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Salesforce audit: how to do it right
Find out all there is to know about the Salesforce audit process so as to make sure that you have all it takes to carry it out properly.
According to Future Market Insights, the Salesforce services market is expected to reach $33.5 billion by 2029, which is a major jump from its current value of $14 billion. Yet, to ensure that the Salesforce platform offers the benefits you expect, it is vital to ensure the technology works as a well-oiled machine.
Performing regular Salesforce solution health checks and audits is an essential element within the technology lifecycle. It refreshes respective needs and KPIs, unveils gaps, and suggests approaches for correction . Now, let’s take an in-depth look at how the Salesforce audit is carried out.
Salesforce platform audit preparation
As with any process out there, the first essential step is preparation. The same is true with the Salesforce audit. So, to get the audit going, you’ll need to cover some key areas, such as objectives, scope, team, documentation, andtimelines.
Setting Salesforce audit objectives and scope
Before you start a Salesforce audit, you must clearly define all the objectives and scope. For instance, the objectives can include compliance with regulations, security risk identification, and system performance evaluation. In terms of the audit’s scope, you can focus on particular Salesforce instance environment areas, including data security, customization, and workflows, just to name a few.
Assembling a Salesforce audit team
The next preparation step is about putting together a Salesforce audit team. Make sure you have both internal and external auditors on board. Internal Salesforce auditors are people familiar with an organization’s processes and systems. In turn, external Salesforce auditors might be independent Salesforce consultants and professionals.
Moreover, when assembling a Salesforce audit team, you need to take care of the Salesforce expertise. This means the people working on the audit must have an in-depth understanding of the Salesforce architecture, best practices, and functionality. To verify Salesforce expertise, people on the audit team should have Salesforce certification, prior audit experience, and hands-on experience working with a Salesforce platform.
Gathering Salesforce audit documentation
Furthermore, preparation encompasses gathering all the necessary documentation. This might include the following:
- Project plans. This documentation includes Salesforce project objectives, timelines, and deliverables.
- System architecture diagrams. These are Salesforce environment visual representations that assist auditors in understanding the link between key Salesforce components, such as custom objectives and data flows.
- Customization and configuration details. This documentation explores aspects like fields, workflows, customer objects, and code, which is basically everything that helps the auditors to determine whether the Salesforce environment is adhering to the best practices.
- Integration points. This part covers the documentation on any integrations with other apps or systems, including details like data exchange, update frequencies, and security measures in place.
The documentation above gives you a starting point for further carrying out the Salesforce audit process. By having the audit documentation together, it ensures a smooth audit process in the future.
Establishing Salesforce audit timelines
The final preparation step is to think about the Salesforce audit timelines. Make certain you set a clear timeline and divide it into smaller segments. Next, make sure that all the parties involved in the audit are aware of their responsibilities. Have clear deadlines for document submission, meetings, and audit report completion.
Monitoring tools for a Salesforce audit
After the preparation stage for the Salesforce organization is over, it is time to obtain some of the monitoring tools for a Salesforce audit. In most cases, these instruments help you deal with the Salesforce auditing tools:
- Salesforce Health Check. The Salesforce health check tool offers a score to measure your Salesforce platform security settings against, in order to meet the Salesforce standards. The Salesforce health checker is a great instrument for checking whether the Salesforce organization is healthy or not.
- Portal Health Check. If the company uses Experience Cloud to connect with B2B and B2C customers, then portal health check can help monitor access points and security protocols.
- Lightning App Usage. This tool allows administrators to monitor metrics like daily active users (DAUs), the most visited pages, and active licenses.
- Apex Exception Email. This approach helps to monitor technical debt by showing when an Apex class exceeds 50% of an Apex governor limit.
- API Usage Notifications. This tool aids in keeping tabs on the usage limits in connection to API requests in order to lower the chance of outages and lost data syncs.
- Duplicate Error Logs. This method is all about maintaining the data hygiene of your Salesforce tool.
- Flow Debug Tool. This tool helps to monitor performance and ensure you debug regularly, especially when migrating legacy Apex code.
The above mentioned tools help to run Salesforce audits smoothly. While the list doesn’t have every one of the monitoring instruments, we can say it is a good starting point for your Salesforce audit toolkit.
Evaluating Salesforce’s security
With all the needed preparation done and the toolkit assembled, it is time to start the Salesforce audit process. Naturally, security is the first stop. According to this report, a Salesforce data breach can cost up to $4 million. That is why if you want to minimize the chance of any data breach, evaluate Salesforce’s security, which entails dealing with its security configuration, data protection, logging, and monitoring.
A security configuration review encompasses looking closely at all the Salesforce settings and configurations pertaining to the system’s security, which examines the following:
- User authentication. When dealing with this access-based aspect, look for mechanisms like sign-on (SSO), multi-factor authentication (MFA), and network-based access restrictions (IP whitelisting).
- User authorization. Assess how effective and secure the assignment process of user roles, profiles, and permissions is.
- Password policies. Evaluate how strong password policies are, which means whether these policies include aspects like length, complexity, and expiration dates.
- Sharing settings. Review the sharing setting in the Salesforce tool, which requires checking out role hierarchies, sharing rules, manual sharing, and organization-wide defaults.
These aspects lie at the core of evaluating the security configuration as a part of a security-based audit. Next, you’ll need to take care of data protection.
When it comes to assessing the data protection measures in place, focus on these two key elements:
- Data encryption. Dealing with encryption means evaluating the mechanisms that protect sensitive data at rest and in transit. This also involves enabling Salesforce Shield Platform Encryption and checking the encryption when data is transmitted between Salesforce and external systems.
- Data backup and recovery. This aspect is crucial for protecting data during data loss or a system failure. You must ensure regular backups are established and that tests are conducted periodically.
With data protection, it is important to test the system to make sure there are sufficient measures to have data encrypted and protected against loss.
Logging and monitoring
The final aspect of the Salesforce security audit is the monitoring and logging assessment. This means focusing on one platform and on these factors:
- Event monitoring. Get in-depth insights on user activities and system events within the Salesforce environment in order to anticipate and respond to potential security incidents. Evaluate the use of Salesforce Event Monitoring and emphasize variables like login history, failed login attempts, API calls, and report exports.
- Setup audit trail. Assess how the organization makes use of the Salesforce audit trail, which is the tool that logs any changes to system configurations, customizations, and security settings. This is vital for ensuring regulatory compliance and detecting unauthorized alterations to user permissions and custom code.
Putting all these puzzle pieces together, you have completed the Salesforce security audit by looking at security configurations, data protection measures, and logging/monitoring tools. If something is still unclear, it is always best to double-check all the security settings.
Reviewing Salesforce governance
Governance review is next on the list of Salesforce audits. This audit entails exploring project management practices, roles and responsibilities, training and support, and compliance. Remember that establishing good governance is a direct path to having a consistent framework that allows you to manage change and resolve conflicts effectively.
Project management practices
Within the scope of project management practices, you need to review project management methodology, change management approach, and Quality Assurance (QA).
Project management methodology determines whether the platform utilizes Agile or waterfall methods. The first one offers flexibility and collaboration, while the second one is more linear and suited for projects with well-defined requirements.
The change management approach shows how well organizations can manage and control changes done to the Salesforce environment. Take a look at the Salesforce Change Sets so as to minimize disruptions and make transitions smoother.
QA assessment encompasses making sure the Salesforce platform meets the desired quality standards. This means conducting code reviews and dealing with automated and user acceptance testing.
Role and responsibilities
Next, the Salesforce governance audit entails checking the roles and responsibilities of the stakeholders involved in the platform’s governance. In most cases, there will be three parties involved:
- Project sponsors are responsible for financial support along with the strategic direction for the Salesforce project(s).
- Salesforce administrators ensure the platform’s efficiency and effectiveness through user management, data management, security settings, and workflow configuration.
- Salesforce developers are responsible for using languages like Apex and Visualforce, along with tools such as Salesforce Lightning, to develop customer apps, integrations, and enhancements.
As a part of the Salesforce governance audit, it is crucial to determine whether all the stakeholders involved have their respective roles and responsibilities properly assigned. Otherwise, you will face disruptions in the platform’s functionality.
Training and support
Along with governance on the part of internal stakeholders, you’ll need to take care of the end users as well. This involves ensuring two key elements:
- End-user training. Take a look at what training materials are available, which requires double-checking whether an organization offers online courses, webinars, and self-paced learning materials that help end-users get along with the instrument as quickly as possible.
- Ongoing support. Explore whether the Salesforce governance measures include support channels such as help desks, online forums, and knowledge bases. These can help end-users get the answers they want without wasting time surfing the Internet for answers.
Having training and support tools in place is not the prerogative of a Salesforce audit. However, if your organization has these, it will make life and the end-user’s life much easier.
Last but not least, there is a matter of compliance. Noncompliance can be extremely costly. For instance, if your organization works with Personal Health Identifiers (PHIs), you must comply with HIPAA. Failing to do so may result in up to $1.5 million per year in fines. Therefore, ensure the platform complies with industry standards, such as ITIL, GDPR, and HIPAA.
After completing the Salesforce governance audit, you should know what party is responsible for a particular aspect of the platform’s management, what project management practices are being used, how end-users are training to use the platform effectively, and what measures are in place to ensure compliance.
Assessing Salesforce’s performance and scalability
Moving along the Salesforce audit path, there is the matter of performanceandscalabilityto take care of. To get an objective take on these two aspects, it is vital to focus on the Salesforce system performance, integrations/customizations, andscalability assessment.
Salesforce system performance
When it comes to auditing the Salesforce system performance, there are three key factors to check:
- System response time. As a part of an audit, you can measure the time it takes for a system to respond to a particular user request. This can be about functions like saving a record, executing a search, and generating a report. Slow responses are indicative of system inefficiencies, which often means poorly optimized code or excessive data.
- API call limits. Based on the particular Salesforce edition and license time, there are certain limits on SalesforceAPI call usage. Exceeding the limits leads to a reduced system performance and potential loss of API access. Take limits as a baseline and compare them to the number of API calls made by custom applications, integrations, and third-party tools.
- Page load times. Slower page load times harm user experience and productivity. If pages have complex layouts, excessive components, and large volumes of data, there is a high chance you could face a slow page load time. Audit the load time of key pages to identify areas for optimization.
The key factors noted above allow you to grasp the overall condition of the Salesforce system performance. Yet, regarding the overall platform performance, you cannot avoid looking at customization and integrations.
Integrations and customizations
Integrations and customizations make the Salesforce platform functional while also offering a great user experience. However, issues with integrations and customization can also cause poor performance. Which is why, you need to audit these three aspects of integrations and customizations:
- Code quality. Review all the custom code, including Apex classes, Visualforce pages, and Lightning components. This ensures that the code is optimized for the best performance. When assessing the code, it is critical to look for inefficient queries and excessive user loops.
- Integration best practices. Another important part of a performance-based audit is assessing the performance of integrations between Salesforce and other systems. In this case, you need to look for bulk APIs working with large data transfers and examine error-handling mechanisms in the context of failed API calls.
- Customization-based performance impact. This aspect entails assessing the impact of custom objects, fields, and workflows on the system’s performance. An audit can examine whether customizations cause performance bottlenecks or slow page load times.
While integrations and customizations offer your platform better functionality and user experience, it is important to check whether these aspects thwart performance. Respectively, take proper care of integrations and customizations in order to avoid future performance-based pains.
As a final step in the Salesforce performance and scalability audit, you should evaluate how fast and how effectively a platform can scale and grow. To do that, you’ll need to focus on these factors:
- User growth projections. This part of an audit emphasizes the organization’s plans for user growth. It happens while assessing whether Salesforce can handle additional users without adverse performance impacts. For example, the audit can assess the system’s current capacity, licensing, and performance to determine whether these can match prospective user growth.
- Data volume considerations. This aspect relates to evaluating the organization’s data storage capacity, data storage usage, and growth trends. This ensures Salesforce can accommodate any increasing volumes of data. To deal with data volume considerations, check how an organization approaches their data storage limits and what strategies are used to archive or purge data.
- Future feature requirements. When an organization plans to expand its Salesforce implementation, for instance adding new customization, features, and integrations, it is vital to see whether the system in place can support the given changes.
Analyzing Salesforce’s performance and scalability is a crucial part of the Salesforce audit and ensures an organization can meet their growth objectives. Besides, it is important to set a balance between the great user experience offered by customizations and a sufficient performance that prevents user dissatisfaction when using the platform.
Up to this moment, we have spoken a great deal about the importance of preserving the user experience. And, that is why the next crucial part of the Salesforce audit is the one directly related to the user experience. Let’s have a closer look at how it is done.
Conducting a user experience Salesforce audit
In a nutshell, the user experience Salesforce audit focuses on two key aspects – user interface and feature usage. These portray how well the platform’s design meets users’ needs and how well its features address any user problems at hand.
Assessing the Salesforce platform user interface revolves around these elements:
- Design consistency. One of the key elements of a great user interface that offers top-notch user experience is about having the interface design consistent across the entire Salesforce ecosystem. This requires that custom components, layouts, and branding should all follow the same visual path. This helps users to feel comfortable when interacting with the system. As a part of the audit, check whether color schemes, fonts, and button styles are consistent across the various pages.
- Navigation efficiency. Next, the user interface should be intuitive and easy to navigate. Efficient navigation means better user productivity and satisfaction. Review all the menus, tabs, and search functionality to look for areas in need of optimization and simplification.
- Accessibility. Finally, the user interface should comply with existing accessibility standards, also known as WCAG. This grants people with disabilities access to the system effectively. To audit accessibility, check the proper use of ARIA attributes, color contrast, and keyboard navigation support.
With a consistent, efficient, and accessible user interface, comes a great user experience. Ensure the interface’s overall design is simple and easy to use. Otherwise, users will look for alternatives.
The second part of the user experience Salesforce audit is linked to assessing the features useful in understanding how users interact with the Salesforce ecosystem. This part includes checking three facets:
- User adoption rates. Low adoption rates harm user experience and training. At this point, you need to audit the usage data to see whether particular features or modules are used less or more than others. This data provides insights into features that should be optimized.
- Underutilized features. When features and models with lower adoption rates are identified, the next step is to plan their improvement. Work out strategies and opportunities for additional training, process improvements, and customization enhancements.
- Customization effectiveness. This aspect includes assessing the impact of customization on the user experience. This ensures custom objects, fields, and workflows support user needs without hindering productivity. Check if the customizations in place are intuitive, easy to use, and provide user value.
After dealing with user interface and feature usage, you have covered two major factors impacting the user experience. And in this situation, ending an audit with a user experience assessment is a great way to finish the entire evaluation process.
As you can see, we started with checking security, proceeded to governance, focused on performance and scalability, and ended with the user experience. Yet, going through the stages listed so far, they are not the final point in the overall Salesforce audit. You reach the end when you devise insights from the audit and ensure the next one will be more effective.
Salesforce audit recommendations
There are particular recommendations we can offer to make Salesforce audits more efficient and successful. There are four particular aspects that can make a Salesforce audit so much better:
- Short- and long-term actions
- Code clarity
- Detailer reporting
1. Short- and long-term actions
When dealing with a Salesforce audit, you must prioritize between the different actions to take and the steps to make. Immediate or short-term actions include addressing high-priority issues such as security vulnerabilities, slow-performing customizations optimization, and additional training for underutilized features.
On the different parts of the spectrum, long-term actions are all about planning and implementing the broader chances to improve the health, performance, and user experience of the Salesforce environment. This entails re-evaluating system architecture, enhancing data management processes, and implementing a new governance framework.
A business processes-focused review is the next step in the tech audit process and normally includes:
- Business processes and a Salesforce flow correspondence review
- Architecture overview
- Licensing and clouds review
- Integrations and customizations review
This requires close interaction with the Salesforce project team, business analysts, and the client’s head of technology. As a result of this collaboration, you get a 360-degree view of the platform and its functionality.
3. Code clarity
Development process quality is where we investigate the fundamentals of the system. This technology-focused review primarily includes the following:
- Codebase analysis and development process review
- Data flows and integration points review
Solution Architects and technology managers investigate code coverage and quality, usage of Salesforce software functionality, data asset quality, inputs and outputs, integrations, and testing processes, with a special focus on UI and regression testing.
Security and access are other milestones of the technical audit. It is critical to complete a detailed investigation of the compliance and security reviews of the existing system and data, and multidimensional access rules. All of the aspects above are crucial parts of the code hygiene strategy.
4. Detailed reporting
Reporting is the finalization of all the work performed. Based on the documentation and interviews conducted, the client can evaluate the current state of the system along with future maintenance considerations. A tailored report presents a thorough gap analysis within key technical areas. A detailed report provides actionable insight and recommendations on prioritized improvements of Salesforce-based solutions, scoring it against industry best practices, time and cost estimates, and a detailed code review with annotations.
The bottom line
The Salesforce audit consists of several steps – preparation, security check, governance evaluation, a performance and scalability assessment, and a user experience audit. Following these phases grants valuable insights and reveals any particular aspects of the Salesforce ecosystem that should be optimized. Conducting regular audits is a great way to ensure top-notch performance, enhanced security, and a great user experience.
As you can see, conducting a Salesforce audit is a challenging process. Yet, someone who knows how to build decent Salesforce solutions from the ground up definitely knows how to identify the gaps within an existing Salesforce system. Avenga is an official Salesforce partner. Contact us to let our experienced experts ensure your Salesforce environment performs to its best ability.
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