Administrators are no longer just front desk help or an assistant to the CEO of a company. They’re multitalented multitaskers who dip their toes into every corner of a business or company.
When it comes down to it, admins are problem-solvers. That’s why we like to call our Salesforce admins “adminitects.”
They work with big-picture thinkers to find solutions.
“The great thing about being an adminitect is that you don't have to write the code. You just need to know when it's necessary and what would make the most sense; can you do it in a declarative way?” says Melinda Smith an “accidental admin” turned consultant.
Melinda, the Delivery Team Manager for the Salesforce consulting company EightCloud, joins the premiere episode of Serious Insights for Admins.
Listen to this episode to learn:
- What it means to be a Salesforce admin
- The transition from admin to consultant
- Keeping up with Trailhead
Administrators are no longer just front desk help or an assistant to the CEO of a company. They’re multitalented multitaskers who often dip their toes into every corner of a business or company: development, business analysis, user creation, project management, and solution architecture.
When it comes down to it, admins are problem-solvers. They don’t have to have a specific expertise. But they do need to know how to ask the right questions and navigate their way toward the right answer.
That’s why we like to call our Salesforce admins “adminitects.”
“You could have an admin who is doing data entry, doing user creation — a ‘doer.’ [There’s] the thinker, imaginer, versus the ‘doer,’” says Host Kristi Campbell, Senior Salesforce Admin & Salesforce MVP.
On the premiere episode of Serious Insights for Admins, Kristi sits down with seasoned Salesforce Adminitect Melinda Smith of EightCloud, a Salesforce consulting company.
An “accidental admin” turned consultant, Melinda joins us to chat about everything from the early days of Trailhead to the challenges and joys of pivoting from admin to consultant.
The best part of the job, she says, is working with a hive mind of experts in different Salesforce areas and getting to work on new skills to bring in a variety of projects: “So that's fun because I get to touch and play with more things than I would if I was an admin.”
Admins do a lot more than just administrative work.
Although she’s now an admin superstar, Melinda is an “accidental admin.” She was working at a snack distribution company when her superiors asked if she wanted to administrate a then-new program called Salesforce. “I just kept learning out of a challenge,” she recalls.
Plenty of Salesforce admins today started out like Melinda because administrating a program like Salesforce goes far beyond typical admin work. It includes a number of jobs: you’re an occasional developer, project manager, even a business analyst. That’s why we like using the term “adminitect” — an administrative solutions architect for your company.
Adminitects are resourceful — but expertise isn’t required.
Salesforce has redefined what it means to be an administrator. It’s no longer just a support person at a large company — you might have a hand in many different areas of the business.
But that doesn’t mean you have to be an expert in every field either. Being an adminitect doesn’t necessitate knowing how to write code; all you have to know are the basics so that you can ask the right questions and problem-solve your way toward the appropriate solution.
The best part about consulting is having the freedom to explore.
Being a consultant gives you the ability to hone certain skills and become the experts in those skills for your team. “I have access to this Arkus hive brain with ridiculously brilliant people I work with,” Melinda says.
That also means you can always work on new skills you want to acquire and take on a wide variety of projects. Exploring new trails and playing around with your own skillset is the best part, Melinda says. “So [it’s] fun because I get to touch and play with more things than maybe I would if I was an admin.”
Featured Guest: Melinda Smith of EightCloud
🧠 Melinda’s big idea: “There's no real path. No one says, you should come in as an admin, you should come in as a BA. I feel fortunate that I was an admin first because I know what it's like to use [Salesforce]. I know what it's like to manage it, to be frustrated, to not have help. So I like that I have that path. I think it gives me a better view to be a better consultant. But that doesn't mean you can't be an awesome consultant and ask the right questions without knowing.”
Key excerpts from the episode transcript
💡 There is a path for becoming a Salesforce admin.
[05:45] “When Trailhead started, it had, what, two trails? There were like a lot less titles, if you will, [or] paths. And then people were like, wait, I like that. I'm going to intentionally do that. And the accidental admin, I think, is still a thing. But I think it's interesting how a lot more people seem to be [becoming] an ‘intentional admin.’”
💡 Salesforce admins are more than admins: they’re problem-solvers.
[11:13] “I feel like Salesforce has gotten to hijack and steal a bunch of titles, and then kind of rearrange it. Because if an admin or administrator back in the day was maybe a front desk person that supported the CEOs. And we reappropriated that. Like [the role of] business analyst [or] solution architect. I mean, the first time I had the solution architect title, I was overwhelmed, because I'm like, what am I going to architect? I mean, you do: it's using your brain to figure it out. And like you said, the great thing about being an admineloper, an adminitect, is that you don't have to write the code. You just need to know when it's necessary and what would make the most sense; can you do it in a declarative way?”
💡 Passing off an admin role is the hardest part of consulting.
[16:33] “The transition from an admin to a consultant is realizing it's not your instance, which is super hard. And that was harder in the beginning. Now I'm really grateful when there's a strong admin on the team. We do a lot of mid-market type nonprofits as well as for-profit, and a lot of them either don't have an admin, [have an] accidental admin, or aren’t strong, so you have to teach that. So handing off these things, [there’s] lots of documentation, lots of training as much as possible. You kind of hand off your baby in the hope that they take care of it. And when you get an error message two months later because I was the last person that touched that Flow there, I'm like, I should contact them. No, leave them alone. Definitely don't go and fix it.”
💡 Being a consultant means more exploration and variety.
[18:56] “I have access to this Arcus hive brain with ridiculously brilliant people I work with. So I think that having a niche is kind of nice because you're gonna get all kinds of projects. I'm always going to be working on NPSP, I'm always going to be doing some kind of automation, some kind of implementation and data loading. So that'll like never go away. But it's also nice to know if I've honed a little skill that maybe I get more of those [projects]. And if there's someone on my team that I know is really brilliant with Flow, I know who I can ask right away. Granted, we have a questions channel and things like that. But I would say that in my consulting world, our team is trying to hone a little skill so maybe they get more of those if you want to flip it up, and now I'm more marketing cloud, or now I'm more accounting subledger. Because there's so much and really, we get to play with a ton. So the more skills we have, the more different kinds of projects that we can bring in as well.”
💡 You don’t need to hone every Salesforce skill.
[21:49] “I am more of an on-demand Trailhead user. I go and learn the things I need to learn. There was a time that I would sit on a Friday night and do a couple of trails, especially when the badges were lower, and it did feel like you're kind of climbing up. I had, like 155. And 100 at one point in time, like two years ago, was more, right? So now that there's so much, for me, it definitely got to a point where it felt overwhelming, like I can't keep up. And that's an added stress, for what? Why would you do that? So I didn't continue that path. So now it's more on-demand. And I share with my clients…if they're really new, you want to give them the tools, again, to admin the system later. So I provide a lot, and then I'll use it on demand.”
[08:51] Melinda: “To any admin out there that … [doesn’t] consider yourself a project manager, I promise you are, 100 percent. Whatever you're doing, you're managing, even if it's like a handful of asks [from] the project management.”
[12:18] Melinda: “I think that there’s no real path. No one says you should come in as an admin, you should come in as a BA. I feel fortunate that I was an admin first because I know what it's like to use [Salesforce] … but that doesn't mean you can't be an awesome consultant and ask the right questions without knowing.”
[12:50] Kristi: “I think to me, there was/is the perception that admins grow to be developers … but for me the idea of solution-ing … that to me is the core of maybe more than an admin.”