Spring 2022 release notes are out in preview form.
I looked through them for the things that all my small nonprofit friends (and big ones) should be looking to leverage. Here’s my list. Spring arrives by Feb 11 for everyone. And remember, especially if you are new to Salesforce, releases are not optional. They just happen. I’ll have a blog when the release arrives detailing any actions I needed to take to unpack the goodness.
- Einstein Search is now on by default. It’s a great feature and just keeps getting better. I think it’s an unsung hero of Salesforce core user productivity, right behind the Lightning App Builder. Lightning App Builder allows remaking our apps to let users never leave the page to get work done even when it involves multiple related objects. Einstein search sort of builds on that to allow users to interrupt their work to quickly tackle short random tasks without disrupting the page they have in progress. You simply type in using the search bar to find and browse information (including multiple layers deep in the data model), to launch a modal edit or to click an action button. I can find details of a contact or account, differentiate similar contacts, delete or edit an opportunity, access quick actions to run flows or edit records, check volunteer or program history all without loading a new page or losing any work on my in progress in the page. If you haven’t adopted it, it takes a bit of getting used to but it should definitely become a way of providing user story solutions more often. Productivity and user happiness will increase!
In this screenshot, I’m busy knocking down tasks assigned to me but got interrupted to update or check an affiliation of a particular user. Notice that I typed in the global search, selected the right record, expanded the list of related affiliations and activated the edit action without leaving the page. After updating, I’m right back to my task Kanban. Fantastic!
- A new explorer for report types when you create a new report. I love reports. I’ve always been saddened by how hidden the object model is in report type definitions and how much damage one can do by being unaware of the underlying logic in a report type. So many times I’ve created the wrong report or made a mistake because the report type names weren’t descriptive enough. And then you have to start all over! Ugh! We took a giant step with a BETA feature that provides a new way to browse reports types and select the right one. It’s not all I would have hoped for but it’s a great start! If you are adventurous, I recommend enabling this beta for your power report creators. Teaching users list views is still number one in my option, but a user who can build reports confidently is a great asset!
This screenshot shows the new report type side panel, who made it, what objects are in it, and you can search if the fields you need are included BEFORE you start building. Awesome!
- Inline editing became much faster and more user friendly! Now editing multiple values works more like a list view. Edit several items and then save all at once. Winter 2022 saves each change and reruns the report, which can be very slow. I love this improvement. If you haven’t trained users to curate and clean-up data by editing away the wrinkles from a report yet, it might be time! No need to go find the record to edit only to come back and rerun the report. It can fuel a big win for user productivity and for data quality.
- A big surprise: We now can convert from workflow rules to a record triggered flow, one for one and seamlessly! In addition, the setup UI provides a couple of ways to view graphically all the record triggered flows on an object. This doesn’t yet include workflow (along with conversion) and process builder, but one assumes it will eventually. And you can’t edit the order or other parameters of the flows yet, but one hopes that will come, too. In making flows on par with other automations, You can now tweak a setting in your record triggered flows and control order of execution between all flows! Huge! The “Process Builder” adage “one object / one automation” isn’t very sound any more as a fixed rule; there have always been architectural and performance reasons to combine and separate automations in various circumstances. Tools to view them all and control order of execution solve a lot of gritty issues though.
The workflow rule converter is super simple: select a workflow rule and convert it. The old is deactivated and the new is activated. Because of workflow rule simplicity, it should just work.
There is also already an unofficial converter for Process Builder to Flow at unofficialSF.com that keeps getting better and better. It pretty much supports all the Winter 2022 features already. Don’t rewrite anything by hand from old automations into flow. Help is on the way! https://unofficialsf.com/the-new-converttoflow-app-migrates-most-of-your-process-builder-processes/
- The flow editor gets lots of good improvements. Perfect, since so many people are starting to use it for the first time! Autolayout and manual layout now fully supported including switching back and forth to be most efficient as you design. This makes changing logic so much easier when you find you need to, and updating old manual flows if you have them (or inherit them) is so much nicer with autolayout. Keyboard shortcuts have been added for moving around the flow editor and opening elements! So much nicer when you use it frequently. My favorite: Open a subflow from within the calling flow! When you do need to open a new browser window for a second flow, the flow names now appear in browser tabs to help find them faster when you have multiple open flows. Goto element were introduced last time to be used sparingly, but you can now also connect logic inside a flow to go elsewhere. Common examples from traditional programming include early loop exit upon reaching some condition, aborting a loop, and restarting a loop after detecting some important change. Use this powerful logic sparingly folks! And finally, we can now get shortcuts to our most used flow items at the top of the add element dialogue box. After all, the flow editor is starting to have a lot of components with so many automation actions available within flow.
- We can build nicer UI with our flows now. We can translate more of the elements on the flow pages into languages including buttons. This also means the possibility of overriding flow labels in managed packages that choose to support the feature. We also get a nice new way to let the user choose one or more records from a collection easily and directly. You can get a record collection via query (or other flow elements that operate on collections) and then simply let the user pick with radio buttons or a pull-down menu. We could get close to this before with several steps or an unofficialSF.com component but now it’s simple and baked into flow for better UI experiences everywhere. You can now place more fields from a record variable directly on the flow screen instead of placing generic components, loading the defaults and then saving back to the record. Phones, emails, and picklists are now also supported (in addition to text, numbers, and dates) for direct flow screen placement from a record variable. I don’t expect compound fields to be supported yet. In NPSP, name and address are two such very important compound fields.
- The calculation side of flow also gets better. We could already sort records with Winter 2022 but now we can filter collections from one collection to another! I’ve been using some components from unofficialSF.com to do this but now it’s baked in. This allows much more complex manipulation of records and sets without looping.
- MFA is now required. This means improved nonprofit security in the overwhelming face of data leaks, hacking, ransomware and scams in the world. I’m not aware of nonprofits facing Salesforce driven ransomware or hacking, but even Salesforce has occasional vulnerabilities in the software stack, including one recently. The simplest solution for MFA at small nonprofits seems to be to require users to have and use the Salesforce Authenticator app on a mobile device. I’ve been using the free Salesforce Authenticator for years (with great results… no passwords forgotten or mistyped). More involved solutions include using SSO providers (Google, Outlook, third parties) that meet the requirements of Salesforce MFA. I’m not clear on how, but phone and windows identity services based on faces and fingerprints can be part of the solution, too. But be warned: SMS and email verification doesn’t cut it, and MFA it has to be with each login. This is not just two-factor security on new browsers or devices. It looks easy to configure MFA with Salesforce Authenticator but there will be extra user training for sure. Here are the best docs I found to answer my pre-implementation questions: https://admin.salesforce.com/blog/2021/everything-admins-need-to-know-about-the-mfa-requirement and https://help.salesforce.com/s/articleView?id=000352937&type=1
I usually do 10 items but by grouping flow into editor, UI, and processing, I think I’ve covered a lot of great features. Here are some that I will watch but I don’t list because I don’t know that they can be useful yet to most small nonprofits:
- Scoping rules are now GA. It’s unclear the ideal use for these in small nonprofits. One thing my users don’t like is that we have 10+ years of data. They’d really like to see only recent data. There is some chance that search results configuration and scoping rules might be able to help with that. I’d love to see NPSP community find use cases for scoping rules. They could really improve user experience on a daily basis.
- The Your Account feature fooled me once by making my top candy list but it rolled out slowly and nonprofit contracts still required the normal process for addition and renewal. Your Account has the potential to make life easier for small nonprofits but I’m adopting a wait and see attitude on it this time. My Account does show my contracts in Salesforce. But I cannot add seats and have not yet ever had the option to renew without the traditional experience. We’ll have to see!
- There is a lot of talk about Orchestrator and it’s been a concept on the drawing board for several years. I still find it clunky and too limited but I think it’s going to get there. In addition, I anticipate (but still can’t confirm) that it will become a paid license and not part of the Power of Ten license grant. Nevertheless, it seems to be the future of approvals rules, which have gotten no significant love from the core team in a very long time.
Salesforce gets better with each release (almost always). I looked for some things and am rather disappointed to see zero progress. Perhaps it will make it soon. If not, please lobby for more support of these important areas that need to grow and catch up:
- Mobile continues to evolve but I don’t see much of any movement this release. I’m disappointed that we don’t get desktop and mobile features in tandem or even quick catchup in one additional release. It definitely limits my adoption of the coolest new app features because my users expect (and deserve) parity between desktop and mobile. There seem to be few updates to features available on desktop but not on mobile. I find it hard to make use of dynamic forms and some types of custom actions because they don’t have mobile support. I hope it comes out soon! I have a draft of what I consider the best mobile and desktop friendly elements to include on record pages. I had hoped to update it. If you want consistency between desktop and mobile (which I do), it means you can’t use a lot of desktop features right now.
- Salesforce sales core, productivity core, or service core need to be constantly improving along with all the various paid add-ons the fit around them. I wasn’t able to show many of these features in this top ten list. True to the Core folks, we request for needed changes heard. Native reporting and dashboards need love. Approval process needs love. Rollup summary capabilities could really use some updates. More natively understanding that email isn’t the only communication method would be great so campaigns could function better.
- I didn’t find much to say about the Lightning Page App builder to help nonprofits. I was disappointed to now see standard lighting app page components adding support for dynamic interactions. It came out for custom work last time and I really wanted to see it on standard components this time. Selecting an item from a standard list view component and having it show up in a standard related record component would be so powerful for small nonprofits in building much more responsive and capable apps without custom development. I have not yet seen any downloadable components to help out in this exciting space either.