Compliance
April 25, 2024

12 SOX compliance best practices for Salesforce DevOps

Change management, documentation, source control, audits, and more

Are you a public company using Salesforce? Then it’s critical to adhere to SOX compliance best practices in your DevOps process. 

Why? Well, not being in compliance can have serious consequences. In fact, an executive who knowingly oversees non-compliant reporting processes can face up to $5 million in fines. On top of that, they could be sentenced to 20 years in prison!

SOX compliance best practices for Salesforce DevOps include establishing a formal change management process, documenting all changes, using a VCS, and conducting regular internal and external audits. You should enforce segregation of duties, implement strict user access management, monitor orgs for unauthorized changes, and enable field history tracking. 

Finally, you need to leverage sharing rules, back up your data, and provide your team with ongoing training,

So are you ready to start making your Salesforce DevOps process audit proof? Let’s dive right in!

1. Establish a formal change management process

To begin with, it’s crucial to establish a formal change management process. This process isn’t just some optional rule book. It’s the core of how you review the impact of any and all modifications in Salesforce.

Even minor tweaks to code and configurations, as well as data adjustments, can impact the accuracy of your financial reporting. A formal process makes it easier to keep track of these changes and their consequences so nothing slips through the cracks.

2. Maintain thorough documentation of all changes

You should also maintain thorough documentation of all modifications. Think of it as your comprehensive journal of Salesforce changes. If you use a work management app like Jira, Azure Board, or Agile Accelerator, you can record the changes here.

Each entry should include the reason for the change, who authorized it, and the date it was made. This isn’t a simple bureaucratic exercise. It forms a crucial part of audit trails. It helps you keep track of alterations, justifies why they were made, and provides a timeline.

3. Use a version control system

Let’s talk about version control systems. They’re like the ultimate surveillance system for your Salesforce environment. Why? Because they document the who, what, when, where, and why of each change. 

When you implement a version control system (VCS), you always have a detailed log of changes. That means you can trace back any modifications or irregularities if needed.

Prodly lets you connect your pipeline to Azure, GitLab, GitHub, and Bitbucket. Then it stores those changes indefinitely in an audit trail you can refer to at any time.

You might also like: What is version control and what are its benefits?

4. Conduct regular internal audits

Regular internal audits of your Salesforce environments are essential to ensuring SOX compliance. These audits aren’t just about ticking boxes. By taking a proactive approach to maintaining compliance, you can identify and address any issues before they become big headaches. This way, problems don’t turn into penalties.

5. Regularly have external audits performed

What about external auditing? You bet! Regular audits by an external party provide a fresh pair of eyes to validate your compliance. They can help catch any overlooked or recurring issues and confirm all changes meet SOX regulations. 

This is where a SOX compliance tool like Prodly Compliance Center can play an integral role. Compliance Center automatically stores an audit trail of financially significant changes to data. For instance, if you make changes to a Quote in Salesforce CPQ, those changes will likely impact revenue. An auditor may want to know why those changes were made and who made them. Compliance Center uses the data from your VCS integrated with the information from your work management app like Jira to create a detailed history of all changes.

It also provides a super fast and easy way to generate audit reports. You simply choose which deployment you want to see an audit report for, and it provides you with a downloadable PDF that shows the details of each change. This means you’re always audit ready… so say goodbye to stress!

6. Enforce segregation of duties

SOX regulations require the segregation of duties. For example, the person who makes the changes can’t also approve them for deployment. This is a critical factor to keep in mind when assigning responsibilities, because especially on small teams, this is often overlooked.

Prodly’s documentation function makes it easy to show you enforce segregation of duties. That way, auditors can always be sure you have different people performing critical tasks.

7. Implement stringent user access management

User access management is another key area. You need to establish strict access controls with profiles and permission sets so that exclusively authorized users can access Salesforce. Moreover, these approved users should only have access to the data they need for their role. 

On top of that, consider using Prodly to manage access at the environment level. By doing so, you can prevent unauthorized team members from deploying changes to production.

For example, a developer needs access to their dev environment, as well as testing and integration. But they don’t need access to your production org where all the sensitive data is stored. 

This minimizes the risk of data misuse—plus, it helps keep your Salesforce environment as secure as Fort Knox.

8. Monitor orgs for unauthorized changes

You also want to make sure that changes outside your change management process aren’t being promoted to production. Every change needs to be properly recorded and approved in order for you to be in compliance. Regularly check your orgs for unauthorized changes and, if necessary, take action. 

This is another area where Compliance Center can help. It provides 24/7 org monitoring for changes within and outside of your change management process. It also provides customizable rules so you can determine exactly which types of changes to monitor for. 

9. Enable field history tracking

Field history tracking provides a timeline of data changes, which is nothing short of a must-have for accurate financial reporting. The purpose of field history tracking is to have a transparent record of modifications. 

Unfortunately, the Salesforce field history tracking feature doesn’t provide sufficient coverage for SOX compliance due to limitations around how many objects and fields you can monitor. That’s why you need a solution like Compliance Center.

10. Leverage sharing rules

Sharing rules in Salesforce are also essential to data security. By leveraging these, you ensure that specific data is only visible to authorized team members. This adds another layer of security because it safeguards sensitive information from prying eyes.

11. Back up your data

Backing up your Salesforce data is like a safety net for your high-wire act. Regular backups help guard against data loss and maintain data integrity—both of which are key for SOX compliance. 

On top of that, you should have a robust data restoration process in place. This helps ensure that you can recover quickly if a data loss event does occur.

12. Provide ongoing training

Finally, don’t underestimate the power of training. Everyone who contributes to the release process should be well-versed in SOX compliance requirements. 

Regular training keeps these requirements top of mind. In addition, it reminds everyone on the team about the importance of adhering to these regulations to avoid penalties. It’s like a continuous reminder that compliance isn’t optional—but a critical aspect of your day-to-day responsibilities.

Prodly: the easy way to ensure SOX compliance in Salesforce DevOps

SOX requirements can be challenging and complex, but it’s essential to understand and adhere to them. Fortunately, Prodly Compliance Center makes being SOX compliant in Salesforce easy. It gives you robust controls, detailed change tracking, and effortless audit report generation so you never have to have sleepless nights again.

With these best practices and a SOX compliance tool like Prodly Compliance Center, you can help ensure your Salesforce release process stays within the bounds of the law. And remember: SOX compliance isn’t just about avoiding penalties—it’s also about maintaining trust in your financial reporting and overall business integrity.

Get the guide

The ultimate guide to SOX compliance for Salesforce CPQ

FAQs

What does “SOX” stand for?

“SOX” stands for the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. This federal law is designed to improve the accuracy and reliability of corporate financial reporting to protect investors. Learn more about the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.

What are the benefits of a SOX-compliant release management process in Salesforce?

Implementing a SOX-compliant release process in Salesforce results in reduced risk of audit failure. It also minimizes the financial and reputational risks to the business, and it helps improve investor confidence.

How do I make my Salesforce release management process SOX compliant?

Your company’s specific needs will determine your journey to a SOX-compliant release management process. In general, it’s wise to begin by conducting a thorough SOX compliance assessment. Then, based on your findings, you can develop a plan to put all the required controls and processes in place. Learn more about getting your release management process audit ready.

Are you a public company using Salesforce? Then it’s critical to adhere to SOX compliance best practices in your DevOps process. 

Why? Well, not being in compliance can have serious consequences. In fact, an executive who knowingly oversees non-compliant reporting processes can face up to $5 million in fines. On top of that, they could be sentenced to 20 years in prison!

SOX compliance best practices for Salesforce DevOps include establishing a formal change management process, documenting all changes, using a VCS, and conducting regular internal and external audits. You should enforce segregation of duties, implement strict user access management, monitor orgs for unauthorized changes, and enable field history tracking. 

Finally, you need to leverage sharing rules, back up your data, and provide your team with ongoing training,

So are you ready to start making your Salesforce DevOps process audit proof? Let’s dive right in!

1. Establish a formal change management process

To begin with, it’s crucial to establish a formal change management process. This process isn’t just some optional rule book. It’s the core of how you review the impact of any and all modifications in Salesforce.

Even minor tweaks to code and configurations, as well as data adjustments, can impact the accuracy of your financial reporting. A formal process makes it easier to keep track of these changes and their consequences so nothing slips through the cracks.

2. Maintain thorough documentation of all changes

You should also maintain thorough documentation of all modifications. Think of it as your comprehensive journal of Salesforce changes. If you use a work management app like Jira, Azure Board, or Agile Accelerator, you can record the changes here.

Each entry should include the reason for the change, who authorized it, and the date it was made. This isn’t a simple bureaucratic exercise. It forms a crucial part of audit trails. It helps you keep track of alterations, justifies why they were made, and provides a timeline.

3. Use a version control system

Let’s talk about version control systems. They’re like the ultimate surveillance system for your Salesforce environment. Why? Because they document the who, what, when, where, and why of each change. 

When you implement a version control system (VCS), you always have a detailed log of changes. That means you can trace back any modifications or irregularities if needed.

Prodly lets you connect your pipeline to Azure, GitLab, GitHub, and Bitbucket. Then it stores those changes indefinitely in an audit trail you can refer to at any time.

You might also like: What is version control and what are its benefits?

4. Conduct regular internal audits

Regular internal audits of your Salesforce environments are essential to ensuring SOX compliance. These audits aren’t just about ticking boxes. By taking a proactive approach to maintaining compliance, you can identify and address any issues before they become big headaches. This way, problems don’t turn into penalties.

5. Regularly have external audits performed

What about external auditing? You bet! Regular audits by an external party provide a fresh pair of eyes to validate your compliance. They can help catch any overlooked or recurring issues and confirm all changes meet SOX regulations. 

This is where a SOX compliance tool like Prodly Compliance Center can play an integral role. Compliance Center automatically stores an audit trail of financially significant changes to data. For instance, if you make changes to a Quote in Salesforce CPQ, those changes will likely impact revenue. An auditor may want to know why those changes were made and who made them. Compliance Center uses the data from your VCS integrated with the information from your work management app like Jira to create a detailed history of all changes.

It also provides a super fast and easy way to generate audit reports. You simply choose which deployment you want to see an audit report for, and it provides you with a downloadable PDF that shows the details of each change. This means you’re always audit ready… so say goodbye to stress!

6. Enforce segregation of duties

SOX regulations require the segregation of duties. For example, the person who makes the changes can’t also approve them for deployment. This is a critical factor to keep in mind when assigning responsibilities, because especially on small teams, this is often overlooked.

Prodly’s documentation function makes it easy to show you enforce segregation of duties. That way, auditors can always be sure you have different people performing critical tasks.

7. Implement stringent user access management

User access management is another key area. You need to establish strict access controls with profiles and permission sets so that exclusively authorized users can access Salesforce. Moreover, these approved users should only have access to the data they need for their role. 

On top of that, consider using Prodly to manage access at the environment level. By doing so, you can prevent unauthorized team members from deploying changes to production.

For example, a developer needs access to their dev environment, as well as testing and integration. But they don’t need access to your production org where all the sensitive data is stored. 

This minimizes the risk of data misuse—plus, it helps keep your Salesforce environment as secure as Fort Knox.

8. Monitor orgs for unauthorized changes

You also want to make sure that changes outside your change management process aren’t being promoted to production. Every change needs to be properly recorded and approved in order for you to be in compliance. Regularly check your orgs for unauthorized changes and, if necessary, take action. 

This is another area where Compliance Center can help. It provides 24/7 org monitoring for changes within and outside of your change management process. It also provides customizable rules so you can determine exactly which types of changes to monitor for. 

9. Enable field history tracking

Field history tracking provides a timeline of data changes, which is nothing short of a must-have for accurate financial reporting. The purpose of field history tracking is to have a transparent record of modifications. 

Unfortunately, the Salesforce field history tracking feature doesn’t provide sufficient coverage for SOX compliance due to limitations around how many objects and fields you can monitor. That’s why you need a solution like Compliance Center.

10. Leverage sharing rules

Sharing rules in Salesforce are also essential to data security. By leveraging these, you ensure that specific data is only visible to authorized team members. This adds another layer of security because it safeguards sensitive information from prying eyes.

11. Back up your data

Backing up your Salesforce data is like a safety net for your high-wire act. Regular backups help guard against data loss and maintain data integrity—both of which are key for SOX compliance. 

On top of that, you should have a robust data restoration process in place. This helps ensure that you can recover quickly if a data loss event does occur.

12. Provide ongoing training

Finally, don’t underestimate the power of training. Everyone who contributes to the release process should be well-versed in SOX compliance requirements. 

Regular training keeps these requirements top of mind. In addition, it reminds everyone on the team about the importance of adhering to these regulations to avoid penalties. It’s like a continuous reminder that compliance isn’t optional—but a critical aspect of your day-to-day responsibilities.

Prodly: the easy way to ensure SOX compliance in Salesforce DevOps

SOX requirements can be challenging and complex, but it’s essential to understand and adhere to them. Fortunately, Prodly Compliance Center makes being SOX compliant in Salesforce easy. It gives you robust controls, detailed change tracking, and effortless audit report generation so you never have to have sleepless nights again.

With these best practices and a SOX compliance tool like Prodly Compliance Center, you can help ensure your Salesforce release process stays within the bounds of the law. And remember: SOX compliance isn’t just about avoiding penalties—it’s also about maintaining trust in your financial reporting and overall business integrity.

Get the guide

The ultimate guide to SOX compliance for Salesforce CPQ

FAQs

What does “SOX” stand for?

“SOX” stands for the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. This federal law is designed to improve the accuracy and reliability of corporate financial reporting to protect investors. Learn more about the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.

What are the benefits of a SOX-compliant release management process in Salesforce?

Implementing a SOX-compliant release process in Salesforce results in reduced risk of audit failure. It also minimizes the financial and reputational risks to the business, and it helps improve investor confidence.

How do I make my Salesforce release management process SOX compliant?

Your company’s specific needs will determine your journey to a SOX-compliant release management process. In general, it’s wise to begin by conducting a thorough SOX compliance assessment. Then, based on your findings, you can develop a plan to put all the required controls and processes in place. Learn more about getting your release management process audit ready.