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Being a revenue operations leader is a lot like being a couples therapist for your GTM teams. You connect the dots and hold each team accountable. And you do it all by managing and keeping up with a tool that serves as a single source of truth– Salesforce. 

But as your organization grows, Salesforce must grow with it. And deploying changes within your CRM isn’t for the faint of heart– especially should something go wrong. Not only can poorly managed changes in Salesforce lead to tech debt and bottlenecks, but they can ultimately impact the bottom line.

To help you deploy Salesforce changes with ease, we’re covering the top challenges you may face and 5 best practices to help streamline the future of your change management process. 

Common Salesforce Deployment Challenges

A lot can go wrong when it comes to making changes to your Salesforce metadata. And one wrong move can cause a whole slew of issues that can affect your entire GTM team. Not to mention, reverse engineering these breaks can take your admins countless hours to fix. Talk about a headache. 

Common challenges to be on the lookout for when deploying Salesforce changes include:

1. Navigating customization and integrations

Salesforce allows organizations of all sizes to customize their ecosystem as they see fit and integrate data from all critical business tools. While this is great, it can quickly make the process of deploying multiple changes complex and difficult –especially if you don’t have data governance or a data dictionary clearly defining all your metadata in place.

2. Multiple users with different permissions

Whether you have a small or large organization, you’re often going to deal with multiple users who need different permissions. Coordinating every team member’s work often leads to headaches and confusion. Confirming who needs which access is best (and easiest) to deal with upfront before the deployment process. 

3. Complex business logic and Salesforce ecosystem

One of the reasons many organizations love Salesforce is the low-code approach – this allows org members with little coding experience the opportunity to make changes to applications and build out customizations. Spoiler alert – getting several changes from multiple users makes release management and source control become much more complicated.

4. Inability to keep up with the release cycle

Though many wish they were, most orgs aren’t running a fully automated Salesforce. Manual processes lead to overlap in work, time-consuming handoffs between teams, and much longer feedback loops. Not to mention, GTM members expect admins to turn around changes fast– leading to errors and breaks down the line. With so many hands in the pot, keeping up with release cycles can become tough. That’s why sticking to your change management strategy is critical. 

5. Lack of visibility

End-to-end visibility is the name of the game you want to win when you’re deploying Salesforce. Lack of visibility makes maintaining frequent delivery difficult as teams become confused about the step of the process they’re in. You can’t reach your final destination if you don’t know where you’re at or where you’re going

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5 Best Practices for Salesforce Deployment

Think of Salesforce deployment as a sort of sport. Like any sport, practice makes perfect! There are also rules to follow and best practices to enhance your performance. If you’re looking to enhance your RevOps team’s performance in Salesforce deployments, consider following these 5 best practices:

  1. Choose the best sandbox strategy
  2. Create Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC)
  3. Limit user permissions
  4. Follow good testing practices
  5. Create alerts for important changes

Below, we’re covering each of these in detail to help your RevOps team make changes in Salesforce more confidently. 

1. Choose the best sandbox strategy

Before Salesforce deployments, you should have a sandbox in place for proper testing and configuration. To do this, you’ll need to make a decision about which type of sandbox is best for your org: 

Partial sandbox: If you have a small to medium org, the Partial sandbox may be a viable option. One consideration you should take into account is the Partial sandbox only mimics the metadata of your production environment, not the actual data. This can be problematic when it comes to testing, as you can’t fully test with any of your real data. Depending on how much testing you do, a Full sandbox may be a wise option.

Full sandbox: This completely mirrors your production environment, which makes testing a lot more accurate. 

If you’re on the fence, remember the Full sandbox license offers access to every type of sandbox, so you can create Partial or Dev versions if needed. 

Once you have your sandbox in place, you want to ensure it’s always reflecting your production. Consider running a regular sandbox refresh  to complement your Salesforce deployment process and strategy!

2. Create Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC)

Before you create the SDLC, you need to get the right people involved. Establishing clear parameters from the start helps developers, managers, and engineers avoid conflict.

The right people to involve from your org may include:

  • Product managers
  • Quality engineers
  • Salesforce developers
  • Salesforce administrators 
  • Release managers

Once you have the right people involved in the process, it’s time to create it! There are several steps to the SDLC that should look something like this: 

  1. Plan requirements
  2. Design application
  3. Implement through coding
  4. Test application
  5. Deploy application
  6. Maintain application

When implementing a development lifecycle, it’s important that each step of the process is complete before moving to the next. This will ensure security is in place throughout the entire application and Salesforce deployment.

3. Limit user permissions

When you’re reviewing changes created in your Salesforce org, it’s easy to see that something was changed, but can be rather difficult to see exactly who did what. This is where a Salesforce audit trail can come in handy. Using change logs, you can clearly see where changes were made, when, and by whom. It’s also a simple way to determine the level of permissions for each member of your organization.

Focus on limiting permissions that grant users many capabilities during Salesforce deployments. A couple examples of this include

  • The ‘Customize Application` permission at the Profile level.
  • Limiting access to the Application Programming Interface (API).

Both these permissions give users the ability to access and manage aspects of your Salesforce org that you probably don’t want everyone to have— abilities like creating, editing, and deleting custom fields or page layouts. 

Limiting access you can add later is the best way to start, rather than granting all the access to users that may create possible issues within your org.

4. Follow good testing practices

Developers seem to love testing everything, and for good reason! Testing your software development is critical to ensure you’re maintaining your software at optimal performance. 

Even though failure has a negative connotation, failing a test in a User Acceptance Testing (UAT) environment can be a blessing in disguise. It allows you to fix the issue before moving to production, therefore no true harm will be done. Making mistakes in a test environment is the best place to do it before your Salesforce deployment.

Certain types of code require more or less frequency in testing. If you have a lot of customized coding, buckle up and get ready to test regularly. 

Keep in mind that running tests can quickly become time-consuming and cumbersome. Implementing the right change management tools can help your teams streamline the testing process by seeing the impact of change across Salesforce and your integrated tech stack– before it happens. 

5. Document and create alerts for important changes

Keeping up with changes being made to your Salesforce org is much easier when the team collectively keeps up with them. This requires open communication about each change on a daily basis. That’s why we suggest admins send out alerts for important changes being made during deployments.

One challenge you’ll face in this process is that Salesforce doesn’t allow you to monitor changes in a meaningful way, and certainly can’t alert users. You can use an integrated tool like Sonar Slack alerts to ensure each and every admin will be alerted of any new changes to your org.

Additionally, you will want to record any and all metadata changes within an automated data dictionary. By having a tool in place that records all your metadata updates, your current admins can spend more time driving results and less time documenting their processes. Additionally, future admins can speed up onboarding by quickly adopting your internal language and navigating Salesforce changes without fear of breaking something along the way. 

Put the Right Tools in Place to Ensure Your Salesforce Deployment is a Success

Salesforce deployment isn’t brain surgery, but you can’t deny the pressure is high when hitting that publish button. You’re either going to be in the clear, or you’re going to be spending hours reverse-engineering your break. It’s a gamble no revenue operations team should be willing to take. 

By mitigating the challenges listed above and following Salesforce deployment best practices, your admins can make changes with a little less pressure. But even then, having “a little less” pressure doesn’t really cut it when revenue is on the line. Having the ability to confidently make changes to your Salesforce org without fear of breakage is critical. If you want to have this ability, you need the right tools for a successful deployment.

That’s why RevOps teams swear by Sonar. It’s the Salesforce blueprint for managing change. If you’re ready to spend less time troubleshooting and more time delivering high-growth projects, try Sonar free today