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How to Prepare for a Salesforce Org Merge – FAQ

Sandra Hegler

Salesforce Administrator

August 16, 2023

Proper preparation is critical to a successful Salesforce org merge—and it often takes longer than the merge itself. Before you can plan your org consolidation, you need to know exactly what it involves, when you need one, and how it can benefit you.

In addition, you should have an overview of the most common challenges of org merges and know which strategy is appropriate for your situation. Last, but not least, you should set the stage for the merge itself.

Two people pushing giant pieces of a jigsaw puzzle together.

1. What Is an Org Merge in Salesforce and When Do I Need One?

With a Salesforce org merge, you take two or more independent orgs—usually production environments—and consolidate them into a single entity. Companies that use Salesforce merge orgs for one of the following reasons: 

  1. Mergers and acquisitions: Let’s say Acme Inc. acquires another business. Both companies have their own Salesforce instances, each with their unique data, configurations, and processes. Instead of managing two separate systems, it’s often more efficient to merge the orgs to keep all data and processes in one place. 
  2. Reduce technical debt: It’s not uncommon to discover that over time, processes across multiple orgs are redundant or outdated. This often leads to inefficiencies and added expenses. By consolidating orgs, you can eliminate duplicates, streamline processes, and make managing your Salesforce instance more efficient. 
  3. Eliminate team silos: In some cases, different departments or teams within the same company operate in their own Salesforce orgs. However, this separation can cause information gaps and compromise collaboration. An org merge bridges these gaps, which makes for smoother communication and better teamwork.
  4. Cost management: The costs of managing multiple orgs—each with their own licenses, integrations, and administration—can add up quickly. You can often reduce these expenses by consolidating the orgs.

2. What Are the Benefits of Merging Salesforce Orgs?

Merging Salesforce instances is a purposeful upgrade to your current operations. It offers the following benefits:

  • Enhanced visibility and consistency: With separate orgs, there’s a chance that similar or identical data is stored in both, which could cause problems. An org consolidation centralizes the information, resulting in more transparency and accuracy across the board. 
  • Reduced complexity and cost of maintenance: When you have multiple Salesforce orgs, there are separate licenses, integrations, and maintenance tasks for each one. Consolidating your orgs streamlines and simplifies all of this, which minimizes the resources you need to keep everything running smoothly.
  • Improved collaboration and productivity: With more than one Salesforce instance, teams are often siloed, which can result in duplicate work or missed collaboration opportunities. After merging, the surviving org becomes the central hub where everyone works together. This integrated approach helps you achieve more in less time.
  • Improved reporting and analytics: CRM software allows you to analyze customer data to glean insights that help inform your decisions. After an org merge, all your data is in one place, which enables comprehensive reporting and analytics—and that benefits your strategic decision making process.

3. What Are the Challenges of Merging Salesforce Orgs?

Salesforce org consolidation is a complex, challenging process that’s different for every situation. Generally speaking, you’ll probably run into these five roadblocks:

  1. Data differences: There may be significant differences between the two orgs’ data models, data values, or data quality. This can complicate the merging process—plus, it can bring the risk of data loss or corruption with it.
  2. User and permission differences: There are likely differences between users, permissions, and user roles. To avoid conflicts, you need to determine the appropriate roles and permissions for each user before consolidating.
  3. Customizations: Over time, your production environment becomes completely unique, with custom objects, fields, and workflows. You’ll have to decide which ones to keep and which ones to retire. Plus, you should figure out how each customization impacts the functionality of the surviving org before merging.
  4. Integrations: Oftentimes, the individual orgs are integrated with different systems—like an ERP system, for example. Because of this, you have to figure out which integration you want to maintain in the surviving org. You’ll also need to assess how to perform the consolidation without disrupting those systems.
  5. Cost: Merging Salesforce orgs requires a significant amount of preparation before you can even start the actual consolidation process. The larger and more complex the orgs, the more costly the process. That’s why it’s wise to have a detailed project plan with milestones and a timeline to guide you.

4. What Are the Different Types of Org Merges in Salesforce?

An org consolidation isn’t a one-size-fits-all process. Depending on the purpose of the merge and the specifics of the org, there are three different strategies you can use: the life-and-shift merge, the move-and-improve merge, and the third rail merge. 

Lift-and-Shift Merge

Definition: Just like its name suggests, in a lift-and-shift merge, you directly take everything from the source org and migrate it to the target org. This is the most straightforward approach. 

Use case: This approach is ideal if both your orgs are relatively standard—without many customizations—and you’re looking for speed.

Move-and-Improve Merge

Definition: The move-and-improve merge lets you cherry pick which data and configurations to transfer to the target org. 

Use cases: This is a practical choice when you want to retain certain unique customizations of the source org. It’s also the right strategy when you’re looking to improve and declutter as you merge. For example, if the source org has outdated datasets, you might want to leave them behind.

Third Rail Merge

Definition: The third rail merge is highly complex and uses the Greenfield approach. You essentially rebuild the target org from the ground up with data and configurations from the source org. 

Use case: The third rail model offers the flexibility and depth you need if your business is undergoing significant changes, like changing the business or data model of the surviving org. 

5. How Do I Prepare for an Org Merge in Salesforce?

Preparation is key to successfully merging orgs—in fact, preparation is the bulk of the work. Keep these eight steps in mind.

1. Plan Meticulously

The first step when preparing the consolidation is to determine what to include in the merge and the permissions and roles you’ll need.

Start by cataloging the data and configurations that you want to keep. This may involve a detailed audit of your Salesforce instances. Create a comprehensive list, and prioritize based on importance and interdependencies.   

Next, document the roles, profiles, and permission sets associated with every user in each org. Use the principle of least privilege to decide who will have what level of access in the merged environment.

2. Create a Test Environment

Create a sandbox environment where you can simulate the consolidation before actually making any changes. This crucial step ensures you don’t break any functionality in the existing production environments, which could have real-world repercussions.

3. Back Up Your Data

Create a comprehensive backup of all the orgs involved in the merge. If anything goes wrong, you can use it to restore your data.

4. Clean and De-Duplicate Data

Take the opportunity to clean your data and remove duplicates. This helps improve data quality.

5. Assess Integration Dependencies

If either org integrates with any apps or systems, research whether you’ll need to reconfigure the integrations. In some cases, it can be advisable to temporarily disable them during the merge process.

6. Ensure Communication

Keep your team in the loop about the progress of the org merge, and inform them about the changes that will come. When your team is well informed, they’ll be in a better position to make the transition and adapt.

7. Document Everything

Create a record of everything, whether it’s configurations, custom code, or data mapping. You’ll need this information during the merge—plus, you can refer to the documentation in the future if necessary. 

8. Seek Expert Advice

It’s much faster and more cost-effective to consult with an expert before the merge than it is to try and fix a consolidation that’s gone wrong. Depending on your level of expertise, a Salesforce consultant can offer insights to make your org merge more efficient.

Next Steps for Your Salesforce Org Merge

Preparing for your org merge is usually a drawn-out process—but the more prepared you are, the easier and faster it will be. To learn how to perform the org merge itself, check back tomorrow for our next blog!


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