Salesforce Change Sets vs. DevOps Center

By David Runciman

Are you still using Salesforce change sets for deployments? If so, it’s time to consider how much longer you can hold on. We’re in the middle of a dramatic shift towards source-driven, automated DevOps workflows. And this is true for admins and developers alike, as UI-based tools have made Salesforce DevOps accessible to everyone.

With the Salesforce DevOps Center, change sets are no longer the only first-party tool for Salesforce deployments – is there any reason for Salesforce to keep maintaining both indefinitely? Whether it’s officially deprecated or not, the writing is on the wall for change sets.

Why Will DevOps Center Supersede Change Sets?

In the long term, DevOps Center won’t just be an alternative to change sets. That’s because DevOps itself is such an enormous improvement on old workflows using change sets. Even if DevOps Center began life as a tool for teams transitioning to mature DevOps, it will easily win out over change sets.

While there are several serious limitations with change sets, there are two main ways in which DevOps Center is vastly superior.

1. Version control

As Salesforce teams grow, change sets can’t scale with them. Admins and developers soon find that, as well as wasting hours on deployments, they tread on each other’s toes all too easily. They accidentally overwrite each other’s changes and block each other’s deployments.

This problem is solved by version control, which is central to DevOps. Rather than seeing conflicts between teammates’ work ruin their releases, teams using version control deal with any such conflicts in advance of the release. Several admins named version control as their favorite aspect of DevOps in Gearset’s State of Salesforce DevOps 2021 survey.

DevOps Center, like all DevOps tools for Salesforce, will give teams the ability to use version control in their development and release process.

2. Visibility over your release pipeline

Another shortcoming of change sets is the lack of visibility. During deployments, it’s easy to miss something when building an outbound change set, and it’s not always clear why an inbound change set failed to deploy successfully – which happens about 50% of the time. There’s also no visibility over your release pipeline as a whole: if you’re a change set user and you want to track work as it progresses along your pipeline, you have to do it yourself manually.

High-performing Salesforce teams with mature DevOps workflows typically have a release pipeline made up of several environments for combining and testing work. While this may seem more complex than a simple org-to-org setup, DevOps tooling ultimately makes this process more manageable and scalable. Despite the increased number of environments and deployments, workloads are reduced thanks to automation.

Visibility of this release pipeline is essential, and DevOps Center offers a way of tracking work items that change sets simply can’t offer.

The Future of Salesforce Development

Development and release models for Salesforce are evolving, and workflows relying on change sets are being left behind. This shift goes hand in hand with Salesforce’s own evolution. You can do so much more on the Salesforce platform today than just a few years ago, and those endless possibilities are driving increased demand for customization. Change sets just can’t handle the amount of work many teams are producing, with deployments taking anywhere up to 12 hours.

DevOps is undoubtedly the future of Salesforce development. In fact, DevOps adoption is already widespread and accelerating, while Salesforce teams reap the rewards:

  • Seamless collaboration, including between devs and admins
  • Faster deployments freeing up time for other tasks
  • Better quality releases with fewer bugs and errors
  • Iterative releases that are less risky and can be rolled back
  • Accelerated release cadences so end users can give feedback earlier

Final Thoughts

The arrival of DevOps Center was a pivotal moment, marking a clear departure from change sets and confirming that Salesforce itself sees DevOps as the best way to manage development and releases. But DevOps Center is only the latest addition to the club of DevOps tools built for Salesforce. As such, it will offer only a subset of what’s available from existing solutions.

For the many devs and admins using change sets for now, DevOps Center represents an opportunity to discover DevOps and other deployment tools. At Gearset, we see Salesforce teams saying goodbye to change sets all the time. None of them ever look back.

The Author

David Runciman

Technical Author at Gearset, the leading DevOps solution for Salesforce.


    Subhasish Mukherjee
    September 09, 2021 5:51 am
    How about Copado ?? It is a good DevOps tool for Salesforce..
    David Runciman
    September 09, 2021 12:54 pm
    Hi Subhasish! Yes, there are various Salesforce DevOps solutions available. When it comes to your deployments in a DevOps workflow, it's important that any solution gives you a guaranteed high level of deployment success, e.g. by flagging up and resolving common deployment issues and giving you full visibility into your changes with all the necessary dependencies, so you'll always know exactly what impact your change will have on the target org. The best way of testing out the DevOps solutions is to give them a try for yourself on a free trial.
    Mathew Abraham
    September 09, 2021 4:05 pm
    Does this mean SF will implement an in-house DevOps solution to replace Change Sets, or may be will acquire Copado? In any case, a much needed improvement!
    Daryl Moon
    May 01, 2022 1:11 pm
    What is really needed is a simple GUI tool that will hide all the complexity of using git repositories and the other complexity of these deployment tools if change sets are to be replaced. The average admin that struggles with change sets will have no hope with the complexity of the current deployment tools. They need a simple tool that allows them to deploy a new flow with just a few clicks.

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