Before reading this post, everyone should open their local drive and count the number of work-related Excel spreadsheets they’ve saved to their computer. With few exceptions – I argue this number should be zero. Documents stored on your local drive can’t be accessed from other devices, can’t be worked on collaboratively with colleagues and, most importantly, can’t be found and reused by others.

custom object from excel

Some of these issues can be solved using Google Apps and Dropbox, but following are three examples of Excel Spreadsheets that should be retired and replaced with a Salesforce custom object:

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1) Expense Reports.

If you aren’t using an online accounting software like Quickbooks Online – and want to keep track of expense trends, you do not need each employee to make a personal expense report and manually compile them for management.  Instead, create a tab in Salesforce that has fields for the employee, expense reason, expense amount, and expense date.  Then, create reports for various expense categories and time trends.  Add dashboard reports for management – or schedule an automatic email alert with expense summaries. Employees don’t even need to be logged into Salesforce to record their expenses if you create a FormAssembly form to update the custom object.

2) Debtor List

Do you have lists in Excel (or maybe one-off emails) naming your debtors.  Maybe each salesperson keeps a list of their accounts on hold.  Keep a clean compiled list by creating an object in Excel that holds the Account Name, amount owed, past due date and contact information.  Instead of updating sticky notes with the latest excuses from the debtors for not paying – keep a clean activity history of all contact with the debtor in Salesforce.  When you’re ready, you can send an automatic demand letter notice from a Salesforce email template to the contact prior to sending to the account to a collections agency.  Include a checkbox to note if the company has gone into bankruptcy.  Then, print and send a record of all activity history and account information to your debt collections service, giving them a full record of the Account.

3) Competitive Analysis

Benchmarking your business to competitors is important to improve your own business.  However, everyone in your company is probably looking at competitors differently and keeping track of different metrics.  Instead, let employees collaborate on an a continuously improving competitive analysis.  Competitors can be entered as Accounts and custom fields can be created on a Competitive Analysis object for: products, price, quality, selection, service, reliability, stability, expertise, reputation, location, appearance, sales method, credit policies, advertising, size and anything else you’d like to track.  Then, use a matrix report to compare and contrast your top rivals.

That was three examples – but there are unlimited ways to use Salesforce to replace scattered Excel documents.  At Collabrax, we have a Project Time custom object that consultants use to record time spent on each customer’s project.  The object captures the User, hours, project, customer, and what the time was spent doing.  Then, we’re able to run reports to find what types of tasks are taking our team longest or which consultants do the most of a particular type of work.  We also have a custom Invoicing page that pulls also Project Time entries together by Project for easy Invoicing.

Hopefully, if you’ve been using Salesforce for awhile you aren’t still translating data into an Excel invoice templates.  This is another simple example of moving data from your desktop to the cloud. Use custom Quote templates to send invoices to customers directly from Salesforce.  A pdf will be saved to the customer’s record and you’ll never risk overwriting an old invoice.  If you use a system like Docusign for Salesforce – you can even accept signatures on the invoice and have them recorded in Salesforce.

We’d love to hear what kind of Excel documents your company wants to move to Salesforce to keep organized!