Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we sit down with Brian Kwong, Vice President of Delivery and Operations at Better Partners and Salesforce MVP. He’s one of the hosts of the Salesforce WizardCast and a self-described flownatic, so we wanted to recap all the new Flow and Orchestrator features from TrailheaDX.

Join us as we talk about how Brian approaches TrailheaDX and why Flow is the future.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Brian Kwong.

Why Flow is the future

Brian wears many different hats in the Salesforce community, from his role as co-leader of the Madison, Wisconsin user group, to his work as a Salesforce MVP, to literally wearing a wizard hat when he walks around at Dreamforce. As a host of the Salesforce Wizardcast, he wants to be sure people know where to find him.

Brian is an original flownatic, so needless to say he found a lot to get excited about at this year’s TrailheaDX. “If someone has not touched automation at all, the very first thing they need to do is look at Flow, and specifically look at record triggered Flows,” he says, “because Flow is the future. It’s something Mark Ross and I joked about years ago but it’s now here.” The list of things you can do without ever having to code is growing every day, and it’s only going to get longer with the new things coming down the pipeline.

New demos and even more Flow features

At TrailheaDX, we saw some pretty exciting demos for Next Best Action, Flow Orchestrator, and multi-column flows. “You can make data entry a lot easier to use by putting things that are paired together next to each other,” Brian says.

For Flow Orchestrator, there are tons of new ways to help organize multi-step processes that interact with multiple users. “If you have something where it’s bouncing back and forth between people with different stages,” Brian says, “Flow Orchestrator looks like a really good way to manage that.” Think about managing something like an approval process, where you need to hand off the same thing to different people and departments.

Getting the most out of TrailheaDX

“One of the biggest benefits I get out of TrailheaDX sessions is trying to break out of what I had thought of for the last ten years and see what new people are thinking and saying and experiencing,” Brian says. Since everything is recorded, he’s going to go back and watch at least the first five minutes of each session, and probably make some repeat viewings of more than a few of them. All the sessions are up, so make sure to go the TrailheaDX site to catch up on what you missed.

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Full show transcript

Mike: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast, where we talk about product, community, and career to help you become an awesome admin. This week, we are talking with Brian Kwong, Vice President of Delivery and Operations at Better Partners and a Salesforce MVP. Now, Brian is a huge automation fan, dare I say, flownatic and fellow podcaster, who was heavily involved in TrailheaDX this last week or so. So I wanted to get him on the podcast to talk about the new features of Flow that he saw at TrailheaDX and orchestrator. So with that, let’s get Brian on the podcast. So Brian, welcome to the podcast.

Brian Kwong: Thanks Mike. I’m really excited to be here.

Mike: It doesn’t sound like it, somebody had their coffee this morning.

Brian Kwong: Hold on a second. Yes, now I’ve had my coffee this morning. Can you tell the difference?

Mike: I can. So Brian, you’re a longtime fan of the pod. I’m a longtime fan of your pod, but for those people perhaps that are just hearing your voice for the first time, what do you do in the ecosystem?

Brian Kwong: Oh, there’s the long list. So I’ve been involved with in the Salesforce ecosystem for ten-ish plus years I run co-lead the Madison, Wisconsin admin group. I am an MVP. I run a podcast on Salesforce called WizardCast, as well as a blog and kind of video tutorials, thewizardnews.com to kind of explain the wizard thing. I typically walk around what is a wizard hat at it, Dreamforce, which I’ve gone to almost every single one in before the pandemic, since 2008. And I’m also the vice president of delivery and operations for Better Partners. What I like to call a boutique consulting company, we focus pretty much on the SMB market and doing longterm partnerships with companies versus one-time projects.

Mike: Cool. So you’re a little active.

Brian Kwong: Occasionally a little bit, yeah.

Mike: Okay, yeah. I’ve seen you present it at Dreamforce. You, you skipped over the fact that I would say you’re, you’re probably one of the most prominent leaders in the flownatic or flow fan.

Brian Kwong: Considering Mark Ross and I created the flownatics at a Dreamforce event years ago. Yeah, I would like to say prominent. I’m not sure how many people know that.

Mike: They know now. I bring it up because I know you’re at TrailheaDX. It’s one of the things we want to talk about. It was at this point little over a week ago, so we’ve had some time to recover. I would love to know kind of, what did you watch at TrailheaDX?

Brian Kwong: Well, I watched the main show, of course, the very start of everything I watched True to the Core, the very end of everything. And then kind of in the middle, I bounced around quite a bit, mainly because there were some folks that I wanted to go because I knew who they were and I wanted to support them, others because I wasn’t sure if the topic was going to be as detailed as I want it to be, because I’d been around forever. Some of the topics I’m fairly familiar with. And then there’s my favorite session, which I believe was the meet the automation team.

Mike: Yeah, that was fun.

Brian Kwong: You may have a hard time believing this might, but I had a hard time not talking and in the chat.

Mike: Well, let’s talk about that because, so meet the teams for TrailheaDX this year was brand new. It was a version. We were trying a little something different from Ask the Experts which we did at TrailheaDX last year, where had four different PMs PMMS on for questions. And this year we focused everything in a little bit more of a release readiness style. So the PMs had time to prep. You saw they had time to put some demos together, and then we took questions from the audience. You did a phenomenal job of asking questions, I should say.

Brian Kwong: Thank you.

Mike: What stood out for you in meet the teams for automation in terms of what admins beginner, intermediate, advanced should be looking at?

Brian Kwong: Oh my goodness, everything. I would say if someone has not touched automation at all, the very first thing they need to do is look at Flow and specifically look at record triggered flows, which I believe is Diana. Who’s talking about that. Diana Scharphie. She did a wonderful job, especially considering I think, pretty sure she got slammed with the most questions because is the future.

Mike: Absolutely is.

Brian Kwong: It’s something Mark Ross and I joked about years ago, but it’s now here. It’s definitely the future. If you’re writing automation and workflow rules, okay. Did they still had their place, but you’re missing out on a lot of flexibility, a lot of power and a lot of ease of use now, with the changes the flow head team has made over the last few years. A record trigger flows is basically the automation choice for me, unless I have a business use case that requires code or there’s something else that is pushing me over to process builder.

So that’s where I would encourage everyone to start with. As far as the other two things that was shown off, which was Next Best Action and Flow Orchestrator. Those are good to know, but they’ll kind of rely on you already knowing flow. So learn flow first and then learn how Next Best Action can help you guide people to the right flows. And then Floor Orchestrator is pilot.

Mike: Yes, it is.

Brian Kwong: And I would really love to have it, but it’s still pilot. I’m not going to use it in a production order yet, but I really am excited for the direction that Flow Orchestrator is taking us.

Mike: So let let’s go back to, there was a fair amount of questions for Diana, sometimes, and this is the second or third panel discussion. It always feels like there’s one panelist that gets the bulk of the questions we also saw in her demo auto layouts. I think we have, is it side by side, two column flows?

Brian Kwong: Multi-column flows.

Mike: Multi-column, sorry I was going with the under on that. I’m just going to say two, but multi-column flows. Tell me why you’re excited for that.

Brian Kwong: Well flows for a long time. If you’re using a ScreenFlow, you basically had one column to deal with. So if you had paired fields like a start date and an end date, you basically can only put one above the other and that was it. With multi column, they give you, essentially it’s a lightning component that put on the screen that gives you up to four columns, which you can control the width of the columns.

And so now you can almost build a page similar to what looks like a regular Salesforce page with two more columns. So you can make data entry a lot easier to use by putting things that are kind of paired together next to each other, instead of up and down, you can also collapse the amount of space. So I have some ScreenFlows that are huge. And I feel sorry for the people who are working on really small form factors that can’t see all of ScreenFlow. And multi-section means that instead of having to have this really long page, you can kind of scrunch things up and use the width of the device as well, which is wonderful. It just makes things cleaner and easier.

Mike: Gotcha. I like that. What are, so now that you know orchestrators coming out, I think a lot of the questions that came in during orchestrator were for one of the newer features was flows calling sub flows. What are you thinking ahead now, as you prepare for a possible spring 22 GA of Orchestrator, when you’re looking at orgs with a lot of processes or a lot of flows?

Brian Kwong: This was one of the questions I asked was what’s the difference between next best action and Flow Orchestrator? Because they’re kind of similar in 10. One of them says here, we think you should do this one ScreenFlow and Flow Orchestrator definitely seems to be, I have this person that needs to absolutely do this one. I’m assigning it to that person. So I think it really comes down to what is the business processes you’re dealing with and does it make sense to have more than one flow involved? So instead of having a situation where I have a flow, I have a user fill it in, it stays a record. And then I have to send an email notification off to someone in finance or an HR to say, “Hey, I need you to go to this record and click the button to launch the next flow.” And so on, and so on.

Flow Orchestrator really kind of seamlessly passes it together. So if you’re assigned to do something in the orchestrator, you go to that record, it shows you, hey, this is what you need to do, and it shows you your assignments. So if you came in and you looked at the same record and you were assigned something completely different, you would see your assignment, not my assignment. It’s pretty cool, the way that it’s doing that. So it’s not going to be for everyone. If you have a really simple process, that’s one person that’s involved, it’s fairly linear, Flow Orchestrator probably is going to be overkill. But if you have something where it’s bouncing back and forth between people where you have different, I’m going to call them stages to try to align with what Flow Orchestrator calls them, kind of like big multi-steps within those stages that need to get completed.

Flow Orchestrator looks like a really good way to kind of manage that. And it’s really tough for me to kind of go through and say, this is the perfect use case, because I want to get my hands on and play with it. But anytime you’re passing things back and forth, it seems like a good idea. Andy who is, I want to say a solution architect over at Salesforce did a really nice presentation to the Madison admin group, where he used the example of an employee coming on onboard and needing to put some of his information in, have the HR manager approve it, and then once the approval of the HR manager goes through, the employee can go pick his equipment for the devices he wants. And then that goes over to IT to review it or approve.

So you have three different groups of people with information kind of pinging back and forth. And instead of having to deal with emails and maybe kind of clunky handoffs with ownership and things like that, it was all done with Flow Orchestrator. And it was very clean, very seamless. And that’s, that seems to be a really simple use case for what you could do with it. And so as far as current customers, I just kind of look for what are the complicated business processes that they’re doing that are either not automated, really difficult to automate and involve multiple people in a lot of back and forth.

Mike: Yeah. I mean, orchestrator is really meant to bring the whole symphony of the band together, right. And, and I think the biggest, most exciting thing, and I bet this was in Andy’s demo is the ability to have a record trigger into an approval process and orchestrator handle the approval process, which I’ve built approval processes in Salesforce. And I’m glad they’re getting redone.

Brian Kwong: Yes. I did my little happy dance when I heard the answer to that question. I love approval processes, but they’ve been around for 15 years.

Mike: Before me, before me.

Brian Kwong: Before me, before either of us.

Mike: They were around since workflows and-

Brian Kwong: I don’t think they’ve really got any love, except for at one point you could pull together a flash view of what the process looked like, and that’s no longer there. So, they desperately need an update for the modern day and flow orchestrator could, it seems to be, that could be the tool that does it.

Mike: Yep, absolutely. So it was a busy day. There was five channels with 20 some different episodes. There was 30 some different demo and discussion rooms plus keynote, true to the core. Is there anything you missed that you’re going to go back and watch?

Brian Kwong: Yes, there was a couple I, I missed because I was trying to work at the same time during some of these.

Mike: Imagine that.

Brian Kwong: Yeah, I know. I even blocked it off of my calendar. Shame on me for trying to do more, more than one thing.

Mike: We even played a video at the beginning to clear your desk off. You didn’t see that?

Brian Kwong: Mike, it’s a good thing. This is a podcast and not a video cast because you do not want to see what this desk looks like. There was a session with Nana Gregg, I believe on the my journey to architect and that’s been something I’ve been debating. Should that be? My next cert attempt is to go for the architect cert and I was really hoping to listen to that and I just joined so late that the next session was already starting. So, I want to go back for that. There was another one about user experience design for admins and developers that was looking at a homepage as a case study. And I’ve been working on kind of a blog post for better partners about kind of page layout guidelines. And I’m really curious to see what they discovered during their case study.
And, is there parallels that I go through and say, “Yeah, that lines with kind of what I’m thinking about. Or is there something that I have never thought of that I should consider?” And honestly, Mike, that’s one of the biggest benefits I get out of the sessions is trying to break out of the, what I have thought of for the last 10 years and seeing what are new people thinking are saying and experiencing. And I’m really excited that it was all recorded so I can go back and ping in because I know what I will do. I will go into every one of those episodes and probably watch at least the first five minutes. And then there’ll be a few that I will watch over and over and over and over again like a really good TV show.

Mike: Nice. Yeah. And we also did, on the admin team, we did Be an Innovator with Design.

Brian Kwong: Oh I missed that.

Mike: I will send you the link at the end of this podcast. I will include it in the show notes. That was really fun. Leanne and Adam Dodi did a whole video series where you’ve walked through, do different challenges and learn about design and design principles, design, layout, design thinking. It was really neat. We did that earlier this spring, so I’ll send that to you and lots of fun. Okay, so last question as we wrap up, it feels like September 23rd is a far date away, but it’s really not. And that’s Dreamforce coming up. So do you have anything on your wishlist for those Salesforce employees that are listening that you’d like to see at Dreamforce.

Brian Kwong: Make it stupid easy. So what I really liked about TrailheaDX is they had a whole bunch of different options, make it really easy to find where you need to go. I love Dreamforce, but I really don’t want to relive my first experience of being in San Francisco, going where the heck is the Western hotel and how do I get there in the next three minutes? If it’s virtual, I have my nice, beautiful agenda listed out, make it, make it almost foolproof for me to be able to go from where I am to where I need to go on time.

That’s the first thing. And the second thing that I would really like to see is make it really easy to find out exactly kind of like what’s going in to the session from, I can’t think of the word off the top of my head, but we have the introductory, intermediate, advanced because there was some things that sounded like there were more advanced and I looked at it and they were more introductory. And so being able to kind of make it really clear within the text, not just highlighting for categories, but within the text to say, “Hey, this is kind of what we expect you to already know when you get here.” Would be nice to know.

Mike: So no fluff marketing text.

Brian Kwong: I would love no fluff marketing text.

Mike: Or big fans, and no fluff.

Brian Kwong: Yes. Tell me what it is, now what you want me to think it is.

Mike: Right. The good news is I can spare you the hills of walking up San Francisco for Dreamforce this year.

Brian Kwong: Which is nice. But my dirty secret is I’m a lazy kind of guy when it comes to physical activity, Dreamforce was my week to kind of get back into shape.

Mike: I was going to say, are you one of the scooter renter people.

Brian Kwong: Only when I had to go from the extreme end to the other, if you have to go from, Hey, I’m going to Moscone west. And I had to do a presentation at the Hilton, the Hilton union. And it starts in two minutes. Yeah, then yes, I’ll get the scooter or do the bike. Otherwise, I think my average steps at most, Dreamforces around 20,000 a day. So you have to go from 6,000 a day on a good day to 20,000. That really gets you back on the balance for what you want to be physically.

Mike: I can understand. Well, Brian, I appreciate you being a part of TrailheaDX and contributing to the ecosystem. I listen to your podcast, I encourage everybody that listens to ours, give it a listen. Keep Brian chugging out great flow content and podcast content. And we’ll see if we can’t tidy things up for you a bit at Dreamforce this year, Brian.

Brian Kwong: Thanks Mike. It’s been a blast and hello to all the admin podcast listeners out there.

Mike: It was great talking with Brian. I’m glad he had time to pop by, give us his take on what he saw at TrailheaDX and the sessions that he’s going to go back and rewatch again. So of course, remember those sessions are still up. Go to the TrailheaDX site, log in, catch up on what you missed. Now, if you’d like to learn more about all things Salesforce Admin go to admin.salesforce.com to find more resources. New podcast swag is in the Trailhead store. So be sure to pick up some cool swag. I’ll include the link to that in the show notes. And you can stay up to date with us on social. We are @SalesforceAdmns. No I on Twitter. My guest today, Brian Kwong is on Twitter @kwongerific, that’s K W O N G E R I F I C. Of course my co-host Gillian. Bruce is on Twitter as well @GillianKBruce. And while you’re over there, don’t forget to give me a follow. I am @MikeGerholdt. So with that, stay safe, stay awesome. And stay tuned for the next episode. We’ll see you in the cloud.

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