10 Tips to Improve Your Salesforce Release Management Strategy
An optimized Salesforce DevOps pipeline enables organizations to quickly deliver high-quality, secure products—and it all starts with a proper release management strategy.
Why It Matters: The processes utilized to develop software are repeated across every project. Any failures or unnecessary steps are compounded, reducing productivity of your DevOps teams and degrading the ROI of your development pipeline.
- Adhering to Salesforce release management best practices ensures that the software is released on time, reducing the time to market.
- Paying proper attention to security considerations reduces vulnerabilities and supports regulatory compliance.
- Continually producing able, reliable products improves customer confidence and positions an organization as a leader in their industry.
Here are 10 Salesforce release management best practices that will improve your deployment pipeline:
- Define a Release Management Process
- Utilize Version Control
- Use Sandboxes
- Automate as Much as Possible
- Institute Multiple Layers of Testing
- Encourage Open Communication
- Have a Disaster Recovery Plan
- Monitor and Track Changes
- Maintain a Release Calendar
- Always Watch for Improvements
1. Define a Release Management Process
Release managers oversee every aspect of the application development lifecycle. This includes the planning, development, scheduling, testing, deploying, and monitoring of software releases. These functions all need to work together seamlessly, and that starts by outlining a release management process.
Defining the roles, responsibilities, and timelines for every section of the development pipeline establishes expectations and clears up any confusion between team members.
The functions within each department vary between organizations and can even change with every project. But having clear definitions of roles and expectations ensure team members understand their responsibilities and know where to turn when they have questions.
2. Utilize Version Control
Accountability is important in a DevOps pipeline. Salesforce release management best practices include sourcing the proper tools your team members need to perform their jobs as seamlessly as possible, and version control is a major part of this.
Utilizing version control ensures all changes to the code repository are tracked, providing a clear trail of who made what changes and when, while also offering the ability to roll back to an earlier version of the project should an error occur.
The visibility into DevOps processes this tool provides streamlines multi-developer teams and makes it much easier for a release manager to oversee operations.
3. Use Sandboxes
Working in developer sandboxes should be a major aspect of your release management strategy. Multi-developer teams working simultaneously on the same project run the risk of working on similar lines of code, creating overwrites and errors that impact the functionality and security of the project.
Sandboxes provide a safe environment for development teams to collaborate, test, customize, and refine changes to the code for an application or update without risking the stability of the code in the main repository.
Encourage your team to work in various types of sandboxes to streamline development and enable stress-free experimentation.
4. Automate as Much as Possible
A surefire way to increase the potential of any release management strategy is to introduce automation wherever possible. Human error is inevitable—even with the most talented developers. Applying automated code checks, data loading, and other automated release management tools increases oversight and the potential for errors to be identified by your DevOps team.
Automated DevOps tools take burdensome, repetitive tasks away from your team members so they can focus on creating the best applications and updates possible.
Manually testing thousands of lines of code is bound to make someone’s mind wander, which could result in costly bugs making their way into production. Automation enhances your team’s capacity for productivity.
5. Institute Multiple Layers of Testing
The goal of Salesforce release management best practices is to produce the best possible software. Confident releases are only possible when release managers have a comprehensive view of the health and functionality of a release. And the only way to guarantee you know how a release will act in a live environment is to put it through multiple rounds of testing.
All coding changes and updates should be subjected to various types of testing before deploying the project to production.
Incorporating a series of tests guarantees the stability of your products:
- Functional testing
- Unit tests
- Integration tests
- Stress tests
- And many more
6. Encourage Open Communication
Confusion leads to mistakes. A Salesforce DevOps pipeline involves the work of individuals across a variety of departments. Any breakdown in communication between these departments has the potential to lead to a slowdown in processes or even costly mistakes.
Salesforce release managers should empower their team to speak up with any questions or suggestions on how to improve processes.
This includes any changes made to the project as it progresses through the pipeline. These changes should be communicated to all stakeholders to ensure they are aware of any potential impacts to functionality.
7. Have a Disaster Recovery Plan
Data security threats are ever-present. You can follow all of the Salesforce release management best practices and still experience a data breach or outage. Factors such as natural disasters have the potential to knock your system offline and can’t be completely guarded against. Release managers need to keep this in mind when planning their strategies.
Frequent backups of sandboxes, production data, metadata, and system information must be maintained and protected.
Any improvements to a release management strategy need to take data security into account. Not only will an updated disaster recovery plan protect the functionality of your Salesforce environment, but it also helps maintain compliance.
8. Monitor and Track Changes
The changes made to an application or update need to be tracked. Any release management strategy that doesn’t include monitoring these changes needs updated to start immediately. Failing to do so can mean falling out of regulatory compliance and prevent you from maintaining proper oversight of your release processes.
All modifications, updates, or additions made to a system, process, or document must be tracked and documented.
We mentioned how version control helps with this oversight, but there are other methods to achieve this as well. Providing release notes along with an update, managing change logs, and utilization of project management software help teams provide the necessary documentation.
9. Maintain a Release Calendar
Salesforce release managers need to keep their eyes on the future just as much as they should be overseeing current processes. A release calendar helps organize future plans so projects can be easily coordinated.
Planning, communication, coordination, and prioritization are all made easier when everyone knows what to expect.
Compile information about upcoming releases, including release dates and other details. Put this information into a calendar and share it with department heads, stakeholders, developers, and testers.
10. Always Watch for Improvements
The best thing Salesforce release managers can do to continually improve their release management strategy is pay attention. Maintaining oversight of every aspect of the process may seem impossible at first, but any ability to find areas of improvement will provide benefits moving forward.
Evaluate your current processes by analyzing reports and dashboards, speaking with team members, and discussing expectations for future projects.
Salesforce release managers have a lot to consider. Leverage your team for additional insights and ideas on how to streamline processes moving forward.
Data privacy should be a primary concern for every organization. Failing to properly protect sensitive data can lead to a loss of consumer trust and even falling out of compliance with data security regulations.
Check out “Can a Salesforce Release Management Suite Impact Data Privacy?” on our blog to learn more.
Why is release management important in Salesforce?
Release management is an essential part of optimizing the Salesforce DevOps pipeline. Maximizing the value of the application development lifecycle hinges on repeatability, reduction of tedious processes, and the ability to create reliable products. Release managers who are able to repeat their successes in a scalable, sustainable way will increase their organization’s ROI from every software release. Adhering to Salesforce release management best practices provides a series of benefits:
- Reduced data security risks,
- Compliance support,
- Increased efficiency, and
- Streamlined collaboration.
Release management adds intentionality to every decision made in the DevOps pipeline. Constant monitoring and adjusting refine these processes and lead to enhanced results.
How do I manage Salesforce sandboxes?
Even before getting started, a sandbox strategy should be established. This should define how sandboxes will be used and managed. It provides guidelines for who can create and access sandboxes, how often they’ll be refreshed, and how long they’ll be retained. Automation should be utilized to refresh the sandboxes. This saves time and ensures that up-to-date copies of the production org are always available. Changes to the production org must be thoroughly tested to identify any issues so they can be resolved before any negative effects are seen. Version control is a huge part of this; it helps managers track changes over time, while also helping team members collaborate more easily. Sandboxes should always be monitored to ensure they are being used to their full potential.
How does DevOps fit into Salesforce release management?
DevOps plays an important role in Salesforce release management by promoting collaboration and automation across the software development lifecycle. Organizations are able to achieve faster deployments and more reliable products. Implementing modern DevOps practices results in improved quality, stability, and security of Salesforce applications and updates. Specialized, automated tools fit into your CI/CD pipeline, which streamlines the release process. Salesforce release managers who are able to harness the power of these tools and utilize them in their DevOps pipeline increase their ability to manage changes to code, facilitate communication between departments, and are better able to work with geographically disparate team members.