Technical Debt in the Age of AI

Technical Debt has always been an issue with Salesforce implementations. The story may start with a small org that gets added business processes meeting the business requests, or a big org that ends up having separate teams for different departments and implementing complex logic way beyond the original CRM design. But what they have in common though is that Technical Debt being generated with each development is not taken into account because, well, the old quote still rings true: “There is never enough time to do it right, but there is always enough time to do it over”.

There are documented ways companies have dealt with Technical Debt, from organizing the processes and working iteratively to scrapping their legacy org completely and starting with a fresh one. Whatever the approach is, the situation is that investment is being made to fix things before progress can be retaken with new features or integrations. But the tragedy is that the business understands the need for it when it’s far too gone, far too critical, and the cost is significant. And worse now, this issue has become even more critical with the coming of Generative AI.

The speed at which AI is evolving is like no technology has done before. Since ChatGPT hit the market in Nov 2022, the development of Generative AI has been exponential, and that’s not hyperbole. Companies that implement GenAI into the correct use case will outpace the competition significantly, increasing their presence in the market and shaping their future. That is not only because they’ll be leveraging a powerful new technology but because they’ll be positioned to take advantage of any new advancement done in the field. The same is true for Salesforce Orgs and their implementations, taking advantage of GenAI in your processes or leveraging Salesforce’s new AI-related features will be much easier and faster for Orgs that don’t have a heavy Technical Debt to deal with. In this sense, Technical Debt is even more expensive for the business than before.

The good news is that GenAI is a great tool for dealing with Technical Debt too. Using it as a tool to help understand legacy code, uncover undocumented business processes, and decipher debug logs will speed up the process of getting up to date much faster than it would before it was available. While it may sound too much like just hype, there is already literature about how ChatGPT can accelerate Salesforce Development and how it can be used covering basic help from configuration or process automation to review Apex written by other developers, reviewing debug logs, and applying best practices. It also includes a real-life scenario (while not related to Technical Debt, with great information to extrapolate from there). This is on top of reports that Developers using CoPilot saw a productivity boost of up to 50%. For admins and developers who are doubtful about the change in their habits in their role,  know that the Salesforce Job market has seen a change recently, and getting ahead in the latest tool and improving productivity will be a great boon in your career.

What is clear is that technology has been the driving force behind shaping several markets in the past years. In the same way, Salesforce got ahead by understanding how going into the Cloud solves problems that businesses didn’t need to have with On-Premise solutions those who don’t understand the potential of GenAI will be left behind.

Written by:

Picture of Federico Miguez
Federico Miguez

Director of Engineering LATAM

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