Salesforce Spring ’21 Release – The 10 Best New Features

Craig Probus
Director of Product
March 5, 2021

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OwnBackup helps clients get the most out of Salesforce, which is why we make it a priority to keep you up to date on the latest and greatest features that debut in each release. It’s true that the Spring ‘21 release notes were published back in December, so we’re a little late to the party. But we’re publishing this article now because all the new offerings those release notes teased are finally available. That means everything we’re about to tell you about can be put into play in your org, today.  

With each release, we’ll break down all the new Salesforce functionality we’re actually using, or plan to use in the near future. Sometimes it’s a huge feature that can change the way the world works (like the game-changing ability to add Accounts to your campaigns) and other times it’s a fix to a common pain point (like having a way to mask sensitive data in sandboxes). Either way, if it’s in this article, it’s something that jumped out at us as important for you to know about.

Without further ado, here are what we consider to be the 10 best new features from Spring ‘21:

Backend Improvements

1.  Lightning Flow is now “Salesforce Flow.”

  • The Short StoryFlow can now handle most use cases for a Trigger and even supports moderate UI capabilities that require User interaction. Among other things, you now have the ability to set time-based actions, get multi-column support for screen elements, and access Prior Values in Record-Triggered Flows.
  • Our Take: With this latest release, Salesforce Flow is truly a declarative coding tool that soon will replace Process Builder as the default automation tool for Admins.

2.  Double dashes (--) are being replaced by the single underscore notation (_).

  • The Short Story: Because double dashes are not supported in XML files that include comments, the BEM notation with double dashes (--) in Lightning Design System will be replaced by the single underscore notation (_) as of Summer 2021.
  • Our Take: If you’re using SLDS 2.12.2 and earlier versions, you don’t have to do anything—those versions aren’t affected and your styles will continue to work. If you’re using SLDS 2.13.0 and later versions, you need to update your CSS. If you develop using VSCode, use the SLDS Validator extension to fix the BEM notation in your code.

3.  Salesforce Object Query Language (SOQL) is improved. 

  • The Short Story: Previously with SOQL, retrieving fields required specifying all the names of all the fields. The new FIELDS() function lets you select all the fields without knowing their names in advance.
  • Our Take: This new feature eliminates the need for research and a lot of typing, simplifies query statements, and makes it much easier to explore the shape of your objects. This provides a similar construct that exists in all other standard SQL implementations (SELECT *) and very useful when debugging in a rush. 

Process Improvements

4.  The Manual Sharing button is back. 

  • The Short Story: Whereas users had to previously switch to Classic to access the Manual Sharing button, it has now been added to Lightning. A record owner can now share a record with a specific user or group of users, without having to leave Lightning and create complex sharing rules. This feature was added in response to an IdeaExchange request.  
  • Our Take: Manual Sharing is useful, especially in large organizations that need to lock down their security for compliance reasons. People have been confused by missing functionality in Lightning since it launched. Lightning is finally catching up to the Classic functionality and feature set. 

5.  There are new, easier methods to convert leads. 

  • The Short Story: You can now convert leads to a person account and business account simultaneously, such as when your customers include both individuals and groups. 
  • Our Take: This matters to Salesforce orgs that use APEX Lead Convert, Person Accounts, and Contacts to Multiple Accounts. It will save users time and simplify/streamline record keeping for leads. 

6.  Accounts can be associated with Campaigns. (Beta) 

  • The Short Story: Although still in Beta, you can now add account records as members of a campaign. Additionally, this feature comes with analysis insights that include: campaigns associated with any of the account’s contacts, campaigns that include the account as a campaign record, accounts that are campaign members, and more. 
  • Our Take: This feature is a BIG deal if you’re running account-based marketing. It helps B2B marketers and sales reps add an important layer of detail to their outreach and tracking. 

Security Improvements

7.  You can monitor how users are accessing your org.

  • The Short Story: The Lightning Usage App now provides login metrics to help you monitor users who are (or aren’t) logging in with multi-factor authentication (MFA). From the dashboard, you can see if they are logging on using SSO (password free), or 2-factor or any other MFA.
  • Our Take: User login security is a critical element of protecting your sensitive data, so the metrics and insights provided in this update are incredibly useful. This will help track MFA adoption and determine where vulnerabilities may lie. To learn more about security controls in Salesforce, we’re the experts, click here

8.  Sandbox data can be automatically obfuscated with Data Mask.  

  • The Short Story: Data Mask is a managed package that you install and configure in your production org. The platform-native technology obfuscates sensitive data in any of your sandboxes. You can configure different levels of masking, depending on the sensitivity level of the data. Data Mask works behind-the-scenes in three ways: (1) Anonymization: Scramble the data into unreadable results. For example, "Bill" becomes “987jlkafj”; (2) Pseudonymization: Change a field into readable values. For example, “Bill” becomes “Jim”; and (3) Deletion: Convert a field into an empty data value. For example, “Bill” becomes “null.” 
  • Our Take: Data obfuscation is one of the primary ways to protect PI and PII data. The enhanced Data Mask helps “hide” your sandbox data in less time, better configure your masking, and control which data you want to mask (such as, only newly added data). This new feature is very useful when you want to test with "real-life" data and make sure you don't break compliance rules or accidentally send a test email to real customer.  

Remote Work Improvements

9.  Quip is embedded in “Salesforce Anywhere.” 

  • The Short Story: Salesforce Anywhere has officially absorbed Quip and all of its features. The newly expanded Salesforce Anywhere allows users to collaborate on docs and live chat inside their Salesforce org with directly integrated data. 
  • Our Take: Think of Salesforce Anywhere (formerly known as Quip) as Google Docs for Salesforce users. It allows real-time, online collaboration between teams, with the bonus of being able to pull data straight from Salesforce. For example, you can share a link to Salesforce record with your team with an @mention. 

10.  Virtual cloud meetings are enhanced with Salesforce Meetings. 

  • The Short Story: Salesforce Meetings is a video meeting management platform designed to improve the ways sales reps engage with customers and prospects. Salesforce Meetings layers into your video call system, such as Zoom, to provide an interface where reps can grab data directly from Salesforce and present it on the call. The platform has two primary features, Meeting Digest and Meeting Studio, which help increase sales before, during, and after the video call:
    • Before: View meeting attendees and customer history, pulled from Salesforce. Einstein Insights highlights any risks that may arise, such as an open service case or decision maker not attending.  
    • During: Attendees see a branded video overlay, with the presentation and the sales rep’s video presented side by side. Reps don’t have to switch between interfaces to access data and talking points.   
    • After: Reps receive automated next steps from Einstein. They can set automatic updates to Salesforce records, making follow-up conversations and actions easier. 
  • Our Take: Reps can lead better sales calls, without as much technical difficulty. They don’t have to juggle screens or hunt for information, making for a more polished presentation; they’ll also have improved tools to follow up, leading to more closed deals.  

RECAP: Winter ’21 Top Releases & Experience Cloud

In case you missed some of the big releases from Winter ’21, we wanted to include a short bonus section where we recap three important ones you need to know about.

Guest User Security Enhancements 

  • The Short Story: The new guest user policies introduced in previous updates started being strictly enforced with the Winter ’21 release. Guest user object permissions were also reduced, like removing View All Data, Modify All Data, edit, and delete object permissions. 
  • Our Take: This is important! If you have existing Experience Cloud portals (Communities), you must review the security settings and implement changes accordingly. If you don’t and aren’t up to date with the guest user policies, it can break your existing functionality. 

Community Member Security Personalizations

  • The Short Story: Community members (external Salesforce users) are now able to utilize SMS messaging as an MFA security measure. Verification is sent via text, without the need to download an app. You can also customize the messages users receive when they update their email addresses. 
  • Our Take:  MFA is critically important to data security and should be enabled in all your apps. In addition to being prudent, MFA instills trust in clients and users that you have security top of mind—the additional option of SMS verification will only strengthen that trust.

“Build Your Own” Community Template Improvements 

  • The Short Story: Enhancements to the Build Your Own template give developers an improved Community building experience. Accessible through Lightning Experience and Salesforce Classic, the template is available as a developer preview in Developer editions, or as a pilot program in Enterprise, Performance, and Unlimited editions. The improvements include: 
    • Custom URL paths for unauthenticated sites  
    • SEO (sitemaps) 
    • New accessibility features (e.g. screen readers and F6 navigation) 
    • New HTML Editor component  
    • Lightning Locker upgrade 
    • @salesforce/client, @salesforce/customPermission, @salesforce/userPermission modules 
  • Our Take: Those who were pining for better Lightning navigation support and page reference have had their wishes granted. You can now develop Communities that load quickly and scale well using the Build Your Own (LWC) template. 

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