It's pretty obvious for an Apex Class change - you go through the normal dev cycle and eventually deploy to prod. The change will be in VCS before it hits prod so source control remains the source of truth.

What about List Views? Or Reports? It seems unreasonable to say you have to go through the dev cycle to create new List Views/Reports - especially as some end users can create Reports, not just admins.

What's the best practice to deal with this issue of metadata being updated directly in prod?

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    In my experience a core set would be in version control (you can pull as well as push) but yes a strength of the platform is that end-users can customise and typically those changes would not end up in version control. – Keith C Jun 7 '18 at 10:47

Especially for non-code configuration, like reports, dashboards, list views, etc, there are two different types of configuration: those that you absolutely need to have, and those you don't. If you're not sure, just ask yourself the question: "If someone accidentally deleted/modified this report/dashboard/list view/etc, would it reduce productivity, cause mistakes/errors to occur, or otherwise harm our business processes?"

If the answer is no, then it's certainly optional. However, if you answered yes, you should consider keeping a backup of those items mandatory. This is not to say that you need to source control every single dashboard, report, list view, etc, but if they're important to your business process, you definitely should back up these items.

And even if they don't go through a normal dev cycle (e.g. create in sandbox, store in repo, push to production), you might want to have a process where someone can build something in production, like a report, and request that it gets added to the backup. It's not uncommon to need to have a report available immediately instead of waiting for a dev cycle, but they might still be important enough to need to be backed up.

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