How Every Salesforce CoE Can Get More Business Value From Their Data

Odaseva

Jun 29, 2021

By Carl Brundage, CTA, Master Architect at Odaseva

A typical Salesforce CoE is responsible for a lot of critically important work. Common topics include governance, methodology, change control, metadata management, release management, DevOps, and more.

But for a majority of CoEs, one element is missing from the big picture—data.

My colleague Chris Fair and I presented a webinar all about the importance of data for CoEs and specific actions any CoE can take to achieve greater control over the data lifecycle. 

It’s a big subject (you can watch the webinar replay here), but I’d like to offer the following key takeaways.

Make data discussions part of every project

Typical CoE projects focus on the experience and functionality the team will provide to end users. We’ll talk about objects, user interfaces and even process flows. But we don’t often talk about data. 

Here are a few questions you can ask at the beginning of any project to ensure that you stay mindful and in control of your data:

  • Who will create data?
  • What is required and optional?
  • How can data be clean at entry?
  • Who owns/stewards the data?
  • What data is sensitive?
  • What is the data lifecycle?

Use the appropriate Salesforce platform capabilities to actively manage your data

Once you’ve gathered data, you can choose from a number of Salesforce platform features to build sound data management into the project you’re planning. Here is a quick list of just a few examples:

  • Use field settings to make important data practices required using restricted picklist 
  • Use validation rules to ensure critical data is clean at entry
  • Use duplicate rules to maintain a single source of truth
  • Use data classifications to declare critical data on a field-by-field basis, for example Personally Identifiable Information (PII), and differentiate data handling
  • Use encryption to protect sensitive data
  • Use data access controls to address field-level or object-level security

Standardize on a common backup and restore solution with consolidated analytics 

The biggest risk to your stored data is corruption by a person or system. Hacks and malicious attacks dominate the headlines, but most data losses result from simple errors made by people or systems. Every CoE should create the conditions for teams to respond quickly and effectively to a data loss at any time.

Once you have a standardized backup and restore solution in place, here are three key steps to make sure you’re ready for anything:

  • Monitor data protection across the company. You want to keep an eye on things like the progress of your backups, the rate of data change, and ideally, the overall health of your Salesforce org.
  • Provide a framework for business continuity planning with local customizations (especially if you’re in a decentralized CoE). Each team has different needs and challenges. You’ll want to make sure you have a clear organizational view on how prepared every team is to deal with an inevitable data loss. 
  • Provide tools and technologies for data loss testing and conduct tests on a regular basis. This is a critical aspect of backup and restore that often gets overlooked.

Securely use your data where it’s needed, when it’s needed

You store your data so you can use it. Different teams and systems need different levels of access to your data. To accommodate this, the CoE should create a range of options that give teams what they need, while ensuring confidential or sensitive data stays protected. Example categories range from Full Data Access, to more restrictive Hidden Sensitive or Hidden Personal, down to Representative Only. For example, a dev sandbox where a third party team is working should only contain representative data, ensuring that sensitive customer data can’t be exposed.

Here are some of my top considerations when it comes to making data easy for teams to access and manage on a daily basis:

  • Define a complete set of the access categories you need to run your business
  • Enable local teams to categorize data
  • Provide tools and technologies that enable delivery of the appropriate data based on category
  • Identify how data will be managed and moved between environments as part of release management

Make archiving part of every project initiation

How to archive data is another critical question the CoE should answer at the beginning of a project. You should understand what data needs to be archived, and why. For example, data on a long-term customer warranty is probably something you should archive but leave accessible in case a customer service rep needs it. Other data is less useful on a daily basis, but must be retained for legal reasons.

Here are some questions and activities I suggest when it comes to archiving data:

  • When collecting new data, when does it become obsolete?
  • Define the categories of archiving available to you, and understand the criteria for data to belong in each category
  • Provide common techniques and tools for archiving, with local customizations

Make destruction part of every project initiation

Once data is in Salesforce, someone will always want to keep it. But to maintain the overall health and performance of your Salesforce environment, you will need to delete data. That’s much easier to do if you have a conversation about deleting data at the beginning of a project, before anyone gets too attached.

Here are some topics to think about:

  • When collecting new data, when should it be destroyed?
  • Design a data retention policy, with local customization options for specifics 
  • Provide common tools to document and implement your retention policy, including proof of destruction
  • Provide common technology to delete data, including support for complex relationships and large data volumes

The one thing that separates good Salesforce CoEs from great ones

Everything I’ve written about in this post is really about one thing: delivering business value.  

Good data stewardship is not a checklist item. It’s not a one-time, set-it-and-forget-it thing. It’s an essential daily practice consisting of small actions that add up to tremendous business value. Because when you take great care of your customer data, everything else gets easier. It’s easier to sell. It’s easier to make customers happy. And it’s easier to harvest all the intelligence and wisdom your customer data has to offer.

And making clear, important contributions to the overall business is the hallmark of a top-performing CoE. So if you want to go from good to great, put data first. I promise you won’t regret it. 

Watch the replay of the “Salesforce Data Mastery Webinar: Data. Does Your Salesforce CoE Think About It?” webinar here.

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