DevOps Strategy: A Journey to Efficiency

By Maxim Shevchenko - February 1, 2021

How does DevOps factor into your Salesforce instance? Is it an integral component? An afterthought? Are you just starting to understand the value of a DevOps strategy?

Just as CRM itself is often a journey that involves different phases and levels of process maturity, DevOps is emerging as a key component of a successful Salesforce strategy.

If you are committed to continuous improvement, it’s time to integrate DevOps into your Salesforce journey.

The Beginning of Salesforce Integrations

Salesforce initially targeted small businesses to democratize CRM, touting its ability to help organizations launch solutions without the support of an IT department. Before long, large enterprises also took notice. They wanted to be able to deploy CRM solutions without intervention from their IT organizations, which were often tied up in more “mission critical” applications like ERP or maintaining data centers.

As a result, Salesforce was often implemented on a departmental level rather than an organizational one, even at some of the world’s largest enterprises.

As Salesforce became more widespread in the Enterprise market, we witnessed the inception of a burgeoning industry of often well-funded systems integrators focused exclusively on helping companies implement these departmental solutions. Unfortunately, there was no plan to unite these solutions, leaving many departments to manage their instances in their own silos, struggling to reinvent the wheel over and over.

Why a DevOps Strategy is Necessary

Since that time, a number of trends have brought the need for a DevOps strategy to the forefront. Key among these are:

  • Enterprise IT organizations have recognized that cloud solutions are here to stay. They are no longer the threat they posed 15 years ago, and likewise, they must be incorporated into any successful IT strategy.
  • A unified strategy has become critical, so enterprises are working to consolidate departmental Salesforce instances into enterprise-wide platforms.
  • Larger organizations have begun to acquire niche cloud services providers, leading to a consolidation of the systems integrators that recommended the departmental instances in the first place. These larger organizations have traditionally supported ERP applications like SAP and Oracle.
  • A maturity cycle has been established, and better, more integrated tools have been introduced to handle processes like gathering requirements and automated testing that are commonly associated with legacy applications.
  • IT organizations have begun to take responsibility for Salesforce implementations, and as they move to a centralized approach, the need for an overarching strategy has emerged.

When businesses owned departmental solutions, they may have been satisfied with handling development on their own and either pushing those changes straight to production or sending them to a temporary QA environment for testing. In these cases, the stakeholders of the solution were largely a homogenous group, all consuming the same set of changes.

Now, we see businesses moving from a standard approach, where many departments manage their own Salesforce instances, to a centralized one, where the organization may have just a small handful of instances to support many departments or geographies. As is to be expected, there are far more moving parts in a centralized approach. Development efforts must be properly aligned with each subset of stakeholders, and with the acquisition of solutions like CPQ and eCommerce, the delta changes often come through as data rather than as code or metadata. This data needs to be migrated separately, leaving more room for error and integrity issues to crop up.

Looking for Familiar Tools

We recognize that as IT organizations begin to take over responsibility for the Salesforce implementations, they are looking for familiar tools. In order to maintain efficiency, they need the tools they’re using to allow for improved integrity, transparency, and productivity throughout the development process.

We have a client that we’ve been working with for a while who had worked with other integration partners before they came to us. When we first spoke with them, they shared that they were spending more time moving data around their landscape than actually making any changes themselves. In terms of the ratio of innovation:administration, they were definitely under water.

From that first conversation, we immediately recognized the problem: they had no tool that could help them successfully manage DevOps at their organization. They were a global company using a single Salesforce instance to support different constituent groups with disparate solutions for key areas like CPQ. They had all of the issues listed above in the bullet points, but no solution to fill in the gaps.

We recommended that they evaluate Copado to help them achieve Continuous Delivery and Continuous Integration (CD/CI). A few months after they deployed the solution, they readily admitted that the innovation:administration ratio had righted itself and that changes that used to take days to test and deploy were now taking just a few hours.

The Right Tools at the Right Time

Customertimes has been a long-standing SAP partner and was an early entrant to the Salesforce ecosystem. We’ve handled thousands of global Salesforce deployments for our customers, and we’re proud to have been at the forefront of this maturity curve, encouraging our customers to pursue and implement a thoughtful DevOps strategy from the outset.

I appreciate tools like Copado that make such a dynamic difference for our clients, and I’m also proud of the work we do to help our customers along their own journeys. As a DevOps consultant at Customertimes, I want to feel that the work I do is as productive as possible.

I think of it as my own personal ROI: when I have the right tools, I can be much more productive in the time I have to work with my clients. This inspires me to work even harder because I know that my time is being well spent. Just like our clients who deployed Copado, the work that used to take me days or weeks can now be done in just a few hours. This fuels my passion for my work: I can’t wait to uncover other areas of improvement and potential advancement to help support our clients.

We like to add our own perspective to the CD/CI formula. We say we’re looking for CD/CI/CI: Continuous delivery, continuous integration, continuous improvement. DevOps is not a fixed destination. It’s an ongoing journey, and as the tools continue to improve, we remain fully committed to our mission to have the right knowledge of the right tools at the right time so that our customers can benefit from our expertise.

As we continue with these trusted partnerships, we look forward to helping our clients develop and implement successful DevOps strategies.

This post was originally posted on LinkedIn.

Maxim Shevchenko

Maxim Shevchenko is a Salesforce DevOps Senior Consultant at Customertimes. He holds 14 Salesforce certifications, including System and Application Architect certificates, along with 3 certifications from Copado, the #1 Native DevOps solution for Salesforce. Maxim has more than 20 years of experience in the IT industry. He is passionate about Salesforce implementation projects and has held a variety of roles in these projects, from single developer to key stakeholder. For the last two years, Maxim has been managing implementation of DevOps solutions for the most challenging and exciting projects in the Healthcare industry, and in 2020, he was proud to be recognized as MVP for Copado.