Best Practices for Salesforce.com Administrators
- 18 September, 2014 23:23
The lists below summarize which tasks need to be done at standard intervals, including a pro-forma time budget. While the terminology and specifics focus on Salesforce.com specifically, the general administrative principles apply to any modern CRM system.
Administrators will occasionally need to resolve user problems in real time. Expect to devote two hours per week to these activities for every 100 users you have.
Unlock user accounts or resetting passwords due to user forgetfulness.
Add new whitelisted IP addresses.
Troubleshoot email campaigns or auto-responders that generate excessive bounced mails.
Expand or refine sharing rules so records can be properly viewed and manipulated.
Fix data records that have somehow been set with record types or ownerships that make them inaccessible to users.
Weekly Salesforce.com Administration Activities
Many duties seem to follow a weekly cycle. A lot of things will go wrong Monday morning don't ask me why and a couple of tasks need to be done once a week on the day of your choice. Overall, these tasks require two to six hours per week. Keep in mind, though, that's just an estimate, as the time devoted to individual activities will vary.
Run and store the weekly snapshot (data export) of the system data and attachments.
Run data deduplication tools such as RingLead or DemandTools. (These are dangerous if not used correctly, though, and their UIs are clunky at best. Read the user guide as well as a how-to guide on data deduping tools to improve your odds.)
Run adoption dashboards.
Deactivate users either due to departure from the company or transfer to a new job that does not require Salesforce.com access or reassign their roles and profiles to reflect their new duties.
Transfer record ownership due to changes in job responsibility or territory coverage.
Modify roles or record-sharing rules.
Import leads and contacts.
Modify price lists, particularly if your company does a lot of promotions and limited-time offers.
Change delegation and escalation paths to account for absences or extended travel.
Monthly Salesforce.com Administration Activities
A few activities can only be done once a month but nonetheless need to be done more often than once a quarter. In all, this will take one or two days per month.
Make additions and changes to picklist values and other fields. It's important that these kinds of metadata changes not be made on the fly, as innocent changes can cause surprising changes in system behavior.
Run data quality reports to identify any new sources of data pollution. If fields are consistently blank more than 30 percent of the time, consider removing them from page views. If you find a set of bad data records, don't delete it; instead, quarantine it until you're able to troubleshoot the problem and fix its root causes (both technical and user/process issues).
Before refreshing the sandbox(es), use Eclipse to make a complete metadata backup of the sandbox images and your main system image. You'll thank me when somebody asks for a report deleted two months ago.
Refresh the sandbox(es). Coordinate the timing of these updates with the work of any developers who are using the sandbox, lest you blow away some of their work.
Navigate toSetup>App Setup>Develop>Apex Classes and push theRun All Tests button. It may take an hour or more for this to complete, but if you find any new test failures, log them in the system wiki/Google Drive area and troubleshoot. Some failures may go away if you push theOptions button and click theDisable Parallel Apex Testing box. You may have to file a case with third-party vendors (checkSetup>App Setup>Installed Packages), but that usually starts a finger-pointing exercise, so make sure you have your act together first. Causes of new test errors include the following:
New validation rules that fire.
Changes to workflow rules, particularly when they change field values or generate outbound messages.
Modified pick-list values or record types.
Changes to the security model that make some things inaccessible to code.
Changes to the software modules that blew up.
Read about high-priority fixes from Salesforce.com. These fixes will be installed by default within a few weeks, but it's better if you do the patch installs at a time of your choosing, when you have time to react to and fix any problems you discover).
Install the high-priority updates that may have been pushed into your Salesforce.com instance. It's best to rerun the "run all tests" exercise after enabling the updates. If something goes wrong, disable that update and notify the relevant vendor(s) of the issues.
Create an archive copy of any error logs kept in your integration server and any connected applications.
Run a full system backup (data, metadata and error logs, if possible) on any system or application that is integrated with Salesforce.com.
Quarterly Salesforce.com Administration Activities
There are a lot of items in the following list, which will occupy you for one to three days per quarter. However, the first two are mission critical, and the resulting files should be kept forever. You thank me when a pesky plaintiff attorney goes into a discovery process on Salesforce.com data.
Download the CSV from the user login history.
Download the CSV from the system administrator setup audit log.
Read the release notes for any third party application or plug-in connected to Salesforce.com. Typically, changes and upgrade cycles will be harmless but, occasionally, several configuration and operational changes will be required as a consequence of external changes.
Run the Force.com IDE to get a copy of Salesforce.com's full system metadata. Create a new "project" every time and archive them for at least a year. You'll thank me later.
Run the Reports Report to identify reports that haven't been run in 6 months. Hide them from users, but don't delete them.
Run the Roles by Profile Report to identify which roles or profiles have no active users in them. This identifies candidates for consolidation.
Examine any new validation rules and workflows that have been added to the system to make sure that Boolean conditions have been set correctly. Fix them so they don't cause new APEX errors to be thrown.
Run Field Trip and EasyDescribe, two free tools that give you an overview of the health of your system's object model.
Read the release notes for the upcoming version of Salesforce.com to see if any of your existing features or APIs you depend on are being changed significantly. If so, you need to test the pre-release features in your sandbox and do the "run all tests" exercise there. It's getting increasingly common that code, formulas and buttons need to be reworked to accommodate version changes.
If you're a certified SFDC administrator, study (hours) and take (minutes) the admin recertification test. This is typically a 15-question, multiple-guess online test.
Archive (or maybe delete) weekly data snapshots that are more than 90 days old.
Annual Salesforce.com Administration Activities
The main responsibility here is to capture data that will fall "over the horizon" or need to be archived for compliance reasons. These tasks will take three to six days per year.
Create an archive of all the system's field history tables (typically spanning no more than 18 months) to ensure that you have an audit trail that goes beyond a year.
Archive or purge documents (all four forms), emails and tasks to reduce the storage charges in your system or to adhere with your document/email retention standards.
Archive Chatter histories for audit, compliance or regulatory reasons.
Update system roadmaps that summarize upgrades and new feature additions that are needed to achieve business goals.
Remember, the time you have to spend on these activities will vary. Unfortunately, there's no easy way to estimate how long each individual one will take. If all goes well, everything outlined here will occupy no more than 19 work weeks, leaving you plenty of vacation time. That, of course, is if all goes well.
David Taber is the author of the Prentice Hall book, "Salesforce.com Secrets of Success," now in its second edition, and is the CEO of SalesLogistix, a certified Salesforce.com consultancy focused on business process improvement through use of CRM systems.