It’s that time: Winter ‘24 is about 8 weeks away for most of us. These days a lot changes between preview and release, and increasingly parts of the release dribble out late. Therefore, it’s harder and harder to keep up with what’s what. There are many top ten lists about winter features, and I encourage you to google and read them. My writing is focused on helping small nonprofit orgs with Power of Us granted products to know what to do with features they are likely to benefit from or are required to adopt. Thus, you’ll see more focus on Sales, Service and the Free Experience Cloud Enterprise features that work for small orgs and less focus on features that come into their value at larger scale or are part of paid licensing (some of which I have also). Most readers will typically use NPSP or EDA managed packages. However, with some users adopting Nonprofit Cloud (NOT YET RECOMMENDED FOR MIGRATION BY ANYONE THAT I KNOW), I also watched the Winter 24 Release notes for Industry Cloud changes as well. The notes can be found here and downloaded as a whopping 577 page PDF. The online version is very slick. https://help.salesforce.com/s/articleView?id=release-notes.salesforce_release_notes.htm&release=246&type=5
How and When Changes Appear Section: This section is a must read. I always look through it for changes that will appear for users automatically and without control. Sometimes these are no biggies and other times you have to prepare people and plan to spend time helping them with the change.
Admins: Prepare for new setup domain. Salesforce is moving setup pages to a different domain in the future. They suggest that we all add the planned domain to our allowed network filters. Most small companies would not do it until it breaks, but that will be a tough couple of days while you figure out what went wrong. Better to do it soon.
- Some List view buttons and options are renamed. This is to improve the UI for everyone including those using a screen reader, but change throws people. Display as Table is now Select List Display. Checkboxes only appear if applicable. Making charts has a label change or two. You may need to check in with your list view users and suggest they explore the updated tool tips by hovering options.
- A bunch of UI elements (buttons, checkboxes, and some text like links) will have some changes to improve viewability for everyone. Not a huge look change but it can take a day or two to forget the old look.
- A user going to the Analytics Tab and opening reports will get multiple tabs instead of needing to go back to open another report. This is probably good but it may throw off some users initially.
- Mobile users can share reports now! No need to wait to access a desktop to share something great (or urgent) that you see.
Here’s what I found in the way of changing that you will want to adopt when you can from Winter ‘24 that I’m going to be prioritizing to look into:
- Dynamic Fields: With this release, we welcome dynamic fields for mobile and desktop on almost all objects (yay) EXCEPT campaigns (big boo from nonprofits), tasks and products. Super important to be using these. Salesorce has admitted it has no plans to make record types and page layout improvements (ref: what it says about permission sets and profiles support of record types) and it’s all up to dynamic fields from now on.
- Analytics Home and Analytics: Not new but it didn’t deliver with Summer 23 launch. Some updates have sneaked out over the summer. Collections seem really cool. Finer grain way to help team members find the reports they need without all the hassle of folders. We have arranged ours around teams and tasks. I do wish collections would appear as a clickable tab instead of just in the side panel, but this is OK. (Anyone from product listening?)
- Contact and Lead Home tabs will have a new view called Contact Intelligence instead of just simple list views. Once enabled in settings, the users will see or can select to see a list of activities, be able to take action, and update records without leaving the contact home tab. No idea how to make this work for different people who need to be working with donor sets, volunteer sets, and program recipient sets. But worth checking into.
- Email productivity in Salesforce: Apparently a number of features from previously paid products came to the activity tab email capability in Salesforce on July 19 for up to 100 users. It says you must enable some of them. These features include email productivity tools such as send later, email tracking, text shortcuts, and email engagement. Sales Engagement was previously known as high velocity sales. Sure enough… it’s in my org now in setup. It appears to work closely with Einstein Activity Capture. Each time I turned on EAC it screwed up my org disastrously by creating duplicate contacts found in my gmail account endlessly every hour… 100,000 when I stopped it. Same thing happened three times after support intervened and asked me to try again. Still… these email features and a form of customized email automation could be very valuable to small nonprofits so I’d explore it, especially if you have EAC working OK in your org. If there are any readers who experienced and resolved the EAC duplicate contact bug, please reach out to me… it’s been years but I vowed to never turn it on again after it wasted days and days of resource time for me with zero return or fix. Support never understood why it happened or offered help to fix it. So I abandoned EAC. I’d like to return to the fold… without risking or ruining my org. IF there is a PM out there tired of hearing me say I don’t trust EAC, reach out and help me change my mind. I’d love that!
- Permission Sets are getting better with each release. Tools for a simple and complete migration from profile to permission set groups are still not available so I don’t recommend wholesale migration. BUT I recommend deciding on a permission set group strategy now and implementing all new things with a permission set and adding to a permission set group that your teams get. We’re pretty simple so we have these permission sets groups.
One reason not to jump in wholesale migration yet is bugs like “permission set failure.” For reasons Salesforce still has not explained, permission sets groups fail sometimes, perhaps if they get too big or too complex (my guesses). That’s why we have two permission set groups for “Base”. And that’s probably why recalculating and seeing debug messages are now available on permission set groups in Winter.
I never add new items to the profile any longer, even though it continues to appear in NPSP release notes to do so. I always add them to an existing permission set if they are random or to a new permission set if they represent a new granular capability. Here are our SYM permission sets. Always start your own perm groups with a TLA because packages and Salesforce are adding permission sets all the time. It’s the only way to keep things straight. We now have a list view for our permission sets and there are 17: I wish the interface for permission sets was the same as the interface for permission set groups.
One of the best experts in permission sets, Cheryl Feldman, recommends an object by object approach with maximum needed permission and with suppression during assignment. Others (like me) are skeptical of this and see advantages to functional groups with minimum access specs. But we all agree that admins must start using these NOW to gain competency because (like flows) the day has arrived when this is a MUST use tool. If you’re reading, Cheryl or others, I would love to engage or know the plan to gather input.
- Flows. As usual it’s a very diverse set of features in this all-admin-powerful tool in Salesforce. If you haven’t looked into migration, it’s time–but in a limited fashion. I put that first. Then I the two most interesting new features next:
- Flow Migration: I’ve used the flow migration tool from Workflow Rules and Process Builder in a focused way with very good success. However, I usually have to select quite carefully on process builder nodes so I end up with a sustainable flow that I want to maintain. And I often have to combine workflow rules into a single flow. I don’t think we have seen consistent best practice recommendations coming out for wholesale migration. I stand by my advice now on migration: Don’t migrate without a reason and only selectively migrate. Reasons include: (1) you’ve got a performance problem in an object when you update or import. Carefully move these to before the save flows or the async path on record triggered flows (or even scheduled flows that run in batches). (2) You’re making pretty big updates to the automation of an object and it also has workflow or process builder automation. Carefully move these to maintainable flows along with your new features. That’s all I got. I see no reason to fuss with migration yet, especially given how many NPSP managed package items are implemented with workflow rules. That said, migration now works on more process builder and workflow rules than ever with this release. Works means it won’t refuse to migrate; I haven’t seen a migration that failed since the unofficial features that kicked off migration.
- Record Triggered Flows: Here’s a very new and interesting wrinkle. One of the limitations of record triggered flow is that you can’t talk to the user. And that makes sense since record triggered flow can be triggered by many things including events like platform events or imports where there is no user screen. But Salesforce is breaking the “fourth wall” for errors on a record triggered flow! If a record triggered flow hits an error, you can now pop-up a custom error message *on the user screen of the record page* (or display the message in-line with a particular field on the screen). Not sure how this will go when it is not triggered by a user edit on a record page, but this is a game changer! You can now write validation rules with flow and show the errors in-line on the field or as a pop-up. (There are now youtube videos by several flownatics showing this in preview orgs.) Once the fourth wall is broken, I expect there may be more features coming that use it.
- Flow Actions. Two interesting things to report here. First, Http callout, once the domain of APEX developers, now supports all call-out methods. So admins are free to identify free useful data sources or even integrate to other systems using get, put, post, patch and delete. It’s a fully functional set of integration tools and all available as a flow action to admins now. There are lots of YouTube videos where people show how to get the current weather conditions, currency exchange records, populations, and many more. Making users more productive and creating more engagement in public experience clouds and now is fully in the hands of adventurous admins. Second, the transformation action debuts. We have a new flow action called transform that allows mapping fields from an input collection of records to fields of an output record of collections. So if you’ve ever looped through a collection, copying fields from the input to various outputs, using a formula to fix some of the input fields, or adding constants, this can now all be done graphically in one step for full clarity. Looping in this way isn’t dangerous anymore (unless you try to read or save the record within the loop), but the process you are implementing is cumbersome to capture and understand in a loop. With a single graphical step, it’s a win for simplicity and total cost of ownership! These two actions combine nicely, too. Use a call-out to get an order or donation record from an external system (like Stripe or Paypal) and then use transform to map it to your Salesorce opportunity record. I don’t know for sure that either of these work but I’ll certainly be looking into it! There are limits to transform right now that don’t support nesting, however, this is likely to change.
- Flow Editor: We make additional productivity progress in this release. First, you can now close some elements that have not yet been completely configured. You can even save an incomplete flow. Big win and a good direction! Expect more elements to support this in next releases. Secondly (and how this is implemented), side panels come with some elements to make for a much better editing experience, especially for those new to flow. Currently when you edit a screen, you get a pop-up. Some many times I have to close the pop-up to see my flow so I can figure out what I need to enter in the pop-up and then open it again. UX folks have figured this out and the pop-up is moving to a side panel! It’s only available on some objects but it’s the new and preferred way and will appear more often now. When you get to the flow trigger explorer (working on a triggered flow on an object and wonder what else happens?), you can now use a simple sidebar to view only the active ones, or the ones from a package. Not a huge deal but nice for complex orgs with lots of packaged flows. There really aren’t so many packaged flows these days IMO but more will be coming. Pause was already a complex element (due to its APEX pedigree) but very useful to add to scheduled or record triggered flows. To simplify it’s invocation, we now have Wait for amount of time, Wait until date elements or Wait for conditions. Wait for an amount of time simplifies the only reason I ever did Pause which and the duration now comes in all the convenience units you would expect. But we also can say Wait 4 hours and resume at a specific time, canUnder the covers, Wait for conditions is the same as the old Pause.
- Screen Flows: I’ve been able to create some useful reactivity in my screen flows for users although it’s very simple stuff using checkboxes and conditional flow. Choices and text can now be dynamic in Winter 24, so this may be enough to make some very nice screens. Users (especially public guest users) expect reactivity and help make less friction when engaging with flows. Reactive components on the same screen now include: formulas (but not all functions), choices, display text. And dynamic flow screens support screen reader update now, too. An example I will be curious to work on is a flow to capture newsletter readers. Based on what they disclose, I’m hoping we can update their default choices and even available choices. No email… can’t select the email only versions. No mailing address, the print options disappear. Add your phone, the SMS options appear. Not sure how this can best be done, but there are enough tools to help the guest user get this complex task done with less friction. Internal users will also benefit if I can trim seconds off the forms they use to record program engagement many times a day. And new staff and volunteers benefit from more intuitive forms when learning.
- Change dashboard owner: Winter will be reassigning ownership of a dashboard when someone leaves who had a great dashboard the team still needs. You had to recreate it until now.
- Health Check adds reports on Experience Cloud (and sites). This is a must use tool for nonprofits in my opinion. Honestly, if I were starting now as a nonprofit, I would use it as my entire website. But since we have a long-established and much google-loved website for 15 years (Google loves it… we don’t but hey…), we have a companion website that is directory based (data object based) and exposes flows. We actually believe that flows will be our go-to form tool eventually because no tool offers simpler Salesforce object integration at a moderate price. Form tools have recognized their value and skyrocketed. No issue with that but as a small nonprofit, most have gone out of reach. Flow makes a pretty good form tool. And nonprofit cloud (not yet recommended for migration by anyone) will offer another complex but fully integrated option that can also live on experience cloud sites. My biggest issue with the use of flow for a form tool is that only admins can edit flows AFAIK. Anyway… Winter brings love to making sure sites (e.g., V4SF) and experience cloud security is included in Health Check.
Nonprofit Cloud (i.e., an Industry Cloud): Be aware that my knowledge of this area is small but growing. Feedback welcome where I’ve gotten it wrong or missed the points. But I figure we might as well all start learning about the parts and pieces. Here is where I found this information. It’s somehow not positioned in the release notes in the same way but it is online: https://help.salesforce.com/s/articleView?id=sfdo.Nonprofit_Cloud_Release_Notes_246.htm&type=5
- Nonprofit Cloud for Fundraising: Brand new product that I still haven’t seen but is out and supports a huge diversity of fundraising teams and actions including enter gifts singly and in batch, manage campaigns and commitment, allocate gifts and commitments to funds or designations, . It is 100% not compatible with NPSP (i.e., code and data model clashes) and not easily migrated from NPSP (i.e., you cannot easily or generally define a one for one mapping or transform of objects or fields from one to the other). There is a lengthy list of features in the release notes: https://help.salesforce.com/s/articleView?id=sfdo.RN_NPC_FR_Nonprofit_Cloud_for_Fundraising.htm&type=5
- Nonprofit Cloud for Program Management. This is an update to the already available and functional summer release. New is a participant profile page to see everything about a participant contact in one place. There is a bunch of added support for scheduled benefits (vs.the previously existing benefits session participants) including support for creating, migrating from sessions, and exposing on experience cloud. Sharing buttons are now provided to share program records with individual stakeholders. Essentially the same as the Program Management Module managed packet but with totally different objects and built upon different code. I honestly suspect it IS compatible with NPSP (because I’ve seen NPSP function with person accounts enabled and because demo exports say we can turn on industry cloud in a NPSP installment so long as we don’t intend for NPSP to work) but they say it isn’t advised. I’ll have to take their word on that for now. Migration wouldn’t be terribly hard IMO (i.e., you can define a one for one mapping or transformation of PMM and even V4SF to the new data model). I’ve seen and studied it a bit but not using it. Here are the release notes: https://help.salesforce.com/s/articleView?id=sfdo.RN_NPC_Program_Management_release_notes_246.htm&type=5
- Nonprofit Cloud for Case Management. This is an update to the already available and functional summer release also. New is some new ways to use dynamic assessment as well as support for splitting parties (affiliated groups of contacts). This app is similar in function to the paid case management managed module but with different objects and code base.
- Nonprofit Cloud for Outcome Management: This is a brand new app included in Nonprofit Cloud. Features include defining and tracking indicators, effort and outcome, group outcomes to demonstrate or support your theory of change, You can add indicators to interim and final results. I believe there is nothing comparable in the NPSP domain for a standard offering. https://help.salesforce.com/s/articleView?id=release-notes.rn_outcome_management.htm&release=246&type=5
- Common Tools available to Nonprofit Cloud Users (unknown if compatible with NPSP and EDA at this time, but not available without the Industry Cloud enablement licenses. This is not a full list… just those with changes that seemed likely to help early adopters of Nonprofit Cloud)
- Actionable List Members: You can automate assignment of contacts to lists, more easily filter lists to narrow focus, and define a KPI bar to help drive efficacy.
- Actionable Relationship Center: There are some changes that allow users to set up an anchor node as the starting point of these sometimes complex graphs that show the complete relationships of connections between people and organizations.
- Actional Segmentation: Personalize columns, add latest actional list members, add members through quick actions.
- Batch Management: Added filters to view batches. This tool controls how the various cloud components run.
- Business Rule Engine: More tables, more rows, categorize tables, more complex expressions and filling of lookup values. This is how one defines who is eligible for what program services or donor benefits.
- Data Processing Engine: You can build rollups (and more) with a new canvas to visually see your nodes and the relationships between them. This is how one builds roll-ups, gap measurements, cohort statistics, etc for fundraising, programs and much more
- Service Process Studio:More simple definition of service processes and a template to begin dispute services.I don’t know much about this tool yet.
- Timeline: Nothing new that seems relevant to Power of Us Grant users. This is an actional replacement in Industry Cloud for the activities viewer in core Salesforce. It is a powerful way to look at program activities for someone. You can define a separate timeline view for volunteers or donors.
- Omnistudio: The form and screen tool of Industry Cloud (but even more than screens and forms). As part of the actions that take place as users progress through a flow, Omnistudio can now generate Office and PDF formats.
- Nonprofit Cloud Grantmaking: This is a brand new industry cloud solution but is not part of Nonprofit Cloud or the Power of Us Grant. I’m not covering it except to clarify this point as I understand it.
I don’t cover (or use) SLACK because of Salesforce’s continuing discriminatory policy that religious nonprofits can’t receive free licenses like other nonprofits. Sorry but just not OK. I have no idea why this policy persists. It’s just not in line with Salesforce core values. Something is very wrong there.