Track Your Development in Salesforce for Pain-Free Deployments

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As an #AwesomeAdmin, you are constantly making Salesforce better for your users.  You answer questions, resolve bugs, and improve systems and processes to keep your org the best that it can be. Hopefully, you also test all the changes you make in a Sandbox so you can be sure they work for your users before you deploy all that amazingness to Production. But raise your hand if you’ve ever felt like Hansel and Gretel down a long path of changes in a Sandbox, unsure of where you’ve been or what you need to add to your change set. Just me? Didn’t think so.

I’m here to tell you some good news that may look like bad news at first. You need to track every change you make in Salesforce. You read that right. Every. Single. Change.  Create a new field? Log a change! Update a Validation Rule? Log a change. If you so much as glance at a page layout, say it with me: Log a change! It may sound overwhelming, but trust me… Following this simple process for tracking your development in Salesforce will not only help you when moving your work to Production but also benefit you in so many other ways.  

Tracking your User’s requests in Salesforce is not a new idea. Many blogs will tell you that you should create a ticketing system for Salesforce enhancements, and use either cases or a custom object to hold those tickets. You can take it one step further by logging information about system changes. Or, you can follow this simple method of tracking right down to the Component level. Imagine this: Each piece of configuration in your org is represented in Salesforce by a record on a custom object called the Component. Each time you make a change to a Component, you log a change against it. The Component Change is a junction object with your user request. So, when you’re ready to deploy the user’s request to Production – or another Sandbox – you have a list of all the Components that you changed, all linked to your user request and wrapped up with a nice little bow or, in this case, a Salesforce report.

Now, you understand how you can track your development to make change sets a total breeze – but that’s not even the half of it! This level of tracking has so many more benefits. Let’s look at a few.

1. Full Documentation of Your Salesforce Org

Over time as you build your Component Library, you’ll have a full accounting of every Component of your Org. And, you’ll be able to see a full history of that Component including why it was originally created and any changes made since then, including the specific user request that drove each change. Think about the benefits this would have for a large team working together or getting new team members up to speed.

2. Peace of Mind That Your Development Is Trackable

When you track a change, you record what Sandbox the change was made in and whether that change has been deployed to Production. Then, you can easily pull a report of all changes sitting in a Sandbox to determine if you can refresh it.  Furthermore, by logging each change against a Component, you can see if there may be conflicting changes on a Component in two different environments.  

3. Showing Your Worth

With this method, you can pull a report of not only how many user requests you completed but also how many individual changes went into making those improvements. Business leaders often don’t realize the true work that goes into a simple (or complex!) Salesforce change, but with Component Changes logged against every request, you can show your value even more.

So, are you ready to take your development tracking to the next level? Log in to your Dev Org or Sandbox and install the Unmanaged Components and Component Changes Package, which will give you all the basic building blocks of this solution. If you’re not yet tracking user requests in Salesforce, check out the Build a Suggestions Box App Trailhead Project (note: The Unmanaged Packages uses Cases to track User Requests, whereas the Trailhead Project uses a custom object). Make sure to review my full Presentation from Dreamforce ‘19 here – including the slide deck with much more detail – and you’ll be on your way!

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