The “Architect Journey: Sharing and Visibility” certification is designed for architects and advanced admins with experience of implementing scalable and complex security and sharing models on the Salesforce platform. The exam will test all concepts related to data and object security, from Profile and Permission Sets to Apex Sharing.
This guide will focus on key topics, as well as the best strategy for studying and taking the exam itself. Make sure you also check out the Trailhead exam guide as you should be prepared for both single-choice questions as well as scenario-based ones.
Who’s the Ideal Candidate?
This exam is specifically designed for aspiring architects who want to prove their knowledge in all aspects of how permissions and access are granted and extended within the Salesforce platform.
The Sharing and Visibility certification has been part of the technical architect certification path for a few years now, and has been recently included as one of the pre-requisites for the B2B Solution Architect certification. This is why it is one of the more popular certifications to have under your belt as an experienced Salesforce professional.
If you’re hoping to transition to an architect role, gain a promotion, or simply prove your extended knowledge of the Salesforce platform (from both a business and a technical perspective), this certification is definitely nice to have.
Note: The Sharing and Visibility Architect certification does not have any prerequisites at this time.
Salesforce exams are made up of different topics, each with different weightings. In comparison with other Salesforce certifications, the Sharing and Visibility Architect cert is apparently one of the more simple ones, with just three main categories.
There may not be lots of categories (such as Sales Cloud Consultant), but it’s very important to pay attention to the details – especially when it comes to the different ways you could leverage when building a scalable and organized sharing model in Salesforce orgs of any complexity.
1. Declarative Sharing (76%)
This section obviously weighs the most, and it will test you on everything related to Org Wide Defaults, CRUD permissions, Permission Sets, Sharing Rules, and Manual Sharing – pretty much everything an advanced admin should be very familiar with when it comes to security and access in Salesforce.
You should expect a mix of scenario-based questions as well as purely technical ones. You will be assessed on your understanding of Salesforce functionality and business requirements, while being asked to translate them into a Salesforce solution.
Here’s why: Organization-Wide Default Access Settings
2. Programmatic Sharing (17%)
Similar to other Salesforce areas, there are situations when declarative sharing simply can’t support a requirement (or is tedious to maintain) – that’s where handling sharing using Apex comes into play.
To successfully answer the questions in this section, you will be expected to know when to leverage Apex, and how object and field level permissions can be enforced. You will also need to know how to minimize the data security risks when using Visualforce Pages, Lightning Web Components, and all programmatic customizations.
Here’s why: Using the runAs Method
3. Performance and Scalability (7%)
This section will test your ability to design and implement a security model which can be built upon and used at large scale, even in the more complex Salesforce orgs. You should be aware of all possible declarative and programmatic ways to respond to various access requests and you should be able to implement them accordingly.
Here’s why: Ownership Data Skew
The Sharing and Visibility Architect (“Designer” until recently) certification is one I started preparing for as soon as I decided to follow the solution architect path in the Salesforce ecosystem. The topics were accessible as a lot of the concepts and functionalities tested are often encountered in all Salesforce organizations.
Luckily for you, this means there is an abundance of resources out there to help you revise for this exam. As previously stated, this exam is heavily scenario-focused, as it’s designed for a consulting role that takes business requirements and translates them into a Salesforce solution. You’ll need to understand the technical side as well as the business side.
Trailhead is a great way to gain this experience, as most modules will follow a scenario that gives you exposure to the consulting skills you’ll need. If you want to take this a step further, try completing the Superbadges available on Trailhead, as these go through complex use cases that result in a complex solution touching multiple topics. The Security Specialist superbadge is one I’d recommend working on while preparing for this certification, as it touches on the declarative sharing applied in a scenario-based context.
Here’s another way to keep things interesting while studying the key concepts and features. Try inventing a business with its own requirements and challenges. Spin up a new Salesforce developer edition org and pretend you are a B2B Company with a complex sales process, large data volumes, and different sharing requirements. This way, you can test out everything you need to know and learn to implement from the inside out.
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 like 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 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 Sharing and Visibility 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.
The Sharing and Visibility Architect is definitely a coveted certification. It will attest to the fact that you are comfortable with Salesforce’s security concepts as well as the out-of-the-box and custom functionality. It will also demonstrate that you can successfully communicate with both business and technical stakeholders to ensure a successful and scalable implementation.
Security is a priority for Salesforce’s customers, as well as Salesforce ‘the vendor’. Mastering all of the ways that access can be granted, restricted, or extended in a Salesforce instance is a big milestone for your career in the Salesforce ecosystem. This certification, along with the job opportunities it opens up, is the reward you’ll receive for the many hours spent modifying all those sharing rules and permission sets.