Introduction to Assets

In this episode we look at Assets and explore the common use cases of how they can be used in Salesforce by sales, customer service or your back office. We cover the Asset Hierarchy and how the Status field controls the lifecycle of an Asset. What should you consider when deploying Assets in Salesforce? Should you use the Asset Standard Object, or build your own with a Custom Object so you can take advantage of Roll-up Summary Fields? We wrap up our discussion by covering the standard fields available with Assets.

View this video on YouTube https://youtu.be/JKvnIVo4qwg

Transcription of video:

Hello, everyone. Welcome to another edition of ShellBlack Whiteboard. I’m Shell Black, President of ShellBlack.com and Salesforce MVP. This topic is Assets. Let’s jump into it. So, Assets are used quite frequently by sales, customer service, in your back office. Assets are a standard object. It comes out-of-the-box with Salesforce. And being a standard object we can add custom fields, validation rules, record types, multiple page layouts. So, let’s talk about how Assets are used. I’ve got a lot of use cases that might help you think about good ways to use Assets.

So probably the most obvious is that it’ll allow you to track what you sold to a customer, whether it’s a laptop, or a service, or a product. You can also use it to track what someone is entitled to. So, maybe they bought your product, but does that product come with a warranty, maybe extra training, free access to your website? So, things that a customer might be entitled to, that may not be a product, you may want to track as well. Other stuff that we can track is a competitor’s product or a competitor’s equipment. So, let’s say that we sell routers, and we want to know that this Account is currently a Cisco customer, and you’ve got this certain model of Cisco router. That’s not our equipment. That’s equipment they’ve bought from a competitor, but it might help us from a sales point to know what they have already. Same thing with installed equipment. So let’s say we sell computer software, and we need to know what type of server, is it running Linux, is it running Windows, is it a Mac, is it a PC, how much RAM, is it connected to the network? But we may want to track installed equipment at an Account so we know what we can sell, or can’t sell.

Another common use case is employee Assets. A lot of back-office type of functionality here. You’ve got a new employee, you’re onboarding them. Maybe you’ve have to purchase them a laptop, get them a cell phone, buy some software, get them a key card so they can access the building. And you want to know who you’ve deployed that equipment to and what employee has that equipment. A real popular use case is customer service, where we’ve got a Case, and we have a lookup from the Case to the Asset. So, we know that this ticket or this incident or this Case is related to this Asset. And what that allows us to do is if we go look at the Asset record, we can see every Case that’s been opened up against that Asset. So how could that be helpful? So let’s say we have a laptop, and we’ve had three Cases where we’ve replaced the monitor on that laptop. Maybe the fourth time they call and open a Case we just give them a new laptop.

Some other things to know or some other considerations. When we look at standard fields here a little bit, you’ll notice that there is a lookup relationship to the Account, a lookup relationship to the Contact, and a Product. Because they are lookup relationships and not a master-detail lookup relationship, there’s no good way to summarize all the Assets against, say, a Contact, or against an Account. If you had a custom object and replaced the standard object of an Asset with a custom object called Assets, you can now use summary roll-up fields by creating a master-detail relationship to the custom object, to the Account, or to the Contact. And then you can summarize the information…how much equipment, dollars, those types of things. Latest purchase, those types of things, with summary roll-up fields on a custom object with a master-detail relationship.

Something that you might want to know is within Assets there is some native functionality around what’s called an Asset Hierarchy. So, let’s take our laptop analogy of a chassis. That might be the top level of the hierarchy, and below that, you may have a kind of a BOM, or Build of Materials, that are the subcomponents inside that laptop. So, you might have a chassis, below that the motherboard, below that this RAM, this processor, and this video card. So, think of, kind of, a hierarchy of components on an item. So, now you can track the different subcomponents altogether in a, kind of, a family. Really good if you’re doing manufacturing. A couple other things to know that there were some limits that were in play that had been raised in the winter ’17. And the limits were more about how wide and deep, and how many child records you should have in the Asset Hierarchy. With Winter ’17, they really cranked those limits up. So, it’s pretty powerful now. In Spring ’15, they gave Assets explicit security. So, you can have OWDs, Organization-Wide Defaults, on Assets. Before, if you could see the Account, you could see the Asset, meaning that the security of the Asset was controlled by the parent in the Account. So if you made that connection between an Asset and Account, if you saw the Account, you could see all the Assets. Now it’s got explicit security. You can mark Assets down as "private" and hide it. So if you see the Account you don’t have to see the Assets.

Last thing, something popular a lot of people do is you might want to have a lookup to a Contract. So Assets out-of-the-box, that we’ll see here in a second, are tied to Accounts, Contacts, and Products. But some people will like to add a custom field and make it tied to a Contract. So, with that, let’s segue into standard fields. Not surprising, there’s a Name. It’s a free-form text. It could just be the name of the laptop. Here are our lookup fields that are tying the Asset to other standard objects in the database…the Account, the Contact, and the Product. The way you can track a competitor’s product in Assets is just a checkbox field. So if that is a Competitor’s Asset, you just check that box, in the record Description field for as many things that you want there. It could be the RAM and CPU, or whatever you want on that computer. There’s a Status field…is it on order, has it been purchased, has it been shipped, has it been deployed, has it been returned. It’s just, kind of, a lifecycle of what’s going on with that Asset. Has it been retired? And then there are a lot of fields that you’ll find on the Asset that are really just attributes about that Asset. Serial Number, Model Number, Install Date, Purchase Date. And again, you can add as many custom fields, depending on the edition, to have additional attributes about that Asset.

So that’s really it. That wraps up our introduction to Assets. I hope you enjoyed that. If you have feedback for us, or if you want to reach out, you can hit me on Twitter, shell_black, or you can email us at whiteboard@shellblack.com. Thanks so much for tuning in, and we’ll see you in a new episode.

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