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Finding a First Safe Step in your Salesforce DevOps Transformation

Authored by Thom Behrens  |  DevOps Expert and Salesforce Programmer and Analyst at the Sierra Club

 

Do you suffer from DevOps FOMO? Many people do. Just as selective sharing of our “high points” online can lead others to feel inadequate or suffer from status anxiety, DevOps success stories at conferences and the continual introduction of new technologies may lead us feel like we’re behind the curve in how we handle feature development and manage Salesforce releases. When we see content about DevOps which we consider to be beyond our capability, our reaction tends to be “oh no, I need to be doing at least that much, if not more.” Instead, it’s important to reframe, and say “that’s probably the best they’ve got!” and remember the mantra:

 

“Everyone’s environment is crappy,

Everything sucks and nobody’s happy”

– Corey Quinn, DevOops 2017, Come Scale Away with Me: Solving for Problems You Don’t Have

 

Don’t despair at this sentiment; instead, celebrate! If nobody’s environment is perfect, then everyone is capable of being among the best of the best. 

On the surface, a DevOps transformation consists of a few large technological milestones, but when you look deeper, it’s surrounded by (and relies upon) many small steps. DevOps relies heavily on continuous improvement. In Mastering Salesforce DevOps, Andrew Davis emphasizes that “creating a culture of continuous experimentation and learning” is essential to  achieving DevOps success. Thus, the small iterative steps—rather than the process milestones—are what lead to true DevOps improvements.

And although the DevOps roadmap may be laid out, with high-level strategy and milestones made clear, the question still remains: what do the very first, small, safe steps in the direction of DevOps transformation look like to members of development teams?

Get Educated

If you feel frustrated with the software delivery performance of your organization but aren’t sure how to get started with DevOps, then reading prominent DevOps literature is a must. The most recent State of DevOps Report is an excellent place to start, as are the books published by the report’s authors, such as Accelerate, The DevOps Handbook, and Continuous Delivery.

Measure Current Performance

As you prepare to transform your software delivery process, it’s paramount that you understand and plan for what it is you want to transform. The State of DevOps Report lays out  four key metrics for benchmarking: lead time, deployment frequency, change fail rate, and time to restore. Before you start implementing change, knowing where you stand is an important first step. Copado offers a brief Salesforce DevOps Assessment tool to help you assess how you compare with other organizations.  Benchmarking current performance will make it easier to measure performance improvements and help identify short-, mid-, and long-term strategies for improving these metrics.

Share the Vision

Once you have an idea or vision, make sure to share it with your team. There’s no need to prepare a PowerPoint or draft a resource allocation proposal, but don’t keep it a secret that you believe your organization could benefit from iDevOps methodologies. It will help get your team excited and build support for future efforts. 

Beyond your teammates, talk with stakeholders who will benefit from improving  the delivery process. Business stakeholders often serve as key accomplices for building momentum within the broader business. They’ll also have insights into which pain points are strongest outside of your delivery apparatus, helping you identify quick wins.

Make it Real

Identify a process improvement you can implement quickly, and use it to build momentum. Start with something achievable that’ll get you team excited. Some possibilities include:

  • Set up a git repository and retrieve metadata on a weekly basis. This will quickly help you build insights into how (and how much) your org is changing over time. 
  • Move a commonly changed business requirement into a custom setting that lets you enable or disable a feature. This will help cut down on deployment time. 
  • Update a TestSetup method to cut down on testing time.

Quick changes like these will help give your team a small taste of how DevOps can improve their workflows, helping you build buy-in and increase future adoption.

Make it a Habit

It doesn’t take much to start building excitement, but it also doesn’t take much for other priorities to distract from your fledgling DevOps transformation. Block time each week to plan, assess progress, and find ways to build your Salesforce org’s resiliency, safety, and speed. Continue to share your thoughts and progress with your colleagues. If you do sprint retrospectives as a team, consider adding questions about continuous improvement to the agenda.

No matter where you are in your DevOps transformation journey, continuous improvement and adaptation are essential ingredients for the long term viability of any modern organization. Normalizing a culture of process improvement doesn’t happen overnight, but fighting “imposter syndrome” and remembering that even the most impressive organizations start with these same basic steps will help keep you motivated. Your improvement ideas are the seeds for great results down the road for yourself and your team. So take that first safe step today!

 

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About the Author

Thom Behrens

DevOps Expert and Salesforce Programmer and Analyst at Sierra Club

 

Thom Behrens is a DevOps Expert and Salesforce Programmer and Analyst at the Sierra Club. He started his DevOps journey with Appirio, helping non-profit organizations get maximum value out of the Salesforce platform.