I bet you rushed to open this article with hopes of seeing more pictures of what might be Salesforce Admins posing to be considered as the sexiest of 2017. What makes a Salesforce Admin “sexy” exactly? I think the answer is very different depending on your company and the type of Salesforce implementation you’re running. If you’re running Salesforce in an enterprise-level company, the implication of the title of this article might be realistic insomuch as one of the admins in your IT organization may be considered a “hottie”. If you’re in a small to medium-sized company, you probably won’t have the same luck finding the sexiest Admin, and that’s because The Sexiest Salesforce Admin is actually the Admin you don’t have.
There is a significant difference between the teams of Salesforce Admins in large enterprise companies (where they’re called business analysts), those working with established partners, and your Salesforce Admin. Although your Salesforce Admin may be the foremost expert in your company’s implementation, what is the depth of their overall experience in the platform when compared to analysts who manage multiple implementations in a range of businesses and/or processes at once? How would their experience compare to those who manage hierarchies of hundreds of users and different record type variations? Are they big-picture thinkers with the capacity to understand and develop on your company’s vision and direction? Can they grow your Salesforce infrastructure with your business?
Before I’m accused of insulting the competence (and sexiness) of every Salesforce Admin reading this article, let me say this.
You are beautiful. You are valued. You are important. However, if you’re sitting inside a company with <100 licenses and you are the sole administrator of your org, you had better be a lot more than that if you want your company’s Salesforce implementation (and therefore you) to be successful. Frankly, I think it’s only realistic in very, very few cases. There’s no shortage of work out there for skilled Admins. If your company is spending money for you to learn as you go, and you’re not learning or you’re not fully utilized at your highest skill-set, you are probably in the wrong position anyway. Take it from my 20+ years of self-innovation, get out of that stale position, stop costing your company money and apply for positions within the partner ecosystem so you can innovate yourself while doing great things for lots of companies.
Software and technology innovate at a pace like no other industry. It takes a lot to stay up to date on all the technological advances that are occurring in business today. Besides the numerous Salesforce releases each year, the technology you use beyond Salesforce is also evolving and so are the tools you don’t use yet. That being said, in order for an internal Admin to stay up to speed on everything that is happening, they would have to spend a lot of their time learning new things, and then in turn, you are allocating budget to train your Admin to learn about things they might never use, don’t necessarily know how to apply in real life and even worse, might take with them and use somewhere else.
How does your admin keep up to date with new releases?
I am not trying to take away from all your Admin may have learned to get to where they are. And if they are the sole admin in your organization, chances are even if this is not their first admin position, most of their knowledge comes from release notes and Trailheads while most of their configuration skills are self-taught. Even if they completed the Salesforce in-person training, it only scratches the surface of what they’ve had to learn for themselves.
That brings me to the alternative solution and why I think the sexiest Salesforce Admin of 2017 is the one you done have; it’s because you probably don’t need one. If you have <100 licenses, and your Salesforce is in good working order, you should get minimal support requests for the day to day use of the system. If you get a lot, then there is likely to be a structural problem that can be fixed once and potentially stop issues. If you’re Admin has not fixed the issues thus far, you probably already need a partner’s help.
Managed Services. Your Solution.
In my opinion, the perfect structure for small-medium sized companies is to implement a super-user model. Super-users know the basics of Salesforce and can act as single points of contact for your company (or their geographical region or department) who can handle some basic questions and issues with reporting, very basic configuration and visibility. This is not a full-time job. This is not even a part-time job, this is usually just a couple hours a week at most and requires minimal technical training. For everything else that needs to be done in your org, your “Admin” should be in the form of a Managed Services agreement with an experienced Salesforce implementation partner who understands your business and has a staff of Salesforce superstars that can solve or find a quick solution to virtually anything, with little training and at a much lower cost.
Managed Services agreements for companies with <100 Salesforce users, intended to replace the use of an Admin for all but the minor things I mentioned, average at about $2500/mo depending on how many hours of support is used. The hourly cost may surprise you at first, but if it takes a partner 200% less time as your Admin, to solve the same issue, it absolutely makes sense to pay a premium. Unlike with your Admin, you are getting the support of a wide range of skills, many things like apex/visual force development & debugging, Service Cloud, Pardot & Marketing Cloud expertise and 3rd party app installations to name just a few. All at less than half the total cost of an Admin.
Not only does this type of structure save more than 75% of the cost of maintaining Salesforce equating to hundreds of thousands of dollars over time, it also protects your organization from the common issues created by less-experienced Admins like architectural flaws, data duplications, sharing rule misuse and my personal least favorite, a lack of documentation. And if you’re not happy with the work a partner does, you have the flexibility to change partners, unlike with your Admin who is not necessarily so easily replaced.
I encourage you to consider using a Partner for Managed Services, furthering the career of your Salesforce Admin by helping him/her find a more promising future in services or enterprise and therefore making your Salesforce administrative costs sexier to your company’s bottom line this 2017.