Salesforce Lessons from 1000+ Org Confessions

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When it comes to customizing your Salesforce org, Salesforce offers anyone with System Admin permissions great power. It’s so intuitive that anyone (even the non-technical) can do it, and they do! With that power, comes great responsibility to follow Salesforce best practice, which often isn’t followed.

“Org horrors stories” are the result. We started OrgConfessions for Salesforce admins, developers and consultants to anonymously detail what they’ve seen. The submissions are worrying, anxiety-provoking, and hilarious. We had 405 OrgConfessions at Dreamforce ‘19 (here are some of the highlights) – one year later, we have over 1000 confessions.

“Sonar”

So what has changed, and how does it impact you, the admin, developer or consultant? First, let’s look at the root causes of the OrgConfessions.

Confessions Root Causes

When we look at the root causes, interestingly enough, the top 4 causes haven’t changed much in the last year. The same issues are ruining Salesforce implementations:

%Topic
22.6%Business Analysis
20.6%Architecture
19.2%Documentation
15.5%Implementation lifecycle (Methodology / Center Of Excellence / DevOps)

I’ve read all 1000 confessions, and whilst there are common themes, there are relatively few confessions that are exactly the same.

Apart from 600 new confessions, what has happened in the last year?

Business Analysis

Business analysis is now widely recognized as a critical front end activity that drives better solutions and also increases adoption.

If you spend more time understanding what your users really need (not what they thought they wanted) you will get a better result, faster, and cheaper. Although it may seem you are taking more time to get into development, your roll-out will be smoother in the long run.

What’s new? There are now Trailhead Live sessions dedicated to analysis, a Business Analysis Community Group, and now a Business Analyst role in Trailhead. My bet for mascot is a Gary – a giraffe wearing glasses. Why? A business analysts needs to see the big picture and also build the institutional knowledge of the organization.

Architecture

Good architecture is fundamental to a solid Salesforce implementation. It is very hard to fix a Salesforce implementation where there was little (or no) architectural design before the build started. Getting the architectural input at the start of the project is key, but unfortunately, Salesforce architects and related skills are in desperately short supply.

What’s new? There are more Architect certifications than ever before. There are now Customer Architecture and CTA Architect Trailblazer Communities and the Salesforce Architects blog is growing in popularity. There is even a mascot – Ruth the elephant.

Documentation

No one seems to find time to document their Salesforce org configuration – not even filling out the description field.

As Salesforce becomes more strategic and broader in scope, it’s clear that a lack of documentation kills agility. Documentation is a critical part of the impact analysis of changes, without it, every change needs huge levels of manual analysis which delays releases. What if someone could do the documentation for you?

What’s new? Org clean-up and optimization are now regular topics at Dreamforce and TrailheaDX. The Metadata API enables some (not all) org metadata information to be pulled from the org. The new DependencyAPI (beta, no plans for GA yet) enables multi-level metadata impact analysis, and whilst it has limitations, it is a start. ISVs are leveraging these APIs to build metadata dictionaries with where used analysis, some even using the APIs for the entire implementation lifecycle.

Implementation Lifecycle

The root issues are a combination of a poorly designed, or misunderstood, implementation methodology and standards. Many individuals are joining the ecosystem with no background in systems implementation or change management, becoming ‘Rangers’ and gaining certifications but still do not understand the fundamentals. At best, this results in long release cycles – at worst it puts the whole org at risk.

What’s new? There is Trailhead Live training on the implementation lifecycle. Check out the Center of Excellence Trailblazer Community Group where Heads of CoE, CRM Owners and CIOs can meet and discuss best practice.

DevOps is now an understood discipline with several ISVs providing apps and Salesforce launching its own DevOps Center in 2021, the importance of COE and DevOps in project success was recently highlighted in survey results from 10k Advisors.

Lessons, not Confessions

Trailhead and Salesforce certifications give everyone the opportunity to build a new, more fulfilling career with Salesforce. As Salesforce becomes more strategic to customers, however, badges and certifications are no longer enough. You need to look outside Trailhead for training and direction, to include business analysis, architecture and understanding of the implementation lifecycle, Center of Excellence (COE) and DevOps in your skillset as a true Salesforce Trailblazer.

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