Your Salesforce Admin Career Path: Is Ops Right For You?
Today’s Salesforce Admins share many of the same responsibilities as operations professionals. However, a recent survey by Salesforce Ben, Sonar, and Wizards of Ops found that many companies consider admins and ops to be separate departments.
The good news is that, regardless of which department you sit in at your organization, the skill sets honed as a Salesforce Admin can set you up for a successful career in operations.
If you’re curious about career pathways outside the Salesforce ecosystem, moving to an ops role can connect you with endless opportunities. For example, ops can give you ways to grow your leadership experience, refine your project management capabilities, and sharpen your analytical skills.
Want to learn more about ops and if it’s the right move for you? Read on to uncover everything you need to know.
The Overlap Between Salesforce Admins and Ops
As an admin, you’ve got a lot to offer an ops team. Whether you’re new to the admin world or a seasoned pro, it’s likely that you have built up relevant experience along the way that’s beneficial in ops.
Depending on the roles you’ve held and the size of the organizations you’ve worked with, you probably have a strong skill set in some (or most) of the following areas.
If you’re an admin at a large organization, most of your related experience is probably around managing permissions for your Salesforce org. Understanding how Salesforce works from an access perspective by sharing settings, creating new users, and getting things stood up all translates directly to ops.
At smaller organizations, you’re likely the go-to for creating reports. To bridge the gap between this experience and an ops role, it’s crucial to articulate your ability to understand the why behind reports before you build them. When Sara Bush, Head of RevOps at Sonar, went from being a Salesforce Admin to her first ops role, this was a critical way for her to immediately bring value to her new organization.
To build insightful, actionable reports, Sara recommends starting with the question that your business wants to answer. Then work backwards, asking the following questions as you go:
- What kind of report would be actionable?
- What data do we need to collect?
- How do we make it just as easy for everyone on the front-end to input data?
Demonstrating your ability to work through these questions is a key way to showcase your skill set to an ops team.
Understanding Salesforce uses cases
How a company uses Salesforce depends on its industry, business model, and needs. If you’re a Salesforce Consultant, you have the vital opportunity to gain exposure to the different ways companies rely on Salesforce. You also know what it’s like to manage teams inside and outside your organization. Set yourself apart from other candidates by showcasing your knowledge of the different use cases for Salesforce.
The New Opportunities Operations Can Unlock
By moving into operations, you can access new opportunities to:
- Unify your go-to-market teams: As an admin, much of your work focuses on designing better processes for go-to-market teams. But ops takes that a step further, serving as the connector between each team to find the commonalities between their work and help them work in sync to achieve their goals.
- Gain more leadership experience: Your leadership team requires accurate, reliable data to run and grow the business efficiently. In an ops role, you can establish yourself as a valuable asset to leadership and gain a seat at the table by providing actionable data and dashboards that help guide strategic decisions.
- Move from execution to strategy: Admins are often focused on knocking out requests and have little to no involvement in setting the strategy. But ops teams play an active role in establishing the strategy, working alongside go-to-market and leadership teams to establish and achieve goals.
How to Move From an Admin to Ops
Are you interested in making a move to ops? Follow these steps:
Start with a holistic view of your Salesforce processes
There are typically three steps when creating a process in Salesforce – discovery, design, and build. As an admin, you likely only support the build phase. To prepare yourself for an ops role, it’s important to get a holistic view of your Salesforce processes. Ask your manager for the opportunity to get involved at the very beginning of the process, so you can understand how it works from start to finish.
Join an ops community
Moving into a new industry can come with a lot of unknowns. Luckily for you, there are many professionals you can learn from who have already made a move from admin to ops. Start by finding an online community for operations professionals like Wizards of Ops – a free Slack-based community with 4,000+ ops pros worldwide. By plugging into a community, you can connect with others, stay in the loop on job opportunities, get help with problems you’re solving, and so much more.
Prepare for your interview
Getting ready for an interview in a new field can be daunting. Prepare yourself for your first ops interview by thinking through solid examples that showcase your ability to prioritize the right work, collaborate across go-to-market teams, and help your company achieve its goals.
Here are some potential interview questions that might come up:
- How do you prioritize your work?
- Why are those your top priorities?
- Tell me about a cross-functional project you were part of.
- How did you work across the teams, and what was the outcome?
- How do you align your work with your company’s goals and strategy?
- How do you think strategically about the impacts a process you create will have on front-end users?
Set yourself up for success from day one
When starting your first role in ops, it can be challenging to know how to build a solid foundation early on. To help you know what to tackle during your first three months at a new job, check out the first-ever 30/60/90 day guide for ops.
Is Ops Right For You?
Like any big career move, there are potential risks you should be aware of. Here are a few indicators that ops might not be the right move for you:
- If you love executing, and you want that to be the majority of your job.
- If you don’t enjoy project management, an ops leadership role might not be an ideal fit for you.
- Your brain is more engineer-focused.
As a Salesforce Admin, there are so many ways you can grow your career in the ecosystem. I hope this article provides a helpful view into one of the many paths you can take for a long-lasting, fulfilling career.
Great post! There’s no doubt that the possibilities are endless in terms of how Salesforce professionals can combine their skills and interests and create a fantastic career and Ops roles are a perfect “next right move” for many who are looking to elevate their game. Still, as someone who has spent a lot of time in the Sales Ops world, I’d offer one word of caution for Salesforce folks considering this path. Even if you are leveraging the platform and the data, Ops is a very different job than architecting or executing solutions. Given the pace of evolution on the platform, taking yourself out of the hand-on-keyboard game for even a short period will impact your Salesforce skills. You’ll be dreaming of commission structures and territory plans instead of digging into the nuances of all the new Flow functionality. You’ll be working on Board slides and growth plans instead of setting up Einstein prediction builder. There’s no wrong answer here. If you love rev ops and sales strategy, jump in head first! If you love the act of “doing Salesforce for a living” consider the trade-offs.