In March 2020, North Peak hosted our quarterly meetup for organizations managing, implementing, or considering shared CRM solutions– Collaborative CRMs. At these meetups, a group of nonprofit executives and Salesforce admins, developers, and consultants discuss their experiences with Collaborative CRMs (CCRMs), ask questions, and share resources. If you’re interested in joining us for the next one, sign up here.
At our recent meetup, we talked with Salesforce.org’s Senior Director of Release Engineering, Jason Lantz, about SFDO’s preferred tooling for managing development and deployment, Cumulus CI (CCI).
What is it?
CCI is a framework for building portable automation for Salesforce projects on Github, so you can spin up a Salesforce instance with that project’s customizations ready to go. It provides an alternative to using developer orgs and sandboxes to create and deploy Salesforce customizations. Read the docs.
What’s the opportunity for CCRMs?
CCI helps ensure teams apply best practices in their development process (like version control), facilitates collaboration (where organizations can fully implement or sample other organizations’ customizations and contribute to shared repositories), and saves time in development and testing. It’s useful for managed packages but could also be leveraged to create and deploy general feature sets that are common to many organizations– as Dave Averill of SFDO shared, using CCI to manage development can free up teams to spend time on higher-value configuration by skipping the basic steps they do over and over.
Tell me more…
The Outbound Funds project is an example of a CCI project in GitHub. These projects include metadata and a file that configures CCI for the needs of that specific project, so CCI can build up useable environments for the project.
MetaCI is a web app that defines metadata for the GitHub project, can spin up a new scratch org, and runs all the CCI automation to customize the environment for that project. Anytime a change is made, it produces a report in the project repo. When testing betas or publishing new releases, users can upload it, push it to a packaging org, and publish it in the GitHub repo including release notes. Note: MetaCI is run on Heroku.
CCI also offers an integration with an open-source testing framework–Robot Framework–where you can write out test cases to run through CCI and MetaCI, which can significantly reduce the labor involved in testing.
When it comes to distributing packages, MetaDeploy offers a way to make packages available for install. It can also limit access to install, down to the org level. Find Salesforce products available via MetaDeploy here (and Outbound Funds here). Before install, MetaDeploy will inspect orgs to see what other managed packages are installed and adapt steps as necessary.
Who can use it?
This tooling offers benefits for teams (within or across organizations) developing and maintaining managed packages. On an individual user level, it’s not necessarily just for developers or people comfortable with code, though it’s probably best for highly skilled admins. For these admins, CCI can help make spinning up scratch orgs and managing a Github project more accessible.
Mark your calendars: We’re meeting on Thursday, April 23 at 11am PST. If the March meetup was far on the technical side of the spectrum, we’re heading in the other direction with a session facilitated by Sam Dorman of The Build Tank: The Build Tank advises nonprofits on how to strategically invest in their technology, including assembling and managing excellent teams, allocating resources appropriately, and providing clear and effective leadership. We’ll talk about how this applies in the CCRM context.
We’re looking forward to seeing you in April! See below for ways to get involved.
About North Peak
North Peak helps nonprofits and foundations increase institutional intelligence through healthy CRM (constituent relationship management) and/or GMS (grant management system) systems and practices. Contact Us to learn how we can elevate your organization's impact.