Midwest Dreamin’

Ever just wake up one morning and KNOW it was going to be a good day? Yeah, that happened in July in Chicago.

Midwest Dreamin’ is a regional User Group. This is the second year of this extravaganza. Last year Steve Molis and I brought the formula comedy road show, so this year the conversation was “Top Habits of a Highly Successful Admin”.

ask the expert

Before the session though, I caught up with several other Salesforce MVP’s and together we worked the “Ask the Expert” booth, in the expo hall. I’m continuously amazed at the knowledge and experience of what people are accomplishing, with this service. Our band of misfits have been playing deeply in the Marketing Cloud, Service Console, incredibly large deployments, and people trying to deploy as fast as possible.

Dreamin egg

If you are an Admin or Dev of Salesforce, spend some time and talk with your fellow attendees. “Day of Dreamforce” is probably the best description of the day.  In the end these kinds of days are all about what you put into it. I have been doing Salesforce for longer then just about anybody and I am still learning from others. If all you do is sit through sessions and drink the coffee, you’re missing the point of these events.

I was able to sit through some of the sessions. Cory Cowgill talked about how to utilize the Analytics API, an Open Source graphing tool, and JavaScript to create amazing info graphics with Salesforce data.  I then saw a presentation from the Salesforce Foundationwho are building a custom deployment of communities primarily focused on Education. Sounds like the Non-Profit Starter Pack all over again. That may be a good thing!

There are a number of these “Super User Groups” being scheduled. Reach out and find them. Awesome education.

Here are a few pics from the time there:

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Administrator vs. Analyst – a salesforce discussion

Let me first start by saying I have been honored lately as a few people have asked me for career advice and I gave what I thought was honest and helpful advice. This is way different than my normal action which is to deliver truly horrible advice and see if someone yells “Balderdash!” 

What I learned through the recent exercise is that this “salesforce administrator” has hit the proverbial wall with their current situation and wants to move up in the world. Another recent situation is a manager asking their administrator, “What exactly is it that you do for us?” How does one answer this question without an equally dumbfounded look?

Do You Fit the Model

If you are a large organization with hundreds of users, then this particular post may not fit your model. Those systems typically, there I go throwing the word “typical” like candy, have job descriptions and controls in place to manage usage. Instead let’s talk about the organizations that meet the following criteria:

  • There are 1-5 people who manage the salesforce.com system on a regular basis.
  • Salesforce.com has been built to handle more than leads but typically utilizes multiple business processes
  • Salesforce.com probably has a few different apps attached that extend or enhance the base product
  • Users are sending in a number of enhancement requests on a regular basis (weekly or monthly depending on the size)
  • There may be an outside firm that handles more complex requirements or programming needs

As a member of the team managing the system it is your responsibility to:

  • Understand those business requirements and determine the correct course of action
  • Document those requests and help place them in order of execution
  • Define whether an internal employee or an external resource will complete the work
  • Either do the change or manage that the change is executed properly
  • Test that the work was done
  • Gather user feedback on completion

In the salesforce.com world we call these people “Admins” or “Administrators”. And if you have a simple system that may actually still hold true; but for larger organizations this term is inaccurate. Instead you are an “Analyst” and we as members of the salesforce community need to create a distinction between these groups.

In my mind a salesforce admin is performing the point-and-click effort and some of that effort can certainly be challenging, engaging, and worthwhile. And for smaller salesforce orgs this term holds up well.  But for larger or more complex systems these individuals are performing tasks far beyond simple point-and-click and that should require a different distinction. These Analysts have to understand business process and be a clearinghouse for that information. The organization relies on those people to not only listen to the business requirements but consider multiple options before making a recommendation and moving forward.

While the term “Salesforce.com Analyst” can hold up well to scrutiny, I would offer that there are Data, Business Process, Sales, and Support Analysts out there already. These are people who have begun to specialize in unique areas and can bring their skills to bear in unique ways. They have gone far beyond the idea of an Admin and are ready for the next step.

Being a Coder is Not Necessarily the End Goal

There are some people who will never be programmers and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Being a coder should not be everyone’s end goal in the salesforce.com world. I have a college degree in programming. The biggest fact I learned from that? I am not a good programmer but I am good analyst. Not all programmers are good analysts and not all analysts are good programmers. This is not a crime but an honest opinion of what people are capable of becoming. 

So for those that have hit a ceiling in their salesforce experience or feel trapped by the idea of being called an “Admin”, I say its time for the idea of Analyst to be seriously considered by this industry and give it the seriousness it deserves.

 

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