As a developer, you’re probably thinking that the only Salesforce certifications that will be useful to you are the Force.com Developer and Force.com Advanced Developer. I’m going to explain why you are wrong.
I’ve recently studied for, sat, and passed the Sales Cloud Consultant exam and I’m currently working towards the Service Cloud Consultant exam. I think that doing so has made me a better Salesforce developer, and it can do the same for you too.
The Salesforce Administrator and Salesforce Advanced Administrator certifications are incredibly useful to any Salesforce developer, but those certifications are not what I want to focus on in this post. If you want to find out why they are so useful then you should go to Chris Lewis’ Salesforce Certification: A Developer Journey session (only available to Dreamforce attendees) at Dreamforce this year.
Whilst the Administrator exam is a prerequisite for both of them, what I want to focus on in this post are the Sales Cloud Consultant and Service Cloud Consultant certifications.
I’m a developer, not a consultant
I’m guessing this is the first thought that crossed your mind. Whilst the certifications themselves are labelled as “Consultant”, they are actually on the “Implementation Expert” certification track, which is much easier term to relate to as a developer.
Almost anything you do as a developer is an ‘implementation’, and we’re all ‘experts’, right? These certifications let you prove it!
What exactly is an “Implementation Expert”?
An Implementation Expert is able to successfully design and implement solutions that meet customer business requirements, are maintainable and scalable, and contribute to long-term customer success.
To expand upon this, the certifications prove that you have a solid grounding in the standard capabilities of the platform and how best to leverage them to benefit your customers. They also prove you understand the use case for each of the standard features and when a custom solution would be more appropriate.
Experts work with the platform, not against it
As developers, often our first solution to a problem is to build something custom. Especially when it comes to seemingly complicated requirements.
Since we work with Salesforce we’re not working with a blank canvas. The platform is incredibly capable and can do a lot out of the box that I’m betting the vast majority of people out there using it don’t know about.
Take this convoluted requirement for example.
Tennant Ales has a their Account Sharing Settings as Public Read Only and their Opportunity Sharing Settings as Private. When a sales person creates an Opportunity which has the same Products attached to it as Closed/Won Opportunities on the same Account they want that user to be able to see the Owner, Stage and Opportunity Name of the Closed/Won Opportunities, regardless of who owns them.
It sounds like it’s going to involve a Visualforce component to break the sharing model and then a page override on Opportunity to display it. In reality, this is actually an almost perfect description of a feature that is built into the platform called Similar Opportunities.
In this case, by knowing this feature exists and doing a little bit of configuration you have potentially saved a couple of days of development and testing work. That’s better for you, as you don’t have to maintain a custom solution going forward, and better for your customer as they get the results they want faster.
Learn to translate your customer’s requirements
The big difference between the Implementation Expert certifications and the Developer and Administrator tracks is the way the questions are worded. Rather than describing Salesforce features and asking about their capabilities, the question will instead present business situations and ask you to pick the most appropriate way of implementing them.
Unless you are very lucky (or unlucky, depending in your point of view) you won’t get fully fleshed out solutions for you to implement. Instead, you’ll no doubt get business requirements and be tasked with turning those into a solution and then implementing them, or assisting someone else in coming up with a solution before implementing it.
By understanding how to map business requirements to the appropriate Salesforce features these tasks will become much easier. You’ll then have more time to concentrate on your customer’s tougher requirements.
At the end of the day, all development work should deliver a business benefit. By understanding the business motivations and how they map to your solution you will be able to give your customers the most benefit and value.
It’s not just about Salesforce
These certifications will also test your business and project management knowledge. You may not need this knowledge day-to-day, but its always good to know the basics. Whilst you may not be a project manager or the person coming up with the business requirements now, who knows what the future holds. The knowledge gained will be useful to you whatever you do in the future.
Its not easy, but it’s worth it
I won’t lie, these certifications are not easy to get. They require you to think about problems from a different perspective and really test your knowledge and understanding of the platform. The benefits are clear though. The greater your expertise and knowledge, the better your end results will be.
What are you waiting for?
All that’s left to say is, go get started!
Check out the study guides for Sales Cloud Consultant and Service Cloud Consultant and start learning about the features you’ve never used, and learning all the intricacies of the ones you have used. Hopefully soon you’ll be able to call yourself an Implementation Expert!