The Salesforce market is booming and there are jobs aplenty for Salesforce Administrators, but should you work alone as a Solo Admin or as part of an Awesome Admin Team? There are many factors that can influence which role suits you best, from your personality and working style, to your current level of experience and future aspirations. If you’re unsure which role is right for you, or if you’re thinking of making a move, read on for a breakdown of the pros and cons.
Pick a side! Are you a Lone Wolf or Part of the Pack? Which quote resonates with you, and will you feel the same after we’ve gone through the top 10 pros and cons of each role?
Autonomy is probably the biggest selling point for a career as a Solo Admin. If you like to call the shots, design your own schedule, and dip in and out of tasks as you see fit, then Solo Admin is for you. The role of a Solo Admin is also highly suited to people that work really fast as they can find teamwork slow and frustrating.
You’ll certainly need to be able to work quickly and power through tasks as a Solo Admin because this role is not for slackers. Solo Admins do it all, juggling a multitude of roles from business analyst to project manager to trainer. That’s in addition to the day job of user management, designing apps, creating custom objects and so on. This can become overwhelming as there’s no one else to support you. If you take a day off or a holiday, there’s no business as usual in your absence, so you’re guaranteed to come back to a full inbox.
Maybe you don’t enjoy making all the decisions and prefer to be set tasks? Working in a team is perfect if you prefer the overall responsibility of Salesforce to lie with someone else. In a team, you’ll get the benefit of collaboration and guidance from others, plus you can’t put a price on the sense of camaraderie.
When you’re assigned tasks as part of a team, there is a high likelihood that you won’t always see the bigger picture or be aware of every change and project. As a junior team member, you may not get a lot of say in the decisions being made which can be frustrating if you feel like you have a great idea or you don’t have adequate opportunities to make suggestions. If you’re a senior member of the team you’ll often have responsibility for the junior team members; this responsibility means you lose a lot of autonomy.
Is there anything more efficient than a one man band? Me, myself and I agree almost all of the time. In the absence of team members or a team lead, the Solo Admin gets to call the shots and make decisions fast.
There are fewer meetings and debates, and as the only employee skilled at Salesforce, you’re the expert decision-maker by default (this is not always a good thing!).
Without constant interruptions from calls and meetings, Solo Admin’s can focus easily and plough through work at a rapid speed.
Sounds good right? But what if you’re not an expert? If you’re new to Salesforce administration, or you’re used to working on smaller, less complex setups, there’s a risk you’re unaware of all available features and best practice. You might think your way is the best way but there’s no one to tell you when you’re wrong.
All that time you saved without meetings and debates, is used up in doing the actual work. The simple truth is there’s only one of you and only so many hours in the day…
That’s no problem in a team! Plenty of colleagues to share the workload with and if you work well together you’ll certainly complete a project faster than a Solo Admin can. You’ve got the huge benefit of team experience, with each team member bringing unique experience and awareness with them. The chances are high that you and your team members are each particularly good at something, like building dashboards or using Flow; this will infinitely speed up the project as you use each other’s strengths.
So, the hands-on work is going to be a doddle, but how long did it take to get to the technical bit? How many meetings did you have to attend? How much debate was there? How many times did the team go back to the drawing board? The downside of teams is that often, everyone wants a say, and opinions might conflict. It’s important that a team has a strong leader that can cut through the noise and make effective decisions fast, otherwise, a team can flounder and procrastinate.
Teams are reliant on each team member pulling their weight and doing their part well. If you’ve got a very junior member or a slacker, it can slow down progress.
I know what you’re thinking – obviously the role of Solo Admin cannot compete with our Awesome Admin team when it comes to collaboration?! Well, hear me out…
Just because you’re a Solo Admin does not mean you work alone; you work with all of your end users, business users, and key stakeholders. Perhaps you have a Super User group or a Steering Committee. The role of a Solo Admin is very sociable like most support roles. There’s always a constant stream of collaboration via emails, calls and catch-ups.
On top of that there’s an entire community of like-minded Salesforce enthusiasts out there on Trailblazer groups, Twitter, LinkedIn, as well as community events and user groups.
Making time to meet other trailblazers online and in-person is really important because, in truth, being a Solo Admin can be lonely. Your colleagues won’t ever truly understand your role, the technical aspect of it or quite how many plates you have spinning at all times. In work there’s unlikely to be anyone that can understand your frustrations, bounce technical ideas around with or reassure you that your solution is correct.
Working as part of the Pack means collaboration galore. You can be sure there will be plenty of opportunities to discuss ideas and brainstorm with your team, planning the perfect solution and proactively identifying risks. As a team you’ll have a wealth of experience to draw from and different perspectives, leading to positive debate and well-reasoned solutions.
Collaboration means sharing the workload, from project work, support, and discovery. Discovery includes staying on top of the new functionality and enhancements provided via 3 Salesforce releases a year. Several hundred pages of release notes might be too much for one person, but it’s easy with a team.
You just have to hope that any debate is productive, as everyone wants a say can slow down decision making and require endless meetings. Working in a team can also enable slackers that don’t feel the need to pull their weight and can hold the whole team up.
4. Career Path
Being a Solo Admin can sometimes feel like there is no career path, instead you bounce between different companies, doing the same job. On the plus side, there are plenty of Solo Admin jobs out there, as Salesforce resources are expensive and many companies don’t need a team of admins. No two Solo Admin jobs are the same, and each job will expose you to new business processes, new industries, and new functionality or products. This is the perfect career for those that get bored easily and like a new challenge frequently.
If you love the technical aspect of being a Salesforce Administrator, being a Solo Admin might be right for you. You’ll stay hands-on for much longer than if you move up the ladder in an Admin team where you’d take on more managerial responsibilities.
The role of a Solo Admin can be frustratingly unclear; there may not be salary brackets or bandings, and it may not be obvious how you can progress within your company. If you want promotions within your current company, you might have to move away from Salesforce, into a more general management role. Without a team structure, there is no role above yours to move into so there’s limited progression unless you join an Admin team!
Being part of the Pack is ideal if you’re looking for a role with clear progression. You can start at a junior level and utilise the experience of more seasoned members of the team. In time, you too can mentor juniors, gain valuable management experience, and work your way up to team lead.
Watch out though, your progression may rely on your manager leaving. If this isn’t in the pipeline, and you’re ready for the next step, you’ll have to look for a team leader job in a different company.
5. Location, Travel & Hours
Your location, requirement to travel and hours are usually mandated by the company you work for and less to do with whether you work solo or in a team. If you work for a global company, with many offices, and users in different timezones your job is going to be very different from working in a single office, surrounded by your users.
The position of a Solo Admin can often be more flexible because you do not have to work around the needs of a team. You don’t have to work shifts, cover lunch breaks, or be in the office at the same time as your teammates. If your company supports remote and flexible working, as a Solo Admin, it can be far easier to utilise them without the pressure of worrying what the rest of the team are doing.
Regardless of role, if you work for a smaller company, you’ll likely be based in a single office and won’t be expected to travel. If you or your team support a global company, there may be a requirement to travel to different offices to attend meetings or deliver training. In good news, technology means the need to travel is less as we can hold virtual meetings and training sessions! If there is a big need to travel and you’d prefer not to, working in a team is beneficial, as travel can be shared amongst team members or delegated to a team member who enjoys it.
Global Salesforce Administrator roles also come with the challenge of users in multiple time zones. No problem if you work in a team with a Salesforce Administrator based locally, or you use shift patterns to make sure support is always covered. What if you’re a Solo Admin? Well, it can be easy to find yourself on calls at 8am with users based in India, and training users at 8pm based in America (trust me, I’m speaking from experience). If you enjoy slightly unusual hours and don’t have a lot of personal commitments, then Global Solo Admin could be just right for you. If you’d prefer a 9-5 job then a role with only local users or working in a team will suit you better.
A Salesforce Administrator should always strive to keep learning. With 3 releases a year and tons of certifications, we need to keep studying and stay on top of this ever-changing technology to be a real asset to our employers.
It can be easier to get the budget for training and certification as a Solo Admin because you don’t have to share a budget amongst a team. There may also be the option to get training on other relevant skills such as project management or business analysis. As a Solo Admin you have the benefit of being completely hands-on, perfect if you learn best from doing.
That said, if your day job is limited in terms of features or clouds, it can be super hard to learn them alone. A great example of this might be Territory Management. It crops up on several of the Admin and Consultant exams and it’s a really tough feature to learn if you don’t use it often (or ever!).
As a Solo Admin, you’ll have to be proactive and tell your company what training you want and need as they’re unlikely to have an awareness of what’s available beyond the Salesforce Administrator certification. This is less likely to be an issue when you work in a team as they often have a defined learning path and the benefit of working and learning alongside experienced, senior team members. Perfect when you have questions on tricky features or you need advice on how to prepare for an exam.
Often, companies with a Salesforce team have larger or more complex setups, so as a member of a team you’ll be getting a lot of exposure to clouds, features and integrations. Junior team members can learn from more senior people and seniors often find they consolidate their skills as they pass them on. Nowhere is that more true than with soft skills. Just watch out you don’t end up doing the same tasks for every project. If you get pigeon-holed as the expert or go-to person for one cloud or feature, you’ll miss out on learning to implement new things.
Solo Admins often work for smaller companies with simpler Salesforce Orgs*. This lends itself to fewer large projects and can mean less variety e.g. you only use Sales Cloud.
However, when there is a project, the Solo Admin gets to do everything from business analysis and design, to project management and roll out. The life of a Solo Admin is never dull; they do everything, dipping in and out of various tasks, from building dashboards to updating the user guide, then training and onboarding new users.
Working in an Awesome Admin Team can expose you to larger systems, more clouds and more complexity. Working across complex systems is far less daunting with the support of a team! The best teams are those that share the workload properly and encourage learning, to avoid any team member doing the same tasks over and over again.
*Note: You don’t have to work in a team to work on large, complex systems. There are many Solo Admins managing multiple clouds, integrations and hundreds of users. If this is what you want, don’t be afraid to ask at interviews what clouds, products and features the company are using.
The many hats of a Solo Admin give them a broad overview and understanding of many features and functionality. You’ve got to do it all in your Salesforce org, so you’ll know it inside and out. It can be hard to be a true “specialist” because you don’t spend a lot of time on any one thing. You end up feeling like a jack of all trades and master of none. There are more complex features like Territory Management or Flow that you never use, or use infrequently, meaning every time you need to use them it feels like you have to re-learn them again.
If you like variety then specialisation may not be for you, it can be easy to get stuck doing the same thing over and over again. Once you’ve mastered something, boredom sets in and you’ll relish a new challenge. This is difficult if your role is solely focused on one specialism or you work in a team that relies on you to always handle a particular task.
Working as Part of the Pack gives you the opportunity to specialise as well as learning from your teammates. It’s important that teams collaborate effectively to ensure the whole team is aware of any changes taking place, else it’s easy for team members to miss the bigger picture and be unable to support with other areas of the system.
Very often, Solo Admins are also “Accidental Admins”. Maybe you fell into this, maybe you don’t have an IT background, perhaps you frequently feel like an imposter. Often you’re worried about not knowing enough, concerned you might break things and get into trouble. As a Solo Admin, the buck stops with you. If something breaks and you’re the only one doing the development, chances are you broke it. And if it’s broken who’s going to fix it? That’s right, you!
A Solo Admin is a single point of failure, whether that’s because there’s too much work to do so it bottlenecks, you rush through it and make mistakes, or because you’re not fully away of features and best practices.
One upside is that as the only one making changes, and knowing your system inside out, it should be easier to troubleshoot if something goes wrong…then you just have to hope you can fix it.
Not so for our Awesome Admin Team; if the complete solution is not shared across the entire team, it’s much harder to work out where it went wrong and how to fix it. What if it’s a CPQ issue and your CPQ specialist is on annual leave?
Overall, there’s less chance that a solution is going to go wrong. With a team of skilled Salesforce Administrators, peer review, and the benefit of varied experience and perspectives, the Awesome Admin Team can identify issues long before something breaks. In the event that there is a problem, you’ve got a whole team to work together to resolve it. Teamwork makes dream work right?
10. Appreciation & Reward
For our illustrious Solo Admins, credit where credit is definitely due. With only one person looking after Salesforce, it’s easy for your company and colleagues to recognise your success!
That would be the ideal scenario; in reality, people often forget to give Salesforce Admins (solo or otherwise) the credit they deserve. End users and stakeholders only tend to care or speak up when something doesn’t work the way they expected. There’s a high chance no one has any idea what goes into the work you do, or how much a Solo Admin does, from requirements gathering, design, automation, and training to ensure Salesforce works beautifully.
As a Solo Admin there’s a danger things feel too personal and when you don’t get any recognition you feel very demotivated. Salesforce is what we do, day in day out with zero support, so if you criticise Salesforce, it feels like you’re criticizing the Admin directly.
Your company may not “get it” but our Awesome Admin Team has the benefit of teammates that definitely do! There’s a lot of camaraderie in a team, as well as a true understanding of the hard work and effort involved in being a Salesforce Administrator. Rewards in a team are likely to be clearer and more formalised with laddered pay, clear objectives and what you get for achieving them.
Any reward, financial or otherwise, may well be shared across the entire team. Great if you all participated equally, not so great if you did all the hard work and had to make up for teammates not pulling their weight.
Which role is your favourite?
Now you’ve seen the pros and cons, which role most appeals to you?
If there’s one thing you take-away from this post, it should be that what’s right for you, may not be right for someone else. And what you want from a role now, might be different in future. Both roles have tons of advantages and being a Salesforce Administrator in any guise is an amazing career.
If you’re still unsure which role would suit you, check out this quiz created by Nathaniel Sombu and determine if you’re a Lone Wolf or Part of the Pack!
No matter if you’re a lone wolf or part of a pack, we’ve got top tips and tricks for all awesome admins. Keep an eye out for ‘Essential Tips and Tricks for Successful Solo Admins and Awesome Admin Teams’ (coming soon) to discover ways to bring your a-game as a solo admin and how to harness the power of a team.