In today’s episode, we celebrate another CRM On Demand milestone – our 18th release! Yes, our little software as a service application is finally legal. Robert and I memorialize this event by chatting about some of our favorite new features and enhancements.

This release is pretty remarkable in that it is the second major upgrade in a year. That’s a pretty fast release cycle in the world of business applications. It’s also remarkable for some of the nice productivity and extensibility features it brings. Overall I’d say this is a “completeness” upgrade – it really rounds out some functionality which was introduced in R17 (or earlier) to make it much more useful.

Field Update on Wait Actions


And here’s a perfect example of that “completeness” idea. With R17 we got time based workflow. That centered on the “wait” action as a means of pausing a workflow rule for a specified duration and then waking up to continue evaluating and processing additional actions such as e-mail notifications or integration events. Unfortunately, one action you couldn’t do after waking up was updating fields on the record. Well, now you can!

With this new feature, you can directly change the values of fields on the record after the wait action expires. So say you have an “escalate” flag that puts your escalated SRs in a custom list – you can auto-check the flag after 24 hours. Or change the priority picklist value. Or do something else!

Usage Tracking Analytics

This is a good one, something we’ve been asking for for a long time. You know we talk a lot about user adoption in this podcast but one thing we haven’t really dug into is measuring it. Up until now, it’s largely been a matter of inference – you can report on how many records are being updated or created and get a sense of usage. But the direct measurements weren’t really accessible.

Now we’ve exposed a whole new subject area in Analytics along with a batch of pre-built reports to get you started. So what’s covered?

  • Login activity – the basics like who is logging in, who isn’t.
  • Application usage – which parts of the application are getting used?
  • Setup and configuration – you can see detailed metrics on your custom configuration.

What can you do with it? Lots! You can tell which record types folks are spending the most time in. You can monitor how users are adopting the application and drill in by role or region or other user attribute.

The net of this one is that you now have a full-fledged subject area that you can combine with all your other analytics data to get a fuller picture of application usage. Pretty nice.

Attachment Fields

Wait, you’re saying, don’t we already support attachments?

Yes, but note that there are some limitations with that Attachment applet. For example, you can’t restrict it to 1:1, you can’t share a single attachment among multiple parent records. And you have zero customization options, such as changing the layout or adding fields.

So how are new “attachment fields” going to fix all that?

You get a ton of flexibility here. Attachment fields have been added to ALL custom objects. By bringing them in as Fields, you get a lot of flexibility in how you use them. So for example you could just have one field per record – essentially creating a 1:1 relationship. Plus, since you can link the custom object record to any other record type, you can model your attachment relationships the same way – including sharing a single attachment with multiple records.

So if I had a contract record in the system – a contracts custom object – then I could hook this up to a lot of Accounts or Opportunities. And I could change the contract file and it would be instantly reflected everywhere it is linked!

Essentially, you can create your own document library – and since they are just part of existing record types, you can use custom fields and layouts to make them more user friendly and even search across them. Nice!

Migration Tool Extended

One of my favorite R17 features has been the migration tool. This allows you, through a simple command line interface or via web services to read and write meta data to CRM On Demand. This can be a HUGE time saver when you want to maintain the same configuration across multiple instances.

But the first release of the migration tool, while promising, didn’t cover a whole lot of territory. With R18, they’ve expanded the coverage significantly!

R17 covered access profiles, field management, custom record types, web tabs and picklists.

R18 gives you Action Bar layouts, custom weblinks, Page layouts (including related information) – that last one is huge! Think of the time that will be saved by being able to copy a while bunch of page layouts.

Now of course there remain limitations – workflow rules, books of business, etc. But I have confidence we’ll see this feature continue to expand coverage in future releases.

Miscellaneous Goodies

Just couldn’t end this episode without a nod to some features that will put a smile on someone’s face (maybe even our one listener!).

First, Audit Trail – you can now audit fields on Contacts, Accounts, Leads and Custom Objects (up to 40).
Integration events – now you can use workflow to generate integration events on advanced custom objects (4+)

Analytics – With most releases, we see incremental advances in coverage through BI. This time around Oracle has expanded analytics coverage for Business Planning. Business Plans are a set of related record types which allow you to define a plan and related objectives. This came in R17 and now we’re adding the ability to track the performance of business plans using analytics.

Action Bar layouts – now administrators can create custom action bars and assign them to roles! Admins can use this to further streamline and customize the application to the end user.

Field search restrictions – This is a complaint I’m sure you’ve heard before. You can’t hide any fields from view when you are using advanced search or creating a list. For some companies, this can be seen as a security hole. Or perhaps just inconvenient and confusing to users! With R18, you can now limit the fields shown to just those exposed in the record detail page for the user role – and the same applies to the fields available for export!

Wrap Up

Wow, that’s a pretty good list but there’s lots more we didn’t cover. To get the complete scoop, be sure to check out the Admin Preview Guide which is available to all customers for every release. And keep an eye out for those e-mails with your pod’s upgrade dates.

Use the comments section to tell us about your favorite R18 features! See you next time!

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