AppExchange All-Star: Garry Polmateer, Red Argyle

Garry Polmateer (@DarthGarry) is the Principal of Red Argyle, a consulting company that focuses on implementing Salesforce for small businesses. He often recommends AppExchange apps to small businesses that need to deliver on a tight budget. Garry has been using Salesforce since 2008 and started out on a team that developed applications for the AppExchange.  He has since been involved in a variety of Salesforce projects including: business analysis, deployments, and post go-live adoption management.  

Garry picture

In the small business environment, I often see similar requirements in my projects. Because reps spend so much time on the road, they have a repeatable list of tasks that they need. Apps provide great solutions, but it can be tough to get additional funding for paid applications.  It's a challenge because sometimes the customer needs to see some wins before investing more in the system.  

Force.com Labs apps to the rescue!  All of the Force.com Labs applications are free and open source.  They’re generally pretty well developed and documented.  Some sport managed and unmanaged versions, offering more options.  And to top it all off, they are all out there on the AppExchange, ready to install into your org NOW, and don’t take too long to configure.  Without further ado, these are my four favorite Force.com Labs apps.

Find Nearby Accounts
Find Nearby

Talk about a “Value Add”.  For about an hour’s worth of effort, it is possible to geocode Account, Lead, and Contact data in your Salesforce instance.  It has a convenient link on the account to show all nearby accounts, contacts, and leads.  Imagine you’re about to go visit a client.  Before you go, click “Find Nearby” on the record to see any other accounts in the area.  It sure would be nice to find out that you have a prospect in the same building and pay a timely visit.  

Find nearby

Account plans
Action Plans

I often hear sales managers asking if there is a way to create a repeatable series of tasks for a deal that’s in the pipeline.  My answer, “You bet”.  Action Plans gives you the ability to create an action plan template and apply it to a record.  When you add the action plan, Salesforce creates and manages a series of tasks, ownership assignments, due dates, even task contingencies.  Multiple templates can be created and managed simultaneously to facilitate different processes.

Milestones pm

Milestones PM

Milestones PM is a surprisingly nice project management tool.  It’s simple and gets the job done.  In short, it allows users to create a project, and attach associated milestones and tasks.  It has lightweight time and expense tracking.  One of my favorite parts is the “live” Gantt chart which allows you to drag milestones or tasks around and change their deadlines.  It’s fully Chatterized as well, facilitating collaboration.  Another nice feature is that, based on your needs, it comes as either an unmanaged or managed version.  The unmanaged version gives you the keys to the kingdom to modify the application however you see fit.  The managed version protects core components, but it keeps you on the upgrade path.

Graphics pack

Graphics Pack

I love image formula fields.  They are a great way to show things like “What open Opportunities have closed dates in the past” in a quick, referenceable way.  I would go as far as to say that they also help data quality improve.  Users don’t want “Red Flags” on their records.  One tough part of image formula fields is finding images that look good, are the right size, and then load them into Salesforce as Documents.  Graphics Pack is an innocuous powerhouse.  It contains hundreds of images, that it pre-loads for you.  From there, you write your formulas and all the images are present, saving a lot of time.  If you want to learn more about image formula fields, check out this great resource on the SFDC community.    

Conclusion

Force.com Labs is a great resource for customers and partners alike.  The flexibility and availability of these applications are a big win for everyone.  They also give you a great way to test ideas out in a low risk way.  Often, these applications act as a proof of concept and help your business get funding for a more fully-featured, partner developed application.  Sometimes, they are a perfect fit and all you’ll ever need.  However they turn out, they’re free and open source and always worth a try.  I’ll finish up by saying, if you want to know more, check out a full listing of Force.com Labs apps on AppExchange.  Also, follow them on Twitter to keep up on the latest news. (@ForceDotComLabs)