Comparing Salesforce Workflows to Lightning Process Builder

lightning2At Dreamforce 2014, the Lightning Process Builder was unveiled. This is a true landmark step for Salesforce, as it opened up a huge platform for system administrators and consultants to build highly complex processes with clicks, not code.

The new Lightning Process Builder has two main features that stand out. The first is the huge amount of functionality the new process builder brings with it. Before, a process that might have taken 10 separate workflows to accomplish with different outcomes now only has to have one process. This is because we can have true and false actions for a criteria, which can then have true and false actions coming off them again. In addition to having multiple outcomes, the amount of actions available have increased, so now, we can post to chatter, launch flows, update record and (this is the BIG one), we can create records. Taking it one step further, we can also default some fields for these automatically created records.

The second feature is how the Process Builder brings a visual designer with it. In the diagram below, see  how you can bring workflows together to create complex processes to automate time-consuming tasks. This makes “old school” workflows look a bit antiquated, especially when you are creating workflows that interact with one another to set off a chain-like reaction.


From the diagram above, you can see how processes can be built quickly and simply. We start at the top and work our way through the diagram to see which actions will be triggered by what criteria. If you follow through this simple flow diagram, you can see that we are working with an account, and the criteria I have chosen is Account Type (my actual criteria is Account Type = Prospect). You can also see that when this criteria is true, I have made an immediate action to create an Opportunity.


Clicking on this ‘Create Opportunity” tab will open up a separate area, where I can choose to default as many fields as I like. Then we can have similar actions if the criteria equals false, and then test another criteria, and so on.

We’ve looked at what the Process Builder is, now lets look at how it compares to workflows in terms of functionality. Apart from the obvious visual builder above and the feature to use true and false values to trigger actions, a lot of other actions are available.

Classically, workflows can only handle four actions: field updates, task creation, email alerts and outbound messages. But processes allow us to do a lot more in addition to the above, such as creating a record, launching a flow, posting to Chatter, quick actions (global actions), submit for approval and updating records. Yes, it’s true – we can now update multiple child records, which is something only an APEX trigger could handle before.

Currently the Lightning Process Builder is in beta stage and can be activated in your organization if you contact Salesforce support. It is currently only supported in Chrome, but in time, it will likely be supported by all major browsers. Definitely try it out as soon as possible, as the opportunities it opens up are incredible.

Ben McCarthy, also known as Salesforce Ben, is a certified Salesforce admin and developer. Ben has a wealth of experience in the Salesforce ecosystem as a Business Analyst, Head of CRM and Consultant.


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