Sandbox seeding
April 25, 2024

Salesforce sandbox seeding basics

A comprehensive guide to data seeding in Salesforce

Overview of Salesforce sandbox seeding

Sandbox seeding, or data seeding, is the practice of populating a Salesforce org with record data after it’s created or refreshed. While sandbox seeding is a commonly used term, it’s important to note that data seeding also applies to other types of Salesforce orgs, including scratch orgs and even production.

The value of sandbox seeding

Sandbox seeding is valuable at various stages of the DevOps process. It enables admins and developers to: 

  • Complete projects faster
  • Identify issues early, when they’re easier and cheaper to fix
  • Reduce the amount of time needed for resolving bugs

Use cases for sandbox seeding

A sandbox is simply a Salesforce environment that you can use for making and testing changes: then training users on those updates before making them available in production. 

Enhance development efficiency with data seeding

When starting a new sprint, you ideally start work in your own environment—perhaps a Developer or Developer Pro org. By giving everyone their own sandbox, you get quicker outcomes while virtually eliminating the chance of accidentally deploying unfinished work into production or—yikes—overwriting someone else’s work. It also minimizes the risk of exposing sensitive data or impacting the daily tasks of your end users. 

Most Salesforce updates impact record data in one way or another, so it’s helpful to have real business data in your dev environment. Of course, it’s technically true that you can use “dummy data.” But there’s nothing like substantial, real data to ensure quality. It’s easier to spot errors and issues when you’re working with real data. Moreover, you can compare against production to see exactly how the changes you’re working on would impact production data and user workflows.

Integration and testing in shared environments

Once you’re confident your new solution is working the way you want it to, the next step is to make sure it plays nice with the changes other teammates have been making and, of course, production. To do this, everybody has to promote their changes to a shared sandbox for testing. 

It’s advisable to seed data into the testing environment to achieve a production-like environment with current, clean data so you can be confident your changes will work in production.

Urgent changes and hotfixes

The majority of Salesforce changes should follow a release path where work starts in an individual Dev org and gets promoted up to testing sandboxes and ultimately pushed into production. 

However, there’s also a solid argument to have an exception process for quick changes or hotfixes. Due to the urgent nature of hotfixes, it’s wise to make changes in a dedicated sandbox and push them into production. This allows you to keep production running smoothly. 

On the downside, it can cause the orgs in the standard release path to become out of sync with production. That’s why it is important after a hotfix to seed the testing and training sandboxes. That way, you can be sure all regular development projects have the latest configurations and data.

Training and user onboarding with real Salesforce data

Finally, one of the other benefits of seeding sandboxes with actual production data is that you can now create a training environment for new end users and even new hires. How can you expect a new user to learn and understand how to use Salesforce if they don’t have real-life scenarios and data for practice? Dummy data can inhibit the learning process because it doesn’t provide the necessary business context for users. That’s why keeping your training org current makes the transition to production easier for new users.

Challenges in Salesforce sandbox seeding

Seeding sandboxes should be a best practice for any development or QA team. However, several challenges can impact efficiency and costs:

  • Time-consuming process: Manually seeding data is very time-consuming, which can lead to project delays.
  • Added expenses: The extensive time and resources required can lead to unnecessary added expenses.
  • Data security concerns: Ensuring data security while selecting the correct subset of data and subsequently scrambling sensitive data adds complexity.
  • Maintaining relationships: It's crucial to maintain the child-parent relationships that exist in production, which adds additional steps and complexity.

Enhance your DevOps process with Prodly sandbox seeding

Prodly’s sandbox seeding wizard solves all these challenges efficiently and effectively. 

With Prodly, you can: 

  • Seed up to five environments with real production data in a matter of seconds
  • Automatically maintain all parent-child relationships so you can use real production data
  • Mask the data before it’s seeded into the test environment, enhancing compliance with HIPAA, GDPR, CCPA, and other privacy regulations]

Interested in learning how to boost the quality of your test data? Request a demo to see Prodly in action!

Get the guide

The essential guide to Salesforce sandbox seeding

FAQs

Why should you never make changes directly in production?

You should always make updates and changes to Salesforce in a sandbox because that’s an isolated environment. If the change doesn’t work the way you want it to, it won’t affect any real-life processes in your CRM and hinder business operations. By making changes in a development environment, you can ensure they work the way you want them to before promoting them to your production environment.

Can sandbox seeding help with Salesforce training?

Yes, it can help because it allows you to create a training environment that mirrors production, i.e. your real-life CRM. That means you can train new users in a highly realistic environment where even if something goes wrong, it won’t impact business operations.

Overview of Salesforce sandbox seeding

Sandbox seeding, or data seeding, is the practice of populating a Salesforce org with record data after it’s created or refreshed. While sandbox seeding is a commonly used term, it’s important to note that data seeding also applies to other types of Salesforce orgs, including scratch orgs and even production.

The value of sandbox seeding

Sandbox seeding is valuable at various stages of the DevOps process. It enables admins and developers to: 

  • Complete projects faster
  • Identify issues early, when they’re easier and cheaper to fix
  • Reduce the amount of time needed for resolving bugs

Use cases for sandbox seeding

A sandbox is simply a Salesforce environment that you can use for making and testing changes: then training users on those updates before making them available in production. 

Enhance development efficiency with data seeding

When starting a new sprint, you ideally start work in your own environment—perhaps a Developer or Developer Pro org. By giving everyone their own sandbox, you get quicker outcomes while virtually eliminating the chance of accidentally deploying unfinished work into production or—yikes—overwriting someone else’s work. It also minimizes the risk of exposing sensitive data or impacting the daily tasks of your end users. 

Most Salesforce updates impact record data in one way or another, so it’s helpful to have real business data in your dev environment. Of course, it’s technically true that you can use “dummy data.” But there’s nothing like substantial, real data to ensure quality. It’s easier to spot errors and issues when you’re working with real data. Moreover, you can compare against production to see exactly how the changes you’re working on would impact production data and user workflows.

Integration and testing in shared environments

Once you’re confident your new solution is working the way you want it to, the next step is to make sure it plays nice with the changes other teammates have been making and, of course, production. To do this, everybody has to promote their changes to a shared sandbox for testing. 

It’s advisable to seed data into the testing environment to achieve a production-like environment with current, clean data so you can be confident your changes will work in production.

Urgent changes and hotfixes

The majority of Salesforce changes should follow a release path where work starts in an individual Dev org and gets promoted up to testing sandboxes and ultimately pushed into production. 

However, there’s also a solid argument to have an exception process for quick changes or hotfixes. Due to the urgent nature of hotfixes, it’s wise to make changes in a dedicated sandbox and push them into production. This allows you to keep production running smoothly. 

On the downside, it can cause the orgs in the standard release path to become out of sync with production. That’s why it is important after a hotfix to seed the testing and training sandboxes. That way, you can be sure all regular development projects have the latest configurations and data.

Training and user onboarding with real Salesforce data

Finally, one of the other benefits of seeding sandboxes with actual production data is that you can now create a training environment for new end users and even new hires. How can you expect a new user to learn and understand how to use Salesforce if they don’t have real-life scenarios and data for practice? Dummy data can inhibit the learning process because it doesn’t provide the necessary business context for users. That’s why keeping your training org current makes the transition to production easier for new users.

Challenges in Salesforce sandbox seeding

Seeding sandboxes should be a best practice for any development or QA team. However, several challenges can impact efficiency and costs:

  • Time-consuming process: Manually seeding data is very time-consuming, which can lead to project delays.
  • Added expenses: The extensive time and resources required can lead to unnecessary added expenses.
  • Data security concerns: Ensuring data security while selecting the correct subset of data and subsequently scrambling sensitive data adds complexity.
  • Maintaining relationships: It's crucial to maintain the child-parent relationships that exist in production, which adds additional steps and complexity.

Enhance your DevOps process with Prodly sandbox seeding

Prodly’s sandbox seeding wizard solves all these challenges efficiently and effectively. 

With Prodly, you can: 

  • Seed up to five environments with real production data in a matter of seconds
  • Automatically maintain all parent-child relationships so you can use real production data
  • Mask the data before it’s seeded into the test environment, enhancing compliance with HIPAA, GDPR, CCPA, and other privacy regulations]

Interested in learning how to boost the quality of your test data? Request a demo to see Prodly in action!

Get the guide

The essential guide to Salesforce sandbox seeding

FAQs

Why should you never make changes directly in production?

You should always make updates and changes to Salesforce in a sandbox because that’s an isolated environment. If the change doesn’t work the way you want it to, it won’t affect any real-life processes in your CRM and hinder business operations. By making changes in a development environment, you can ensure they work the way you want them to before promoting them to your production environment.

Can sandbox seeding help with Salesforce training?

Yes, it can help because it allows you to create a training environment that mirrors production, i.e. your real-life CRM. That means you can train new users in a highly realistic environment where even if something goes wrong, it won’t impact business operations.