Picture this: You recently completed a successful Salesforce implementation and the benefits you planned for are coming to fruition. Now, your users are well-versed in the platform, using it daily and even submitting requests for how to make it better. It’s exactly the outcome you wanted. But even this dream scenario comes with some challenges. Specifically, how do you prioritize user requests and deliver new releases in an organized way? The answer lies in a release management strategy.
Why Do You Need a Salesforce Release Management Strategy?
One of the biggest things that can derail a successful Salesforce program is the lack of a release management strategy that governs how and when updates to the system get delivered. That’s because without a release management strategy, what started out as an organized program with stakeholder buy-in and end user awareness can quickly become chaotic.
If your organization lacks a release management strategy, you’ll likely face several challenges at some point. Those challenges typically include:
- End user confusion: When configuration updates get released inconsistently and users receive little-to-no notice and/or do not have proper documentation for training, they are likely to get confused. When this happens, adoption can go down.
- Stakeholder conflicts: If various stakeholders have submitted requests for updates, some requests will have to get filled before others. If there is no clear system for how these requests get prioritized, conflicts can ensue.
- Technical disorganization: Releasing configuration updates as soon as they’re ready can become quite disorganized for your technical team. This ad hoc approach not only contributes to end user confusion, but it also makes planning more difficult for the team building, testing and deploying those updates.
Introducing a Salesforce release management strategy can resolve these challenges and deliver additional benefits by creating a formal, organized approach for prioritizing and delivering updates to the platform.
What Does a Salesforce Release Management Strategy Make Possible?
A Salesforce release management strategy can keep a successful Salesforce program on the right track and deliver continued benefits to double down on the returns you’re already seeing. It does so by creating a clear process for receiving, reviewing and prioritizing requests for updates and then delivering those updates in an organized way.
AllCloud has worked with organizations across industries that have found significant value in introducing a Salesforce release management strategy. Challenges organizations may face are end user confusion, stakeholder conflict and technical disorganization, to name a few. In these situations, the AllCloud Managed Services team can help implement a formal Salesforce release management strategy with clear definitions and a schedule that governs how improvement requests and new release launches are reviewed, for example.
Implementing a Salesforce release management strategy can lead to five key outcomes:
- Making it easier for your Salesforce admin team to manage future enhancements and urgent bug fixes
- Allowing your Salesforce admin team to respond to changing demands within the organization faster
- Improving communication about Salesforce changes to your organization, especially end users and stakeholders
- Keeping your organization’s Salesforce investment free of conflicts by helping prioritize the right changes that will drive the most value
- Setting the right expectations with stakeholders at all times
Four Best Practices for Getting Started with Salesforce Release Management
Recognizing the value of a Salesforce release management strategy is one thing; actually implementing this type of strategy is quite another. While introducing a formal release management strategy in your organization does require effort, the benefits are well worth it. With that in mind, here are four best practices to help you get started:
- Introduce a Center of Excellence for governance: To start, you need a governing body for your Salesforce program in the form of a Center of Excellence (COE). This should be a group of internal leaders and subject matter experts who focus on pushing beyond the status quo and delivering incremental value to the business. They should meet regularly to gather feedback from end users, prioritize requests and establish a plan for updates. And as Salesforce notes, the success of this group “depends on its ability to clearly define its role in the organization and the value it provides to [the business].”
- Set a consistent release schedule: Develop a consistent schedule for releases to help keep your technical team organized and ensure your end users are never taken by surprise. For example, you might deploy “patches” on the first Friday of every month, “minor” releases every six weeks and “major” releases over the first weekend of each quarter. There’s no right or wrong schedule as long as you have a clear calendar of which everyone is aware.
- Always conduct change management: Change management for your Salesforce program doesn’t end after your initial implementation. You need ongoing change management to keep users aware of new updates. As part of this effort, you need to clearly define the scope, impact and schedule of any upcoming changes and provide thorough training for any new or updated functionality. Additionally, you should always keep the lines of communication between your end users and your COE open so that users feel comfortable asking questions.
- Don’t go at it alone: Finally, don’t feel like you have to do it all yourself. Leading a best practice Salesforce program complete with a governance strategy can be a lot to take on, and you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help. There’s enormous benefits that come from working with an experienced partner who has already walked the road down which you’re going. This kind of relationship makes it possible to realize the benefits of a release management strategy faster by helping you avoid common challenges and institute best practices from the very start.
How Will a Release Management Strategy Benefit Your Salesforce Program?
A successful implementation is an important first step for your journey with Salesforce, but it’s only a first step. To continue to realize the benefits of Salesforce long term, you need formal governance that includes a release management strategy. This type of strategy will unlock even greater returns on your investment and help keep both end users and stakeholders engaged in the program.
Looking to learn more about implementing a Salesforce release management strategy? Contact our experts today.