Salesforce Strategy Designer Certification Guide & Tips

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The Salesforce Strategy Designer Certification is for professionals who have experience in the strategy and discovery aspects of Salesforce initiatives. This certification is part of the Salesforce “Designer” path, however, it is not intended only for people in design roles. The Strategy Designer certification is applicable to a wide variety of Salesforce roles, including Business Analysts, Salesforce Architects, and Salesforce Consultants, among others.

Unlike other Salesforce certifications, Strategy Designer requires less knowledge about the Salesforce platform itself. Instead, it requires more knowledge about how to develop the strategy and organization alignment for successful Salesforce initiatives.

Most of the content for this certification falls into two areas:

  1. Discovery: Determining stakeholder needs and desired outcomes; hypothesizing potential solutions and testing those hypotheses; understanding organizational values, and ensuring that possible solutions reflect those values.
  2. Alignment: The process of working to make sure that diverse stakeholders’ goals and expectations are understood and addressed. Using communication methods to enable all stakeholders to engage and contribute.

I find this certification particularly exciting because it helps to provide more structure and methods to the discovery work that many of us Salesforce professionals are already doing through our own initiatives. I believe this certification will provide a common toolset and language for Salesforce professionals to use.

This certification also puts Discovery work within context alongside Delivery work. Many of the analysis tools we’re familiar with from the software development world (like Requirements, User Stories, and Future Statue Business Process Diagrams) are in the Delivery space. That is, they’re intended to help us be more thoughtful about defining how a solution should work.

The Strategy Designer certification provides us with analysis tools within the Discovery space; tools that help us to examine business challenges, consider outcomes, and hypothesize possible solutions.

Credit: I have borrowed the Discovery vs. Delivery paradigm used by Product Management coach, Teresa Torres.

Ideal Candidate

This certification is focused on helping Salesforce professionals build skills in the innovation space, including providing methods to help deeply understand customers, create hypotheses for how to solve those problems, and systematically test them.

While this certification is on the Designer certification track, it is not just for professional designers. This certification is geared towards Salesforce professionals that work in or are interested in working on Salesforce implementations, particularly transformation initiatives. This would include administrators, business analysts, architects, and developers.

While there are no prerequisites to be eligible for this exam, the recommended experience you should have before attempting this certification is significant:

  • 3 years of hands-on experience as a strategy designer (or similar role).
  • 1-2 years of experience in the Salesforce platform.
  • 2 years of experience in leading complex projects (you’ll need advanced facilitation and consultative skills).

This certification is also great for Salesforce professionals working in sales or the ISV space who are interested in ways to better understand customer needs/desires.

Strategy Designer Key Concepts

The content of this certification covers a number of methods, such as Jobs To Be Done, Journey Mapping, Prototyping, V2MOM, How Might We Statements, Consequence Scanning, etc.

While these may feel a little abstract at times, the certification material is very specific about the purpose of each of these methods and when they should be used. For example, the Jobs To Be Done (JTBD) framework is specifically focused on understanding the customer/stakeholder’s problem space. The JTBD material in the Strategy Design cert is not for identifying possible solutions (there are other tools in the cert for that purpose).

The bulk of the certification exam is about considering particular business scenarios and determining the best Strategy Designer tool/method for the purpose. There are questions about particular Salesforce products, but these are about understanding when to apply high level capabilities of clouds/tools, rather than the details about how the clouds/tools should be configured.

Salesforce has created two trailmixes that cover the material on the exam:

Exam Preparation Strategy

An excellent way to prepare for the exam is to review one of the trailmixes above, make note of the various tools/methods discussed, and then write out the definition and purpose of each tool/method.

As an example, I have created a list of some of the key Strategy Design tools and methods below. This is not an exhaustive list of every term you’ll need to know for the exam, but it provides you with a structure for how you may want to organize your study materials:

Method: V2MOM

  • Description: A management framework for defining and communicating the high level “Vision, Values, Methods, Obstacles, Measures” of an organization or initiative.
  • Purpose: To achieve Alignment throughout the entire organization.

Method: How Might We Statements

  • Description: A method for brainstorming potential solutions to a challenge. Participants are prompted to consider “How Might We…” solve a particular problem.
  • Purpose: Idea Generation. May also be used for Challenge Framing & Scoping, Iteration, or Synthesis.

Method: Values-Driven Design

  • Description: A method of consciously identifying an organization’s values and systematically incorporating them into their products, services, and processes. May include a Corporate Integrity Workshop with Analyze, Compare, and Brainstorm prompts.
  • Purpose: To ensure that an organization’s values are reflected in their products, services, and processes.

Method: Inclusive Design

  • Description: A process for identifying and removing interactions/points of exclusion from products, services, and processes. Relies on Exclusion Experts to provide perspective on mismatches/barriers. Includes the following steps: Recognize Exclusion, Learn From Diversity, and Solve for One, Extend to Many.
  • Purpose: To consciously consider barriers and how to remove them.

Method: Consequence Scanning

  • Description: A framework for assessing the impacts (both intended and unintended) of a potential product or feature. In this context, impact analysis is not limited to the organization itself, but also includes impacts to customers, other external stakeholders and even society as a whole.
  • Purpose: To understand and proactively manage consequences (via Act, Influence, Monitor). Part of an Ethical Design process.

Method: Interviews

  • Description: A commonly used research method that involves one-on-one conversations with users/customers or experts to understand attitudes, experiences, and behaviors.
  • Purpose: To better understand users/customers.

Method: Customer Co-Creation Session

  • Description: A research method that involves creating low fidelity (paper, sketch, etc) prototypes with users/customers in order to better understand their priorities and needs.
  • Purpose: To generate ideas or refine/validate concepts.

Method: Jobs To Be Done (JTBD)

  • Description: A method for understanding user/customer pain points, needs, and points of view in Functional, Emotional and Social terms. May include the use of Job Stories.
  • Purpose: To better understand users/customers.

Method: Desirability / Feasibility / Viability

  • Description: Dimensions for assessing solution concepts:
    • Desirability: does the user/customer want this solution?
    • Feasibility: is it possible to create this solution from a technical standpoint?
    • Viability: does this solution enable us (our organization) to achieve a positive outcome for ourselves?
  • Purpose: To assess and narrow possible solutions.

Method: Journey Mapping

  • Description: A methodology for understanding the customer journey including the following seven dimensions:
    • Process: the stage of a user/customer experience.
    • Actions: the user/customer’s actions performed during each stage of the experience.
    • Thoughts: the user/customer’s thoughts during each stage of the experience.
    • Feelings: the user/customer’s feelings during each stage of the experience.
    • Touchpoints: where our organization’s brand, services, and products interact with the user/customer.
    • Context: external factors (environmental, social, time) that influence the user/customer.
    • Opportunities: aspects of the experience that may be improved to have a positive impact.
  • Purpose: To understand customer experience and identify opportunities for improvement and innovation and to achieve common understanding (alignment) across the organization.

Method: Design Strategy Prototyping

  • Description: A method for creating tangible but rough/low-cost artifacts to help answer specific questions during the design strategy process. In this context, prototypes may be Low Fidelity (e.g. Sketches, Paper interfaces, etc.) or Medium Fidelity (Wireframes, Mockups, etc.).
  • Purpose: To answer questions during the strategy design process related to strategic Ideation or Exploration, or Validation of a UX concept.

Method: Balanced Scorecard

  • Description: A framework for defining and tracking metrics for success within the following four pillars:
    • Customer Perception
    • Internal Processes
    • Financial Performance
    • Organization Knowledge & Innovation
  • Purpose: Define & Measure Success, and Organizational Alignment.

Topic Breakdown

Here are the topic areas of the certification:

Value Design (32%)

The Value Design portion focuses on identifying organizational values and defining desired outcomes. Keys concepts include:

  • Outcomes: Identifying desired outcomes and measures of success. The importance of using desired outcomes as a focal point throughout the Strategy Design process.
  • Design Methods: When to apply methods like Value-Driven Design, Inclusive Design, and Consequence Scanning.
  • Desirability, Feasibility, Viability: Assessing potential solution designs through the lens of Desirability, Feasibility, and Viability.

Tools and Artifacts (23%)

The Tools and Artifacts portion focuses on particular tools and methods, and when they should be applied during the Strategy Design process. Key concepts include:

  • Salesforce Capabilities: Understanding Salesforce products, tools, and capabilities, and identifying when they can be applied in particular business scenarios. These are relatively high-level use cases. For example:
    • Service Cloud would be a good choice for managing and responding to customer service requests.
    • Marketing Cloud would be a good choice for segmenting customers and sending targeted communications.
    • Screen Flows would be a good choice for curating targeted user experiences for particular business processes.
  • Research Methods: Understanding when to apply various research methods, for example:
    • Interviews for understanding users/customers.
    • Co-creation sessions for refining or validating ideas.
    • Group conversation with stimulus for refining or validating ideas.
  • Analytical Methods and Techniques: understanding when to use various analytical methods and techniques, for example:
    • V2MOM for enabling organizational alignment.
    • Jobs To Be Done (JTBD) for Understanding users/customers.
    • Journey Mapping for identifying opportunities and ideation.
    • Prototyping for refining or validating ideas.
  • Wide versus Narrow: Some of the methods above are used for brainstorming ideas (going wide) and others are used for refining ideas (going narrow). It is important to understand which methods should be used for which purpose.

Intangible Deliverables (26%)

The Intangible and Deliverables portion focuses on Alignment and Communication strategies. Key topics include:

  • Challenge Framing & Scoping: The role of Challenge Framing & Scoping within a Strategy Design initiative. The difference between Framing and Scoping. Identifying trade-offs and constraints.
  • Communication: Understanding a stakeholder/audience perspective and selecting an appropriate communication strategy. How to tell a compelling story that resonates with the audience.
  • Relationship Design: The role of Relationship Design is to build trust and alignment. Understanding the three goals of Relationship Design: Engagement, Connection, and Social Values.

Leveraging Adjacent Roles/Skills (19%)

The Leveraging Adjacent Roles/Skills portion focuses on collaboration and planning. Key topics include:

  • Roadmapping: Understand the four types of roadmaps (Portfolio Roadmaps, Strategy Roadmaps, Release Roadmaps, Feature Roadmaps) and the purpose of each in the planning process.
  • Collaboration: Methods for enabling collaboration within cross functional and diverse teams; for example, journey mapping the employee journey and conducting workshops for employees from across the organization.
  • Skills: Identifying the necessary skills and capabilities required for a particular initiative/business scenario.

You can examine the topics in more detail here.

Exam Strategy

Your exam strategy for this certification should be similar to other Salesforce exams. You shouldn’t take too long on any one question. If there is one question that you’re stuck on, mark it for review and return to it after you’ve answered all the questions. I often find that after answering all the questions on the exam, I am better able to infer answers to some of the questions that I found tricky early on in the exam.

Additional Resources

If you’re keen to go deeper into the key topics of this cert, I have assembled a list of additional resources. These resources aren’t required for the exam, but may be useful if you have an interest in the topics.

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