Guide to 5 Types of Salesforce Architects

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Salesforce Architects are some of the most in demand professionals in the Salesforce ecosystem.

As an expert resource, they use their skills to map the structure and function of your Salesforce solution. An architect will create the overall shape, but the design of a system is about more than structure. Your Salesforce must be functional, safe, economical and must suit the specific needs of the people who use it. Most importantly, it has to be designed with your customer in mind.

There are 5 possible types of architect roles. These aren’t defined by job titles, but by responsibilities within a project. A certified Architect will take up one of these remits per project but will be capable enough to be assigned to any role.

If you’re not familiar with the world of Salesforce Architects, you probably don’t know the differences between each type. What does a Technical Architect do that differs to a Solution Architect, for example, and how do Enterprise Architects fit into the picture? That’s why I was keen to speak to someone with the answers: Gemma Blezard, CEO & Solution Architect @ The Architech Club who is best known for founding Ladies Be Architects, the ideal person.

 Solution ArchitectTechnical ArchitectData ArchitectEnterprise ArchitectTransformation Architect
Responsible for:Everything inside Salesforce.Data going into and out from Salesforce, both from and to integrated systems. Defining and designing the data architecture in such a way that it is scalable.Oversight of all involved Architects. An all-encompassing role that includes the customer business. Defining the target operating model, skill sets, managing resources, governance and stakeholders.

Solution Architect – a.k.a The Party Planner

Responsible for everything inside Salesforce. That means designing quality, scalable and performant solutions inside Salesforce, making sure it all fits together into a coherent and attractive solution.

They also prepare data for sending to other systems, and process data when it’s received from other systems.

They will oversee:

  • Data modelling
  • Data migration
  • Data sharing
  • Multi-component solutions*
  • Salesforce configuration (and the consultants working on the configuration)
  • Connected apps
  • Declarative automation
  • User experience (UX)
  • Handoff to other systems
  • Environment management
  • Deployments
  • Leading a team of consultants and / or administrators

*Multi-component solutions: we’ll see this term appear throughout this guide. In a Salesforce context, we define a multi-component solution as one that solves a business problem using several methods, with handoffs between them. Examples could include Sales Cloud → FinancialForce PSA, or an integration with Mulesoft → other integrated systems that give Mulesoft acknowledgement.

Technical Architect a.k.a. The Door Person

Responsible for data going into and out from Salesforce (both from and to integrated systems). That means they design how the system will act as the wider, single source of truth.

Like the Solution Architect, they will design multi-component solutions and prepare data for sending to other systems and process data when it’s received; unlike Solution Architects they have a particular focus on the security of data at rest and in transit. So they make sure the right data is on the right guestlist to keep your Salesforce solution safe.

They will oversee:

  • Data modelling
  • Data migration
  • Multi-component solutions*
  • Code inside Salesforce (including Apex, Visualforce, LWC)
  • AppExchange Apps
  • Designing APIs
  • Secure messaging
  • Guaranteed delivery of data
  • Managing large data volumes (LDVs)
  • Handoff from other systems to Salesforce
  • Integration patterns
  • DevOps strategy
  • Leading a team of developers
  • CI/CD
  • Environment management
  • Deployments

Salesforce Solution Architect vs. Technical Architect

Now that we have covered two Architect remits, let’s pause and reflect on the differences between Solution Architects and Technical Architects.

The two roles work closely together because they have common interests. Below you’ll find the main differences highlighted, in terms of where they focus with Salesforce (the multi-component solutions inside Salesforce), data going between systems, and user experience.

 Solution ArchitectsTechnical Architects
Focus with Salesforce multi-component solutions.Designing your ideal Salesforce concept
(the configuration, code, sharing, data, identity, connected apps etc.)
Selecting the most appropriate technical components for your Salesforce (including coding quality, DevOps etc.)
Data between systemsConcerned with preparing and processing data to enter or leave SalesforceConcerned with how data will flow between all integrated systems, not just Salesforce

TAs have additional concerns with the security of data at rest and in transit
User experienceFocus on UXFocus on how UX affects the flow of data, integrations and any bulk Apex jobs

Salesforce Data Architect – The DJ

Responsible for defining and designing the data architecture in such a way that it is scalable. If data were music then the Salesforce Data Architect would be the DJ selecting the right tunes to create the right atmosphere and build the momentum of the night.

Where a Data Architect is involved, they will own the data model, data migration, data quality, governance and backup strategy. They are concerned with the availability, reliability, integrity, security, structure and storage of data in complex environments. Digital transformations often involve pulling data from a variety of external sources and these databases may integrate with Salesforce directly, be managed via Apex jobs, or involve middleware, such as Mulesoft. While the TA concerns themselves with how data flows in and out of systems, the DA is interested in optimising the data as a whole, and how people interact with it.

As well as coming up with the strategies, activities, and sequences for their various accountabilities, the Data Architect will be relatively hands-on and usually executes this work themselves, often leading others.

They will oversee:

  • Data modelling
  • Data migration: activities, sequences, risks, transformations and dependencies
  • Data quality, by identifying risks and strategising Extract-Transform-Load (ETL) activities
  • Designing APIs
  • Defining transformation rules
  • Calling out risks and issues associated with large data volumes (LDVs)
  • Managing data between external systems and middleware (eg. Mulesoft, where applicable)
  • Backup strategy
  • Leading a team of data analysts

A Salesforce Data Architect usually works closely with the Technical Architect. In some programs the TA will lead the Data Architect by:

  • Directing the strategy of the data architecture
  • Collaborating on optimising the system back-end to handle large volumes of data (LDVs).

The TA will also work with the Solution Architect as a close-knit design team – the Party Planner and DJ discussing and coordinating their designs.

Salesforce Enterprise Architect – The Club Manager

Responsible for having oversight of all the architects involved, an all-encompassing role that includes both the business and the client-side IT team. The Enterprise Architect oversees the whole design project, making sure that it is functional, safe, economical and suits the specific needs of the people who use it.

This means that the Enterprise Architect takes a comprehensive approach at all times when carrying out analysis, design, planning, and implementation to make sure everyone is in agreement and moving in the same direction.

They oversee:

  • The target operating model (TOM)
  • Change management
  • Creating and refining the roadmap
  • Strategic planning for Salesforce programs
  • Managing the project backlog
  • Support the business planning
  • Assisting with resourcing
  • Governance
  • C-level engagement

Transformation Architect a.k.a The Nightclub Owner

Responsible for executing the vision. The Transformation Architect controls the target operating model, roadmap, workstream planning, resources, skill sets, project governance and stakeholders.

Whilst the Enterprise Architect has a focus on the day to day functions of the project at hand, the Transformation Architect will look beyond the project to help you develop measures for its impact. They will help you maintain a focus on how you can best service your customers throughout your Salesforce project and keep the project aligned with your businesses longer term goals.

Which Architects Do You Need?

All of them. The more Architects you have onboard, the more aspects of your solution design are covered, the better the project outcomes will be.

When you have more than one Architect they’ll collaborate and work as a team, often challenging each other to evolve their ideas. This means you get a solution design that has every aspect covered by an expert working with their expert peers and the outcome will be a fantastic party as you get the best possible Salesforce solution!

Summary

Salesforce Architects are some of the most in demand professionals in the Salesforce ecosystem. Now you know more about what each architect role does, and how they all play a valid role in Salesforce projects.

3 thoughts on “Guide to 5 Types of Salesforce Architects

  1. And how about ISV product architects? These architects need to consider everything the solution architect does, aligned to the ISV product domain, but also many aspects you attribute to the technical architect and data architect as well, plus considering how many different customers’ requirements can be supported by the product and how to evolve that product within the confines of the Salesforce platform.

    1. Hi Phil, valid point, no doubt there are other architect specialisations in the ecosystem. The article here is outlining the architect roles in a typical consultancy project – however, would love to get an overview of the ISV product architect, if you would be open to writing/sharing?

      Thanks,
      Lucy

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