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Technical debt is wasting your time; here’s how to reclaim it

September 20, 2019

Don’t let technical debt foreclose on the future of your Salesforce org

“Technical debt can be compared to a financial loan," says Mike Fransblow, Solution Engineer at Traction on Demand. "If you don’t pay technical debt down, it can generate interest and prevent you from making changes within your business. Understanding how you might be accumulating technical debt over time provides perspective on how you might avoid it or remediate it.”

So, how do you know if you have it? Here are a few questions you can ask yourself:

  • Is it difficult or impossible to build on your current code base?
  • Are you still on Salesforce Classic?
  • Are you experiencing performance degradation or inconsistent service?
  • Do complex security requirements overwhelm your QA cycles?

Systems overloaded with complex custom code and bloatware are challenging to deal with because every change to your system requires maintenance tasks to avoid breaking functionality. Consequently, the longer you wait to deal with technical debt, the more time it drains from your team.

Fighting the clock

Concerns around technical debt tend to emphasize the long-term financial cost of maintaining it, but many of its most profound impacts relate to time. In a sense, this debt is borrowed and paid in units of time. When you implement a solution that doesn’t yet exist on native Salesforce, you’re jumping forward in time. Yet you often pay back this temporal leap through developer hours spent maintaining custom elements. Likewise, a rushed deployment can lead to data challenges, poor user adoption and other consequences that reclaim those hours you initially saved.

“Understanding how you might be accumulating technical debt over time provides perspective on how you might avoid it or remediate it.”

Imagine your complex processes and system architecture as china crammed onto the cluttered shelves of an antique shop. Your developers are standing in the narrow aisles, afraid to move. This sense of precarity shackles any future roadmap you might plan with Salesforce, freezing your org in time.

For a more concrete example, think of an enterprise organization looking to leverage the latest features of the Lightning Experience. Due to the size of their org, the prospect of migrating away from Salesforce Classic may feel intimidating.

Until you free your Salesforce instance of its technical debt, you’ll continue to pay heavier and heavier interest on borrowed time.

From technical debt to technical asset

Mike Fransblow, Solution Engineer, Traction on Demand

“We like to think about different stakeholders within an organization as occupying three distinct tiers,” says Mike. “These tiers are: the executive/portfolio tier, the middle/program governance tier and the execution tier. We’ve discovered from previous engagements with large organizations that lack of alignment on executive business strategies between the three tiers can result in the execution team working towards the wrong priorities, accumulating technical debt in the process.”

Restoring alignment between these three groups is a key part of transforming your Salesforce org from one that's debt-ridden to one that's optimized. Subsequently, you'll need to tackle any existing technical debt in your Salesforce org. Doing so will open up new possibilities for growth while driving productivity and efficiency. Optimization means saving time over the long term, not losing it.

At Traction on Demand, we have our own three-phased approach to org optimization. Broadly speaking, optimization begins with an assessment and planning phase, followed by execution. The approach ends with the prevention phase, which seeks to make all those gains in efficiency and scale permanent. Every successful optimization should result in a streamlined org, ready for whatever the future may hold.

No time to lose

Don’t let your technical debt restrain your ambitions. If you want to see what Salesforce can really do for your organization, sign-up for a free Org Optimization consultation session with a Traction on Demand expert.

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