salesforce tech debt

What is Salesforce Tech Debt? And How Can You Reduce it?

Salesforce tech debt can lead to revenue leakage. Find out what it means and how you can can reduce it with clean data.

In a recent statement, Salesforce disclosed its intention to raise list prices across several product offerings, including Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud, Industries, and Tableau, with an average increase of 9%.

Starting in August 2023, the revised list prices for certain Salesforce products will be implemented, targeting new customers and existing customers acquiring additional cloud services. Salesforce has outlined the following adjustments in pricing for their fundamental Sales and Service Cloud offerings:

  • Professional Edition will increase from $75 to $80
  • Enterprise Edition will increase from $150 to $165
  • Unlimited Edition will increase from $300 to $330 

These changes are going to affect a lot of organizations. Over 150,000 companies across industries use Salesforce. With specialized solutions for operations across sales, service, marketing, and commerce, it is no wonder that the hike in price would affect almost every industry.

For companies using Salesforce, the major concern is: Salesforce Tech Debt. 

Salesforce Tech Debt

What is Salesforce Technical Debt?

Technical debt refers to the expense of having to do extra work later on due to opting for a quick solution in the present rather than investing the time in a more optimal approach. This concept is also commonly referred to as “Shift Left,” which emphasizes the idea that the sooner you identify and address issues, the more cost-effective it is to resolve them.

Technical debt represents the additional effort required to rectify a hasty, less-informed solution chosen in the present (constructed quickly without a deep understanding of business requirements), as opposed to adopting a more time-consuming but superior approach.

In a broader sense, technical debt encompasses any customizations, whether through code or declarative means, that were implemented when standard functionality wasn’t suitable or accessible. Technical debt can also contain situations where solutions were initially designed for a specific purpose, but as business needs evolved over time, small adjustments were tacked on.

A more constructive perspective on technical debt is to recognize that virtually everything can be considered a form of technical debt, but it’s termed “debt” because it necessitates future efforts to address and resolve.

In the past, technical debt was primarily associated with developers taking shortcuts in their code. However, in the era of low-code platforms such as Salesforce, technical debt can arise not only from coding decisions but also from the configuration choices made through user-friendly “clicks” within the platform.

What Causes Tech Debt?

Salesforce technical debt arises from rushed or suboptimal development practices, including quick fixes, inadequate adherence to best practices, complex customizations without proper planning, and neglect to update and adapt solutions over time. This debt accumulates when shortcuts are taken, making future maintenance and scalability more challenging and costly.

Here are a few factors that can cause technical debt:

1. Modified or outdated design

This occurs when the business requirements change, rendering certain functionalities unnecessary. However, it’s often deemed safer to retain these functionalities.

2. New releases

This arises when the introduction of new platform features surpasses the capabilities of previous releases or custom development efforts. For instance, Salesforce Flows are taking precedence over process builders and workflow rules.

3. Intentional technical debt

When a deliberate decision is made to expedite development, fully aware that it will entail higher long-term costs, but it’s considered the appropriate course of action.

4. Unintentional technical debt

Accumulates when shortcuts are taken for various reasons, typically due to time constraints or concurrent workstreams.

5. Tacked-on technical debt

Occurs when a particular functionality is continually extended incrementally and “bolted on” to maintain its functionality rather than undergoing a proper reconstruction.

Up to this point, we’ve delved into the theoretical aspects of technical debt, discussing its causes and mechanisms. However, what does it actually manifest as in real-world scenarios? Let’s have a look:

Common Forms of Salesforce Tech Debt

Common forms of Salesforce technical debt include the accumulation of unused customizations, outdated roles and permission sets, complex and undocumented workflows, inadequate data modeling, and the absence of thorough testing.

This technical debt arises when shortcuts are taken or best practices are overlooked during Salesforce development, making the system harder to maintain and optimize over time. Several prevalent forms of technical debt can be identified In Salesforce, including:

1. Visualforce component vs sales path

Before the introduction of Sales Path, organizations required a visual means to depict the progress of an opportunity stage or process. To achieve this, they had to customize a Visualforce component. However, with the release of Sales Path by Salesforce, these visualizations became standardized, which subsequently led to an increase in the technical debt interest rate.

2. Adapting process automation

The creators of 10K recognized the necessity of automating their invoice generation process. They initially developed an hourly function to create invoices, incorporating some basic rules. However, as their contract structures evolved, they found themselves adding more functions to their initially straightforward task. Managing these changes became increasingly challenging, prompting them to allocate time to rewrite the process based on the current state of their business operations.

3. Excessive customization

As previously mentioned, Salesforce provides a user-friendly environment for creating custom Objects and code, even when a simpler declarative solution would suffice. For instance, opting for a workflow instead of resorting to triggers for scripting tasks. This form of technical debt often arises from an overly responsive approach, where every requested change is implemented without exploring alternative options within standard configurations.

4. Unused customizations

Despite being promoted as a ‘no-code’ platform, Salesforce cannot handle every task declaratively. Changes in business requirements may render customizations that were once essential unnecessary. Unless these customizations are retired, they can introduce inherent complexity to every new change and potentially hinder end user adoption by making your Org more challenging to navigate.

5. Access controls

You’ve likely encountered the concept of “the principle of least privilege.” On the flip side, we have the “principle of most privilege,” where users end up with excessive access as their roles within the organization evolve. While other forms of technical debt can impede progress, retaining unused profiles and permission sets poses a significant fraud risk and can affect regulatory compliance, particularly for publicly traded companies.

Technical debt within Salesforce is an inherent part of the development process that cannot be entirely avoided, especially as your business grows and changes. The longer you’ve been utilizing Salesforce, the greater the likelihood that you’ve amassed technical debt, which can include things like unused customizations, outdated roles and permission sets, and other similar issues.

However, when technical debt is unavoidable, companies need to focus on reducing its impact.  

Four Ways to Reduce Tech Debt

Here are a few ways companies can minimize their tech debt

1. Planning for tech debt 

The most crucial step in preventing technical debt in your Salesforce Org is to acknowledge its inevitability and proactively plan for it. As mentioned earlier, technical debt doesn’t have to be a negative factor as long as it’s well-managed.

By recognizing that you will accumulate technical debt with each release, you can efficiently prepare for a more structured change review or backlog management process, which will help mitigate its adverse effects.

2. Change reviews and establishing a center of excellence

While setting up a Center of Excellence (COE) might seem daunting, but it really doesn’t have to be. A Center of Excellence is essentially about having a formal strategy for managing change; it’s a fundamental governance practice that can be implemented regardless of your business’s size.

If your organization struggles with establishing a formal change structure, consider identifying a core question that every change can be linked back to. For example, “Our objective is to support the business through A and B” or “Our team’s mission is to accomplish Y.” Whenever a change is requested, refer to this statement and ensure alignment—if it doesn’t align, reconsider the change.

3. Challenging requirement requests

It’s not uncommon for end users or management to propose changes that seem promising on paper but may not make sense from a development perspective.

As a Salesforce Admin, you have the opportunity to initiate discussions before implementing changes that you suspect could introduce unnecessary complexity or have negative downstream effects. Remember, you are the system expert, and your insights are valuable to the business!

4. Documentation

You can’t effectively manage technical debt if you can’t locate it. System documentation serves as a centralized source of information that everyone can quickly reference and easily comprehend. It acts as a natural safeguard against a single individual or group holding too much institutional knowledge. Additionally, it becomes invaluable during audits as it demonstrates your understanding of the impact of changes or deprecations.

Greater ROI, Lesser Debt with Nektar

Salesforce stands as a substantial software investment for businesses, often being the most significant one. Still, a majority of Salesforce CRMs fail to capture over 50% of crucial buyer interactions and sales activities.

The primary culprit is the neglect of CRM updates by salespeople. This lack of Salesforce adoption leads to subpar CRM data quality, which, in turn, hinders revenue leaders from obtaining valuable insights. As a result, the substantial investment in Salesforce can end up going to waste.

Nektar brings about a radical change in this scenario by introducing AI-powered CRM automation, delivering unparalleled return on investment.

  • Nektar seamlessly integrates into your current workflow, requiring no effort or adjustment from your salespeople or revenue leaders.
  • Acquire a data-rich CRM that consistently upholds the utmost data accuracy. Nektar automatically rectifies any incorrect, outdated, or absent data, ensuring its continual quality.
  • Integrate first-party buyer contacts and revenue-related activities spanning the entire sales funnel, from lead generation to cash flow, directly into your Salesforce platform.
  • Enhance the effectiveness of other software tools dependent on Salesforce data and boost the return on investment from your technology stack by making it more intelligent.

Want to know more about our solutions for Salesforce? Schedule a demo here.


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