Architects / Admins / Consultants

Salesforce Architects: From Good to Great With Design Thinking

By Pallavi Agarwal

“What do you think is the difference between a good and a great Salesforce Architect?”

Years ago, I was sharing a cab after Dreamforce with a Salesforce Architect friend and winding through stalled traffic in downtown San Francisco. The topic of why many aspiring architects fail their first attempt at CTA exams came up.

Well, the title of this blog should give you some clues – and yes, it has a design-thinking approach, but it’s more complex than that. Before diving into some actionable steps that Salesforce Architects can take to design and accelerate user-centered solutions that last, let’s get back to the story.

The answer, as I explained it then and now, is this:

We are all designers in the Salesforce ecosystem, but what makes a Salesforce Architect go from good to great is their ability to leverage design thinking to architect solutions that last.

In this guide, I’ll share my 18+ years of senior management experience in consulting, along with my experiences in helping architects take actionable steps to implement design thinking in their Salesforce projects.

Focus on UX Being the Center of Tech and Business

Whether in-house or in the consulting space, you are an advocate for your customers and users. You may understand the technical architecture of the desired solution and how to solve it, but how much time have you spent understanding the business? Salesforce designers are passionate about driving positive outcomes for the business, but what’s the point of building a mansion that no one is going to live in?

Design thinking requires to:

  • Consider where our organization’s brand, services, and products interact with the user/customer.
  • Understand user context and external environmental factors that influence the user and customer.

Interview your users, create personas and journey maps, and define stories to capture user interactions and workflows in the Salesforce ecosystem.

These actionable steps rooted in design thinking principles ensure controlled and organized deployment of software updates, minimizing disruptions and risks while maximizing the value delivered to users and the organization. Take time in discovery to understand your users’ needs so you can architect human-centered solutions that drive user adoption and bring value to the business.

Solve Beyond the Immediate Business Problem

We think of Salesforce Architects as a purely technical role, but how are you designing solutions that last?

  • You need to consider the user interaction, different scenarios, user taxonomy, and how the solution is going to be maintained.
  • Are you building an architecture that is sound, with low-tech debt ,and that also considers the front end?
  • Did you take the research and time you spend understanding users’ pain points and reduce them in a way that scales with your business and desired future tech stacks?

Taking on a designer mindset, you can develop “how might we” questions to frame design challenges and inspire alternative solutions, as well as analyze existing processes and workflows to identify bottlenecks and opportunities to improve business outcomes and accelerate delivery.

Always consider the best-designed path forward for different users as you architect future-proof, scalable solutions in complex environments. It’s one thing to be an expert with technology and another to architect solutions that make a positive impact for the user and business.

Design Thinking Is Essential for Architects Looking to Build Scalable and Personalized CRMs

People drink coffee differently, and while all the ingredients are there, the components are personalized to the customer’s preferences.

Architecting with a designer’s mindset means striving for the goal of building scalable, personalized CRMs for your users and business. After you have collected enough user research and brought your cross-functional teams to the table, consider using tools like wireframing or mock-up software when building your prototypes.

These designer tools can help you increase the ease of organizing usability testing sessions with users to gather critical feedback on the prototype’s functionality and usability. And while we are all on deadlines, it’s important to practice empathy and re-engage users to ensure the design is iterative based on differentiated user feedback and refinement of the architectural features you are solutioning.

Designing Solutions for AI Adoption Readiness

While we wait for the GA release of the latest suite of Salesforce AI solutions, capitalizing on a designer’s mindset will only help you get your organization ready for AI adoption earlier than your competitors.

By understanding user needs in more thorough discovery efforts mentioned earlier, Salesforce architects can identify areas where AI solutions can add value to different business units and users. For example, a past collaborative design thinking session might reveal opportunities for AI-driven customer sentiment analysis to improve customer service.

Your invested time in cross-functional teams’ pain points can help you design solutions where AI-powered chatbots and predictive analytics could help customer support and sales teams make data-driven decisions. Given the iterative nature of both design thinking and AI, Salesforce architects can marry this approach to develop and refine AI models.

For instance, architects can use lead scoring as a pilot project, then gather feedback from users to enhance the model, refine it, and reiterate as your business needs scale. In short, practicing the core principles of design-thinking ensures that future AI solutions adopted are comprehensive, addressing technical, functional, and user-centric business needs.


Whether you are an aspiring designer or a seasoned professional, remember that design thinking is about tying positive outcomes for users’ needs with the business. Take time to leverage the many design thinking resources in our ecosystem to improve your Salesforce Architect practice and build solutions that your users love and want to use.

Remember that regardless of our roles, we are all designers.

The Author

Pallavi Agarwal

Pallavi is the founder of Kander, a Salesforce consulting firm in Washington DC. She has over 18 years of management consulting experience.

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