DevOps is a familiar word in the Information Technology (IT) space. It is a concept that focuses on people, processes, and a wide range of tools that enable a collaborative approach to all the tasks a company undertakes, especially where its application development team has to work alongside its IT operations team.
The word DevOps is a mash-up of the words – development and operations. DevOps is more of a philosophy than an exact science. It works largely on facilitating better communication channels between the two key teams in an organization. A narrower definition is that DevOps is a system that uses repetitive software development, large-scale automation, infrastructure that can be programmed and deployed, and its maintenance. At the same time, it also engages teams on a cultural level, encouraging relationships of trust and cohesive working, and aligning the technological goals of companies. DevOps can completely overhaul the way software-related delivery changes work – providing services, arriving at job descriptions and using the right IT tools and business practices that work.
DevOps goes beyond being a technology to fostering an environment that runs on common methodologies such as:
- Continuous integration, delivery, or deployment (CI/CD) tools are being used with a focus on the automation of tasks.
- Utilization of products that aid DevOps adoption. Examples include monitoring in real-time, incident management systems, managing configurations, and associated collaboration platforms.
- Methodologies that need to be implemented along with DevOps also come in this category. They include the likes of cloud computing, microservices, and containers.
DevOps is one of several approaches that is used in the execution of IT projects targeted at specific business requirements. Its flexibility of co-existing along with the likes of Agile software and its development, frameworks like ITIL for IT service management, or Lean and Six Sigma related to project management directives make it indispensable. Over the years, the IT sector believes that the DevOps can be looked at through the specific prism of business, security, and other sectors, and can be specialized to become BizDevOps, DevSecOps, and so on.
Devising a Suitable Salesforce DevOps Action Plan
The importance of DevOps in the implementation of Salesforce cannot be overstated. Based on the end goals of your company, the management can arrive at the right DevOps strategy. Here is a look at some outcomes that a company can consider:
Achieving Business Agility: With a flexible DevOps process, a company can benefit from having several workstreams up and running simultaneously. A variety of projects, in various stages of completion, can be supported too. A good DevOps workflow will help with the testing of new features and their release into the infrastructure without the concern of downtime, conflicts, or any roadblocks in functioning. According to the Gearset survey with the rapid release cycles that such DevOps strategies allow, teams can deploy to production every day and sometimes even several times a day. Agility then becomes a strong point for an enterprise, with the teams responding to challenges quickly. With this, a company can work on putting in place an iterative strategy of development that is continuously delivering improvements to clients without slowing down working processes.
Enabling Quicker Turnaround Times: Without a DevOps strategy, deployments in the Salesforce pipeline can be riddled with errors and take a substantial amount of time. This is directly the result of teams being dependent on low-quality manual tools such as changesets to work on migrating changes from the development line to the testing environment, and from there to production. But with the entry of DevOps solutions, developers and administrators can boost deployment success rates drastically. The same Gearset survey also says that with a solid DevOps strategy, companies have reported deployment times below an hour, bringing down the time taken to test new apps or customized features and making them available to the end-users. These solutions help both teams by raising red flags and dealing with common challenges that arise with deployment. With quicker deployments, lead times are reduced and this means that work goes quickly from the development stage to release which can mean lead times of a week or even lesser. With quicker turnaround times, businesses can free up financial resources among others and deploy them in other vital projects.
Delivering High-Quality Releases Consistently: With a DevOps strategy comes an in-built quality assurance system that is based on automated approaches. These move all through the pipeline; extract and merge into the version control, the best-tested systems. At every stage of the process, DevOps strategies can incorporate test and release procedures that ensure that every new feature created works optimally and matches the business need associated with it. Anything new is deployed without disrupting the ongoing functionality or resulting in any obstacles in production, at any time. Such a system ensures that DevOps strategies result in high-quality releases, with teams finding a lower number of errors to correct or bugs to remove – in most cases, as low as just 10 percent. This reduction in problems can be attributed to the non-stop testing that takes place all through development. This iterative process makes room for numerous releases with smaller changes, reducing risks.
Maximizing Salesforce Return on Investment (RoI): The great thing about DevOps is that teams spend their time more productively on development than they do on managing processes associated with this development. The business stands to benefit from this as the work is completed quickly, with fewer man-hours from the admin and developer teams being spent on deploying changes, tracking them, and ensuring development environments are completely in tune with production. Errors can be rectified before release. One of the key benefits seen with teams that relied specifically on changesets for mergers during deployment, is the time saved. The efficiency of change management and stronger collaborative efforts result in better RoI. The complete RoI is measured not just in financial savings but also in a positive improvement in the development environment of the company, which is not tangible. Resources can be diverted to what other departments in the business may require to push their revenue growth.
Saving Time and Reducing Manual Testing: Harnessing the power of automation can result in serious savings in terms of time spent on deployment and manual testing. When the code for every release is of high quality, based on validation and advance testing, lesser time is spent in finding critical bugs and removing them. With an automated workflow, every department will be able to test and release new features to end-users quickly as the system they work within is like a well-oiled machine. Surveys show that more than 80% of the Salesforce professionals are making use of automated workflows, or are in the process of bringing them into their operations.
Striving Towards User-driven Development: Salesforce DevOps strategies enable tighter feedback loops. This results in faster and regular smaller releases with focused features. Most bottlenecks can be circumvented and all inputs from across the board can easily be incorporated into an iterative process. Project tracking systems are helped with oversight, and this enables proper integration into DevOps solutions making way for several collaborative features like project updates or automated notifications.
Enabling Risk-free Scalability: DevOps strategies have scalability built into them. Creating branching strategies for version control helps teams develop several environments that match the increase in business demand and expansion of teams. With an efficiently streamlined Salesforce DevOps infrastructure, multiple workstreams can be managed with the same procedures for testing, reviewing, and quality assessment, all leading to one process for release. Making use of version control and having a DevOps tool enables hybrid teams (usually a mix of administrators, developers, and others) to work within a single process, with the same user interface (UI), without conflict or leading to problems with collaboration. Salesforce DevOps users consider this solution as the primary reason for their release management becoming easier.
Enhancing Employee Satisfaction: A happy employee ensures a happy customer. Incorporating a DevOps culture has been known to boost team morale. Teams can get more work done and the culture of shared responsibilities ensures an efficient work environment centered on development, testing, and release. When administrators and developers – both declarative and programmatic – can work together, it addresses major challenges in processes. Version control and the use of CI/CD processes are largely cited as supporting this collaboration.
Ensuring Service Reliability: Often placed on the back burner is the need for monitoring, which keeps teams in the loop on any changes to production environments that may be sudden or possibly unauthorized. Change monitoring tools instantly alert teams with automated messages enabling early detection of issues, thereby triggering immediate solutions. In such cases, having backup and restoration capabilities is essential. DevOps solutions offer both backup and restoration capabilities, safeguarding the interests of a company and its critical information. Building up such integrated capabilities is a plus.
Giving your Business the Competitive Edge: According to a survey titled Competitive Advantages Through DevOps by Harvard Business Review, 70 percent of respondents have said that DevOps has increased speed to market; productivity – 67 percent, customer relevance – 67 percent, innovation – 66 percent, and product/service quality – 64 percent. Across the board, more companies are turning to DevOps solutions and their implementation. Quicker releases with topnotch features and tighter feedback loops is key to maximizing the benefits of Salesforce and your business’s RoI.
Best Practices for Salesforce DevOps Strategy for Your Organization
Now that you have an idea on the various goals towards developing a Salesforce DevOps strategy, here are some best practices for their implementation.
Management of Source Code in a Shared Environment: The management of source code though essential, is not the only aspect to contend with in a business solution. Also part of the creation process is the components of the UI, the schema, and the varied rights to access control. There are also static components like icons or related images that are all part of the creation process. Managing all of these is as important as handling the source code. Everything must be recorded in the version control to track any changes made. Especially when working with low-code platforms such as Salesforce, a shared environment setting poses a challenge. It enables the administrators of other databases to look into the changes that have been made in a shared environment. It is important to ensure that changes by developers are made in isolated environments.
Implement Automated Testing: Putting in place an automated testing process is essential for a Salesforce DevOps strategy to be successful. Several great tools work on testing functionalities and work ideally along with your DevOps processes. It is necessary, however, to work on verifications before actually arriving at the functional testing stage. Using the likes of PMD, an open-source static code analyzer helps ensure that your development team is working on a single coding technique. The simplest practice is to clearly define one coding method and enforce its use with the team. When the automated tests are done, you can begin with a manual peer review. Avenues for performance enhancement can be easily spotted, even if it has been overlooked by automated tools.
Focus on Advanced Planning: When it comes to enterprise-level software development, agile planning is par for the course. Several in-person interactions and collaborative efforts are needed to ensure that the end product is the best one possible. The process will also have to be constantly monitored and updated, while ensuring continuous delivery to the end-user is not disrupted in the course of the development cycle. It is important that all Features and Epics are defined and tasks tracked. The team can then continuously deliver small functionalities that clients can use and also be able to trace back.
Any changes made have to go through strict quality control before it is released into the pipeline. It refers to CD packaging where changes can be tracked before it goes to the next step of the process. Developers must not have the ability to skip any part of the development cycle stages. When going from development to production, for example, ensure that smaller changes are implemented. Also, ensure that all promotions are automated before production. This makes room for promotion scripts validation during integration, testing, and staging. All of this reduces the chances of unexpected results.
Tracking processes put in place have to go beyond the availability of a service and its performance. Future-oriented companies monitor their entire data access to detect any changes to configuration that may be unauthorized and to track the use of end-user features. This helps product managers to gain insights into the usage of the latest releases. There are multiple finer aspects associated with developing Salesforce DevOps best practices protocol. Being able to spot issues that the team may be having and finding the right method that will help you arrive at your end goal for your business is the start of the process. Salesforce DevOps strategies can help your organization with multiple checks and balances in place to ensure there are no (or very little) obstacles along the way.