salesforce Admins Podcast Summer '21 Release Episode

For this episode of the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we want to pull back the curtain and explain our process for prepping Release Readiness Live.

Join us as we talk about the questions we ask as we go through release notes, why it’s important to use different modes of communication to present key information, and how to find the throughline to tie it all together.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Mike and Gillian.

Our Release Readiness Live prep process.

We thought it might be useful to talk about our own process for how we prep for Release Readiness Live content. “It’s one of the more fun parts about our job,” Gillian says, “it gives us an excuse to get tighter with our product organization and look through the incredible breadth of the platform.”

The first thing we consider is whether a new change or feature is something we’ve talked about before with admins. Some areas, like automations, have a bunch of new things continually added while others are one-offs or completely novel. We also consider if it’s an enhancement or something new. Finally, it’s important to highlight improvements to processes that can save steps along the way.

How to communicate changes and new features to your users.

Once we’ve done some processing from the release notes, we work with our content teams to get the information out there. That’s Release Readiness Live, but also demo videos, blog posts, and, of course, this podcast. You might not have the same resources that we have access to, but the important thing is finding a way to accommodate all the different ways people process information and get the key points across.

Most importantly, we’re always looking for a throughline—a story we can tell to put everything together. For example, you do a Slack post that updates a record that fires a new Flow that has a decision in it that does something else. In short, find a way to help your end users relate to the changes and understand how it impacts (and hopefully improves) their day-to-day.

We also wanted to highlight a few key dates for the Summer ‘21 Release:

  • April 15th: Pre-Release Signup (it’s not too late!)
  • April 21st: Release Notes are available
  • May 6th: Sandbox Pre-Release signup
  • May 7: Summer ‘21 Trailhead module goes live
  • May 11th: Release Overview Deck is available
  • May 21st: Admin Release Readiness Live
  • June 4th – 12th: Summer ‘21 Release

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Full Show Transcript

Mike:
Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast, where we talk about product, community, and career to help you become an awesome admin. This week we’re doing what you should be doing, we’re prepping for releases, Gillian.

Gillian:
It’s that time of year-

Mike:
I’m excited.

Gillian:
… it’s almost summertime.

Mike:
Summertime in the Northern hemisphere, not summertime in the Southern hemisphere.

Gillian:
Correct. Correct.

Mike:
Weather channel keeps me educated on that.

Gillian:
So will our Aussie friends, will remind us about that as well.

Mike:
So we have release content coming out and we were sitting around brainstorming, “What should we do for a podcast?” And I said, “What if we just talked about how we get ready for a release?” Because I feel like it’s a lot of the same things that admins do to get ready for a release.

Gillian:
I mean, while our specific steps are probably about four or five steps ahead and they’re a little slightly different, I think there’s some interesting things from our process that would be very relatable. And I think, listener, I am sure some of these will be helpful for you as you roll out new releases in your own organization, because this is a process we thought a lot about, this is our job. So we’re going to share some of those insights with you.

Mike:
And it’s a lot of fun. Boy, as a customer, I always loved getting releases and sitting down looking to see what was new and getting iterations of release notes.

Gillian:
You had all your highlighters, right?

Mike:
I learned that from a community member about the highlighters. But still a big fan of printing it out. I still like turning the pages of releases and stuff, but I need to find something fast, that PDF online version, that’s the way to go, control find, that’s your friend.

Gillian:
I think [inaudible 00:02:11] appreciate control find [crosstalk 00:02:13].

Mike:
Yeah, they do. They do. Gillian, so let’s start off, admins, if the first time you’re watching a release readiness or been in the community for a long time, probably wondering what goes into how we pick our content for the release?

Gillian:
Well, we do a lot. Our team has been a very integral part of release readiness live for the seven years our team has been in existence. And it’s one of the more fun parts about our job, because it gives us an excuse to even get tighter with our product organization and really look through the incredible breadth of the platform and all of the cool things and then sort through and figure out what things we think are important to share with admins.

Gillian:
Now, when we go through that, that huge list of all of the exciting innovations that are being delivered, there’s a lot. And then as I’m sure most people feel like, “Oh my gosh, I’m never going to read all of these release notes.” Well, we feel similarly too, but I think the first thing we look at is, “Hey, is this something that we’ve talked about before with admins?” And as all of you probably know, there are some things we consistently bring up because there’s consistently new innovations. For example, automation. I mean, Mike, I think we’ve talked about flow pretty consistently, ever since the new flow designer was created a couple of years ago.

Mike:
Yes.

Gillian:
And that’s simply because every release, there are new innovations that we need to share because it continues to get developed and it’s super admin-focused. And then there are some things that we talk about once because they’re net new and then that’s it. So it depends, we definitely have that lens of, “Hey, have we exposed the listeners and the viewers to this before? And then if so, why were we doing it again?”

Mike:
And ironically enough, you know how Facebook has memories, I found a Facebook memory the other day that mentioned cross object workflows and how excited I was. My, we’ve come a long way. But to your point, there’s a lot to cover. So we also look at, is it just an enhancement or is it something completely new? And enhancements, we do our best to give a shout out like, “Hey, this juice now comes in a diet flavor,” for example. And we’ve seen that in some products or is this a completely brand new game-changing thing? Like let’s say MuleSoft Composer, for example, completely new thing to talk about versus one little, we added a button.

Gillian:
I think, Mike, one of the cool things that our team gets to really focus on, for us sometimes adding a new button is completely new and super important because those are the things that as admins are game-changing. So I’m trying to think of some examples. I mean, I remember when optimizer was net new, that was awesome. But little things like being able to have a new way to sort lists or being able to, instead of having to do four steps to enable or change something, now you’ll have one step. Those are the things that I think often get missed from our other marketing materials around the release. All of the different clouds do a lot to promote the new fancy, shiny things. And a lot of times they’re just these usability features that aren’t getting highlighted elsewhere, that is our job to be like, “Hey, this is going to make your life a lot easier.” And no one else is going to talk about this because it’s not shiny and new to them, but it really matters to us.

Mike:
I will see you a good example, gifts in in-app guidance.

Gillian:
Yes.

Mike:
I featured in the spring release because it was a tiny little feature, but it was monumentally cool for admins and we’d already introduced something new. So I thought that also leads to the third point. And Gillian, you can correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s what’s the impact on admins? I think we’ve already said that.

Gillian:
I mean, we take the lens of that with everything that we do and all of the work that we take on. I mean, that’s our job, Mike, right?

Mike:
Yeah.

Gillian:
But I think when we’re especially thinking about what things to feature in that, relatively I mean the scheme of things is trying to cover a whole release in one release readiness live segment or show, it’s a lot, clearly we’re not going to be able to cover the whole gamut of things. But prioritizing what we put in there is really thinking about what is the impact that this has on the way admins do their jobs. Is this helping them serve their users better? Is this changing the way that they’re able to accomplish a certain task? Is this dramatically reducing the amount of time it takes to do something that otherwise was previously complex? Is this enabling them to do something net new that they haven’t been able to do before?

Gillian:
And that’s really what we think about as we figure out and prioritize which features to talk about and how we talk about them too, because oftentimes in our release readiness live, we tell a story about the feature that you may not have seen if you’ve seen the feature covered in a different source or different set of content.

Mike:
So to bring this to home for admins, we think about what goes into the release because we want it to be important to you much in the same way we want you to think about how you’re going to talk to users about what’s in the release. So for sales users, maybe not everything in the release is important to them, that’s the same way we think about release features and we try to tailor that for our audience.

Mike:
So what have we featured before? Is there something that we can give a quick shout out to that maybe we talked about with users or admins in the past, and then really what is the impact that it has on admins and for you, the impact that it’s going to have on that individual? So sales may have a huge impact. Like there’s something brand new coming out, you’re definitely going to want to cover it, whereas if you’re talking with service, they’re probably less interested in that same feature. How is that for bringing it home?

Gillian:
I mean, that’s what we do.

Mike:
Breaking it down.

Gillian:
That’s what you do, if you broke it down. I think the intention of sharing this, as you pointed out, is to help maybe you figure out how to talk about releases with your users. But I mean, tactically, the things that we put together around the releases are clearly release readiness live, which is the end result of all this planning. But around that is we work with the product folks to create demo videos that tell the story around the future and how you’re going to be able to use it, and what it means for you, that something that you can do for your users.

Gillian:
We also create blog content, so when you do short and sweet blogs about each of the feature sets we think are really important, which you can also do for your users. Whether that’s maybe have a blog, but you can put together a newsletter or some good slack updates that capture all of those changes in a written form. Because as we all know, there are people who consume content differently depending on the medium. So those are things that you can definitely take and use for your own users.

Mike:
So this one’s important. We wrote this down, Gillian, before we started, is then we package everything together. So the first part is what goes in it? What kind of soup are we making? It’s cold here in Iowa, so I’m thinking soup. And then we talked to the PMs about what’s the coolest part of that, or get good ideas from them. And then we figure out the order to put it together. Because I also think that is a little bit of the secret sauce of tuning in, is there’s progressively more interesting features as you watch our release readiness live.

Gillian:
We try to build upon the content, right?

Mike:
Yeah.

Gillian:
So it’s such a journey.

Mike:
And also, as an admin think of a through line. So one thing I definitely tried to do in the last release was tie some of our features together and think of how these all get rolled out. And you can do that too as a Salesforce admin. Is there a through line that you can show with all of these features? For example, if you do a slack post and then you update a record, and you could fire a new flow that has a decision in it that maybe does something else, and then you can actually demonstrate all of those features in one through line, as opposed to independently just this, this and this, and then hope that somebody’s putting that all together in their head.

Gillian:
You got to tell a story that brings together all the little pieces that are part of what you’re putting together to put them in context. And I think that’s very important, especially when you’re talking about end users because they’re like, “Why do I care about that? That does not matter to me. Tell me why I need to care.”

Mike:
Forward looking statement, why don’t we end the show, Gillian, and wrap up some key dates that we have for the summer 21 release.

Gillian:
Yes, we can do that. We can do that. Well, the first really important date I want everyone to put on their calendars is Friday, May 21st, is the admin release readiness live, which is the end result of all of the things we just told you about, about how we plan it.

Mike:
Which you’ll be on.

Gillian:
I will be on. And one piece of this too, that I think admins, you can bring to your users and your organization is the question and answer part of release readiness live is truly live. The demos may be prerecorded because we want to make sure that those are really perfect and awesome, but the important part is giving your users, in this case, our admin community, the chance to ask questions and get answers from the people who are rolling out the feature or the product. So you can also do that internally in your organization, which is a really great way to build trust and also just help people get excited about the new stuff and get their questions answered, so they’re going to adopt it easier, quicker. But Friday, May 21st put it on your calendar. You’re not going to want to miss it, it’s going to be amazing as always because that’s how we roll.

Mike:
And I would add, so pre-release was April 15th. So you should be able to still sign up for a pre-release org. I love pre-release orgs.

Gillian:
It’s the best way to get around there and tinker with all the new stuff.

Mike:
Tinkering is my friend.

Gillian:
And then, well, as usual, you get the pre-release org, then we have our sandbox states. So if you want to preview your sandbox instance in the new release, there are a bunch of dates around that. Basically the sandbox decision point is the sixth of May. So by the sixth of May decide if you want your sandbox to receive the new release or not before you get it in general. And then right after that, two days after that, your sandbox will actually get the summer release. And along with my side with that, same time you will also get the release site will be live for summer and all the trail head content that goes with the summer release.

Gillian:
So it’s a great chance to dig in, learn about all the new features, go test them out in your sandbox environment, tinker around in your pre-release org so that you are very ready by the time you get the release, which starts on June fourth actually. June fourth and then June 11th and 12th. So depending on which instance you’re on that’s when you will receive the release.

Mike:
And Gillian, I’m looking at this incredibly helpful overview timeline that May 11th, I would mark as the release overview deck is available. So I love the release overview deck. I love it because as a Salesforce admin, I would always steal it and use it to present to my users internally and show them what a beautiful deck I’d created. Nobody’s the wiser.

Gillian:
I believe that’s why they create it, for specifically that purpose.

Mike:
Yes.

Gillian:
So between all of that stuff, get your pre-release org, it’s already available. Figure out if you want your sandbox to get the release, go get your release overview deck on May 11th and then be ready to join us on May 21st, that Friday to get all of the admin goodies from some of your favorite product managers. And then you’ll be in summer, fully in summer by mid June. So look at that.

Mike:
And we can start thinking about winter.

Gillian:
Yeah, we can. We can.

Mike:
That’s how it works. Well, if you’d like to learn more about all things we just talked about on today’s episode, please go to admin.salesforce.com, define links and many, many more resources. You can stay up-to-date with us on social. For all things admins we are @salesforceadmns, no I on Twitter. I am @mikegerholdt on Twitter and you can tweet to Gillian @gilliankbruce. So with that, stay safe, stay awesome and stay tuned for the next episode. We’ll see you in the cloud. Welcome to the Salesforce Admins podcast, where we talk about-

 

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