GridBuddy Cloud In-Depth Review [AppAssessor #16]

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One-line Pitch:– All the data you want from multiple orgs in a single, editable grid within Salesforce.
Highlights:– Connect records from multiple Salesforce orgs and external datasources, and view in one grid. 
– Switch up your Salesforce interface into a grid with supercharged list view qualities.
– Pull records into one view, even from unrelated objects (beyond reporting capabilities)


GridBuddy
has a simple concept: to create grids as layers over your Salesforce data. It may sound basic, but what this interface switch can do is remarkable – delivering what data admins or users need on one screen, view records together (even those unrelated), and add/update large volumes of data, minus any friction. Now, there’s another, more impressive generation of GridBuddy – Gridbuddy Cloud.

Introducing GridBuddy Cloud, the new offering that enables Salesforce Admins to integrate multiple Salesforce orgs in one view. Building on the grid-interface ethos, GridBuddy Cloud will be revolutionary for companies working out of multiple Salesforce orgs. Users bouncing back and forth to log in and see related data is a thing of the past.

Following my original review of GridBuddy just over a year ago, I was keen to explore its next generation. This in-depth review will cover GridBuddy’s Cloud’s top features, use cases and the potential impact of having this tool on your tech stack, plus set up effort and pricing details.

Let’s investigate!

Background 

As I mentioned, I originally wrote a review of GridBuddy just a year ago. First, I spent a great afternoon with Validity’s SVP Technical Operations, Chris Hyde, asking him to push the tool to accommodate any elaborate and convoluted use cases that came to mind. Then, I was let loose with the tool to try out scenarios inspired by my own clients’ org challenges.

What could have made the original tool better? The following line was taken from the 2019 review:

“There were really only a couple of minor improvements I could suggest for the product…a thought would be to pull in data from multiple systems and not just Salesforce (currently, it needs to be Salesforce field data), allowing us to see Grids containing data from multiple sources – but I think I’m being spoilt!”

It appears that my prayers – and the prayers of Admins worldwide – have been answered.

A short history of GridBuddy. GridBuddy joined the Validity brand in 2019. It was a good fit, as Validity’s mission is to provide what insight organisations need, to know the true quality of their Salesforce data and its business impact. With a suite of products having a ‘best-of-breed’ reputation, the move signalled that GridBuddy had something exceptional to offer.

Features 

Let’s begin our journey at Gridbuddy.com. This is the Admin’s control panel, where you will become a mixologist of multiple Salesforce orgs and external data sources.

I will cover this area in more detail in the ‘Setup’ section, but here’s a sneak preview of how you can connect datasources, configure grids, and assign grid access to specific orgs:

The everyday user won’t need to access this area. Instead, a Salesforce user can access GridBuddy Cloud grids from:

a) the App Launcher:

b) the ‘Grids’ tab:

 

c) embedded in Lightning record pages:

This offers the possibility to get grids in front of users, irrespective of how they use Salesforce day-to-day.

Grids: Powered-up List Views

GridBuddy is based around grids, no surprises there. First, I will cover old ground to introduce what grids are and how they fill a gap in the Salesforce native interface. After that, we will take a look at what’s new with GridBuddy Cloud – feel free to jump straight to that section.

Who doesn’t love a Salesforce list view? Users take to list views naturally and I’m sure some of them will reminisce about the golden age of Excel. The major plus point of list views is the ability to view and edit multiple records at once.

Where do list views have their limitations? A list view can only be based on one single object. Viewing related records requires creating a report (at the mercy of report type limitations, dictated by the data model). The crux is that there is no simple and native way to create a list of records with the functionality of list views, but the related record overview that reports offer.

This is where ‘grids’ come into the picture.

Grids are powered-up list views that show related records and offer the advantages of in-line editing and record create, all in one interface.

Collapsible sections at both the primary object level and related object levels keep the grid view uncluttered while giving users the ability to drill down as required. This is particularly handy in cases where the grid is based on an object with multiple related objects (as we will later see with the ‘Account 360’ use case).

All in all, there’s a new-found efficiency to working with data using grids (the fewer clicks, the better, right?)

Filters (and Cross-object Filters)

Filters make it easy to pull in the specific records users need, with a couple of clicks for the Admin.

Filters are powerful, especially when they are cross-object. Practically speaking, this is the ability to bring objects that are not directly related, into the same grid, making it seem as if they are related. This is how users are served key information, for a holistic view that Salesforce reports cannot cater to, for example:

  • A sales user could see open/high priority cases related to their opportunities
  • A service agent could see open/high value opportunities related to the case they’re working.

Cloud Grids

Now we are up to speed on grids, let’s take it a step further. What’s new with GridBuddy Cloud?

This is best explained with a use case. Let’s take the Account Management grid, which lists account records and all related records to accounts (such as cases, opportunities), in a single interface.

This is powerful for any user who needs to view the details of any activity happening in a particular account. After all, the sales team is not responsible for managing cases, but it is essential intel to avoid making a faux pas.

Imagine if you could show records related to that account, regardless of which Salesforce org that record was stored in?

Notice the collapsible sections in the image below, which feature a label for the org these records belong to:

That is where GridBuddy Cloud builds on GridBuddy’s previous version.

ReadyGrids

There are 8 pre-built ‘ready grids’, that come out-of-the-box and address different personas around your organisation. There are ‘ready grids’ for:

  • Validity Account Management – Salesforce
  • Validity Campaign Management – Salesforce
  • Validity Case Management – Salesforce
  • Validity Contact Management – Salesforce
  • Validity Lead Management – Salesforce
  • Validity Pipeline Management – Salesforce
  • Validity Profile Management – Salesforce
  • Validity User Management – Salesforce

 

Wait, there’s more! With GridBuddy Cloud, you can have ReadyGrids from multiple orgs in one drop down menu, for example, the Account 360 grid from the UK org, and the Contact Management grid from the LATAM org.

View External Data

GridBuddy Cloud signals an exciting future. As I explored the GridBuddy Cloud demo account with Chris, I noticed a couple of additional datasource types in the dropdown menu.

Why is that exciting? The future GridBuddy Cloud won’t necessarily be limited to Salesforce org data. As I will come back to shortly in the ‘setup’ section, external datasource types, such as SAP Hybris and OData (both on the roadmap), mean that records from these systems could eventually be pulled into the same grid view as their associated Salesforce records. The additional datasource types offer a strong hint at the direction GridBuddy Cloud is heading in!

So what? Let’s take Netsuite, Oracle or Dynamics, as examples. Integrating any of these to Salesforce integration is complex, with multiple objects to map from one system to the next. More to the point, you may not want to integrate all objects! There are positive security implications here, too, as a grid can provide a restricted window into Netsuite, without the need for an integration.

Other Features: Actions, Mobile-ready, Customisable Look

Actions: 

The ‘most wanted’ among the standard out-of-the-box actions are Convert Lead, Clone Record, Mass Create – but, the sky’s the limit when you bring custom actions into the mix!

Customisable Look & Feel: 

The bonus here is that the app can be white-labelled to keep it aligned with your brand.

Mobile-ready:

Available and optimized for the Salesforce Mobile App), meaning that user productivity can continue, uninterrupted.

Setup

The application setup and ongoing administration are not complex. I will breeze through the main concepts Admins will need to work with.

To get started, complete a straightforward organization profile on Gridbuddy.com. The installation involves downloading a managed package (from the .com site), and installing it into your Salesforce org.

Datasources

You know, by this stage, that the potential to have multiple connected datasources is the major differentiator between GridBuddy Cloud and its predecessor.

When creating a datasource, the types that appeared in this demo account offered a strong hint at the direction GridBuddy Cloud is heading in; I selected Salesforce as the datasource for the purposes of this review, however, others visible were SAP Hybris and OData (both planned).

With Salesforce selected as the datasource, you then enter credentials and other access settings. At this point, you can also automatically create the ReadyGrids.

Record and Field

Grid Configuration

‘How are the Cloud Grids even possible?’, I asked while attempting to think cross-org in my head, “how can you have a unique identifier for data across multiple orgs?’ I thought what would follow would be complicated, but I was pleasantly surprised!

Configuring a grid can be broken down into 3 simple phrases:

  • What it’s called: high-level details and datasources,
  • What features it has: select which fields you want from each related object,
  • How it’s filtered: who can see which records, by object, by org.

Here’s how easy it is in the GridBuddy Cloud Wizard.

What it’s called:

Set the high-level details and the datasource for where the parent object is coming from, and the parent object itself…

…data management permissions, display preferences…

‘Grid Access’ clearly shows which groups of users should have access. Logically, you would group users in the same org, so you can switch org access on and off at the grid level:

(note: you can use GridBuddy groups to bucket users according to their Salesforce org. All Salesforce users are created in GridBuddy Cloud, so you define the groups there).

What features it has:

The sections guide you in selecting which fields you want to display in the grid, by object. Viewing the selected fields is so clear, updating as you go along:

Now how about the cross-org record unique identifier? This is where you can define how a parent object in one org relates to a child object in a different org.

See below for how I defined the relationship between cases in the EMEA org, to accounts in the UK org:

How it’s filtered:

Filters control record visibility and whether records are editable. Not only can we ‘mix-n-match’ record access by object, we have to consider which orgs those object level permissions apply to. For example, if I am a user working out of the UK org, I should only be able to view and edit my accounts, but also be able to see (only view) the cases related to my accounts across all international orgs.

Here’s a snapshot of the filter options:

Record and Field-level User Permissions

What about user permissions when it comes to record access and field-level security (visibility, editability of fields)?

You don’t need to fret – no matter what you add to your grid, GridBuddy will respect any user-level permissions set in Salesforce profiles or roles.

Plus, Admins can define grid-specific permissions for the whole grid, or by object, for example, whether the user can create new records, or delete existing records. Validation rules are also enforced via the grid.

Use Cases

“We’ve had GridBuddy for a few years now, and we continue to blow minds as we find new use cases for it.”

I want to echo this customer because they have hit the ‘nail on the head’. From the first moment I saw GridBuddy, I could see the practically limitless ways in which you could use it.

My previous GridBuddy use case picks did address the typical sales and marketing user, admittedly. Although end user use cases are supercharged with GridBuddy Cloud, this product blows Salesforce Admin productivity out of the water.

Let’s take a look at how different personas around the business will use Gridbuddy Cloud.

Account Management

GridBuddy’s core mission still centres around productivity and improving user intelligence by extending visibility into related records. The term ‘360-degree view’ has been thrown around for the past few years, however, GridBuddy Cloud achieves this complete view by simply using grids.

In this context, the ‘360-degree’ view means being able to view all records related to accounts (such as cases, opportunities), in a single interface. The collapsable sections at both the account and related object level keep the grid decluttered, while giving users the ability to drill down as required.

More detail on what’s happening above. You can see that this user is creating task records for the APAC org, but doesn’t necessarily mean that they are logged in to the APAC org!

Pipeline Management

A user could be managing their pipeline in one org, and need to raise a case in another org. The case created in the second org will be related to the account record in the second org, yet visible to the account record in the first org via the grid interface.

Notice the conditional formatting, too, which makes grids easier and faster to understand, visually.

Manage Permission Sets Grid

There are multiple pain points for Admins when governing user access – I will touch on a few from my own experience.

As Gridbuddy works with any object, it’s flexibility extends to Admin-orientated use cases. Managing permissions is an Admin bugbear, especially those pesky permission sets! Imagine being able to compare permissions by user, or by profile, across multiple orgs?

You can see this in action below:

User Management Across Multiple Orgs 

Comparing the permissions of users in equal job roles can become taxing. By using a grid, you can audit the profiles, roles and permission sets (!) of users across multiple orgs. You can take this a step further, and audit the profiles themselves – the object-level permissions, permission sets, etc. – to ensure consistency in user permissions.

If there are users transitioning from org-to-org, you can eliminate redundant users and free up licenses that are otherwise being occupied by a dormant user.

Finally, the user management grid can be applied to manage users across production vs. sandbox environments. I look back at the various sandboxes that a typical company has, and immediately see the potential power here.

Identify Non-standard Duplicates

With the robust filtering available for grids, as an Admin you (and your users!) could use Gridbuddy to identify duplicates that no duplicate rule in Salesforce could ever catch.

Without wanting to get too ‘into the weeds’ with the duplication topic, use grids to spot duplicate records with duplicate related objects. To take action, selectively delete any of the main records and related objects at once (without requiring a 2, 3 or more step process!).

Building Marketing Lists

Campaigns can be a tricky object to work with. Not only do you have the campaign record, but also campaign members that can be either leads or contacts. It’s a pain when UI limitations stand in the way of something as pressing as a key marketing campaign.

Impact 

Control Panel for Global Organizations

Let’s imagine that we work for a manufacturing company with operations across multiple regions. How could an employee in the UK office create an order in the Chinese org, where the orders are processed?

Scenarios like this prove how invaluable GridBuddy Cloud will be.

Productivity & Adoption

This is self-explanatory – how much time this single app can save a user is remarkable, whether that’s a sales user, service, marketing, and of course Salesforce Admins!

In cases where updating record via an import is not an option (eg. mass-update across two objects), GridBuddy has the power to save Admins hours of headache-inducing data management!

Forge Cross-object Relationships

To recap: objects don’t need to have a relationship in the Salesforce data schema to be pulled into a grid together!

When selecting objects in the Grid Builder Wizard, every object in your org will be listed – both related and unrelated objects.

The ability to piece together related records from any object, this goes beyond custom report types; there’s no way of reaching a ‘dead-end’ with related objects like you do in report types!

Data Governance

Admins can use grids to define key fields and take the friction out of data entry (as opposed to using validation rules to police data completeness).

In this way, a unified definition of what a good quality record looks like is established across the organization. Each individual can take accountability of the data they own/create, for example, reviewing owned leads with missing information:

 

One Tool to Rule Them All!

GridBuddy Cloud steers organisations away from buying multiple apps, able handle use cases that would otherwise require a cocktail of apps. With GridBuddy Cloud, costly integrations to 3rd party tools and their maintenance can be avoided too (particularly appealing for frequently changing, agile Salesforce orgs).

There’s an extra appeal for customers on Salesforce Professional Edition, that cannot take advantage of features such as workflow rules (field updates) and cross-object filters in reports (which are both only available in Enterprise Edition and above).

Pricing

To get started with GridBuddy Cloud, visit the Validity website to request a demo, access the product trial, or discuss pricing with their team.

 

Taking a look at the use cases covered in this review, I think that even solving some productivity friction would be worth it. It’s a price point that opens up efficiency for multiple personas around the organization (Admins, sales, service, marketers etc.)

*note: as with other solutions from Validity, GridBuddy is offered in a number of bundles, providing value for both Sales/Service Productivity as well as the Admins and Ops side. 

Summary 

Have I said the word ‘grid’ too many times yet? GridBuddy is clearly a champion tool that will command respect from users, and one that has been in countless Admin’s toolboxes over the years.

Now, with GridBuddy Cloud, Admins can take the grids that users love, and turn them into an all-encompassing control panel to view records from multiple datasources – whether they be other Salesforce orgs, SAP data (planned), or other 3rd party tools (planned) essential to complement Salesforce data.

Gridbuddy Cloud makes it surprisingly simple to achieve the ‘360 degree’ vision of your enterprise data.

I thoroughly enjoyed my investigation into GridBuddy Cloud, and I am sure I will continue to spot more advanced use cases day-to-day as a Salesforce consultant!

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