roadmap

  • Time to prepare for Summer ’18 Release

    It only feels like a few months since Spring ’18 release… Oh wait, it was.  As time marches on, we are now due for the next release from Salesforce with Summer ’18 release.  Over the coming weeks we will start the normal release readiness prep, but what are the key dates of the release?  And when will Summer ’18 be released? Additionally what features might we expect to see from Salesforce Summer ’18 release?

    Summer ’18 Release: Key Dates

    As with every release, there are a number of key dates you have to be aware of.

    Most of this is sourced from the Release Readiness Group and you can download a handy infographic here (source: Salesforce).

    April 19th – Pre-release orgs are available to preview the new release.

    April 23rd – The Preview Release Notes will be published.

    May 4th – Sandbox cutoff date.  Remember to check here for instructions on which sandbox instance a refresh will land on.

    May 18th, June 1st, June 8th – there are three release windows for Summer ’18 into production environments.  Which depends on your Salesforce instance.  You can check the dates relevant for your instance, here.

    There will also be a number of Release Readiness webinars, and sessions which will be posted via the Release Readiness Group in the Trailblazer Community.

    Summer ’18: Possible Features

    Because I am not one to generally wait…  Impatient, I know…  So I started searching the product roadmaps to see what is likely to be released as part of the Summer ’18 release.  Combined with a number of webinars I have watched, this is a list of some of the features likely to show in this release.

    But please note – this list isn’t definitive or guaranteed list.  And we will get official confirmation within the next week as the Pre-Release Orgs & Preview Release Notes become available. 

    So let’s jump in and speculate as to what we might see…

    Lightning Report Builder & Dashboards

    We are likely to see a lot more features being rolled out to the new Report Builder feature.  These are likely to include:

    • Joined Reports, finally in Lightning – albeit this is likely to be a beta/pilot release
    • The ability to create field to field filters. This will allow you to compare two fields directly within the report builder, without needing to build report formulas or custom fields. For example you could run a filter where Created Date equals any custom date field on your object.
    • The ability to create reporting sub folders.  So you could setup a ‘Sales’ folder, but then have sub folders for each sales team within it.
    • Ability to sort columns based on a summarised/aggregated value.
    • Setting dashboard schedules for multiple users

    Files

    Files is likely to see the introduction of a Library-type functionality.  This will be no doubt be a nudge for users still on Content/Libraries to move over to the newer Files functionality.

    Platform Enhancements

    The rollout of branding/themes started with the last couple of releases.  We will likely get the ability to now theme/brand each app individually (rather than one theme applying org wide).

    List views will also see Mass Quick Actions rolled out to more objects too.  While Persons Accounts should get the ability to create custom Quick Actions on the object.

    And Product Schedules should finally become available in Lightning Experience.  This should stop users having to switch back to Salesforce Classic to enable product schedules, or to establish/modify schedules for products.  Which is something one of my orgs uses alot, and has blocked Lightning roll-out for that team.

    Wrap up

    We will see if these possible features are actually included in Summer – and no doubt there will be a number of other additions which haven’t been included here… There are always 1,000s of features in each release – so I know we only touched the surface here!

    Appendix

    If you want to know more, one of the most helpful videos outlining some of the new features on the roadmap, is this one: True to the Core, which was originally included in my last post Dreamforce 2017 roundup.

    Also the Lightning Roadmap is available here, but a little out of date now Spring ’18 is in preview, it is available here.

    Hope that helps with exploring in more detail.

  • Cutting the Clutter: Maintaining a Clean Salesforce Org

    Maintaining a clean Salesforce org, doesn’t need to be a battle. Recently, I was watching a great webinar by Kelly & Leanne entitled ‘Cut that Clutter‘. And it got me thinking about how the problems faced by a cluttered Salesforce, and how it can easily consume an Admin’s time and effort. And it not only affects us as Admins, but also our end users! So in this post I am going to recap some of the awesome tips shared in this webinar, and also see offer some additional FREE tools to tackle the problem that so many of us face!

    The War Against Clutter

    Ok, ok. I admit that this header is full of hyperbole.

    Maintaining a Clean Salsforce, shouldn't be a battle...
    Don’t raise the white flag, in the war against clutter!

    But a cluttered Salesforce creates a lot of frustration and anxiety for me. And I assume most it does for most of you reading this too! My personal vendetta against clutter drives me to ensure I am always improving the org for my end-users…

    I have previously written about how we started to tame the Technical Debt beast haunting our primary orgs and removed over 2 million records from an org (hint: very manually).

    But there is still so much to do…

    It is a seemingly never-ending fight. But as Admin’s we are always looking for tools and resources to help us in our day to day Admin Superhero duties. And to help us in maintaining a clean Salesforce org…

    Cut that Clutter! – The Recap

    Now before we get much further. If you have a spare 30mins I strongly recommend that you watch the webinar as I am only going to briefly summarise it here…

    The session covers the Three-S’s. These are the primary areas to focus on, to ensure your CRM is kept in tip-top shape.

    • Security – making sure you know who can see what in your CRM
    • Structure – does the setup of Salesforce ensure data security and meet any data governance requirements
    • Strategy – how to plan and scale while ensuring you don’t have to keep doing ‘big clean-ups’ each year

    If you want to hear more, then please check out the video.

    Cut that Clutter: Resources mentioned

    Next up, the ladies mentioned some great tools to help you in maintaining your Salesforce org.

    From Salesforce:

    • Salesforce Optimizer (aka Optimiser in non-US/Canada countries 🙂 ) – I am in LOVE with Optimizer reports. It is such an amazing tool to help you analyse and understand where the Technical Debt is likely to be hiding within your org. This should be your first port of call, in maintaining a clean Salesforce. That is how much I love it!
    • Security Health Check – helps you understand any vulnerabilities you may have within your Salesforce. This covers areas like Password Policies, Critical Updates, etc.

    From AppExchange:

    • Field Trip – this tool is one I install in every org I have managed now for a number of years!! It is a great tool to help analyse and understand just which fields are being populated and used by your end users. It is worth noting, that if you have a field that is always updated automatically by a trigger/workflow… Then it will obviously show as being used, even if that trigger/workflow update isn’t actually required. But overall it will help you understand your org in very tangible way.
    • The Permissioner – can help you when mass assigning/removing Permission Sets from your users.

    From Trailhead:

    Additionally the ladies have set up an Admin Trailmix.

    This covers a number of modules covering: Salesforce Profiles/Permission Sets, User Authentication, Data Quality, Data Management and finally Reporting & Dashboards.

    Help with maintaining a clean Salesforce org

    Extra, extra! Two more tools to add to your Salesforce Cleaning toolkit…

    Now for the bonus round.

    There are always so many tools and ideas out there helping admins when maintaining a clean Salesforce org. And I am only skimming the surface with these next two tools…

    Compare Permission Sets & Profiles

    When watching the webinar, albeit not live, I started shouting at my screen.

    During the Security section, there was a point around Profiles/Permission Sets. As an admin it is a mammoth task to compare all profiles/permission sets and what they might grant access to within your org. This can be kryptonite to Salesforce Superadmins…

    There was a recommendation to switch off Enhanced Profile View, and then compare the permissions… But why do that? Especially, when there is a secret weapon at your disposal?

    Perm Comparator by John Brock is that secret weapon!

    Seriously… More people need to know about this tool! And I am not even on commission! 🙂

    Stop duplicates in their tracks…

    Salesforce hasn’t always been an admin’s best friend when it came to cleaning an org…And without getting all ‘back in my day’-ish…

    But there was a time Optimizer, Security Health Check and those tools simply didn’t exist.

    There was also a time Salesforce didn’t have an easy way to prevent duplicates… Admins had to either buy other tools to identify and manage duplicates, or create complex formulas and validation rules to try and prevent exact match duplicates.

    But when planning your strategy for maintaining a clean Salesforce, you should investigate the in-built duplicate management tools from Salesforce.

    After all, what good is cleaning up your security (profiles, access policies, passwords) and clearing out fields you don’t use any more – if your end users are still swimming in duplicate records?!

    The in-built feature will take care of the basics, but depending on your use case, there may still be a reason to buy a tool like Cloudingo or DemandTools (just to name a few).

    What is in your toolkit?

    De-cluttering your Salesforce can be so rewarding!
    De-cluttering can be so rewarding!

    As I mentioned I only skimmed the surface here… And this is a topic I can (and will likely) write more about in the future. I have rambled more than enough for now…

    So to wrap up the post, feel free to add any other suggestions or recommendations for your ‘Cleaning Salesforce Toolkit’ into the comments section below.

  • Spring ’18 Deep Dive: Reports & Dashboards

    Spring ’18 release brings with it a swag of new features.  But it also brings with it a big makeover for reports and dashboards.  In this post we are going to take a deep dive into reports and dashboards in Spring ’18, and see what is coming our way.

    Additionally (and most excitingly) this is the starting point for new reporting and dashboard features within the Lightning.  With another more features heading out way over the coming releases.  To see what this includes, check out feature predictions for 2018 here.  Otherwise let’s get started!

    Dashboards in Spring ’18

    Coming in Spring ’18 your users will now be able to subscribe to dashboards easily within Lightning.

    By setting up a subscription schedule (either Daily, Weekly or Monthly), Salesforce will then schedule a refresh of the dashboard and send out an email update to the user.

    Subscribe to Dashboard in Salesforce Lightning
    Subscribe to a dashboard. Source: Salesforce

    And keeping with the myLightning ability to theme and customise your Lightning instance, dashboards now support more customisation and personalisation by selecting a colour theme.

    Additionally you can then choose the theme by individual component to highlight sections.

    Set a colour pallette for your Dashboards
    Colour your dashboards whichever way you want! Source: Salesforce

     

    Report Builder (Lightning)

    Lightning Report Builder was first introduced in the Winter ’18 release.  But the new report builder is in beta, meaning there are a number of known limitations.  Reports and dashboards in Spring ’18 starts to bridge that gap.

    Most features in Spring ’18 release are migrated Classic features.  But these features are reworked to operate in a very Lightning way.  After all what good is it having a new user interface, and not take advantage of reworking how users can use the system?

    Most importantly it is easy to see how this is a stepping stone to the future for Reports & Dashboards in Lightning Experience.

    Summary Formulas, Buckets & Cross-Filters

    As mentioned above, these aren’t specifically new features.  But they are new for the new Report Builder and operate a little differently.

    For example being able to create a summery bucket on a column, simply select the column dropdown and create:

    Report Builder and creating a Bucket column
    Creating a summary bucket within the Lightning Report Builder. Source: Salesforce

    Or creating a cross-filter, which is also easily done now within the new Report Builder:

    Create a Cross-Filter within the Lightning Report Builder
    Create a Cross-Filter within the Lightning Report Builder. Source: Salesforce

    How to activate the new Lightning Report Builder

    To get access to all of the new features of reports and dashboards in Spring ’18, you will need to first activate the new Report Builder.

    A note before we start, there is a key dependency to activating Lightning Report Builder… That prerequisite is  enhanced folder sharing needs to be enabled.

    If your org was created after the Summer ’13 Salesforce release, you already have enhanced folder sharing. If your org isn’t already using enhanced folder sharing, see Turn On Enhanced Sharing for Reports and Dashboards in the Salesforce Help.

    Go to Setup -> Reports and Dashboards Settings -> Enable Lightning Report Builder (beta):

    Enable Lightning Report Builder (Reports and dashboards in Spring '18)
    Enable Lightning Report Builder

     

    Once enabled, remember to also update either a profile or permission set to include access to the Report Builder (Lightning Experience) too:

    Enabling Report Builder Lightning Experience
    Enabling the Report Builder (Lightning Experience) on a profile

    Remember, if you don’t see this option, you need to check your Folder Sharing rules within Salesforce.  And you will have to check via Classic Setup…  The irony isn’t lost – this dependant setting is only available via Classic Setup menu currently. 🙂

    Before enabling though, ensure you are aware of the implications of doing so.  Especially how this will impact end-users within your org.  When you are ready, jump back into Classic UI and then go to: Setup -> Folder Sharing -> “Enable access levels for sharing report and dashboard folders”.

    Wrap up

    The changes to reports and dashboards in Spring ’18 gives us an insight into where Salesforce is taking the analytics features of the platform.  Along with the added flexibility the Lightning Experience grants.

    Overall reports & dashboards within Salesforce are finally getting much deserved makeover…  And there is more to come over the next few releases!

  • Dreamforce ’17: roundup

    Were you fortunate enough to head to this year’s Dreamforce?  If not, have you caught up on all the new goodies that were announced?  If you are like me and couldn’t attend, we have to catch up on all the new announcements from this session via Youtube, Facebook,  Linkedin and other blogs.

    So to help out, below is an overview of some of the resources I have found useful to catch-up on all things Dreamforce 2017, and feel free to add your comments & own resources in the comments section at the bottom of the post.

    Fourth Industrial Revolution

    The key theme this year was around the 4th industrial revolution.

    And it contains a key message about the impacts on the impacts this next digital revolution will have on society, from AI and the workplace of the future, to how we treat each other…

     

    Dreamforce 2017: over 3200 sessions of learnings!

    If you have been fortunate enough to attend Dreamforce, the scale is massive.  It literally takes over San Francisco for a week and brings together people from so many different backgrounds to learn and network.

    But where to start though?  Catching up on everything is a mammoth task and with over 3200+ sessions, there is so much for people to catchup on.  New use cases and successes shared with the Salesforce community… It is what Dreamforce is all about!  That is why no two wrap-ups will be the same, as everyone has there own personal journey through the week.

    But key highlights for me include Salesforceben with two great posts stand out for me: Admin perspective or Nov roundup) and Jen Lee’s fantastic recap and her sessions about process automation and workflows.  Also David from SFDC99 has a great recap too.

    Salesforce has the videos published from most of their keynotes and a number of the larger sessions from the week, and you can access them on the Salesforce Youtube playlist.

    Key Youtube videos I have found useful include:

    And personally, I love the T-Mobile story at this year’s keynote, where they demonstrated a number of the new ‘mySalesforce’ features (such as my Trailhead, my Lightning and my Einstein).  You can catch that session including a live demo here:

     

    The future roadmap of Salesforce core platforms

    One session I always try to catch up on is the core platform update/roadmap sessions.  This next session has a number of the Product Owners talking about some of the features that are coming up over the next few releases.

    Want a crystal ball into Salesforce’s thinking and where they are focusing their efforts? Look no further.

    They also go into the Ideas Exchange, why some ideas can’t/haven’t been delivered so far (even though they might seem really simple from the outside looking in), and how Lightning is actually allowing Salesforce to drive the pace of delivery of new ideas that Classic simply couldn’t do…

    So without further ado, here is the True to the Core overview from Parker Harris and co…

    The future roadmap of Salesforce’s core products definitely looks promising and personally I can’t wait for the discussed improvements to reports & dashboards (Sub folders… Field to field filters?!  OMG)

    Comments always welcome

    Got any key videos / blogs / resources you have used to catch up on Dreamforce this year?  Share in the comments below.

  • Salesforce Winter ’18 Release

    Salesforce’s next release is here, and Winter ’18 is jammed packed with Lightning features and still brings some improvements for those (well most of us) who are still on Classic.  In this post I will also show you how to check key days for your org and share some of the best resources I have found for the Winter ’18 release.

    Let’s jump in and take a look at the top Sales & Service Cloud features in this release.

    Top 6 Winter ’18 Features: Sales & Service Clouds

    Enhanced Instant Search Results & Better Search in Salesforce

    Salesforce Winter '18: Smarter Search Results

    This is such a small thing overall, but will save so much time for users.

    Spell correction is now available within instant results!  Users will now get suggestions if there is no direct match.

    And the search has also been improved to allow users the ability to include an Account Name when searching for a contact, opportunity or an account.  This will then narrow the overall results!

    To check out this feature, click here.

    Lead conversion now improved in Lightning Experience

    This has been a bug bear of so many people.  Put simply the Lead conversion process in Lightning left a lot to be desired!

    Well Salesforce have heard us and worked on an improved conversion process, and now gives a clearer view to sales users on if they are creating a new record or linking the lead to an existing one.

    Personally, the new screen looks a little clunky… But it is still an improvement from the previous way of converting a lead.

    Salesforce Winter '18: Lead Convert Process

    The new lead convert process is documented here.

    Manage your duplicates using Duplicate Record Sets

    If you saw one of my last posts, data is such a big focus for us.  The new Winter ’18 release now allows you to manage duplicates within Lightning.

    In the Data Management section of the Setup menu, you can setup a feature to report on duplicates based on your matching rules.  Now in Lightning you can leverage any reported Duplicate Record Set, then compare and merge!

    Salesforce Winter '18: Duplicate Record Sets

    View this feature in the release notes.

    Macros & Live Agent now in Lightning Experience

    I have combined these two but Macros and Live Agent are now both support in the Lightning Service Console! #abouttime!

    This will bring about productivity improvements for those using Lightning.  But most importantly also removes yet another hurdle to making the change to LEX for those orgs not using Lightning UI and Service Cloud…

    Check out Marcos and Live Agent details.  Live Agent in particular does still have a few feature gaps between Classic and Lightning, but these gaps are slowly being removed and will no doubt be ironed out over the next few releases.

    Time Field Type (beta)

    There is a new feature in beta this release, which allows users to track time (independent of date). :-O

    Imagine in a project management app, being able to simply allocate time to something rather than stating a date/time…

    For more click here.

    Lightning gets a tweaked UI

    Lightning has been such a big focus for Salesforce and they continue to actively improve the User Interface.

    In the upcoming Salesforce Winter ’18 release, they have given us a new look and feel.  To me this is very similar to the new-ish design concept that Google and others are following, with ‘cards’ of information broken out into pieces and clearer whitespace usage to illustrate what is important on the page.

    And also in the Setup menu, there is future improvements hinted at.  Where in the future we might be able to update the background and theme Salesforce Lightning Interface to suit your business 🙂

    More details here.

    Salesforce Winter '18: New Look and Feel

    When does Salesforce Winter ’18 release?

    You will need to check Trust site for your server instance, but most production orgs are currently schedule for the major release from 7th October 2017 (select NA instances) – 14th October 2017 (most AP / EU instances).

    Can’t wait for the release?

    Miss the cutoff for sandbox refreshes on the last week? You may still be able to sign up for a pre-release Winter ’18 org to have a look at the new features.

    Best resources to help you get Winter ’18 release ready!

    Salesforce directly should always be your first port of call.  They always publish and support users through the transition and this release is no different.  Here are your go-to Salesforce resources:

    Other blogs and videos for Salesforce Winter ’18 Release Readiness

    Check out her blog, as there is a wealth of information also on areas like Mobile & Einstein!

    • Salesforce Weekly, has done a ‘Release in Action’ video for Salesforce Winter ’18
    • Rakesh on Automation Champion has his top 10 features
    • Praneel at Above and Beyond has a guide on the features of the release, with some additional focus on things developers (and some admins) would be interested in like DX.
    • Jenna Molby has a breakdown of her 12 favourite features from the release.
  • Winter ’18 Pre-Release Details

    So a really quick Friday update as the Winter ’18 Pre-Release takes shape.  You can now sign up to join the Pre-Release Treasure Hunt within the Success Comminity, and also Salesforce has actually announce a new logo for Winter ’18 (and an new ongoing theme based around Astro).

    Winter ’18 Pre-Release Treasure Hunt

    Every release now goes into pre-release, where admins/developers/consultants/anyone who is interested, can register and setup a Pre-Release Trail Environment, which is based on the new release (Salesforce Winter ’18).

    And the good folk at Salesforce, in turn, run a Pre-Release Treasure Hunt.  It is a great way to entice early adopters into jumping in and finding new features/changes within the system.

    So if you really can’t wait and want to dive into the new release before the preview release notes come out, sign up now (registration now closed) and post your findings aka “Treasure” in the Release Readiness & Feature Adoption Success Group and use the tag #Winter18Treasure to join the treasure hunt!

    I am going to join the hunt myself and will post what I find as a new post shortly (and in the success group).  But I did find this post by Swayam with a few of the new features he has found so far…  Happy hunting!

    Salesforce introduce an Astro Winter ’18 logo

    Salesforce Marketing Team has taken a bit of a change into the upcoming release, with a new Astro themed logo.  And it has generated a bit of conversation in the Release Readiness & Feature Adoption Success Group.

    Here is the original post from Salesforce introducing the new logo:

    Salesforce introduce new Astro logo

    What do you think about the new logo?  Love the new theme?  Not bothered?  Astro’d out?  Use the comments below…

  • Identify project risks

    As a Salesforce Admin/Consultant/Developer, you will often be involved in projects or initiatives.  In this post we will take a look at identifying and managing project risks.  Why?  Because in a project, risks can cause major problems and lead to roadblocks that you simply can’t get around. 

    What is an acceptable project risk?
    What is an acceptable project risk?

    In a previous post we talked about why setting a roadmap is important.  It allows you to engage with your users and stakeholders while involving them in defining the Salesforce strategy.  (You have setup a roadmap now, haven’t you?  :-))

    But once you have planned what and when things should be delivered, now we need to focus on identifying potential project risks.  How do you judge what is an acceptable project risk?  And how can you manage and then mitigate these risks?

    What is a project risk?

    Risk is an everyday occurrence in our world and it is subjective from person to person.  In an extreme example, some people would take any perceived risk and jump out of a plane (hopefully with a parachute), while others wouldn’t even dream of it!  The point is risk is all around us and we make decisions everyday, even if subconsciously, to say ‘I am prepared to take that risk’.

    Project risks are the same, things that you or the team can see that may potentially cause issues later on.  Now I have used two key terms in that sentence.  Risks and issues… What is the difference?

    In its simplest form a project risk is something that may happen during the project.  And if it does it occur, it may have an adverse effect on a project’s delivery.  That can be either what is being delivered, the timelines for delivery, or in extreme cases can block delivering anything.  Risks’s are potential/future focused.  For example, a risk to a project could be that after the project has finished, end users don’t use what was delivered to them.

    An issue on the flip side is generally something that is current or happening right now.  An example of an issue would be unexpected sick leave.  This could disrupt timelines and what was planned today can’t happen.

    So how do you capture project risks & issues?

    project risks vs reward
    Even though there will be risks, sometimes the reward is worth it.

    Now imagine you were on ship trying to reach your arrival port, you want to arrive on time but there are a number of risks you need to consider.  What route to take?  Are there any storms/icebergs in your way?  Or would you just set sail and hope for the best?

    By identifying any risks and issues, you can then come up with a plan to mitigate it.  Allowing you to avoid extra the time and costs hitting an iceberg would cause

    It isn’t an exact science but the key is to take time, stop and think about it.  Think about what you are trying to achieve.  Risks are related to what you are trying to deliver.  What could derail the project?  Is it related to resources (access to certain people at a specific time in the project)?  Are you at risk of other systems / integrations causing issues?

    You can keep these simply enough in an Excel/Google Sheet that the project team has access to. Everything you brainstormed,  enter down as a new line.  The key is to do it, start it early on in the project life cycle and to continue doing it throughout the project.

    Once you know what the risks are, you can then take measures to address them.   This allows you to plot a course around any risks and hopefully avoid them becoming issues.  As an example, need specific involvement from a subject-matter expert at a certain phase?  Plan for it and book them in.

    Get creative

    Draw a Treasure Map - great way to identify project risks
    Draw a Treasure Map – great way to identify project risks

    When defining risks (either good or bad) you could hold a session with your key stakeholders.  Have a project kick off and discuss the objectives of the project and what does project success look like.

    For something a little different, get creative.

    One session I have run a few times with stakeholders is to split people into smaller groups of three or four people.  Then get people to draw out a treasure map with labels on it.  Draw the risks as circling sharks, a skull island or a ship upon the rocks.  And the treasure is the project being delivered after circumnavigating all the risks.  But the aim is to think about problems creatively, I have even seen a group draw a space ship making a journey through the galaxy…

    I find it helps get people out of their comfort zone and shifts their mindset from their normal day to day work.  You can then also ask the groups what are some ideas to mitigate the risks.

    After the sessions add the risks to your spreadsheet (if you haven’t got them already).  If your group came up with possible mitigations, also make note of this as you can build on it as you start your project.

  • Are you ready for Salesforce Summer ’17 release?

    It is almost that time of year again.  Here in the northern hemisphere the days are thankfully getting warmer and longer.  Easter is now behind us.  As the sun starts to shine through, the time has come to start planning for the next Salesforce release.  Yes, it is time to prepare for the Salesforce Summer ’17 release, are you ready?

    Salesforce Summer ’17 Release Readiness

    As with any Salesforce release, preparation is key, and the Summer ’17 release will be no exception.  But you are never alone, and there are plenty of excellent resources available to ensure you are well prepared.  Where to start?

    Salesforce Summer '17 Release logo
    Are you ready for the Summer ’17 release?
    The first port of call is to check the important dates for your sandbox refreshes.  This is key if you need to ensure you maintain a sandbox with the current Spring ’17 setup or if you want to ensure your sandbox get the Summer ’17 preview.  Check this post from Salesforce for the key sandbox preview dates.

    Getting a preview sandbox gives you invaluable & hands-on access to play with all the new features of the Salesforce Summer ’17 release.

    Next stop is to also check the key dates for Admins to consider.  You can view that on this Salesforce Admin page, fresh off the presses yesterday (19th April).  It gives you a checklist of items and key dates to ensure you are prepared.  For example the preview release notes are available from next week (24th April at time of publishing) and will be available from the Salesforce Release Portal.

    And another great resource for keeping track of everything to do with the upcoming release is via the Release Readiness Success group.

    What to expect in the release?

    crystal ball
    Who doesn’t love an upward trending chart?
    The preview release notes are being finalised, and it is almost time to jump in to a preview sandbox instance.  What can you expect from the upcoming Salesforce Summer ’17 release? #safehabour 😀

    Recently I attended an awesome London Usergroup chat with Mike Rosenbaum, the Salesforce EVP of CRM Apps.  During the session Mike went through our questions covering the future of Salesforce Lightning and the platform.  You can watch the full video of the chat here at Cloud Architecture’s site.  Unsurprisingly he confirmed that Lightning will continue to be a huge focus for Salesforce and as a result the next release should start to see a number of known performance issues being addressed.

    During the talk it was also mentioned that a new report builder for the Lightning UX should be coming our way and the product teams at Salesforce are aiming for feature parity with Salesforce Classic over the next few releases.

    Mike also encourages feedback via his Twitter account (@mike945778), so get in touch!  If you watch the video, you will also find out why he uses that Twitter handle 🙂

    Obviously there are other features planned and another thing I learnt from the chat, there is a published Lightning Product Roadmap which does highlight some of the planned features for the Summer ’17 release.  So if you are chomping at the bit and can’t wait for the release notes to be released I recommend you check it out!

    Stay tuned for more once the release notes come out, until then it’s time to get your affairs in order because Salesforce’s Summer ’17 release is almost here!

    Update (24th Apr): Now the release notes are available, check out my next post for a top 10 features for Sales & Service Cloud.  And feel free to add to the list in the comments!  

  • Why creating a roadmap is important

    How can planning a roadmap be used to support your Salesforce org?  Especially when it is used by more than just one team in your the business.  How can you ensure you deliver what is truly needed?  How do you prioritise your efforts?

    What is a roadmap?

    First thing first, let’s have a quick look at what a roadmap is.

    charles-darwin-quote
    Change is the only constant, how will your business adapt?
    A roadmap is a strategic business planning tool often used to outline the future vision of a system(s) or product.  It will show what changes and development is needed to get there and will visualise the items you plan to deliver over a specific timespan.

    So how does that relate to Salesforce?  In a world that is full of change and competing priorities, business is no different.  There will be new bugs and issues to fix.  New business priorities which may change the strategic direction, resulting in changes to the system. As a result, any roadmap will need to continously evolve as the business priorities change.

    A system roadmaps is most often used in Agile delivery environment, and will help stakeholders visualise where/when any planned improvements are likely to happen.

     

    But why is it important?

    Imagine your working on a jigsaw puzzle.  You know somehow it all fits together, but you are not sure what you should focus on first.  All the pieces just seem a bit random at the start.  Then slowly but surely you start to set a strategy in place.  A plan of attack for solving the puzzle.

    Maybe you start by putting all the edge pieces in place first, followed by any pieces that relate to distinct image that is part of the puzzle.   Then over time as you have more and more of the pieces in place, you start to see the image come together.  Now imagine you are working on the jigsaw puzzle with other people.  How will can you make sure you are all aligned and working towards the same goal?

    To me this is essentially what a roadmap is and why it is important.  Breaking the puzzle into smaller focus areas allows you to create a strong foundation for tracking your progress as you go along.  And by setting a strategy in place, you should be able to deliver the finished result quicker than if you just tried to solve it in a random / unplanned fashion.

    As an example of a roadmap, Monzo (a start-up bank here in the UK) openly publishes a Trello product roadmap for their apps, detailing the features planned running against a timeline (short term, medium term, etc).  If you want to check it out, you can view it here.

     

    How do you create a roadmap?

    Where do you start?  Planning your roadmap is an overall, continous process.  But by taking the time to define and maintain it, you continually evolve what the future vision looks like and become more proactive about where Salesforce will grow/develop – which in turn should minimise those ‘why didn’t I know about it’ moments.

    There are a number of steps you can go through, and by all means this isn’t a definitive list.  Also keep in mind that project methodolodies (eg Agile) may also play a part in the ‘how’ and ‘what’ you need to define.

    Identify stakeholders & research

    If you are starting from scratch, identify your key end-users & stakeholders (Sales, Finance, Marketing, IT, etc)?  By knowing who to go to, you can then research what is important to your business.  Ask what are their key priorities for the year ahead.  What improvements would they love to see made to Salesforce?  If you don’t have a relationship with your stakeholders, this will helps to open the door.  And will also come in handy later on.

    Innovation & ideas

    You might also have your own improvements or changes you want to make to Salesforce.  After the last post, you might have identified potential technical debt within your Salesforce which needs to be addressed.

    Also what about new features and innovations you want roll out.  Things like a move to Lightning UI?  All of this will need to be added into the mix too, as remember we need to balance out all of the priorities as we won’t be able to do it all at the same time. 🙂

    By combining the earlier research with your own ideas, you now have a list of different and competing business priorities.  But how do you sort through the list?

    Setting the business priorities

    Firstly some priorities which get raised will simply be so critical to the business that the priority and timeline will almost be set for you.  For everything else, here is where you can get creative.

    One idea is to get your key stakeholders together in a room.  In this session encourage people to be open and transparent, while keeping everyone focussed on what is best for the business  and not individual departments/teams.  Going around the table, everyone who raised a priority gives an elevator pitch to the group covering where they see the value of the request.  As each pitch is given, a card or post-it goes up on the wall.ideas on a whiteboard

    After the pitches are finished, give out three sticky dots to everyone (or you can simply use pens).  Next tell them to place two dots next to the idea they would prioritise first and one dot on their second priority.  The aim is to get some overall coordination on what to focus on first, where the priority is driven by the highest amount of dots – where you sort the cards by descending order.  Close out the meeting by going around the table again and confirm if people agree with the outcome.

    By involving your stakeholders in setting your roadmap, you allow them to buy in to the future vision of the platform.

    Unfortunately there can be circumstances where stakeholders can’t come to a conclusion.  This is when you would become a little more direct.  The group should at least try and seperate out the list into what is needed versus what’s a nice to have.  If this still doesn’t work, you may need to get an appropriate Sponser (possibly a senior leader within the business) involved.

    Visualise the roadmap

    Roadmaps come in all shapes, sizes and formats.  It is important to realise that they are generally high-level in nature.  Covering the themes and objectives you plan on delivering. Save the detail of what needs delivery for a project plan and the team involved in delivery.

    Personally, I have I tend to only set a roadmap for the next 6-12 months.  And then bundle everything else together under a header of ‘future items’, but you can be as creative as you want.  As mentioned earlier, these plans are subject to change.  Aim is to make it easy enough to adjust moving forward.

    When it comes to estimating the time and effort, there will be an element of making an educated guess on some of the work involved.  Ask around the Salesforce community and see what others estimate.  If there is a vendor/partner involved, they can also give you an idea of the effort involved.

    Another very simple example of a roadmap would be to group items by a theme down one column, and have your timescale running along the top.  Then your individual deliverables/projects become the cells in between.  Here is another example of what you could do simply in a spreadsheet:

    roadmap example
    Example of a roadmap
    There are plenty of other alternatives out there though, just do a Google image search for other examples!  As mentioned above, you can use a bit of creative license here.  Just make sure it is easy to understand what you are trying to convey.

    Communication

    Now we are near the finishing line of this whole process.

    After putting all of this together, play back the outcomes with key stakeholders to get a final sign-off.  Doing this allows any further alterations to be made.  It also ensures that everyone has bought in to the process and vision, meaning you can then focus on delivery.

    And remember to revist the roadmap roughly every six months.

     

    Wrap up

    I will reiterate that this is just one way to come up with a roadmap.  The process can vary depending on the size of your business, what the priorities are and even lines of accountability within your company.

    For an additional resource there is a great Trailhead module (Innovation Solutions), which covers the topics of roadmaps and implementation planning.

    I would love to hear from you and your experiences when setting a roadmap.  Please feel free to add in the comments below any steps you take in creating a roadmap.

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