What are Salesforce Community Cloud Portals & Lightning Bolt, and are they right for me?
Salesforce Communities & Lightning Bolt
Salesforce Communities Cloud was launched in 2013, and since then, it has exploded in popularity. Salesforce customers have been producing portals leveraging Sales Cloud CRM data, to help them achieve their goals in a more effective way.
With new features being added with each release, the Communities space is certainly on the rise, and with audience demand greater than ever, it’s a fantastic time to learn more & consider Salesforce Community Cloud’s ability to enhance your audience engagement.
Although concrete statistics are an emerging resource, it’s been noted that there are well over 10,000 Salesforce Communities, with over 25% that have launched multiple communities.
Lightning Bolt functions as a CMS (content management system), and enables developers to accelerate their development times through the use of template elements Salesforce Blog: Introducing Lightning Bolt.
So what actually is Salesforce Communities and what can it do for me?
Salesforce Communities is a Salesforce developed and owned product called Salesforce Community Cloud. For a link to the official site Click Here. For more information on Salesforce.org and Not-for-Profit collaboration, Click Here
If you are considering the benefits of Communities, please note that there is additional pricing to be aware of, so we recommend speaking to Salesforce directly for more accurate pricing when assessing Salesforce Community Cloud.
We’d advise you to do this with the help of a registered Salesforce Partner (like us, Clouding Around), to assist with scoping requirements and provide you with some advice on portal types and predicted user volumes, as these will impact the pricing structure.
The Communities Cloud lets customers build out portal solutions, where users can create a unique username and login, and access their own Salesforce CRM data, yet in a completely configurable and visually customisable self-service portal. Being cloud-based the portal data integrates with Salesforce in live time (scroll down for some actual portals that Clouding Around have built), which is of immense value to users for timely reporting and mobile or remote visibility of their data.
Salesforce Communities can:
– Enhance collaboration within your audience
– Transform the way you communicate with your donors, volunteers, members, partners, customers or employees
– Significantly reduce manual or double handling of data
– Create a far more positive user experience
– Eliminate the need to build custom CMS portal integrations with other CMS systems like WordPress, Drupal or Joomla
– Provide an innovative way to distinguish yourself from competitors
Salesforce Communities Cloud works with other Salesforce clouds like Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud, in a sense by sitting alongside and within them.
A visual representation is below:
As with all systems, the Community Cloud is only as good as the data and content that it is provided with, and can then serve up to users.
With that in mind, implementing Salesforce Community Cloud requires professional help by either a certified consultant or Salesforce partner, to assist with the scoping of key processes and requirements, documentation of these processes and the data model, implementation of the Communities Cloud, UAT (User Acceptance Testing) and training.
For Clouding Around, training is a vital part of all projects, as with your data, the system is also only as robust as the individuals using the platform or Community Cloud can make it.
Although the release of the Lighting Bolt templates has reduced the development time for partners to implement Community Cloud, there is still a significant amount of work required to successfully implement any portal/s.
This is particularly true for public-facing portals, as this involves not only building the front facing CMS visual components – those components require logic and data to provide the correct components to the audience.
The main tasks & deliverables associated from a partner perspective, include:
• Workshops / scoping sessions (preferably on-site and face to face)
• Documentation of user stories
• Documentation of the data & logical models
• Developing the wireframes
• Provision Salesforce
• Setup Salesforce Communities
• Enable & Setup Salesforce Lightning Bolt CMS Builder
• Providing clients with project deliverables & dependencies on their end
• Apply .CSS to Communities Portals (how HTML elements will be displayed on the pages)
• Develop portal access permissions, security & profile types
• Create the required ‘Single Sign On’ between Salesforce and external systems with the desired authentication method
• Develop required user portal pages, tabs in each page, objects they can both access and edit
Scoping and determining what type of user functions are required is key – there are a wide range of options available within the Salesforce Community Cloud, and will be relevant depending on each client and their individual business processes and goals.
Below are some options that include but are not limited to:
– Update basic Contact details (name, title, address, phone, email, next of kin)
– Update communication method preference (including data integrated from the chosen EDM tool)
– Update credit card details and payment methods
– Update their donations & regular giving details, or pause their giving if they go away on holiday
– Engage in forums and collaborate with other members/users within blogs or forums
– Search a knowledge base for answers to questions about products or services the organisation provides
– Search and apply for job listings
– Update children’s dietary and medical details
– Download tax deductible receipts
– View reports and dashboards for any relevant data they’ve been given access to.
A deeper dive into Lighting Bolt CMS (with print screen examples)
If you’ve been looking into the Salesforce Community Cloud, no doubt you’ve heard or come across ‘Lighting Bolt’ and Lighting Bolt Templates.
The official release blog post from Salesforce can be found here.
This feature enables Partners and trained users to build Salesforce Communities lighting communities fast, and leverage pre-built templates with a drag and drop type interface which reduces development time.
Instead of starting from scratch, companies can start with a framework and configure and edit to each client’s requirements. Some of the components included are case management & e-commerce, among others.
Clouding Around have deployed numerous Salesforce Community Clouds, leveraging the Lighting Bolt framework, with great success which has resulted in excellent levels of client satisfaction.
Salesforce.org themselves referenced Clouding Around’s Salesforce Communities portal we built for Olga Tennison Autism Research Center in conjunction with LaTrobe University & Specialisterne Australia.
Pro Bono Profiles: Salesforce Volunteers and Olga Tennison Autism Research Center Connect Job Seekers with Opportunities
In this instance, Clouding Around were engaged to work with the Specialisterne Australia team to develop a portal whereby those on the autism spectrum could find employers and roles that advertise suitable employment opportunities, to ensure a great fit for both parties.
Of increased importance for this project, the user interface was vital for success as users who didn’t like the visual components or found the portal difficult to navigate would not use it, so feedback & UAT throughout the project was essential.
A further example of our work includes the public facing AS Careers portal page (shown below), you can see that the main navigation tabs include, job search, using AS Careers and Community Forum, plus a login section on the top right-hand side.
Source: As Careers Website
Types of Communities we’ve built
Salesforce Communities can allow you to build out a wide range of portals for all types of users within your community.
Below, we will list some further examples to illustrate the possibilities and some real-life examples and print screens, to provide clarity and display the back-end.
Family Portal example
In 2016, Camp Quality implemented Salesforce Communities with the help of Clouding Around for their children’s families.
Previously, families were required to complete numerous paper based forms for each camp their child was attending. The data they were supplying camp quality included their name, children’s name, dietary requirements, medical conditions and other key attributes.
For the user (family members), this was frustrating, as it was both time consuming, and they were supplying the same data over and over.
Not only was this a poor user experience, but it also didn’t make sense from a business point of view, as it was a time consuming and double manual handling of data that proved to be an expensive exercise from Camp Quality and created many inefficiencies.
“Now we can certainly manage our families better and prioritise our services with the new data model and formulas enabling priority scores, which basically measures out their engagement level and allows for a scoring system, that’s been a key thing for us”
.- David Aitken – Camp Quality.
Camp Quality were previously only able to analyse event popularity and uptake via the RSVP forms, now, with the help of Salesforce Communities, they can assess the viability of an event they publish and launch within 24 hours in terms of popularity and uptake from the Salesforce data.
Clouding Around also enabled another of Salesforce’s features – case management, which allows the Camp Quality to track, manage, resolve and report on all cases and issues logged by families in live time within the portal.
Implementing the Salesforce Sales Cloud CRM platform and Salesforce Community for their families to access their own data
”has made a significant impact on manual processes”
– David Aitken,”- Camp Quality.
A link to the full case study that we completed with Salesforce Communities Cloud and Camp Quality can be found at:
Case Study: Camp Quality – Implemented Salesforce Communities for their Family portal registrations, processing and updating details.
Member Portal examples
Bicycle Network (BN) are Australia’s largest bike riding organisation, who have a simple strategy – make bike riding easy for everyone. Bicycle Network have over 50,000 members across Australia.
By becoming a member with Bicycle Network, members enjoy reduced bike riding insurance costs, legal support, and become part of the bicycle rider’s community, gaining a wide range of member reward incentives such as discounted bike servicing and access to exclusive events.
Once members join BN, they receive access to their own unique Salesforce Communities portal where they come to:
– Access news and events
– View previous payments for Events & Memberships
– Register their bike
– Change their insurance details
– Log an incident (Salesforce case management)
– Change and edit their contact preferences
– Change and edit their club
– Update password details
When a user logs into the Salesforce portal with Bicycle Network, this is a real-life example of what they actually see below.
Users can view and update their details, change their password, register their bikes, log cases with Salesforce cases and manage their memberships.
From a back-end perspective, this is the exact same page, accessing it from the Sales Cloud classic developer back end view.
You can see between the two pages, Clouding Around have built the portal to display the information in the Sales Cloud CRM to populate the user portal, so that when the user updates the portal data field, it will change what the actual Bicycle Network staff see, thus also reducing double manual handling.
With all Salesforce fields and data, as part of the implementation, Clouding Around work with our clients to select the right field security, so some users may be able to view data but not actually edit or delete it.
To show you how Clouding Around leverage the Salesforce Lighting Bolt framework, here is a print screen of one of our in-house developers making changes to the Bicycle Network portal:
As you can see above, the developers can view pages, change components, change the layout, edit the page variation and change the visual aspects of how the page looks and feels.
Some clients require a fully bespoke Salesforce Community Portal, which Clouding Around build from scratch, as the Lighting Bolt framework is restricted in some aspects, with the components being pre-built.
Although the pros with Lighting Bolt are that Partner can build portals faster, the cons involve if the client has extensive custom requirements as some aspects are locked down and won’t be able to be customised, so scoping the requirements from the start is a vital part of the implementation.
Another Membership based Salesforce Community example is Forrest & Woods Products Australia (FWPA).
FWPA engaged Clouding Around to build them a portal for their members – once a user is a member, they gain access to FWPA Salesforce branded pages for discussion and collaboration on key industrial news and topics about national, integrated research and development services to the Australian forest and wood products industry.
Members can have their vote on certain topics and key stakeholders can collaborate remotely with the Salesforce Communities Cloud.
For a user to become a member, they would navigate to this Salesforce page below:
Source: Forest & Wood Products Australia
Service type portals – Booking Horse Stable
Boneo Park is a stunning equestrian centre based in Mornington Peninsula, Melbourne, across an 850-acre property.
Boneo Park prides itself on being a state of the art equestrian facility providing the Australian equestrian community with a taste of Europe.
If a Boneo Park user would like to create a portal access, they are redirected to this page.
Source: Boneo Park
One of the services they offer is booking their facilities.
If the user navigates to the “facilities” tab, they have the option to add items to their booking, which can include: a yard, a stable, a track room, long term stay and a car or campsite.
Once the user has selected what asset they would like to book, Clouding Around built them a visual force Salesforce webpage, that can handle the payment of that booking, integrated with their chosen merchant provider.
Common merchant providers we integrate to include eWay, PayWay, IP Payments & EziDebit.
Other features from the user point of view, they are able to:
– View upcoming events
– View their events they have registered for
– Upload their horse and information
– Upload their rider information
– Add combinations of riders to horses
From a user point of view, this is the access they see once they log into the Boneo Park Salesforce Communities portal.
Boneo Park did not use any Lighting Bolt components, as we built their portal before this feature was enabled, but now with Lighting Bolt, we could have developed this portal even faster.
Additional Salesforce Communities features and benefits include:
• Assignment and portal access can be automated from Salesforce processes
• Community portal users can use any existing integrations on the Salesforce platform, e.g. pay online, request Xero invoice online or manage their EDM communication preferences
• Salesforce admins can create pages or records, and specify which users can access the available functionality e.g. events or news
• Salesforce Community can enable Single Sign On (SSO), with other systems like Learning Management Systems (LMS) or social media platforms such as Facebook using OAuth (OAuth is an open standard for access delegation, commonly used as a way for Internet users to grant websites or applications access to their information on other websites but without giving them the passwords)
• All Salesforce Communities are mobile and iPad friendly, and also available on their Salesforce1 mobile application
• Customers can use case management and cases can be automatically escalated based on established keywords
• Help your customers to help themselves with easy to access the knowledge base within the community
• Grow partner sales with data sharing and sharing of reports & dashboards
For more features, please visit:
Salesforce Community Cloud – Features
Project delivery for Salesforce Communities Portals – Agile/Sprint based approach
Due to the complex nature of scoping, development & implementation required with Salesforce Communities, Clouding Around generally choose to take the agile/sprint based approach, but will invest time in the scoping and documentation of requirements phases. Within the scoping, all elements are added to the backlog allocation.
With sprint based project delivery, most of our sprint duration is optimal around the 2 weeks in duration timeframe. At the end of each sprint, we provide updates on our deliverables back to the client for testing and feedback.
The benefit of this approach is that our clients are able to provide timely feedback and test each piece of development, and once completed, they can discuss if they’d like to make changes. Clients have the ability to prioritise any items to bring forward within the sprint deliverables, which increases their sense of comfort during the project.
We work with our clients within the agreed hour allocation for each sprint, to guide and manage expectations, so Clouding Around can complete the functional design elements within the predicted timeframe and fixed priced project budget cost.
This is also managed with the weekly project report call, where both parties can update the whole project team of any upcoming deliverables, challenges or changes to the schedule.
For more information on agile and scrum based projects, a handy short 7 minute intro we recommend can be found: here
We hope this article has provided value in further describing and delving deeper into what the Salesforce Community Cloud can offer with their portal solutions, leveraging the Salesforce Sales Cloud CRM database.
The real-life examples and print screens of the Lighting Bolt in action should have provided some further insights about how the templates reduce development time, and make it a more effective solution for customers to invest in.
For any further information, or assistance with scoping your portal requirements, don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our friendly staff. Contact Us