Dreamforce 2020 highlight: How to unlock value from Salesforce

David Runciman on

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Patrick Kernan's talk, IT's 5–Step Playbook to Unlock Value from Salesforce, is one of the many Dreamforce talks we've enjoyed this year. Patrick has been at Salesforce for five years, helping large enterprises maximize the value they get out of Salesforce.

Five steps towards more value

In his talk today, Patrick walked us through the five steps he advocates to IT departments designing new solutions. This is advice he gives to large enterprises, but it applies to companies of all shapes and sizes.

Companies want to be more agile so they can adapt to whatever comes their way, and 2020 has demonstrated the need for that approach like no other year in recent times. But how do companies get there? This challenge is especially acute for large enterprises because it's hard to turn a big ship on a dime.

Here's a summary of Patrick's five steps, with some of our own insights woven in:

Step 1: Start with governance

Staying focused on data governance isn't easy, but it provides a foundation on which to build all of your planning for the future. There's also a good ROI to be found here, as effective governance typically reduces the amount of change management required.

Step 2: Design for the future

As you plan for the future, resist the temptation to rebuild a new version of the business infrastructure you already have. Don't start by looking at what you have now, but by considering what your company will actually need. And remember the lesson of 2020: agility is the key. Plan for more growth than you anticipate. Aim to be the disruptors in your market, not the victims of disruption.

Step 3: Sort out data storage

Lots of companies put off addressing where they store data until it becomes a problem. Get ahead by preempting the problem and sort out where and how you'll store data. Keeping data offline will negatively impact performance. It also pays to keep a handle on the data that you store. Trimming away unnecessary data helps you streamline every process, and makes compliance more manageable.

Step 4: Make security paramount

Build security into everything you design - trying to build it in later is expensive and difficult. Transparency and compliance are ever increasing in importance, so consider how you can provide accessibility to data and how to record users' intent for their own data. Security should feature in at least one of your KPIs.

Step 5: Be agile

Salesforce is a platform like no other, and it can take time for teams to become proficient in Salesforce DevOps, even if they're used to agile development on other platforms. There are a range of tools from Salesforce and its partners available to help with DevOps. Gearset, for example, is one such partner offering a comprehensive suite of DevOps tools.

Many teams, in Patrick's experience, still struggle with the basics. Testing, in particular, is a weak area - whether that's unit testing, static code analysis, or UI testing. Failing to implement proper testing inevitably leads to problems with technical debt, and bug fixes are costly to fix as well as being a distraction from building new features.

Automation is the real driver for ROI in DevOps. As Patrick says: 'The ROI on automation will consistently outperform other returns'. Gearset's automation tools - continuous integration, unit testing, monitoring, and backups - save companies huge amounts of time and money.

Rethinking MVPs

Patrick tucked this bonus section in at the end of his talk. He explained that he often sees teams begin with a MVP that's feasible, planning to make it usable, then valuable, then remarkable over the course of time. But keeping pace with user requests ends up absorbing all of the team's time and effort, and the product never gets upgraded properly - just enough is done to keep the product feasible. This leads to a kind of stalemate: businesses feel they're not really getting what they need; IT teams think businesses don't know what they want.

The solution is to make agile work for everyone. Businesses will start to like agile when they see the value of incremental improvements. But this is simply impossible without a cutting-edge DevOps process that can deliver a constant stream of value to the business and give teams the ability to roll back any changes that aren't well received.

How will DevOps help your team?

There's no one approach to DevOps that works for every company, but there are best practices that will benefit every team. We know this because here at Gearset we've seen Salesforce teams at companies of all sizes, from startups to the world's largest enterprises, reap the rewards of a mature DevOps process: deployment times cut by 90%, deployment success rates over 90%, release cadences accelerated to multiple releases a day, and far fewer bugs in production.

Our remarkable customer success team is on hand to guide you through implementing DevOps best practices. Starting a free 30-day trial of Gearset gives you full access to the customer success team at no extra charge. If you have any questions, open a conversation with us using the live chat on this website, and we'll be happy to help.

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