A 3-Step Process to Achieving Digital Immunity in Salesforce

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From its humble beginnings in 1999, Salesforce has become one of the most well-known and commonly used CRM platforms for all types of businesses. Its success is due — in no small part — to its convenience, easy setup process, robust security, and mobile accessibility. 

Setting up Salesforce right enables effective lead/customer tracking, seamless communication and data management from anywhere. Plus, its customization options ensure adaptability to specific business needs without compromising data integrity. 

Salesforce offers many features and add-ons that expand its already large roster of functionalities such as access to customer insights, predictive analytics, and enhanced security. It even provides a social network of sorts for employees to increase collaboration and camaraderie across teams. 

However, due to its flexibility and open nature, Salesforce carries a heightened risk of improper setup. Users may end up developing functionalities that don’t adhere to Salesforce best practices, challenging platform owners and architects. Also, inefficient workflows can result in duplications, delays, and increased expenses, hindering business goals. 

Enforcing digital immunity in Salesforce is, therefore, crucial for optimal system performance.

When your Salesforce environment is optimized and has digital immunity, end users like sales and marketing teams can work more efficiently, so they can focus on their jobs of driving sales and improving the customer experience. 

What is digital immunity?

In software development, digital immunity is a concept that developers follow to be able to create resilient, robust, and secure software. 

With the help of software design, automation, data and performance analytics, and operational procedures, software developers can build applications that are very resilient yet offer intuitive user experiences. 

Applications with digital immunity reduce disruptions, downtimes, and glitches, thereby making business operations as seamless as possible. 

Digital immunity in the context of Salesforce

When it comes to Salesforce development, digital immunity makes a Salesforce platform immune to issues related to scalability, performance, and management. Of course, digital immunity also allows the Salesforce system to be protected against security threats.

As Taher Dohadwala, Head of Customer Service at QualityClouds puts it, “Digital immunity is about making yourself immune to any kind of problems that you might face during development or from the end-user experience point of view.”

“Salesforce has given a free hand to customers to create things the way they want, to go bonkers over the entire platform. So, if you put in the best practices, put in small steps or small changes from the start, and control the small things that could go wrong, you can prevent them from piling up.”

As such, digital immunity should be taken into consideration when a Salesforce application is being set up. Doing so will prevent small issues from snowballing into major performance disasters later on. Salesforce developers, platform owners, and architects should follow the best practices thereby building digital immunity right from the start. 

What steps should Salesforce architects take to achieve digital immunity?

We just covered what digital immunity is and why it’s important. So, how do you go about achieving it?  

Step 1: Get visibility

Before you can start fixing any issues, you need to know what issues even exist. As Taher says, “If you don’t see it, and don’t know what to do, then you’re lost from the start itself.”

In a system that’s been established for a while, you need visibility into all the work that was done on it and by whom. This can be an arduous task but you need the answers to questions such as:

  • What does my current technical debt look like?
  • What is my current issue count, and what is the configuration of that issue count? 
  • Is it made up of mostly naming convention problems, security-related problems, and performance-related problems? 
  • Or is it purely around low and medium best practices that are being violated on the platform? 
  • Who did it and when was the last time they did it?

You’ll need to categorize the issues in some way. There could be small issues such as inconsistent naming conventions or urgent ones such as security gaps. The next step should be to find the root causes, if any, of these issues. 

For example, following an incomplete list of best practices could lead to persistent naming convention issues while performance issues could be a result of an update that has not been applied to all systems. 

Step 2: Baseline and put controls in place

Once you have a good idea of what is going on in your Salesforce systems, you need to come up with a way to fix these issues and also to prevent them from occurring again. For a mature organization with a large user base, you cannot possibly fix all issues in a short time. 

So, start by setting a baseline. Suppose you set your baseline as the 1st of January 2024. This means that all issues before this date will be considered legacy issues — which you’ll continue to work on in the background. You’ll cut them up into bite-sized chunks and give them to your teams to fix.

However, going forward, you won’t allow any high-severity security issues or best practice violations to take place. Put controls in place that stop any kind of bad code from coming in. You’ll also need to create a comprehensive list of best practices and ensure that everyone who has access to your Salesforce systems is educated about it.

You will need to be strict about this and even stop deployment if best practice violations recur. In some cases, you may have to do an audit to understand if certain issues are actually violations or not. Or you may even need to go through with the violation in a certain context and decide to come back and fix it in the future. 

“Make conscious decisions about your best practice violations rather than just blanketly allowing them to go from development into production,” says Taher. 

Salesforce platform owners can take a page from the playbook of IT project managers and implement Quality Gates for Salesforce projects. In simple terms, a quality gate can be a checklist for each stage of Salesforce development. Comparing code and processes against quality gates ensures issues get fixed as early as possible and don’t travel down the pipeline. 

Step 3: Conduct live checks

The final step to developing digital immunity is to have Salesforce developers constantly check their code while writing it — even before committing it or putting it from development to production, and before bundling it up in a package or a story and pushing it across.

Architects, platform owners, and developers will probably require targeted training on how to enforce digital immunity. Training should teach them how to write more secure code, best practices for documenting changes, and the importance of writing code that is easy to read. 

You should also foster a mindset of developing high-quality code that follows software development best practices among your teams. This will not only improve the digital immunity of your Salesforce platforms but also prevent any complications when developers leave and new ones take their place. 

Where does Quality Clouds (QC) come in?

Quality Clouds’ development governance solutions can ensure that your Salesforce development projects adhere to your budget and time constraints, and carry the least amount of technical risk. Here’s how our solutions can help you enforce digital immunity.

Quality Clouds helps with visibility

Quality Clouds provides a scan engine that can scan your entire Salesforce org and provide insights on issues in just a few hours. If you assign this particular task to a team of architects — very highly qualified Salesforce resources — it would take them at least a month to generate similar results. 

To manually scan a Salesforce org, you’d need to evaluate and categorize every part of the org. Then you would have to thoroughly analyze it to understand who implemented each part, when they implemented it, and why. 

Thanks to our automated solutions, all this information can be obtained in a much faster and more accurate manner with Quality Clouds.

Quality Clouds Quality Gates

Quality Clouds’ Quality Gates can help you set baselines and identify and assign legacy issues. These quality gates can even be customized for platform owners to select the severity of issues and whether such issues can pass or not. 

The best part is that Quality Clouds has improved existing software development best practices and added them to the list based on our experience with previous clients and the Salesforce technology itself. 

Quality Clouds Live Check

Quality Clouds offers Live Check — an embeddable tool for integrated development environments like SFDX, Visual Studio Code, and Code Builder. It enables developers to run checks for best practice violations and assess code quality against organizational standards.

Digital immunity done right: Real-life examples

Before we conclude, let’s take a look at some real-life examples of Salesforce digital immunity in action. 

IHG: Intercontinental Hotel Group

Around the year 2017, IHG encountered severe performance issues with their Salesforce org. So, they connected four production organizations to Quality Clouds’ systems to address these issues, only to find extensive duplication problems. Shockingly, one org contained 96 million lines of duplicated code, while others had 35 million and 40 million lines, respectively. 

During the pandemic, they redirected their SI team to address duplicate code, leveraging Quality Clouds for visibility and pattern identification. This initiative reduced code duplication from 96 million lines to just 7,000 — facilitated by Quality Clouds’ BI portal for comprehensive code analysis and pattern recognition. In the end, their technical debt was reduced by 90%.

Linde

Linde is a global leader in the gas and engineering industries and serves end markets such as electronics, chemicals, refining, and manufacturing. The company began using the DevOps platform Copado to implement a fast and agile applications development process. 

Due to rapid development without checks, they faced severe performance issues. Quality Clouds integrated with Copado and implemented checks at various stages. This helped reduce the technical debt by 27%. 

The implementation of checks initially slowed development speeds. However, after two years, the pace recovered, with only a small team managing the Salesforce ecosystem efficiently, enabling continued growth and streamlined operations.

Final words

Rapid development cannot come at the cost of compromised digital immunity. In the end, without proper verifications, code reviews, quality checks, and baselining in place, your entire system can come to a screeching halt. 

Save yourself from huge financial losses and prevent work from coming to a standstill by implementing digital immunity in your Salesforce org early on. To learn more about how Quality Clouds can help, contact us today.

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Quality Clouds was created to address a significant gap in the tech industry: the challenge developers face with Salesforce and ServiceNow deployments. Identifying the risks of working on unknown systems, our founders sought to empower developers with essential insights for quality and governance in SaaS projects.

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