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Why You Need Version Control for Data

Joe Marshall

Sr. Manager, Demand Generation

August 10, 2023

Here’s Why a Traditional Backup Solution Isn’t Enough

Do you use a backup system for Salesforce CPQ, Advanced Approvals, or B2B Commerce? Then you might think you don’t need version control for data. Well, it’s time to rethink that. 

Relying solely on a backup system to track changes in your change management process can result in a bunch of headaches, from delayed releases to risk of noncompliance. On the flip side, using a version control system (VCS) like GitHub for configuration data offers significant benefits, including documentation of all changes, conflict management, enhanced collaboration, rollback precision, and more.

A white card on a yellow background asking if you know about version control for data.

Version Control for Data vs. Backup for Data


  • Takes periodic snapshots of configuration states
  • Doesn’t actively prevent overwrites or conflicting changes.
  • Limited to restoring the entire previous saved state, potentially undoing recent changes you want to keep.
  • Offers a snapshot without insights into how data points interact.
  • Restoration can potentially disrupt ongoing processes and cause delays or downtime.
  • Requires a manual review of all the data to correlate issues with specific backups.
  • Primarily reactive, which might not support rapid business growth or anticipate future needs. 

Version Control System

  • Captures the “who, what, and when” of every change in real time.
  • Proactively identifies and flags potential clashes, promoting smooth collaboration.
  • Offers precise rollback to any previous version of the configuration, which encourages experimentation.
  • Shows all the interrelationships between configuration data to provide context for every single change.
  • Supports an agile ALM process with quick, precise rollbacks without downtime.
  • Instantly highlights recent changes, allowing for faster, easier detection and resolution of issues.
  • Fosters proactive planning and adjustments, which helps ensure configurations remain relevant and can easily adapt to changing needs.

The Value of Version Control for Data

While a backup system is absolutely necessary to protect you against data loss or corruption, version control for data is a game-changer for Salesforce ALM. It goes beyond just tracking changes—it offers in-depth insight into the evolution of every configuration. And that helps with a bunch of things, such as compliance, conflict detection and resolution, and innovation in Salesforce CPQ and other configuration data-driven apps.

Version Control for Data Enhances Compliance

Some regulations and industry standards—like the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2022 (SOX)—mandate documentation of all changes to specific types of data. A VCS meticulously records every modification to configuration data, which provides you with a clear picture of the who, what, and when of each change. This is worth its weight in gold when it’s time for an external audit.

A VCS Facilitates Collaboration by Eliminating Conflicts

Whether it’s in Salesforce CPQ, Conga Composer, B2B Commerce, or Advanced Approvals, multiple team members often make changes at the same time. However, this can result in overlaps or even conflicts in configurations. In situations like this, a traditional backup solution might show you a snapshot of a past state—but that likely won’t tell you much about the origin of the conflict. 

This is where source control truly shines. Let’s say you want to make a change to a configuration, but so does your coworker… and the two changes aren’t compatible. A VCS instantly identifies and flags the potential conflict. Thanks to this proactive detection, you can streamline collaboration and minimize disruptions.

Version Control for Data Promotes Innovation

Version control for data empowers you to be agile and innovative. Thinking of introducing a new template in Conga Composer? Or revising a customer journey in B2B Commerce? With version control for data, you can experiment and try new configurations without worrying about breaking anything.

If a modification doesn’t do what you want, it’s simple and straightforward to roll back to a state before the change. Plus, in the event an issue does happen, using a VCS saves you a ton of time and work. Instead of plowing through reams of data to find the issue, let the VCS flag a recent configuration change that might be the culprit.

Version Control for Data Is Integral to Salesforce ALM

The difference between backups and version control is like night and day. You need both—and you can’t replace one with the other. Backups are like static snapshots without any context, while a VCS provides clear visibility into configuration changes, along with all the interrelationships between objects. This enhanced visibility accelerates the change management process, facilitates agile decision making, and ensures efficient operations. By incorporating version control for data into your ALM process, you’re setting the stage for smoother operations, as well as for innovation and sustainable growth.


Can I integrate a version control system with my existing backup solution?  

Yes, you can—in fact, it’s recommended to do so to maximize data protection, management, and usage. A backup is a safety net in the event of data loss or corruption, while version control shows how the data has changed over time.

Does a version control system eliminate the need for audits or external reviews?  

No, it doesn’t. While VCS can make it easier to navigate an audit by providing detailed documentation of changes, the purpose of an external audit is to offer a third-party perspective on your compliance posture. 

What’s the learning curve for integrating a VCS into my Salesforce ALM process?

If you’re new to the concept of version control, the initial setup and transition to using it can take some time. That said, the long-term benefits—including streamlined operations, fewer code conflicts, and enhanced collaboration—make the investment of time and effort worthwhile.


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