In the world of Salesforce, the term ‘architect’ is thrown around a lot. So much so, that I highly doubt that there is anyone working in the ecosystem who hasn’t heard the term ‘Certified Technical Architect’.
Referring to them as the ‘Salesforce Elite’, earlier this year Salesforce published an article detailing exactly WHY everyone should aspire to reach certified technical architect status. But that got me thinking – desire aside, how does one become a Salesforce Certified Technical Architect?
To help answer this question, I recently sat down with Timothy Gentet-O’Brien – Technical Architect at EMPAUA – and discussed exactly how he made the leap into technical architecture, and his recommendations for others looking to do the same.
1. Get your certifications – but don’t rely on them
As Tim puts it, ‘certifications are definitely good, because they tell you what you need to learn’. This isn’t much of a surprise, considering the fact that the role is called a certified technical architect. However, Tim then highlighted that those looking to climb the Salesforce ladder shouldn’t just focus on ticking the box and getting their certification, because that piece of paper isn’t the be all and end all of technical architecture. Tim maintained that certifications are limited in how much they can advance your knowledge or progression, and you should therefore use certifications to understand what you need to know but should then look beyond the certification curriculum if you truly want to understand technical architecture.
2. Focus on your soft skills
It’s something we’ve heard over and over again, but the industry’s focus on soft skills simply isn’t going to abate anytime soon. Even as technology continues to evolve and advance, professionals still need to be able to interact with their clients and their business – and this is especially true at the technical architect level. So much so that Tim highlighted that ‘for me, and for anyone else who wants to succeed as a technical architect, soft skills cannot be secondary’. Simply put, you need to be able to sit down and have a conversation, to build a relationship with a client and to speak to them on a non-technical level that they will understand. And it is only by focusing on your soft skills and bringing them up to scratch will you be able to achieve that.
3. Keep on top of the ecosystem and keep learning
One of the beauties of the Salesforce ecosystem is that it is constantly changing, evolving and growing. Compare it now to what it looked like even a year or two ago, and the advancements are amazing. That being said, it can make working in the industry – and advancing within it – slightly tricky because you need to constantly refresh your knowledge. To put it simply, don’t assume you know everything – because you definitely don’t. Therefore, to succeed as a technical architect you have to put the time and effort in to ensure you remain on top of the technology and what is happening in the industry. Tim – who spends a few hours a month reading and re-confirming his knowledge using things like the Salesforce Developer Guides on their Success website – summarised it pretty well: ‘When you work in an ecosystem that changes as much as this one does, you cannot forget the importance of reading and learning’.
5. Become business minded
If you want to succeed as a technical architect, and if you want to reach the top of the Salesforce ladder, then you have to remember that a good technical solution is not enough if it does not truly meet a business need. In other words, you have to be able to look at the bigger picture, and to understand how what you do affects the business as a whole. Becoming a technical architect might take a mind shift from fixing a problem – such as a single and isolated incident in a line of code – and fixing the problem i.e. a problem that is having business-wide ramifications.\
6. Practise simplification
In line with this, being a technical architect doesn’t mean you can build the most complex solutions; it means you can develop a solution that fixes a need. Sometimes, that solution should be simple and sometimes it shouldn’t. But the hallmark of a good technical architect is being able to dig deeper to understand the goals of the process and avoiding over-engineering a solution simply because you think you have to be clever about what you do – so bear this in mind as you advance up the ranks, because you’re more likely to be successful when you design to meet a need, rather than designing for the point of doing something cool.
If you’re interested, click here to read Tim’s interview in full. And, If you’re a Salesforce professional looking to land your dream job – or looking to climb the Salesforce ladder – get in touch with one of our specialised Salesforce consultants.