By Sam Knox
Salesforce is constantly changing and improving. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming to try to be aware of everything going on. This post will explain some key ways to keep track of it all.
The Seasonal Releases happen three times a year and includes changes and updates to the core Salesforce platform. The exact dates of a release vary but do follow the seasons: Spring, Summer, and Winter (sorry Autumn). These updates tend to be extensive and touch on many areas of functionality but for the most part the changes expand what’s available instead of reducing them. Think of the Seasonal Releases as a birthday party where everyone gets presents! Some of the features you’ll want to use right away while others may have no impact on your business.
Salesforce will deploy Seasonal Releases to Sandboxes before your Production instance. This gives you the chance to fully explore new features within the platform itself. Sandbox releases typically happen a month or more before the general release.
As a Salesforce administrator of your organization, you should be receiving notifications of upcoming releases. If not, Salesforce publishes information about them in several places. Here’s where to find the info:
The Salesforce Blog has a category specific to Seasonal Releases and is a great place to get a quick run down of what’s coming up and see some of the highlights. Release Readiness Webinars are often announced there too. Cloud for Good hosts Release Webinars too!
If you want to dig into the nitty-gritty of what’s in the release, you should read through the Release Notes. If you are in active development of your Salesforce database or just want to check on the ramifications of an upcoming change, then the release notes in the place. The Release Notes website contains off the information including useful headers so that you know what areas of the platform are included, for example: Lightning Experience, Chatter, or Service Cloud.
Remember, all releases from Salesforce are automatically deployed to your organization. There is no need for you to do anything!
If your organization is using the Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) then there are updates to be aware of there too from Salesforce.Org. The release cycle for the NPSP is not tied to the general Seasonal Releases from Salesforce.Com. In fact, the NPSP pushes out updates much more frequently, about every 3 to 4 weeks. Like the Seasonal Releases, you should expect NPSP upgrades to extend existing functionality or introduce brand-new functionality for the most part. Sometimes the updates are minor and meant to fix known bugs, other times they include significant new functionality.
The best place to keep track of when releases are coming and what’s going to be included is through the Power of Us HUB. There is a Release Announcement Group which you should join and then you’ll be “in the know.” Join the NPSP Release Announcements Group.
Volunteers for Salesforce (V4SF) follows a very similar pattern in terms of releases. Both NPSP and V4SF releases are announced through the same HUB group. Also, releases are pushed to Sandboxes first about 2 weeks before they are pushed to your Production instance.
Occasionally Salesforce will push out an update outside of the regular Seasonal Release cycle. These are known as Critical Updates. The name is a little bit misleading as what is changes may not actually be “critical” to your organization. Many times these changes involve the deeper architecture of Salesforce and can affect custom Apex code or custom integrations but not the core platform itself. Often Salesforce will send email announcements about these changes but you can also see them when you log into your database and access the Setup menu.
The idea is that you can review updates and decide to activate them right away, or give yourself time to review the changes before you do. There’s usually a deadline upon which the update will automatically activate so it’s a good idea to have a look at what’s there when you see this message.
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