Document Merge add-on for Apsona for Salesforce is exactly what is needed in these cases.  Users can build flexible templates that can contain multiple fields drawn from multiple objects – Contact, Donations and so on. Aggregate fields and sub lists can also be included in the template.  Fields names in the template and in the tables can be adhoc and need not be exact matches to the field names in Salesforce or in the reports. What Apsona brings is the utter simplicity and flexibility of the entire process for the template builder. Apsona’s  DocMerge will produce  a single or batch of .docx document files from a .docx template and the results can be downloaded either as a.zip file  or as a single .docx file with many pages, one for each record and print them.

    Here is the simple step by step process.

    1. A thank you letter will typically have top level merge fields from the Contacts object like the name and address. When creating this letter template in Microsoft Word, create merge fields with the usual Quick parts – Field – merge field. You can also Apsona’s macro to build quick merge fields, and that is definitely a time saver and less tedious (our humble opinion).
    2. Next, if you need to include a list of donations to the contact, you build tables. Tables are very easily created. The leftmost cell in the table should include the TableStart field, which specifies a record group name following a colon. For example, for the tag TableStart:Donation, the suffix Donation will be the name of the record group for the table. This name is just a mnemonic indicating the kind of list being produced. You can make up any name you want, as long as it does not conflict with any other merge field name in the document. The rightmost cell in the table should similarly include the TableEnd field. These two markers indicate the region of the document that must be replicated, once for each Donation.

    3. The data source for a template can be obtained from pre-built Apsona reports, or directly from an object. For example, in a single template data for a list of donations can be obtained from a Donation report and data for a list of  in-kind donations can be got directly from the Assets object. Before running a pre-built merge template, you can also apply additional filter terms on the fly if required.

    That’s it — system administrators can set up templates and its data sources, and all that the end user has to do is run an existing merge action whenever the need arises.

    Apsona’s merge tool also supports Excel merge and email merge. For a more details on these features please visit our product description page.

    Data analysis with Apsona reporting

    Thursday, March 28th, 2013

    At Apsona, we interact with awesome people from non-profit organizations (NPO) who work for some very noble causes. There are over 800 non-profit organizations (NPO) using the Apsona apps. Like for any organization, the most important thing for a NPO is data – the quality and quantity of their donor database. Quality means the donor’s contact information, addresses, email and phone. Direct mail is also widely used for soliciting and for acknowledging donor gifts and contributions. Apsona for Salesforce helps NPOs to maintain the quality by checking for duplicates while importing data, mass-updating filtered data, mass-adding members to a campaign, and so on.

    The quantity aspect in a non-profit organization’s database refers to running reports and analyzing data. The Apsona apps help the non-profit users run reports and get information and pattern trends of donors – for example, who are the top donors, how often do they donate, and how much do they donate. Such information is invaluable, especially when a fundraiser is being organised. Let us see how we can build a common use case report with Apsona Multi-step Reporting.

    Use case – To generate a report for a fundraiser to analyze giving patterns of donors. Data to be retrieved are high/top donors in the last 3 years. The donors who qualify should have given at least $1000 since the year 2010. The final report should be visualized with the donors to show up in the rows and the year in columns. This way we will be able to see each donors by year- if they donate every year, just for one year, etc.

    Step 1:
    • Step info – Select the Donation Contact Role object.
    • Fields – Contact lookup field from the Donation Contact Role object, Donation Name, Donation Amount and close date from the Donation object, contact Full name from the Contact object.
    • Filter terms – Opportunity Amount at least 1000 and Opportunity close date on on after 1/1/2010.
    • Range & Sort – All matching records. Specify a number if you have one for the number of records to be retrieved.
    • Linkages – No linkages in step 1.

    Click Save.

    Step 2:
    • Step info – Select the Contacts object.
    • Fields – Contact ID and Contact Full name field.
    • Filter terms – None
    • Range & Sort – All matching records.
    • Linkages – Choose Contact ID matches Donations:Contact

    Click Save and Run.

    Let us visualize the data by clicking on the Visualization tab and selecting visualize.

    • Select the Matrix(Pivoting) option.
    • Rows grouped by Contact Name.
    • Columns grouped by – Date field – Donation close date in groups by year.
    • In each cell select Donation Amount: Sum.
    Click Ok. You will now see each donor by year.

    Apsona Apps – simple, reliable, effective.

    Updating Data With Inline Edit

    Friday, February 8th, 2013

    Apsona’s inline edit feature is gaining a lot of interest from large enterprises. A key reason is that  it  helps the sales rep to be more productive. A sales rep’s primary goal is, of course, to close deals. Whilst the sales rep spends a lot of time talking to customers, listening to their needs and tailoring the sale, he also needs to document and update all his interactions.  Apsona makes this data updating quick and easy.
    If you have used Salesforce for any length of time, you know that if an object has record types associated with it, you cannot use inline edit on any of its views. So if you are a sales rep who needs to update a bunch of opportunities, you have to first find them in a view, click each of them in turn, edit and save them, and reopen the view. So each update needs four page refreshes, not counting the actual clicks for editing.
    In Apsona, you can just select the Opportunities tabular view. The tabular view resembles an excel worksheet where all records are laid out in rows. Each field value is in a cell which he can click and edit. You can work on several fields in the same opportunity or in different opportunities, and when done, click save. You can invoke pre-built filters at any time to narrow down the list, and then make changes and save the records. You can also build cross object filters on the fly, search for certain data records and make changes without losing context. For example, when working with opportunities, you can select not only Opportunity fields but also fields from any other object related via a lookup or master-detail relationship in either direction (parent or child).
    Large enterprises use Apsona tabular views as top level pages. Salesforce admins build Opportunities tabular views with just the fields the sales rep requires to see.  Filters are also pre-built for the reps. So now, the rep need only select a filter, make changes to the records and click save. Thus he ends up saving a lot of valuable time.
    This is just one example of how inline editing is being used. This feature works across all Salesforce objects, native and custom, in Apsona for Salesforce. If you have not tried out Apsona, please get our free trial from the Salesforce AppExchange.


    Looking back, looking forward – 2012 in review

    Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

    It is December 2012 and the holiday season is in full swing. With all your good wishes we at Apsona will continue to thrive and support you all to the best we can. We are committed to bringing you more features and functionality in 2013. We are always willing to listen to your needs and requirements. Please feel free to contact us at any time. Thank you for taking the time to leave us reviews. Right now, we have over a 120+ reviews. We appreciate them immensely and they help us get along.

    This year has been an eventful one for us. We began offering Apsona for Salesforce in 2011, and had a few tens of users. By the end of 2012, we have close to a thousand users from a few hundred organizations actively using it. This year also saw us through the initial development of Apsona Multi-step Reporting, which our users have been very positive about. It has also been a year that has initiated very fruitful partnerships. We are delighted to work with our friends at Cloud for Good, an effort which has resulted in Over the Edge, a migration tool for moving from Raiser’s Edge to Salesforce.

    Whilst you told us that you liked what you see in Apsona overall, you have also asked for several cleanups and feature enhancements. We are very grateful for that feedback – many of the features currently in Apsona owe their existence to user comments.  Here are a few common user requests that we expect to see available in the coming months.

    • Improved reporting features, including the ability to show Apsona reports in Salesforce dashboards.
    • Automated periodic import and export of data, e.g., importing a data set from a file or an XML feed automatically into your Salesforce org every morning at 6 am.
    • Document merging, enabling you to merge a filtered list or a report into a Word or Excel document.

    If there are other features you would like to see incorporated in the products, please drop us a note.

    We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our users. We wish you all a happy, safe, healthy and prosperous 2013. Till we meet again for a new blog post in 2013 we leave you with a few of the reviews ( picked out in no particular order).

    Judi Sohn – An outstanding addition to Apsona
    Apsona is already a fantastic tool for data manipulation. No worries whether the user is using Mac or PC or whether they’ve installed a separate application. It’s all right there in Salesforce. The new multi-step reporting add-on is must-have. No having to start over if you want to add an additional object to a report, and you can select from objects related as either parent or child. No cleaning up in Excel either, as the result is just clean data. Excellent support.

    Robert Pope – Great app, easy to use
    We love this app – offers an easy to use interface and let’s us do mass updates and imports with ease – much easier to use than the built in Salesforce import tools! Thanks for an app that rocks 🙂

    Reede Stockton – Tremendous app!
    This is one of the most useful tools around. It truly shines when you need to do ad hoc reporting with unusual selection criteria. The ability to do cross object reporting and filtering makes it a breeze to tackle even tough requirements. If you’re a Salesforce admin, you’ll love Apsona. And it will quickly become apparent to you that, by pushing it out to your users, you’ll be able to quickly and easily fulfill a bunch of the requests that are cluttering up your to do list.

    John Schulte – Absolutely the best app!
    We also reviewed Apsona during a user group meeting and found it extremely user friendly and easier to use than other utilities of its kind. I actually prefer searching our Salesforce platform from Apsona since I get the data I am looking for the first time. It is much more accurate than Salesforce’s search options. We installed it in the Sandbox first but soon found out how accurate it was and installed it in production shortly after testing in the Sandbox. I use Apsona every day now and am totally impressed at how easy mass updates are now. Their help desk and videos are second to none!

    John Thew – APSONA IS FANTASTIC!!!
    Our SFDC consultant turned us on to Apsona and we are thrilled. This is absolutely the best app for mass importing information into SFDC that I have encountered. Easy to use and the staff at Apsona could not be friendlier or more helpful. SFDC should make this tool a standard part of the administrator’s package for their program.

    Happy Holidays!