Archives for May 2020

“Ask the Expert” Webinar Series: Why and When Do You Need a Salesforce Architect?

As the Salesforce ecosystem has expanded and evolved, so has the need for a Salesforce architect. An architect is one of the most requested roles in the 10K Community, not only because of the value they bring but also because they’re not easy to find. It isn’t easy to become a Salesforce architect (especially a certified one), and finding a great one who is a good fit for your situation is not easy either. 

According to our Salesforce Talent Ecosystem research, Salesforce architects make up less than 1% of the overall Salesforce talent pool.

While the supply/demand ratios are improving and the number of architects grew 43% YoY, the number of customers who need their help is increasing just as fast, if not faster. 

To talk about why that is, the value architects provide, and when customers should bring them into projects, we brought together a panel of three veteran Salesforce architects — Mike Gill, Joshua Hoskins, and Matt Lamb. These independent experts from three different countries have completed hundreds of successful Salesforce projects between them, and represent some of the best in the business. 

Click here to watch the full panel discussion, or read on for highlights.

What exactly is a Salesforce architect?

There are several different types of architects with new variations cropping up all the time. There are technical, solution, and delivery architects, those who focus exclusively on marketing, or business operations, and that’s just to name a few. While experience levels and focus areas can vary greatly, an architect is generally a seasoned expert who defines, designs, and executes solutions on the Salesforce platform. They can help to guide a company’s Salesforce vision, and act as a technical advisor throughout the entire engagement.

When is the right time to bring in an architect?

If you’ve ever built a house, chances are one of the first things you did (if not the very first) was hire an architect.

You don’t call them when the walls are going up, but instead, incorporate them into the design process from the onset. Consider your Salesforce project the house in this metaphor.

While we understand everyone’s needs and budgets vary, it’s wise to have an architect on hand in the beginning stages of any new project. Architects are not cheap but their value typically more than justifies those rates. This is why we’ll tell you if you have to choose, to bring them in at the beginning as this is where they are the most valuable. They can not only validate the type of technology you want to use, but also provide contextual insight and call out the risk areas of any plans while helping with design decisions about integration architecture or data migration strategy. 

Without an architect helping you make the right decisions in the beginning, you run the risk of blowing past your budget or timeline. Front-load that expertise as you’re building your plan and you will get the most bang for your buck.

Do I need to have a full-time architect?

An architect’s expertise is best utilized at the onset of a project to help save time fixing problems down the road. You may not need an architect who is allocated full-time for the entirety of the project, but consider keeping one on a fractional basis who can help keep things on track or advise you as problems arise (which they will). They don’t need to be there for the day-to-day, but having someone on speed dial or allocating a certain number of hours for oversight will save you time, money, and possibly relationships down the road. 

What are the attributes of a good Salesforce architect?

First and foremost, look for someone with applied experience. A good architect will be proactive and anticipate challenges before problems occur. Mike, Joshua, and Matt all shared that the first step they took as an architect was to find a good mentor. Your ideal architect is someone who can take input from your business and the technical side, weigh it against their knowledge from past projects, and identify the things they don’t know and how to remedy that. This also means being humble enough to admit when they don’t have all the answers,

A good architect can also effectively communicate with a range of people, understanding their needs and what they need to hear. Because architects interact with everyone from the C-Suite down to individual contributors, it’s important that they use the right vernacular. The best architects are those who listen, not just to what’s being said and by who, but to what’s not being said. Part of this is being able to read a room and pull out everyone’s concerns even if they aren’t offered up.

While it’s not required, it also helps if an architect has or has had development experience. An architect should be able to help developers with problems, confirm that their code is solid for scale and that it complies with Salesforce best practices. Ultimately, it’s the architect who will need to figure out how to fix a performance problem in production, so if an architect hasn’t spent time in Apex or any coding language, they’ll struggle to identify problems. 

With that said, a solution architect doing pre-sales work and helping the customer put together a high-level implementation strategy probably doesn’t need extensive coding knowledge. However, be wary of a pre-sales architect who sells a high-level vision to the project stakeholders without talking about resource needs to meet project goals. 

When don’t I need an architect?

At this point you may be wondering, “Well, if an architect is such a jack-of-all-trades, why wouldn’t I just hire them and no one else?” While an architect brings a unique combination of strategy and execution, having this role do everything that’s necessary on a project isn’t the most cost-effective way to get things done. Remember these are experienced in-demand roles, which command higher hourly rates than less experienced individuals. 

Beyond the price tag, sometimes you just need a specialist. Just as you probably wouldn’t hire the architect who designed your house to also act as the roofer, electrician, and plumber. If there is an extensive amount of development to be done, hire a developer. Most architects don’t want to write code all day for a project. And because it’s not their standard day-to-day job, they wouldn’t be nearly as efficient as someone whose full-time job is development.

Finally, one of the most appealing aspects of being an independent architect (which many architects are these days) is maintaining the ability to work on multiple clients at a time. That ability to work across projects not only brings a larger breadth of experience, it also presents a variety of new problems to solve. Most of the architects we have worked with are problem solvers at the end of the day, and people tend to do their best work when they are happy. 

Watch the full panel discussion below.


3 Salesforce Tasks You Shouldn’t Outsource

The title of this post may be a little misleading. Why would an agency that specializes in connecting companies with outsourced Salesforce talent give advice on what not to outsource? At 10K we pride ourselves on being a resource for all Salesforce needs, which means we have seasoned experts in our community across every one of the tasks and roles described below (because everyone’s situation varies). 

However, we also believe there are some things you can, and should, whenever possible, delegate to internal staff. These include:

Daily Administration

Daily administration tasks for Salesforce range in levels of complexity, from the fairly simple like resetting passwords or creating reports, to managing overall end-user support and handling feature requests. In some companies, admins are like a swiss army knife capable of handling almost anything, but if the system needs are primarily lower-level tasks, it’s easier to have these internally-owned rather than outsourcing. 

This is because business context is key. An internal admin should understand the “why” behind their tasks rather than simply doing what they are told. This requires working across business stakeholders and technical teams and an analytic skillset to ask the right questions and understand user requirements. It also requires certain communication skills to translate technical requirements to the business, and vice versa.

End-User Support

Similar to the daily administration tasks, you want the person or people handling end-user support to have a solid understanding of your business so they can triage issues and provide support based on their context of why things are the way they are. Ultimately, you want your end-users to be comfortable with who they’re working with, and having someone in-house is your best option. 

(Some) Release Management

While a lot of companies (including 10K) can provide guidance on the process and toolset to use, ultimately there are a lot of orgs that don’t want a third party touching their production, largely due in part to security. We get it. As we’ve mentioned in our recent Handbook for Salesforce Operational Excellence, it’s a good idea to have someone internally own the release management toolset and the overall process for release management. 

Release management should be handled by someone who is incredibly organized, and disciplined enough to adhere to a defined governance process. It’s important to have someone comfortable telling execs “no” to maintain the process and rigor that’s required of the position, and that might be difficult for an external vendor.

Depending on the size and scale of your organization you may have multiple people handling these responsibilities. Some people may be handling the responsibilities in addition to other duties, while for others, it will be their full-time job (e.g. full-time release managers).

What Should Be Outsourced

On the flip side, we’d be remiss not to discuss the tasks and roles you should consider outsourcing to an external party because there are many. In our 2019 Salesforce Best Practices Research study, we found that 94% of respondents were working with at least one consulting vendor. More than half (53%) were working with three or more partners.

There are many reasons why so many companies choose to outsource so much of their Salesforce work:

  1. The Salesforce platform is both deep and broad, which means you’ll be hard-pressed to find experts inside your organization knowledgeable in every skill and specialty you might need.
  2. The Salesforce platform and ecosystem is ever-evolving, which means it’s tough to keep updated on every new feature, advancement or change, especially if you aren’t in the sole business of being a Salesforce expert.
  3. Experienced Salesforce talent is difficult to find and not easy to keep, especially technical and specialized roles. According to our 2019 Salesforce Talent Ecosystem report, when it comes to the roles most-in-demand and hardest to retain, architects, developers and technical leads came in at the top 3 of both lists. 

Given the dynamics above, it makes sense that the skills and roles we believe are best suited to an external expert are those that are either hard to find, hard to keep, or require an outside perspective. 

These include:

Developer: Development talent (people versed in Salesforce-specific configurations, APIs, and coding languages like Apex, Lightning, or Visualforce) can be hard to vet and qualify. Especially if the person in charge of finding this resource isn’t technical themselves. When customers work with a trusted partner, whether onshore or offshore, they can take ownership of the quality and can provide a safety net if things go awry. 

Technical Lead: This role is even more difficult to find, vet, and qualify, especially since many Technical Leads should have more years of experience and more projects under their belt. Yet these experts are indispensable when it comes to designing solutions, communicating, clarifying and testing requirements, and helping a bigger team of Salesforce developers to work together in a cohesive way.

Technical Architect: This is a seasoned role that can define, design, and execute solutions on the Salesforce platform, as well as other tools, often acting as a technical advisor throughout the entire engagement. Technical Architects are few and far between, and they also don’t typically need to be a full-time resource.  Outsourcing allows you to access Technical Architecture in a fractional capacity. 

Integration Specialist: This role specializes in integrating Salesforce with other tools via APIs, Mulesoft, and/or third-party middleware applications (e.g. Informatica, Boomi, Jitterbit, Talend). Specialized skill sets like integration change rapidly, so looking outside company walls can ensure you’re keeping up with the latest developments.  Bringing in an expert for a particular integration platform can also accelerate a project and allow your internal team to focus on their core competencies.

Platform Specialists: Occasionally you’ll need outside help for specialized projects and implementations that require skills an internal team doesn’t have, or time they don’t have. Some of the newer Salesforce clouds also require individuals with advanced skills in things like CPQ, AI and Machine Learning, Field Service Lightning, etc.

This list isn’t the be-all, end-all, and of course, will vary based on a business’ unique needs and circumstances. It’s meant to be a general guide based on experience across hundreds of customer projects. 

If you are in the market for any of these tasks we believe can be outsourced, 10K has a community of experts who can help. If you are lucky enough to have an internal team of experts and are looking for how to get more out of your program, we’d encourage you to check out our Salesforce Operational Excellence Handbook. 

10K Announces Certification Scholarships for Its Salesforce Experts

In times like these, there are few certainties. We still don’t know when things will get back to “normal,” and we’re still waiting to see the full impact the global quarantine will have on the economy and the consulting industry. While some of the Experts in our 10K Community have more work than they can handle right now, others are on hold with delayed projects or have clients who have canceled projects altogether. 

If you are among those that find themselves with a little extra time on their hands (for perhaps the first time in a while), we would like to help. While our foremost goal is to match our 10K Experts with customers who need their existing skills, we also want to help these experts to expand their skill sets in the areas where we see the most customer demand.

Introducing 10K’s Certification Scholarships

This is why we’re announcing today that we will be providing certification scholarships for 10K Experts who want to get certified in one of the following high-demand areas: Configure Price Quote (CPQ), Community Cloud, Commerce Cloud, Mulesoft or Field Service Lightning

The certification scholarship program, which will reimburse existing 10K Experts for their certification fees, will begin with ten certification scholarships, with the potential for more based on demand. If you are interested, click here to apply. The deadline for applying is June 15, 2020, and certifications must be completed by August 15, 2020.

Why Focus on These Skills?

We have specifically chosen certifications around these skill sets as they are, and will likely remain, in high-demand. Those with technical and specialized skills are not only in-demand but also some of the hardest people for Salesforce customers and partners to find and retain, especially when it comes to senior-level talent. 

As the core Salesforce platform matures, skills like CPQ and Field Service Lightning that build on top of those core clouds are harder to learn and put into practice. This means those who have a certification in these areas will have a competitive edge when it comes to new opportunities, especially when it comes to independent contractors.

Check out our Fall 2019 Salesforce Talent Ecosystem research for a broader list of the most in-demand Salesforce skills.

Why Pursue More Certifications?

The easiest answer to this question is certifications set consultants apart. In a recent 10K survey of 300+ Salesforce program owners and stakeholders, 86% of respondents said certifications are important when looking for experts. Nearly half of the respondents said they were “very important.”

The bigger reason though is that change is constant. It’s one of the things that makes Salesforce and its ecosystem such an exciting and innovative space in which to work, but also challenges professionals that have made this their career. The Salesforce platform is always evolving, and anyone who claims to be an advisor or expert on that platform has to evolve and grow with it. This is why being growth-minded is one of 10K’s core values and something we and our customers look for when it comes to those joining our independent community of Salesforce experts.

Certification in these more advanced skills will serve professionals well in the coming months. While some projects may be delayed in the near term, we believe the long-term prognosis for the Salesforce economy will continue to be robust. Salesforce has become nearly synonymous with digital transformation and customer-centricity. If anything, the recent months have shown businesses just how important those two things are when it comes to competing in today’s digital age.

Salesforce Operational Excellence Handbook: A Guide to Getting the Most ROI from Salesforce

Download the guide to maximizing your Salesforce program ROI.

It’s always the right time to restrategize and further integrate Salesforce with your business and operations — whether you just started building your Salesforce foundation or are simply looking to get more from the investment you already made.

Download our Salesforce Operational Excellence Handbook to learn how to establish a Salesforce Center of Excellence (COE) and get the most bang from your investment. Topics covered include: 

  • Team roles and structure

  • Delivery standards and processes 

  • Change management 

  • End-user support 

  • Education and growth 

This handbook was developed based on content from our 6-part COE blog series (below) and research from our Salesforce Project to Program Best Practices report:

Why a COE should be the CEO of your Salesforce Program

The Roles and Structure That Guide a Successful Salesforce COE

How to Build a Well Oiled Delivery Machine for Your Salesforce COE

Process that Speeds, Not Slows: Establishing an Effective Governance Model for Salesforce

Why a Support Process is a Vital Component of a Salesforce COE

Education is the Best Way to Get More from Salesforce