An often overlooked feature of CRM is the ability to easily update numeric fields using simple calculations without having to invest in the services of a developer. Power users, administrators, and business analysts can use workflows to add, subtract, and multiply data in numeric fields.
A simple case of this would be to have a field Contact entity that tracks the number of phone calls made to the Contact. This field can then be used in reports / dashboards for you to further target your highly active Contacts to drive future business, or even send a slightly better holiday gift as a thank you for their continued business.
The first thing you’ll want to do is create a numeric field (whole number, currency, decimal, or floating point number). I’ve added a “# of Phone Calls” whole number field to my Contact form.
Then create a workflow to run off of Phone Call creation, and the only step needed is an Update step to update the Contact record.
In this step, click in your numeric field, and click the drop down for Operator. You’re able to set the field to a specific value, clear it, or use one of the simple math functions provided to perform easy calculations.
Now you can create your phone calls and watch your calculated field increment up with each workflow. You can obviously put in conditions in your workflow in case you only want to count phone calls that are completed, and not all phone calls. Or you can even add workflows for the other activity types in case you’re not interested in just a workflow count, but an overall count of activities made to contacts, or even accounts. Finally, you can add workflows around the deletion event of these activities to decrement the count if you allow your users to delete activity records.
An additional use case for this native functionality would be to roll up child line item costs/expenses/sales, to a parent record. A custom entity could be create to track time for professional service firms. The time records could then roll up to the parent project record to track the overall hours logged against the project, and even be multiplied by the hourly rate to track the overall budget spent at the project.
This functionality, which offers basic math, allows non technical folk to add powerful business logic to their solution, and is often overlooked for the more complex / more expensive “custom development” solution.