Why financial firms bank on Salesforce DevOps

Simon Breslaw on

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Financial firms are often at the forefront of integrating business operations via innovative solutions built on top of the Salesforce platform. At the same time, these companies are required to operate in highly regulated environments with no margin for error.

We've analyzed the data from our State of Salesforce DevOps 2021 survey to gather more insights into how the financial sector is able to deliver Salesforce-driven innovation at speed. This post assesses the development and release processes of financial firms to see how they stack up against performances by companies in other industries.

Business demand driving DevOps adoption

Our 2021 industry report identifies current trends in Salesforce DevOps based on data from the largest ever survey of its kind. The survey gathered more than 500 international responses from experienced Salesforce professionals across all main industry sectors. Within the financial sector, these professionals are employed in all types of businesses - from small FinTech startups to large global banks and insurance companies.

Respondents working in financial services accounted for just over 15% of the total responses. This puts the financial sector among our survey's top three verticals, alongside technology and healthcare & pharma. In the report, we analyze how Salesforce teams manage ever-growing demand from their organizations to deliver more value to end users.

Illustration: Salesforce DevOps in the finance sector

Among financial services companies, reliance on the Salesforce platform is becoming increasingly widespread, with solutions covering ever more functions and departments. Many financial firms, for example, are looking to modernize their back-office systems by implementing cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions that link seamlessly with their CRM and front-office operations.

But it's not just ongoing digital transformation that's driving Salesforce teams to improve their delivery processes. Financial institutions, like large companies in many other sectors, need to react more quickly to new opportunities and changing market environments. In turn, this puts pressure on Salesforce teams to become more agile.

For example, Legal & General America (LGA), one of the largest life insurance providers in the US, wanted an improved DevOps process to be able to respond more rapidly to new business requirements. With the help of Silverline, a Salesforce Platinum Partner, LGA has streamlined its process using Gearset and is now both more productive and more agile in delivering on user and business requests.

Legal & General America case study

Financial firms deliver innovation faster

The customizability of Salesforce is second to none, but development pipelines and release management can quickly grow in complexity as Salesforce teams expand to cope with the increased workload. So how do release processes shape up for teams at financial companies?

Organizations within the financial services sector release new development work to their Salesforce orgs more frequently than companies in other industries. On average, teams at financial companies are twice as likely to make multiple releases per day, compared to teams working in other sectors.

Achieving such a high frequency of releases is an incredible result for these teams, given the average release cadence for our survey respondents overall was multiple releases per month rather than per day. In particular, finance companies that make the most of Gearset's powerful DevOps tools were well ahead of the curve and among the elite performers.

A good example of one such success story is the transformation undergone by the Salesforce team at Ninety One, a global asset management company. Gearset has helped the team at Ninety One save enormous amounts of time, not least by making each deployment up to 10 times faster.

Ninety One case study

In general, lead times are much shorter in the financial sector, which is what you'd expect of teams that are releasing new work rapidly. In fact, work items progress down the release pipeline much quicker than in other industries, with just over a third of financial firms releasing new work items to production less than a day after the initial development work on the items has been completed.

In part, these achievements can be explained by strict regulations governing the financial industry, which require tight bug and error monitoring as well as fast resolution. But as well as being key to maintaining compliance, the ability to release quickly and regularly results in significant business benefits.

Process automation leads to better quality releases

Rapid release cycles are only possible thanks to automation. Here again, financial firms are ahead of the game when it comes to automating their release processes. Adoption of CI/CD is high across the board; our survey shows the majority of teams at financial firms have already implemented CI/CD. Among teams at firms who haven't yet automated their processes, more plan to add automation to their pipeline this year, compared to teams in other industries.

High adoption rates for CI/CD in the financial sector aligns with the agility expected from such a highly regulated industry. Automated workflows help ensure fewer releases contain bugs or errors because new work undergoes automated testing and validation earlier on in the development process.

It's perhaps not a surprise that the benefit of higher quality releases due to automation was borne out in the survey results. Financial companies with highly automated processes aren't releasing as many updates that contain bugs or errors. Compared to other industries, teams in the financial sector are half as likely to be in the poorest-performing category: bugs or errors in more than 25% of releases.

One option for implementing automated release processes is for teams to build their own deployment pipelines using common automation tools that are familiar across software stacks outside of the Salesforce ecosystem. But as developers discovered at Billie, an innovative German FinTech startup, this often means countless hours managing the process itself. And that's time that could otherwise be spent developing new features.

Billie case study

The team at Billie were constantly having to track changes and deal with manual deployment processes; they were never sure if they had included all the components they needed to deploy. With Gearset, they now know exactly what they're deploying each time. They've put in place a highly effective source-driven and automated process with complete oversight over changes, plus easy options to roll back mistakes and protect the functionality of their orgs.

A minority of financial firms are at significant risk of data loss

A minority of financial firms haven't yet implemented reliable backup and restore processes to deal with the risk of critical data loss or corruption of their orgs. Worryingly, 10% of financial organizations claim to have no backup system in place for either data or metadata.

Data backups and the ability to restore data and metadata in response to an incident are absolutely essential for all Salesforce orgs. This is especially the case for companies in the financial sector, which may have to comply with specific regulations on backups, such as under the business continuity plans that are required from members of FINRA.

Financial firms can boast a lower risk of bugs or errors in production, but any organization working with sensitive and important data must ensure they have an effective disaster recovery plan in place. If your Salesforce team has yet to implement robust backup and restore processes, do get in touch with us or, alternatively, try out Gearset's backup tools for yourself on a free 30-day trial.

Want more on industry trends shaping Salesforce release management?

If you'd like to get more insight into how teams across all industries are pushing ahead with cutting-edge DevOps for the Salesforce platform, download your free copy of our State of Salesforce DevOps 2021 report:

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