Architects / Career / Certifications

Salesforce CTA Review Board to Become Virtual

By Lars Malmqvist

For those of us in the Salesforce ecosystem, keeping abreast of ongoing changes is not just a necessity – it’s a vital part of staying competent and competitive.

If you’re working towards becoming a Salesforce Certified Technical Architect (CTA), or even if you’re just intrigued by Salesforce’s evolving certification processes, you’ve likely heard about the forthcoming changes to the CTA Review Board process. In the following sections, we’ll get you up to speed on the changes coming into effect and what they mean for you.

A Big Change in 2020

To truly grasp the significance of these latest changes, it’s useful to go back a little to the last big change that shook up the CTA Review Board process – the shift to an online format in April 2020. This change was a direct result of the global COVID-19 pandemic that necessitated remote work and distanced interactions.

The online format was a welcome change for many reasons. Firstly, it offered candidates more flexibility with Review Board dates, liberating them from being tied to a specific location. The travel time saved for both candidates and judges was considerable, not to mention the associated costs.

Additionally, many candidates found the online format less intimidating and anxiety-inducing than the traditional face-to-face format, even though the pressure to perform remained high. However, this new format did require a different planning and execution strategy for the examination.

Changes to the CTA Review Board

Building on the momentum of change set in motion in 2020, Salesforce has announced further modifications to the CTA Review Board process. This focuses on the move to an all-online exam format, set to commence on October 6, 2023. What this means is that all exam artifacts, for example, data model diagrams or system landscape blueprints, must now be prepared using specified digital tools.

At the moment, the tool of choice for Salesforce is Lucidchart, and the computers used for the Review Board will come with the software ready to use. This powerful platform comes equipped with the official Salesforce Shape Library, ensuring the standardized and efficient creation of your architectural diagrams.

Consequently, hand-drawn artifacts, a staple of the traditional CTA Review Board process, will no longer be accepted. For those who’ve painstakingly honed their skills in rapidly sketching diagrams by hand in a standardized format, this change marks a significant departure from their preparation routine.

Salesforce Diagramming Framework

While this requirement of using specified digital tools might seem sudden, it is consistent with Salesforce’s ongoing push for standardization in architecture diagrams.

Salesforce’s Diagramming Framework is designed to empower users to create accurate and understandable diagrams with a standardized look and feel. It recognizes that different diagrams cater to different stakeholders and serve different purposes. To this end, Salesforce categorizes diagrams into different styles based on their purpose and intended audience.

For instance, some diagrams are for conveying detailed, technical information, while others are for broader, less technical audiences. Understanding these distinctions is crucial for creating diagrams that resonate with your intended audience and effectively communicate the intended message. This push for standardization is part of Salesforce’s broader strategy to enhance communication and understanding across the Salesforce ecosystem.

Why Are These Changes Happening?

The move towards digital diagrams serves several purposes. First, Salesforce aims to standardize how diagrams are presented, making it easier for everyone involved in a project to understand and align with the design. This is in line with Salesforce’s Well-Architected Framework, which promotes best practices for designing and implementing solutions on Salesforce.

Second, there’s a practical aspect to this change. If a candidate’s hand-drawn diagrams were illegible or of poor quality, it could make it difficult for examiners to evaluate their work.

By promoting the use of Lucidchart, and other available tools such as Google Slides, Salesforce likely aims to level the playing field, ensuring that all candidates’ diagrams are clear, legible, and adhere to a standardized format.

How Will This Affect Future CTA Candidates?

The implications of these changes for future CTA Review Board candidates are significant. The most immediate task is becoming proficient with the designated tools, currently just Lucidchart, and learning to use Salesforce’s Shape Library effectively. In essence, your preparation for the review board examination must now include building all standard artifacts using digital tools and doing so quickly and accurately.

Whether these changes will impact pass rates is uncertain. On the one hand, clearer, more legible diagrams might improve some candidates’ scores. On the other hand, the higher quality expected of digitally-created diagrams might raise the bar for passing. However, as noted earlier, a more consistent format for diagrams could make the review board’s evaluation process more straightforward and focused primarily on the candidate’s architectural knowledge.


The changes coming to the Salesforce CTA Review Board process mark a significant departure from the traditional practice of utilizing hand-drawn artifacts and highlight Salesforce’s emphasis on standardization across its ecosystem.

For aspiring CTAs, it’s crucial to adapt to these changes, familiarize yourself with the necessary tools and Salesforce’s diagramming guidelines, and hone your architectural knowledge.

While these changes might seem daunting if you’re midway through preparing for a Review Board, they also represent an opportunity. By narrowing the scope of evaluation and ensuring a more consistent quality of diagrams, these changes may allow your architectural knowledge to shine more clearly.

In a rapidly changing tech landscape, the ability to adapt and embrace new methods is one of the most valuable skills you can possess. So, keep up with the changes, refine your diagramming skills, and continue to deepen your Salesforce architectural understanding.

The Author

Lars Malmqvist

Lars is a Partner at Implement Consulting Group, a management consultancy. He is a Salesforce CTA and the author of Architecting AI Solutions on Salesforce and Salesforce Anti-Patterns.

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