Salesforce’s robust features and impressive adaptability have made it a dominating presence in today’s CRM market, but the complexities of this powerful platform can present a barrier to entry for companies that haven’t used it before.
Without a nuanced knowledge of Salesforce and a clear plan for implementation, IT Managers often find themselves burning through time and money without much to show for it. The common Catch-22 puts them in a situation where management is telling them they need to build without a blueprint, and the whole solution quickly collapses.
To avoid tech debt and the terrible prospect of a “hard reset” on your Salesforce implementation, there’s a clear order of operations that we recommend you follow when trying to build your Salesforce team.
Obviously every business’s needs will be unique, and Salesforce has the customizable features to make your solution feel truly bespoke, but those more personalized and optimized elements of your implementation are only relevant once you have a strong foundation.
At Cloud Pacific, we’ve learned a lot by helping clients of various sizes, industries, and goals to create seamless Salesforce solutions. Over the years, our diverse team of experienced Salesforce pros has distilled the process of building a nimble, capable internal team down to a science.
So if you’re an IT Manager looking to start your solution off strong (or figure out why your current implementation feels broken), you’ve come to the right place.
Here’s the order of operations for creating a Salesforce team capable of unlocking the platform’s true potential for your business:
1. “Seed” Your Team with a Salesforce Architect
Your first Salesforce hire is your most crucial, because they’re the seed from which the rest of your team will grow. We’ve written about this before (check that blog out here, but it bears repeating: One of the biggest mistakes IT Managers make when hiring for Salesforce is thinking they can bring in a single person to simply “handle” Salesforce for their business. We call this “The Guru Strategy” but it’s not actually strategic.
In most business cases, an optimized and seamless Salesforce org is a team sport, so what you’re really looking for in your first hire is an effective Tech Lead. For this role, you’re going to need a fully vetted, Architect-certified professional with at least 5 years of experience. They’re not going to be cheap, but they’re going to be worth it.
A certified Salesforce Architect comes with both broadly applicable Salesforce knowledge that qualifies them to solution for entire teams with different certifications, and their own personal specialized expertise. There are two main types of Salesforce Architect to choose from, but either will do:
Salesforce Certified Technical Architect (CTA):
Specializes in turning large-scale challenges into high-performance, scalable, and secure solutions on the Salesforce platform.
Salesforce Certified Solution Architect (CSA):
Specializes in using the Salesforce platform to design domain-specific, multi-cloud solutions to power seamless and personalized customer experiences for maximum business value.
Once you find your Architect, they’ll seed your team by lending their experience to the hiring and vetting process of your other Salesforce hires. But how do you make sure you’re properly vetting your first hire if you don’t have deep Salesforce knowledge yourself?
You hire a consulting firm to do the vetting for you, and we’re here to help!
2. Use Your Architect to Hire a Salesforce Business Analyst and Developer
A Salesforce team works best when each member is able to focus on and fulfill their dedicated role. Now that you have an Architect, you have the captain of your ship who will reliably solution a future state for your Salesforce org. Your next challenge is figuring out how to turn your business goals into Salesforce applications and processes. For that, you’ll need to hire a Salesforce Business Analyst and Salesforce Developer.
Once your Architect is on board, this should not only be an easy process - it should be an efficient one. The Salesforce community is an invaluable resource, and your Architect (if they were properly vetted) comes with a built-in network of professionals that share personality traits, values, and work ethic. They’ll be able to bring in candidate recommendations for the positions you need, and they can act as your lead during the interview process.
The Salesforce Business Analyst and Salesforce Developer are your next hires because they fulfill two different but vital roles in your Salesforce Team:
Salesforce Business Analyst: Under the supervision of the Architect, the Business Analyst (BA) specializes in facilitating productive communication and workflow between the Salesforce team and the business users, combining a strong administrative understanding of how Salesforce works with business savvy to ensure that resources are pooled in the right places. The BA’s job is to make sure the Salesforce team has everything they need to clearly and effectively execute the goals of the end users in Salesforce. Additionally, BAs can be used to supervise Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC), meet with clients, act as scrum master, write declarative code, and create user stories.
Salesforce Developer: This is your code specialist, capable of crafting from-scratch solutions and integrating them into the Salesforce system. Salesforce comes with several automation tools that require no coding (this is declarative automation your BA can handle), but if you want totally custom automations that go above and beyond the standard tools, you’re going to need an experienced developer to create them.
Your Architect knows that, in the Salesforce ecosystem, not all experience is created equal. Their support in vetting these candidates for vital team experience, knowledge, and best practices is your key to setting up a fully optimized Salesforce org.
3. Engage Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC) Support
After steps one and two, you have everything you need to analyze business challenges and produce data-driven solutions in Salesforce. Now it’s time to talk about testing (guinea pigs won’t work).
There are two schools of thought when it comes to QA/QC: You can hire a dedicated QA/QC professional recommended and/or vetted by your Architect, or you can outsource. We actually recommend the latter.
Typically, people working in QA/QC aren’t trying to stay there for long. It’s an entry-level position for many looking to move up as they build their Salesforce certifications toward higher level skills - and it’s monotonous work. This creates a staff retention problem if you’re looking to hire permanently for this task, but you don’t have to!
Your BA will be able to create detailed test scripts for anything your developer designs. These simple step-by-step guides can then be followed by independent QA/QC contractors as needed, or you can always engage a Salesforce Consulting Firm to handle this for you when the need arises.
4. Establish a Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) Process
You’re halfway there! After steps 1-3, you have your smallest possible team, so now it’s time to talk process. CI/CD is a standard by which you implement change management, designed to streamline and document your build by introducing automation to various stages of app development.
Essentially, it’s tasking your team with creating a fully-automatic “machine” within Salesforce that monitors daily changes, documents every stage of a build’s lifecycle, continuously tests for errors, and then seamlessly merges updates with your Production org for the highest possible levels of both delivery efficiency and quality confidence.
Implementing CI/CD at your business will enable your team to be both agile and accountable. It also keeps your live environment protected from changes that would disrupt your Production org, making the inevitable cleanup that follows a thing of the past.
Salesforce contains many development tools that assist you in setting up and automating CI/CD quickly, and one of the key skill sets you (and your Architect) should vet for in the hiring process is experience working in this kind of environment. If your Architect, developer, and BA are all on the same page here, it’s going to make setting up this complex process a breeze (or at least, not a headache-inducing nightmare).
Your organization’s individual form of CI/CD will have idiosyncrasies specific to your business’s goals and needs. However, there are still some core CI/CD principles that will always be in effect. There are typically three steps in a standard CI/CD process:
Development: Part of CI, this stage is where your Developers create and compile their code within an Independent Production Environment (IDE) using Visual Studio (VS) Code. There should be simple automated tests run daily on changes that are committed to a Source Code Management platform such as Github.
Testing: Each repository commit triggers an automated workflow on a CI server that can notify developers if there are any problems integrating their changes. The IDE is both a development and testing area where your team can create separate sandboxes that are used first by developers, then users, to test changes.
Delivery: Here’s the CD - Once testing is passed, approved codebases are pushed to the Production org and merged automatically without interruption or error.
CI/CD automates your software release process, providing your team with reduced time frames for deployment, decreased costs, continuous feedback, early error detection, and improved system integration. As soon as your team is assembled, this is the workflow you’ll want to put in place!
5. Set Up Software Project Management & Salesforce Ticket Management in Jira
Now that both your Salesforce team and their pipeline for delivering changes to production are ready, you’re going to need to set up Software Project Management and Salesforce Ticket Management to facilitate an efficient, accountable workflow. Industry standard software for both of these processes is Jira.
When it comes to Software Project Management, Jira empowers you to:
Plan: Generate user stories, plan sprints, and distribute tasks across your team.
Track: Document executions, failures or successes, scope changes, and team member responsibility with complete visibility and full context.
Release: Deliver work with total confidence and on schedule with continuously updated information across the entire scope of the project.
Report: Evaluate and improve your team’s performance using real-time, visual data on project execution.
In addition to helping you manage projects within your team, Jira provides Salesforce Ticket Management so that the rest of the business can effectively communicate their Salesforce needs and have them solutioned in a timely fashion. Jira’s “Portals” feature enables you to create a portal where users can submit tickets for features they want added in Salesforce, bugs they have noticed that need repaired, and whatever else needs to be added to the request. Using this, your BA can expand upon, take actions to change, or scope that user story appropriately. From here, tickets can be assigned to developers, with the entire process tracked from submission to completion through Jira - all while giving real-time visibility to the requester in the Jira Portal.
6. Grow Your Team as Needed
Now that you have the basics of your team and their workflow established, you can think about growing that team in reaction to your business needs.
“But wait,” you may be thinking. “I need three developers!”
That may be true, but you should only hire them after you’ve completed steps 1-5. If you bring them on early, before your core team and processes are in place, they’re not going to be able to do their jobs, and will likely be bogged down in setup tasks that waste their time, your time, and your company’s money. Dedicated developers are even likely to leave if they’re spending weeks to months unable to code because they were hired before your business was ready.
If done right, this entire process enables IT managers to build seamless Salesforce teams in 4-6 months. Then, and only then, is the full potential of Salesforce unlocked.
Worried you don’t have the time or resources to hire a dedicated Salesforce Team? We can deliver a highly capable “team in a box” pre-built and ready to implement. Or, if you’re starting your hiring and vetting process, we can help you nail those vital first decisions that “seed” your perfect team. Contact us here to start a conversation.