The Development Lifecycle and Deployment Architect certification is designed for Salesforce Architects who already have experience of planning, building, and releasing scalable Salesforce solutions in complex organizations. To successfully pass this exam, you should be familiar with sandbox management, development methodologies, and of course, deploying components through various environments.
This guide will focus on key topics, as well as the best strategy for studying and taking the exam itself. Make sure you always check out the Trailhead exam guide for the official Salesforce guidance on preparing for the exam.
Who’s the Ideal Candidate?
This exam is specifically designed for architects or Salesforce professionals who are comfortable with governance, application lifecycle management, and DevOps concepts.
The Development Lifecycle and Deployment certification is part of the journey towards the Salesforce Technical Architect board review, and one of the four prerequisites for obtaining the System Architect credential.
If you’re aiming to focus on a more technical role within your team, following the Technical Architect path, or simply looking forward to testing your already vast knowledge about Salesforce development, this is definitely the credential to have.
Note: The Development Lifecycle and Deployment Architect certification does not have any prerequisites at this time.
All Salesforce exams are made up of different topics, each with different weightings. When it comes to the Development Lifecycle and Deployment Architect certification, the topics have similar weightings – therefore you’ll need to focus equally on all of them, depending on how comfortable you are with each of them.
1. Application Lifecycle Management (8%)
This section is all about knowing how to assess the requirements at hand, and choosing the best strategy to see the project through from development to production – more specifically, knowing the difference between the available development models, while considering how changes to your org should be managed.
From a questions standpoint, be prepared for specifics pertaining to all development models, as well as when and how a change to production is to be deployed based on complexity and implications.
2. Planning (13%) and System Design (15%)
While planning any project, it’s essential to identify the correct stakeholder, assign roles and responsibilities properly, as well as account for any potential risk (including scheduled Salesforce releases).
At the same time, based on the requirements and org complexity, it’s a matter of properly setting up a suitable sandbox strategy, as well as deciding on the methodology that’s best suited to the project and the desired way of working.
Questions in these sections are scenario based and inspired by the real-life scenarios that are frequently encountered when deciding how something will be implemented in Salesforce.
Here’s why: Salesforce Help | Article
3. Building (14%) and Testing (14%)
Questions in these two sections will deep dive into the various ways team members can successfully collaborate when working simultaneously on developing changes – whether they are to reach the Salesforce production instance together or separately.
The questions will cover topics such as branching strategies, GitHub commands and how they can be used, scratch orgs, and everything related to unit testing.
4. Deploying (14%) and Releasing (13%)
In a nutshell, these are the core concepts a professional who deploys Salesforce solutions in one or multiple production instances will be very familiar with. While Salesforce offers comprehensive documentation with clear examples, the hands-on experience required for all of these steps is a great asset for correctly answering all the questions in these sections.
As you can imagine, questions in these sections will be both technical and scenario based – especially around troubleshooting potential issues when releasing custom functionality in production or environments higher in the deployment stream (e.g. Full Sandbox). Here is where your knowledge pertaining to metadata and tooling API will be tested, along with the particularities of the package development model and benefits of continuous integration.
5. Operating (10%)
This section focuses on the possible implications of changes being made directly in the production instance, and how they should be incorporated into the development lifecycle. This is also where the Apex Metadata API capabilities are covered, as highlighted in the dedicated trailmix.
Questions in this section are both straightforward and scenario based, but they are all quite detailed when it comes to justifying the need for a particular change.
While the amount of detail and the topics can seem quite overwhelming, with the right determination and mindset, this certification can be conquered. As mentioned above, I believe hands-on experience is needed, most of which can’t really be achieved simply by using a developer edition org.
Trailhead, once again, proves to be a trustworthy ally while studying for the certification, accounting for part of the required experience through custom tailored challenges and step-by-step instructions. My personal favorite is the project below, which helps you deep dive into Salesforce DX Projects and source controlling with GitHub in a very practical way.
Once you’ve gone through all relevant modules and projects, there’s nothing stopping you from developing your own examples to better understand the concepts and get further hands-on practice.
To be ready for exam day, there are a bunch of tips we gathered over the years to give you the best chance of passing with flying colors.
First, if there are any concepts you are struggling to get to grips with, print off a cheat sheet and try to memorize it before you take the exam – this will keep everything fresh in your memory. You could also write down the key points depending on your learning style.
When taking the exam, pay particular attention to the question, and read it through a few times. For scenario-based questions, the answer options will give you huge clues as to what the correct answer actually is. If you are taking the exam in a test center, make use of the pen and paper provided to draw out a data schema, role hierarchy, or any other diagram that will help you visualize the answer. Please note, this is not allowed during online proctored exams.
When deciding on the answer, be sure to use the process of elimination to get rid of the answers that are definitely incorrect. Salesforce likes to throw in answers that are made up of different features or just plain incorrect! They also like to throw in curveballs – features that appear to be correct but aren’t best practice. You can often work these out by focussing on standard Salesforce features that accomplish a task. For example, you could build a custom approval process with a process builder, but why do this when there is a standard feature that could be used instead?
You also have a great tool at your disposal (the “Mark for review” checkbox) which appears below each question. This is great if you can’t think of an answer right at that moment, or if you are doubtful about your current answer.
At the end of the exam, you will have a chance to review the questions marked for review (as well as all other answers), which will give you a pretty good idea of how likely you are to have passed the test. I would always recommend reviewing every question if time permits. I do this during every exam and often spot mistakes I’ve made, or find the answer to another question not yet completed.
Even if you don’t pass the exam on your first attempt, be sure to write down the topics you found most challenging – this will allow you to study further and test again. It is recommended that you schedule the retake as soon as possible to avoid disrupting the flow and prevent you from forgetting the features you don’t work with day in, day out.
As with all other Salesforce exams, the Development Lifecycle and Deployment Architect retake fee is half price and you can have up to three attempts per release – as this is subject to change, make sure you check out the retake policy.
Useful Tips and Resources
- Bookmark the official Trailhead Exam Guide and use this as your master revision list.
- Ensure you not only read about the features and concepts, but thoroughly test them out in a Developer Org or a Trailhead Playground. This will ensure you cover all functionalities, preparing you for some very detailed questions.
- Once you feel confident with some of the modules, book your exam to give you a date to aim towards. This will give you the motivation to invest time, revise all topics, and pass the exam.
- Download our Top 10 Salesforce Certification Tips eBook.
All in all, Development Lifecycle and Deployment Architect is a very useful certification to have. It opens doors to new job opportunities within the Salesforce ecosystem, and also provides a great way for you to test your knowledge about application development concepts and best practices (which aren’t going anywhere anytime soon).