The Most Important Skills of the Salesforce Admin (That Won’t Be On The Exam)

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article titled What Makes a Salesforce Professional Valuable where I explained that the most valuable trait of a Salesforce Admin is understanding the business. Its positive reception inspired me to write this follow up that outlines, in my experience, very important skills that should be in an admin’s wheelhouse that may not necessarily be found on a study guide.

I’d like to preface this article with the assumption that these traits are valuable in tandem with the skills of mastering the Salesforce platform.

Business Analysis

Every good Salesforce Admin is a better Business Analyst. Requirements handed down to the Admin by the business users rarely present the whole picture. A request as simple as adding a picklist value to an existing field could warrant several follow-up questions: What order should the picklist value appear in? Is the picklist global? Is the picklist being mapped to another object or will it affect existing validation rules?

Try creating a use case for each requirement that clearly follows through every likely scenario. It’s the details that makes or breaks the Admin, and business analysis skills can help with mastering the details.

The Business Analyst is also a professional at understanding, well… the business. Taking the field modification example, several follow up or discovery questions could be analyzed purely from a business point of view.

What is the real problem that this change will solve? Is there an easier way to solve it? Why is this change important to my users?

Getting these answers will also help set the priority of which to assign requirements.

Integration

It would be nice if Salesforce was always the one stop shop for all business needs but that’s not always the case. Understanding business legacy tools and how Salesforce ‘speaks’ with other tools in your organization is paramount to helping your users.

As an Admin, you’ll not only receive tickets and concerns about Salesforce functionality, but also about anything that Salesforce may be integrated with. Does a website provide your company with leads? Do you use Pardot, Mailchimp, or some other marketing tool that modifies or creates data in Salesforce?

Many days of a Salesforce Admin consists of tracing data back to its origin and following it through its journey, knowing why an integration may fail, and being able to troubleshoot common integration issues. The admin’s integration expertise should extend to a working knowledge of AppExchange and available connected apps that can solve business problems

Data Analysis

Data is the lifeblood of your organization, and not just the customer data! Data includes product data, price data, Object and field meta data, and historical data.

Many of the actions a company makes are decided by metrics and information provided by data. In my experience, the best Admins understand the importance of data and know what must be done to protect its integrity including structure and accuracy.

The Salesforce Admin should know how to quickly report on their company’s data and WHY those reports are helpful to their business. The Admin should know what the business’s most important metrics, or KPI’s are.

Knowing how and when to implement duplicate and matching rules, how to export and import data, how to modify data using API tools like Data Import Wizard and Data Loader and by knowing what, if any, transformations take place to data behind the scenes is a most beneficial skill.

Conclusion

These skills are not honed on trailhead or in the classroom but by diving in to real world business scenarios, thinking about business and processes holistically, and by focusing time and energy into understanding data. Salesforce is an exceptional tool that is constantly changing and improving. Admins, as the craftsmen of this tool can best earn their clients trust by focusing on these skills. If you’re looking for an experienced Salesforce Admin who has these skills, visit www.PinkusPartners.com to find one!

What Makes a Salesforce Professional Valuable

 

It’s a big world for the Salesforce professional. There are tons of features to learn, tools to master, certifications to grab and trails (Trailhead) to be explored. There are weekly meetups, online communities, conferences, webinars and workshops. If desired, one could LITERALLY eat, breath, sleep, and dream Salesforce.

To a large extent, I too am involved in the community. I have certifications. I do the Trailheads (Expeditioner), and I try to stay abreast on new tools and functionality. I believe it is my responsibility as an admin/developer to keep learning.

However, I sometimes have a fear that Salesforce professionals dance on the precipice between professional understanding of the tool and obsessive loyalty.

The obsequious professionals collect and treasure digital accolades like badges and certifications a little too much and it’s common for many to have a few years of professional experience in the application development world.

To be clear, this isn’t a BAD thing. In many ways, this is not dissimilar to my experience. See my previous article: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/perfect-detour-from-english-major-personal-trainer-grant-ongstad/.

In my work experience as an Admin/Developer I try to keep remembering two simple things:

1)     Serve the Business, Not the Application

Unless you work for Salesforce, Salesforce doesn’t pay your bills – the person or organization that signs your check does. They use Salesforce because it may be a tool that can solve their problems and help scale their business and, in some cases, it may not be.

They do not care if you use flow, process builder, workflow rule, or apex they only care if you solved their problem. If Salesforce reporting cannot handle their unique groupings and summaries as well as an existing excel report – don’t be afraid to tell them!

Businesses don’t just hire Salesforce professionals because they know Salesforce, they hire them in the hopes that they can solve their problems.

Whether you are an Admin, Developer, Cloud Consultant, Salesforce CPQ expert, Architect, or all of the above, your first allegiance is to the business and its requirements.

My boss once told me that tools and applications come and go but if you can understand the goals and mission of the business, how it operates, and where they are heading that I’d always be in demand.

2)     Be a Solution Architect

Every change, customization and enhancement should be considered in relationship to the entire system architecture. You are not just an order taker who reads a requirement and implements a change without question. What effect will this change have on existing customization, user experience, reporting etc.? Are you making assumptions about how users are interacting with the system vs how they are actually using it?

A solution architect thinks ten steps ahead when implementing or recommending a solution rather than jumping to the neatest and shiniest tool. Sometimes the solution is a change in an internal process.

I don’t intend to throw shade on those who truly love Salesforce. For many of us, the tool has provided a rewarding career path and I believe the demand will only continue to grow. It is also tremendously important to have skilled users of the tool. Everyone who wears the badge (yes, on Trailhead too) of the Salesforce professional should have an in depth understanding of it.

I only hope that we never lose sight of the customers we serve and of the skill that make us most valuable: The ability to understand and solve problems.