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Apsona Multi-Step Reporting: Learn the Basics

Tuesday, September 19th, 2017

This is the first in a series of posts about Multi-Step Reporting

Introduction

The sky’s the limit with Apsona’s multi-step reporting (MSR) tool for what kind of reports you can generate. Need a report that spans multiple objects, including sibling objects as well as parent/child? No problem, MSR can do it. What about applying a different filter to each object? Yes, got that covered. Can I output calculated fields? Check, and check. Are you excited yet? You should be! However–if you’ve never worked with MSR before, it can be intimidating to start. In the MSR interface you’ll see “steps”, filters, “linkages”, and more. How do you know which objects to pick, how to configure steps, and what to do with linkages? Description: confusion 2.jpg Don’t worry, we’re going to break it all down. In this first in a series of posts about MSR, you’ll learn:

  • a strategy for designing your report
  • what steps are, and how to configure them
  • how to link your steps, and what that means
  • how to filter results to get only the records you want

Let’s work through each of these points using a typical, fairly complex reporting scenario. Imagine your boss has asked for this: I want to see the top three opportunities for all of our accounts, along with the name and email of the contact in the role of business user for each of those opportunities.

Design Your Report

A little upfront planning will save you time (and frustration) in the long run. (As an aside, this is true regardless of the reporting tool you’re using.) Consider these questions:

  • What are you reporting on?
  • What do you want the report output to be?
  • Which records and how many do you want?

Let’s look at our report requirements again: I want to see the top three opportunities for all of our accounts, along with the name and email of the contact in the role of business user for each of those opportunities.

  1. What are you reporting on?This question gets at the objects you’ll need for your report.(Don’t worry about the fields yet–that comes in the next step.) In our example, it would be: Opportunities, Accounts, Contacts. At this point, it can be helpful to do a quick sketch of these objects so you can see how they’re related: Description: IMG_0009.JPG Even though we don’t need any data from the Opportunity Contact Role object, we include it in our sketch because it’s the link between the Opportunity, and the Contact for that Opportunity,
  2. What do you want the report output to be?What fields do you want to see from which objects? In what order? Another quick sketch comes in handy: Description: rpt_output_sketch.JPG
  3. And finally, which records and how many do you want? In other words, are there any restrictions on the records you want returned?

From our report example:

  • Accounts: all of them, no restrictions
  • Opportunities: the top three opportunities
  • Contacts: only business users for the opportunities

Fleshing Out Requirements You might wonder– what does “top three” mean? And can the opportunities be in any stage, or just the closed/won opportunities? And how do I identify business users? Great questions! This is when you’d go back to your boss and ask for clarification. This is also a good chance to review your sketch with her and make sure you’re on the same page in terms of the report output. Let’s say you had that meeting (where your boss was very impressed with your sketches and well-thought out questions.) Now you know that “top three” means the opportunities with the highest value in the amount field, regardless of stage. But speaking of stage, your boss realized she’d also like to see that information in the report output. Oh, and the opportunity amount. You also found out that “business user” means someone with the opportunity contact role of “business user.” Here’s our revised sketch: Description: revised_sketch.JPG

What Are Steps and How Do I Configure Them?

Ok, now that we know where we’re headed, let’s start building!

  • Go to the Multi-step Reports tab and click New:Description: msr_tab.jpg
  • Give your report a name and description, and select a folder to store it in. Then click the Add Step link on the left:Description: start_new_report.jpg The Step interface opens up: Description: new_step_blank.jpg

A “step” is the big cheese of Multi-step reports. Think of a step as a container that holds all the information about one of the objects you want in your report. The step holds information about:

  • which object you want to report on (Step Info tab)
  • which fields you want from that object (Retrieved fields tab)
  • how you want to limit the report results (Filter terms tab)
  • how many records, and what sort order (Range and sort tab)
  • how this step (or object) is related to another step in the report (Linkages tab)

Remember–one step relates to one object. Let’s revisit the sketch we made when designing our report: Description: schema_sketch_steps.jpg As we can see from the sketch, our report spans four objects. So we’ll plan to configure four steps. Let’s get started!

Configure the First Step

In general, you start configuring steps with the top-level object, which in our case, is the Account.

  • On the Step Info tab, add a Step Name, and choose Account as the Database Object to get data from.

Description: step_info.jpg

  • Next click on the Retrieved fields tab and choose Account Name from the Add Field picklist.Description: retrieve_acct_name.jpg
  • Add the Account ID field. (No, we don’t need this field in the report output, but we’ll need it for something else a little later. For now, take it on faith, and hang tight.)

Your Retrieved fields tab looks like this: Description: retrieved_fields_acct.jpg

  • Click the Filter terms tab.

Description: filter_terms_tab_blank.jpg This is where we can restrict which records are returned. Since we decided we want all Accounts with no restrictions, we’ll move on to the next tab.

  • Click the Range and sort tab. Description: range_sort_tab.jpgThis page allows you to choose one of three ways to limit the number of records returned:
    • Limit by number range (1)
    • Limit to one record based on the criteria you pick (2)
    • Limit to the top x number of records (3)

    Again, the report requirements didn’t specify how many Account records or in what order, so we’ll move on.

  • Finally, click the Linkages tab.Description: linkages_tab.jpg Linkages are about relating steps to each other, Since we only have one step configured so far, there’s nothing to link yet.
  • Click Save.Description: click_save.jpg

Congratulations! You’ve configured your first step!

Create the Opportunity Step

Now let’s quickly create a step to get our Opportunity data:

  • Click Add Step.
  • Give the step a name, such as Top 3 Opportunities, and choose Opportunities as the database object.
  • On the Retrieved fields tab:
  • Select the Opportunity Name, Amount, and Stage fields.
  • Also add the Account field, and the Opportunity ID field. (Yes, these are more fields we don’t need in the report output … the mystery will be revealed soon!)
  • Now click the Range and sort tab. Remember, we want only the top three Opportunities (determined by Amount.)
  • Select the bottom option: The first … records when ranked by …
  • Enter 3 for the number, Amount for the field, and descending for sort order:

Description: range_and_sort_top_3_opps.jpg

  • Click the Linkages tab.

This is where we connect our two steps–Accounts and Opportunities. Remember when we added those fields on the Retrieved fields tab that we didn’t need in the report output (Account ID in the first step, Account in this step)? Well … (drum roll please) … this is why: On the Retrieved fields tab of each step, include lookup or picklist fields that relate to objects on another step. These are used on the Linkages tab to create connections between steps. In Salesforce, Opportunities and Accounts have a relationship: the Opportunity’s Account lookup field holds the related Account’s Account ID. By adding the Account field in this Opportunity step, and the Account ID field in the previous Account step, we created a way to link the two steps. (We also included the Opportunity ID field in this step. This will come in handy when we link this step to the next one in the chain.)

  • Choose the first option: Accounts Account ID matches Account.

Description: link_step1_and_2.jpg NOTE: If you forgot (or didn’t realize) you needed to include these linking fields, you would see this message when you clicked on the Linkages tab: Description: no_available_linkages.jpg If that happens, no worries — you can always edit any step to add more fields on the Retrieved fields tab.

Create the Last Two Steps

Follow the procedures above to create the last two steps for Opportunity Contact Role, and for Contact. For the Opportunity Contact Role step:

  • In the Retrieved fields tab, add the Opportunity field (to relate to the Opportunity step), and Contact field (to relate to the Contact step.)
  • On the Filter terms tab, add a filter to select Contact Role records where the Role is Business User. The Filter terms tab will look like this:

Description: filter_terms.jpg

  • Remember to save each step.

Run the Report

Now it’s time to see how all of your hard work has paid off!

  • Click Save and Run to run your report: Description: report_results1.jpgLooks great! But we can make it look even better. Those ID fields are there because we needed them to link steps, but we don’t have to include them in the report output.
  • Simply click Set Columns, and uncheck any fields you don’t want to see: Description: set_columns.jpg

Our final report looks like this: Description: report_results2.jpg

Points to Remember

  • Design your report before you start building, to understand what objects are needed and how they’re related–and save yourself time in the long run.
  • Configure one step for each object. (There is a shortcut for this … stay tuned for details in further posts!)
  • Include lookup and ID fields in the Retrieved fields tab so you can link steps.

Do you have MSR questions? Have a tip or trick to share? Let us know!

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.

Save Time and Clicks with Apsona Grids

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

And make time for what really matters

Imagine this: it’s 4 pm and you’re wrapping up work to get home in time for your daughter’s t-ball game. Suddenly, in walks your supervisor … who informs you she has just discovered massive data entry errors in a large batch of Opportunities. It’s critical, she tells you, to get them all corrected before the end of the day.

The Opportunities to be updated include both donations and grants — which are different Opportunity record types. And not only do you have to update several fields on each Opportunity, you also need to create missing related Contact Role records.

If you are using standard Salesforce functionality, you might feel like this:

 

 

Thank goodness you have Apsona! You know that with Apsona Grids, you can easily and quickly accomplish your supervisor’s request.

One of the biggest time savers with Apsona Grids is that filtering records, editing, reordering of fields, and even creating new records can all be done right on the same page. And, you can even perform all of these tasks for related child and parent records in the same view!

Here’s a snapshot of how Apsona Grid functionality stacks up against standard Salesforce listviews:

Task Apsona Grids Salesforce listviews
Edit a list of records of different record types green check.png x mark.png
Add new records without leaving the list page green check.png x mark.png
View, update, and create related child and parent records from the list page green check.png x mark.png
Drag and drop to reorder columns without leaving the list page green check.png x mark.png
Create groups and subtotals from the list page green check.png x mark.png
View fields from related records in the list green check.png x mark.png
See a display of the exact record count in the list green check.png x mark.png

 

Let’s take a quick tour to see how you can easily accomplish your supervisor’s request using Apsona Grids.

Inline Editing

You know you need to update both grant and donation records. Fortunately, unlike Salesforce listviews, Apsona Grids provides an editable list of records of any record type.

From the Apsona Opportunities tab, choose Tabular View

tabular view.png

A list of all Opportunities appears. Simply click in any field to edit it.

Inline Editing.png

 

Quick and Easy Filtering

If you’d like to limit the list of Opportunities, say to Opportunities where the amount is over $500, use the handy Filter option — again, without leaving the Grid page.

filter and results annotated.png

  • Click the Filter icon (1)
  • Enter your filter criteria (2)
  • Click Search (3)
  • View your filtered results — right on the same page (4)

Need to apply a different filter? Simply update the filter criteria on the same page and click Search again.

Drag and Drop Column Reordering

With Apsona Grids it’s easy to change the column order. Simply drag and drop to place the columns in the order that’s most useful to you.

 

Rapid Data Entry

Not only can you easily update existing records, you can add new records on the fly — again without leaving the Grid.

 

add row 3.png

 

  • Click Add Row. (1)
  • Fill in the values for the new Opportunity name, amount, and any other data in the editable row that appears in the Grid. (2)
  • Click Save. (3)
  • Repeat for as many records as you need.

What a time-saver!

 

Edit and Create Related Records

Another huge time-saver with Apsona Grids is the ability to drill down to related records, and update or create new child records. Let’s see how you can add those missing Opportunity Contact Roles without navigating away from the Grid.

 

Click the arrow next to an Opportunity name.

 

Click to expand.png

 

 

In the expanded view, you see tabs for each of the related records; in this case, Contact Roles, Campaign, Organization, Tasks, and Events.

 

related records.png

 

Since you want to add a new Contact Role, click Add on the Contact Roles tab, complete the required fields, and click Save:

 

Add OCR.png

 

The newly created Contact Role appears.

 

newly created OCR.png

 

That’s it! Apsona Grids allow you to update all those Opportunity records and create related Contact Roles in a fraction of the time it would take with standard Salesforce listviews.

 

Now you can leave work on time — and be there for the things in your life that really matter.

 

IMG_2640.JPG

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.

 

 

Fundraising Reporting with Apsona Multi-step Reporting

Friday, February 27th, 2015

Constituent reporting on individual donors and their giving histories is invaluable information for a non-profit organization. One such report requirement was posted on the Power Of Us Hub where the user wanted to find the increase or decrease in donation amounts by their donors. Here is the question:

  • My fundraising team wants to know how many donors increased their donation size from the last donation to the current one. I told them I could do Total Gifts This Year vs Total Gifts Last Year, but not Current Gift vs Previous Gift. Can you all think of a way to measure an increase (or decrease) in donation amount from one to the next?

Reading the responses it became obvious that this report is not possible to create with the native Salesforce reporting. However, with Apsona Multi-step Reporting, this report can be built in a few minutes. This report will require two query steps and one calculated step. Let’s take a look at how to build out such a report.

For the query steps, you first get the donors and filter them by campaign name or opportunity close date depending on the required criteria. Next, retrieve the opportunities to the donors, filter by close date and Role. Multi-step has the ability to get ranked data, which will need to be applied when querying for the opportunities. Limiting the 2 donations in descending order will give you the last two donation amounts to each donor. The steps will be woven together with the contact ID.

As there is no direct link between the Contacts (donors) and Opportunities (Donations), data for the two query steps will come from the Opportunity Contact Role (OCR) object. This object is best suited for this task, since it is treated as a stand-alone object in Apsona, and is also the junction between Donors and Donations. Therefore, you retrieve fields from the Donor (Contacts) as well as Donation objects (Opportunities) as they are both have lookup relationships from the OCR. Thus, you can retrieve the contact ID in both the steps and weave them together. Unlike in Salesforce reporting, you can use the same object more than once in Apsona Multi-step with different filter criteria and is ideal for this use case.

Now that you have the donors and their last two donations, you will need to find the difference between the amounts. For this you use a calculated step and add a formula as follows – {!Last 2 Donations 1.Amount} – {!Last 2 Donations 2.Amount}. Once you save and run the report will see the donor information, the last 2 donations amounts to the donor and the difference between the donation amounts.

When you run the report, you will also want to see the two donation amounts to each donor in a single row to make the comparison.

In a multi-step report, you have the option to display the output of a step as a sequence of blocks of columns instead of the usual row layout. Below is an image of the final report.

2amts

Donor Adam Dunn has donated $250,000 and $ 300, 000. You also see the difference in the Amount column as $50,000. The reason the amount is showing in parentheses is because the formula in the calculated steps is set to subtract Donation 1 from donation 2.

This shows how you can combine two important operations – transposing rows to columns, and using calculated values – to produce the result you want.

We hope you found this blog useful and try out Apsona Multi-step Reporting.

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
    http://apsona.com/salesforcehttp://apsona.com/blog/happy-new-year-from-the-apsona-team/http://apsona.com/blog/happy-new-year-from-the-apsona-team/http://apsona.com/blog/happy-new-year-from-the-apsona-team/http://apsona.com/blog/happy-new-year-from-the-apsona-team/http://apsona.com/blog/happy-new-year-from-the-apsona-team/

    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.

    Managing file storage in your Salesforce Org

    Friday, February 21st, 2014

    Apsona for Salesforce now supports Attachments, Notes, Tasks and Events for all objects of Salesforce, native and custom. You can now import, export, update and delete data into these objects. So, why is this functionality different, when it is already supported for the existing native and custom objects? Apsona treats Attachments, Notes, Tasks and Events as linked to specific Salesforce objects. For example, the Contacts object in Apsona, has its own Contact Notes, Contact Attachments, Contact tasks and Contact Events objects. Similarly, any object that has associated Task records in Salesforce has its own “surrogate” Task object in Apsona. This is extremely handy as when you import notes or tasks to a contact – it is automatically linked to the contact. All you need to provide is the Contact ID or Full name during the import. Similarly, you can manage the Task records associated with any object simply by using its associated surrogate Task object in Apsona.

    With this functionality, the Apsona app is very useful to users for managing the organization’s file storage. Storage in Salesforce can be of two types – file and data. File storage includes files in attachments, the Documents tab, the Files tab, the File field, Salesforce CRM Content, Chatter (including user photos). The file storage limits for a Professional edition user is 612 MB, and for the Enterprise user, it is 2 GB. From what we have seen, Tasks and Attachments use up the storage limit rapidly. You might choose to treat this data as obsolete after a few years, and wish to delete it. The System Administrator can take stock of all the attachments, documents and archived tasks as they all count against storage. With the surrogate objects in Apsona, searching and filtering data to be deleted can be achieved with a few clicks. For example, let’s say you want to delete Contact tasks which are 3 years or older. Isolating such data from the Activities table in Salesforce – a single table which has all the tasks of all the objects in Salesforce can be very tedious. With Apsona, this task is simple, easy and quick. Here is how you would go about it:

    • Go to Settings – Configurations, and bring the Contact Tasks object to the menu bar as described here.
    • Create a filter by created date and user.
    • Click Tools – Delete All
    • Done!

    You can now comb through each object for their Notes, Attachments, Tasks and Events, and free up a lot of used storage place, thus cutting down your costs.

    Similarly you can manage your Documents too. A common use case with Documents is when a user leaves the organization and you want to transfer ownership to another user. You can do this with easily with Apsona. Get the Documents to the menu bar. Run a filter by author name. Click Tools – Update All. When you choose the Author field all the users in the org will dropdown as values. Select the user and click Update All. All the Documents will now have the new owner as the author.

    These are just a few use cases we have covered in this blog. We hope you find this functionality useful and we would love to hear about your use cases. If you have not installed Apsona for Salesforce, do download it from the AppExchange and try it out.

    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.