I opened up a Salesforce Instance for a client company doing $300MM in Revenue to see 100+ Process Builders, 3 Flows, 50+ Validation Rules on objects, and an inconsistent internal development naming process. The system was slow and there are connections throughout that don't have documentation and are hard to find. It's super common as many of the those put in charge of it have only seen several Salesforce Instances (at best).
"Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better." ~Maya Angelou
For many, managing Salesforce can remind us of Sagrada Familia in so many ways - a towering masterpiece that requires intricate planning and attention to detail. Profoundly beautiful when it works. A crumpled mess of never ending yarn when it doesn't.
Just like Antoni Gaudi's iconic cathedral, Salesforce can become an intricate masterpiece when overbuilt which means fixing a shingle will require harrowing journey to the roof. Everyone wants to add customizations to make up for inefficient processes and it's universally unfair (throwing hands up in air) that resolving one solution only seems to make the others just a hair more complicated for your future-self.
And what is the impact of that complication? It's mostly represented in 3 ways:
Slow system speed.
Slow system maintenance.
Frustrating experiences by end users.
A sales manager approached the Revenue Operations team, frustrated that reps weren't consistently capturing important qualitative field he used to manage his forecasts. Instead of addressing the root cause of the issue, namely that the sales manager couldn't effectively convince his team to enter valuable content, he asked us to come up with a solution. The result? A validation rule on the opportunity text field not only requiring that it had a value over 20 characters, but that it didn't contain "asdf" or "test..."
Here is another. An admin is incredibly under water with requests, and is resolving not only the record level errors popping up from historical Validation Rules but running new development at the same time. Requests keep coming in building on the pressure she feels to change, but with every addition the task grows larger. Suddenly, a system that was new and shiny now has been customized to such a degree that the system drags and isn't tolerant to large changes in business requirements. Her rudder is frozen and she is drifting down the river.
Isn't that the point of Salesforce?
Yes... the point of Salesforce is to customize your instance to meet the needs of your business. The problem with overbuilding in Salesforce is that it can lead to complexity that hinders productivity. Adding too many customizations and automation can create a web of workflows and processes that are difficult to manage and maintain. The solution? A strategic approach and... wait for it... building with the end in mind.
Sagrada familia wasn't just constructed and planned from project to project. It took Gaudi his lifetime and he always realized when he started that he wouldn't live to see it finished. He drew out his plans painstakingly, knowing where each block would land so that it could support the one atop it. His plans were so detailed that to this day they continue to build after beginning the project 150 years ago.
In that same vein, think of how you will build on top of what you are building now. Can you fit future automations into this one? Does it make common sense where it is, so that someone can find it in the future? Is it build efficiently so as not to cause system errors?
I think my Salesforce looks like Sagrada Familia...
You're not alone. The first sfdc instance I built out they gave me free rain as their Sales Manager (with no experience). Projects came from different directions and I tried creatively complex solutions to complex problems (mostly to learn), which made Salesforce into a nightmare to manage. Resolving the technical debt in your Salesforce Instance isn't a high priority and always gets brushed aside to a future date. You'll often hear, "We're building the plane while flying it..." as an excuse for poor system managers.
If you are going to take on the project, probably want to focus on these oversimplified items.
Establish buy-in from your stakeholders and decide on the time investment and definition of success.
Audit all core objects and fields. If a field isn't useful, remove it from the page layout (if it doesn't have data then delete it).
Audit all Automations such as Validation Rules, Workflows, Flows, Process Builders, and APEX.
Remove Workflows and Process Builders and recreate them in a network of Flows.
Build an ongoing process where you will update your new format for Flows and Validation Rules (mostly). This should include a disable automation feature as well.
Salesforce is a powerful tool that can transform the way we manage customer relationships, but it must be approached strategically. Like the Sagrada Familia, Salesforce requires careful planning and attention to detail to achieve its full potential. At The Sales Nerd I help companies rearchitect and build their dream Salesforce+ ecosystem. If you have a complex Salesforce instance that is too slow, overly complicated, or requires too much time from your team, please reach out and I'd be happy to help.