If you’ve ever wondered about the pros and cons of using Workflow Rules vs Process Builder in Salesforce, you are not alone.

Go to market teams are using more tools and automation than ever to drive productivity. A Salesforce survey found that 95% of technical leaders are prioritizing automation in the immediate future. But to get the most out of any tool, including those in Salesforce, the efficient integration of key processes and systems is critical.

To ultimately design a collaborative hub that streamlines workflow and shares critical information in real time, you need tools that are lean and intuitive. Salesforce has provided two such tools which we will compare today - Workflow Rules and Process Builder.

By really understanding these tools, what they can and can’t do, when to use each one, and when to seek out alternatives, you’re positioning your business to create truly insightful data-driven communication.

Let’s start by reviewing the basics of each one.


What Are Workflow Rules?


To understand Workflow Rules, let’s start at the beginning, which is the workflow itself.

Workflow enables users to automate standard internal processes and procedures. From there, Workflow Rules then create order for those workflows with a series of if/then statements.

The next logical question might be, so what’s the purpose of Workflow Rules?

The answer: to simply automate key business processes.

Think about the end user for a moment. Because of workflow rules, the user is able to achieve a business goal with a combination of workflow rules. Just like an if/then statement, each rule has a condition and a consequence. As such, because of the workflow rules, tasks automatically take place in the background.

For example, if a sales opportunity is won, an email draft contract can be automatically created.

Other sales processes that can be automated are:

  • Assigning a task to someone
  • Updating a field
  • Sending an email
  • Sending an outbound message to another system

So rather than the end user having to manually create or execute a task every time some predetermined evaluation criteria is met, it just happens. Like magic.

But the thing is, with some Workflow Rules, it’s unfortunately not that simple. Or that magical.

For example, companies often create processes that make it easier to manage large business opportunities. So maybe you want to notify the sales manager when a sales rep establishes an opportunity over $10K.

With Workflow Rules, you’ll need to move through several screens selecting the way the manager is alerted, the template to use, the time period the rule will continue to operate, etc.

troops-workflow-rules-diagram

To improve functionality, Salesforce created Salesforce Process Builder... more on that in a second.

Salesforce Workflow Rules

Advantages: Workflow Rules is well recognized and widely used. It’s been around a while and is dependable. While some say it’s limited in functionality compared to other available tools like Process Builder, it’s fast and easy to use and rarely breaks.

Because it’s easy to use, it’s a great starter tool for a new or onboarding Salesforce admin. The functionality is simple and there are very few limits. This makes it ideal for a medium or large organization that needs to handle a lot of data.

Disadvantages: If you’re looking for advanced automation capability, you’ll need to look elsewhere. Because Workflow Rules only evaluates one outcome, either the outcome is true and the action is executed, or the outcome is false and the action is not executed. The simplicity is a double-edged sword. For example, in Workflow Rules users can not create another object record from the workflow while evaluation criteria get executed. Nor can they update the parent or child record of the object record.

troops-workflow-rules

What Is Process Builder?


Process Builder is an extension of Workflow Rules, with additional features, that further automates business processes. Tricked out with Salesforce’s Lightning UI, Process Builder has significantly increased the amount of declarative work an admin can do.

In Process Builder, you can create an entire process in one centralized place rather than creating several workflow rules. For example, users can post to chatter when an opportunity is won for an amount within a specified range.

It’s a point-and-click tool that can automate every Salesforce app, portal, and experience.

Because you can use Process Builder to configure multiple if-then conditions inside a singular process, admins can visualize processes much easier because of the streamlined interface.

The following quick actions can be performed with Process Builder:

  • Creating and updating records (not only tasks)
  • Sending an email alert
  • Submitting a record for approval
  • Invoking a process from another process
  • Launching a flow
  • Calling Apex methods
  • Posting to Chatter


When updating related records, Process Builder can update any field on any related record and update multiple related records when child records need the same update across the board.

For example, if a high value opportunity is created, updated, or won, then a draft contract is created. Five business days after the opportunity closes, a follow–up task for the account manager is created.

With Process Builder, admins finally gained the ability to establish an exact order of operations. Before Process Builder, admins were struggling with complex workarounds just to be sure tasks occurred in logical order.

Plus, Process Builder has versions, so you can retain deactivated Processes. This can be useful if you’ve realized something isn’t working, since you can look back to see what was happening previously.

Advantages: Because of its expanded list of features, Process Builder can do just about anything and everything. With multiple decision points, more than one outcome is possible. And Process Builder finally gives admins the ability to establish the exact order of operations within a process.

Disadvantages: When it comes to scale, Process Builder comes up against its own limits quickly. Loading thousands of records or running many queries at once can prove troublesome. Process Builder can also “break” if it isn’t set up properly.

For example, if you’re trying to update a Contact field with a value from Opportunity, or trying to populate the “Related Opportunity” field, Process Builder won’t be able to tackle that automation alone because of the one-to-many relations between those two objects.

process-builder


Workflow Rules vs. Process Builder


Let’s dive deeper into Workflow Rules vs. Process Builder. But before we pit them against each other, let’s take a quick look at what they have in common.


Similarities

  • Both are declarative automation processes
  • Both provide a visual user interface that enables non-technical people to understand and benefit from the process
  • Both have drag and drop capabilities which enable users to easily add or remove fields on the fly
  • Both are designed to enhance automation for the admin, although they each accomplish that goal in unique ways
  • Salesforce will no longer enhance either tool. But no worries, Salesforce will still support them and they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Differences

Think of Process Builder as Workflow Rules’ smarter, more attractive cousin. But Workflow Rules still has several redeeming qualities:

  • On the whole, Process Builder has additional functionalities and, as a result, is often assumed to be more powerful and might even be called “better” by some.
  • But there are others who would argue that Process Builder is not, in fact, “better” but only creates more complicated Workflow Rules, performs business-specific processes, and indulges in Apex methodology. Another consideration is that many startups and SMBs aren’t willing to break the bank to purchase Process Builder, since its advancements render it unable to handle bulk tasks or heavily repetitive programs.

Let’s take a look at 3 differences and see which cousin you prefer for your specific requirements.


Difference #1: Fields & Actions


Process Builder provides access to more fields for developing criteria when compared to Workflow Rules. More fields mean more options and more options mean more actions.

Winner: Process Builder

 

Difference #2: Outbound Messages


Sending an outbound message can only be done with Workflow Rules and not with Process Builder.

Winner: Workflow Rules


Difference #3: Time Investment and Skill Level


You may have heard that Process Builder doesn’t require technical expertise, but that isn’t necessarily the case. For admins who handle multiple records and bulk code, one mistake could result in an incorrect setup that could prove disastrous.

Workflow Rules are useful and reliable when it comes to simple use cases. It’s also a handy tool to leverage when more complex configuration is needed.

Winner: Workflow Rules

As you can see, both programs have their advantages and disadvantages, which is why alternatives are beginning to pop up.

workflow vs process

When Salesforce created Process Builder, they took what worked about Workflow Rules and added capabilities to it. Now not only can you update a field, create a task, or send an outbound message, but with Process Builder you can also create a record or a flow, post to chatter, submit to the approval process, and invoke other processes. However, that all comes with quite a steep learning curve.


Automation Alternatives


The limitations of both Workflows Rules and Process Builder have led some businesses to seek other solutions that still integrate with Salesforce.

Below are a few third-party integration platforms that any organization can adopt.


Apex

Apex provides a significant amount of flexibility for integrating with Salesforce. It allows teams to:

  • Delete, update, and distribute records
  • Add or remove users from chatter
  • Create email templates from various records


The options are great, but Apex is code-based, which makes it quite challenging to use.. To use it properly requires training and, in some cases, certifications.


Lightning Flows

If you’re using Salesforce Lightning, the option to use Lightning flows is at your fingertips. They empower any business to create and extend the power of process automation to any customer or employee experience.

This low-code, drag-and-drop feature enables teams to reduce wait times for customers, digitize business workflows, and improve team productivity.

solution-workflow-process

Troops
Troops is the only solution designed explicitly for engaging people in messaging platforms like Slack and MS Teams in an actionable way. Instead of the simple if/then formula used by Salesforce, Troops utilizes and/or logic, making it much easier to keep track of complex workflows.

 

builder1Check it out yourself in our guided product tour!

 

Plus, setting up workflows is entirely codeless, so anyone in the company can set up automations for their teams or themselves. You don’t have to be an expert Salesforce admin to leverage its capabilities.

But what makes Troops really different is that it was built around this idea:


Individual Salesforce users, not just an IT admin, would be interacting with it.


So new functionality like inviting team members, managing them, understanding individual connection status, and monitoring individual usage has all been built into the platform.

Quick action buttons enable users to update Salesforce directly from platforms like Slack through custom field sets.

Troops can push an alert to Salesforce based on five different categories: field updates, object creation, dates, stuck-in-stage status, or calendar events related to Salesforce objects. All of these can be further qualified by conditional logic filters.

It also supports alerting an action for other systems in the Salesforce ecosystem like Zendesk, Gainsight, Outreach, Hubspot, Intercom, Jira and more... see the full list here.


How Troops Provides a Different Experience for Salesforce Admins


Unlike Salesforce integration, Troops provides a robust administration suite that enables admins to centrally manage the experience.

Key administrative functionality includes:

  • Global view and ability to edit all alerts
  • User permissioning (admin vs. user)
  • CRM global query controls
  • Inviting and deprovisioning team members
  • Managing team connection statuses
  • API monitoring and throttling
  • Analytics: usage, historical logs, leading metrics

 

Which Functionality Is Right for You?


Now you have a basic understanding of the difference between Workflow Rules and Process Builder. Plus, you’ve also learned there are alternatives available, like Troops, that are effectively optimizing the Salesforce experience.

Both Salesforce and Troops provide a free way to get started so you can ultimately experience which option is a better fit for your team. As you start to build more and more processes around connecting systems, and are looking for a way to centrally manage the experience, this is really where a dedicated platform like Troops shines.

And if there is certain functionality you find highly valuable within Salesforce, you can always use both!

Want to see if Troops is the right integration platform for you? Get started for free here.

Scott Britton

Written by Scott Britton

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