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Brad’s October Cumulative Update

As it turns out… everybody needs a CU, not just the ole SharePoint! 🙂

While I may not have posted on my personal blog in a little while, I have been a busy beaver putting out some thought provoking content in other places. So, feel free to peruse the links below to those items (ranging from how-to’s to an analyst webinar on using workflow to improve customer experiences (CX) and even thoughts on the explosion of the cloud scene).

 

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Migrating Lotus Notes Databases to SharePoint [Video]

Still using Lotus Notes? Interested in Migrating to SharePoint? Watch (Dean Virag) interview Brad Orluk to learn more about why companies are wanting to migrate away from Lotus Notes, obstacles in migrating form Lotus Notes, tools to help migrate, and so much more..

 

crwueriwiaiqcqbLinkin’ Tasks or How to Get That Pesky Task Item URL [Blog Post]

In this post I cover how to grab task details and surface them on an item level form during the execution of a Nintex workflow. It’s a handy trick that opens myriad possibilities around task management.

 

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Cloud Computing: Past, Present and Future [Blog Post]

In this post I briefly cover the history of the , why it is so important and, interestingly, where’s it going.

 

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Process Automation Tools Fuel Your Digital Transformation [Webinar]

Enterprises today have a common problem: a platform that slows down processes and disconnects line-of-business operators from IT. “It’s a platform that will eventually burn up around you,” Brad Orluk, technical evangelist at Nintex. Orluk made his comments during a recent CMSWire webinar sponsored by Nintex, “How Intelligent Workflows Power

 

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Omni-Channel Customer Experience: How to Drive Best-in-Class Results [Webinar]

Customer experience is rapidly becoming the primary source of differentiation in today’s economy. Businesses that truly understand their buyers and address their needs across multiple channels outpace competitors by a significant margin.

 

Final thoughts…

I’m planning on writing up a post in a few weeks on my thoughts around Microsoft Ignite and where I can see workflow, SharePoint, Office 365 and collaboration going, through the Microsoft lens, over the next year or so. Stay tuned!

 

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Brad’s Interview on Technology Advice

I was a recent guest on the TechnologyAdvice Expert Interview Series. The series, which is hosted by TechnologyAdvice’s Josh Bland, explores a variety of business and technology landscapes through conversations with industry leaders.

In this episode Josh and I discuss everything from business process automation to workflow and forms, my SharePoint ideas, to the upcoming SPTechCon 2015 August 24-27 in Boston, MA.

Below are a few highlights from our conversation:

TechnologyAdvice: How are businesses starting to automate more and more of what they do everyday?

Brad Orluk: When we talk about business process automation, virtually every type of business has a collection of various processes that make up what their business activities are. That may be production lines, assembly lines themselves, or research and development procurement. Virtually every type of horizontal on a business function can really benefit from automation. Think of HR and on-boarding offer letters, exchanging those back and forth, obtaining signatures, and dynamically generating an offer letter.

Those different types of things can be completely automated with our tool set very, very easily.

Obviously we don’t want to take the people out, because people have to approve these things. So approvals can be done with our product inside of their SharePoint infrastructure or it can be done even via mobile, because we have a discreet mobile app that tasks can be assigned to users while they’re on the go. So we’re really starting to bridge this space between virtually every environment.

TA: Does that include workflows and forms – you mentioned those earlier – do you see those as being part of that ecosystem of automation?

Orluk: Absolutely. Because at the end of the day, a solution — any kind of custom solution developed through Visual Studio as a standalone piece of software or something that lives inside of SharePoint — is but a collection of inputs and processing.

So really what we’re doing is building tool sets that everyone inside your business’ constituency can really extract the maximum value out of — whether they are a power user or a developer, they can all use easy drag and drop tools to build out these types of solutions.

TA: What are some challenges in this industry and how are you tackling them?

Orluk: There are myriad challenges out there in this space. And it’s everything from headcount to paying employees to build custom solutions, to the cost associated with developing those solutions themselves. The expertise is a challenge because this is a place that’s really changing very rapidly, so skill sets become obsolete very quickly. And again, driving adoption of what we’ve already invested in. So making sure that customers who have bought things like SharePoint or SharePoint Online are maximizing the investment they have in that space.

Our tools really allow you to maximize those investments because they help reduce the amount of effort that goes into building these types of solutions. So again, numerous challenges from the cost challenges to the time it takes, because everyone’s doing more with less. I think that we really enter in with a unique value proposition because we make it easy and quick, and again, appeal to a wide audience.

TA: On mobile phones, how is the interaction of workflow automation going to move on devices more so than just a desktop?

Orluk: At the end of the day our audiences are really very mobile, they all over the place, they’re connected to the Cloud, everyone’s computing in the palm of their hands with their smartphone. We’re trying to bring solutions that our users are building with our tools. We want to make sure that we have that in their hands; we have things like the ability to create custom mobile branded apps that will really integrate with solutions we built.

At the end of the day, what we’re finding is the hybrid scenario is really the future. Everybody must maintain some kind of sovereignty of their data with their internal datacenters. We are finding that for extranets, other types of solutions, and integration with other platforms, they need to be in the cloud.

So as time goes on, the lines between the on-prem and the cloud are going to become very, very blurred. We’re in a unique position because we offer solutions in both of those places that can leverage all of that functionality.

This podcast was created and published by TechnologyAdvice. Interview conducted by Josh Bland.

Let’s build a Nintex workflow that integrates with SalesForce.com!

Now that everyone has become acquainted with the new SFDC Connector for Nintex workflow we can discuss what you need to actually start building workflows that can tie it all together.

Keep in mind, the initial SFDC Connector actions revolve around CRUD operations with SFDC’s CRM and Social (Chatter) platform. That said, I won’t get into how you could leverage each individual action. Instead, I will give you some tips on what you’ll need to get started down the path of being a SFDC / Nintex integration guru by pointing you in the direction of some must have resources and then walking through how to create a basic workflow that will capture a individuals contact details (generated on an iPad via the Nintex Mobile App at a SharePoint event perhaps!), store it in a SharePoint list and then have Nintex Workflow create a Lead that your sales team can nurture into a sale using their favorite CRM, SalesForce.com.

Now, as my favorite PBS artist, Bob Ross, would say, let’s get crazy.

Prerequisites

  1. A SalesForce.com developer account – Since it’s not a good idea to experiment within your organizations production SFDC environment I would highly recommend signing up for a free dev account (by clicking here!) so that you can test the SFDC Connector without the fear of causing any issues with your live data. As this developer instance will be empty you may want to bring some records over to perform a more detailed test but that won’t be necessary at this point.
  2. The Salesforce Field Reference Guide – This document describes all of the SFDC objects and each of their corresponding fields. Click here to get it! This is very important as you will need to know which fields to map SharePoint columns to inside of SFDC.
  3. An Office 365 tenant with a site that has the Nintex Workflow for Office 365 app added to it. If you haven’t done this, log into your O365 tenant, click on the cog and Add an App, visit the SharePoint Store, search for Nintex and Add the Nintex Workflow app and trust it.
  4. Add the SalesForce.com Connector trial to the Nintex Workflow designer via the store. If you’re not sure how to do this, click here to watch a quick video made by my favorite Nintex Expert, Vadim Tabakman, that walks you through the process.

Now, let’s get to it!

Building the workflow: Step by Step

  • Go to your O365 tenant and navigate to the site where you’ve added the Nintex apps. Create a SharePoint Custom List with several columns;

FirstName – Single line of text
LastName – Single line of text
Email – Single line of text
Description – Multiple lines of text
RecordID – Single line of text
RecordURL – Single line of text

  • Now let’s open the Nintex Workflow designer.
  • Inside of the designer we’re going to place two actions on the canvas; Salesforce create record and Update item.

SFDC WF 2014-08-20_9-34-49

  • Now we can open the Salesforce create record action and begin configuring it.

**Before we get into the fields and data to map, you’ll notice is that you will need to specify an email address of an authorizing user. This will allow the action to communicate with your SFDC instance. Be aware that this will send this user an email from Nintex Live requesting access to the SFDC tenant (in a similar way of how one would authorize a 3rd party app to access a Twitter or Facebook account) the first time you run the workflow. If the user has the appropriate permissions in SFDC (this should be your account in the developer environment) they can ahead and select allow the app to access SFDC as seen in the figures below.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Fig. 2

Fig. 2

Fig. 3

Fig. 3

  • In the Salesforce create record action we’re going to configure it as follows:

Environment – Production
Authorizing User – Email address of our SFDC dev account
Create – This is the type of SFDC object we would like to create (refer to the Salesforce Field Reference Guide for a complete list). In this example we’ll create a Lead
Fields – 
These are the SFDC fields we would like to populate with metadata from SharePoint. Add all of the fields we mentioned earlier:

SFDC Field

SharePoint Column

LastName {Current Item:Last Name}
‌FirstName‌ {Current Item:First Name}
Email {Current Item:Email}
Description {Current Item:Description}
Company {Current Item:Company}

Lastly, we want to capture the ID and URL of the new SFDC record so that we can refer to it later, perhaps to access it directly or to integrate with via another workflow later.

So next to Record ID let’s add a text variable called ‘RecordID’ and next to Record URL let’s create another text variable called ‘RecordURL’

SFDC create 2014-08-20_11-09-36

Now go ahead and save the action.

  • Open the Update List item action and configure it as follows:

Target List – Current Item
List Item Properties – Select both the RecordID and RecordURL columns
RecordID – On the insert reference bar on the right hand panel, expand Workflow Variables and select RecordID
RecordID – Select the RecordURL variable

SFDC Update Item 2014-08-20_11-07-19

Go ahead and save the action.

  • Open the workflow settings, give your new workflow a name and then configure the workflow to start automatically when a new item is created.
  • Now publish the workflow!

Now let’s run the workflow!

Go ahead and create a new item on the list. Populate the fields and save it. The workflow will run and in a short amount of time you will have a new lead inside of your SFDC instance and the SharePoint item will have the SFDC record’s ID and URL added to it.

SFDC SP Item 2014-08-20_11-16-21

Our record in SharePoint Online

Our new lead in SFDC

Our new lead in SFDC

That’s it! You’ve created your first workflow that integrates SharePoint Online with Salesforce.com thanks to the magic of Nintex! In the future I’ll work on visiting the other SFDC actions that can pull data and tie into the social aspects (Chatter) of the platform.

I hope this post helps get you started on your journey of integrating SharePoint and SFDC. Feel free to let me know what you think and go ahead and share your experiences in the comments below!