A Premium Ideation App for Lightning Experience & Communities
Greetings! As the VP of Product Management at 7Summits, I have the opportunity to work with my team to build many innovative and powerful solutions on the Salesforce platform. Since I joined the 7Summits team on Halloween 2016, we’ve released dozens of admin-friendly, highly configurable Lightning applications that address various use cases in Communities and Lightning Experience. That’s amazing!
In this post, I’d like to introduce you to one of our best-selling apps: 7Summits Ideas.
Now, you might be thinking, “Ideas…as in the legacy application that is only available in Classic and hasn’t been updated in years?” Let me clear up that confusion: While Salesforce Ideas is definitely in play as the back end foundation for some core functionality, 7Summits Ideas is, simply put, so much more. Put aside your visions of the ugly UI in Classic, and shift to a use case-focused perspective before I walk through our application.
While I’ll absolutely be covering features and functions in this post, the heart of our app’s value doesn’t differ from the simple, original value proposition of Classic Ideas: Organizations that listen to and solicit feedback from their customers, partners and employees innovate and thrive. Sure, that feedback requires action as well, but it has to start somewhere. I think we’d all agree that asking for input reflects a desire for introspection and, as a result, some degree of health and success in an organization.
The 7Summits Way
Before I dive in to the app itself, I think it’s important to outline my department’s philosophy and approach. Simply put, we consider these to be critical characteristics of any app we build:
- Flexible (built to support variants of common use cases to reach the largest possible audience)
- Interface-Aware (built to live in as many interfaces — such as Communities, LEX, etc — as possible, depending on use case)
- Highly Configurable (all common requests are built into the app as options that can be controlled by a non-technical resource)
- User-Focused, Human-Centric
- Well Documented
- Backwards Compatible
- Easy to Localize
- Accessible (according to current accessibility standards)
- Easy to Deploy
Let me start by re-establishing the core functionality of Ideas for those not familiar with the original Salesforce product. With Ideas, internal or external end users can do the following through communities:
- Submit (create) ideas or suggestions
- Associate ideas with themes or categories
- Browse existing ideas
- Post comments on a specific idea
- Vote on a specific idea
Additionally, administrators can do the following:
- Configure ideas’ zones and map them to a particular destination
- Configure ideas’ statuses, categories, and themes
- Configure ideas’ page layouts
- Manage ideas (e.g., update status, correct content, etc.)
- Automate business processes related to ideas
With 7Summits Ideas, organizations get much more than what’s available in Classic Ideas. Let’s start with two critical features of our app:
100% Tailored User Experience
The front end of 7Summits Ideas is 100% custom; we’ve built it out from the ground up and left the Classic look in our dust. We’ve built a total of no less than 12 Lightning components that can be directly used to create a suitable experience for end users, including components such as:
- List Banner (shown below)
- List (shown below)
- Detail Banner
- Detail Discussion
- (Detail) Vote
- (Detail) Status Tracker
- Create/Edit Idea
- & More
Design and user experience are of utmost importance at 7Summits, and it shows in our application. Take a look at our Ideas List Banner & List:
100% Functional in Lightning Communities & Lightning Experience
Did you know that Ideas is only partially supported in Lightning Communities and completely unsupported in Lightning Experience? It’s true. Confused by what that means in light of this section’s title? Let me explain…
In Lightning Communities, Salesforce provides minimal support for Ideas by including the Idea object as available when creating an object page. Great, so what’s the problem? The problem is that zero out-of-the-box (standard) record components work with Ideas pages! What does that mean for you? The bottom line is that the only way to functionally expose Ideas in a Lightning community is through the creation of related custom Lightning components. That’s where our solution comes in; see below.
Okay, problem solved for Communities. Now, what about Lightning Experience (LEX)? Ideas is not supported in Lightning Experience out-of-the box. Go ahead, try to create an Idea object page.
Then how am I discussing 7Summits for LEX? Because we have solved that challenge and built a fully functional interface for Ideas within LEX, in spite of the technological hurdles. See below for our Idea Detail page in LEX.
While I would almost have to write a book to cover every single feature we have, we have been hard at work bringing specific new functionality to 7Summits Ideas over the past few months. Thanks to our Sr. Product Manager, Sandi Wozniak, for putting this comprehensive list together.
Several new features have been added to support collaborative ideation between customers and product leaders. These changes were driven by customers to encourage collaboration on ideas between their users and their Product Management team. These features include:
- Custom Field Support
- File Upload and Display
- Chatter Publisher and Feed
- Create Idea from a Question
- Account-Level Voting Limits
- Idea Subscription
- Enhanced Ideas Filters
- Preset Field for Integration
- Dynamic Message Display
- Disable Voting by Status
Custom Field Support
Five configurable text fields are available for use during idea creation and display. This allows organizations to request additional information from community members who create ideas. For example, you may include qualifying questions that help the product team understand the business problem better such as “Describe the expected business benefit for this feature.”
To provide additional flexibility, a configuration has been included to hide custom fields when they are left blank. This may be useful when you use multiple idea create pages with different questions. If configured, on display of ideas, only the custom fields that were entered when the idea was created will be displayed.
File Upload and Display
You can now associate files to an idea to support provide additional details, visuals and supporting documentation. For example, a community member may choose to include a proposed solution, mock-up or a spreadsheet with supporting data to help product leaders better respond to the request.
Chatter Publisher and Feed
You can now communicate privately between idea submitters and subscribers to discuss an idea separate from public comments. For example, a Product Manager might respond to an idea privately to request more information from the user who submitted the idea to help clarify the requirements.
Create an Idea from a Question
Sometimes a question about missing functionality is a product suggestion in disguise. Community Leaders and Administrators now have a streamlined process to turn that question into an idea. This ensures that these valuable insights are not lost, and demonstrates that the input from customers, partners and employees are valued.
When a question is converted to an idea, the person who asked the original question is recorded in the “Requested by” field. A notification can be sent indicating that a new idea has been created and they can be automatically subscribed to receive updates on activity for their idea.
Voting Limit by Account
To control influence across accounts with different quantities of users, you can place a limit on the number of votes that can be placed at the account level. This ensures that a static number of votes can be placed on a single idea by any user on the account. When the limit has been reached, users will be prevented from voting.
The voting limit can be a static value, or can be configured using a formula. For example, you may choose to allow 50 votes for accounts with entitlement A, while accounts with entitlement B are allowed 100 votes.
Users who want to follow updates and conversations about an idea of interest can now opt in to receive notifications when there is a change in status or new comments. Additionally, idea creators and requesters can be auto-subscribed to an idea upon creation.
Enhanced My Ideas Filters
The ‘My Ideas’ filters have been expanded to provide greater personalization for those creating and managing ideas. In addition to ideas a user has created, they can now choose to see ideas they have subscribed to or commented on.
For those managing their company’s ideas, they can now see ideas created by, voted on our commented on by any user associated with their account. For greater flexibility, access to these filters can be controlled by a permission set.
Preset Field for Integration
A new “Preset” field can now be defined in the builder where 7S Ideas Create is used. This field is not visible to users, but can apply a value that is stored with the idea to drive integration. For example, a customer may have 3 different entry points for creating ideas in different communities (customer vs. internal). A different value can be applied to ideas created on each of those pages which can drive integration to different projects in a project tracking system such as Jira.
Disable Voting by Status
You can now disable voting when an idea has reached a configured status. For example, you may want to do this when a decision has already been made on the idea such acceptance or rejection. When voting is disabled, a configurable message is displayed to the user explaining why voting is not available.
Dynamic Message Display
A new configuration has been added to display an alternate message after a user has voted on an idea. Rather than displaying the default message “Like this idea? Please support it!,” you may choose to display a message such as “Thank you for your feedback.”
How to Buy
Interested? I don’t blame you!
We sell our 7Summits Ideas application for a one-time fee per org. No Saas here; it is yours, forever. The process is simple; upon agreement, we deliver via unmanaged package that can be installed with a couple clicks. Need help with implementation or looking for a few additional features or customizations? No problem, we can provide expert services to help you in those areas.
Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in learning more. We’d be happy to provide you with a demo of our app or talk through how Ideas might help to transform your business.
Phil Weinmeister is the VP of Product Management at 7Summits. He is a Salesforce MVP with 20 certifications and has authored three books that guide readers through leveraging Salesforce in their digital solutions.