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The business case for automated sandbox seeding.

The Business Case for Automated Sandbox Seeding

Automated sandbox seeding can significantly accelerate digital transformation. It allows businesses to boost the pace of Salesforce innovation, save money on Full Copy sandboxes, improve governance and data security, and reduce attrition. Moreover, it empowers them to reduce the time to value of their Salesforce investment.

In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at the business benefits of automated data seeding.

The business case for automated sandbox seeding.

Accelerate the Pace of Salesforce Innovation Without Sacrificing Trust

Automated sandbox seeding results in a streamlined release pipeline, which enables faster innovation. Because it offers a less risk-prone alternative to making changes in the production environment, it drastically reduces the chances of errors, bugs, and downtime. This is critical to maintaining trust with business users. 

Save Money on Full Copy Sandboxes

With sandbox seeding, Salesforce teams can use Developer sandboxes or scratch orgs like Full Copies. Each Full Copy sandbox costs 30 percent of a business’s net spend in Salesforce. As such, organizations can save a significant amount of funds on change management.

Improve Governance and Data Security

Prodly Sandbox Management provides control over who can deploy what data to which environments. This improves governance. In addition, because sandbox management eliminates the need to download data to CSVs and enables the masking of sensitive data during deployment, it greatly enhances data security.

Reduce Attrition

According to a Salesforce survey, 89 percent of full-time workers are more satisfied thanks to automation. Moreover, an astounding 91 percent agree that automation saves them time and gives them a better work-life balance. When high-performing employees experience enhanced job satisfaction, it leads to improved retention. This greatly reduces the costs associated with acquiring and onboarding new talent and significantly contributes to an organization’s human capital.

Decrease Time to Value of Your Salesforce Investment

As a result of more efficient employees and faster, more streamlined release processes, Salesforce teams can increase productivity by 80 percent. As a result, they have more time to focus on value-adding work. Moreover, the business starts realizing the value of its Salesforce investment that much faster.

Prodly Sandbox Management

Prodly Sandbox Management is a powerful tool to manage all environments in the development landscape. Its one-click scratch org creation and sandbox seeding features drastically reduce the time Salesforce teams spend on setting up and syncing environments. Plus, its governance features ensure the business is always in compliance with regulations. 

As a result, Salesforce teams can work faster and compliantly, produce more and better work, and help propel the business forward.

For more information about Prodly Sandbox Management, please request a personalized demo. 

Screenshot of data masking in Prodly's sandbox seeding

7 Benefits of Sandbox Seeding in Salesforce

Here at Prodly, we know that any Salesforce DevOps process begins with seeding sandboxes. Here are seven benefits of sandbox seeding that will help you maximize your ROI from Salesforce:

1. Selectively Update Full Copy and Partial Copy Sandboxes With Fresh Data and Metadata—on Your Own Time.

Full Copy and Partial Copy sandboxes quickly lose their value as the last QA or UAT stop on the release train. Why? Because your production environment keeps changing, so a Full or Partial Copy consistently becomes less of a reproduction.

Sandbox seeding lets you update your orgs piecemeal to keep them in sync with production. That way, you don’t have to overhaul each sandbox every time you want to refresh. 

With traditional Salesforce sandbox refresh requirements, refreshes rarely align at a good time. The ability to do mini-refreshes significantly enhances your release process. As a result,  you can more effectively leverage higher-level environments to drive your release process. 

 

2. Move Faster—and Streamline Your Release Process

How often have you spent hours generating sample Account records and other Custom Object records one by one? Only to later run into problems because the data isn’t representative of your production environment?

With Prodly’s sandbox seeding, it’s easy to provision a sandbox in Salesforce. You can quickly select Objects to seed to up to five environments in one go. That means you can create five development-ready environments in just one click.

Selecting deployment data to seed to a sandbox with Prodly.

Prodly also provides prebuilt data sets. They let you quickly provision an org with commonly-used Objects–while preserving even complex data relationships. 

3. Unlock the Potential of Developer, DevPro, and Scratch Orgs

Sandbox seeding lets you maximize your Developer, Developer Pro, and scratch orgs as true development environments.

Your lower-level org should function as a ready-made playground. Here, you can tinker with your ideas before pushing any changes up the release pipeline. If you start your projects with data seeding in Salesforce, you can synchronize configuration changes across all your sandboxes. 

And you’ll never face confusion and frustration about your test working in your DevPro sandbox—but not in UAT.

4. Use Developer Sandboxes Like Full Copies

You can work in your Developer sandbox with all the data you need to move forward. At the same time, your team can still perform work in your Full Copy sandbox. Think about it: Do you really need 100,000 Account records to test with? Or will 100 be more than enough for unit testing?

Imagine being able to quickly populate your sandbox with real test data and get to work. It’s one less roadblock to deal with. This helps resuscitate any lagging business processes—plus, it ensures you can get new features to end users faster. And isn’t that what it’s all about?

5. Quickly Create a Hotfix Environment With Sandbox Seeding

Sometimes you need to quickly fix a bug in Salesforce that’s affecting a mission-critical business process. Of course, you shouldn’t try to do this in production.

Instead, use sandbox seeding to quickly spin up a Salesforce org and populate it with the data you need to fix the issue. Use best practices for making hotfixes in Salesforce, and simply promote the patch back to production.

6. Enhance Employee Satisfaction

Employees are happier when they don’t keep running into issues that slow them down and cause headaches. 

In fact, according to a Salesforce survey, 89 percent of full-time workers are more satisfied thanks to automation. Moreover, an astounding 91 percent agree that automation saves them time and gives them a better work-life balance.

7. Improve Productivity in Salesforce

With happier employees and faster, more streamlined release pipelines, you can increase productivity by as much as 80 percent. 

That means you have more time to take care of the day-to-day business of managing your business. Plus, you can take on more projects and work through them more efficiently.

Seeding Sandboxes Is Critical to DevOps in Salesforce

The key tenets of DevOps are ship often, ship small, build in isolated environments, and automate deployments. 

To build in isolated environments, you need to maximize reproducible environments—in other words, your sandboxes and scratch orgs. So it’s key to have automated sandbox seeding capabilities like those provided by Prodly Prodly Sandbox Management. 

Our sandbox seeding wizard lets you quickly and easily spin up mini environments that look like your production org. What’s more: They won’t affect other environments where the rest of your team is working.

Obstacles to Org Seeding in Salesforce

Sandbox seeding obviously offers many benefits—plus, it’s critical to Salesforce DevOps. So why aren’t more Salesforce customers doing it?

Some Salesforce customers aren’t yet aware of the power of sandbox seeding automation. They do know that manually populating sandboxes and scratch orgs with valuable testing data from production takes a long time. This is especially true if you run into issues when migrating relational data—which you probably will using legacy Salesforce tools.

And when a process becomes time consuming, it adds unnecessary expense to the project.

In addition, using Data Loader for data seeding can cause concerns about data security.  Downloading data to a CSV before migrating it to the new environment isn’t secure and may violate data security policies.

Features of Prodly’s Automated Sandbox Seeding

Prodly Sandbox Management automates the process of provisioning your orgs with real-life test data—making it quick and easy. Here’s are some of the solution’s most important features:

Data Templates

We provide prebuilt templates of commonly used record types that let you move entire relational data schemas at once. Easily move your entire Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Industries Cloud, or any other subset of your Salesforce schema. For example, Accounts with all related Contacts, Opportunities, Quotes, and Cases with Case Comments and Attachments with a single click.

Screenshot of a diagram view of data template

Select Data on the Fly

For bespoke data seeding needs, Prodly Sandbox Management gives you a lightning-fast way to select Objects you want to seed. Simply select what you’re interested in, and the wizard automatically migrates the related data with it.

Data Masking

There may be instances where you have sensitive data you want to protect in lower-level orgs. Prodly Sandbox Management provides data masking to protect sensitive data. This helps ensure you’re in compliance with relevant privacy regulations and legislation.

Screenshot of data masking in Prodly's sandbox seeding

Ramp Up Your Release Management Process with Prodly

With Prodly’s sandbox seeding to provision your Salesforce orgs, you can minimize the upfront work on projects. In addition, you can ramp up your release management process. This one crucial step can give your team valuable hours back—and save your company significant resources. 

Perhaps you’re facing some flak for lagging returns. If so, consider sandbox seeding as a fundamental way to enhance your processes and get a stronger ROI from Salesforce. It’s a tool to keep your team agile and to improve time to value for the business.

Contact us to request a personalized demo!

An abstract representation of a hotfix.

Improve Your Salesforce Hotfix Strategy

Many devs and admins who follow governance and release best practices find making a Salesforce hotfix challenging.  If you struggle to configure and deploy hotfixes in a timely manner, you’re not alone. And when it comes to creating a hotfix environment in Salesforce, traditional data set building is slow, laborious, and prone to error—even with Data Loader.

But as Victoria Livschitz said, “It’s not the prevention of bugs but the recovery—the ability to gracefully exterminate them—that counts.” 

And that’s exactly what Prodly allows you to do. 

Prodly lets you automate your hotfix strategy and rapidly fix, test, and promote essential changes to production. In this blog post, we’ll examine what hotfixes are, how not to handle them, and four ways Prodly improves your hotfix strategy.

What Is a Salesforce Hotfix?

In Salesforce, a hotfix is a simple configuration change that addresses a key issue impacting day to day business. Oftentimes, one is required due to a bug a user reports—so you need to fix it immediately.

Although a hotfix may not involve a major change to your production environment, it’s business critical and therefore urgent. Because it addresses a bug that’s adversely affecting your business operations, it can’t be postponed until your next major release.

That’s why you need the ability to implement a patch as efficiently as possible without getting bogged down in error-prone manual processes.

Salesforce Hotfix Workflow: Inefficient and Costly

If you’re implementing a hotfix in Salesforce, the process probably looks something like this:

  1. Purchase a Partial Copy sandbox or Full Copy sandbox to use as a hotfix environment—at 20 percent or 30 percent of net spend.
  2. In this environment, determine what’s causing the issue. Then fix the issue and test it.
  3. Use change sets to promote the approved change to your production org. That involves creating an outbound change set in the hotfix environment and an inbound change set in the prod org. Then you have to validate the inbound change set and deploy the change set. 
  4. Migrate (either manually or with Data Loader) any configuration data required for the hotfix.
  5. Use change sets to promote the change to your Developer sandboxes and the Full sandbox you use for training.

Unfortunately, this strategy can be cost-prohibitive due to the expense of purchasing a sandbox to use as a dedicated hotfix environment. Moreover, the multiple manual steps required for each change set deployment make this process highly labor intensive and time consuming. 

Never Make a Patch Directly in Production!

Knowing how expensive and inefficient it is to implement a hotfix in Salesforce, you might be tempted to rush things and make the hotfix directly in production. 

A word to the wise, however:

Never, ever, make a hotfix directly in your prod org!

Why? Because if the hotfix introduces any new issues, you’ll be stuck with a much bigger headache. And that could affect your CX even more!

Create a Prod Hotfix Strategy Before the Next Bug

To be prepared to make a mission-critical change in a timely manner, don’t wait until a serious issue arises to design a hotfix workflow. Instead, get ahead of things and establish a production hotfix strategy before the next bug occurs. Your strategy should:

  • Appoint team members to configure the hotfix
  • Designate an environment where you’ll make the change and test the fix
  • Specify how you’ll promote the fix into production
  • Determine which other orgs will need the fix and how you’ll back promote the fix
  • Include a post mortem to analyze the event and prevent future issues

4 Ways Prodly Can Improve Your Hotfix Strategy

Now you have a basic game plan for dealing with hotfixes, let’s take a look at how Prodly can improve your strategy.

1. Use a Free Environment for Dedicated Production Support

With Prodly Sandbox Management, you don’t need to purchase a new Partial Copy or Full Copy sandbox as a dedicated hotfix environment. You can simply use a free Developer sandbox or Scratch org, because Prodly lets you easily and quickly move data into it. This saves your Partial Copy and Full Copy sandboxes for higher value projects in Salesforce.

2. Seed the Impacted Configuration to Your Hotfix Environment 

Your hotfix environment needs to be a reproduction of your production org. However, you don’t have time to recreate all the data from the prod org in the sandbox. 

In Prodly, you can compare your orgs to see any metadata differences between your prod org and your hotfix environment. If there are differences that will impact the patch, you can easily review and sync them to your hotfix environment. 

You can use sandbox seeding to automatically migrate the affected data to the hotfix environment. The sandbox seeding wizard allows you to quickly select data and upsert it to your hotfix environment.

Simply select a root object in your prod org, along with any related objects. Next, temporarily deactivate all events for the duration of the deployment to avoid complications. Finally, implement the deployment.

Note that Prodly provides prebuilt templates for common data seeding needs that can save you even more time.

3. Promote the Hotfix Back to Production

With your hotfix environment set up, you can determine what the problem is, configure the required change, and test the change without any risk to your prod org. Once you’re satisfied the change works, Prodly makes it easy to seamlessly move the change back into your production org—regardless of whether the fix involves metadata or data.

You also don’t have to use change sets and Data Loader to manually push the change to your prod org. You can leverage Prodly to automatically migrate the metadata and data while still maintaining complex object relationships. Simply select the configurations you want to deploy, and then deploy all the metadata and data changes at once.

4. Sync the Salesforce Hotfix to the Rest of the Orgs in Your Stack

While you’ve been rushing to fix the bug, your teammates may have been working on the next release. It’s essential to sync the rest of the orgs in the release path with your production org and training environment so they don’t reintroduce the bug or cause new ones. 

Prodly allows you to sync data to up to five orgs simultaneously. So once you’ve promoted the patch back to production, you can quickly and easily sync the metadata and data changes from production to the other orgs in the stack. The benefit is that by doing this, you’ll bring your other sandboxes up to date without having to wait to refresh them

An abstract representation of a hotfix.

Salesforce Hotfixes Are Easy With Prodly

Let’s face it: Bugs happen. 

And when they impact your day-to-day business operations, you need to fix them—fast. With a robust hotfix strategy and Prodly, you can quickly, efficiently, and easily create a hotfix environment, fix the issue, and promote the change to your production environment and other orgs. And you can do all this without the high costs of purchasing an additional Partial Copy or Full Copy sandbox in Salesforce.

 

To learn more about Prodly DevOps, contact us today.

The Value of Bidirectional Sandbox Seeding

In this blog, we explore what bidirectional sandbox seeding is and why you need it. We also look at the value of sandbox seeding with Prodly Sandbox Management, as well as why you should be seeding sandboxes in the first place.

What Is Bidirectional Sandbox Seeding?

Bidirectional sandbox seeding involves deploying data from your production org to a sandbox—and from your sandbox to another environment. You can do this with a freshly created org or during an environment refresh.

A photo of a desert with a traffic sign with arrows pointing in opposite directions representing bidirectional sandbox seeding

Why Do You Need Bidirectional Sandbox Seeding?

Bidirectional sandbox seeding allows you to create a fresh sandbox, deploy data to it, and then move data in any direction—up, down, and laterally. You can roll back changes to start all the way at the beginning, or you can change just one tiny detail. 

This makes for a much better auditability of changes in production and deployment results, resulting in better governance.

When you’re only able to work with partial data, the chance of bugs and errors slowing down your progress is immense. Many teams lose steam in the development and QA process when they go the route of manually working with a sandbox test data set. 

In contrast, bidirectional sandbox seeding gives control to anyone who can click through a data management workflow. 

The Value of Bidirectional Sandbox Seeding With Prodly

With the sandbox seeding feature in Prodly Sandbox Management, you have the ability to move data in both directions—with just a few clicks. This allows you to maximize your team’s efficiency, transform your entire workflow, and improve your end-user experience. 

By using this low-code option for DevOps, you’ll soon be handling change requests like clockwork. 

Improve Your Governance Strategy With Prodly

The seamless, automated process for seeding sandboxes Prodly provides enhances your governance strategy. 

It increases org health, fights errors, and immensely improves efficiency. Here’s how:

Prodly Sandbox Management can help you move your data up, down, backwards and forward between your production org and sandboxes. 

It gives you the power to migrate data from up to five orgs simultaneously. This eliminates the need to depend on a Full Copy Sandbox to work from as you advance through changes. 

You can also configure data simulations, meaning that you can make changes without consequences. When you need to deploy complex data from a schema all at once, you don’t have to worry about complications anymore. 

Sandbox Seeding Without Prodly

Without the sandbox seeding feature in Prodly Sandbox Management, you’re literally left to your own devices having to use a barrage of tools to handle what Prodly does seamlessly. 

There’s the tedious process of using a data loader. The difficulty, duration, and mind-numbingness of the project can be compounded based on the size of your project. 

Some companies employ a third-party developer to manage their sandbox, which can become quite costly. 

In contrast, with Prodly, you can populate—and even anonymize— representative test data into as many as five orgs in just a matter of minutes. Prodly gives you more control of your data and processes, as well as a greater probability of aligning your team with the needs of your stakeholders for every project. 

Why Should I Seed Sandboxes?

There are several very good reasons to seed sandboxes. 

Without sandbox seeding, there’s a lack of representative production data in lower-level sandboxes that makes it harder to imagine, configure, and test changes. 

This problem becomes more complicated as changes move up the release pipeline and you need to keep all of the sandboxes in sync with production.  

However, sandbox seeding lets you provide everyone with their own development environment before they promote their changes to a shared QA org and ultimately production. This circumvents the problem of who’s doing what in a shared sandbox—plus, it reduces the odds of overwriting each other’s work.

It lets your team work faster and test more thoroughly. It also gives you more effective use of your expensive sandboxes.

In addition, when everyone has their own development environment with representative data, it’s much easier to find a good window of time to refresh your Full Copy or Partial Copy sandbox. And that in turn reduces the number of errors you encounter during the development process.

See Bidirectional Sandbox Seeding in Action!

Discover how easy and quick it is to seed sandboxes with Prodly Sandbox Management—watch the 25-minute webinar Ask a CSM: Bidirectional Sandbox Seeding.

Sand dunes representing populating sandboxes with data

How to Populate Salesforce Sandboxes With Data

Providing every developer and admin on your team with their own sandbox for their Salesforce development is an essential aspect of DevOps. To prepare those build and testing environments at the beginning of a project, you need to copy data to them from your production org. In this blog, we’ll discuss 5 ways to populate your salesforce sandboxes with data.

Perform a Salesforce Sandbox Refresh

To get the most current test data in your org, perform a sandbox refresh. This will refresh it with data from your production org. 

Time Limits for Refreshing Salesforce Sandboxes

You can refresh a Full sandbox once every 29 days with metadata and data from production. If you delete a Full Copy, you have to wait until the 29 days are over before you can create a new one.

The refresh interval for a Partial Copy is once every five days. This updates your sandbox with data and metadata from production. Again, if you delete it, you have to wait until the five days are over before you can replace it.

In Salesforce, refresh Developer orgs or Developer Pro sandboxes once a day. Note that this only updates the metadata. You’ll need to seed data into the orgs yourself.

 

How to Refresh a Sandbox in Salesforce

Begin by selecting the sandbox you want to refresh in your list of sandboxes in Salesforce. Click “Refresh,” and review—and if needed, edit—the Name, Description, and Create From values.

Select the type of environment you want. Refer to the table to see the number and type of sandbox licenses in your org. 

Select the data you want to copy. If you’re refreshing a Full Copy, click “Next,” and determine how much of the existing object data you want to copy.

If you’re refreshing a Partial Copy sandbox, click “Next,” and choose a template that determines the data you’re copying. 

You can activate your sandbox immediately after refreshing it by clicking “Auto Activate.”

Clone a Sandbox

If you simply want to recreate an org you’re already using, you can clone it. All its metadata and data will be copied to the new sandbox.

Because the cloned sandbox uses the same license type as the source org, you need to make sure you have that type of license available. 

Use Data Loader and Excel

Data Loader is the native Salesforce data migration tool you can use to seed orgs. You can leverage it to export, insert, update, and delete Salesforce records using the user interface or, if you have Windows, the command line. 

First, prepare the data you want to export from production into your sandbox. Specify the configuration parameters to determine the scope of the data migration. Select the Excel files Data Loader will use to first export the data from production and then into the destination org. Finally, make sure that your field names in the import file correspond exactly to the field names in Salesforce. 

Note that most people find Data Loader to be frustratingly time-consuming, labor-intensive, and prone to error. 

Create a Custom ETL Script

If you’re a developer, you can use an extract, transform, and load script to seed a sandbox in Salesforce. An ETL script might not be the first solution you think of to seed a sandbox, but it can be effective, nonetheless.

The benefits of writing your own script are that you’re not limited by refresh intervals. Nor do you have to use Data Loader. But you do have to invest the time to initially write the script—and then maintain it. 

Use an Automated Data Migration Tool

Use an automated data migration tool from the AppExchange—like Prodly Sandbox Management—to quickly and easily populate sandboxes with data. 

An automated data migration tool has the benefit of minimizing the manual steps involved in the process. On top of that, automation eliminates human error, which prevents frustrating mistakes and do-overs. And like ETL tools, using an automated data migration tool lets you bypass refresh intervals. In short, it’s the easiest, fastest way to prepare your build and test environments for development work.

Leverage Automated Data Migration for CPQ Configuration Data

When using configuration data in apps like Salesforce CPQ, you’ll want to promote changes back up the release chain, as well. In Salesforce, copy data from one sandbox to another further along in the release pipeline with an automated solution. This saves time and prevents errors with migration work and provides you with more time and resources for testing and problem solving. 

Discover the Ease of Prodly Sandbox Management

Prodly Sandbox Management lets you populate up to five sandboxes from production—or any other org—with just a few clicks. Contact us to request a personalized demo

Sand dunes representing populating sandboxes with data

The basics of Salesforce sandbox seeding

Sandbox seeding, or data seeding, is the practice of populating a Salesforce org with record data after it is created or refreshed. While colloquially referred to as sandbox seeding, it’s important to note data seeding also applies to other types or Salesforce orgs as data can be populated or moved into Developer orgs, scratch orgs and even production.

Common use cases for sandbox seeding

A sandbox is merely a Salesforce environment that you can use for making changes to Salesforce, testing those changes, and training users on changes before making the changes available in production. So sandbox seeding is valuable at various stages of Salesforce development and enables admins/devs to complete projects faster, identify issues early (when they’re easier and cheaper to fix), and reduce the amount of time spent resolving bugs at every stage of development.

For example when starting a new Salesforce project, an admin will ideally start work in their own environment, perhaps a Developer or Developer Pro org. Individual Developer sandboxes provide quicker outcomes while virtually eliminating the chance of accidentally deploying unfinished work into Production or overwriting another teammate’s work. This also lessens the risk of exposing confidential data or impacting the daily tasks of your end users. Most Salesforce enhancements impact record data in one way or another, so it’s helpful to have real business data in your environment. While it is true you can use “dummy data”, substantial, real data is always best. Errors and issues are easier to spot when you’re working with real data, and you can compare against production to see exactly how changes would impact production data and user workflows.

Once the admin is confident their new solution is working the way they want, the next step is to make sure it plays nice with the changes other teammate’s have been making and, of course, production. For this you’ll want to have each individual promote their changes to a shared sandbox for testing. Frequently, admins/devs will want to seed data into the testing environment to achieve a production-like environment with current, clean data for testing so they be confident their changes will work in production.

While the majority of Salesforce changes should follow a release path where work starts in an individual Dev org and gets promoted up to testing sandboxes and ultimately pushed into production, there is also a solid argument to have an exception process for quick changes or hotfixes. Due to the urgent nature of hotfixes, companies often make changes in a dedicated sandbox and push them into production. This enables admins to keep production running smoothly, but can cause the orgs in the standard release path to become out of sync with production. After hotfixes, it is important to seed the testing and training sandboxes to ensure regular development projects have the latest configurations and data.

Finally one of the other benefits of seeding sandboxes with actual production data is that you will now be able to create a training environment for new end users and even new hires. How can you expect a new user to learn and understand how to use Salesforce if they don’t have real life scenarios and data for practice? Dummy data can inhibit the learning process because it doesn’t provide necessary business context for users. Keeping your training org current makes the transition to production easier for users.

Challenges to seeding sandboxes

Seeding sandbox testing should be a best practice for any Development/QA team, however manually having to seed data is very time-consuming and can lead to unnecessary added expenses and project delays. Data security concerns can also hinder data seeding effort, as selecting the correct subset of data and scrambling sensitive data all while maintaining the child-parent relationships that exist in production adds additional steps and complexity.

Prodly Sandbox Management automates sandbox seeding to move entire relational data schemas at once with granular control over which records will be seeded and obfuscation options for protecting sensitive data. If you’re interested in reducing your admin’s workload and speeding up your Development/QA sprint cycles by automating sandbox seeding, give us a call.