Let’s Talk About Salesforce Technical Debt
Technical debt is a concept that describes the cost and complexity accumulated in the maintenance and improvement of software systems. It arises when developers look for a quick and easy solution or take shortcuts while building software, usually because of insufficient resources or time constraints.
Salesforce technical debt can appear in a variety of ways. For example, having numerous customizations, workflows, and integrations that make the system excessively complex and difficult to maintain. Components and processes may be disorganized or duplicated.
What Happens When Plans Meet Technical Debt: A Solution Architect’s Tale
To understand Salesforce technical dept in-depth, let’s consider the following scenario: Tom, a savvy Salesforce Solution Technical Architect who just started a new job. Tom was thrilled when he was offered the role of solution architect at a large financial organization that uses Salesforce as its primary customer relationship management (CRM) tool.
He had grand visions of optimizing the organization’s Salesforce instance, building out new functionality, and making the user experience more intuitive for everyone. Tom had extensive experience as a Salesforce consultant, and he was confident that he could leverage that experience to make a real difference in his new role.
On his first day at the new job, Tom hit the ground running. He met with the stakeholders, analyzed the current Salesforce configuration, and started working on a plan to optimize the system. However, as he delved deeper into the organization’s Salesforce org, he realized that things were more complicated than he initially thought.
The organization had been using Salesforce for over a decade, and over time, the Salesforce org had accumulated a significant amount of technical debt. With more than one Salesforce admin managing the org, the system had become overly complex and cumbersome, with numerous customizations, integrations, and workflows. The org’s architecture was disorganized, and the user experience was suboptimal. Tom realized that before he could implement any new solutions, he needed to tackle technical debt and simplify the system.
What does managing Technical Debt have to do with Salesforce?
Technical debt occurs when solutions are built to work one way, but business needs evolve over time. This can result in solutions that are added on with small tweaks, rather than being fully re-evaluated and redesigned to meet the new requirements. This can result in a patchwork of solutions that may not integrate well with each other.
One common example of technical debt is inactive automations including:
- Validation Rules
- Workflow Rules
- Apex Classes
These are often created to meet specific business requirements, but over time, the rules may no longer be necessary or relevant. Leaving these rules in the system can cause clutter and slow down performance, as the system continues to process them, even though they are no longer needed. Another example of technical debt is active users who have not logged in to Salesforce for a significant period of time. These users take up space and resources, which can negatively impact system performance.
Each of these examples will eventually lead to higher long-term costs for maintenance and updates, slow performance, cumbersome user experience and substandard quality.
Tackling Tech Debt in Salesforce Org – Quick Wins with Panaya ForeSight
By now, you probably realize that when technical debt is ignored, it can lead to serious problems down the line. Fortunately, you can take steps to remove technical debt from your Salesforce platform. When you start tackling technical debt, it is always recommended to start with some easy wins.
There are a few quick actions you can take to remove technical debt in Salesforce. For example, you can start decluttering your Salesforce instance by removing unused fields, page layouts, and customizations. You can also consolidate duplicate data and standardize their data entry processes to improve data quality. Additionally, organizations can prioritize critical workflows and integrations and simplify or streamline them where possible.
But first – When should you address technical debt?
There is no getting around technical debt, sooner or later you will have to pay the piper. It is therefore a good idea to figure out what you will address now and what can be postponed to a later date. But not all technical debt was created equally. Some are quick fixes and others take more effort.
To begin with, go after the quick wins. This means issues that can be corrected with a minimal amount of effort in a short amount of time. When you bundle these quick wins together, it is easy to check them off your list fairly quickly and with minimal cost.
When it comes to the tech remediation that takes longer to implement, it is all to easy to postpone. But this can leads to difficult consequences somewhere down the road. It is possible to run our of resources to address this tech debt and it will only become cumulatively more expensive. Consider, if you are building new enhancements on top of older workflow processes, it is simpler to break down the work into smaller pieces and handle the tech debt as you go.
It is important to think about the overall health of your org. And to this end, take into account these questions:
- Are you depending on features that are no longer supported or aren’t performing at peak levels?
- Are enhancements becoming too much of a drain on resources, impacting delivery?
- Are you unable to scale your operations?
So how can you reduce Salesforce technical debt?
The best way to start reducing technical debt is to perform an audit of the existing Salesforce implementation. This audit can identify areas where Salesforce technical debt exists and can help prioritize which areas to tackle first. This audit can include an analysis of the code base, customizations, and integrations. A thorough analysis can reveal areas where best practices were not followed, where there is poor code quality, and where redundant or unnecessary customizations exist.
This sounds like a huge project. Right? Well, using the right tools it doesn’t have to be! Luckily for you, Panaya ForeSight can help you easily identify and reduce technical debt in your Salesforce org.
How to manage technical debt in Salesforce orgs
The easiest and quickest way to start, is to look for Salesforce Custom Fields potentially serving as technical debt within your org. Panaya ForeSight has a special feature that helps you do that. With just one click, you can get your first win!
The platform will present a list of all the fields that has “Technical debt indicators”. For example: Fields with names that include the words ‘OLD’/‘TEMP’/’TMP’, Fields that are not used by key any component types, Fields with names that is very similar to others, and fields that were not modified in the last two years.
We can help you out here!
Obviously, that’s a good start for your org tech debt audit, but with Panaya ForeSight there are a few more easy wins for your org cleanup project. As previously mentioned, inactive components are among the primary causes of technical debt. This includes “no code” automations such as Flow, Workflow Rules and Process Builders, code-based processes like Apex Triggers, or any other inactive workflows such as multiple email templates, approval processes, and validation rules.
Panaya ForeSight enables you to map all these automations and components in your org and easily filter the list to show only the inactive components, allowing you to identify and delete them if necessary. And just like that, you have the second list for your cleanup project.
The next thing you can do with Panaya ForeSight is to find unused components, which are clearly good candidates to be removed in your journey to simplify and optimize your org. The platform enables you to easily find components and third-party packaged applications that are not impacting any other components in the org.
With ForeSight you can easily run an impact analysis and check if a component has any dependencies within your org. This means that before you delete a component, you can rest assured that you won’t break anything. Plus, with just one click, ForeSight will present you with a list of all the dependent components, so you can make informed decisions. So go ahead, start decluttering your Salesforce instance with confidence and reduce technical debt in your org!
To learn more about how you can use Panaya ForeSight for managing technical debt watch this video.
Back to our story…
Remember Tom, our solution architect? With the help of Panaya Foresight, Tom was able to get a clear understanding of the technical debt and its impact. He quickly got to work, prioritizing (according to time and cost) and addressing the most critical issues.
Tom worked tirelessly to simplify the org’s architecture, streamline workflows, and reduce customizations. As a result, he was able to significantly reduce the technical debt and simplify the system.
With the system optimized and the technical debt under control, Tom was able to focus on developing amazing processes for the business users. He built out new functionality that made the user experience more intuitive and streamlined. He implemented Salesforce best practices, which improved the system’s reliability and scalability. Tom became the go-to person for all Salesforce-related queries, and he was widely recognized as the person who had saved the day.
Frequently Asked Questions
Technical debt in SaaS refers to the accumulated cost resulting from shortcuts or suboptimal solutions during the development and maintenance of the software. This often leads to long-term challenges in scalability, maintainability, and performance.
While it is impossible to entirely avoid technical debt and the cost and time it takes up, you can minimize it through practices like writing clean code, regular testing, refactoring, and effective project management.
When technical debt is not repaid, it leads to a number of issues including:
· Reduced productivity
· Increased maintenance cost
· Lower software quality
· Difficulty in scaling
· Potential risks to the company’s reputation and long-term viability
It is firstly vital to note that the amount of acceptable tech debt varies depending on the specific needs of a project or organization. There are a few points to consider:
1. Project Stage
2. Type of Technical Debt
3. Impact on Quality and Maintenance
4. Risk Assessment
5. Long-Term Vision
6. Business Impact
Technical debt ratio (TDR) is a calculation of the cost or time to fix the codebase compared to how long it took to build. From a business perspective, the technical debt ratio is a statistic that engineers must be aware of for the sake of progress control. The ratio is an important tool – it allows you to illustrate for executives that paying back a specific technical debt has more value than letting it increase. It is difficult to assign a specific number as a “good” debt ratio, rather management should assign a number of developers to tasks that focus on reducing technical debt.