As your Salesforce team is planning for 2024, you’ll have a range of priorities. Some will come from business-wide targets, while others will come from your end users requesting new features or process improvements. But Salesforce teams know that there are also technical and cultural priorities for your team that are needed to reach these external expectations.
Read on to explore the top four priorities for Salesforce teams in 2024, so you can nail your Salesforce goals and align with the priorities of the wider business. And get an insight into how Gearset is helping more teams than ever achieve their goals.
1. Release management
Release management continues to be the top priority for all Salesforce teams, so that they can meet end-user demands for reduced lead times and business demands for increased revenue.
Release velocity is a key measure of successful release management, helping your team to deliver on the promise of agile. In fact, “deployment frequency” and “lead time for changes” are two of Google’s DORA metrics, used to measure team’s DevOps performance.
While release velocity has long been a high priority, some teams are still struggling to see improvements. When asked in our 2023 State of Salesforce DevOps survey, the largest group of Salesforce teams (27%) were only managing to deploy multiple times a month. The teams with the lowest deployment frequency (14%), who said they only released multiple times per year, were most likely enterprise teams who faced compliance restrictions in their production environments. This hesitation to accelerate releases is understandable, as high deployment frequency within a mismanaged release process only creates more errors.
With the right release management strategy in place, teams can confidently and successfully increase their release velocity. Introducing version control is a critical step in giving teams visibility over their deployment process, tracking what changes have been made, when, and by who. Gearset not only integrates with your existing version control provider, but allows you to write your own deployment notes that serve as your own documentation of your deployment history. And Gearset’s automated change monitoring alerts you to unexpected changes in your orgs. Katia Gleber, Business Applications Manager at WEKA, explained how Gearset has allowed them to unlock faster release velocity, and greater confidence in their release accuracy: “Across our teams, work is constantly moving into production. I need to see these changes, and with Gearset’s change monitoring features I feel confident that I always know what’s happening.”
And to make sure that you’re able to deploy, Salesforce teams need to introduce systems to catch possible issues with their deployments, and feel confident in these systems so they can maintain release velocity. When you deploy with Gearset, you have the chance to validate releases before they’re deployed, helping you feel confident that your release will be successful. And, Gearset’s problem analyzers will pick up common deployment errors or potential issues with your release, such as missing dependencies. You then have the choice to resolve these issues yourself or let Gearset provide the fix. This gives Gearset users an industry-leading deployment success rate of 98%.
Quality of releases
Balancing speed and accuracy is one of the hardest parts of release management, but it isn’t a zero-sum game. While Google’s DORA metrics do encourage high deployment frequency and release velocity, they also measure DevOps success by your “change failure rate” — the rate at which changes in production result in a rollback, failure, or other production incident.
Salesforce is integral to core business operations, and Salesforce teams have worked hard to improve their release quality to maintain the integrity of their production environments. However, the majority of teams (57%) are still facing a change failure rate of over 10%. Rushing changes through your pipeline can make it harder to achieve strong release quality and accuracy, but this has also been exacerbated by the complexity of tasks that Salesforce teams are now undertaking. With more teams implementing new Salesforce Clouds with complex data types like CPQ, release quality has been jeopardized.
To improve the quality of your releases, Gearset has tailored testing solutions for different deployment components. Automated unit tests for Apex allow you to schedule your testing so both your releases and your orgs are repeatedly covered. You’ll also get detailed insights into Apex class and code failures, Salesforce error messages and complete stack traces. To help you tackle more complex data types, Gearset provides specific problem analyzers.
Intercom experienced stronger testing and greater release accuracy with Gearset. Dan Pietersen, one of their software engineers, told us: “In the past we had situations where production had failing tests, staging had failing tests, and no one really knew what changed to cause it. Now, we have a lot more security in our changes and we know that if tests are failing it’s a serious thing we should fix. We have more confidence in the system!”
As your team gains confidence in the velocity and accuracy of your releases, you may be ready to shift your priorities — perhaps you want to introduce a new Salesforce Cloud, or set up some new logic for your end users. But attentively managing your release pipeline consumes a lot of time, and stops you from having the time to introduce these new things. So Salesforce teams need to prioritize setting up automated processes to streamline their release process and give them the time and resources to implement new Salesforce add-ons or customizations.
Automation is a hugely popular goal for Salesforce teams, with 83% telling us that they were already using CI/CD or planning to adopt it over 2023. However, these ambitions haven’t yet translated into a reality. Some teams still haven’t got strong enough release management to introduce automation, as you can’t automate a process that’s still facing frequent deployment failures or pushing bugs to production. There are also some cultural blockers that prevent teams from introducing automation, as team members have to agree and stick to a set strategy and process for CI/CD to succeed. Sadly, teams without automation are reducing the time and resources they have to focus on more value-add work.
Adopting Gearset gives teams stronger release management that serves as the foundation of a new automated process. It also provides everything that your team needs to feel confident in relinquishing some manual control and automating parts of your release pipeline. Successful automation needs repeatability. You need to be confident that you can continuously and successfully deploy changes before you think about automating them.
Once you’re confident in your release process and ready to introduce automation, Gearset helps you maintain control over your development lifecycle. Our Pipelines interface gives you complete visibility over the relationship between Salesforce environments and how changes are moving through the release pipeline. This gives your team the confidence that automated deployments are completely visible and you can track changes end-to-end. Tracking is also improved by integrating with version control and work tracking systems like JIRA, so your automated pipeline will update your tracking systems and give you visibility.
Matt Avitable, DevOps Architect at McKesson, explained: “We now have a fast, automated deployment pipeline — my life has definitely gotten easier!”
3. Enhanced security
Prioritizing release management and automation focuses on improving metadata deployments, but Salesforce teams also need to pay equal attention to their data. As your Salesforce data is critical to the wider business, you need to prioritize keeping it secure and compliant. The attention to Salesforce data security is only rising with the introduction of new features such as AI. In fact, Salesforce’s Generative AI Survey showed that 73% of respondents were most concerned about security when adopting AI.
Despite Salesforce data being business critical, some Salesforce teams still aren’t backing up their Salesforce data and most aren’t doing it properly.
Teams without Salesforce backup may be living in a false sense of security that Salesforce data is safe because it’s “in the cloud”. Sadly, this is misguided as Salesforce data is still physically stored somewhere, and is still at risk of data loss. What’s worse, teams who think that they’ve done the right thing by building their own Salesforce backup solution or buying one may not be as secure as they think.
Many Salesforce backup solutions give you a false sense of confidence by backing up all of your data, but are unworkable when it comes to restoring. When you do experience data loss, “time to restore” is the metric for how quickly you can get your production org workable again. However, 45% of teams still report that it takes from several days to months for them to restore from data or metadata loss.
Gearset prioritizes your time to restore and makes sure that you have a comprehensive restore process in place. Gearset’s monitoring features ensure that any abnormal data or metadata changes or deletions in your backups are quickly identified, and you’re notified through our smart alerts. This means you’re swiftly notified of data loss and its causes, so you can restore from backups with minimal disruption.
Chris Deutschmann, Configuration Consultant at Sage People, told us: “Without Gearset’s monitoring, we could potentially go on for a couple of weeks before somebody asks ‘hang on, why did this happen?’, and then you’ve got to go back and kind of reverse engineer stuff to figure out why something happened.”
Gearset also protects your orgs by focusing on backing up and restoring both data and metadata. As metadata structures your Salesforce data, it’s important that you’re able to back this up and restore it. Gearset’s intuitive restore process also allows you to keep track of what exactly you’re restoring and work effectively under pressure, restoring metadata before data if needed.
Salesforce teams are also waking up to the priority of data compliance for their orgs. Because Salesforce orgs hold sensitive customer data, it’s critical that they’re protected.
One of the key issues is making sure that you properly control access to sensitive Salesforce data. However, using dummy data all the time doesn’t allow you to properly test how new changes will affect real data in your live environments. Gearset solves this with our sandbox seeding, which masks your real production data and allows you to use it in your testing environments. This means that you can accurately test how changes will affect your real data, without compromising access to protected customer data. Gearset also allows you to remain compliant throughout your Salesforce development and release management process, as all data is encrypted in transit and at rest to the highest AWS security standards.
4. DevOps Culture
Culture has repeatedly been named one of the most critical pillars of DevOps success by Google’s DORA research. While teams may prioritize creating a DevOps culture, it’s hard to know what steps to take to improve it.
One of the key components of DevOps culture is collaboration between team members. Larger teams are leading the way here, being 40% more likely than other teams to rate their collaboration on releases as “excellent”.
This is an impressive feat as collaboration in larger teams can be far harder, simply because there are more moving parts and more team members. Collaboration can also be hindered by a lack of visibility over the entire process, which makes it hard for team members to gain an insight into other pieces of work and provide feedback. The right DevOps process can help promote this collaborative process. Visibility through source control and work tracking gives all team members an insight into what changes are happening, opening up the opportunity for them to get involved.
But, collaboration can also be hindered if team members do not feel confident with every aspect of your Salesforce release process. If aspects of the process are siloed and team members don’t feel they have the skills to get involved, this will prevent them from providing feedback or collaborating. Providing your team with the opportunity to upskill, through resources such as DevOps Launchpad, gives them the chance to understand Salesforce DevOps principles and empowers all team members to be involved throughout the process.
Supporting your Salesforce team
Finally, “rising complexity” has been described as one of the biggest challenges for Salesforce teams. Increasing the complexity of your Salesforce orgs, through implementing new tooling or Salesforce add-ons, may allow you to provide more for your business and end users, but it increases the pressure on your Salesforce team.
97% of Salesforce teams reported that their use of Salesforce had become more complex in 2023. Salesforce teams named a few causes of rising complexity: 57% said they had more end users, 48% said they had more apps and packages, 48% also said they have more Salesforce clouds, and 46% said they have more integrations. These numbers also demonstrate that lots of teams are taking on new challenges all at once. This creates a whole host of cultural problems for your Salesforce team. 90% of teams reported that demands on their team had increased in the last year, and teams are spending on average 9 hours each month deploying outside of their contracted working hours.
Gearset supports teams through this rising complexity by providing a tech stack that works for your team, not against it. Gearset integrates with your existing tech stack, like your choice of version control provider or other third-party tools, so that your team can keep using the integrations they’re familiar with throughout the DevOps process. Gearset also provides tailored solutions for difficult Salesforce add-ons, like Revenue Cloud and Industries. You should prioritize providing your team with intuitive, modern tools that support their process so that they can focus on development work.
Ali Aydar, CEO at Sporcle, told us: “I have peace of mind not only with our Salesforce deployment and backup process, but knowing that my developers aren’t going to be frustrated with working with arcane tools.”
Share your priorities
If you want to learn more about the ecosystem over the past year, read our State of Salesforce DevOps Report.
And if you’re ready to prioritize speed, security and accuracy, book a consultation with one of our DevOps experts for advice tailored to your team.