Salesforce org merges require a significant amount of time and effort. They represent grueling projects that often take months of work. As a result, we typically don’t recommend that any company confront a consolidation and migration themselves unless they have a dedicated on-staff team of certified Salesforce experts who are proficient in org management, security customization, data migration, IDE deployments and every other aspect of the platform they will need to handle.
With all that in mind, if your team is thinking about merging multiple Salesforce instances, it helps to understand the overall process and what’s required. So we’ve listed the 5 steps needed for any consolidation project, along with Salesforce org merge best practices that will help you along the way.
1. Decide: Salesforce org merge or Salesforce to Salesforce?
It sounds intuitive, but your team should ensure that an org merge constitutes the right answer before starting one. Salesforce to Salesforce serves as a common alternative; sometimes sharing information between orgs without combining them represents a more straightforward solution. This type of integration may save you from significant headaches if your multiple orgs meet these criteria:
- Your teams on different Salesforce instances operate independently (their work routines never overlap)
- These separate departments only need to share a small percentage of their Salesforce data
Otherwise, an org consolidation will ultimately stand out as the more practical option, given Salesforce’s flexibility to allow multiple teams to work side by side without disrupting each other through record types, profiles, et cetera.
2. Understand: What differences exist between your Salesforce orgs?
One of the most commonly overlooked Salesforce org merge best practices: mapping out all related instances to uncover the differences between them. Stakeholders embarking on the merge process occasionally underestimate the importance and effort of this step, but a full audit of all merging instances can save consolidation projects from later unforeseen complications.
The Salesforce ecosystem contains multiple tools that can help with this process:
- Heroku’s Schema Lister provides an output of all fields and objects in a single org
- Its Salesforce Org Compare Tool (in the same toolkit) spots differences between two instances
- Qandor’s Field Trip app tells you how often users are filling out fields, allowing you to ignore unnecessary ones
These tools (and others like them) will give you the outputs you need to understand the steps forward in your Salesforce org merge, but they won’t do the full job for you. You will still need some old-fashioned brain power to plan your consolidation. This project requires, for example, that every team affected by the merge compares their Salesforce processes and definitions of standard terms. This exercise will reveal much more about their similarities and differences than field names will.
3. Select: Which org will become the “master” one?
Every Salesforce org merge requires one “master” instance. When consolidating three orgs, for example, one of them will remain and absorb the other two. We recognize that multiple factors influence the selection of a master instance — organizational dynamics may weigh heavily on this decision, for example, especially during business acquisitions.
All else equal, however, our best practice states that the most complex of your orgs should become your master instance. Selecting based on this criteria will save your team effort, as it will keep them from rebuilding a large chunk of functionality in the next step.
4. Build: Move your metadata to the new master org.
The bulk of the consolidation project— the build itself — can only start once we have selected our master org and defined what must be built on it to incorporate all teams. The Salesforce ecosystem once again provides multiple tools that dramatically speed this process:
- Free IDE tools like Eclipse allow you to push metadata from one instance to another, saving your team hours of effort rebuilding org functionality from scratch
- Paid apps like Blue Canvas wrap this same functionality into a suite of tools that support the entire deployment process, like an org comparison tool similar to the one mentioned above
But these tools once again won’t do all of the work for you— the consolidation will require a lot of manual effort. The questions you must answer include (but certainly aren’t limited to):
- Should you implement divisions in your consolidated org?
- How should you configure security for your teams in a shared system?
- What record types do your users need for different objects?
- Do you need to standardize terminology and process between departments? If so, how?
- What conflicts exist between automation rules, validations, and code from different instances, and how do you resolve them?
Even once everything above has been thought through and built, your team must test the entire system from end to end to ensure that every piece of functionality works as expected for every type of user.
5. Migrate: Push your data to your consolidated instance.
Once your master org’s metadata aligns with that of your legacy ones, you can finally transfer the data itself. Data migration will take time even then, however. A full-scale data migration requires that you load records object by object in a top-down order (starting with parent objects like accounts and ending with child records like contracts).
Then your team can fully validate the consolidated instance: the data in it, the visibility of records across departments, the functionality of more complex features, et cetera. Your new org can go live if all goes well — otherwise, your team will need to iterate and solve any issues you discover.
Consolidating multiple orgs represents a complicated process that looks different for every single project. With these Salesforce org merge best practices, however, you should be well-equipped to understand the overall process and the resources required for it.
Need help deciding if you can manage the project yourself? Check out our ebook: 9 Signs You Need a Salesforce Consulting Firm.