5 Types of Salesforce Architects – Revisited

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An article called the ‘5 Types of Salesforce Architects’ was published on the Salesforce Ben blog that explained the different architect roles in projects using layman’s terms. The article received attention and sparked conversation around the community.

Here’s what Gemma had to say when we asked about where the definitions came from, and why Salesforce projects need so many architects.

Video summary:

  • Defined five types based on what she’s observed in the Salesforce consultancy space. We could refer to them as “flavors” – as sets of responsibilities.
  • The article caught people’s attention because it outlined the differences in the architect roles typically present in Salesforce projects.
  • Bought other parts into the light that sometimes get neglected (business transformation, change management, people). These are architectural considerations but are sometimes left to other project roles (eg. Business Analysts).
  • Five teams can touch one process, and all of those teams need to make individual decisions that will roll up into one big strategic decision.
  • Don’t need all five types of architects but it’s not necessarily limited to five. For example, Gemma has been assigned to projects as both a Solution Architect, briefly as a Data Architect, and also as a Change Management expert.
  • Which architects you need for a project will depend on what you’re implementing. Is it multi-cloud? Is it multi-platform? etc.
  • Ultimately customers need to bundle responsibilities into roles to understand where that role is going to fit in the organization and budget accordingly when they buy consultancy services or hiring talent in-house.

“The point of the article was to inspire conversation, that level of debate about where we, as architects, fit into projects, how we add value, and what the career path looks like” – Gemma Blezard

Salesforce Architects – Setting the Project Scene

Why do you think the article caught people’s attention?

Gemma:

These are the five types that we defined based on trends that we’ve observed in the Salesforce consultancy space. We could refer to them as “flavors” – as sets of responsibilities.

Before, people would look at Solution Architects, Technical Architects, etc. where it’s not very clear what the differences between them are. Not to mention all the other parts surrounding the topic that sometimes get neglected – for example, the business transformation, the change management, the people side, the approaches to building a backlog – all of the things that, consultancies tend to hire Business Analysts for, or as Salesforce clients, bring people in from our technology departments in to advise. However, it’s an architectural consideration.

The types we outlined document and visualise the roles in a typical Salesforce consultancy project structure. Salesforce is working to define how these roles match credentials through their certification and enablement programs.

Part of the conversation was around architects being pigeonholed. This was people sharing their experience; nobody criticized the piece in that way and it wasn’t our intention to pigeonhole people.

Five teams can touch one process, and all of those teams need to make individual decisions that will roll up into one big strategic decision.
Being able to approach people in the same way that you were approaching your Salesforce implementation from an architecture perspective, is all the more important as these complex projects emerge. The moving parts aren’t just in the technology – they’re the business process, and the people.

Why Are So Many Architects Required on a Single Project?

Gemma:

I don’t think that you would need all five types of architects – and, I don’t think that it is necessarily limited to five.

I have been assigned to projects as both a Solution Architect, briefly as a Data Architect, and also as a Change Management expert.

In fact, the Change Management side is the first aspect that gets chopped off the statement of work when people want to get their project quotes down. In fact, the first person who shared their thoughts on the article with me was a previous boss and mentor, who’s a CTA – he said “I like that you’ve done the flavors. The transformation piece is interesting, where did that come from?” However, we at The Architech Club, see it just as fundamental. We’re giving a name to it because it often gets bundled away into ‘learning and people’s stuff’.

Which architects you need for a project will depend on what you’re implementing. Is it multi-cloud? Is it multi-platform? Is there any innovation, are you building your own app that is perhaps going to be on top of the Salesforce platform? Whether it’s sold externally, or not? These are all big considerations that need certain skill sets to make sure those decisions are informed and optimized.
For example, if you approached a Technical Architect and said, “what’s the best way for me to communicate this change to all of my salespeople?”, you might be met with a blank look in some situations because it is a different focus and a different skillset.

These five types are our way of saying to the ecosystem – absolutely there is a career path for you, regardless of what your schtick is. For example, if you like building solutions and coordinating across Pardot and Salesforce, maybe solution architect is your thing. If you like to advise and design how data is flying between multiple systems, in what sequence, and what transformations need to be done, then maybe integration is your thing. However, these are typically the responsibilities that are bundled up into roles because ultimately our customers want to know that when they buy consultancy services or hiring talent in-house, they want to know which ‘buckets’ put them in initially so that they can understand where that role is going to fit in the organization and budget accordingly. While those of us who are generalists, who don’t like being pigeonholed, it’s necessary we hope to transact business in the Salesforce ecosystem for those reasons.

Evolution of the Salesforce Architect Role – a Turning Point?

Was it always the case that these were the five types of architect roles, or was there a turning point in how the architect role has expanded or bucketed into these definitions?

Video summary:

  • Investment from Salesforce in their architect program laid the foundation for a strong definition of Salesforce architects.
  • Gemma has witnessed the evolution of of the Salesforce Architect definition from IT-focused specialists, to roles for people who want to achieve seniority without going into the management team or becoming a project delivery manager.
  • It’s okay to have specialisms, you don’t have to know everything. The 5 types of architects is designed to be a way to show you what’s available once you get into the architect arena.

Gemma:

I think there has been a turning point.

Investment from Salesforce in their architect program is significant – they’ve made amazing steps forward in defining what value an architect brings, and how are they different from a Salesforce admin, a Sales Cloud consultant etc. In terms of growth in the architect cohort, the main benchmark that Salesforce has to go on is certifications – as in, the more certified professionals year-on-year means the role is growing in popularity.

I think that role has always been there – it just wasn’t always as clearly defined.

For me, when I first started in 2008 architects were IT-focused specialist roles, who were usually brought in when things got tough, when there were multiple facets and in more complex projects. In other sectors such as Oracle or IBM, I would argue that their architect roles were defined earlier than in Salesforce.

Fast forward to now, and the Salesforce Architect role has really come into being. Since the certification programs launched, people have continually aspired to reach the top level of expertise.
By putting credentials behind themselves, architects are winning more work, gaining more experience, and as a result, delivering value.

I think people started to consider what the career path looks like for someone who doesn’t want to go into management, who has been delivering Salesforce projects, and still wants to achieve some seniority. There is a clear path as to how these aspiring architects can reach the next step – promotion from a technical discipline rather than a management discipline.

Lucy:

They still want to stay close to the technology, they don’t want to sit from afar?

Gemma:

They want their expertise and experience to be seen and valued for what it really is.
Everyone wants to become a leader or an authority in some way when they’ve got some experience. I feel that moving into an architectural role, whether you’re looking at it from business or Salesforce or integration, programming, etc. It’s okay to have specialisms, you don’t have to know everything. The 5 types of architects is designed to be a way to show you what’s available once you get there.

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