So You Want My Job: Salesforce Administrator

So You Want My Job- Salesforce Administrator (1)My name is Davina Hanchuck, and I live in Crystal Beach, FL. I first logged in and fell in love with Salesforce in 2007.

I have spent most all of my Salesforce career as a Salesforce Administrator. A little over six months ago, I was approached by a company who had been struggling with their Salesforce implementation and looking to bring in a full-time resource to manage and grow the platform. While my director and I were discussing my role at the company, he made a comment that he didn’t think “Salesforce Administrator” was an appropriate title, because my role would include much more than just the day to day maintenance of our Org. I suggested the title of “Salesforce Systems Analyst,” which he thought was a better description for what I would do.

A Salesforce Administrator will often wear many hats, and their position can come with a variety of titles such as “Business Analyst”, “CRM Systems Analyst”, “Business Systems Analyst”, “Systems Administrator”, “Salesforce Guru” and if you’re lucky, “Director of Awesome”!

The “Salesforce” in my title indicates that I rely on Salesforce to solve most of our business problems. Basically, I dive into the processes in every department of my company, and I recommend solutions to help streamline those processes. Most of the time, that involves customizing or implementing a feature in Salesforce, but at times, it can also involve bringing in another application that can solve a specific need. My company is committed to making Salesforce the “backbone” of our operations, so I don’t ever consider a product that doesn’t integrate.

Working environments for a Salesforce Administrator can vary as well. Some Admins work virtually from home while many Admins will work out of the office. While it’s nice not to commute, there are obvious benefits to be able to sit with your users and watch them work as well as have the ability to sit and strategize with a group face to face.

Salesforce Administrators also fall under various departments. In my current role, I report directly to the VP of Finance. In other Admin roles, I have reported to Director of Sales, Director of Marketing and IT. A Salesforce Admin’s role is heavily involved in operations and business processes, companies can often be challenged by where to place you. If you get a voice in the decision, try to place yourself with someone who is a strong supporter and advocate of Salesforce.

A Typical Day

Here is what my typical day looks like:

5:30 – Get Up. Get to the Gym!

With three kids, my mornings are busy! Getting some exercise in at the start of my day helps with my focus and helps me have the energy to juggle all of the things I am responsible for throughout my day.

6:30 – 8:00 – Kids, Kids, Kids!

I have one kid I have to get off to High School by 7 am and I have two little ones who attend pre-school. This time slot is a whole lot of chaos that involves dragging a teen out of bed, making breakfast, getting myself into the shower and wrangling clothes onto toddlers.

8:30 – Get Started

I start my day by reviewing my calendar and sorting through my inbox. Today, three of the scheduled reports that go out to the VP of Sales have come in. I look through those to make sure nothing is off. I see that the Opportunity Pipeline has dropped drastically. After diving into the report I notice that many of the Opportunities have a close date in the past, so I send an email to the sales team with a link to the “My Close Date in the Past” report I created and remind them to make sure everything is updated.

9:30 – 10:30 – Product Review/Demo

Our VP of Sales is getting ready to purchase a list of leads from a third party company. I have recommended that he take a look at Salesforce’s Data.com Prospector product to see if it might be more beneficial to use an integrated product, rather than a one-off list. I have contacted my Account Executive at Salesforce, and she has set up a Demo for us to preview and discuss the functionality and benefits of Data.com Prospector.

10:30 – 11:30 – User Training

I just completed a project where I worked with the VP of Operations to create a custom object in Salesforce to gather and track Member KPIs. I have a meeting scheduled to train his team on how to properly create and complete a Member KPI, to inform them of the task that will trigger every six months reminding them to gather a new set of KPIs, and give an overview of the data on the Dashboard I created for the new object.

11:30 – 1:30 – Case Management & Lunch

I use Cases in Salesforce to track any issues or requests from all of my users. I like to have a 24hr or less turn around for my responses or resolutions to cases. Today, I put together a report for the Inside Sales Team Manager. I do one on one training with a new user on how to use Salesforce for Outlook. I help our VP of Finance change his picture on Chatter. I create a process to automatically update a date field on an Account when a specific stage value is changed on an Opportunity. I update the letterhead in Salesforce with new logos that were just designed. I create a permission set to give our VP of Finance access to the new Member KPIs object I created.

1:30 – 3:30 – Integration Set Up

We just implemented a new event management tool that integrates with Salesforce. I set up the integration and do some testing to ensure that everything is working properly.

3:30 – 5:30 – Project Review & Work

I usually spend that latter portion of my day working on my larger projects. Today I’ll spend time in the sandbox completing the configuration of a custom object for our event coordinator to help her track planning details for specific sales events we hold every month. I have recommended that our VP of Operations take a look at the features available with the Service Cloud, so I spend some time in my Dev Org, setting up and customizing a console for service that I can demo for him next week. I’ll wrap up my day by reviewing the status of my large projects and coming up with a to-do list for the next day.

Education

Most positions listed for a Business Analyst require a Bachelor’s Degree or the equivalent of experience.  You definitely need a deep understanding of Salesforce and business processes. This often includes Marketing, Sales, Service, HR and Finance.

Salesforce certifications will go a long way in helping you land a Business Analyst position. It proves that you have a deep understanding of the platform and how it can help a company looking use it to run their business.

Experience implementing and using other tools, especially those that integrate with Salesforce is a must because the company will be looking to you for guidance on what tools can help them solve their problems and streamline their processes, and you will often play a key role in the vetting and implementation of those tools.

Responsibilities

Be prepared to wear a lot of hats. As I mentioned before, your company will look to you for guidance not only with Salesforce but many of the other tools the company uses as well.

Business Reviews & Recommendations – meet with both executives and end users. Understand the business inside and out so you can make recommendations for improving user experiences and optimizing business processes across every department.

Research & Vetting New Tools – when a department needs to solve a particular issue with technology, it is my job first to gather all of their requirements and make sure that I have a really good understanding of what they need this tool to do (What are the “must have” items, what are the “would like to have” items), and what the realistic time-line is.

Next, I go to the AppExchange to research all of the tools available and narrow my list down to those that have the required functionality (I like to have four options). I usually schedule an initial discussion with a vendor to go over our needs and a brief overview of the company and to ask any additional questions I might have that I wasn’t able to gather online.

Following that, we schedule a demo for all of the stakeholders in the project, which is usually followed by a few more meetings before we end at a final decision.

Manage the Salesforce Platform – This is the day to day maintenance and everything that a Salesforce Administrator’s role entails. If you work for a large company and have a team or a junior Admin, this may be more high level and strategic than working daily cases that come in.

Configuration and Integration – Once I have gathered business requirements, It is up to me to make the magic happen! This might be working with a consultant or developer, configuring a solution myself, or integrating another tool.

Documentation & Training – With every customization or new process that is implemented comes a set of documentation. This includes my own internal documentation to track customizations to the org., process documentation for those that rely on the feature and training documentation for end users. Training is essential! I do a mix of live and virtual training along with recorded videos and little tips and tricks I post in Chatter.

The Best Part

My career is interesting and satisfying. I learn something new every day, and I am never bored!  I get to be a hero on a regular basis by making someone’s job just a little bit easier or implementing a system that solves a huge business need. I get a lot of satisfaction from hearing a “Wow!” or getting a giant smile from a user!

The Worst Part

I love learning about new products, but I have often found myself in situations where I am sitting through the same demo several times, or more-than necessary follow up calls to negotiate price, and that can get a little tedious. When I have to implement something that doesn’t make someone’s life a little bit easier, but solves a very important problem for an exec. It’s never fun trying to motivate disgruntled users.

Work-Life Integration

I work virtually, and I enjoy the freedom to work when I need to. If I need to attend an event at my kids’ school, I can make up lost time in the evening after they go to bed.

Even though I am virtual, the majority of the company is out of the office about an hour and a half from where I live. I travel into the office once a week, and I don’t enjoy that drive, but extended travel is minimal. I attend two company events a year and then any Salesforce events that I request to attend (Regional User Group meetings & Dreamforce).

Many companies prefer to have their Salesforce Admins work out of an office

If I manage my time well, and I predict project timelines well, I can usually fit my work into an 8 hour day five days a week. There can be times when night and weekend work is required (i.e. a roll out that is best done over a weekend or a project with a very tight deadline), but it’s not often.

Overall, I feel like my position provides for great work-life balance.

Some Advice

The definition of a Salesforce Admin, Business Analyst or Business Systems Analyst can be a little ambiguous. Before you set out to explore the title for yourself, come up with your own definition of what you think that role is or should be.

Give some consideration to what type of environment/company is a good fit for you. Working for a small company gives you more freedom to roll out more features and functionality at a quicker pace because there is a smaller impact on users, but you will often find yourself working within a tighter budget. A larger company may have more red tape for projects, but if you have some really cool ideas, you are likely to have more money to spend.

At a small company, you will likely be the sole admin and have to balance the day to day management of the platform and the other projects you are responsible for, you also wear a lot of hats and are looked at as the expert on many more tools than just Salesforce. At a larger company, you might function on a team or have a junior admin that can handle the day to day management of the systems, which gives you the ability to have a more strategic role within the company, but the system requirements are likely to be more sophisticated, requiring a certain level of technical knowledge, and the fallout from an unsuccessful project or implementation can come with much larger implications.

If your current title is solely Salesforce Administrator, but you take on many of the responsibilities listed above, consider asking your director to add Business or Systems Analyst to your title. You deserve it!

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Farzana Movie
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Farzana Movie

Excellent!
i am inspired by your story.
Thanks Davina and Brent.

Kristi Guzman
Member

It is funny to think how much the default title seems to be driven by the Profile Name 🙂 I am happy to be in my first Salesforce Administrator job (and fully doing Salesforce 100% of the time) but it’s still true I do more than just Administer!
Thanks for the insight, Davina!

Kelly Gross
Guest
Kelly Gross

This sounds so similar to my day, except I am not a Salesforce Administrator. I am trying to decide how to direct my career path. Getting a certification in salesforce is a big endeavor and although I LOVE salesforce, I am more interested in the Business analytics and processes. There aren’t many Salesforce roles that cater to that focus, are there?

Brent Downey
Admin

Hi Kelly! This really depends on the way a company uses Salesforce. Some organizations, if they are large enough, will have dedicated Business Analysts in the organization, yet others will have a single Salesforce Admin who does it all. The details of the job description are what’s important as it will spell out what the relationship of the role is to Salesforce. Personally, I think there’s a fine line between BA and Salesforce Admin and it tends to get corssed quite a bit.

Chris Olsen
Guest
Chris Olsen

Any Business Analyst role would get you smack dab into a process dissecting position. (Just make sure you’re an expert at something business related… like Salesforce! Trailhead is easy and free!)

roger K.
Guest
roger K.

Thanks Davina, wooo…so much work you are doing and managing all! I have experience in IT Field for 18yrs. as a Network Security,Business IT analyst,System Admin.Compliance (DoD/NERC CIP), etc. Worked in Classified/Unclassified labs, worked on many Govt. projects as a Database Admin. for “IBM DOORS, CCURE9000, NICE System” and many more application, I have worked on. Since technology keep changing and impossible to chase and be updated, many suggested to move as a “Salesforce.Admin.” field then, Developer, which is really challenging to me, love it so far reading and taking some classes, and I wanna move forward in this field… Read more »

Mike P
Guest
Mike P

Davina,

Thank you for sharing a great overview of the job responsibilities. As a veteran business starter/owner/buyer/seller I encourage you to continue to stand your ground re: your contribution. Accept my best wishes for your continued success.

Mike P.

Carlos
Guest
Carlos

Nice piece.
I have met Davina and she is a great help for people like me, new to SF world.

Petra Matthew
Guest
Petra Matthew

Hello Davina,

Excellent, its a great inspiration; i share the same family scenario as yours; 3 kids and full time virtual Salesforce Administrator job. Truly wonderful, and stay blessed.

Elena
Guest
Elena

That’s a fantastic article! I am currently in a limbo trying to figure out what my role in the company is and reading through the article inspired me for some changes which I believe will be positive for me and my employer! Thank you so much for sharing your experience!

James Watt
Guest
James Watt

Hello from Sunny Scotland! Salesforce is a bit of a niche platform in the UK outside of major centers like London and Edinburgh. Certainly the further north you go, the rarer the skill is. I was bitten by the Salesforce bug about 4 years ago when I took on a temporary position within an oil company as the sole admin of their CRM system – very scary seeing as I didn’t have any experience in Salesforce whatsoever! Unfortunately that contract only lasted about a year and with no support, my learning was all down to me – Now going back… Read more »

Alex Valdes
Guest
Alex Valdes

Hi Davina,

Love you article! I have almost the same schedule (Just no Gym for me!), the only difference is that I work in a Satellite Service Provider Full time and I´m a SFDC Admin/Dev for 4 companies here in Mexico (Paid by the hour and special projects).

I´m Marketing Major working Sales/Marketing/Operations. My goal is to certify myself as an admin, developer, Sales & Service Cloud, So I can leave my day job an become a full SFDC “Business Analyst!”.

Your article is a great inspiration for many of us, thanks for this

Best of luck

Sandy
Guest
Sandy

This is a really motivating article. I would love to have a day like yours!!
I have worked in Industrial Marketing and Business development in the engineering services industry for 10+ years. I have been a user of salesforce and similar tools but now I am interested in pursuing an admin certification. What is an entry level profile in salesforce that I should target? I could see most of the certification study groups ask for atleast 6 months salesforce experience. So how do I start?

Brent Downey
Admin

Sandy, the 6 month experience is a suggestion only because it provides a baseline knowledge of terminology and basic navigation experience. It will only help, when going through a class. That being said, you don’t need 6 months experience to get started. Whip up a developer org and start playing. Follow the Zero to Hero series of posts on this blog if you need some real-life ways to build out your developer org.

Evett
Guest
Evett

Great information. What experience and does one need to be a sales force administrator?

Subhasish
Guest
Subhasish

Hello Davina,
Awesome way of sharing your experience in Salesforce. Truly inspiring.

Thanks

Sohaib Khan
Guest
Sohaib Khan

Hi Guys, It was great to run into this article as I am contemplating getting trained as a Salesforce admin and eventually getting a certificate. My only fear is that I spend so much time on this training and in the end still not get the job because I don’t have number of years experience in Application A, Database D, other CRM application and so forth. I wanted to move up in rank from my Software QA role so I passed the PMP certification. To this date, I never gotten a job as a Project Manager just solely on my… Read more »

Kathy Pilgram
Guest
Kathy Pilgram

Love the article, Davina. I was at the WITSuccess in Chicago and sat in on your presentation. I enjoyed your presentation so much, I had to look you up when I got home to read more. I was very impressed with how far you have come and continue to go. I feel we have similar traits and I could learn a lot from you. My kids are older now and I’m ready to start focusing on me! I love Salesforce as well and do many of the same things you mentioned above. Ready to further my career in Salesforce. I… Read more »

Chris Olsen
Guest
Chris Olsen

Excellent article! That was very easy to relate to and it feels great knowing I’m not alone. I need to grow a few more heads for all these hats! There’s gotta be a better way.