Gearset Summit: The key drivers of Salesforce DevOps success

Ellis Toms on

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On October 14th, hundreds of Salesforce professionals from around the globe gathered together for another Gearset DevOps Summit. The key drivers of DevOps success was a fantastic half-day event that saw presentations from a series of industry experts and plenty of lively discussion between attendees.

If you missed out on the action, don't worry! All of the talks were recorded so you can catch up on the highlights.

Speakers at the Gearset DevOps Summit on October 14th, 2021

Piecing together the DevOps puzzle

Andrew Fawcett, VP of Product Management for Salesforce's Platform team, and Kevin Boyle, CEO and Co-Founder of Gearset, opened the summit with their keynote address: Piecing together the DevOps puzzle.

Andrew and Kevin argued that people, tools and processes are the three pieces you need to slot together for DevOps success. It's easy to fall into thinking about DevOps in terms of tools and processes alone - version control, CI/CD and the rest. But you also need to think about how the people in your team will use those tools and processes to build together effectively.

Andrew and Kevin painted a picture of an inclusive workflow from end to end. Understanding business requirements and then building the right solution can include developers and admins, as Andrew pointed out: "What continues to get me excited about the platform is how developers can give declarative builders superpowers, by leveraging increasingly deep extensibility within the platform's various builders, such as App builder, Flow builder, Experience builder and Bot builder."

Once a feature has been built, the way it's released should also include both developers and admins, no matter how sophisticated the DevOps process. Kevin highlighted how the Salesforce team at Intercom implemented a DevOps process that works equally well for developers and admins. Watch the full recording to find out how you can get buy-in from your team as you adopt version control and move towards automation.

More insight for maximum ROI

Returning as a speaker at the Gearset DevOps Summit, Ian Gotts, CEO and Founder of Elements.cloud, took us through his formula for maximum ROI: change intelligence + DevOps = time to value. Ian summarized this pairing of change intelligence and DevOps with the characteristically pithy statement: "Build the right thing; build the thing right."

Ian's observation that "the faster we go, the further we go in the wrong direction" seemed to resonate with many attendees. The key is to make sure development teams have a firm grasp of what it is they should build, how it will meet the business's requirements, and what the risks or complications are. While DevOps tightens the feedback loop and generates a comprehensive audit trail of development work, Ian advocates for a deeper understanding that can be achieved with a change intelligence platform such as Elements.cloud.

Building DevOps skill sets

Up next were Lucy Mazalon, Editor and Co-Founder of Salesforce Ben, and Heather Black, CEO and Founder of Supermums Training and Recruitment. Lucy and Heather shared their insights and advice for people looking to focus on DevOps in their Salesforce career.

As Lucy pointed out, everyone building on Salesforce will need to understand DevOps as it becomes the norm for release management. Job titles won't necessarily include 'DevOps', but admins, developers and others will increasingly find themselves required to know about and get involved in the DevOps process. Lucy continued to illustrate how DevOps is shaping various roles: admineloper, consultant, architect, and QA engineer.

Drawing on her experience as a career coach, Heather then gave advice on how to plot a course for your career. First, she advised taking a DISC test to identify your personality traits. Heather suggested that people with strong conscientiousness and steadiness traits are likely to have the aptitude for DevOps as they'll ensure things run smoothly and collaborate well with other teammates.

Heather also pointed attendees towards DevOps Launchpad as a platform for skilling up in Salesforce DevOps, and explained how to present your skills to an employer.

An exciting update on Pipelines!

At our last summit, Matt Dickens, CPO and Co-Founder of Gearset, treated us all to an early demo of Pipelines, an exciting product update currently being piloted. This time around, Oli Lane, the Senior Engineering Lead who heads up the team working on Pipelines, updated us on the progress they've been making.

Pipelines will be a game-changer, making your DevOps workflow much easier to manage. And it's packed with powerful new functionality such as the proprietary semantic merge that resolves merge conflicts Git can't usually handle. Oli explained how Pipelines will work for your whole team, even if only some of you are using Gearset: Pipelines will automatically update your VCS and vice versa, and Oli called out the new integration with Jira.

As Pipelines is all about visualizing your release process, the best thing is to watch Oli's demo! There's been another rush of interest in the pilot for Pipelines following the summit. If you'd like to be considered for the pilot, please fill out this form.

Visualizing Salesforce releases

Following on from Oli's demo of Pipelines, Karen Fidelak, Senior Director of Product Management at Salesforce chatted with Gearset's Matt Dickens about the importance of visualizing Salesforce releases. Karen leads the team working on Salesforce's DevOps Center, and this fascinating exchange highlighted some of the similarities and contrasts between Gearset and DevOps Center.

Karen and Matt's conversation offered valuable insights into the decision-making process for teams developing DevOps solutions. For instance, both teams have had to consider how much to surface the inner workings of the DevOps process, such as how version control is being used. Karen also confirmed that over time DevOps Center will replace change sets, and the org-to-org development model should become a thing of the past.

A case study in adopting CI/CD

As well as learning about DevOps principles, attendees also got to hear how the Salesforce team implemented CI/CD successfully at Xometry, a leading AI-enabled marketplace for on-demand manufacturing. Gearset's Maritina Tsembelis interviewed Chris Cope, Senior Director of Software Engineering at Xometry, and Hongda Zhou, Senior Salesforce Administrator, to find out how they went from manual deployments to automated releases.

Chris explained that the process for Salesforce deployments had originally been "heavy-handed". It was difficult with 3 people, but with more and more developers getting involved in Salesforce development work, it would have been impossible to continue without changing the process. Among other issues, there was a real lack of visibility into the changes being made.

Xometry already used DevOps processes elsewhere in the business for releasing their own product, and so they knew what good looked like - they wanted parity for the Salesforce developers. Hongda came aboard and introduced the team to Gearset, which enabled the team to adopt CI/CD for Salesforce. He summed up the value of Gearset in two words: visibility and automation. Gearset connected up Jira, Slack, and GitHub enterprise, bringing together all the tools used by the team and simplifying the process of tracking development work. And Gearset's automation tools now streamline Xometry's deployments and monitoring.

How to implement your DevOps strategy

Closing out the Summit, Ian Gotts chaired a fascinating discussion on DevOps implementation between four knowledgeable and experienced panelists:

  • Stella Michael, Director of CRM, Spectrum Health
  • Lex Makuta, Senior Salesforce Admin, DoorDash
  • Emily McCowan, Salesforce Architect, Deloitte Digital
  • Geoffrey Bessereau, Senior Technical Architect, Persistent Systems.

Stella began by emphasizing the importance of having a strategy: identify the problem DevOps is solving, then implement a solution that will solve that problem. She observed that short term gains can't always be scaled, so long-term thinking about the metrics for success is needed. Emily added that these goals need to be communicated clearly, so teams don't just understand what they're aiming for but why. If possible, involving the team in decision-making about metrics is an effective way to get buy-in.

For Geoff, there are two major KPIs: time spent on deployments, and the pain of deployments. Lots of consultants, admins and architects dread going live because of test failures and other spanners in the works. But by practicing DevOps, the final release is just a small cog in a larger machine. Geoff has cut his deployment times by 10x and removed the pain completely - he'd even released on the day of the Summit within the time it took to have a coffee! Geoff concluded with the observation that DevOps is now a core skill, so learning all about it now will prevent you from being left behind, and implementing DevOps at a small company can be good practice for working on a large project later.

Lex advised that teams avoid implementing DevOps while a major project is ongoing, such as a CPQ go-live, not because it's impossible, but because it can slow initial adoption. He also suggested looking at real-world examples of how other companies have managed Salesforce DevOps implementation.

See you next time!

These DevOps Summits have fast become our favorite days of the year at Gearset - it's fantastic to see our awesome community come together to share insights, ask questions and chat with each other. Thank you to all of you who came along! If you didn't make it this time, be sure to find out when the next Summit is coming up by signing up for the Gearset newsletter in the website footer.

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