As a long-standing partner of Salesforce, we have often come across companies who have been using Salesforce for a few years complaining about how messy their org has become over time!
Frankly, it doesn’t come as a major surprise knowing how easy and tempting it is to customize Salesforce based on stakeholder requests and evolving business needs and the fact that it is not easy to anticipate that it would lead to quite a mess a few years down the road.
It is a reality that businesses and business needs will change with time and that Salesforce will also be continuously modified and updated to align with business needs. So how do you keep the org from becoming messy?
The answer lies in understanding and implementing good governance around how Salesforce is managed and maintained. There are well defined best practices to implement a more sophisticated and structured framework (as we have done for some of our clients).
But in this article, we will discuss a few concepts that are easy to understand and can be implemented quickly. This will be a good start for the companies that don’t have essential checks and balances in place but need to start somewhere.
Salesforce Governance Framework for Organizations
Salesforce offers organizations a new set of tools that enhance their ability to conduct business efficiently and efficiently. Good governance provides a standard set of rules that allows organizations to ensure that they are serving the needs of their shareholders, management team and customers effectively and responsibly.
Having a clear mindset and downright objective are the stepping stones towards implementing a successful governance program.
Here are some of the primary objectives that you should be focusing on:
Would you prefer a central team that will control all the changes in the Salesforce or a more distributed team to manage everything? You need to pre-define the level of flexibility and prepare a detailed plan. This flexibility is in terms of degree, frequency, and the pace of change as it would help define how quickly you need to respond to the changing business needs.
Another important objective is to define the extent to which you think your Salesforce org and usage will scale.. Business may be growing organically and inorganically and it is important to ensure that the ability of . You need to know that the governor limits of Salesforce don’t become a limitation for your business as it scales.
3. Cost Efficiency
Nothing comes free and there is a cost to implementing and maintaining good governance. One has to balance between the benefits and the costs in the context of your business.
Finally sometimes governance just ensures compliance with internal and external regulatory needs. Defining your objective in terms of compliance requirements and audit trails needed will also be useful in how you think through and implement your governance framework.
How to implement Design Governance?
Having defined the objectives of Governance, you are now ready to set up the framework for implementation.
The following are some of the design guidelines that you can use to build your framework to govern how Salesforce customization is managed so that things don’t get messy over time:
- Establish clear object data model design guidelines, i.e. remember that Salesforce is a denormalized table under the covers and one needs to ensure that the model doesn’t lead to governor limits getting breached when you write queries.
- Keep a restriction on field addition to commonly used objects to prevent hitting governor limits.
- Establish naming conventions for record types, fields, triggers, apex methods and classes, profiles, reports, coding standards, and many other things that would make the working structure easier. It may not seem important initially, but soon you would see it doing wonders for your organization, helping you in maintaining separation of logic, access data, and views across business divisions and geographical regions.
- Create coding standards for how code and test classes are written and modified. To avoid embedding changeable parameters inside code, components, and pages you can make use of custom settings, static resources, and several other features.
- Set up security and compliance guidelines for authentication, authorization, audit trails, and sharing settings.
- Build standards for documentation and processes for ensuring compliance. It is hard to overemphasize the value of good documentation. Plenty of challenges and problems arise from the lack of retention of knowledge in an organization simply because they did not have the discipline to document changes.
- Remember to check the balance between the configuration and code in your Salesforce org.. Minimize the level of code so that the org remains flexible, scalable, and allows you to leverage the features that come from Salesforce upgrades
How to implement Data Governance?
There are two major aspects to consider in data governance – Data Quality and Data Volume. Data Quality is critical to user adoption and reliability of reports and dashboards, while data volume is important from storage limits and costs perspective.
Salesforce recommends five steps to build your Salesforce data management strategy:
- Import only CRM relevant data.
- Identify and optimize your CRM for objects with millions of records
- Federate and integrate non-CRM data.
- Ensure Data Archiving is implemented.
- Opt for Master Data Management.
Tips to manage your Salesforce environments
Your Salesforce environment is sure to benefit from all the good Software Development Engineering practices that have evolved over time. Salesforce is also a business application and some of the concepts and good practices are worth following..
The level of sophistication needed depends on the number of in house developers and vendors you have and the complexity of your Salesforce ecosystem. To ensure that your Salesforce environments are well maintained and to facilitate smooth development, testing, and deployments, here are some key things that we recommend:
- Set up guidelines for managing the development, testing, and production environments, including how and when to refresh these environments to keep them in sync.
- Establish clear processes and standards for managing codebases and versions. Also plan to automate the entire structure to minimize the errors.
- Ensure that there are manual or automated processes to monitor batch programs, code coverage, and limits.
Change Management best practice
In today’s world where change is the new constant, it becomes imperative to modify Salesforce based on the business needs..
We have provided below some guidelines that will help make life easier for CRM Managers and Admins:
- Ensure there is clarity on objectives and goals with respect why you have implemented Salesforce. This will help keep the compass pointing in the right direction.
- Manage change requests effectively and don’t accept every change as necessary. Understand why this change is really needed and whether it aligns with the overall objectives.
- For any major requirement or change, ensure that there is clarity on the benefits from implementing the changes or enhancements. Ensure that the stakeholders comprehend the cost involved and agree that it is justified.
- Establish and communicate to all stakeholders the cadence to planned releases of production – typically a two-week or three-week cycle. As a general practice don’t allow disruptions or ad-hoc releases in between unless there is a critical need or bug.
- Limit the number of administrators and users with access to making changes in production to the bare number and train them with the best practices. You can also create administrators with limited privileges in case there is a need for more people to manage your Salesforce instance.
- Review the commonly requested changes and seek out ways to simplify them through automation or make them configurable.
When an organization begins using Salesforce, the ability to make changes quickly and easily makes it tempting to make frequent modifications. . It is true that Salesforce provides a low code approach to make modifications and is relatively easy for business users and not software technologists to learn, but on the downside, lack of governance leads almost invariably leads to the Salesforce instance becoming unwieldy over a span of 3-5 years. Good governance is critical to the long term health of your Salesforce instance and to ensure that your organization maximizes the benefit from use of Salesforce.