SalesforceTechnical Debt

Technical debt in a legacy org

Does technical debt keep you up at night?

The bogey-man that is technical debt can sneak up on you when you are least expecting.  It adds complexity and delays releases, and is something you always have to remain vigilant of.  But you can master it, and minimise its impact…

What is ‘Technical Debt’?

Let’s just jump straight on in and define the topic of today.  I sourced this from Wikipedia:

Technical debt can be compared to monetary debt.  If technical debt is not repaid, it can accumulate ‘interest’, making it harder to implement changes later on. Unaddressed technical debt increases software entropy. Technical debt is not necessarily a bad thing, and sometimes (e.g., as a proof-of-concept) technical debt is required to move projects forward.

Based on that definition, can you start to think of parts in your Salesforce which may cause issues when you try to release a new feature? Technical debt and a legacy org can easily go hand in hand.   But it doesn’t have to.  It does rely on proper governance to minimise the challenges presented and stop them from becoming unwieldy.

A legacy org

As my first post alluded to, I am currently working with a legacy Salesforce org.

When I say legacy, I mean 10+ years on Salesforce!!  Now as you might imagine, this presents some unique challenges for the business especially as we try to drive growth across the business.

What are some of the challenges?  Things like the custom fiscal year feature were enabled, for no reason, within the org.  In turn this blocked us from upgrading from Customisable Forecasts to the newer Collaborative Forecast module…  (FYI this did change in the Spring ’16 release)

We also have countless workflows on certain objects.  These perform core functions for a number of our teams, but means it is a challenge to unpick these one by one.  Instead there was a plan B, by requesting Salesforce Support to increase our workflow limit.

Help is at hand

After doing a bit of searching I have just stumbled across this video. I strongly recommend watching this session, as it details how AON reduced technical debt within their Salesforce instance by setting up strong governance practices.  For me this is quite topical, and as a bonus it looks like it was from Dreamforce ’16, so quite a recent discussion!

Now these issues can pop up in any org, it isn’t a problem exclusively for legacy orgs.

The key really is to address the issues head on and address any deficit in your roadmap.  Then you need to ensure that there is governance in place to help maintain and prevent the org from returning to its former state.  And finally, this needs to be communicated, with all stakeholders onboard.

P.S. I will take this opportunity to apologise as well.  This theme of technical debt is one that I dwell a bit over the coming weeks 🙂  My next post will look at some of the tools I have used to define and quantify where the debt is in your org…

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Adam Gill

I have been working with the Salesforce platform for over seven years now. My background includes a variety of CRM projects and experiences (both greenfield and legacy), covering a variety of industries. I currently have 4x certified, though always looking to increase that count! :-)

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  • What no sControls? 🙂

    • Really good point! Thankfully we are in a position to ‘forget’ about s-controls, but this org had roughly 70-80 of them. We did aim to update them where applicable to Visualforce (or retire them completely).

      The s-controls we had previously, actually only supported Internet Explorer 8 & 9 🙁 So they really needed some work!

  • Heather

    Hi Adam – Glad you found my session useful! Happy to connect if you have any questions.

    • It was a very useful presentation, very relatable to the issues we have faced in our legacy org, but on a slightly different scale 🙂

  • Adam Gill

    Hi all, I have upgraded the comments section on the blog, but in migrating the comments across, everything migrated now has my pic next to it 🙂 Fear not, it is only on the migrated comments! Sorry for any confusion.