Consolidating Project Communication Tools


Now more than ever, we must adapt to communicating virtually. Many of you have been doing this already, but are you using tools that all work together to virtually communicate?

You could blindly toss a dart at the wall and hit any number of communication tools that are out there now: Outlook, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, Salesforce Chatter…I’ll stop there. With so many companies turning to remote workspaces, or changing their office environment, it’s crucial to have systems in place that work with each other.

Let’s look at a common communication scenario. You are communicating back and forth through an Outlook email. Then you send a Teams message relating to the email for a quick response or update. And then you post Notes in Salesforce based on responses you receive back from your Outlook and Teams inquiries. When it’s written out like this, the amount of redundancy becomes apparent. So how can we consolidate this process.

There is a Salesforce Integration available in the Web Add-ins for Outlook. Since I use Outlook, this is going to help me link emails to our Salesforce instance and where I will focus for this example.

I can now log emails to accounts, opportunities, contacts, and more. I’m going to log an email from one of my sales reps regarding an update on a project we are working on for one of his accounts. Because I have a project (object in Salesforce through an app) created already that relates to this email, I’m able to log the email directly to that project. Now when I go into that project, I can find the email that I’ve logged under the Activity tab. And anyone who has access to this project will be able to see that email as well.

Now that we have figured out a way that I don’t need to retype the details of an email to my project, let’s see how we can work on instant message communication.

Salesforce has a built-in communication tool called Chatter. Chatter allows users communicate generally about a record in Salesforce and also to direct messages to one or many in the same thread by using the @mention function…similar to social media apps. I want to make sure my sales rep knows I have updated the project and logged his email. Within the project record, I’ve entered a message into Chatter directly in the Project screen as you will see in the screenshot below.

Once I click “Share”, John Smith will receive an email that I mentioned him in the Chatter feed. John can respond back to my Chatter post, “Like” my post, or do nothing more with it. Although Chatter is not an instant messaging tool, it can instantly notify @mentioned users or others following a record (depending on their Chatter notification settings.) And because the communication is posted in Salesforce where it can be tracked and others can see, users might be more inclined to respond more quickly.

The difference I believe to be most significant about this process is the fact that all my communication is now stored in our Salesforce instance. I no longer need to try to remember when the email was sent, if I saved it in a folder, who sent it, etc. I can go directly to the project and find the information in the Activity or Chatter tabs.

Using a variety of communication tools can lead to disorganization. You may remember there was a conversation around an account but don’t remember if it was an email, an instant message, a text and so on. Making it a habit to log communications into one platform, in this case it’s Salesforce, allows you to organize all details regarding your project and gives your team access to the details as well, if you are unavailable.

Remember that change is good but adjusting to the change takes some practice.

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