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8 Benefits of Version Control for Data-Driven Apps

Ben Sinai

August 12, 2023

8 Reasons Why Versioning Is Essential for Salesforce ALM

Change is the only true constant in the fast-paced tech world. So when you’re making changes to your Salesforce instance, you need to meticulously keep track of every adjustment to avoid bottlenecks, downtime, and noncompliance. That doesn’t just apply to metadata—it also goes for configuration data-driven apps like Salesforce CPQ and Advanced Approvals. That said, what exactly are the benefits of version control for data-driven apps?

VR diagram showing version control for data workflow.

Advantages of a VCS for Configuration Data-Driven Apps

Navigating the complexities of Salesforce application lifecycle management (ALM) can feel like setting sail on the open sea. Without the right tools, it’s easy to lose track of where you’ve been or how you’ve crossed a certain ocean before. 

This is where a version control system (VCS) comes in. It’s like a detailed logbook that records every step of the change management process. This ensures you never forget the trajectory a configuration took to get where it is. In Salesforce, it’s standard to use Git for source control. Check out these eight reasons why a VCS is indispensable in ALM.

1. Enhanced Collaboration

What happens when two people are trying to captain a boat at the same time—but each sets course for a different destination? Chaos, right? Similarly, when multiple team members are working on the same configuration simultaneously, it can lead to integration issues, lost work, or worse: the entire configuration malfunctioning.

A VCS ensures smooth collaboration. It alerts you when you’re stepping on each other’s toes by telling you there’s a conflict so you can make adjustments in real time. This ensures everyone’s on the same page (or sailing in the same direction).

2. Historical Insight Into Your Changes

Diving into the past can be eye-opening. Ever watched a documentary where they show an old ship’s logbook or a mariner’s diary that details encounters and decisions made during adventures long ago? That’s what a VCS offers your Salesforce instance—a detailed logbook of its evolutionary journey. With version control, you don’t just know what changed—you also know the decision behind the change. This can be critical when you’re trying to answer questions like, “What was the rationale behind this configuration?” or “Who approved this change?”

3. Error Mitigation

Things like incorrectly mapped data relationships can slow down your pipeline and even grind it to a halt. They’re like rogue waves that can rock a ship unexpectedly. But just like an up-to-date logbook is essential to smooth sailing, your VCS provides a reliable record of changes in the unpredictable waters of configuration data. Let’s say a configuration refuse to work in integration—although it worked just fine in development. No worries. Use your version control system to retrace your route, identify where the problem is, and determine how to correct it. 

4. Safety Net

Even the best of sailors face storms. But when an issue—like a bug in production—breaks functionality or causes downtime, it’s a big problem. VCS functions as a safety net in these situations. If there’s an error in your most recent update, simply roll the app back to the previous state so business can resume. Then you can isolate the affected feature in a sandbox, pinpoint exactly what the issue is, and fix it without it impacting your end users. It’s like having an “Oops!” button.

5. Audit and Compliance

An audit can feel like navigating a ship through a dense fog. It’s complicated and often even a bit intimidating. And because the stakes are so high, you need to be sure you’re treading carefully. A version control system is like a lighthouse for your Salesforce ALM—it shines a light on the entire journey a configuration makes so you can see every detail. 

Imagine not having to sift through endless reams of data and work issues trying to remember why you made a specific change or trying to find who did what—not to mention why and when! This is where your VCS is a must-have—it’s like a ship’s logbook that records each change, each team member’s contribution, and each timestamp. This makes the audit process simple and straightforward. With every detail meticulously logged, you don’t have to worry about proving compliance when a SOX auditor comes knocking. 

6. Consistent Environments

Imagine you’re sailing around the world. Every time you go to the next country, the harbor has different rules and procedures than your previous stop. As a result, you have to keep adjusting to these new setups. 

This is similar to what happens when you’re working in Salesforce environments—each one becomes like its own unique harbor as the development process progresses. However, when you make changes, you’d ideally want every org to reflect those adjustments to avoid conflicts.

In this comparison, Git acts like a centralized authority ensuring that every harbor updates its regulations and processes at the same time. When you make a change in one environment, the VCS syncs that change to all the other orgs. That way, everyone’s always working from the latest version of the code or configurations.

7. Enhanced Productivity

Imagine untangling fishing nets, thinking you’ve got the right thread—only to find it leads you deeper into the knot? Manual data merging can be just as tricky and frustrating. Fortunately, a VCS functions as a skilled fisherman who knows how to spot and unravel the knot. It immediately alerts you to any conflicts so you can resolve them right away. This ease-of-use and automated conflict detection accelerates the release process and greatly enhances productivity.

8. Informed Decision Making

You need full visibility to create an effective strategy. Yes, sailors refer to their ship’s logbook to review their past journey—but they also do so to identify patterns in the waters and the skies. A version control system offers similar insights for your app’s evolution. You can draw from the data in the change log to identify trends and gain insights to inform your roadmap and chart your future course.

Version Control for Data-Driven Apps Is Critical

Using data version control tools for Salesforce CPQ and apps with a similar architecture is more than best practice—it’s a strategic imperative. It fosters collaboration, ensures compliance, enhances the reliability of the release process, and drives efficient operations. And that means you can maximize your ROI from your data-driven apps.


Why is version control critical for managing source code in data-driven apps like Salesforce CPQ?

Salesforce CPQ and apps built on a similar architecture rely on data sets of many interrelated objects. This complexity makes the change management process difficult to manage. With version control, you can ensure every modification is properly documented. This minimizes potential conflicts and optimizes your release pipeline.

How are version control systems like Git repositories different from regular backups in data-driven environments?

While backups capture periodic snapshots of a system, a VCS is tailored to track the changes to the configuration data in detail. In addition, a Git repository stores multiple versions of data, so you can see its evolution over time. Learn more about version control vs. backups.

Are there any industries or types of organizations that benefit more from integrating version control systems?

While every company can benefit from using a VCS, businesses that are subject to strict regulations like the Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX) stand to benefit the most. This is because a VCS provides documentation of every change that could impact financial data, which is a SOX requirement. Learn more about best practices for SOX compliance in the Salesforce ALM process. 


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