This post presents a basic model for the control of change within a Salesforce development process. Best practice suggests that all non-trivial projects should implement some degree of governance around environment change, i.e. Change Control. This is perhaps obvious, what isn’t necessarily obvious is how to achieve effective change control without introducing friction to the develop->test->release cycle.
In simplistic terms a change control process should ensure that all changes are applied in a controlled and coordinated manner. The term controlled in this context relates to audit-ability, acceptance and approval. The term coordinated relates to communication, transparency and orchestration of resources. The foundation upon which such control and coordination is achieved is accurate recording of changes and their application to specific environments, the object model below shows one approach to this.
Note, where feasible I recommend using the production org for this purpose, which may be challenging from a licensing perspective, however this approach has many advantages over off-platform alternatives such as Excel spreadsheets for tracking change. Chatter provides excellent support for collaboration on deployments.
1. For most projects tracking change at the component level (Custom Field, layout adjustment etc.) is time expensive and impractical in terms of associated overhead.
2. The model does not require change to be recorded at the component level. Instead change summaries are recorded and the flow of change between environments tracked. The exception to this is Manual Change, where the component type is not supported by the API or Change Set approach, in such cases Manual Changes are recorded individually.
3. Sandbox to sandbox deployments should be recorded (as the internal deployment type) and tracked.
4. A Deployment will be comprised of Manual Changes organised into Pre and Post Actions, plus a set of grouped Automated Changes. Manual changes may be configuration or data in type.
5. A periodic audit should be conducted to compare the Change Control Log for an Environment against the Setup Audit Log within the org.
6. A production deployment should always be preceded by a full deployment verification test (DVT) that replicates exactly the conditions of deployment to the production org.
7. A Deployment that targets the Production org should always require approval. A standard Approval Process should be introduced, with Chatter Post approval where appropriate.