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 Salesforce.org Probono program in a Design/Strategy session.
  • Learn more about Salesforce.org 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.

 

Advertisements

Rejection Sucks

The Dreamforce 17 speaker sessions have been selected and those lucky speakers have been notified.   Things are in motion for an awesome event in November.

What if you submitted a session and were not selected?  On the Admin side, chances are your session was not chosen as there were over 700 Admin submissions but only 70 were chosen (that’s a 90% chance that your session was rejected).

That sucks.  I said it.   It does suck – you worked hard and had a great idea and you got a message from the Dreamforce Team stating Thank you, but your submission(s) were not accepted as part of the Admin/Dev Track

2016

I got rejected last year – big time rejection.  I submitted talks for Dreamforce 16 and they were not accepted.  I felt hurt.  It wasn’t fun.  My rejection came right before Midwest Dreamin 16 and I felt some humiliation knowing that I would be seeing my Salesforce peers knowing that they were selected but I was not.

rejectionletter

It really hit me while driving home from Midwest Dreamin 16 (Chicago to Minneapolis), when I listened to the Salesforce Admins podcast and I heard my friend Ben speak about his Dreamforce submission.  While listening to him speak I realized why I didn’t get selected.  He eloquently spoke about how he put together his submission and the pitch that he gave.

Just listening to him speak, I realized the time and pride he took into preparing his abstract and I had to pull over to the side of the road to wipe the tears of both joy and sorrow.  I turned my sadness into humor and created this analogy of Ben’s Dreamforce Abstract vs Mine.

Image-1
If I were on the submission selection team, I would have chosen Ben’s session over mine in a heartbeat.  Dreamforce got the best of the best in that choice.

There is an art and a science to the Dreamforce session submission.  I was able to attend Dreamforce last year and saw many of these AWESOME presentations.  I was mesmerized by the talent in the the Admin and Developer community and was proud of the selections that were chosen to present.  Kudos to the Salesforce Admin and Developer Evangelism teams!

2015

Fortunately/Unfortunately, I have experience in being Rejected.  In July 2015, I was laid off of a good full time job.  The organization I had been employed at for 5 years decided to let 20% of it’s staff go and my role was on that list.

That sucked.  It was one of the biggest Rejections I had received.  My boss told me it was also hard for him, because I was a good employee and had done great work.  This was not a performance-based decision, but based purely on financial numbers.

Not only was it confusing for me, but my team was also dismayed by the decision.  There were projects in motion that were left on the table with no one to finish them.  There were plans and dreams about innovations that were killed.  There was no closure to relationships with coworkers and associates.  Everything just ended one day.

My reaction was not of anger.  I was upset, and fearful at first, but I had some really good friends who helped me through this rejection.   First was my wife, who surrounded me with support and encouragement.  Second was my men’s group – a group of guys who I have coffee with on a weekly basis to just talk.   They asked me to close my eyes and imagine:

“Where do you see yourself in the next 3 – 6 – 9 months?”
“What do you hope to do with your life that will be better after this experience?”

The experts in loss and grieving will tell you that you should remember the following during a period of Rejection:

  1. It’s Allright to Cry – Acknowledge your feelings
  2. Don’t beat yourself up – Treat yourself with care
  3. Refuse to let Rejection define you – You are not your job – You are not your Dreamforce Submission.
  4. Learn from Rejection – How are you going to use this Rejection to be your future self? (I am reminded of the scene from Star Trek V where Kirk explains why our past makes us who we are today.)

So what was my reaction to the Rejection of being laid off from a good job?  I decided I would use this “opportunity” to ensure I would be better off from this painful experience:

  1. I committed to getting my Salesforce Admin certification
    • I attended a local Certification User Group  (where I met Shonnah, Kris, Aly Megan, and others)
    • I got my Admin Certification, and proceeded to get 4 more certs quickly thereafter.
  2. I changed my twitter handle to @SalesforceStu as a marker of my intention to get my certification and learn more about the Salesforce Platform.
  3. I connected with other Community Members – I met with and spoke to local Salesforce MVPs to learn about what they do and how they got there.
  4. I signed up for community events (Tahoe Dreamin and Midwest Dreamin) and volunteered at the local Twin Cities User Group
  5. I spent time with my family and took a road trip with my son.
  6. I worked on a “portfolio of work” that features some of my best work over the last 10 years.   That project was fun for me to do and I got kudos from recruiters and employers about how powerful this is to show off my skills.

Overall I decided not to let Rejection decide who I would be and how I would live my life.

2017

Now 2 years later, and I recently met with a former coworker.  He asked me how things were going since my layoff.  I rattled off a bunch of things that I have accomplished in the last year and indicated that I am continuing to learn and grow.

His response was of “awe” in how much I have done.  He commented that I had done something amazing with the struggle and loss that I went through.  That felt good.  It doesn’t wipe away the pain but it does justify my belief that even through Rejection, you can use the pain to make yourself even better.

Whats next?

So here is my challenge for you.   You have been Rejected.  I empathize with you and agree that it sucks.  In a while, please let me know how you will use your Rejection to make your life better.   Close your eyes and imagine:

“Where do you see yourself in the next 3 – 6 – 9 months?”
“What do you hope to do with your life that will be better after this experience?”

Next, find a community of friends who you can lean on and talk about this experience.  I count on my Salesforce #ohana community to be there when I need to air grievances, and I also get to support others who may be going through similar situations.

Want some more ideas:  Read some more from the Salesforce Developer Relations Team  (Thanks Zayne).

 

Admin to Analyst: Where does a Salesforce BA go for help?

Thanks to everyone who joined us for the  “Admin To Analyst: Salesforce Business Analysts Talk Transitioning Roles” at Dreamforce 2016.  I am still thrilled that I was asked to be included with these other AWESOME presenters.

If you have a question that wasn’t answered in the session, please let us know.

A couple interactions recently caused me to write down my “go to” list of learning and knowledge about Salesforce.

  • @NickersUniverse  asked me (on the Power of Us Hub) “where do you go for Salesforce resources? “
  • One of the power-users at my org indicated that  she would not be able to go to DreamForce this year, due to timing and cost.  She indicated there must be other places for her to learn about Salesforce and connect with other users..

YES there is!  My answer was a list of all sorts of stuff:

 Out of all of the resources The best resource I have for help is the amazing Salesforce Community.  When I am asked if it’s more important “What” you know or “Who” you know, my answer is that all the best things I have learned I get from the smart people I interact with in the community.
“We are the music makers,
and we are the dreamers of dreams.”
– Willie Wonka
5SecondsApp.gif
Do you have other resources that you use to learn about Salesforce and connect with resources?   Add them to the comments or send me a message!
Thanks

Admin to Analyst: Who makes a good Salesforce BA?

This is the 6th post regarding the upcoming “Admin To Analyst: Salesforce Business Analysts Talk Transitioning Roles” at Dreamforce 2016.  I am excited to be included with these other AWESOME presenters.

I encourage you to bookmark this session and come join us – it will be a fun discussion!

Would you be a great Salesforce BA?

For those of you who are reading this that are currently a Salesforce Admin (#AwesomeAdmin), well, first of all thanks for reading!  If you have reading this far, you may be wondering if you should be a Salesforce Business Analyst.

I am here to break the news to you that you might already be headed down the Salesforce BA road, as the activity of “Business Analysis” goes beyond the role or title.

In my own background, I have been in the technology field for most of my life, and have held the following Roles:

  • Pre-Sales Engineer, where I was responsible for providing technical support to Sales staff during a sales process, performing product demonstrations, understanding customer needs, responding to RFPs and RFIs, work with both sales and marketing colleagues to transition prospects and leads into customers.
  • Help Desk Customer Support, where my role was to ensure that end users can accomplish their tasks in our hardware and software. This including triage, prioritizing, documenting, and actively resolving help requests.  Problem resolution involved the use of tracking tools.  I learned how to ask good questions and listen to the answers. I learned how to explain complex technical issues to customers and train both internal and external users on difficult functional processes.
  • QA Manager, where I was responsible for overall test planning.  At a small software company, I built test environments and scripts.  I gained analytical and problem-solving skills to help understand the software goals, document the metrics to meet those goals, and validate the processes through testing.   Over time, I also built strong bonds with internal developers, architects and management.
  • Technical Writer, where I authored, organized, and managed information in support of business units across the enterprise. (Information includes written documentation, visual models, and digital media.)  This included accumulating, understanding, and leveraging industry-specific knowledge for the benefit of the organization, its clients, its employees, and its business partners.  I was responsible for generating original content and knowledge assets.  Critical analysis and customer service skills were essential for this role.
  • CRM Product Manager, where my role is to supervise and maintain the installation, configuration, and support of the organization’s CRM software through best practices.  I analyze and resolve program issues and hold responsibility for monitoring data quality.  I also use communication & problem-solving skills to guide and assist end users on issues related to the design, development, and deployment of CRM software critical to business operations.

While these roles haven’t been titled as “Business Analyst”, they still require an understanding of the organization’s needs intimately and have the skills to communicate those needs in a way that all stakeholders can understand.  Other skills these roles share:

  • Ability to quickly get up-to-speed on an issue and understand how that issue affects the enterprise 
  • Establish trust and credibility with your stakeholders
  • Tailor communications to different audiences
  • Problem solving
  • Strong analytical thinking
  • Attention to detail
  • Intimate knowledge of users, and their business processes
  • Documentation skills

Why should I be a BA?

Laura Brandenburg, (CBAP certified leader) wrote 42 Reasons To Start a Business Analyst Career, but my best reason for pursuing the BA career track is that the role of a Business Analyst is both interesting & challenging due to the variety of industries & business problem challenges that it covers.  Some professionals are always searching for their “next big thing” and Business Analysis offers a very unique role that allows people be as challenged as they dare to be.

Also, there are compensation reasons someone may want to be a BA.  The Salesforce Career page refers to average salary, however the 2017 Robert Half salary study shows a CRM Business Analyst as having a 3.9% increase in salary from last year

2016-09-22_14-55-22
Technology Salaries in the United States, 2016, 2017 with the % Change

One additional side-note about that salary study:  They asked CIO’s “In which one of the following areas would you say tech professionals could use improvement?” They saw gaps in the soft skills that would be part of regular Business Analysis core competencies:

2016-09-22_15-31-03.jpg

 

Who would make a great Salesforce BA?

Just for fun, I decided to come up with my list of fun people who would make great Salesforce BAs.  (click the links in the lists below for videos!)
Who would you add to this list?

Marge Gunderson (Fargo)

In the movie Fargo, Marge Gunderson is the chief of police in Brainerd, Minnesota.

marge.gif

Why she would make a great Salesforce BA:

 

Columbo

Columbo is a talkative homicide detective who is first seen as absentminded, however is intelligent and solves all of his mysteries, usually to his ability ton observe mistakes or flaws in the killer’s actions & motives. 

columbo

Why he would make a great Salesforce BA:

 

Captain Kirk

James Tiberius Kirk (fictional character) is the captain of the Enterprise in Star Trek shows and movies.

kirk.gif

Why he would make a great Salesforce BA:

 

Trailhead4All Students

Trailhead4All is a challenge within the Salesforce community to host at least one Trailhead event at a nonprofit, school, or any community gathering and spread the Salesforce knowledge before Dreamforce 2016.   Read more about the challenge at the annieforce blog

I had the honor of helping the Twin-Cities Tralhead4All event and it was a blast.  I would love to do this again.

trailhead4all_2.jpg

Why they are great Salesforce BAs:

  • Listening
  • Solutions Knowledge
  • Adaptability
  • Conceptual Thinking
  • Teamwork
  • Tools and Technology

 

I hope to see you all at Dreamforce!  Have ideas or questions for further deep-dives in the life of a Salesforce Business Analysis?  Let me know!

Stuart

 

Admin to Analyst: Process Modeling & Prototyping

This is the 5th post regarding the upcoming “Admin To Analyst: Salesforce Business Analysts Talk Transitioning Roles” at Dreamforce 2016.  I am excited to be included with these other AWESOME presenters.

I encourage you to bookmark this session and come join us – it will be a fun discussion!

Process! Solutions! Building!

If you are going to Dreamforce, you will notice quite a few sessions regarding how to Plan your solutions (you might hear some refer to it as “putting on a BA Hat”). If you are lucky enough to have a Salesforce BA (or to be a Salesforce BA) then you are already wearing that hat and Design, Process Modeling and Prototyping solutions.  If you are a Solo-Admin who also serves as the organizations Salesforce BA, then you are accustomed to thinking about these tasks as well.   I will point out some of the things you may want to bookmark for your Dreamforce Agenda:

 

A Builder uses a Blueprint

bobbuilder.gif

At my house, we are watching a LOT of Bob the Builder, and one of the things that hits home to me is that Bob never just instructs his equipment to start digging dirt and placing concrete without FIRST having a plan and a blueprint.  Without the right design on paper, the structure can crumble and fall.  The same exists for your software customization and configuration.

So what techniques do Salesforce Business Analysts use to build the Design to use when Building Solutions?

Process Modeling

doghouse

A business process model describes the sequential flow of work across defined tasks and activities through an enterprise.  A system process model defines the sequential flow of control among programs or units within a computer system.  A process flow shows the sequential execution of program statements within a software program. A process model can also be used in documenting operational procedures.
(Hopefully your current operational procedures are not like the following…) 
process map.gif

 

Process models generally include the following elements:

  • People – the participants in the process who either do the action or are affected by the action
  • Process – most processes can be broken down to their elements:  events that trigger the process, the steps or actions of the process (manual or automated),  the path that link these actions, and the ending results of the process
  • Places – where the action takes place, context of the action
  • Policy – the rules, limits, guidelines, or governance around the action being accomplished
  • Technology – the tools or systems used to complete the action.
  • Data – what are the inputs and outputs of the process.

Benefits of Process Modeling:

  • Provide a sequence of events or actions to your stakeholders
  • Provide a visual to accompany written documents
  • Shows events by people, rules, or passage of time
  • Define Current State (as-is) and Future State (to-be) processes
  • Effectively show how to handle large number of scenarios
  • Can be used for process analysis, verifying requirements, QA and training tasks

Process Modeling Best Practices:

  • Start Simple!  Models can get complex and hard to understand when contain too much activity
  • Use as Supplement to Documentation:  Problems that can happen in processes are not always identifiable by only looking at a model

Process Modeling Tools:

I have tried many different Business Process Modeling tools, and in my use, I have appreciated Microsoft Visio and Google Docs for the work that I do.  I am able to create all sorts of diagrams that help explain the Business and Process, including Org Charts, Swimlanes, Data Flow, Process Mapping, etc.

You don’t have to use Visio, here are a list of other tools that you may want to refer to.

 

Prototyping

img_1043

 

A good way of validating a requested solution may be to prototype the design in a very simple (crude) method.   Prototypes can be models or depictions of a proposed solution.  They can be used as a partially working construct of a product, or describe business processes through a series of diagrams.

Most prototypes fall into one of two categories:

  • Throw-away: prototypes created on cocktail napkins, paper and pencil or on whiteboard, does not become a workable product or deliverable once the final system or process is developed.  This method is helpful for identifying functionality or
    processes that are not easily to understand.  Where there is confusion or conflicting needs, it may be a good to use an inexpensive and malleable tool to confirm the accuracy of design.
  • Evolutionary or Functional: some prototypes are created as a possible working solution and may be used in the final solution.  Creating a “non-production” version of a technology that is well understood and has specific requirements  that can be demonstrated, tested and confirmed may be another way to design a prototype.

bananakeyboard.gif

 

Benefits of Prototyping: 

  • Provides a visual display of a solution concept
  • Identifies both missing or improperly specified requirements and assumptions
  • Should give stakeholders an idea of the functional scope, and allow for early feedback

Prototyping Best Practices:

  • Prototypes can start out as basic skeletons to represent actual solutions.
    • Start on paper
    • Move to digital diagrams
    • Evolve to mockups in software (such as Balsamiq or a Salesforce Sandbox)
  • Review periodically with stakeholders

Prototyping Tools:

I have to say that when I start a design, I LOVE using post it notes and whiteboards.  It allows for collaboration with others (there are virtual whiteboards for remote teams) and there is something magical about whiteboards and post it notes when starting to design a prototype.

Once you have a basic whiteboard picture, I really like Balsamiq for creating something that can look and feel like a product, without actually working.  This can be helpful to set expectations with users and executives.

salesforce_mockup_1.png

Once you have agreement on the design of your proposed solution, you may want to build a working prototype in your Salesforce Sandbox for a real-world scenario testing.

 

Validating Requirements

No matter what techniques you use, you should Validate the Requirements: ensures that a set of requirements or designs delivers business value and supports the organization’s goals and objectives.  Always ask yourself “Are the customer needs met?”  and “Will the solution do the right thing?”

5SecondsApp.gif

Got questions?   Want a deeper dive in any area?  Leave a comment and let me know!  Thanks for reading.  

Stuart Edeal  

Admin to Analyst: Training & Certification (If I Only Had A Brain?)

This is the 4th post regarding the upcoming “Admin To Analyst: Salesforce Business Analysts Talk Transitioning Roles” at Dreamforce 2016.  I am excited to be included with these other AWESOME presenters.

I encourage you to bookmark this session and come join us – it will be a fun discussion!

Toni Martin surprised me a bit the other day on a prep call for our panel discussion.  She indicated that (SAFE HARBOR) question #4 of our DF16 presentation slides is “What training exists or is required for Salesforce BAs?”   What advice do I have to offer on this subject…..

Required?

Where I am getting stuck is the word “Required”.   What is required I believe depends on the context of your situation.   So I won’t be able to say “You Must Do This!” however, I will try to explain that there are many paths you might take on the road to learning about being an #Awesome Salesforce Business Analysis

path direction.gif

If we think about a Business Analyst, this is a person who has both Soft Skills and Technical Chops.  This is a person who can dive into the weeds on a topic, but still see the forest for the trees.  This person serves as a “liaison” between the Technical world and the Business world.   So with that understanding, we should consider these core skill:

  • Communication – able to communicate with both the technical teams, but also the end users and the C-level executives about a project or issue.
  • Problem Solving – be able to understand “problems” and their context within the organization.  Be able to triage issues and manage incidents that turn into problems. (Traige, Incidents and Problem Management are a nod to ITIL, which is a different training altogether.)
  • Critical Thinking – asking questions, considering options outside the box.
  • Facilitation  leading others through a process to transfer knowledge, resolve conflict (remember me saying a BA is like a Hostage Negotiator..); handle ambiguity in the workplace (clear the fog of doubt).
  • Camp Counselor – very often the BA is the Relationship Builder.  As you build trust with your teams and users, some will seek your advice on other leadership questions.
  • Industry Expertise – the BA is looked upon for “How should we do that?” type questions.  It makes sense, as the BA has a lot of Proprietary Intelligence from discussions with internal stakeholders.  Having Industry Knowledge will make this question easier to answer.
  • Technical  Skills – if you are going to analyze a problem with software, it helps to know about how it works.  Does this mean you need to be a technical expert?  Well, the answer is that CONTEXT MATTERS!

Context

For example, are you a Solo-Admin + BA?  You may find that YOU are the technical expert and should be always growing your Technical Skills.   Are you part of a larger team that has Developers, Support Staff and other Business Analysts and Systems Analysts?  Then you may find that you don’t require to be the technical expert, however you should understand the details enough to be able to communicate, discuss, debate and rally support with your counterparts.

wizofoz1.gif

I am not a coder (yet) but I understand enough about how systems and integrations work to be able to map out a process for our technical guru’s or outside consultants to work with.

Training

Business Analyst Training

Technical Training

Don’t Forget Technical training as well.   Of course, there are lots of resources available for Salesforce Training.  I won’t mention them all, but I will give a shout-out to TRAILHEAD! Reach out to me if you want advice on How Trailhead helps the Salesforce BA, cause we could build a trail specifically around modules that do this.

5SecondsApp

Certifications

I am not going to tell you to get certified or not.  I can give an overview of what Certification means to me:

  • It demonstrates a professional level of capabilities on a subject
  • It provides recognition of competence by professional peers
  • It should increase confidence by employers during candidate search and hiring

Business Analyst Certification

There are several types of certifications available to Business Analysts: Industry credentials from IIBA®and PMI®, which are primarily knowledge-based, and Academic Certification, which is a blend of skills training and theory.

As of September 30, 2016 the IIBA has announced new levels of Certification:

ECBA™ (Entry Certificate in Business Analysis)
Awarded By International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA®)
Experience Needed A minimum of 21 hours of professional development training in the last four years is required.

For more details, visit the IIBA® Website.

Steps to Credential Application process and a 1.5-hour, 50-question multiple-choice exam
Best For Recognizes individuals entering the field of business analysis.
CCBA® (Certification of Capability in Business Analysis)
Awarded By International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA®)
Experience Needed 3,750 hours of BA experience + 21 hours of professional development training.

For more details, visit the IIBA® Website.

Steps to Credential Application process and a 3-hour, 130-question multiple-choice exam
Best For Recognizes BA professionals who have 2-3 years of experience.
CBAP®  (Certified Business Analysis Professional)
Awarded By International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA®)
Experience Needed 7,500 hours of BA experience + 35 hours of professional development training.

For more details, visit the IIBA® Website.

Steps to Credential Application process and a 3.5-hour, 120-question multiple-choice exam
Best For Recognizes BA professionals who lead and have over 5 years of BA experience.
CBATL™ (Certified Business Analysis Thought Leader)
Awarded By International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA®)
Experience Needed Require a minimum of 10 years’ experience and will be assessment based.

For more details, visit the IIBA® Website.

Steps to Credential TBD – assessment based application
Best For Recognizes BA professionals who advance the BA profession and have over 10 years of experience.
.

 

PMI-PBA®
Awarded By Project Management Institute (PMI®)
Experience Needed With a High School Diploma or Associate’s Degree: 7,500 hours of BA experience + 35 hours of professional development training.

With a Bachelor’s Degree: 4,500 hours of BA experience + 35 hours of professional development training.

For more details, visit the PMI® Website.

Steps to Credential Application process and a 200-question exam.
Best For Current CBAP or PMP, “hybrid” BA-PM.

Also, there are college degrees that are specific to BA fields, if that is a route you wish to take.

brain2.gif

Masters Certificate or Associate Certificate in Business Analysis
Awarded By Universities
Experience Needed No previous experience is required.
Steps to Credential The successful completion of required courses and may have an elective course depending on the program.
Best For Anyone, with any level of experience, interested in making business analysis their career or seeking to broaden their knowledge or experience in the discipline of business analysis.

 

Salesforce Certification

Why get Salesforce certification?  I found an article by Shell Black that can give you a more detailed reason around this:

“I think this is an extremely important factor in accessing a Salesforce administrator’s value to a company. If the administrator just a “doer” (and simply implementing the decisions of others), they have less value to an organization versus an administrator that is providing options and strategic direction on how to solve business problems with the Salesforce platform. An individual that is involved in the decision making process, or even better the strategic direction of a company, has inherently more value to an organization.”

 

superadmin.gif

Admin Track -> Administrator Certification, Advanced Admin Certification
Awarded By Salesforce
Experience Needed No prerequisites are required.
Steps to Credential Application process and a 60-question exam.
Best For Candidates should possess broad knowledge of Salesforce applications, regularly configure and manage Salesforce, and continuously look for ways their companies can get even more from additional features and capabilities.
Implementation Track “Consultant” Certifications -> Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Community Cloud, Marketing Cloud, (Pardot)
Awarded By Salesforce
Experience Needed Prerequisite: Current status as a Salesforce Certified Administrator
Steps to Credential The successful completion of required courses and may have an elective course depending on the program.
Best For Candidates should be able to successfully design and implement solutions that are maintainable and scale-able, and contribute to long-term customer success.

So, Is Certification Required?

I was recently asked “Did taking the Salesforce Admin Certification help you in understanding Salesforce?”  My answer is no and yes – here is why.  “Taking” and “Passing” the certification test didn’t make me smarter nor does it mean I am an expert in all things Salesforce (I mean, who really is an expert in ALL things Salesforce?)  What did help me was “Studying” and “Preparing” for the test.   This journey down the yellow brick road of knowledge was the thing that for me was the key.  Getting the diploma is nice, however it is only a milestone on the continuing journey.

Similar with BA Certification.   While it is on my roadmap, I have not yet taken the CBAP certification, however I have gone through 2 study groups specifically for certification.  I know that, like the Scarecrow in Wizard of Oz, getting the certification is only a blip on the journey.  Maintaining my knowledge, continuing to grow and networking with others is an ongoing process.

Having a Certification is one thing.   Using it is yet another.  I encourage you, if you do have a Certification, use it!  Train, Teach, Encourage Others.  Volunteer where help is needed in your local community.  Maintain your learning and don’t let it go stale.

brain.gif

 Got questions? Want a deeper dive in any area? Leave a comment and let me know! Thanks for reading.   

Stuart Edeal

Admin to Analyst: “I Would Do Anything, But I Won’t Do That” – Decision Making and Prioritization

This is the 3rd post regarding the upcoming “Admin To Analyst: Salesforce Business Analysts Talk Transitioning Roles” at Dreamforce 2016.  I am excited to be included with these other AWESOME presenters.

I encourage you to bookmark this session and come join us – it will be a fun discussion!

Just like Meat Loaf, there are things that a Salesforce BA (and Awesome Admin) should decide to do or not do based on Priority and Resources.  After review of the lyrics, The Salesforce BA can agree with Meat Loaf that we will “never lie to you and that’s a fact.”

Can We Start Building Now?

Ok, so let’s recap from last post -> Salesforce BAs know how about intelligent information collection methods.   So, once we know all of the pain points of our users and stakeholders, we are ready to start designing, building and solving problems, right!

Well, not quite yet – believe me we are so close – but we have to take a step back and think some more.

af55d64ca9bf988a2b1b68621ee3e9a4

(yes, I really like this little bear)

First things First

As a Salesforce Business Analyst, you met with the business and the techies and you have your list of the “Issues” that you know about.  It’s a big list.  It’s a really big list.  When I started at my current position, the list I had developed after the first round of discussions was over 21 pages of items that needed some help.  So what’s the problem with that?  Well, nothing, except – which ones do I do first?

I was recently was reminded by a photographer friend of mine that when taking a picture, you can focus on the background and the foreground will be blurry, or you can focus on the foreground, however the background will be blurry.   Its hard to get both to be clear.

5SecondsApp.gif

Same applies with Organizational Priorities.   Remember that as a Business Analyst, some of your responsibilities include:

  • Decision Making
  • Organization Knowledge

So at this time we need to make some decisions.  Why “we”?  Because the BA knows the most about the point of view of the main stakeholders in the organization.  The BA IS the link to understand both the Business Needs and the Technical Resources, and therefore needs to be involved in Priorities and Roadmap decisions.  Who else in the organization is prepared to ask these questions:

  • How much can we do?
  • What should we do?
  • Are these the “right” problems to solve?
  • Is it worth it?

On this topic, Let me introduce you to Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian Economist, born in France, who demonstrated that “roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes” This is know as the Pareto Principle.  This same principle has been observed in non-economic industries as well.

For example, Microsoft noted that by fixing the top 20% of the most-reported bugs, 80% of the related errors and crashes in a given system would be eliminated.[12]

What does the Pareto Principle mean to me?  I have found that by focusing on the “Critical Few” – those items that have the biggest value or impact on the organization RIGHT NOW – should produce the greatest of effects.

Techniques

So how do we decide what are those 20%?   Luckily, there techniques Business Analysts can use to help make these kinds of decisions .

Estimation

5SecondsApp1

Estimation is forecasting the cost, effort and benefits involved in pursuing a course of action.   For the most part, these are “rough numbers” only.  Some common estimation methods include (I have used the ones in bold and would be glad to walk anyone through these):

  • Bottom-up Estimation: using the lowest-level elements to examine the work and estimate the individual cost or effort, and then summing across all elements to provide an overall estimate.
  • Rolling Wave: repeated estimates throughout a project, providing estimates for near-term activities (such as an iteration of the work) and then extrapolated for the remainder of the project.
  • Three-point Estimation: each component of the estimate is given three values: (1) Optimistic value (best-case scenario), (2) Pessimistic value,
    (worst-case scenario), (3) Most Likely value. These estimations are calculated in a weighted average:  (Optimistic + Pessimistic + (4 x Most Likely))/6.
  • Delphi Estimation: uses a combination of expert judgment and history. There are several variations on this process, but they all include individual estimates, sharing the estimates with experts, and having several rounds of estimation until consensus is reached.
  • Analogous Estimation: using a similar project that is like the one being estimated
  • Historic Analysis: using previous examples of work from this organization.
  • Expert Judgment: leveraging the knowledge of your stakeholders and subject matter experts.

Benefits of Estimation:

  • Helps make better decisions based on improved understanding of likely outcomes from an initiative
  • May discover resources needs in order to complete a project

Estimation Best Practices:

  • Don’t treat estimates as commitments or expect the solution team to meet the
    estimated time and costs

 

Metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

5SecondsApp

Indicators that identify specific measurement for a goal, impact, or activity.  When describing KPIs, I like to use the term Critical Success Factor.  What is it that we will use to determine the ROI of this project.  What I have told my C-level Executives is “In 12 months, you are going to ask me if the Salesforce implementation has been successful!”  In order to answer that question in the future, I need to know What you want to measure to track what “success” looks like.

Good indicators are

  • Clear
  • Relevant
  • Quantifiable
  • Credible

(I do have a separate list of Salesforce KPIs that I can help you with, if you would like to look at these.)

Benefits of KPIs:

  • Allows stakeholders to understand how a solution meets it’s objective

KPI Best Practices:

  • Keep Metrics Simple.  Too many data points beyond what is needed can be expensive and distract the project.
  • Don’t use as a personal evaluation tool. Performance metrics for individuals may be a detriment to other activities since focus is on individual measures.

 

 

The Core Concept Model

The final help with Decision Making and Prioritization comes through the Business Analysis Core Concept Model™, which reminds us:

Business Analysis is the practice of enabling Change in an organizational Context by defining Needs and recommending Solutions that deliver Value to Stakeholders.”

BACCM.jpg

This BACCM™ diagram reminds me to stay focused on these key points when making decisions.   (This graphic reminds me a little of Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock but it does keep me in line with the fact that each decision affects another decision).

  • The Context determines the scope of Change and how Stakeholders deal with Change
  • Solutions that are being created should fit the Needs of the Stakeholders and ultimately provide Value

As I look at my list of “to dos”, I need to take the time to think about these pieces and how they fit together.   When prioritizing work, how are you affecting your Stakeholders, what Value is being offered, what Needs are being met, and what is the Context in which these Changes are going to live.

So hopefully these tools can help you put Focus on your work as we get closer to the actual step of Problem Solving!   (its coming soon..)

5SecondsApp.gif

Got questions? Want a deeper dive in any area? Leave a comment and let me know! Thanks for reading.   

Stuart Edeal