Salesforce DevOps approaches maturity

Simon Breslaw on

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Across the Salesforce ecosystem, teams are adopting DevOps tools and practices. Our recent survey report, The State of Salesforce DevOps 2021, shines a light on what's driving companies to make the transition to modern application lifecycle management (ALM).

This article explores the current DevOps adoption trends highlighted by the report, sets out key challenges faced by Salesforce teams, and discusses a few of the many reasons why DevOps is fast becoming the standard way of managing development pipelines on the platform.

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Salesforce catches up with other platforms

Gearset started out on its pioneering journey to bring modern DevOps to Salesforce just over four years ago. At the time, engineering teams on other platforms had long since been working with mature DevOps processes as standard practice.

In contrast, many Salesforce teams we spoke to hadn't yet heard of DevOps - they didn't use source control, often struggled through painful, error-prone deployments using change sets, and weren't familiar with the benefits of automation.

This situation has changed rapidly over the past couple of years. As we show in The State of Salesforce DevOps 2021, Salesforce DevOps is entering a new era. The widespread trend towards DevOps adoption has picked up pace dramatically for both technical and business reasons.

Among the Salesforce professionals we surveyed, over 70% now use source control. Alongside third-party DevOps tools like Gearset, source control was also consistently rated as having the single biggest positive impact on respondents' development processes. Even among teams still at the very start of their DevOps journey, more than half are planning to adopt source control and implement a CI/CD process this year.

That last point touches on a central topic Gearset has been talking to teams about for a while now. Source control is the core pillar of modern DevOps, but it's just the start. It's what underpins the entire DevOps process, allowing you to unlock all the benefits that come with a source-driven and automated workflow.

What's driving DevOps adoption?

There are essentially two main drivers of DevOps adoption, which we identified as push and pull factors based on the survey data we gathered for the report.

Firstly, there's a push factor. Companies are making more demands of their Salesforce teams. Over the past year, this was particularly the case as businesses adjusted to the Covid-19 pandemic and pressed ahead with further digital transformation. But, more widely, the increasing demand reflects the impressive growth of the Salesforce platform itself, which now covers more business functions and company departments than ever before.

Companies want ever more customization in Salesforce, and teams are feeling the pressure to keep meeting this demand. Over half the Salesforce professionals we surveyed stated that an increased demand on their team was their biggest challenge they faced in 2020.

What is the biggest challenge your Salesforce team faced in 2020?

In addition to the push factor arising from growth in business operations, there's also a technical pull factor for DevOps adoption. Salesforce teams are looking to improve the quality of their releases, with fewer issues in production, an increased level of productivity and better collaboration among team members.

What are the most valuable benefits of DevOps?

Common challenges facing Salesforce teams

Without a streamlined DevOps process in place, additional business demand often results in more complex release processes. Digging deeper into the drivers of DevOps adoption reveals the specific challenges many Salesforce teams are facing. They're typically struggling to juggle multiple workstreams, additional development environments, a faster release cadence, and, in many cases, collaboration among expanded teams of mixed technical abilities.

In teams who've seen their processes grow more complex, respondents to the survey mentioned the following as the biggest technical and process-related challenges:

  • Deploying tricky metadata types and dependencies between orgs within the limitations of tools like change sets
  • Working in expanded teams with multiple new workflows
  • Keeping development and production environments in sync
  • Using source control to keep repos up to date with orgs and implementing effective release management
  • Tracking changes and resolving conflicts arising from team members working on the same parts of the codebase

In addition to these challenges, the adoption of DevOps and automated workflows brings its own obstacles. Here respondents highlighted the time needed to implement DevOps tools as the biggest hurdle. It's a challenge that applies particularly to teams building and maintaining their own DevOps toolchains, where implementing automation tools, other software integrations and project management systems can lead to significant periods of disruption.

Solving the challenges

Salesforce teams have realized they need to implement DevOps processes to meet the increased demand and manage the growing complexity of their processes. More specifically, teams are looking to new DevOps tools and source-driven workflows to meet this challenge, as shown by the top reasons respondents gave for why their teams' processes had become less complex.

Top reasons why processes have become less complex
Top reasons why processes have become more complex

Adopting a source-driven process and implementing a DevOps tool like Gearset is helping teams to reduce the complexity of their processes and workflows. It's also solving the major challenges mentioned above by boosting deployment success, tracking changes across all environments, and making it easy for all team members to work with source control.

At the same time, ever more companies are recognizing the benefits of DevOps-based ALM because it delivers added value quickly and reliably, giving them the ability to respond in an agile fashion to rapidly changing business needs. In fact, looking forward, just 15% of our survey respondents stated they weren't planning to adopt DevOps processes this year.

Want more insights?

The State of Salesforce DevOps 2021 is based on the largest ever DevOps survey of Salesforce professionals. Download your free copy of the full report to find out more about what's driving the current success and future trends of Salesforce DevOps.

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