The hidden cost of change sets

The hidden cost of change sets

David Runciman on

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Does your company still use change sets for Salesforce deployments? The cost of third-party deployment tools can hold companies back from moving on. After all, using change sets is free. Right?

It’s true that there’s no upfront fee for change sets. But if you’re watching the bottom line of your budget, let me show you why carrying on with change sets actually comes at a substantial cost.

Developer and admin time is money

Salaries are a more significant cost than tools. Switching from change sets to a third-party deployment tool like Gearset saves developers and admins a huge amount of time, and the value of that time far outweighs the cost of the deployment tool.

A junior Salesforce admin makes $8,112.50 a month before tax (~$50/hour), while a junior Salesforce developer pockets $10,770 (~$65/hour) - and that doesn’t take into account additional employer costs. A Salesforce contractor in the US costs, on average, $115 an hour. A Gearset starter deployment license costs just $200/month - equivalent in value to four hours of a junior admin’s time.

Deployments with change sets are painfully slow. Any Salesforce professional will tell you just how frustrating it is to select items one by one for a release package, switch between orgs, and work through the inevitable deployment errors. Deployments end up taking around 8 hours using change sets, or even longer when problems arise. Gearset boosts deployment success rates to above 90% and drastically cuts deployment times down to an hour.

Putting all this together, you can see that it takes one junior admin running just one deployment to get a return on your investment in Gearset because they save several hours with every deployment. How many deployments does your team run a month? Bear in mind that releases to production are only the final deployment in a series of deployments through development and staging environments. And change sets can’t be cloned for quick redeployment through the pipeline - unlike deployment packages built with Gearset.

The bottom line: equipped with a Gearset starter license costing $200/month, a solo admin reclaims hundreds of dollars’ worth of time with every deployment.

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Mistakes in Salesforce releases cost double

If there’s one thing more frustrating than failed deployments with change sets, it’s successful deployments that need to be reversed. Maybe the feature doesn’t work as intended, or maybe it just doesn’t quite meet the end users’ needs. Either way, there’s no option for rollback with change sets. The only way to undo a deployment is to remove all the unwanted changes manually.

This makes any mistakes costly to fix. Valuable time is wasted undoing the changes that have just taken so long to deploy, and innovation is hampered as developers and admins fear taking a wrong step.

With Gearset, any deployment in your deployment history can be rolled back. If the rollback turns out to be a mistake, you can roll back the rollback!

Tackling technical debt in your Salesforce org

There’s another serious limitation with change sets: there’s no way to make ‘destructive changes’ (i.e. to deploy deletions). It’s much easier to add new changes than it is to remove redundant configuration and code, so orgs tend to get cluttered, complicated and brittle.

Rather than deleting unwanted fields, admins and developers will often just hide or deactivate them in production because they’re worried that deleting metadata with dependencies will break their org. With change sets, there’s no visibility into how a deployment will affect your org and the dependencies between its metadata. You can add to your org, but you can’t reduce complexity.

In other words, persisting with change sets inevitably leads to ballooning technical debt. Unused code and configuration, inefficiencies and poorly designed features all slow down the performance of your org. They also make your org much more likely to break in a way that’s incredibly difficult to debug. This situation only gets more complicated if your production org and sandbox are wildly out of sync with each other and both creaking under the weight of technical debt.

Gearset can help with all of this. Gearset compares your orgs to show you the exact state of your metadata and the differences between environments. It shows you metadata dependencies at a granular level, and warns you if a deployment is going to break something. Gearset lets you deploy destructive changes. You can delete something in a development environment, check there are no adverse effects, and then deploy the deletion to production with confidence. Gearset also helps you to maintain your Apex code, automating your unit tests and tracking code coverage.

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Don’t stick with change sets: it’s a mistake you can’t afford to make!

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