And Why Not?
What more noble cause is there to be leading your company in? Salesforce.com (SFDC) has changed the way people and companies interact with software. The Salesforce.com platform is not just software hosted in the cloud, but has become a platform for companies and individuals to design their own software that integrates with their core CRM quickly and cost effectively.
Need a place to track expenses against your prospects and clients?
Want to monitor your office technology assets?
Need to track order fulfillment?
Why Has This Platform Been So Successful?
The lack of need to manage hardware and scalability coupled with the highly intuitive Admin GUI has empowered business people to meet their own needs without constant dependency on technical resources. Which me brings me to my next point.
Salesforce is Not Difficult to Administer
Oh my gosh! He said it! Shhh! Don’t tell anyone!
That’s right, it’s not difficult to setup and make changes to your SFDC environment thanks to SFDC’s “declarative” configuration wizard. And while certified Admins are scarce right now, that won’t be the case forever as it does not require programming experience to become one. Then if becoming an SFDC Admin is so easy and popular right now, how does one differentiate themselves in an ecosystem that is growing leaps and bounds and may be as saturated as .Net developers in a couple years?
Simple. Let’s look back at why SFDC took off in the first place. It targeted business people with small departmental budgets and showed them they could deploy their own system without taking a programming class, or requiring a cap ex request. Why is this important? Because thebusiness knows what they want when they want it. When the business has to go through an exhaustive process to get it, it gets frustrated, loses interest or worse, ends up with a very expensive system that does not meet its needs nor grow with change.
Make Yourself Valuable
I have an uncle who once told me ”the people who know how will always work for the people who know why“.
Throughout my career these words have echoed in my mind. If you were one of the first adopters of SFDC, it answered a need you already knew you had. Understanding how to configure the tool was the next step to meet that need. If you are new to SFDC but not technology, or you are just starting your career out of school, then you may be tempted to immerse yourself in the features of the platform, learning as much as you can and building your list of certifications. And while this is empowering, it is not valuable to employers…on its own.
What is valuable is knowing their business. Know their competitors. Understand the market landscape. Talk with the business and spend time with them understanding their jobs, not just the mechanics, but also the objectives. What are they measured by? What market forces are they planning for? What is their short term/long term vision for the platform?
Then, apply the knowledge you have gained of the platform, and how other SFDC clients use the system, to guide the business in its use of SFDC as a tool to meet those needs. Understand their requirements and challenge things they ask for. Ask why they want that field, or that workflow, or that validation rule. Offer alternative solutions or thinking. Leverage the platform to facilitate improvements to their process. Leverage your business acumen to consult them on ways to improve their use of technology, not migrate flawed methods to a new technology.
A prominent client in the insurance industry recently posed a question. They asked “how can we share an Account record with someone, but not give them access to all the Contact records for that Account?” As a capable Admin, I might be tempted to start working on a solution to their request, but I stopped myself. Instead, I inquired why they would want to do this in the first place. It’s counter intuitive to the goals and objectives of this platform they shared with me when we first started working together, which was to foster collaboration and cross-selling. Removing visibility to key contacts at an Account record would certainly not foster collaboration and cross-selling. Spending time and money on determining a way to meet their request, while potentially showing off my admin skills, would only jeopardize their strategy for the system’s usage.
How and Why
While so many industries are waiting out the current economic environment, Cloud Computing is growing exponentially. Admins and Developers are in high demand. Salesforce consultants are needed even more. Because despite what is offered by the latest technology trends, we should be stewards of best practices and innovative thinking. We should not be afraid to ask questions. We should not be afraid to disrupt current thought or culture. While not all of our suggestions will be embraced, it is our responsibility to make sure they are heard. For these behaviors will make you distinguished in your career.
Because while it is good to know how, we should always be striving to know why.