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SOX Compliance Pitfalls in the Salesforce CPQ Development Process

Shanon Moerland

June 27, 2023

Updated on January 8, 2024

What the Challenges Are—and How to Overcome Them

SOX compliance pitfalls are a very real danger in the Salesforce CPQ development process. And when you consider the penalties for noncompliance, it’s clear that you should do everything you can to avoid them. In this blog, we discuss how to overcome SOX compliance challenges in the Salesforce CPQ development process, including a complex Salesforce instance, internal resistance to change, high costs, and a lack of agility—while always remaining in compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.

A signpost with arrows referring to how to avoid SOX compliance pitfalls in the release management process.

Beat Complexity With Change Management and Governance

One of the biggest hurdles many companies have to overcome when implementing a SOX-compliant development process is simply how complicated their Salesforce instances are.

SOX Compliant Pitfall 1: Complexity of Your Salesforce Instance

Salesforce is a powerful tool that offers immense potential for managing customer relationships, sales, service, and marketing. But with this power comes a great deal of complexity. Your org likely contains a vast range of customizations, integrations, and configurations. From different user profiles and permissions to third-party integrations, there’s a lot that can go sideways if you’re not monitoring and controlling everything properly.

This level of complexity makes it challenging to manage changes in CPQ while maintaining the required level of transparency and accountability for SOX compliance. You need to keep track of who’s doing what, where, when, and why—but when your Salesforce instance looks like a labyrinth, that’s easier said than done.

Solution: Change Management and Good Governance

So, how do you get a handle on this mess? This is where strong change management practices and good governance come in.

Change management is all about being in control of your Salesforce ecosystem—much like a captain at the helm of a ship. You should learn best practices for SOX compliance in the release process and establish a clear process for making changes that includes everything from hotfixes to major overhauls. This involves setting up a system for requesting, reviewing, and approving changes so you ensure every modification is documented and traceable. 

However, even the best change management practices can falter without good governance. Think of governance as the rules that your change management process follows. It sets the standard for who has the authority to make changes, what changes they can make, and how they should make those changes. A well-defined governance structure creates transparency and accountability—and that helps you steer clear of noncompliance.

Overcome Internal Resistance With a Culture Change

You can’t just snap your fingers and create an environment that’s conducive to SOX compliance overnight. Unfortunately, whether it’s conscious or unconscious, internal resistance is often a significant hurdle to overcome.

SOX Compliant Pitfall 2: Internal Resistance

Resistance to change is as human as forgetting your keys or misplacing your glasses. Whether they prefer familiar routines, are afraid of the unknown, or simply don’t care, people can be surprisingly stubborn when asked to alter their ways. And when you need to build a SOX-compliant development process in Salesforce CPQ, you might encounter this resistance in full force.

It’s like being asked to switch from your comfy jeans and sweatshirt to a business suit and tie. You know your job requires you to wear the suit, but it feels unfamiliar and the tie is uncomfortable. 

In the same vein, your team might be intimidated by the thought of implementing a new SOX policy. They could be worried about additional workload or making mistakes. They might also simply resist the disruption to their usual routine.

Solution: Promote a Culture Change

Fortunately, you can overcome internal resistance by promoting a culture where compliance stands front and center. Because this will involve a concerted effort, keep these pointers in mind:

  • Focus on compliance: Begin by ensuring everyone sees compliance as a top priority within your company. Everyone from the boardroom to the mailroom should be on board. When you lead by example at the executive level, it creates a trickle-down effect that encourages all employees to adopt a similar perspective.
  • Provide ongoing training: Adhering to SOX regulations without knowing exactly what they are is nothing short of frustrating. That’s why it’s essential to invest in educating your team about the importance of compliance, the risks of noncompliance, and the processes and policies involved. Deliver this training in an engaging and informative way to ensure it really sinks in.
  • Foster a culture of accountability: Just like everyone on a sports team needs to know who’s playing what position, your team needs a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities when it comes to compliance. Hold them accountable if they underperform, but also remember to offer support and guidance to help them improve.
  • Encourage continuous improvement: SOX regulations are updated over time, so you need to continuously fine-tune and update your policies and processes. This promotes a mindset of adaptation and growth—and ensures your team’s always ready to meet new challenges head-on.

Manage Costs With Early Planning and the Right Automation

It’s critical to control costs when you’re implementing a SOX-compliant development process in Salesforce CPQ. Cost management often relies on two key components: the strategic foresight of early planning and the efficiency gains of the right automation.

SOX Compliance Pitfall 3: Putting SOX Controls in Place Can Be Expensive

If there’s one universal truth about compliance, it’s this: It isn’t exactly a bargain. Why? Because it requires a significant investment of time and resources to revise existing policies and processes to align with SOX requirements. In fact, according to a survey by Protoviti, on average, companies spent $1,077,080 on compliance in 2023. 

In addition to operational costs, training your employees regarding SOX compliance also comes with a price tag—as does hiring external auditors and consultants to make sure you’re on the right track.

And then there’s automation. Currently, SOX automation for Salesforce CPQ focuses on documenting compliance with regulations, because manual change tracking, as well as audit trail and audit report generation can take literally thousands of hours a year depending on the size of the company.

It’s no secret that robust automation offers considerable efficiency gains, which has a direct impact on your costs. However, if you invest in automation that’s not a good fit for your purposes, it’s just going to cost you more in the long run.

Solution: Early Planning and Automation

But don’t give up hope just yet. There are two strategies that can help you manage the costs associated with becoming SOX compliant—early planning and automation.

  • Start planning early: There’s a reason the early bird gets the worm. When you start your planning process as soon as possible, you can spread the cost of compliance over a longer period of time. This reduces the financial impact of doing it all at once. It also allows you to anticipate potential challenges and budget for them accordingly—instead of getting hit with unexpected expenses down the line.
  • Use automation: The right automation is the secret ingredient to a cost-effective SOX compliance strategy. Yes, it might require an initial investment, but its long-term benefits are invaluable. Automation minimizes the time you spend on documenting compliance tasks. This in turn frees up your team to focus on higher-value work. For example, when you have an automated SOX tool like Prodly Compliance Center, it’s as if you have a robotic assistant working round the clock to keep your SOX compliance efforts on track. Compliance Center monitors your environments 24/7 and automatically maintains a detailed audit trail of all your changes. That way, when an auditor requests an audit report, all you have to do is click a button—and the information is right there at your fingertips. 

When you combine early planning with carefully selected automation, you can turn the financial challenge of SOX compliance into an opportunity for improved efficiency and value for your company. Remember: Your objective here isn’t just to be SOX compliant—it’s to be compliant in a way that makes financial and strategic sense for your business.

Remain Agile With a Risk-Based Approach

Imagine you’re a tightrope walker. You’re balancing a long pole on your hands, with on one end, the weight of SOX compliance, and on the other, the need for agility in your operations. How do you maintain a perfect equilibrium between these two forces?

SOX Compliance Pitfall 4: Balancing Compliance With Agility

SOX compliance is non-negotiable. It’s the law, and falling short can have serious consequences. However, the controls SOX compliance requires often make the release management process sluggish and cumbersome. This is especially true when you’re dealing with a large project with many moving parts.  

Too much agility, on the other hand, can open the floodgates to potential risks like data breaches or financial fraud. So even though you want to move fast, you don’t want to do so at the cost of exposing your organization to these kinds of threats.

Solution: Use a Risk-Based Approach

You can strike the right balance between compliance and agility by taking a risk-based approach. This involves prioritizing the areas of the Salesforce CPQ development process that are most critical from a compliance perspective. 

Instead of treating every part of the process with equal weight, focus first and foremost on those areas where a misstep could lead to serious regulatory consequences.

Automation plays a pivotal role in the risk-based approach. Automated controls speed up the release process—plus, they eliminate the potential for human error, which is otherwise a significant risk factor. 

With a risk-based approach, you can maintain your velocity and agility without sacrificing the integrity of your compliance efforts. And in the fast-paced world of business, this agility can mean the difference between staying ahead of your competition and being left behind.

Key Steps to Success for SOX Compliance in the CPQ Development Process

Successfully navigating the complicated world of SOX compliance is no small feat. From overcoming internal resistance to maintaining agility while at the same time ensuring compliance, the road is full of pitfalls. Fortunately, with the right strategies, you can transform your SOX compliance journey from an intimidating obligation into a catalyst for operational excellence and long-term business growth.


How can I evaluate the complexity of my Salesforce instance?

You can determine how complex your Salesforce instance is by the number of customizations, integrations, and configurations it involves. A tool like Salesforce Optimizer can provide a detailed analysis of your Salesforce org, give you insights into its setup, and identify areas of potential improvement.

What are some signs of internal resistance to our compliance policies?

Signs of resistance can include reluctance to participate in training, hesitation to adopt new procedures, or feedback that indicates frustration with the new changes. To successfully promote a culture of compliance, it’s essential to keep the lines of communication open and respond to these signals promptly.

How often should we update our SOX compliance training?

You should update your SOX compliance training whenever there are significant changes in SOX regulations, company processes, or personnel. Experts recommend at least annual updates to reinforce key principles and address any new challenges.


Prodly Compliance Center

The gold standard for documenting SOX in Salesforce CPQ!