Partially Fixed

Timeline - Pros and Cons - (Thoughts and Feedback appreciated)

  • 21 November 2017
  • 32 replies
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Userlevel 6
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As people have started using the Timeline feature, I was curious what everyone is finding or viewing as the Pros and Cons while putting this feature into play.   I thought I would start with a few thoughts and attempt to get people talking about how and why they use the feature or perhaps why they have chosen not to (yet).

Pros:

- one can sort or only show timeline data based on a specific activity type

- diary of events and account updates in one place

- draft notes for the next meeting and future discussion points for the account

- log calls, onsites, weekly updates, EBRs, latest Deal notes, At Risk Notes  (create a specific activity type for each)

- Given the SFDC widget, most others in the organization can see the Timeline data and find CSM updates one place






Cons:

- small to see/view/edit the information in
the GS widget - exploring ideas, but not sure we have many options based
on the SFDC account/opp page layout.

- (from what I know - disclaimer) the Timeline only accepts
manual entries and no way to auto-add entries like CTA completed or
Renewal closed.   Believe this functionality is on the GS roadmap for the rules engine to auto-add
entries into the Timeline.



Bottom Line:

- Overall, I believe most teams benefit by deciding on one or two places where ALL the
activity / account / deal notes live and the Timeline could easily be that place.

Thoughts, Feedback, alternative uses of the Timeline are welcomed !!

32 replies

Userlevel 6

Hello Everyone!

Happy to announce that your request has been partially considered and included as part of the v6.23 release (SFDC / NXT). Advanced Filters for Timeline Activities now contain more operators for filter configuration. This enhancement gives users flexibility when filtering data and creating reports. It also makes timeline filters consistent with the filters in other product areas, such as Report Builder and Rules Engine. 

This feature is implemented in both SFDC & NXT versions.

Thanks for posting!

The editing window in Timeline is WAY TOO SMALL.  We started taking notes in other editors (Evernote, Word, etc.) and copying our notes over.

We also lost the ability to copy/paste pictures into a timeline entry (which is frequently needed) and have to attach them instead (which provides more fuel to edit notes in another source and just attach them, but then you lose the benefits of timeline which is to provide easy lookup of what was discussed with that client in the past).

There is way too much space provided for tasks.  Can you go back to having the date and owner on the same line as the task subject?  

Userlevel 6

Hello Everyone!

Happy to announce that Timeline is enhanced as per Gainsight Horizon Experience as part of the v6.18 release (SFDC / NXT). The Timeline Horizon Experience gives prominent space to high priority information as well as new options to search and filter Timeline. Users now have the ability to edit Activity Type after creating an activity, create and save Timeline views, preview attachments, manage drafts from a consolidated tab, and much more.

For more information on this feature, refer to the SFDC & NXT articles.

This feature is implemented in both SFDC and NXT versions.

Thanks for posting!

Is there any update on having the ability to import or bulk load Timeline events? We have events being tracked in another system and it would be great to have the ability to load them into Gainsight in an automated fashion instead of CSMs having manually copy and paste from the other system which is part of our core application.

Userlevel 3
Thanks for the explanation, Jeff.  It really is clunky.  I just went through the same thing with support and they built a "duration" field in order to get it to sync.  This actually wouldn't be terrible except that I can't require that field.  We're going to see how it goes though since it's pretty important to us that we sync as events and not tasks.  The fact that it's required but not built by default is baffling.  That means that every person that wants to use event sync basically has to work with support.
Userlevel 7
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Couple of things:



This knowledge article  says "While syncing to Salesforce Events, it’s mandatory to map the Date Time field to the End Date-Time field under Salesforce Fields."



Problem is, there is no end date time field on the Gainsight side, so you have to create a custom End Date field in order to map it to the Salesforce End Date Time field.







When I asked why there isn't a GS End Date time field already - if this is a mandatory requirement to sync to Events - I was told they didn't make a field available by default because it could break sync for customers who are running older versions of GS.  



Second thing - there apparently isn't a way to make this GS End Date field auto populate, so CSMs would have to manually set the End Date on the Timeline activity in order for the sync to process correctly because if that field is empty on ANY timeline record, it will break the sync (according to what L2 support told me).



Very clunky if you ask me.  We've decided just to sync everything to Tasks.  Not the preference but if sync is going to break everytime a CSM forgets to manually set the end date, that would cause too much maintenance.



Oh and it only goes back something like 14 days? (I may have that wrong, but it's a short window) so if you need records  prior to that to sync they won't get picked up.
Userlevel 3
@Jeff - did you figure out the "magic phrase" to make Timeline -> SFDC events sync work?  We had tasks syncing well but have since switched to events and nothing is coming over.
Userlevel 7
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Ah ok thanks. It might help to explicitly state in the doc that those will only show up on the Tasks tab even though now in hindsight I can see the context earlier in the doc hints at that.  Thanks!
Userlevel 7
We are actively working on improving search and filter options in timeline and it will be available soon.



Thanks,

Nitisha
Userlevel 7
Hi Jeff & Lila,



Priority and Status fields show up when sync is enabled for Salesforce Task, since these are mandatory fields in SFDC task object. These fields will not show up when 'SFDC Events' object is selected for sync (which is the case for Jeff).



Thanks for pointing out the documentation issues, Jeff. We will update it. Also, are you facing any other issue while syncing to salesforce?



Thanks,

Nitisha
Userlevel 7
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Thanks Lila - guess I'll open a support ticket 😉
Userlevel 7
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Thanks for the feedback, Jeff. I actually checked our own Gainsight instance as well as one of our demo orgs, and I can see the Priority and Status fields in the General Settings section. I'm not sure why they aren't displaying for you, and they previously weren't captured in the doc screenshot.
Userlevel 7
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Jame I have a similar concern. 



It feels like an extra step to require a CSM to Log an Activity within a CTA when we already have a task to prepare for and conduct the EBR.  I get the need to have a place to capture notes/attachments, etc I just wish it was a little less clunky.  I also agree that having ONE view of all related activity is important.  You will have some CTAs that have logged activities associated with them but you'll have CTAs that do not, so if you want to track/report on overall customer activity, you have to pull from two sources, so I'm with you here.
Userlevel 7
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@Tom - one thing I feel is missing from Timeline is the ability to search Activity or Attachments by date range.  That could be a handy use case.
Userlevel 7
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Heather - are you syncing custom activity types back to Salesforce as events?  I'm trying to set that up now - but it's not syncing for some reason after I run Start Manual Sync. Wonder if you might know the magic phrase to make it work? :D



Also, Gainsight, this document appears to be in need of updating.  For one thing, it still says you cannot attach files to Activities, which you can now.  Also - it says:



"To configure activity sync:

  1. Navigate to Administration > Workflow > Activities > ACTIVITY SYNC.
  2. Under General Settings, select the appropriate value for Salesforce Status and Salesforce Priority, which are Salesforce standard fields. 
Note: This is a mandatory selection. Sync and field mapping will not work unless these fields are assigned appropriate values."



I don't see those fields under Activity Sync:



Userlevel 7
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Our CSMs are loving timeline, and it's become the place where they take notes and also track items that we don't schedule for them.  For example, we've created custom activity types for Trainings, Chair-sides, Product Feedback, etc, and they use timeline to enter these items and include key information.  They also love the ability to add the attachment there and easily reference it without having to look through the Chatter history or go to a specific task in SF.
Userlevel 7
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I think I follow you now - unless the CSM takes notes on a CTA task, you are correct that the CTA task would not be visible on Timeline.



There was some intent behind this: the design for Timeline was to provide a central location for note taking (teams were often previously using Evernote, One Note or other platforms for taking notes). As to why we don't pull in all other account related activity (support cases, survey responses, calls to action, marketing events attended, etc) like some other account history panels (like the account history in SFDC) do is that those can often get very cluttered with both high and low value interactions. Feedback has been that if we pull too much into Timeline, it will be hard to find anything because the stream would have a "low signal to noise ratio". 



That said, we are seeing some interest in expanding the capabilities of Timeline and will be building in additional features to allow other sources (including using a rule to create timeline entries). Potentially by our Spring 2018 release we'll have the ability to use the rules engine to create a timeline entry, so if you really wanted closed CTAs to appear in Timeline, you could do that once that capability arrives. 



🙂
Userlevel 3
The account history doesn't include completed CTA tasks, so you have to toggle between the Cockpit and the Timeline to see the activities for a given account. There is no way to get complete context on all account related activity.



Right now the best answer I can give my users is sometimes items for your CTA will show up in the Timeline, but most of the time it won't so you need to look in multiple places.
Userlevel 7
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Hi Jame,



Timeline activity types are identical whether you record them under a CTA or on the main Timeline screen, so if the activity type is configured to have a duration, the CSM could enter the duration from the CTA timeline view. 



The Timeline view on the CTA was designed to provide a simplified view of all actions on that specific CTA only. The thought here was that while working a CTA, relevant notes can be easily viewed, but to publish the entire account history in the small task pane would not be user friendly.



So if you want to see the entire account history, view the timeline for that customer using the C360 page. If you want to only see notes history on a specific CTA, view the timeline for that CTA using the CTA task pane. 
Userlevel 3
Hi Dan - thank you for your response.  



We are aware of the CTA specific Timeline, this also writes back to the main timeline. 



Our playbooks are designed to include tasks for things like preparing and hosting an executive business review, so the CSM just checks off the completion of the task.  Using the Timeline would require them to close out the tasks and log an activity for each meeting.  But the CTA tasks would not have a duration. 



This of course still leaves a gap in providing a full view of all activity related to a customer, as the Timeline would only have a subset of the activities. It has been very confusing explaining to our team why some things show up in Timeline and some things do not.  It requires extensive diagramming.



Was the Timeline ever intended to be a complete view of the customer related activity?  It certainly doesn't function that way today.
Userlevel 7
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Hi Jame,



Sorry that you're feeling frustrated. There is a lot to configure both from a software and process standpoint when considering how your organization will use Timeline. Here are a couple configuration options that you may not have been aware of that can help you as you understand how you can choose to configure your system:



Using Timeline from within a CTA - you can create timeline entries on a specific CTA in the Task Pane (see details here). These entries will also appear on the main timeline view, so saving your team an extra step. Note, you can also set the attribute type in the task view:





Email tasks synchronizing to Timeline - you can optionally turn off the sync of Email Assist tasks to Timeline. Most customers choose to keep this on, but it is a global option to turn off if you find it does not work for your processes.



Tracking time spent with customers - if you add the duration field to your activity type, you can track this whether the event was logged in the CTA Timeline view or on the main Timeline display. 



Hope this helps and let us know if you have any other questions that we can help with!
Userlevel 3
What I am finding frustrating about the Timeline is that it has behavior that is inconsistent with CTAs.  It doesn't make sense that CTAs and the associated tasks do not sync to the Timeline, but Timeline actions with subtasks become CTAs.  And email tasks in CTAs become Timeline entries.  Additionally, Timeline tasks have a visible type attribute, but CTA tasks do not. It is very confusing and inconsistent. 



Our team was very excited about using the Timeline to track in-person interactions vs phone/online interactions.  But since we intend to have the key repeatable actions live in CTAs and Playbooks, this same attribute is unavailable, and we need to account for this in our design in order to answer what seems like a simple question: how much time are CSMs spending with customers and how much of that time is via in-person meetings or in a phone call/web meeting.
Userlevel 6
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Hi Nitisha,



Thank you very much for the info! I have submitted a support ticket to resolve the issue with the syncing.
Userlevel 7
Hi Manmeet,



1. We will push the CTA name change in winter release



2. In SF task object, comments & description is the same field. Comments is the display name and Description is the system name.







I am not sure why your notes are not syncing, it should happen by default if the sync is enabled. I will recommend creating a support ticket for it.



3. I will ask the team to debug "Activity Type" --> "Type" mapping and will get back to you with updates.



Thanks,

Nitisha
Userlevel 6
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Hi Tom,



Yeah for the most part the widget in SFDC would suffice for the transparency that our company would like. We just haven't given the sales team permissions to view the widget yet. However, that is under consideration.



Regardless, we still need the "Type" to push through to SFDC correctly and the widget wouldn't meet those needs. The "Notes" are not as big of a deal since they can be viewed using the widget.  

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