Salesforce Administrators are the ambassadors, leaders, and experts for all things Salesforce at their organizations. And a key part of being the Salesforce expert for your company is staying up to date on technologies available that can impact your business whether they are new tools you can take advantage of or updates to features that you already use. With three releases a year, it’s important to have a game plan in place for upcoming releases and I want to share the key ways I prepare for every Salesforce product release.
Learn What’s Coming (and When)
In order to be prepared, you first have to know what is coming and when. The Salesforce Trust calendar includes all relevant dates for your salesforce environment, including release schedules for your instance of salesforce. This is the source of truth for release dates and the best reference for when your next Salesforce release is coming. The Salesforce Release Notes are published in advance of every upcoming release, and this site provides the notes in a searchable HTML form, which makes it fast to find release details for the features you use most. And don’t forget to tune-in to Salesforce Release Readiness Live where you can watch Salesforce product managers provide roadmaps, demos, and technical overviews of their latest products and enhancements. A great way to stay on top of all these dates, webinars, and updates is to follow the Release Readiness Weekly Update in the success community.
Test Drive New Features
Click around and take a look! Just like when you first learned how to customize Salesforce, getting into a test environment and building with features is the best way to understand how something works. Create new fields, customize your pages, experiment with new tools and features. I was so excited to hear about the Global Picklist Pilot in Spring ‘16 and in order to really understand how I could use this feature I built global picklists in my Pre-release environment, edited them, used them in objects and reports.
You can test drive upcoming features in two ways:
- Sandbox Preview. With every upcoming release, Salesforce provides a window during which you can refresh your sandbox and the new sandbox copy will be on the next release. This is a great way to test out your existing customizations against release features. Remember that creating a sandbox preview will require a new sandbox refresh, so follow Sandbox management best practices when planning for your sandbox refresh.
- Sign up for a Pre-Release Developer Environment. With every release, you will have access to a signup page where you can get a free, pre-release developer environment. The best way to stay updated on when the pre-release environment is available for signup is to make sure you are following the Release Readiness Weekly Update Topic. The pre-release environments come with all the edition limits of a developer environment, along with release functionality. This is a great place to build and experiment using new tools without impacting your production or sandbox customizations.
Once you have had a chance to play with the newest features, you may have questions! The best place to go for release related questions is the release readiness success community group. This is your one stop shop for the most relevant information on release dates, how to stay on top of the timeline and functionality, links to upcoming release webinars, and more. This group is where you can ask logistical questions about your sandbox refresh cycle and pre-release access, as well as product specific questions for feature functionality and details. This community is also an excellent place to see how other Admins are using pre-release features and exploring functionality, you may even get a great idea for how to use a new feature from a comment thread on this group!
- Every release you can find an updated Trailhead Release Module.
- ARTICLE: Admin Commandment #5: An Awesome Admin should always… be ready for the next release!