Salesforce downtime: short guide
March 31, 2020

Enterprise Software

How to Minimize the Risks of Salesforce Downtime

By Olga Matuts

The information era is here, and it is no wonder that companies’ productivity largely depends on the availability of data and technologies. Since Salesforce is one of the most famous CRM systems and a leading sales automatization software, its operation influences the business of many companies, and hence an unplanned Salesforce downtime can lead to losing money. 

We prepared a step-by-step guide for companies on how to reduce the risks and prepare for the Salesforce downtime.

What is the golden standard “five nines” in the IT-sphere?

Top-managers of all companies are interested in the smooth running of their key tools, so they try to get Service Level Agreements (SLA) from their providers. The golden standard of SLA, to which companies aspire, is the “five nines”. This means the service provider undertakes to ensure almost uninterrupted work of the system, 99.999% of the time. According to this, the system can fail only 0.1% of the time. 

Sounds good, doesn’t it? But it’s not that simple, 99.999% of the uptime per year equals to 5 minutes 16 seconds of downtime. 99,9% means 8 hours and 46 minutes of the downtime per year, and 99% of the uptime per year leads to terrible 87 hours and 40 minutes of system unavailability. So, you should be ready that your company can have no service for a while according to your agreement.

What is the Salesforce Service Level Agreement? 

Salesforce doesn’t work on the general principles of SLA. It offers its own agreement of service providing. According to this agreement, Salesforce promises to do everything possible for the good work of your system. You can read here that Salesforce “will use commercially reasonable efforts to make the online Purchased Services available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.” Also, Salesforce offers its customers to visit the community page with real-time information about system performance and security. Here companies can find data about service failures that occurred in the past month.

What are the kinds of system downtime?

There are two kinds of system downtime: downtime in case of planned maintenance and downtime in case of failure. As a rule, despite the nature of system downtime, companies seek to avoid it and reduce its duration.

Planned downtime (maintenance)

Maintenance is an important and necessary procedure that allows system administrators to update, check, or repair the software. Maintenance is part of the company’s workflows; it is included in the schedule and doesn’t cause damage. Salesforce, like other service providers, sends notifications about planned downtime, but they can change these dates at their discretion.

Unplanned downtime (failure)

An unplanned downtime takes place when something unexpected happens: system failure, cyber attack, etc. Customers are not ready for it — with all the consequences, and it is the main problem. Salesforce tries to reduce risks and guarantees customers data integrity, but no one can eliminate the backfire of downtime.

What will be the consequences of Salesforce downtime for your business?

Salesforce, as a powerful tool that gathers together marketing, sales, and customer service departments, is a source of all needed information about deals, contacts, accounts, analytical researches, opportunity stages, and others. So, if Salesforce doesn’t work, it stops the company’s business processes: managers have no access to the needed data and can’t contact their customers on time. Lack of communication leads to the resentment of customers, which in turn leads to the loss of the company reputation. If the downtime comes at the key sales hours, a company can lose a huge amount of money.

So, you should take into account the possible side effects of Salesforce downtime on your business and make a plan of needed recovery activities.

How to prepare for the unplanned Salesforce downtime?

You should handle the fact that you can’t avoid unplanned downtime. It is not just up to you, but up to your IT and involved departments to develop a contingency plan to respond to such eventuality. So, you should have an appropriate communication strategy and a data backup strategy and be subscribed to the Salesforce support center. 

  • Communication strategy

Prepare the communication plan: you should inform and calm down your customers. Tell them the details and your forecasts about the system repair. They will be more loyal if you don’t panic and don’t avoid communication. 

  • Data backup strategy

Despite Salesforce offering real-time replication to disk in every data center and almost real-time replication between the data center and disaster recovery center, you should make a manual backup to simplify this process. 

  • Subscription to the support center

You can turn to dedicated Salesforce specialists to set up your Salesforce product in the right way. This way you eliminate Salesforce downtime related to the wrong customization, and the system will completely meet your business requirements. 

What does the provider say about crucial cases?

It is a usual practice that service providers try to protect their interests in critical cases while clients want to minimize risks and avoid losses. So, you should find out in advance what Salesforce says about crucial cases, what is included in its area of responsibility. If you carefully read Salesforce’s Master Subscription Agreement, you will find such information:

  • Salesforce guarantees an uptime of its own system. So, if your company faced downtime because of your employees’ fault or incorrect customization, Salesforce isn’t responsible for it.
  • Salesforce guarantees the availability of its services, not their quality of work. So, your system can work slowly, but if it is still available, you should have no complaints. 

Can local systems reduce the negative consequences of the downtime?

You may think that local systems, for example, Microsoft Dynamics 365 on-Locals, look more secure than cloud-based systems. But such a solution also has its drawbacks and can face downtimes.

There are a lot of cases when downtime can happen with your local system. It can be a failure of IT equipment, a UPS battery crash, or accidental error. In these cases, the company has serious damage, financial, and data losses. 

The company also needs a special team of system administrators and programmers to maintain the work of the local data center. It leads to financial costs and usual human errors: if the employer accidentally presses the wrong button, the company can lose important data.

Such risk and financial losses rule out in case of a cloud-based solution. The company doesn’t require a lot of staff. Also, Salesforce provides a full plan of system repairing to ensure maximum uptime and availability of its system. 

System downtime has a big impact on the business when a large part of the company’s productivity depends on technologies. No service provider can guarantee that your system will not fail. So, you should make a backup plan of actions and data recovery and engage with the Salesforce specialists to maintain stable performance of your system.

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