After Matt kicked off the Admin2Consultant series last month with 5 Skills You Need As A Salesforce Consultant, I’m being tagged in to bring you the second in the series, 3 Ways You Can Start Consulting Now. The Admin2Consultant series came about after myself and Matt saw a need for topics covering the logical career step for a lot of people, from Salesforce Administrator to Consultant. Why is this a logical career step?
Well as the Salesforce platform spreads its joy around the world and is becoming adopted by all types of businesses, someone is roped onboard to run the system internally. As a lot of small businesses don’t have the initial need or budget to hire an Administrator full time, this is usually the job of an appointed power user, or in other words, an “Accidental Admin”. Over the past few years of speaking to people from various industries and backgrounds, the story that usually crops up when asked how they got into Salesforce is..”My boss told me to learn it and now here I am!”. Once people seem to understand the power, scope and all around career potential of the Salesforce platform they start to look for another job. Consulting is a logical career step for Admins as they can use their problem solving, solution building and people skills to help multiple businesses across various industries, and are usually compensated more for this.
With this post, 3 Ways You Can Start Consulting Now, I’m going to talk about some of the key skills mentioned in Matt’s previous post and how you as an Admin can prepare yourself for life as a consultant to see if you are ready, willing and able in your current job.
Something a bit ironic about this series is that in many ways Admins are already Consultants. There is a big spectrum of job roles and titles that fall under the umbrella term “Admin” such as, Developer, Business Analyst, Consultant, CRM Manager, Solution/Technical Architect, Implementation specialist and the list goes on. Essentially you can be in a large company just managing users and profiles, or a solo admin in a medium sized company covering everything from Administration to Apex development. The point is, consultants are brought into gather requirements, implement and deploy solutions, much like most peoples roles as an Admin. In my first job as an Admin, my title was Salesforce Business Analyst, but down to the core I was a solo admin for 120 users and I actually thought of myself as more of an internal consultant. Let’s explore this further..
Requirements gathering is at the core of any consultant and as Matt discussed in the previous post, it’s an essential skill. In a normal consultancy project, requirements will be gathered at the start and will provide the foundation and basis of the whole project. This technique is also just more than sitting back and listening to what the client wants, it’s asking key questions to map out a full end to end process of what they are trying to achieve.
I’m sure many Admins reading this can relate in some way. How many times have you been asked to implement a solution with an internal manager telling you what needs to be included? In these situations you can start putting your requirements gathering skills to the test, ask questions, document the requirements and get sign off from the key stakeholders before proceeding. I learned how key requirements are the hard way, by purely just listening to the requirements of a sales manager and not mapping out the whole process by asking key questions, I implemented a system that was missing core functionality. Listen, ask, document.
Companies pay a lot of money for consultants, not just for them to do as instructed, but also to add value through their knowledge of the industry and previous projects. The fact that you are reading this post right now hints at the fact that you are hungry to learn as much information about Salesforce, processes and business as possible, which is fantastic for your company.
One way to prepare yourself for life as a consultant is to proactively find business processes that are not reflected or can be better implemented using Salesforce. No one’s implementation is going to be perfect, there are always ways that you as an Administrator can improve the life of your users and your business by analyzing bottlenecks, researching App’s and talking to users about their key issues. Start being active instead of passive.
Communication is most definitely a key skill you will be using on a daily basis as a consultant, you will be problem solving with colleagues, running discovery workshops with clients and training users on an implementation. All of these type of interactions need to have different types of approaches depending on the hierarchical level of the person involved and their technical ability.
Luckily, you are in a perfect position as an Admin to practise these skills, and if you are an introvert this is a fantastic place to start “consulting”. As addressed in the previous section, talking to your users is one of the best ways to start seeing where the real issues of the system are. In similar fashion, talking to management and C-level employees will help you to see where some of the higher level issues are such as reports and dashboards. Organising meetings and sitting down with users while they carry out their day to day job won’t just help you find out key system issues, but it will help you improve the way you talk to people of different backgrounds and hierarchical levels.