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A guide to building a Center of Excellence for Salesforce DevOps

Vernon Keenan on April 29th 2021


This guest post is contributed by Vernon Keenan, Senior Industry Analyst at SalesforceDevops.net.

Salesforce DevOps solutions like Gearset deliver proven, measurable success for Salesforce teams around the world. The demand for solutions has picked up worldwide, and the IT industry now sees Salesforce DevOps competency as a concern that requires management and focus. To see evidence of widespread DevOps adoption across the ecosystem for yourself, be sure to check out Gearset's State of Salesforce DevOps 2021 report.

Given this accomplishment, Salesforce DevOps faces a new challenge: how to replicate success throughout a large organization.

The importance of standardization: a historical parallel

For multibillion-dollar corporations, the importance of building apps has been elevated to that of building a call center, factory, or even a railroad.

In a large company with many Salesforce orgs, app production and business practices look a lot like the American railroad industry before the Civil War (1861-1865). Before 1861, American rail systems were built somewhat randomly. Given the geography of coastal America, system interconnections were considered impossible, so there were no universal standards for things like the track gauge. In fact, the differences in track gauge between the North and South became a crucial wartime factor.

After the Civil War, American shipping magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt cut through the fog of war and ran a bloody campaign to consolidate railroad and shipping power, ruthlessly forcing sales and merging rail systems. The outcome included standardized gauges and timetables, which revolutionized railroad efficiency and helped the United States overtake Great Britain as the leading industrial nation of the 20th century.

So, are you running your Salesforce DevOps processes like the American railroad system in 1860? Are you struggling to deliver apps consistently and failing to connect teams? Or, have you digested the shock of the pandemic-induced digital transformation and used it as an opportunity to be like Cornelius Vanderbilt in 1866 by consolidating your Salesforce DevOps operations?

How to ensure good governance of app-building

IT leaders must manage risk by building apps that allow for governance. They must also ensure that app production processes are designed for data access, resilience, and continuous improvement in performance. Fortunately, we now have a simple word that encapsulates the systems and activities needed to address these concerns and produce high-quality apps: DevOps.

Software products and services for Salesforce DevOps aid governance by enabling stakeholders to communicate with app producers, tech leads, developers, and vice-versa. A well-designed set of tools and practices for Salesforce DevOps also enables progress measurement.

Examine the DevOps communication model by putting the app stakeholders at the top of considerations. In a multinational corporation, the CIO's job is to have organization-wide governance models for operations, data access, app production, and above all, accountability to app stakeholders. An architecture for managing Salesforce DevOps can be illustrated with this hierarchical business diagram.

Salesforce DevOps management program

This diagram assumes the use of an app production model where stakeholders and executives who own the apps seamlessly communicate with flexibly-sized and cross-functional teams responsible for producing and operating the app. During app production, the team grows to include design and implementation specialists, which in the case of Salesforce includes business process analysts, architects, developers and admins. All production team members draw from a common pool of platforms, developer toolchains, and services to build the app. Security concerns are also identified and met throughout the app production lifecycle.

Taking an engineering approach, we can break down this governance model and draw a more finely grained depiction of Salesforce DevOps. The result (below) looks like a traditional network stack diagram. As cross-functional teams assemble for new app production, this layered Salesforce DevOps map provides a checklist for functionality, management, and budgeting.

Salesforce DevOps industry map

This model mostly works like the OSI networking model, where layers communicate only with adjacent layers. The 'Developer security, platforms & toolchains' layer in the map has so many systems and activities that it needs to be expanded as its own layer diagram.

Salesforce DevOps developer stack

I go into detail on each of these layers here.

Put DevOps into your Center of Excellence

To amplify the impact of Salesforce DevOps on app production, IT leaders need a complete plan for putting it into place. Mechanisms like a Salesforce Center of Excellence, where a cross-functional team works to establish IT best practices throughout an enterprise, should be initiated around DevOps. If a Center of Excellence already exists, then it should be updated to coordinate the complete spectrum of DevOps-related activities.

Today's IT leaders need the same focus Cornelius Vanderbilt showed when he commanded the consolidation of railroads. Creating cross-functional app production teams with a decent Salesforce DevOps checklist is not enough. App production teams need centralized DevOps support, standards, and governance to adopt compatible DevOps practices efficiently. Centralized DevOps leadership and support mechanisms make it much easier for app production teams to make the best use of standardized Salesforce DevOps tools.

It's time for IT leaders to get behind the idea of Salesforce DevOps as a critical infrastructure for app production. When the app becomes the means of making money or servicing customers, it must be built using a chosen set of DevOps practices based on a good governance model.

Be a little like Cornelius!

Don't run your enterprise Salesforce app development process like the American railroads in 1860. Considering the IT disruption caused by the pandemic, now may be the time to be a little more like Cornelius Vanderbilt, cut through the fog of accelerating digital transformation and make some aggressive moves to distribute Salesforce DevOps products and services throughout your organization.

Salesforce DevOps solutions and services have more functionality and usefulness than ever before. Vendors like Gearset help Salesforce customers hit their operational goals by allowing IT teams to roll out successful app development processes across their organizations. To help you along the way, use the Salesforce DevOps Map to plan your own, DevOps-driven digital transformation journey.

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