What The Heck Is A Salesforce Admin, Anyway?

It is completely understandable that people are often confused between a:

  • Salesforce Administrator
  • Salesforce Developer
  • Salesforce Implementor
In this article I will provide a high level definition for each of these roles.

Salesforce Administrator

In larger organizations a Salesforce Admin is typically someone who is either in Sales, Marketing, or IT. This is someone who can speak fluently with non-technical people about the business processes that they are trying to accomplish.

After speaking with the "non-technical business people" about their business process, the Salesforce Admin explores the best method to configure Salesforce to support (and perhaps even automate) those business requirements.

In order to do this, the Salesforce Admin needs to have a solid, deep understanding of the Salesforce platform and the ever-growing list of the robust features and functionality available.

Depending on the organization, the Salesforce Admin may or may not need to collaborate with colleagues in IT to deliver and execute the solution, along with the Salesforce Admin.

In many organizations, the Salesforce Admin goes ahead and updates the Salesforce configuration without additional involvement by anyone in IT.

This is where the lines begin to blur and confusion arises between a Salesforce Admin and a Salesforce Developer.

The Salesforce platform was designed in a way that the most common configuration needs that typically arise can be done without writing a single line of code. 

Yes, that's right.

In Salesforce, someone who doesn't know how to code can create workflows, approval processes, triggers, custom sections, custom page layouts, validation rules, reports and dashboards and a whole lot more.

This brings us to explore the role of the Salesforce Developer.

Salesforce Developer

Imagine you go out and get yourself a new iPhone. 

Of course, you can easily customize the iPhone: adjusting your settings, selecting ringtones, wallpaper, downloading and configuring apps.

However, if a particular app that you would like to download does not exist in the app store...what are your options?

You can learn how to code and develop apps..right? The idea might seem a bit absurd, daunting and way out of your league. 

The role of the app developer is somewhat similar to the role of the Salesforce Developer.

The Salesforce Developer can go a level deeper than the Salesforce Admin - by creating custom code to perform functions and apply customizations that are not available through the admin screens.

Do you have your favorite homegrown billing database in your company, and you want it connected to Salesforce? The Salesforce Developer can do that.

Do you want your own custom mobile app, to make available for your customers or prospects? While Salesforce has the incredibly powerful Community Cloud option for an Admin to handle this with ease....a Salesforce Developer can create one for you from scratch. 

Salesforce Implementor

A Salesforce Implementor is someone who manages the initial introduction of Salesforce to a company for the first time.

The Salesforce Implementor works with the business leaders (in Sales, Marketing, Customer Support) in order to get a deep understanding of the business requirements, processes, existing databases, current KPIs and current pain points in order to have the appropriate background.

Then the Salesforce Implementor collects the organization's data extracts - of all the data to be moved into Salesforce, and performs the appropriate analysis and review.

The Implementor then configures Salesforce to meet the business needs. This typically includes methods that are nearly identical to Salesforce Administrators and sometimes even functioning as a Salesforce Developer. In most scenarios, however, the Salesforce Implementor has far more experience and familiarity with the Salesforce platform in order to identify the most appropriate method that is scalable and sustainable for the organization.

After the appropriate configurations have been applied and the data has been migrated, the Salesforce Implementor works with the key subject matter experts within the organization to provide them with a walk-through of the newly-customized Salesforce instance...prior to the "big reveal" with end users.

Once all agree that the Salesforce configuration is ready to go live, the Salesforce Implementor trains all end users on how to use Salesforce to work more efficiently on the Salesforce platform.

Over time, the role of the Salesforce Implementor typically fades, as the "keys to the Salesforce castle" are typically handed over to the resident Salesforce Administrator(s) and Salesforce Developer(s) within the organization.

As a Salesforce Implementation Partner, I often work with clients at various stages in their use of Salesforce.

Sometimes I am first introduced to them before they have ever seen the tool, and I function as their Salesforce Implementation Partner.

Often, after the initial implementation is complete, I continue to work with them as a remote Salesforce Admin - until those clients feel that they have the appropriate resources to take on those responsibilities in house.

In other instances, I am first introduced to clients after they've been using Salesforce for some time, and I provide the services of either the Salesforce Administrator, Salesforce Developer (through my team...I don't do code), and certainly as the Salesforce Trainer.

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