BAs & CTAs – How to Begin?

BAs & CTAs – How to Begin?

A question came up in the Salesforce community that I have been thinking about recently. The question goes like this:

“Hi All, I am onboarding new org where I will be acting as a BA and need to submit a request for areas I want to review i.e. documentation? Does anyone have any suggestions as regards good questions to ask? Heres what I have so far
Can we setup a shadowing session to understand your workflows.
Can we get access to your JIRA board
What known issues are you working with and what are the workarounds
Can we get a glossary or data dictionary list of your terms
Who are the key stakeholders who manage systems that integrate to Salesforce?
Do you have an org chart?

– Business Analyst

My answer back was – short- and incomplete, “as a Business Analyst, my questions are all about Business to start out with. why are you using it and what is important to the business should be the first steps.”

I have had a chance to think about it some more and I want to write some additional words to explain what I am thinking and why. As a Business Analyst for many years, and as a Salesforce Admin/Analyst/Architect, now Consultant, I see where I would hope we can go as an ecosystem to make the process better. The assumption is that the NEED for any Salesforce Analyst, Salesforce Architect, or Salesforce Consultant at an org is BECAUSE changes are needed, from business process to technical functionality, or to stakeholder’s communicated desires.

Some background first:
I am currently preparing to take my CBAP certification, and just finished reviewing the Strategy Analysis section of the BABOK.
Also, I am on the long journey to becoming a Salesforce CTA, and have been going through the prep for the Board Review process.

First, let’s look at the Business Analyst side, and the description of Strategy Analysis, which is one of the main Knowledge Areas of Business Analyst Work (according to the IIBA in the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK)). Strategy defines the most effective way for an enterprise to reach a desired goal and objective. Strategy Analysis describes the business analysis work to collaborate with stakeholders in order to identify a need of strategic or tactical importance (aka, the business need), enable the enterprise to address that need, and align for the change.

As part of Strategy Analysis, the BA is asked to lead the Definition of the Change Strategy, where you develop and assess solution approaches, and then select the recommended approach.
A change strategy clearly describes the nature of the change in terms of:
context of the change,
• identified alternative change strategies,
justification for why a particular change strategy is the best approach,
• investment and resources required to work to the future state,
• how the enterprise will realize value after the solution is delivered,
key stakeholders in the change, and
transition states along the way.
– (taken from IIBA BABOK v3)

That is a lot of responsibility for a BA, right – RIGHT! BAs are not just for “gathering requirements” (which is a term we need to abolish, as if requirements were daisies out in the garden ready to pick…) . BAs are responsible for understanding the business domain, it’s stakeholders, their goals, and dissecting the true needs of the organization. BAs should be able to recommend, justify and drive forward meaningful changes based on Analytical Thinking and Troubleshooting, Communication and Interaction Skills, Knowledge of Tools and Technology and use of hundreds of Techniques that BAs use and become masters of throughout their career.

Now, let’s look at the Salesforce CTA role. According to the Trailhead website: “The Salesforce Technical Architect (CTA) credential is the pinnacle certification for those who demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and capabilities to design and build high-performance technical solutions on the Salesforce platform across all areas of domain expertise.”

According to descriptions of what a CTA does “Candidates must possess broad knowledge across multiple platforms in all domains. The CTA assesses customer requirements and architecture in order to design secure, high-performance technical solutions. Candidates must design a recommended architecture solution based on clients needs and must explain and justify why and how they will build the solution.”

I have bolded key words in the paragraph above that match up directly with those indicated in the job description of a Business Analyst doing Enterprise Strategic Analysis. THEY ARE THE SAME THING!! (ssshhhh, don’t let this secret out.)
When considering the description of a CTA above, who do you believe is the most critical person a CTA will try to team up with at a customer site? In my mind it is the resident Business Analyst. The CTA goal is to take the customer needs and turn those into a recommended architectural solution.

A good CTA should be able to handle the technical side of the equation, but who is going to be their partner on who really owns the business domain? As we discussed above, it is the Business Analyst that owns this realm.

Let me propose a solution of the list of questions and assets that will help the BA be prepared to meet with and collaborate with the CTA as the Salesforce project begin. When I look at CTA Practice Scenarios, it appears to me to be what I would want to see at a new customer engagement. In my perfect world, a good engagement would include a Business Analyst and a Salesforce Architect working together. The BA would build the following for the Architect, and the Architect would return with Architectural designs, diagrams, and suggested solutions.

Project Discovery Doc – Draft v1

Company Overview:
• A high level Business Vision/Mission Statement,
• Describe what the business does. Define the Business Goal(s).
• Description of Internal Employees and External Employees, and their functional groups. (define their business capabilities)
• Descriptions of External Clients (customers) in functional groups if applicable (define their business capabilities)
• Descriptions of External Partners, if applicable (define their business capabilities)
(Specific numbers for the questions above are important)

Current State:
• What systems are used today
• Explain back end processes used today (long explanations are better)
• What external integrations are used today
• How do end customers interact with organizations systems/business processes today
• How are new customers acquired? (what channels? what methods?)
• How many new customers are acquired in a month?
• Walk through the customer qualification process.
• What is the customer retention process
• What is customer service process like? (Who services your products/customers?) explain process in detail.
• How/when do you get paid?
• When does finance/accounting get involved?
• When does the CEO/CIO/COO/CMO/CFO get involved in your processes?
• Complicated logistics processes are described step by step (a, b, c, d)
• Legacy systems that need to be replaced are indicated
• Legacy systems that cannot be moved (for legal, regulatory, logistics reasons)
• APIs used are noted, along with numbers of usage daily/weekly/monthly
• How employees login to the network or authenticate to work

Future State:
It is important to have a Business understanding of a Future Goal. This is NOT the same as a Solution. Architectural Solutions will be defined later, based on the Needs and the Vision of the Business Stakeholders. Defining the Future State is answering the business objectives that this solution will achieve.
The Future State will answer questions like “Why are we doing this?” and “What will this change?”, NOT “How we will change it.”
The Future State should ensure that you are asking for a solution that solves the right problem. The Future State also explains the boundaries of the proposed changes, as well as the potential value expected.
BAs use the following Techniques to build out this Future State area of the document, with the assistance of Key Stakeholders:
• Brainstorming
• Competitive Analysis
• Interviews
• Observation
• Process Analysis
• Risk Analysis
• Root Cause Analysis
• Survey or Questionnaire
• SWOT Analysis
• Workshops

• How much data do you use today?
• Where is the data located today
• How long do you retain your data before archiving or purging it?
• Is your data subject to legally defined personal data (PII) laws, (such as GDPR, CALOPPA, CCPA, PIPEDA, Australia Privacy Act, etc)?
• Do you store Credit Cards/financial tracking data? Explain your privacy policies around security on these pieces of data.
• Do you store electronic files (PDF, etc)? What are the sizes and counts and how do you use them?

• Document all security rules (Who can see what/Who can do what) for both Internal Stakeholders and External Consumers of Data/Systems.
• Business Department makeup: Regional ownership? / Role based hierarchy?
• Do you have Account-based Hierarchy? (Acme Widgets owned by Acme Worldwide, etc)

Reporting/Tracking Needs:
• Describe existing reports (show examples) of what users/managers/execs currently use.
• What are the main business KPIs, metrics you wish to track? What does these KPIs mean to your business leaders?
• Do you have any external-facing reports for partners or customers? How do you deliver them?

• Languages used in the organization.
• Regional/global deployment areas? How do you ship your products and updates to products?
• Technical/development standards at organization (development lifecycle, standardized tools, deployment plans, deployment methodology prefs)
• Training methods at organization
• Testing methods at organization
• Regulatory/compliance requirements at organization
• Internal Governance systems: CoE, PMO, Steering Committee, Product Owners
• External Governance & Compliance Systems: This can be a HUGE area for both Business Analysts and Salesforce Architects. These can be industry/vertical specific, but can have an impact on your solution design and how you communicate and store information about your customers, These are areas such as, but not limited to:
FINRA and Sarbanes Oxley (SOX) – protection from accounting errors and fraudulent practices in enterprises, and to improve the accuracy of corporate disclosures.
HIPAA – protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient’s consent or knowledge.
GLBA – requires financial institutions to explain how they share and protect their customers’ private information.
TOGAF– provides an approach for designing, planning, implementing, and governing an enterprise information technology architecture. Many organizations require compliance with TOGAF when building architectural designs.
DODD-FRANK – strict regulations on lenders and banks in an effort to protect consumers.

to be continued….
Stuart Edeal


Would you help Tech Students during this pandemic?

Would you help Tech Students during this pandemic?

Calling all Technology Enthusiasts, Workers, and Trailblazers….


Due to the COVID health pandemic, Minnesota is at a Stay at Home order and our school kids are learning from home.

Here is the struggle that the teachers are having.  This time of year, students were planning on field trips to area businesses to learn about the future technology careers available to them.   This is a highlight for the young students, and encourages them to continue their learning and growing.

Since they cannot go out, I am asking for you to help come to them!  Would you consider creating a 20-30 minute video for the Humboldt High School class, explaining who you are, what you do, and why you chose the occupation you are in.

They are currently studying the following areas and are looking for folks who work in these fields:

  • Architecture
  • Engineering
  • Webpage development (HTML, CSS,  Python, Javascript)
  • 2D and 3D Graphic Design & Animation
  • Tech Audio & Video Production
  • News Story Production
  • Computer App Development
  • Computer Maintenance and Repair

These students want to know what you do, how you do it (what technologies you use), what is cool about what your job, why do you love it, and what makes it exciting? Would you be willing to talk about your “day in the life” scenarios and how you use technology tools in your processes?

Details of the Request

We would like to do have a video from you (you can record it, or we can record it together online (Google Meetup or Zoom) and go through questions below. 

We are not looking for perfection, just trying to get students excited about careers! Don’t worry if this isn’t polished and Hollywood-quality professional video.

The students would like to know things like:

What Your Work is Like:
1. Can you briefly explain your field of work? (example, “Architecture”)
2. Could you describe one of your typical workdays?
3. What skills are required in your position on a day-to-day basis?
4. What tools and technology do you use to do your job?
4a.  Can you provide a “show-and-tell” example of your work to demonstrate to the students what sort of outputs you deliver and how you create them?
5. Do you have to depend on others in order to accomplish your job? If so, explain how?
6. Has technology changed your job? What changes do you see in the future?
Your Journey to the Career:
7. What led you to choose this career?
8. What parts of your job do you find most challenging?
9. What do find most enjoyable?

10. How do you use math, reading, writing, business, technology, science, and language skills in your daily work?
11. What type of interests, abilities, and skills would help a person to be successful in your occupation?

12. What type of education/training, technical knowledge, or experience is necessary for this kind of work?
13. What advice would you give a student interest in this career?

More about the Humboldt Academy of IT:

– Humboldt Academy of IT:
– Normal “Career Visits” from AOIT



These students all have iPads, but they need ways to develop and host their web code.
If you know of or work at a Web Server Hosting organization willing to donate space for 30 students to upload and share their webpage development, please let me know.


If you have online learning platforms where students can learn more about the topics above, would you consider offering our students passes to your content while they are now doing distance learning?

Please feel free to leave a message below if you have questions or wish to reach out..

Thank you!

Stuart Edeal

People Matter…

People Matter…

In the world of the Business Analyst, we talk about Process, People, Technology and Policy a lot. We like to map out things, from process maps, data maps, impact maps, to example maps, we have diagrams and charts for everything. We love our tools and techniques. It’s true, it’s very true.

Fortunately I had a chance to step away from writing stories and mapping “everything” into its different buckets and I had time to reconnect with people at Midwest Dreamin in Chicago.

It reminded me that a good Business Analyst is technically skilled and always learning about the technology at use, and is also constantly understanding the domain in which they work (finance, retail, nonprofit, manufacturing, sales, service) but most importantly a good Business Analyst connects and relates to people, listens to people, tries to empathize with people and holds people as the most important part of their business.

I had a chance to listen, relate to and understand some of the important people in my Salesforce neighborhood. These are the people who have taught me, inspired me, mentored me, been a shoulder to lean on and at times have been a critical voice when I need correction.

The cool thing about this group of peers is that they come from different places and backgrounds and many are actually competitors in the same business verticals as me, yet we share our tips, tricks and knowledge with each other. We are better together in cooperation with each other, learning from our mistakes and gaining from our successes. The technology changes all the time, and process seems to be constantly at change.

The people who you meet, help and learn with are the most important. This post is all about the People.







What can a Salesforce Community Do?

What can a Salesforce Community Do?

As a Salesforce Community Leader, I am asked to help in a variety of ways beyond just facilitate meetings.

    To help make connections between job seekers and employers
    To help find panelists for upcoming discussions on technology topics
    To help schools find resources for upcoming trade shows or career days
    To mentor other community members through a tough question (technical or not) they may have and need a sounding board.

This last summer, I received an inquiry to help that was a bit different than others. A local nonprofit leader approached me at the end of our community meeting and said:

I run a small local nonprofit and we just received our 10 donated licenses of Salesforce NPSP which we are grateful beyond belief.  We have a small staff of a few people and we need help getting started with Salesforce.  Do you think your community can help?

He gave me his card and agreed I would think about it. Later that night I was reading the Trailblazer community chatter messages and saw many community members around the world stating “I am a newly certified admin, but I need experience!” Or “I am working on badges to become a ranger but where can I go to use my new skills?”

It struck me that these requests need to be put together and the community can help to do this.  I put out a question on the Twin Cities Trailblazer Community page to ask if anyone would be interested in volunteering to help a nonprofit build their Salesforce instance.

I got an immediate amazing response. Yes, people were willing to help and more people would help than I could fit in a room. It was an overwhelming response, so I knew that the hunger to help and learn more was out there.

I ended up with a group of 6 outstanding Salesforce community members who agreed to meet with me at the nonprofit, get to know the organization and see how we can help them be successful.

We met on Monday nights for about 12 weeks and helped the organization with onboarding steps with Salesforce and making decisions around how to build out their Salesforce org, including accounts, contacts and giving opportunities. We analyzed and consulted on connections with Mailchimp, Classy, Eventbrite, and Google Mail.  Overall we had great success for this organization and made great strides in helping them on their way to a positive use of Salesforce.

More that those accomplishments above, I am most proud of how we worked as a group and how we interacted with our nonprofit organization:

  1. Group dynamics: We learned how to do things as a team of Admins and were able to bounce “what if” scenarios off each other and share how we do different scenarios at other organizations we have had experience with or things we have learned on Trailhead or through Certifications.
  2. Networking: We learned more about the other volunteers and got a deeper understanding about why they volunteered.  This networking is so valuable and I consider this team to be an amazing group of admins.
  3. Empathy: Understanding more about the nonprofit and how what they do makes a difference for the lives of men and women in the community.
  4. Salesforce Skills:  We increased our understanding of Salesforce and gained an appreciation of how 10 free licenses of a cloud CRM software can impact a small nonprofit so much!

Was this a successful trial?  Yes, it was! Within only a few weeks, we were able to help the nonprofit to link donors and donations to Salesforce, and start to track their efforts through the year.

Dashboard Snapshot
All charts show improvement in Donors and Leads!


Since we started this little community volunteer group, I have had 3 more nonprofit organizations reach out to me and ask “How can your community help us to kick-start our Salesforce instance?” I am pumped to imagine a win-win scenario where community members who need opportunity and experience will match up with those orgs who need people to help volunteer.

What can a Community Group do?  Based on our experiment, the Sky is the Limit!

2018 Recap – 2019 Reset

2018 Recap – 2019 Reset

I am not big into “resolutions” although I do believe the beginning of the year is a good time for reflection on last year and an inventory on where I am and where I am going. I do set some strategy for what I want to be doing in the next 12 months and think about those things. I don’t like to call them “goals” as that becomes a checklist of measurement that is not what I am trying to do. These are really “wouldn’t it be cool ifs”. With that preamble, here is my 2018 recap:

Cool stuff that happened in 2018

This is in no particular order, but this is cool stuff I got to do and build in 2018:

  • Designed and built a set of APEX classes that selected yesterday’s “sales items” and sent them to the fulfillment vendor’s API for shipment.  Then next day, another set of APEX classes would get a file from an Amazon S3 bucket that would show the status of those items (shipped, back-ordered, cancelled, etc) and bring back to Salesforce for customer service review.
  • Migrated my employer’s Salesforce org to Lightning Experience and was selected as a Lightning Champion from Salesforce
  • Became a Co-Leader of the Twin Cities Salesforce User Community
  • My employer created a “member portal” on it’s website and I designed a way for the data in the member portal to match up with the Salesforce contact data in an automated way, using custom formula fields and process builder.
  • Started a “CRM Governance Team” at employer to start handling strategic long-term issues around value and future use of CRM products, processes, and policies.
  • Implemented new Telemarketing System (new integrations with CRM Systems)
  • Migrated Attachments to Files
  • Migrated Notes to Enhanced Notes
  • Used new integration tools like Zapier to bring in new data to the CRM system.
  • Got 3 Certifications, including:
    • Salesforce Certified Community Cloud Consultant
    • Salesforce Accredited Sales Professional
    • Salesforce Certified Nonprofit Cloud Consultant
  • Books – I didn’t do as much reading as I wanted, but I did finish:
    • Joseph Topinka:  Business Partnerships: A Field Guide, Paving the Way for Business & Technology Convergence
  • Volunteer Work / School:
    • In my 2nd year of a Mentor at my Adopted High School, I was elected as Chair for the St Paul School District’s “Technical and Continuing Education” Advisory Board.  I hosted the high school students to my place of employment for a tour and visit to learn about public media and broadcasting.  It was great.
    • Also, started a group of volunteers to help a local nonprofit to build out their Salesforce NPSP org.  We meet on Monday nights to collaborate with this nonprofit and team up together to do amazing things in the Salesforce platform.
  • Trips: I was able to speak at Tahoe Dreamin, and at Dreamforce this year.
  • Baseball: I demoted myself to “Assistant Coach” this year and am so happy I did this.  I enjoy coaching baseball, but I don’t really get a high on being head coach.  I want to continue this next year.
  • Health:  I have been working with professionals to work on health related concerns and this has been a real journey, but has seen some positive results.


Cool stuff to do in 2019:

  • work with internal Governance Team to build better internal processes and policies about CRM usage. Discuss leadership, strategy and innovation internally to build the value of the CRM.
  • Expand the Governance team to include Superusers in departments to build leadership in the internal User community.
  • Learn Apsona (selections, mail merge, multi-step reporting, and Dedupe tools)
  • Build Bots and SMS Text project
  • Learn about Amazon Connect system (integrations to CRM)
  • Learn Einstein Discovery
  • Learn Einstein Analytics
  • Learn Flow/Process Builder/APEX Triggers to create future renewal/add gifts
  • “Do cool and amazing stuff in the Salesforce User Community”
  • Learn Modern JavaScript (classes/books/online/hands-on)
  • Learn APEX better/more (classes/books/online/hands-on)
  • Get 3 Certifications, including:
    • Salesforce Certified Sharing and Visibility Designer
    • Salesforce Certified Data Architecture and Management Designer
    • Salesforce Certified Platform Developer I
  • Books: I will be reading more in 2019, specifically I am looking at books on Leadership, Innovation, and Strategy that look interesting to me.  I am also seeing that great leaders do one thing in common, which is read daily:
  • Collaborate with Probono program in a Design/Strategy session.
  • Learn more about NPSP
  • Build projects using the Raspberry Pi
  • Rock Tumbling, Quartz and Geode Polishing
  • Go on Fossil and Rock hunting, camping, hiking and swimming.
  • Volunteer Work / School: Will continue to work with my adopted high school and may be also helping out an elementary school in the coming year.  Will plan on finishing our Monday night volunteer project and perhaps look for a new non-profit to help as the year moves on.
  • Trips:  Not sure if we will be traveling much this year, but we are planning to host some international guests this summer.
  • Baseball: I am planning on signing up for baseball coaching again this summer.
  • Health: Will continue to work on my health in 2019 and have some goals for this item as well.


How Target Missed the Mark on Black Friday

This year wasn’t going to be about shopping and crazy lines for me and my family.  We spent our week preparing for family gatherings and getting the supplies ready to do a large smoked turkey to bring to my mother-in-laws.  It was full of laughter and celebrations.

However on Friday, we needed to get some supplies and we ventured out for both groceries and some last-minute birthday gifts at our local Target store.  It was busy in the store, but to be honest, most of the chaos was from the Target employees themselves, moving carts around, checking supplies, having chats on walkie-talkies between the front room and back room, and what seems like a lot of “standing around”

There are two things on my families gift list that is in the electronics section, so I went to looking for it.  Low and behold, it was more difficult to find them in this remodel.  Maybe that makes me look at more stuff?  or just get more irritated by the shopping process?

When I finally did find the item (a new camera), we realized we would need to find someone at Target who can help us get the camera behind a locked case.  Ok, I thought, there are lots of employees standing around, so I went to speak with one.   He said “No, I cannot help you, I don’t work in that department”  (but… you are standing right here??)   I went to speak with a person behind the electronics counter and there are already some folks in line.  Someone asks me if I need help and I say I would like to buy a certain camera.  He dispatches another person who walks with me back to the camera isle.

Here is where Target missed the mark on Black Friday.  (several years ago, Best Buy did the exact same thing to me, and I have no stepped foot in a Best Buy store since.)  at this moment is where a good brand loses a customer for life.  Target take note. Best Buy take note.   FYI, this is several hundreds of dollars I am about to spend in your store for a nice camera.  ok, here goes:

The employee begins to rattle off every piece of information he knows about this camera without first asking me a question.  He goes on and on and on, holding the camera and touching each button and telling each feature and why to buy it.  (Is he trying to impress me with his knowledge?)

Finally he is done talking and asks “what do you wanna know about this camera?”  My response is clear: “Do you have it in stock?” and “What can you get me to go with it?”

He stares at me for a second, as if not understanding the question.   My wife leans over to me because she has a mobile phone and has already figured out that they have none in stock but a couple other stores in town do.

The employee looks in the glass case and says “Nope, we don’t have any…. and I am sure it would come with a charger.”   then he said the one thing that will ensure I don’t purchase electronics ever from Target ever again.  “You could order it online and have it shipped to your home!”

You and that guy who told me the exact same thing at Best Buy 8 years ago!

Guess what – telling me I can go online to buy this camera will ENSURE that I will find a better price, a better deal, and a better package than what you can offer me.  You just took $800 out of your employers till and sent it to some other company out of town.

What I expect from Retailers like Target and Best Buy

In order to compete with Amazon, New Egg, B&H, and other online retailers, you need to step up your game.  Sorry that it comes to this, but if your employees are being trained to tell customers to shop online to find your products, that is a very risky thing to tell customers and you better be ready to lose that game, UNLESS:

  • Match online prices for your products.  As soon as you tell me i can go online to order, I am going to search for the best price, its just what I am programmed to do.  If you match that price, I will stick with you.
  • Have inventory on-hand.  Whats better than walking out of the store with the cool thing you have been wanting to buy for your wife for many months at the price you wanted to pay.  When you say “It is across town at another store”, how does that help me, your customer?  Why can’t you say “I see it is at another store.  Let me dispatch that for you and it will be sent directly to your home.  You will have it by the end of the day! ”  (Your competition is doing that – with Prime Now.)
  • Offer packages.  If I buy that camera at my local boutique camera store or even on Amazon, they will offer me sweet deals on kits that go with it (nice case, memory cards, tripod, extra charger, etc).  So when I say “What can I get with this?” some stores have said, “You are spending $800 today, we will throw in this nice camera kit that you will enjoy using.”   It gives me the customer a little feeling of love.
  • Make your store easy to shop at.   Your recent remodel made the aisles tighter, so now two people cannot move a cart through at one time, and finding products is a maze.  Whereas, finding a product on Amazon is getting easier and easier.  Amazon is becoming the hottest search engine where people go to find out information about things to buy.  Which brings me to my final point.
  • We are an educated consumer society.  I have so many places to find information about products:  my friends, coworkers, family, people I meet who use products, Amazon reviews, google searches, YouTube videos, company FAQ sheets, etc.  By the time I walk into Target to look at the product hands-on, I have already done a ton of shopping on this product.  I don’t need your employee telling me a bunch of facts about it.  What I do need is him or her asking “How can I help you with this today?”, then doing everything they can to make a sale happen.

Honestly, stores, I want to shop local and I do shop local when I am able.   But if you don’t have the products, don’t have the service, and cannot offer to me the way to get the product, I am not sure how you are competing for me?

I’ve Been Published!

Just a note to say that my most recent blog post actually is at another site!  I was asked by my good friends at dazeworks if I would write some Salesforcey things with them and they accepted my first submission!

I wrote about my most recent work with Salesforce at my day job, and how we have been working hard to migrate our set of users to the Lightning Interface (LEX).  Today was a milestone, as I have 80% of my users in Lightning, and am working on the final 2 groups of users to be migrated before end of July!

Read more about my post here a the dazeworks site:


I get this question about once a month… now I am revealing my answer!

I get this question about once a month… now I am revealing my answer!

I get the following question about once a month – through social media, at events, or through referrals from other peers, colleagues and friends:

“My goal this year is to get Salesforce Admin Certified, but I am not sure the exact path to take.   Can you help guide me”

First, I would say – your path is going to be different than mine.  If I were to poll the recipients of the Salesforce Admin Certification, we would find that they have different paths and each one has value.  So I must say that my path won’t be your path.  That being said, there are some things that I feel would bring a solid base on your way to being certified.  Congratulations on taking the path and good luck on your journey!


1) Hands on work

If you are currently working as a Salesforce Admin that is great and will give you experience in Salesforce. I spent over 6 months administrating a Salesforce organization before studying for my Admin Cert, and I think that was valuable time spent. If you are not currently an admin it is OK, because we have Trailhead! With Trailhead, you can sign up for a developer Salesforce Account and use this as your hands-on playground to understand more about Salesforce and how Salesforce Works. Here is a Trailmix for Admins looking to get certified:

2) Study Groups

Through my local Salesforce user group, I found other people in the area who wanted to get certified and we started our own study group. We met weekly for 3 months and studied together, using the materials I will list below to work together on quizzing each other on topics and Salesforce functionality.

3) Certification Site and Exam Guide

Use the exam guide found on the certification page as a study template.  Make sure you know the information listed in the categories on this guide.

4) Blogs and Admin training sites

I reviewed these on the way to my certification:

5) Reach out and Connect with others

You already have done this if you reached out to me with your question, so you are already networking with others.  Keep doing that.  Meet others at local user groups, connect with other community members via Twitter or through the Trailblazer Community.  For example, there is a Certification Study Group but there are many other groups you can join and participate in.  Asking questions to others is a great way to start a conversation.

6) Set a Date for your Exam

I set a specific date for my Exams – try to be realistic, but set the date.  For my Admin Cert, I set a date 3 months out and then strive to hit that date.  Having the deadline put pressure on me to continue to study every day knowing that I had to be done.

Oh, and then make sure to celebrate for yourself when you are done.  It is nice to have the certification and then reward yourself on a job well done.


Trailhead Live Minneapolis, 2017

Trailhead Live Minneapolis, 2017

I attended the Trailhead Live event in Minneapolis on Dec 6, 2017.

I was not able to attend Dreamforce this year and I was so excited to have Dreamforce come to me via Trailhead Live!  So glad that they did, because it was fun, full of learning and I got to meet new people who I have been fans of from far away.


Colin Fleming wore a wonderful Astro sweater on a cold Minnesota day!

The Keynote was hosted by Colin Fleming (Salesforce Chief Creative Officer) and featured Alex MastroEric Stahl and Kris Lande.  These fine presenters showed how TMobile, Adidas, U.S. Bank, and 21st Century Fox are using Salesforce MyEinstien, MyLightning, and MyTrailhead to take their organizations to the next level of Customer Success.

During the Keynote, my friend Kris Salava was selected with the #AwesomeAdmin Award for the work that she has been doing in the Twin Cities in training others and helping her peers to get Salesforce Certifications.   She is so deserving, and I am so very proud of her work. (Kris, Shonnah, Aly and I all studied for the Admin Certification together, so I have seen her first-hand as an awesome resource for others.)


Justice, Ben and I discussing Community Cloud in between their sessions

There were so many sessions for learning at Trailhead Live, and I got to see presentations from the local Trailblazers like Leyna Hoffer, James Loghry, Ben Bolopue, Justice Sikakane, Shonnah Hughes, Carlos Villalpando, and others.

I attended a session on MyEinstein by Darvish Lee Shadravan, who gave me some concrete tips on how I can test Einstien through Trailhead.


I got to meet Kurt Smith (from Dreamforce Readiness videos!) and Kristen Pitukka

As always, Salesforce Events are a great way to network with others.  On this event, I spoke with Kurt SmithLeandro Perez and Derrick Strom from Salesforce.  I also had 4 of my own Salesforce users from TPT at this event, so we had a chance to discuss our own future with the platform, and considering how our roadmap aligns with Salesforce’s roadmap.

The WIT event afterwards was a blast as well.  The Minnesota Salesforce WIT group is always coming up with engaging, exciting, and relevant events for the community.  They deserve a round of applause for their work.

Food (Trailhead theme)

This is sort of a fun thing, but worth talking about.   The food that Salesforce served at the event was all “Trailhead” food.   For example:

  • Cranberry Salad in little mason jars
  • Baked Beans in little tin cans
  • little Trailmix bags
  • “Smores on a Stick” – which is perfect for Minnesota (home of everything on a stick)

It was just fun that they would show the Trailhead theme in all the decor, marketing and even in the food that they served.  Kudos Salesforce Events team!

What I took away

Aly, Kris and Shonnah from the Minnesota WIT User Group

I took many things, but the three that I will be working on moving forward include:

  • Communities (Community Cloud) – my organization will be coming back to Communities to enable it in our org.
  • Lightning – my organization will be moving to Lightning UI in 2018, and I hope to make this transition a good one for our users.
  • Einstein Prediction Builder – just because it looks so cool and I think I could wow my users by putting some data scenarios through Einstein, I am going to be diving into these and other Trailhead trailmixes.


Some of the fun pictures that I took are here on Flikr.  Enjoy:

Trailhead Live MN 2017

My WIT Diversity talk: White Male Ally

My WIT Diversity talk: White Male Ally


On July 7, 2017 I was invited to speak to the Salesforce Women in Tech (WIT) Diversity group about my role as an Ally.  It was the first Ally talk for the WIT Diversity group and I was nervous, but inspired to do the best to explain my story and how it is relevant for the WIT Diversity group.

This post is to recap my talk and be used as a asset to support other Equality Allies.

My Youth

In 1973 I was born to a small town Nebraska farm family, and due to a miracle (ask me about my birth story if you are interested) at 3 days old was sent to the University of Nebraska Medical Center in a dire emergency and was found to be born with a Genetic Metabolic Disorder called Galactosemia.

Galactosemia is a Genetic Metabolic Disorder in which the body can not break down galactose into glucose to be used in the body.   I have 2 gene mutations in my DNA ((Q188R and 1048-del-A) that results in my body retaining excess Galactose as I cannot process it. 


How did this affect me?  Well first off all – I cannot eat Milk or Whey (or any of the followings)  You would be surprised how many foods contain milk or whey.   I read food labels all the time to see if items have milk products or not.  Its a part of my life.

Other than not being able to enjoy Milk, Ice Cream, and other foods, there are other complications that occur with Galactosemia, including brain development issues, memory and speech issues, and cognitive skill development.  This is because if the body has an excess of galactose, it can damage the white matter around the brain.  (This all depends on when Galactosemia was detected – # of days after birth)


So as a child with a Genetic Metabolic Disorder, who couldn’t eat “normal food”, I had some unique experiences:

  1. I  always ate last – so that the host/server can bring you your “special” non-dairy meal once all the “normal” kids have eaten.
  2. I always finished lunch/dinner last – so while the other kids are playing I am last to play.
  3. (you get the idea – last last last last last)  Being last all the time is a target for bullies, and childish names.  You are reminded daily that you are “different”.
  4. I had adults telling me what I can and cannot eat – what I can and cannot do – where I can and cannot go.

As I look back on my childhood, I can say that having Galactosemia has given me empathy for those who are different, those that have been told what to do and what not to do.  I survived, and I know that the inconveniences were all in “my best interest”.

College Years

I was also privileged to go to a good college where I was given a chance to be a Junior Counselor for incoming Freshmen.   My assigned roommate was Bryan Bass, one of only 23 black men in a college of 3,100 students.  Our dorm room became a safe hub for minorities as other students would reach out to Bryan for advice and to lend an ear to their problems.   As Bryan’s roommate and partner, I was in a position to listen and empathize with those who felt they were “different”.   I could listen and try to put myself in their situation.

My senior year of college, I traveled abroad.  I studied in 4 different overseas schools (in Egypt, India, Hong Kong and Japan) and visited 12 different countries in the entire program.  It was an amazing experience where I learned about how others live and where people come from, but I also learned many stories about how my privilege as an American has affected the lives of others around the world.

WIT at Home

One of the best things I ever did was meet and get married to my wife Diane.  She is a Woman in Tech and is a trusted adviser to me on WIT-related things.  She is involved in Resource Groups at her work and when we go out with friends, it is usually with connections on those Resource Groups.  She has a diverse group of friends and colleagues.

We have similar morals in our work and how we treat others.  (We don’t need to step on someone else to get up in the world and we don’t need to push each other down to make ourselves feel better.)   In my working world, I have tried to work at places I am aligned with.

We also are trying to show those morals to our son and hope that his experiences in this world include valuing equality, inclusiveness and respect for all people.   

My Privilege

I think people get stuck on the term “Privilege” and I understand why.  Some feel that this is a defensive term to classify people and determine the “haves” and “have-nots”.   The more I learn about privilege, I realize that it can also be seen as blessings that you have been given, based on conditions that you have very little control over.

To better understand the value of Privileges, I recommend the following resources:

  1. TEDxEMU – Justin Ford – Pedagogy of Privilege
  2. Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack

The following explain the socio-economic groups that I fall into:

  • Born in the USA (Actually I am 14 generations removed from Stephen Hopkins, who was a signer of the Mayflower Compact – yes that MAYFLOWER in November 11, 1620).
  • White
  • Male
  • Married and have a child.
  • Economically Stable
  • Christian background
  • My parents are still alive and still married and are involved in their children’s/grandchildren’s lives.

These privileges matter because I am all of those things as who I am and the role that I play in the world.  It empowers me to serve others using the privilege that I have.

My Equity Role Models

One of the questions I was asked me in preparation of my Ally talk was “Who is your Equality Role Model.”  The names that popped into my head included my parents who have taught me to treat others with respect and to do the right thing.  My father still reminds me that “You know the right things to do. Do those things”

The second name that came to my mind was Mary Scotton.  I am always inspired and educated when Mary Scotton speaks about equality.   Her talk at TrailheadX 2016 included a slide of WDIMC (White Dudes in my Corner) featuring male allies to the WIT community.  I was delighted when my friend Zayne sent this picture to me.  I thought “Wow, Mary sees me as an Ally – that means something!”  WHITE MALE ALLY - STUART EDEAL (3)

You should read Mary’s blog  as it has great content and her presentations can be found here:

2015 – 2016

In July 2015, I met Shonnah Hughes and was introduced to the Salesforce #Ohana.  I attended the Salesforce Admin Study Group that Shonnah was leading and was welcomed to study with this group.   After the class was over, and we had all obtained our Admin Certifications – Shonnah let me know that she and Toya were starting a WIT Diversity group and was I interested in that topic.  I was very excited to hear of this and wanted to know more.  Shonnah and Toya invited me to join their group and I have been listening and learning about other’s stories.  It is marvelous!

Dreamforce 16

  • Got to meet the WIT members in person, those who I followed on the virtual WIT Diversity calls.
  • Networked with many other #Ohana allies.

At Dreamforce 2016, I was able to speak with Marc Benioff who issued me a challenge to reach out to my local schools.  I have taken this challenge on!

  • I have met the local school leaders.  (The local school I am working with is 93% minority and 94% economically disadvantage.)
  • I have been appointed to serve on the Career and Technical Education Advisory Board.
  • I have committed myself to adopt a local school program and help them with Funding, Volunteering, and Programming.
  • Expect to see more in upcoming posts on this challenge and my response as time goes on.

Advice for other White Male Allies

1. Don’t give into FEAR.

It took me some time to realize that being afraid of others is only holding me back.  (Who holds the privilege? – “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh)

2. Listen and Learn.

  • Join a Resource Group / Affinity Group at your work.

  • Say YES when asked to volunteer (Junior Achievement, Girl Develop It, Pride Parade Volunteer)
  • Attend local WIT Events that are open to Allies (ask first)
  • Go to the WIT Event the day before Dreamforce (please tell me they are doing this again!)

3. Make it personal.   

  • “Make a Friend and Be a Friend”
  • Be Brave – Find a cause that you really believe in and make it your goal to support it.

4. It’s not all about you.

  • It’s hard to fathom, but sometimes your Privilege can get in the way. (WHERE I STUMBLE)
  • It’s good to KNOCK before opening a door.  I knew Shonnah and Toya were starting the WIT Diversity, but did not assume I was invited.  I asked Shonnah first.  

Overall, My journey has only begun.  My journey will continue through networking with other colleagues, diversifying my feed on social media and news sources, deepening my relationships with others around the world and working with the students who I will be working with over the coming years….

thanks to Toya, Shonnah and Jen for asking me to speak at the WIT event, and thank you all for supporting my journey.