Posts Tagged ‘Apsona’

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.

How to find your top donors across multiple campaigns

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Building Salesforce reports can sometimes be very challenging. You start building a report and you realize you cannot access the objects you want, or use the appropriate lookups, or apply the relevant filter criteria. Apsona Multi-step Reporting (MSR) addresses some of these problems. This reporting app lets you build reports spanning any number of objects, native or custom.  It lets you traverse dependencies in either direction (parent-to-child or child-to-parent), and can handle multiple dependencies between the same pairs of objects. For example, you can create a report spanning the Campaign (parent) – Opportunity (child) – Opportunity Contact Role and back up the chain to Contact (parent). Another plus with Apsona MSR is the ability to run reports without having to create report types.

A few key concepts to bear in mind:

  • Reports are built in steps.
  • Each step retrieves data from one object.
  • Each step carries its own filter conditions, independent of the other steps, and these conditions can be cross-object.
  • Steps are linked to previous steps via lookup fields or picklist values.

We will use an example to illustrate these ideas. Frequently, non-profit organizations need to identify their top donors and learn their interests, so that the organization can target the right people in future campaigns. In that context, they often need to identify donors who donated in multiple campaigns, or those who have donated to two or more specific campaigns.

As a simplified example, suppose we are conducting a dinner gala, to which we would like to invite our top donors from the Kids Literacy and the School supplies Campaigns. So we want a list of those donors who have contributed in both the campaigns. Intuition suggests that we can produce this report by first creating two lists of donors, one for each campaign, and then identifying the common ones. And this is precisely how you would build a multi-step report for this purpose. The Opportunity Contact Role (OCR) object is the basis of this report, since an entry in that object tells us the existence of a donation by a donor. The Donation object has a lookup to Campaign, and therefore accessible from the OCR object. So here are the three steps of the multi-step report.

  1. Find the donors for Kids Literacy. From the OCR object, get the Donor/Contact look up field. From the Donor object, get the donor’s Full Name. In the filter terms, select the Campaign field from the Opportunity object and select Kids Literacy as the value. Save the step.
  2. Find the donors for School Supplies. Clone Step 1 and just change the filter term value of the Campaign to School supplies. Save the step.
  3. Find the donors in both campaigns. From the Contact object, select the Contact ID field (required for linking to the previous steps), Full name and any other Contact fields you require for the report. Click the linkages tab. You will now see that you have two linkage options, one from each step. Notice that this is where we use the lookup field values retrieved by the previous two steps. You will need to select both the linkages, to enforce the condition that you want contacts from both campaigns. Save and run the report, and you have your desired results.

Notice that this report retrieves data twice from the same object (Opportunity Contact Role), with different filter criteria. This capability is needed frequently in real-world situations. In addition, Multi-step Report data can be visualized in charts, groups, and pivoted matrices.

We would like to thank Idealist Consulting for the opportunity to contribute this article to their blog.

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