For the past few months I’ve had the opportunity to mentor 6 great women within the Salesforce community. Most are what I consider a Next Generation “NextGen” Salesforce Admin. These are your sales reps, secretaries, marketing professionals, customer service reps, power users, etc. that are passionate about the Salesforce platform but haven’t held a Salesforce Admin position yet. These NextGen Admins want nothing more than to be a Salesforce Admin, some even hold certifications but lack work experience or maybe have some work experience but lack the certification.
As I’ve been mentoring these wonderful people and working with them to take the next step in their career, I started to see some common challenges. They may have knowledge about the platform but aren’t exactly sure how to apply it. Meaning how do they solve a business problem with their knowledge. How can we take what they’ve learned studying for their certification and show them how to apply it to everyday business problems. Admins rarely get requests of “Please create 3 roles where their records share with these 5 roles.” Admins get a request like “Setup these 10 users that need to do x,y,z and have access to records from these people at this point in time and by the way these other 12 users need to be able to do that too but they can’t right now for some reason.”
I’ve always said that Salesforce isn’t hard to learn its the analytical skills and business process that’s hard to learn. So, how can we teach that to these NextGen Admins? How can we as a community show what we’ve learned over the past x amount of years about problem solving and pass it along here. Yes, there are some great blogs and things that talk about solving a specific business problem, but how do we give these people real life experience? Showing the process of solving a problem and designing a solution using Salesforce. How we troubleshoot, what to take into consideration, the types of questions to ask, how to see what’s already implemented and looking at existing data.
A few weeks ago I was racking my brain about this. I even went so far as to see if I could get additional interns on my team so I could bring some of these people on for a Summer so they could see what its really like and how we solve problems, communicate with users, manage expectations and requirements and all the things Salesforce Admins do. Unfortunately we don’t have the budget for that this year, but it did make it to the ear of my VP, so maybe next year. When I’m racking my brain about something and I just can’t figure it out, I tend to go for a walk to clear my head.
I was standing on the corner of Wall St. and Broadway waiting for the light to change so I could cross the street, when I saw a guy wearing a Hackathon T-shirt. It said something about a hackathon for social good and teaching others. I remember thinking that’s cool a hackathon to help non-profits or at least that’s what it seemed like from his T-shirt. As I was continuing my walk back to my office it hit me. I sat down on the nearest bench and wrote this word “Adminathon” on the back of my receipt from lunch.
When I arrived home that evening I pulled that receipt out of my pocket and started to think about the vision for an Adminathon and how I would like to see this concept setup and run.
Ideally I think it should be like a Hackathon, kind of, but no prize money. It should be about teaching, learning and helping others. What if we took problems from 3 non-profits (just making up a number here) where they didn’t have the money to solve. Form 3 teams (1 team for each problem) of experienced Admins along with some NextGen Admins and solve the problem. Walk them through exactly what we would do to troubleshoot, design and implement a solution. Teach people while helping a non-profit.
I originally thought Dreamforce might be a good place for this, but I think it maybe hard to accomplish. I started to think about the Salesforce1 Developer Week that recently took place. What if there was a similar Adminathon Week. What if in each major city there was something like this throughout a one or two week period each year. Teaching Admins how to build completely declaratively solving real world problems for a real company using only Salesforce. Also, if we do this locally it will help connect aspiring Admins to more experienced Admins for mentoring and networking for the future that are local to them. This opportunity may lead them to a job for a company that’s hiring or a connection that may lead to a job. The possibilities are endless.
The reason why I think something like this would be so helpful is when I’m interviewing someone I’m not only testing their Salesforce knowledge but their problem solving and analytical skills. I’m not necessarily always looking for the right answer in a question I ask, but interested to see how they got there. That tells me a lot about their problem solving and analytical skills. The key to being a great admin is to have all three of these things and I think with a combination of mentoring and something like this we can help people develop these skills.
Now, I know what some of you are thinking how do we make this work logistically, how do we pick the Non-profits, how much time is involved and probably a whole list of questions I haven’t thought of. These are all questions that need to be answered that I do not have the answer to.
This is just my idea, maybe you have a better one to help the NextGen Admins. I’m completely open to feedback and suggestions on any of my ideas. Do you think it could work? How would you implement it?
As always, thanks for reading, I do appreciate it.