Salesforce: Single vs Multi Organization Strategy

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What is an Organization?

An organization or environment in the salesforce.com vernacular is a “logical instance of data and metadata for a set of users”  – Roberto Desisto (Gartner VP & Analyst), it represents an instance of the Force.com infrastructure and platform that lets the users access, deploy or create applications with various feature sets, depending on the configuration of the environment.

  • Contains data and metadata
  • Controls capacity limits and computing resources
  • Easy to scale adding a new related environment (no costly stack to maintain)

What is an Organization Strategy?

An org strategy is a plan of how to best use Salesforce with your business. It outlines the underlying org architecture that will be used in your Salesforce solution. Two possible approaches:

  • Single-Org
  • Multi-Org

Single-Org

Single-Org Strategy is composed of just one Salesforce Org and all the business processes (how complex and disparate they may be) are implemented within that Org.

Pros

  • Cross business unit collaboration
  • Salesforce Chatter shared in the organization
  • Aligned processes, reports, dashboards, security – consolidated customization
  • Ability to share data
  • Unified reporting
  • Single login to access multiple business functions
  • 360 view from a central point of view – overall reports possible
  • Interfaces are easier to maintain

Cons

  • Org complexity could become a barrier to progress
  • Potential to hit specific Org limits, such as number of custom tabs, objects and code lines
  • Org-wide settings could become difficult to govern and manage
  • Time to market and innovate could be impacted by number of teams rolling out new functionality
  • More teams updating shared configuration and code means more regression testing is needed as complexity increases over time
  • Fewer sandbox environments reduces testing capabilities
  • Local administration is difficult

Multi-Org

Multi-Org Strategy is the strategy where a customer has multiple Salesforce Org. Data and applications are split in different Orgs depending upon factors like different business units or product lines.

Pros

  • Logical Separation of data
  • Reduced risk of exceeding Org limits
  • Org-wide settings are easier to be governed and managed. Lower data volumes within a single Org – potentially improves performance
  • Improved time to market and freedom to innovate
  • Fewer teams impacted by shared updates
  • Reduced complexity within a single Org
  • More sandbox environments means more testing capabilities
  • Local administration and customization possible

Cons

  • Harder to get a clear global definition of processes and data
  • Less reuse of configuration and code
  • Solutions for shared common business requirements need to be deployed into multiple Orgs
  • Inferior collaboration across business units (no shared Chatter)
  • Duplicated administration functions required
  • Increased complexity for single sign on
  • Merging/Splitting Orgs and changing integration endpoints is very difficult.
  • The administration is extensive for configurations which cannot be deployed by automated processes. (deployment strategy needed)

The multi-org strategy can be declined in different approaches:

  1. Completely Autonomy: each organization is not directly linked to each other environment. This strategy can be adopted in a very innovative context where duplication is acceptable and there is an organized chaos. A possible example is a company where each country has its own organization divided in silos for every department.
  2. Master Child: a master org pushes a subset of data to all child linking organizations (ex: master account data, shared content), each of them has also its own specific data not synchronized with the master org or with other divisions. Typical cultural organizations that choose this kind of org strategy are characterized by a semi-autonomous culture, a medium touch governance, and a moderately regulated centralized reporting.
  3. No centralized org: each organization is directly linked to other organizations using Salesforce2Salesforce integration for exchanging and updating data. Communication is bi-directional – if one business area updates customer data, any org that is connected will receive updated information. Organizations that adopts this kind of approach has no need for centralized reporting but they need ad hoc sharing of accounts, contacts etc. with no central consolidation.
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