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What Admins Need to Know About Salesforce Releases

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An essential part of every admin’s job is staying on top of the latest Salesforce Releases. But what does that mean? Let’s break down the Salesforce Release process and answer commonly asked questions about releases. Three times a year, Salesforce releases new features and updates to our technology, enabling users everywhere to take advantage of the latest and greatest that our platform has to offer! As an #AwesomeAdmin, getting the benefits from these releases is made even easier by knowing the basics and best practices.

What are Salesforce Releases?

In case you’re just finding our resources for the first time (welcome!), let’s start with a quick overview of what a release is.

A Salesforce Release is how Salesforce delivers new features and functionality to our customers. They occur three times per year (Spring, Summer, Winter timed with the northern hemisphere seasons), and new features are often based on input from the Trailblazer Community via a prioritization process.

Releases include Pilot, BETA, and Generally Available (GA) features:

  • Pilot – Usually the first phase of public testing, Pilots normally include a small subset of participant organizations. These organizations must request to opt in to a Pilot and then be nominated for participation.
  • BETA – This phase involves rolling a feature out publicly for testing. BETA features are normally given limited Support as they are not yet fully functional or finished features.
  • Generally Available (GA) – Once a feature has passed the Pilot and BETA testing phases, it will be formally included in a Salesforce Release. GA features are considered fully functional and, in most cases, fully supported.

You’ll hear us talk about these phases on the Release Readiness Live Admin Preview, a live webinar broadcast with a panel, demos, and Q&A. Be sure to register and tune in — they’re a lot of fun and you’ll learn a ton!

How can I get ready for the next release?

Know the release timeline.

In order to stay on top of upcoming changes, you can follow this general timeline:

About 1 month before the release goes live in your org, you can sign up for a pre-release org. Around 3 weeks away, you’ll see the Sandbox preview and be able to earn the release badge on Trailhead. Around 2 weeks out is when you can watch our panel of #AwesomeAdmin experts and product managers on Release Readiness Live. It’s important to note that releases will go live on a rolling basis, but you can check when it’s coming to your org here.

You can also refer to the Salesforce Admins blog, where we share important upcoming dates for releases and what they represent. Check the Release Resources page to see the latest. We recommend adding the dates to your calendar. Exploring the Trust and maintenance calendars by cloud type and org instance or domain will help you find even more in-depth info that you’ll want to note.

Ready to tackle this release like the #AwesomeAdmin you are?! We know you can make this the best one yet for your org and end users. To learn about what your peers and customer experts are doing to maximize the latest release, check out this Q&A full of insightful tips and practical advice.

Communicate with your users.

One of the most important aspects of being an admin is user training. This is especially true during releases. Being able to think through which features are meaningful to your users and how they will utilize them is a skill that will set you and your company up for success with adoption and productivity. A great way to think about it is, “What end-user features will be most helpful to my users?”

My biggest tip for success here is to work smarter not harder: Utilize any communication channels you’ve already created to share knowledge and best practices about new features. Examples include webinars, in-person events like a “lunch and learn,” pre-recorded videos, Chatter, Trailhead, or an email digest or newsletter. Remember to customize to include tips and tricks that are specific to your Salesforce implementation and how your users use the platform!

How do I get hands-on with new features?

The best way to learn how to use new features? Roll up your sleeves and get hands-on. To start testing, building, and getting curious with those new features, you can use:

  • A pre-release environment.
  • A Sandbox pre-release.
  • A Trailhead module org.
  • Special enablement steps, etc.

Pro tip: Be sure to hang onto your pre-release environment! It will be on pre-release for every release cycle, so customizations will stay there and you’ll be able to test in each release.

What resources do I need to prepare for the next release?

Get ready for the next Salesforce Release with the new Release Resources page, your one-stop shop for all the resources you need to help prepare your org and users.

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