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Living technical debt free with Salesforce Revenue Cloud

March 03, 2022By
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Addressing technical debt today will enable you to grow and innovate with Salesforce Revenue Cloud tomorrow.

When you’re responsible for managing a complex Salesforce instance, new requests and requirements come frequently from all corners of the business. Over time, these ad hoc changes can accumulate as technical debt. You may be forced to divide your attention between putting out today’s fires and strategically planning for tomorrow’s goals.

When you’re implementing a configure, price, quote product like Salesforce CPQ, technical debt can present serious challenges.

What does technical debt in Revenue Cloud look like?

So, what is ​​technical debt? The term refers to technical obstacles that prevent organizations from achieving business goals. They’re the result of past technology decisions, such as the decision to build functionality through hard code rather than declarative development.

Technical debt in Revenue Cloud can take on a variety of forms, depending on when your initial implementation took place. Legacy Steelbrick pricing waterfall processes were once extended using platform automation such as Workflow Rules or APEX classes. Whereas today’s best practice leverages built-in advanced calculator service functions such as Price Rules and Summary Variables.

Technical debt can also portray itself as poorly implemented price and product rules that severely impact the performance of the tool, which runs in each phase of the calculator waterfall instead of running only in the required phase. This quickly ramps from a few efficient queries to dozens or hundreds of looping queries, creating a long calculation time and ultimately resulting in a poor user experience.

CPQ implementations can be vast and highly complex. Knowing where you fall on the spectrum of implementations is key to understanding where technical debt could be lurking and exactly what to do to minimize or remove its effects from your day-to-day operations.

Proactively detect and address Salesforce Revenue Cloud technical debt

We’ve outlined some strategies that will enable you to remediate existing technical debt within your Revenue Cloud instance while leveraging new functionality:

Your core business processes constitute all the steps needed to achieve a particular goal. Your business process is the foundation for any system, but especially in Revenue Cloud. It’s imperative to evaluate today’s processes while accounting for the goals of tomorrow, to ensure Salesforce Revenue Cloud can grow alongside your business. Here are a few key considerations to detect and manage tech debt in your business process:

  • Ensure processes are well-defined and fully documented.
  • If your processes have grown or changed over time, ensure they still align with your business needs.
  • It should be possible (and easy) to track life-cycle stages and interactions with your customers.

For most industries, product rationalization will yield positive benefits, and should be a core pillar of your Revenue Cloud implementation. Evaluating all supported SKUs in order to determine whether to support or discontinue products will ensure your system is free of redundancies. Here are a few key questions to consider:

  • How many SKUs do you currently support?
  • How do you capture the information needed to select, configure, price, discount, approve and output for every new product?
  • Do you have duplicates? How did they get there?
  • What (if any) is the hierarchy of your product structure?

Similar to product rationalization, it’s important to evaluate all supported pricing models and pricing variations by SKU, then decide whether to discontinue or continue supporting each model or variation. Pricing rationalization can uncover redundancies and save hours of time. Get started with the following questions:

  • Are your pricing models documented? Are they up to date?
  • Are pricing models being created out of convenience or careful planning?
  • Are the right people in charge of adjusting or changing pricing?
  • How many pricing models do you support?
  • Do you have new or future models to incorporate?
  • Have you acquired any companies?

Your Salesforce users are your eyes on the ground. Their experience with the tool can be an early warning sign that technical debt is accumulating within your org. Regularly surveying your user base for ongoing satisfaction is the easiest way to gather this data. Make sure you ask simple questions that require yes or no answers or can be handled with one-line responses. The following are examples of questions you could include in a survey:

  • System performance
    • Are you satisfied with how long it takes to add products to a quote?
  • Calculation accuracy
    • Are there products priced incorrectly in the system?
  • Product catalog accuracy
    • Are there products or options in the product picker that are invalid?
  • Quote document rendering
    • Are you satisfied with the length of time required to generate a document?
    • Are the content blocks in the document accurate?

Traction X-Ray is a high-level Salesforce diagnostics tool that accelerates the technical understanding of how a Salesforce org has been implemented. It’s an effective solution for assessing orgs in Salesforce Revenue Cloud or any other of the Salesforce products. Traction X-Ray can help you solve a variety of technical debt challenges including:

  • Reducing your many auditing methods to a single, robust tool
  • Comparing org health from previous months or years to current to ensure technical debt is decreasing
  • Comparing health differences between various orgs, including ones you may have recently acquired
  • Know how your org health compares to other similar organizations using the same products as your own.

Sustaining your Salesforce Revenue Cloud investment

Preventing the accumulation of tech debt will protect your investment in Revenue Cloud over the long term, enabling you to scale the product alongside your business. Salesforce recommends building a strategy for both technical configuration and the processes affected by the configurations.

We see both sides of this coin every day in the ecosystem and have seen a lot of effective strategies over the years. The two components we see as critical success factors are:

1) Governance model

2) Center of Excellence (COE)

A governance model is a framework that regulates how your Salesforce instance will be configured and how changes to the configuration will be managed. Governance helps prevent tech debt and redundancies by enforcing best practices, leading to better long-term decisions and system viability.

Your COE includes stakeholders representing relevant business units, and this group of people is tasked with understanding and supporting the needs of end-users. Ultimately, they are responsible for delivering complex initiatives and managing your governance model.

With both a defined governance model and an appointed representative business group for your center of excellence, you’ll have the blueprint needed to scale with Revenue Cloud and Salesforce in general. This one-two punch is vital to maintaining a healthy org that is free of costly tech debt.

Find balance with the tick-tock model

Managing technical debt comes down to a balancing act between seeking efficiency and innovation through system changes and optimizing existing processes through governance. Intel had a similar way of thinking when they developed their Tick-Tock model for chip design.

The ‘Tick’ described their efforts to reduce the size of the chip and increase efficiency. This was always followed by a ‘Tock,’ where Intel would refresh and optimize the new design. Cycling through ‘Ticks’ and ‘Tocks’ like the pendulum of a clock enabled Intel to maintain the long-term integrity of their product without stifling innovation.

Working with Revenue Cloud isn’t quite the same as designing computer chips, but the principle of balance still applies. Salesforce Revenue Cloud is a powerful product that will grow and innovate alongside your business, but that only comes when you’re able to maintain the health of your systems. It’s important to think about the requirements of every change, who it’s intended to help, how it may affect others, and what impact it may have on existing processes and parallel projects.

Ready to live tech debt free with Revenue Cloud?

With laser focus, Traction X-Ray scans your Salesforce instance to pinpoint hidden technical debt you’ve accrued, and fix it—fast.

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