How to get much more value from Salesforce data
You’d be hard-pressed to find an enterprise that doesn’t run on data, much of which is generated in cloud-based mission-critical CRM, ERP, HR applications, and the like. Apps like Salesforce are where decisions are made, and business takes place.
For organizations that depend on Salesforce, effective data management is as crucial as it is challenging. Suppose your data management practice isn’t comprehensive. In that case, chances are you’ll get only partial value from your investment in siloed areas of your company–when, instead, you could be optimizing it across the board.
At a high level, best practices for Salesforce data management include data strategy, data classification, data security, backup and recovery, and reuse initiatives.
- Data Strategy: Your data strategy must explain the way you gather and use Salesforce platform data so that all team members are on the same page.
- Data Classification: Classifying data is critical to understanding what data your organization has and where it lives. Data classification can help you determine which data to keep, archive, or delete. Organizations that classify data are also more likely to use that data to make more informed business decisions and satisfy security and compliance requirements.
- Data security: Ensuring that Salesforce customer data is safe and secure is no easy feat in a world where cybercriminals are increasingly targeting cloud applications. In addition, with so many Salesforce users within a given company, the likelihood of some of them accidentally deleting or overwriting key information is high.
- Backup and Restore: Most IT organizations have backup systems in place for on-premises applications. It’s a no-brainer insurance policy in case of outages and data loss. However, when it comes to Salesforce, many admins and IT pros assume their data is already being effectively backed up by Salesforce and, therefore, will be readily available as needed. But that’s not necessarily the case. IT teams/Salesforce admins need to be proactive about deploying a Salesforce backup and recovery solution themselves.
Why? Most SaaS vendors abide by the “shared responsibility” model. This means vendors are responsible for protecting the application itself and keeping it up and running. But users are responsible for data protection of app-generated data and recovering that data in the event of loss or corruption.
Salesforce has gone back and forth with this type of model. They used to provide very basic data recovery capabilities for customers. In 2020 they discontinued them. Recently, Salesforce said they are planning to reinstate those recovery capabilities along with basic backup. However, throughout time, they have highly encouraged the use of third-party backup and recovery vendors on the AppExchange that provide more robust capabilities, such as GRAX.
- Data Reuse: Business users are eager to leverage historical data in Salesforce for other operational and analytical tools for other purposes. These include everything from compliance and auditing, customer service and retention, application and product development, to feeding machine learning and AI training sets, and more. IT teams must make it easy for authorized users, such as data teams, to quickly access the data they need when they need it.
However, accessing Salesforce data for use outside of the application is often a manual endeavor. Highly skilled IT teams need to dedicate significant time and resources for ETL (extracting, transforming, and loading data) and for creating and maintaining APIs for each downstream consumption tool. Yet, many organizations aren’t able to support or deploy the IT resources required. As a result, many business users can’t take advantage of their Salesforce data in ways that would substantially benefit their company.
Even if an organization does have sufficient IT resources for ETL and APIs, challenges still exist. If too many users or systems try accessing Salesforce simultaneously, they may hit their organization’s API limits and have to pay more to increase them. The performance of the Salesforce application itself may also degrade, frustrating users and impacting productivity.
Plus, users who access data often copy it into their own folders and systems. Most organizations don’t even know how many copies of data they have or where they live. This quickly becomes a compliance, security, and data management nightmare, not to mention operationally inefficient.
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How to Get Maximum Value from Salesforce Backup Data
Salesforce data is a rich historical record of critical business activity concerning customers, products, partners, and employee actions. When backed up effectively, it becomes more than just insurance. It becomes the foundation of a strong data management plan and a source of truth for operational and analytic initiatives.
Follow the guidance below to ensure your backup data is ready for reuse.
- Backup Frequency: One of the key factors to consider when backing up data is the frequency (also known as data fidelity). Or, in other words, how much data loss you’re willing to tolerate if the original source gets corrupted. For mission-critical applications, that amount of time (known as RPO – recovery point objective) is shrinking fast. According to ESG Research, more than half of organizations that use Salesforce now expect RPOs to be less than 15 minutes, and nearly 1/4 expect zero minutes. Zero data loss.
Why is this trending so low? One obvious reason is disaster recovery. Organizations want to capture as much data as possible as often as possible — including changes made to that data — in the event of service failure or data corruption. The other reason is data reuse. Automatically backing up data at a high frequency results in comprehensive data that paints a full and accurate picture. It makes that data an invaluable source for business users to tap.
- Backup Location: Where your Salesforce backup data lives is critical to whether business users can depend on it being readily available. If you back it up using a third-party vendor, ensure the data doesn’t reside in that vendor’s infrastructure. If it does, you’ll have the same accessibility challenges as when it resided in Salesforce.com. In addition, the risk of security breaches and data corruption increases along with the increased number of touchpoints your data makes on its way from Salesforce to you.
- Data Ownership: Best practice is to backup data directly into your own cloud data lake. When it’s in the AWS S3, Azure, or GCP cloud instance that your company owns, there’s no need for ETL or API headaches. There’s also no waiting on backup vendors to provide the data that your users need. You also eliminate data silos and enable people throughout your enterprise to easily and safely access it. And just as important, you have total control over who can access that data and track where they copied it.
By keeping your backup data in your own cloud instance, you’re essentially turning traditionally cold data into hot, production data that can be easily and quickly accessed.
If cloud app data is stored in a universally understood format, like Parquet, this data can be seamlessly streamed from your data lake into popular analytics and data warehousing tools. Tools such as Tableau, Amazon AWS (Redshift, QuickSight, SageMaker), Microsoft Azure (Power BI, Analysis Services), Snowflake, among many others, can enable your data teams to unlock actionable insights faster.
- Digital Chain of Custody: When you capture and retain all changes made to your Salesforce data, make sure you also capture information about who made them. This includes who they are and where they were located, their IP address, the device used to access data, and so on. This enables the granular traceability you need to maintain a digital chain of custody for compliance and security purposes.
Could you benefit from a more effective Salesforce data backup and data management strategy? Get in touch to learn more.
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