A Salesforce Project Manager oversees Salesforce implementation projects end-to-end on a variety of Salesforce ‘Clouds’ and levels of complexity. Their priority is to ensure the project is successful – delivered on time, and within budget.
The Salesforce Economy is growing at such a rate that Salesforce Project Managers find themselves in a favorable position due to their in-demand skill set.
To paint a colorful picture of what it’s like to work in Salesforce project management, I sought out someone with the answers. Laura Zuluaga has worked as a Salesforce Project Manager for a number of years, on a variety of projects and consultancies, with invaluable commentary based on her first-hand experiences. Let’s look at who Salesforce Project Managers are and typical career paths you can embark on.
Roles and Responsibilities of Salesforce Project Managers
As part of the services arm of the partner ecosystem, Salesforce Project Managers work closely with different stakeholders through the client organization to coordinate the consultancy-side implementation team (management, subject matter experts, consultants, and developers) accordingly.
This involves driving all the project stages, including planning and execution.
A Project Manager in the Salesforce world wears many hats (the more they are familiar with the Salesforce platform, the more hats they can wear). Responsibilities will vary depending on the size of the implementation and their own technical acumen.
Here are the responsibilities that typically fall under the Project Manager role:
Discovery & requirements gathering:
- Participate in client discovery sessions working with technical and functional team members to identify the right solution for each client,
- Work with the client to translate their needs into detailed requirements and eventually translate to user stories,
- Work closely with the Technical Lead to ensure the business requirements are accurately translated into technical requirements, and the team has all the information required to action
- Team enablement – confirm the technical team has all the technical tools required to start work (Sandboxes, Licenses, etc.)
- Approval – ensure sign-off by the client of the different project phases (Build, QA, Deployment)
- Sprint planning – manage scrum/agile ceremonies, including huddles, backlog grooming, increment planning, retrospectives and sprint demos (when applicable to the consultancy’s delivery methodology),
- Risk management – identify and mitigate risks or issues on a project by project basis, implementing strategies to minimize impact to the project, controlling deviations from the project schedule and estimated costs
- Prepare and manage project schedules, burn reports, status reports and change orders,
- Report on the status of the project to internal management and the client management team, including escalating issues where appropriate,
- Maintain accurate forecasting for project resources according to the approved budget.
Client relationship management:
- Build and maintain relationships with clients day-to-day, exceeding client expectations and ensuring satisfaction,
- Support clients throughout the project and post-project implementation process.
Due to the level of responsibility allocated to a Project Manager, this role can be very stressful – that said, It’s an incredibly rewarding career choice (which Laura and other project managers stand by).
Becoming a Salesforce Project Manager
Salesforce Consultant → Salesforce Project Manager
Becoming a Project Manager is often a natural career progression for seasoned Salesforce Consultants that want to make the transition to a leadership role.
Project Manager → Salesforce Project Manager
It’s possible to join the ecosystem as a Project Manager with no Salesforce experience.
While it’s common for Salesforce Project managers to be well versed in the Salesforce platform, transitioning from outside the industry does mean you will bring transferable skills that will be invaluable in your new role.
Here are some competencies that will enable you to become an entry-level Salesforce project manager:
- Have experience configuring Sales Cloud (this is likely the cloud you will start with unless you want to become a marketing consultant).
- Seek out opportunities for attending client-facing interactions, such as requirements gathering, project kick-off meetings, and training sessions.
- Take the Certified Salesforce Administrator and Platform App Builder certifications.
- Find a mentor internally that you can support, and in turn, learn from.
- Understand the composition of a Salesforce project – the checkpoints, the items in scope, how to act when client-facing.
Entry-level vs. Mid-level vs. Senior Salesforce Project Managers
Categorizing project managers at different seniority levels isn’t easy. We used the following definitions in our Salesforce Project Manager Salary Guide; the aim here is to outline what experience you should seek and skills to nurture in order for you to progress to the next level:
Entry-level project manager: 0 – 2 years experience (possibly up to 5 years)
- Manage projects that have a budget/cost under 10k
- Can expect to be handling up to 7-10 small projects simultaneously
- Around 4-6 hrs a week per project (*for pure PM tasks)
Mid-level: 5 – 7 years experience (possibly up to 10 years)
The definition for a “Mid-level” project can greatly vary depending on your firm, but here are some general indicators:
- Manage projects that have a budget/cost 50K – 100k
- Can expect to be handling 4-6 Projects simultaneously
- Around 10-20 hrs a week per project, depending on your project load and the size of the project roster.
Senior project manager: 10+ years experience.
- Manage projects that have a budget/cost 100k – 1M£+
- Can expect to be handling 1-2 projects simultaneously
- Around 20-40 hours (full time) depending on the size of the project
A strong project manager is one of the key factors for a successful Salesforce implementation regardless of the size of the project.
Project management is a skill set that is in high demand across all Salesforce partners and is often well compensated. It is impossible to cover all the complexities of the role in a short blog post.
If you are looking to make the leap to Salesforce project management I highly encourage you to take on board the advice Laura shared in our Project Manager Salary Guide then reach out to the Salesforce partners in your region to better understand the firm’s implementation methodologies and how to best tailor your experience for the role.