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What Admins Need to Know about Salesforce Releases

September 30, 2022
   /   
by 
Sohaib Zaidi

Salesforce Administrators manage and administer a Salesforce org and they know the customizations inside out. Apart from personalizing reports and dashboards, maintaining user access, and managing customizations & integrations, Salesforce admins must stay on the top of their Salesforce release cycles. Said another way, Salesforce admins are the people responsible for empowering business users to take advantage of the latest features and functionalities, while ensuring nothing goes wrong.  

In this blog, we’ll outline the main challenges of Salesforce seasonal releases for admins, and outline what admins should do to address these challenges.

What are Salesforce Releases?

With its commitment to continuous innovation and improvement, Salesforce rolls out hundreds of new features thrice a year, and these releases are coined “seasonal releases”; they happen in the Spring, Summer, and Winter. These automatic upgrades are delivered in real time, with just five minutes of scheduled maintenance time. This means that all customers must run on the same version of the Salesforce platform, complete with all the latest features. 

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

  • Pilot: This is usually the first phase of public testing. This pilot includes a small subset of participant organizations who request to opt into the Pilot, and are then chosen 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.
  • 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, are fully support

As a part of their job, Salesforce admins must do the following for each release:

Learn what’s coming (and when): Before initiating anything, Salesforce admins need to understand what is coming and when. To do this, they can trust their Salesforce calendar, which provides all relevant information on the release, including the release date for their instance. Admins can also refer to the Salesforce Release Notes to find release details for the features you use most. 

Determine a sandbox strategy: Once admins know the release schedule and the expected changes, they must prepare to test new features. To do this, they must perform the following steps:

  • Access Salesforce’s signup page, where they can get a free, pre-release developer environment.
  • Test the new release in a sandbox. Salesforce recommends that you execute regression tests on your configurations and code in the new release to validate there are no issues with the current release.
  • Regression testing is needed to verify that a new release does not impact existing functionality. This is where test cases are re-executed to ensure the previous functionality is working as expected and the new changes have not introduced any new defects.

Initiate regression tests: Because any new modifications to the codebase may inadvertently introduce regressions, you need to conduct rigorous regression testing to understand the impact of changes on existing functionality. 

This begs the questions: 

  • Which business processes do I need to test? 
  • Do I need to test all of them?

To address these questions, admins must understand their testing approach, and define roles, responsibilities, and processes for testing.

Identify your testing approach: If you’re a sole Salesforce administrator, you’ll likely need one or two business users to help with testing. If you utilize code in your testing processes, you’ll need developer expertise too. 

Decide what types of testing to perform: Since you’re aware that changes can negatively impact existing functionality, you should focus on testing any new features that impact the end-user experience, such as changes to the user interface, and any custom code you have built yourself.

The specific Salesforce testing activities you need to plan for should include are:

  • Unit testing: If you’ve done any kind of custom coding in your org, it is recommended to perform unit testing. The aim here is to catch bugs early to avoid costly fixes later on.
  • Integration testing: If you have integrated your Salesforce instance with third party tools that are not native in your org, integration testing needs to be performed to ensure the integrations still work as intended, post-release.
  • Functional testing: This is used to verify that features work as defined by your technical requirements. This type of testing is usually carried out by business users.
  • User Acceptance tests (UAT): This gives business users the opportunity to accept or reject the final feature delivery. 
  • Performance testing: This evaluates how your system responds when large volumes of records or operations are being handled. 

Raise your game with no-code test automation

Since manually keeping pace with Salesforce updates is a daunting task, we recommend you incorporate test automation. Automated testing tools execute tests automatically each time your codebase changes, to ensure business continuity. 

How do I choose a tool?

Finding a Salesforce test automation tool is a difficult task since so many open source and commercial tools are available in the market, and we’re here to help you choose the right one for your organization. 

Read our blog: Test automation for Salesforce: How to evaluate a tool
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