Friday, May 28, 2010

Email to Salesforce for Google Apps Needs Improving

Overview

A gap exists in how Salesforce and Google Apps (specifically Gmail) communicate. I’d like to discuss potential solutions to allow my users to more efficiently relate their emails to Salesforce records.

RG_Blog_Gmail2Salesforce

Details

The company I work for has spent a fair amount of time migrating our users to Google Apps for their email, calendar, documents, etc.

We also use Salesforce.com to track our Opportunities, Accounts and Contacts, in addition to some custom apps. I am the System Admin for our Salesforce org.

Users often ask me about the most effective way to associate an email with a particular contact or Opportunity. Previously, Outlook allowed users to associate an email with specific records, but the tool was at times confusing for users and did not show many of the fields that we use for filtering.

A tight integration for Gmail is currently nonexistent. At this time, I tell my users to print their email to a PDF from Gmail and then upload it as an attachment to a record. This process is time-consuming and frustrating.

Salesforce supports associating an email to a contact (and potentially all of the open Opportunities for that contact) by using a “BCC” email address, customized for each user. However, there is currently no way to associate an email with one specific record of any type – whether an Opportunity or a custom object.

Since many users live in their inbox, it would be helpful to have the integration point start there, rather than in Salesforce. The existing ‘Send Gmail’ button is a great start, but it would be nice to be able to include it on custom objects as well.

Here are a few ideas for improving the Gmail/Salesforce connection.

  • Create an integration leveraging the Google Apps engine to allow users to choose a type of record (list of objects) and a specific record (filtered as they typed the name) to associate an email to, before they send the message or after they send the email. This could be in the form of an “Add to Salesforce” button on an email that opens a custom page with two related picklists and then redirected back to the email, whether a draft or sent email.
  • Modify the existing ‘BCC to Salesforce’ email settings to be more customizable, such as looking for a particular unique ID that can associate the email with a record in Salesforce.

What do you think? Are there other options that I haven’t thought of? Please let me know in the comments.

If you have experience with an AppExchange partner that provides a solid Gmail/Salesforce.com integration, I would love to hear about it.

There are some existing ideas on the Salesforce.com IdeaExchange (shown below) and there is likely some overlap.

Similar Ideas on the IdeaExchange

Additional Resources

DSC01593[2]_crop Want to contact Jenna Baze, the rather geeky writer of this rather geeky post?
Email:
rathergeeky@gmail.com
Twitter: @Rather_Geeky

Thursday, May 13, 2010

22 Minutes of Mouse Activity

This graphic represents 22 minutes of mouse activity – mainly the time I spent making some changes to our Salesforce sandbox org.

I used a tool called IOGraphica to record my mouse trail and hovering. (The bigger the circle, the longer the stop.)

A rather geeky artsy thing. Go ahead - give it a try!

Note: If I left it recording for longer, I would probably end up with an even more interesting design. IOGraphica - 22.1 minutes (from 14-25 to 14-47)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Create a Bookmarklet to Remind Yourself of Yesterday's Pending Emails in Your Inbox

This lesson describes how you can create a 'bookmarklet' (a bookmark or favorite) to jump directly to a view of all your pending messages from yesterday. (To show the messages that were pending yesterday, it filters based on anything in the inbox before yesterday's date.)

This tip came from Joe via Lifehacker. I just provided some documentation to explain it to you.

Copy the Code to Use

Don't worry. You don't have to know anything about javascript in order for this to work.

Copy the text below in it's entirety:
javascript:(function(){var%20d%20%3D%20new%20Date%28%29%3Bd.setTime%28d.getTime%28%29-86400*1000%29%3Bwindow.location%20%3D%20%22https%3A//mail.google.com/mail/%3Fshva%3D1%23search/in%253Ainbox+before%253A%22+%28d.getYear%28%29+1900%29+%22%252F%22+%28d.getMonth%28%29+1%29+%22%252F%22+d.getDate%28%29%3B})();

Important: This tip works for personal gmail, not Google Apps mail. I’m sure it could be modified to work (but just changing mail.google.com to your own domain doesn’t work) but I don’t know how (I’m not that geeky).

Create a New Bookmark or Favorite

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Depending on what browser you are using, find the location where you typically create favorites or bookmarks.

Create a new bookmark.

Give It a Name

media_1273177002969.png

Name it something like "Gmail Pending Script", "GmailRemaining" (or whatever makes sense to you)

Paste the Script

media_1273177023864.png

Paste the script that you copied from above into the Location or url field of the bookmark.

Save the New Bookmark or Favorite

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Hit Save or OK and you are done. You can now move the bookmarklet to a different folder within your favorites, or to the toolbar if your browser supports that and you want easy access to the functionality.

Test Your Bookmarklet

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Click on the bookmark or favorite to test it out.

 

2009-10-22_105231 Want to contact Jenna Baze, the rather geeky writer of this rather geeky post?
Email:
rathergeeky@gmail.com
Twitter: @Rather_Geeky

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Group Similar Tasks From Dissimilar Programs Together with WindowTabs

In Brief

WindowTabs allows you to maximize screen real estate and group similar windows or programs together.

Overview

After a long period of geeky-block (similar to writer’s block but involving a dry spell of geeky ideas and tips), I have stumbled upon a small tool that makes grouping related information or tasks with dissimilar programs easy to do.

WindowTabs lets you group dissimilar programs/windows with a tab interface similar to Chrome or Firefox. It is easy to use – just drag and drop the tabs (which are automatically added to the top of each program/window you have open) on another tab to combine them. You can split them out again by dragging one of the combined tabs to an empty place on your screen.

When Would This be Useful?

Let’s say you’re working on a spreadsheet of raw data in Excel. The source of your data is an online report from a CRM, such as Salesforce. In addition, you want to take some notes about your remaining tasks. Plus, you have an email that relates to the spreadsheet that you’d like to check periodically to make sure you’re on track.

Rather than having these windows floating around your screen independently (and potentially losing track of what is related to your task as you click-click-click all day), you can group them using WindowTabs.

Combine Windows by Dragging and Dropping the 'Window Tab'

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Once you install WindowTabs, each window on your screen will have a tab on the top left. If the windows are maximized, you will not see this tab until the window is reduced and the top left corner is visible.

Combine several windows by dragging and dropping one tab onto another. You can do this even with programs that are dissimilar, such as Excel and Firefox.

When you click on a tab and drag it toward another tab, the tab you are dragging will appear semi-translucent. When the tabs seem to be 'magnetically' attracted to each other, it is safe to let go of your mouse button. The tabs will now be grouped.

Toggle Your Grouped Tabs

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You can toggle which tab is visible by clicking on the tab.

Grouping your tabs in this way will allow you to combine files that you have open related to a common theme or task, even if they are in different programs.

Breaking Up a Tabbed Group

If you no longer want to group certain window tabs together, click on the tab that you want to remove from the group and drag it to an empty are on your screen. This will 'pop' it out of the grouped window. It will return to its normal state.

Downloading WindowTabs

You can download WindowTabs here.

Side Note

The trial version of WindowTabs is limited to three tabs per group with no time limit or nag screens. WindowTabs works with Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7, both the 32 and 64 bit versions.

Have a Question or a Suggestion?

I'm still testing out and getting used to WindowTabs, but I have found it quite handy so far. If you have a question about it or a suggestion to boost efficiency in using it, feel free to get in touch with me.

 

2009-10-22_105231 Want to contact Jenna Baze, the rather geeky writer of this rather geeky post?
Email:
rathergeeky@gmail.com
Twitter: @Rather_Geeky

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