Considerations when Architecting a Solution

When architecting a solution one needs to be sensitive to develop something manageable and sustainable while leveraging the appropriate technology for the task.  Salesforce continues to push the envelope at a fast pace delivering platform enhancements to leverage for solutions.  Therein lies a challenge, how does one keep up with platform updates and how does one determine which technology is best to implement to solve the problem at hand?

With regards to keeping up with platform updates, make sure your team is tasked with keeping up to date on enhancements.  I stress the word ‘team’.  Always bring the team into this activity because a holistic viewpoint will be represented when discussing how Salesforce enhancements mesh with the organizations roadmap.  Some good resources to leverage in this activity are:

Idea Exchange:  If you are having issues / desire a certain platform enhancement this can be a good indicator as to if your need will be delivered as an enhancement to the platform.  Knowing this can provide guidance in how to proceed with a solution.

Release Notes:  Review these with the team – gather team inputs – ensure the team is on the same page as far as new functionality and how it maps to your Salesforce org

When it comes to determining the best technology to support a solution there are two thresholds that should weighed: Organization and Technical.

Organization Thresholds:  How is the organization positioned for the solution?  Factors to consider:

  • Team talent: Does the organization have the talent base to implement and support the solution? If not, should it?
  • Time to market: How long will it take to implement the solution? Will the timeline negatively impact the business?
  • Corporate policies: A few examples:  Are there corporate requirements surrounding security that could impact the solution?  Will there be issues if data in the Salesforce org ‘leaves’ the org for processing via an app?
  • Concept of future business needs: Understood, no one can tell the future.  That said, try to have a concept of what business needs / requests may be coming down the pipe.  Having this understanding can help you not box yourself into a corner architecturally.

Technical Thresholds:  What limits / challenges does the supporting technology bring to bear?  Some factors are:

  • Governor limits: Take into consideration if platform limits will hamper the solution.
  • Salesforce suggested direction with technology: The platform is always evolving. Be aware of how platform evolution impacts current and future design.
  • Is the technology ‘too new’: Are you aware of downstream side effects or GAPS in the technology as they apply to the process it supports?  Has the technology been proven elsewhere in a similar situation to yours?

When considering technical thresholds mapping out the plus / minus between design options can prove helpful.  For example, the following table depicts a comparison between deciding if Process Builder should take the place of a trigger / APEX class when updating related records:

Design Element Matrix

We are visual beings.  Seeing elements mapped out in this fashion can make decisions easier as well as provide documentation for the final solution.

Remember, moving forward thoughtfully can save you headaches down the road.

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Dreamforce ’14 Is Around the Corner

dreamforce_banner_1200x300Dreamforce ’14 is approaching fast.  It is amazing how this event has grown over the years. My first Dreamforce (2008) was contained in Moscone North and South.  Yes, that included all of the breakout sessions, the expo, keynotes, etc.  Now it seems that Dreamforce has taken over San Francisco.  Such growth of the event speaks to the breadth and depth of the continuous enhancement of the platform.

With the advent of Dreamforce the requisite questions are typically posed:

  • ‘Why should I attend Dreamforce?’
  • ‘Is there any advice that a Dreamforce attendee should consider?’

Good questions to be sure.  In an attempt to add a little perspective to these questions I have detailed a few thoughts below based on my own Dreamforce experiences:

First off, why attend:

  1. Keep ahead of the curve:  The platform is constantly being enhanced and expanded and to be honest it is sometimes difficult to keep up.  Dreamforce provides an opportunity to immerse yourself in all that is Salesforce from business application best practices to platform development.   Ensure you have a game plan when you are there (see tips below).  It is easy to get distracted with all of the content that is Dreamforce.  Stay focused and remember, you get out of the event what you put into it.
  2. Corporate collaboration:  Bring a team to Dreamforce spanning corporate functions.  Why?  First off, you can cover more ground that way.  Dreamforce is a HUGE event with tons of content.  Have your team divide and conquer Dreamforce according to their areas of expertise and interests.  Secondly, assigning each team member a track to follow (sales/service/development/…) affords the opportunity to soak in the latest and greatest and how it can be relevant to them.  Once back in the office have your team get together so that the knowledge gained is shared with the group. This ‘cross functional’ sharing can help drive a holistic understanding of how can be leveraged effectively throughout the organization.
  3. Networking:  Make new connections and friends.  The opportunity to share knowledge, experiences and best practices is there – take advantage of it.

As far as words of advice, consider the following tips:

  1. Register for your sessions as soon as they come online.
  2. Go with a plan.  For example, think in terms of: what operational/sales/service/… pain points do I have or strategically where do I want to be 1, 2, 3 + years down the road.  With that in mind:
    1. Register for sessions that could help enlighten your perspective
    2. Walk the expo floor and chat up those who may have a solution to help bridge your gaps
    3. If you have a consulting partner see if they are going and make time to hook up with them to walk the expo floor and chat about your discoveries
  3. If you are attending a hands on session make sure you get there early as spaces fill up quickly.
  4. Bring a juice pack to ensure you are not caught short on power.  The DevZone in Moscone West (at least last year) had a large bullpen where one could sit down and plug in (awesome).  I am assuming that is the case this year, but, in case you can’t get there or the space is taken it is good to have a backup.
  5. Make time to network.  Walk the expo floor or chat with the staff at the ‘Ask the expert’ booth or stick around after a session to see if you can get some one on one time with the presenter(s).

One last comment….have fun!  Yes, your priority is to expand your Salesforce skills and knowledge.  That said, its San Francisco…experience a bit of what the city and region have to offer.

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