Charlotte Christopherson · 12th June 2023
Creating the right culture for Salesforce DevOps success
More and more Salesforce teams are realizing the benefits of DevOps adoption. But whilst it’s easy to get caught up in the technical side of implementing DevOps, the human side of DevOps can’t be underestimated. It’s a common misconception that technology alone — whether that’s adopting a new platform or tool, or changing a process -– will magically result in a successful workflow. That’s just not the case.
Without cultural change, teams are much less likely to succeed in their implementation of DevOps for Salesforce. Cultural resistance to DevOps hinders progress, and is counterproductive to the collaborative approach which is so crucial to DevOps. In a recent survey, teams that rated their collaboration as ‘very poor’ also said that DevOps doesn’t align well with the wider company’s culture.
But what does a “DevOps culture” look like? We’ve identified three key characteristics, along with some tips as to how to leverage these to build your own strong DevOps culture.
The first is buy-in. All team members need to understand and appreciate the value of DevOps in order for an implementation to be successful.
People-related factors tend to be one of the biggest obstacles to DevOps initiatives meeting their expectations – not the technology itself. In the most recent State of Salesforce DevOps survey, a third of Salesforce professionals said they were suffering with limited buy-in, either from the team or from decision makers.
Achieving buy-in isn’t an overnight process, but there are a few steps you can take to get the support of stakeholders across the business. Keeping everyone informed is a key part of this — information is power, and no matter what their job role, nobody likes to feel like changes have been made without their knowledge. Wherever possible, share plans openly, along with the rationale for any changes in advance of them coming into place.
It’s also important to give team members a voice — it’s no good sharing information if they feel they can’t have an opinion. Encourage a culture of feedback, where individuals are able to share their experiences and thoughts. It doesn’t mean that all ideas need to be taken on board, but you should give fair consideration and show that you are listening.
Finally, use evidence to rationalize any changes. Use measures like DORA metrics to assess your organization’s performance before, during and after implementing changes, to show the improvements that are being made through your DevOps processes. Metrics can be a really powerful way to persuade anyone who is skeptical of change that it’s worth the time and investment. What’s more, if those metrics aren’t showing improvements, you’ll know that there’s something that needs to change in your process, so it’s a win-win situation.
Another important element of a DevOps culture is collaboration, where all teammates communicate clearly and share responsibility for the release process. Collaboration is at the absolute heart of DevOps, but in the State of Salesforce DevOps report, nearly a third of respondents said difficulties with collaboration have made Salesforce releases more difficult. Collaboration is crucial to so many elements of a successful DevOps process, but it can be easier said than done.
So how can you encourage this in your own organization? Firstly, make sure that the objectives you’re working towards are relevant to everyone in the team, and that there is alignment on what you’re trying to achieve. Whilst teams might have different focus areas, everyone should understand how their work is contributing to the wider organizational objectives.
Secondly, ensure visibility as far as possible by making information available to everyone that needs it. Ensure that roles and responsibilities are well-documented, and that everyone understands not only their own remit, but also how it impacts other areas of the business. Encourage your team to document their processes and any changes, so that other members of the team can easily see what has been done, and when. This is increasingly important in today’s hybrid working environment, with teams spanning a variety of working models and time zones. Avoid creating bottlenecks or single points of failure by sharing access and information as far as is reasonably possible across a team.
And finally, if something goes wrong with a release or a process, don’t try and attribute blame on a particular team or individual. Instead, encourage team members to work together to look for solutions to the issue, and use it as an opportunity to learn and develop rather than to divide.
The final important trait crucial to building a DevOps culture is continuous improvement. This is where the whole team is committed to continued learning, upskilling and embracing training in new DevOps skills, processes and tools to keep topping-up their own knowledge.
Team training and knowledge can make or break DevOps adoption and performance, and teams that don’t invest time in training find it difficult to overcome the obstacles to Salesforce DevOps adoption. Almost two thirds of Salesforce teams intend to meet the challenges of 2023 with training, and 43% say their businesses are prioritizing training this year. In turn, investing in training will help boost collaboration and support the cultural shift required for DevOps success.
So how can you encourage your team to embrace this attitude? Use both informal and formal metrics to review progress, whether that’s on an individual, team or process level. Encourage self-reflection and ask your team how you can support them or they can better support each other. Make sure to check in often to see whether they have all the tools and knowledge they need to do their job, and to play their part in the team. Regular check-ins help identify and address any issues early, before they detrimentally impact performance. In fact, it’s very similar to the “shift left” approach we recommend taking for testing in a DevOps workflow!
Secondly, try to remove the fear of failure. If your team is afraid to make mistakes, innovation is likely to be non-existent. We’re not encouraging an attitude of reckless risk-taking, but in a true DevOps process, each iteration should identify failures, fix them, and then keep going. Encourage team members to share and evaluate what has and hasn’t worked in a particular flow or process. Respond non-critically and in a constructive manner, and aim to focus on the steps that are being taken to keep those improvements moving forward, rather than the errors themselves.
And finally, ensure you are using the many resources available to you. DevOps is a team sport, so the whole team needs to speak the same language and understand how to follow the relevant processes. This can be accomplished largely through free training, community and peer support. Training and development doesn’t need to be another hard task to add to the list, but it does need support and commitment through every level of an organization.
Take your Salesforce team to the next level
If you’re interested in how to develop a high-performing Salesforce DevOps team, our free Salesforce DevOps Leadership Certificate will cover everything you need. DevOps Launchpad is packed with a wide range of courses and resources, so whether you’re new to the ecosystem or have years of Salesforce experience, we’re here to help you continue to learn, develop and succeed with Salesforce DevOps.
Interested in learning more about the State of Salesforce DevOps in 2023? Download the full report to dive into the finer details!