Critical Updates, Why so Critical!

In the volatile world of SaaS, continuous improvement is the only way systems can sustain. And the World leader in CRM aka Salesforce.com knows this better than any other provider. This is why Salesforce ensures improvements in its offerings and performance at regular intervals. Fancy as it sounds, enabling the practice of continuous Innovation and delivering it to thousands of users at the same time, takes more than just effort. So, how they do it? One word “Updates”.

What are Updates?


Salesforce releases new features to improve system performance, security, and platform capability in the form of updates. The updates are new features or optimized versions of existing features introduced for customer orgs. These updates get applied at all levels, from updates specific to a Console to updates that apply to the platform itself. If we are to prioritize these updates on the range of importance, one set of updates stand out. And as the name implies, these are called “Critical updates”.

Critical updates are the changes/additions that are executed at a platform level and affects all versions of the platform. These could involve changes made to the existing security structure, processing or the user experience of the platform. Since changes like these can affect your code, we can’t stress more on the importance of assessing the impact of the Critical updates before they are activated.

Below is a three-step guide to ensure that your organization can take maximum advantage of Salesforce Critical Updates:

1. Don’t wait till the last moment


Salesforce notifies system admins regarding the Critical updates well in advance and provides an opt-in period ( Can range from as short as 30 days to as long as 365 days period). Make sure that the system admins for your org. have assessed the changes being introduced and their impacts on the methods, functions or features within your org. It is important that the analysis is made and tested within the Opt-in period to ensure that both system and users are prepared for a smooth adaptation. In addition, Salesforce analyses your organization to determine if a critical update potentially affects your customizations. If your customizations are not affected, Salesforce automatically activates the update in your organization. So, if it hasn’t auto-activated you need to resolve issues.

2. Wholesome testing


During the opt-in period, system admins can test the impact of Critical updates on your system and customizations by activating and deactivating the updates multiple times. This helps in identifying areas/customizations that may be impacted by the updates and ensure that they have been notified /corrected accordingly. Post the opt-in period, Salesforce auto-activates the updates permanently. Hence, assessing the impact and raising Red flags in advance becomes crucial. Once the Opt-in period has ended, the updates cannot be deactivated. The recommended approach would be to test in Dev Sandbox, followed by Full or partial Sandbox and then production. If you plan to test critical updates in production, please make sure that it's done in non-peak hours and users are notified if needed.

3. User preparation


Though Critical impacts mostly apply to the processing aspects of an org, sometimes these may also impact areas impacting the End users. This could involve changes impacting the UI or the way the system behaves from an End-user perspective. Hence, it becomes important to identify areas that may tweak the user experience and make sure that the users are informed and trained (If required) for the upcoming changes.

Apart from End users, it is also important that the admin, super users and development team working on your org are aware of the changes being brought up as part of the Critical updates.

Summary


As an admin, the next time you see an alert on Critical Updates, make sure you refer these updates within Setup and test each critical update for impacts on any customizations. In case you identify any customizations being impacted, assess if the code can be tweaked to adapt the upcoming update or notify Salesforce support within the Opt-in period.

References
- https://help.salesforce.com/articleView?id=cruc_overview.htm&type=5
Author: Yaroslav
10/07/2019
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