Conga to Success! How to, Tips & Tricks for Excellent Merges

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Conga MergeThroughout Red Argyle’s tenure with Salesforce, we’ve often come across complicated mail merge and document creation challenges.  Since 2009, we’ve been solving these solutions with Conga Composer.  In an exciting turn of events, Conga announced a partner program and Red Argyle was among the inaugural group of partners.

At Dreamforce this year, I presented a session called “Conga to Success”, and I’m going to recount it here for those who were not able to attend.  The short goal of this blog post (and session) is to explain what Conga Composer does, and talk about the 5 basic steps to creating your first conga merge.

So what exactly is Conga Composer?

The entire Conga suite of products is designed to solve a problem.  Help companies create custom document merges, and integrate them with their business processes.  The standard Salesforce merge has many limitations which are handily trumped by what Conga Composer can manage.

Conga is great for these types of use cases:

So what is the Conga Process?

The end result of a properly architected Conga operation is that a user can click one button and “automagically” create the document that they need with no other intervention.  Think of the above scenarios being reduced to one click!  At Red Argyle, we use Conga for all of our proposal management and save hours per week automating the generation of the documents.

How do I create my first merge?

Creating a merge with Conga Composer requires a “stack” of properly setup items to work.  None of the individual items are very complicated but, put together, can create very robust business functionality.  The first time through, it can feel daunting to create one.  Hopefully these steps help with figuring out how to start.

Step 1 – Install Conga Composer from the AppExchange

Fairly obvious, you need Conga Composer installed in your org to use Conga Composer.  If you’re experimenting, best practice is to install to a Sandbox first.

Step 2 – Determine what data you need for the merge and create reports if needed

If you’re merging one object, you probably don’t need a report.  If multiple data sources are involved, a report for each object containing relevant fields will get you what you need.

Step 3 – Create your Merge Template

Pick your weapon of choice, HTML email, Word, Excel, Powerpoint can all be used as your template bases.  Composer provides a great tool to make it easy to copy and paste field names into your template.

Step 4 – Create your Merge Button

To execute a merge, you need some form of link or button.  Conga Composer provides sample code to start the button and robust documentation on how to customize it.

Step 5 – Test, and Repeat Step 2-5 until you’re done!

Creating a Conga document is often an iterative process where, as the document is being worked on, tweaks are made which require cycling through steps 2-5.  For instance, you might want to add another field, in which case a report needs to be modified, the template modified.  Perhaps you’re nearing completion and want to add parameters to the button code to close the loop on automation.

The best part of working with Conga products is the support.  If you’re ever working on a merge and get stuck, call them.  Their support is FANTASTIC.  Their number is (866) 502-3334 in the Americas.  I got on a first name basis with them on my first ever phone call to Conga, and they’ve been helping me out ever since.

To wrap up – Conga is an amazing tool and a great testament to the power of the Salesforce Platform and AppExchange.  There is a need for custom document generation and The Conga Suite delivers in spades.  In addition to Conga’s fantastic support, Red Argyle offers a full suite of Conga services to help companies who have a shortage of time or need extremely complex merges.  In addition to the Conga functions, we have a pool of certified administrators and developers who can go the distance and help take an extreme merge requirement from dream to reality.

You can read more about the sessions Red Argyle presented at Dreamforce 13 here.

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