Salesforce delivers a new release three times a year, with an average of 150+ features being added, updated and in some cases removed. These upgrades come in Spring, Summer and Winter releases. That’s why it’s critical for administrators to be prepared for the upcoming Salesforce release schedule. Here are the seven steps Salesforce considers best practice for release readiness: learn, educate, plan, communicate, test, go live, and iterate.
To help your company leverage what’s coming in the next release, as an admin you’ve got to learn about release features first. Salesforce provides lots of resources to help you. Extensive release notes are available online with in-depth information about each new feature and enhancement. If you don’t have time to read through the release notes try Trailhead. Trailhead has modules with highlights broken down by cloud.
As you learn about what’s coming make notes about auto-enabled features, features you want to implement now versus features to implement in the future, and features that may impact customizations in your org that will require testing.
Pay attention to auto-enabled features when reviewing the release notes. These features are automatically turned on with the release, so you want to prepare for them carefully.
After you’ve learned about the release, you’ll need to prepare your stakeholders. Share release features with these stakeholders and work with them to decide which features they’ll want to adopt and when. Help them prioritize based on impact and ease of implementation. To start, look for features that deliver maximum impact and are easiest to roll out.
Once you know which features to implement, it’s time to plan. You’ll want to check the release schedule to find the key dates related to Sandbox and Production upgrades. Then, craft your project plan to back into those dates. Your project plan will need to accommodate:
- Testing customizations or new features
- Training users on new features
- Communication to users and stakeholders
Focus your communication with users and stakeholders around benefits. They will want to know how these changes will help them on a daily basis and possible impacts to the business during roll out. Consider conducting a Lunch and Learn event or webinar to share benefits and key dates. Create interest and a little hype with an email drip campaign; just ask your Marketing team for help. And create a Chatter group or topic for users to post questions and provide feedback.
You will want to test new features and enhancements in a sandbox with your existing customizations. This will prevent your users from experiencing issues in production. It’s a good time to get some initial feedback from users because you still have time to make adjustments before you go live.
The day of Go Live, Salesforce will push the release automatically on the scheduled date. Some features in the release affect all users immediately after the release goes live; it’s automatic. Other features require direct action by the administrator before users can benefit from the new functionality.
After your instance is upgraded with the latest release, it’s a good idea to run through everything in production one more time. This way you can make sure everything is working as expected.
The last step is to monitor feedback in Chatter and respond to questions from users. Feedback will help you make adjustments to your release readiness planning. If you didn’t have time to identify super users or implement an email drip campaign this time, don’t worry. Use the feedback from your users to improve your process with each release.
Now, it’s time to start preparing for the next release!