Every four months, Salesforce does a “release”. This is where new features are added. This is a fairly transparent, even collaborative process; given the vast numbers of stakeholders involved. Seasonal releases are in Summer, Winter and Spring.
On the Salesforce Success Community there is something called the Idea Exchange. This is where anyone can submit ideas, or vote and discuss ideas that have been submitted. Ideas in the idea exchange are the basis for each new release.
There are a range of different resources to learn about each release; to suit different learning styles.
- Release notes – this is the most detailed and official resource (written)
- Release Preview (summarised)
- Trailheads (gamification)
- Success community group (discussion)
- Pre-release orgs (hands on)
- Salesforce Live (videos)
Salesforce recommends a 7-part strategy for succeeding with each release:
- Learn. As an administrator it’s your responsibility to learn about each new release, so you know what the new release will bring. At least a month before each release I think is a good rule of thumb. At this step it may be useful to categorise features based on how important or urgent they are et cetera.
- Educate. Share your knowledge about the release with stakeholders in your organisation. Receive input about what features they are interested in using.
- Plan. With reference to the release schedule and input received, plan how you’ll roll them out. It’s best to first do the ones that are easiest and have the most impact.
- Communicate. Stakeholders in the organisation should be aware of coming changes. This can be done through newsletters, chatter groups, webinars et cetera.
- Test. Standard functionality should be pretty robust throughout releases, however the work of individual users and existing customisations may be impacted. Use a pre-release sandbox to test these.
- Go live. The Release happens automatically at a predefined date. At this point you’ll need to run through your plan in the production org. There shouldn’t be too many surprises if you’ve tried it first in a pre-release sandbox.
- Iterate. Monitor how everything is going. Be open to feedback. Keep a door open to questions et cetera.