There are many people who end up in a Salesforce Administrator role without realizing it – that’s where the title ‘Accidental Admin’ comes from! Maybe you’re the most tech savvy person at your organization, maybe you’ve been managing an existing database. People from all backgrounds end up as an Admin, not just traditional ‘IT’ types. And, if you’re actively wondering who the administrator at your organization is, there’s a good chance it’s you!
It’s pretty common for an organization to implement Salesforce without paying much thought to who will be fulfilling administrator responsibilities. In the beginning, it might not be that big of a deal – there aren’t too many records and maybe only a few staff are using it at first. But system management needs can expand very quickly and, if there isn’t a dedicated administrator, those needs can end up neglected.
So, here you are, holding the keys to your organization’s Salesforce instance. And, as mentioned in the previous article of this series, Salesforce is a big, complicated tech BEAST! What now? Whether you’re a seasoned administrator or a brand-new Accidental Admin, hopefully these tips can help you get started on your Admin journey…
1. Understand the Responsibilities of a Salesforce Admin
There are many, many Salesforce Admins out there. It’s a common role because it is an essential one. For many people with Admin responsibilities, their job title might not reflect it. Before figuring out what you’re specifically supposed to do, it can help to understand what Salesforce Admins do generally.
a. What is a Salesforce Admin? This article gives a good overview of what this position is and some of the responsibilities. The skills required in this role are broad and pop up in other positions as well. This includes things like problem-solving, a learning mindset, and attention to detail.
b. HomeKeeper-specific Admin Tasks: It’s a good idea to brush up on HomeKeeper-specific Admin responsibilities. Every Salesforce instance is different, and content written for general Salesforce Admins can be overwhelmingly broad sometimes.
c. Salesforce Admin Best Practices: This article from SF Ben digs a bit more into the specific tasks that are performed by successful Admins, with how-to’s and references (you may notice overlap with the HomeKeeper list). When you’re not sure exactly what you should be doing to manage your Salesforce instance, it might be a good idea to skim this at first, and then bookmark it for discussion later.
TIP: You don’t have to be the most tech-savvy person to be good at this role! While being comfortable with a computer is important, you’ll be able to pick up many of the hard skills along the way.
2. Identify a Checklist of Regular Responsibilities
Now that you know what an Admin is, you need to understand what your specific Admin tasks are. These lists will change over time as you become more familiar with your system and your organization’s specific needs, and that’s okay. You need to start somewhere!
a. Depending on your existing workload, you may want to create daily/weekly/monthly checklists. Especially if you’re a full-time Admin (i.e. managing HomeKeeper is your only or primary job responsibility), these are helpful for obvious reasons.
b. If you’re a part-time Admin (i.e. managing HomeKeeper is only a part of your existing job and/or you are primarily operations, finance, fundraising, communications, etc. person), having these checklists can help you avoid getting swamped by unexpected Salesforce-related work.
c. Admin responsibilities can take a lot of time if you’re not prepared. Having a good top-level view of everything that’s required can keep things manageable.
d. Reference existing task lists, such as this one from Salesforce.
TIP: Consider scheduling regular time for Salesforce-related tasks on a weekly or monthly basis (depending on your workload). Block this time off on your calendar and treat it like an essential meeting.
3. Explore Available Resources
There are a TON of valuable resources out there! As mentioned above, the Salesforce Administrator role is quite common, which means a lot of people are talking about it. Just like with any topic, you’ll discover the learning pathways that work best for you. Below is a sampling of Salesforce resources that have worked for me.
Learning about Salesforce is going to make your job way, way easier. It might be hard to find time to learn upfront, but in the long run it’ll save you time and effort.
a. Trailhead: Trailhead is Salesforce’s own learning platform, comprised of various self-guided training modules and an excellent place to get started on your Salesforce learning journey. Check out this trailmix created by Lindsey Griggs, our own Senior Training and Support Specialist. This trailmix will give you a great overview of essential tools and functions in Salesforce.
b. Salesforce Ben: This blog brings together a variety of Salesforce experts, who provide tutorials, tips, and deep-dives into Salesforce features. If you’re running into an issue in your instance, there’s a pretty good chance SF Ben has talked about it.
c. Rock Your Role as a Salesforce Admin: Whether you’re brand new to Salesforce or you’ve been working in it for years, this book by Jodi Hrbek is an awesome resource!
d. Lean on the HomeKeeper Team! Before making major customizations or implementing other large apps, it’s a great idea to reach out to Team HomeKeeper, who have a wealth of experience to point you in the right direction.
TIP: Start off with free resources before looking at resources locked by a paywall. There is a truly astronomical amount of free Salesforce resources out there!
4. Consider Becoming Certified
Maybe you’ve been in the Admin position for a couple of months now and you’re really enjoying it! If you’d like to further your Salesforce experience and motivate your learning, you can pursue your Admin certification.
a. Administrator Certification: Learn more about the certification process and what resources are available on Trailhead to study for it.
b. Consider the Salesforce Associate Certification if you’re feeling less sure about it all.
TIP: Tap into any professional development money budgeted by your organization to cover the cost of your exam fees. This is a great investment for them, too! The skills you learn studying for the exam can directly benefit your workplace.
5. Join a Local Trailblazer Community Group
One of the great strengths of the Salesforce ecosystem is its community. Being able to talk about problems and brainstorm solutions with other people who do similar work can be a huge boon. Many nonprofits do not have a large technology team, and coworkers in technical roles may be highly specialized. By connecting with other Admins in your area, you can find support to help make your role feel much more manageable.
a. Trailblazer Community Group: Salesforce hosts local in-person and virtual groups for Salesforce professionals across all roles. While others in these groups may not know the specifics of HomeKeeper, you can find groups of other nonprofit Salesforce admins.
TIP: If you’re still relatively unexperienced, don’t be shy about it! Every Salesforce professional has been in your shoes, and the community is often excited to help new Admins grow.
6. Learn from External Partners
If your org contracts with an implementation partner, let them know that you’re new to Salesforce and see if you can learn from their expertise! Talking through your concerns with an experienced partner is a great way to learn more not just about Salesforce in general, but also about the nitty-gritty of your particular instance.
TIP: Consult with a HomeKeeper Alliance Partner. These consultants understand HomeKeeper and will be able to give you tailored advice and support.
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that whether this is the beginning of your Salesforce journey or not, your learning journey is always ongoing. I hope that this list of recommendations and resources can get you on the right track. If you ever have general Salesforce Administrator questions, you can always reach out to the HomeKeeper Team for direction.
By Kathryne LeBell, CRM Database Administrator