Salesforce Release Readiness Strategies

Get to Know the Salesforce Release Process

Describe when Salesforce releases new features and enhancements. Find the latest information about a release. Identify resources to help transition from Classic to Lightning Experience.
  • Catch the Release
    • Salesforce releases are seasonal: Spring, Summer, and Winter
    • Upgrades are automatic, this module outlines some tips to help admins keep up with updates
  • Save the Dates!
    • Each release follows a predictable cycle:
      • Upgrades happen automatically on specific dates published ~1 year in advance on the Salesforce Trust website
      • Cycle starts about 3 months before the release goes live in production
        • To be ready, review the maintenance schedule
        • Find both the sandbox release date and production release date for your instance for the next two or three releases
        • Mark these dates in your calendar and plan backward from them
    • Maintenance schedule differs depending on the products (Salesforce Services, Marketing Cloud, Social Studio, B2C Commerce Cloud, Experience Cloud, Datorama)
      • Search “Spring ‘23” or similar in the top right to find the specific date
      • Note you will need to filter by the specific instance in order to find the right server your org runs on (Ex: NA70)
      • Best to check these dates is three times/year, around a month after the most recent release went into production (April, July, November)
        • Work backwards from these dates to start planning
  • Join the Community
  • Best place to find the details of new features, including edition information, important notes, and instructions for enabling new features is the Release Notes

Get Early Access with the Sandbox Preview

List the benefits of accessing a preview sandbox to evaluate and test new features. Explain the sandbox preview. Move a sandbox to a preview instance.
  • Preview and Test New Releases
    • You can use a sandbox to preview and test new features, in your own configuration, before they’re released
    • With a preview sandbox, you can evaluate new features ahead of time and determine if any communication would be helpful
    • Since some features require an admin to enable them or do a bit of configuration before they’re used, you can use a sandbox preview to:
      • Explore live features and identify which ones you want to enable
      • Learn how to enable features you want to use
      • Practice enabling and configuring features before the release, so you’re prepared to roll them out
  • Don’t Miss the Boat!
    • Sandbox preview starts 4-6 weeks before the production upgrade
    • Not ALL sandboxes get this early upgrade - some are called “non-preview” sandboxes, which are needed for customer who want to delay the upgrade due to project requirements
    • As part of your release planning, make sure you have at least ONE preview sandbox, and make sure it stays on the new release throughout the sandbox preview period
  • How Does the Sandbox Preview Work?
    • Sandboxes on a “preview instance” get the early upgrade
    • Location of a sandbox is determined by the timing of the most recent refresh - most of the time, refreshing a sandbox during the sandbox preview period (4-6 weeks before production release) sends the sandbox to a preview instance

  • Few steps to make sure you have access to a preview sandbox that gets an early upgrade:
    1. Identify your existing sandbox instance
    2. Look up each sandbox instance in the Salesforce Sandbox Preview Guide to see if its a preview or non-preview instance
    3. Follow the recommendations in the guide to make sure you have at least one sandbox on a preview instance

Screenshot below shows the Salesforce Sandbox Preview Guide

  • To get access to a release in a preview sandbox, make sure the sandbox is on a preview instance before the sandbox preview cut-off date
  • The benefits of using a preview sandbox are that:
    • You can learn how to configure and enable features that you want to use
    • You can plan the rollout of features to your organization

Find, Enable, and Communicate New Features

Apply Release Notes filters to identify features that are automatically enabled. Prioritize features to enable based on stakeholder feedback and ease of implementation. Identify best practices around communicating with stakeholders and users about new releases.
  • Discover, Roll Out, and Communicate
    • To help your company to learn what’s coming the next release, you need to learn about it
    • By reviewing the release notes you can learn about some Quick Wins and Low-Hanging Fruit that your users will love
  • Review the Release Notes
    • Release Notes are the official, authoritative source contining all the details about what’s in the release for nearly all Salesforce products
    • Release notes are released in a PDF and searchable HTML, and have useful features included
    • Use the Feature Impact filter to find two types of features:
      • Quick Wins: features that are automatically enabled and available to your users without any preparation or configuration
        • Use the Feature Impact filter and select Enabled for Users
      • Low-Hanging Fruit: require minimal action, such as checking a box or making a simple configuration change, to be enabled and available to your users
        • Use the Feature Impact filter and select Admins must Enable
    • As you scroll through the list, look for features that have the potential to deliver maximum impact and are easy to roll out
      • If you aren’t reviewing each new release, easy-to-implement features lay dormant in your Salesforce org and create unnecessary “feature debt” which diminishes the value you get from using Salesforce

  • Collaborate with Super Users
    • Salesforce suggests running Quick Wins and Low-Hanging Fruit by a group of Super Users in order to ensure they are really useful
    • Then, tell them how you plan to communicate new features to users and ask for feedback
    • Super users can help by sharing new features, training users, and answering questions from users
  • Communicate About the Upcoming Release
    • Making sure your users and stakeholders know about the upcoming release, new features, and Quick Wins, is critical
    • When communicating with users and stakeholders about the upcoming release, focus on the benefits for the user (answering “What’s in it for me?") and make sure your suers know all the key dates for the release
    • Consider the following communication channels:
      • In-App Notifications
      • Customized Help menu in your org
      • Email
      • Newsletters
      • Cheat sheets
      • Lunch and Learns
      • Virtual meetings and webinars
    • Make sure users know where to report feedback/ask questions - a Chatter group or topic can help super users and stakeholders respond to questions/feedback
  • Rinse and Repeat - repeat these activities every three months:
    1. Save the dates! Know when the release is coming and mark it on your calendar
    2. Join the Release Readiness Trailblazers Community to access resources and ask questions
    3. Get early access with the sandbox preview
    4. Filter the Release Notes to find some Quick Wins and Low-Hanging Fruit
    5. Prepare your users and incorporate user feedback
  • If your implementation is small (less than 50 users), this is all you need to do to prepare for releases and make sure you implement the most useful new features
  • If its larger, or you have complex customizations like custom code, invest more time preparing
  • The quickest way to identify all the new features that will benefit your organization is to use the Feature Impact filter to find the “Enabled for Users” and “Admins must Enable” features