Written by: Kyle Hagan

The self-proclaimed "Lord of the Nerd Herd", Kyle is a Salesforce developer and admin with experience in javascript, HTML Apex, and various other Salesforce elements. He is Conga product certified, which means he know lots of sales based processes. While at FirmWorks, Kyle helped pilot the design and development of FirmWorks Files and Notes.

July 6, 2023

When we think of a file storage system, many picture a large room full of file cabinets and stacks of papers in little manilla folders. And technically, this IS file storage. But a pretty useless system with little functionality and high risk. Document storage like these archives is a fire hazard, a management nightmare, and all around archaic.

There is more to storing files than simply a place to put them. When we talk about files today, most are digital and stored in the cloud. We refer to these digital file storage solutions as document management systems, and they are incredibly important.

There is a veritable filing cabinet of document management solutions out there, including OneDrive, Google Drive, DropBox, and many more you likely haven’t heard of. The ability for users to permanently store their important files and documents in a secure location, with the same ease with which we save to our local desktops, is valuable.

But what about business teams and their important documents? There are countless instances in a business setting in which files need to be stored and accessed by various parties, organized according to a specific folder structure, edited, signed, shared, and more.

Are these same solutions— OneDrive, Google Drive, etc.— best for business teams? Sometimes, sure. But in many cases, especially for Salesforce users, when teams need greater functionality, ease of use, systems integration, and more, there are better options.

Keep reading to learn about a better document management solution for Salesforce users.

File Storage inside your CRM

In Salesforce, the CRM will allow users to add files to the data structure using the Salesforce Files feature. There is a lot left to be desired regarding Salesforce Files, but as a cloud storage solution and file management tool, it has the basics.

Files can also be related to Salesforce records which are the lifeblood of the Salesforce platform. The amount of context we get from allowing a user to directly connect a file to a record is a huge reason to use Salesforce Files for content management, but what else can it do?

Using Salesforce provides users with various document management tools from out-of-box features, such as Salesforce global search to find documents with specific verbiage.

You can also reference Salesforce data and share files using Chatter, and users can leverage Files Connect to upload files from other cloud storage solutions.

Despite these standard platform features, there is still some missing functionality resulting in many users turning to AppExchange to find a more robust document management tool.

The AppExchange provides Salesforce users with access to dozens of tools, with a range of pricing tiers, that add value and features to their Salesforce document management experience without the need for a third-party tool Salesforce integration.

FirmWorks Files is one of the most feature-rich, easy-to-use tools to enhance document storage and file management on the Salesforce platform.

What’s missing in Salesforce Files?

Despite the out-of-box features in Salesforce files, there is still a great deal of functionality missing.

After uploading documents, users have no metadata making it difficult to understand or recall later why the document was uploaded in the first place.

There is no option (aside from inserting special code) to automate the action of uploading a file. Unlike most other Salesforce objects, you cannot run record-triggered flow automation on Salesforce Files.

Finally, sharing files with Salesforce users and external users is nearly impossible without spending time clicking deep into each file.

With FirmWorks Files, each of these problems is solved.

↠ Tagging:

Using Salesforce fields, we can create any number of tags on our files to further contextualize and organize them. FirmWorks Files can even do this automatically when a file is uploaded.

Furthermore, a module of the package introduces the ability to hook automation and workflow into the action of uploading files, updating tags, and creating record connections. This means we can get real-time tagging and sharing on any file we upload.

↠ Sharing:

FirmWorks Files exposes more of the inherent sharing that files are capable of. From creating external sharing links with password protection and expiration capabilities to sharing with both internal team members and Experience users, FirmWorks Files makes file access easy.

↠ Searchability:

While FirmWorks Files does not emulate the folder structure we are used to seeing in many cloud storage document management systems like Microsoft’s SharePoint or Google Docs, it offers something else, the ability to add meaningful context to each file via metadata and tagging to relate files to Salesforce records, and easily search and view files according to this data in Salesforce.

FirmWorks Files Walks the Walk

FirmWorks Files hangs its hat on a lot of great features. It is easy for an app or tool to promise to improve a broken or frustrating system, but how it does the job is just as important. Keep reading for a more technical deep dive into how FirmWorks Files works its magic.

↠ Metadata:

FirmWorks Files uses configurations (custom metadata built with a wizard) to integrate with your existing or newly created Content Version fields. Once the configuration has been established, it is used as a source for all the lightning components the FirmWorks Files package comes with.

Users can also set default values for fields referenced in the configuration. You end up with bespoke solutions like a file upload button that auto-tags file upon upload based on where the file is used or create document tabs to view full previews of your documents pre-filtered with specific tags or according to the appropriate business process.

↠ Automation:

The File Events module provides a set of Salesforce objects that allows Salesforce users to set up flows that can be triggered when a file is uploaded, or a new content document link is created.

This means you can track what a document is uploaded against, set tags, and automate other business processes.

For example, let’s say your legal team only works with accounts and contacts, but your sales team needs to see all the files that legal uploads on all account active opportunities. File Events gives you the tools to automatically link the account’s legal files to the sales team’s opportunities in real-time.

↠ Sharing Files:

Sharing files in Salesforce has never been easier than with FirmWorks Files.

Our lightning components are set up to allow users to share a file with any other Salesforce record or Salesforce user with minimal clicks. It can even suggest good candidates for sharing based on related records, making it easier for users to include whoever needs context to which files.

To share files externally, FirmWorks Files exposes a few public link features unavailable from the Content Version page layout.

Users can name links and set link passwords and expiration dates when creating a link. These links are visible from the FirmWorks Files UI and can be easily deleted anytime for easy management. You can even automate deletion if a static expiration date is inappropriate with File Events.

Since this is happening natively in Salesforce, and FirmWorks Files is a native app, the thoroughly configured Salesforce security is honored.

The FirmWorks Files sharing is not an additional sharing feature set added to Salesforce; it simply uses the existing sharing architecture and brings it to the top level, making it easier for users to interact.

Managing Documents with a CRM

There are many options to choose from regarding document management tools, and it can be difficult to discern what is best for your business.

Is it more important for your team to use your existing technology instead of braving the new and unknown for enhanced business processes? Is a folder-structured system important for your users to be able to navigate files, or is context and tagging a better long-term solution?

And what about your tech stack? Would it be better for your team to reduce as much technology down to the Salesforce App instead of constantly importing, exporting, and saving various versions inside multiple platforms, databases, and tools?

It is hard to say if one solution is best for every business. Still, we can say with certainty if you use, or want to use, Salesforce as your single source of truth to manage, access, store, and share files, FirmWorks Files is the best tool on the market to get your document management under control.

FirmWorks Files takes the existing Salesforce Files Features and elevates them to new heights by exposing hidden functions and leveraging Salesforce’s features to contextualize and organize your files.

Once you have a file management system that makes, there is no end to the possibilities of improved business processes and efficiency.

Whether you are hearing about FirmWorks Files for the first time or you have considering making the jump for some time, we encourage you to go to the Salesforce AppExchange and try FirmWorks Files for free today.

We are here to answer questions, do a live product demo, or discuss your use case!

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