Salesforce CSI: Uncovering What was Previously Built


So, you’ve inherited an undocumented org…now what?

You’ve started a new job. (Congrats!) You’re volunteering for a non-profit. (Go you!) You’re a consultant who’s just started working with a new client. (It begins!)

You ask your new boss/supervisor/manager for the documentation of the Salesforce org and you get a blank stare and a shrug. Oh boy! This org has been around a while and no one has written anything down! How do you figure out what’s going on?

If you can answer the questions below, you’ll have a pretty good handle on what’s going on within your new (to you) org.


Who is using Salesforce? Which departments? Which of their processes are automated? Which are NOT automated? Who are your most active Chatter users? Which Topics are most active? Which Chatter Groups are most active? If you haven’t already, install the Chatter Usage Dashboards and observe how your users interact with each other.


Take a look at the Business Processes (Setup → Customize→ Opportunities → Sales Processes & Setup → Customize → Cases → Support Processes). What does each mean? Are there several? Are there any that are inactive? (Inactive processes can tell you about the evolution of the business.)

What Workflow Rules exist? What email alerts are being sent and to whom? What fields are automatically updated and under what circumstances? What Tasks are being auto-created and who are they for?

Are there Approval Processes? What types of records need approving? Who does the approving? How complex are the approval processes? What do the Approval History Reports tell you?

If they exist, poke around in the Flows and Processes. Are they nested at all? Do any of them call code? Under what circumstances are they kicked off? Are there any deactivated Workflow Rules, Flows, Approval Processes or Processes? If so, when and by whom?


Which fields are in use? More to the point, which fields are NOT in use? Use Field Trip to discover the fields you can safely remove without causing too much trouble. This simplifies page layouts, which all users will appreciate!

Take a look at field dependencies and validation rules. Which fields, if any, are dependent upon other fields? Under what circumstances are fields required? Are they required in groups? This could be a use case for a new record type & page layout!

Company Profile and Company Information can tell you a lot about the organization.

  • How many users do you have and of which license types? How many licenses do you have remaining?
  • Who is the primary contact for the org? Is that person you’ve replaced? Does it make sense to change?
  • How is the Fiscal Year setup? Is it custom? Does it match what you know to be the fiscal year of the organization?
  • How much data and file storage has been used? Does this make sense given what you know about the org’s lifespan and usage?  Who are the biggest users of file storage? What types of files are they? Are they business related? (I worked in an org where a user was using Salesforce to store their movie collection! Not cool!)

Another great way to see what’s in use is to look at the Reports & Dashboards. Who is creating reports? What are they about? Does the folder structure and permissions tell you anything? Which reports & dashboards are scheduled? Who are they being sent to?


Which packages & apps are installed? Who has licenses to them? Are any expired? Why were the expired apps allowed to expire? Why were they not uninstalled? To whom was it useful?

Which installed packages/apps do you already know about? Which do you need to investigate further? Users are likely to assume that you can support all the installed & in-use apps so it makes sense to research any you aren’t familiar with. Often the app listing on the Appexchange will offer documentation and support for an unknown app.

Take a look at internally made changes via the Setup Audit Trail. What has changed recently? By whom? Who has made the most changes in the past 6 months (as assessed by downloading the 6 month audit trail)? Were the changes in batches? If so, your users are likely to confuse the timing of new issues with a batch of changes.


Profiles & Permission Sets are a great way to understand the different roles and responsibilities of your users. Use a tool like PermComparator to see the similarities and differences between your users, profiles and permission sets. You’re likely to discover Profiles that can be replaced with Permission Sets which greatly simplifies administration.

A thorough examination of the Role Hierarchy and Sharing Settings tells you about who can see which data and under what circumstances. Who’s at the top of the Role Hierarchy? Does the current structure make sense? Does it match your understanding of the organization’s structure?

When looking at Sharing Settings, which objects are Private? Do they have complex sharing rules? If so, is that working for the organization or are users manually sharing frequently?  Being intimately familiar with Sharing Settings will help you troubleshoot data visibility issues, which always seem to be urgent when you have a pressing deadline!


While it’s not necessary to keep your new found information on tree-based paper, it is a huge favor to everyone for you to document what you’ve found! Why should you do all that work?

  • You’re a more valuable employee/contractor/volunteer if you share information.
  • Your successor will be grateful!
  • You’ll be grateful in 90 days when you don’t remember what you’ve done
  • It’s just the right thing to do!

Ideally you’d put your findings in a wiki or some other easily editable, version controlled format so that you can keep it updated over time. And you will be updating it regularly? Right? 🙂

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