Plans Made Public – Tuesday August 1st 2017

All the way back in May, during the World Tour exhibition in London, myself and the other half got chatting to a Salesforce marketing manager. We talked about how I was just starting my journey into the platform whereas Gemma was close to ten years and we both drew inspiration from each other. The marketing manager, was interested in hearing more of our story and asked if we’d like to guest blog about our marriage to Salesforce and each other.

We agreed.

As you may or may not imagine, there’s a lot of work that goes into those kind of blog posts. Lots of notes, lots of back and forth and lots of revisions until the day it goes live. That post went live the day of my Admin exam, which as you’ll have read in the previous chapter, I passed. I had every intention of taking the exams at a slow pace. And to be fair, so did Gemma, as she wrote about herself:

…with plans to achieve the Sharing and Visibility Designer and Community Cloud Consultant credentials by the end of the year.

She would go on to take a couple more than two exams before the end of 2017. Eight to be exact. Ten if you count the “Architect” titles you get for completing a specific set of certs. It was this kind of fire and determination that led me to think that I should throw out any kind of “schedule” and just get stuck in. At my own pace, however that may manifest itself.

Getting stuck in is easier said than done when you take work into account though. With a full plate, it’s difficult to pin down the best date to take the exam and then make sure you have enough time to revise. And as such, most of September passed by without much thought to taking further exams.

Not much thought, except that I had two walls staring at me. One wall behind me had a number of Salesforce certifications branded with someone else’s name. And the wall in front of me had a series of “inspirational” messages designed to keep me going… For example, one read “You’re not working hard enough”. The idea behind these framed messages was that I would replace one at a time, over the next few years.

I was pleased as punch when I replaced the first message, but by the end of September, I felt that itch and I was about to discover exactly what “my own pace” was.

Salesforce Certified Platform App Builder – Tuesday October 24th 2017

And so at the end of September, I booked my next exam for one month ahead.

The revision and preparation took a similar path to the Admin exam, but this time with the additional nuggets I’d learned previously. Having now professionally worked on the platform for five months and with close to two hundred Trailhead badges in my back pocket, I felt better prepared to take the exam. I brushed up on terms I wasn’t completely familiar with, watched some webinar videos but more or less dived straight in.

This time, I found the exam much easier to pass. I wasn’t revising to pass the exam, I was learning about building apps. Fortunately, in my job, I was also building apps – or at least building out managed packages. I was already familiar and comfortable with the concept of designing and implementing additional objects, fields, reports and bits of automation. This particular certification was just a formal way to prove it.

This exam experience brought me my second epiphany in two months (a record for me). I realised that I should direct my certification efforts towards the relevant skillset that I need at that time. The Administrator cert was just the starting block that I wanted to get out of the way, whereas App Builder was (and still is) relevant to the work I was doing at the time.

The next exam I would plan to take (whenever that may be) would be targeted and appropriate for the type of work I was carrying out at the time.

Salesforce Certified Community Cloud Consultant – Sunday November 26th 2017

That next time wouldn’t be very long after App Builder. Around the end of October, I was transferred from managed packages into the bespoke team. I found myself working in fairly greenfield environments building Napili communities. As a result, I was working less declaratively and more with CSS and Lightning Components, expanding my toolkit.

It was exciting.

Salesforce has a robust backend for data and processes but the interface is very much designed for business use (as pretty as LEX looks). By pulling select pieces of information and displaying it on a consumer facing website, you strike a great balance and provide a powerful solution for something “off the shelf”… Here is where I stop waxing lyrical before this turns into a advert.

Because of the projects I were assigned to, I was learning more and more about Communities and although that particular cert was not on my original planned list, it seemed the most relevant. It was also the first exam I took in my own time (Sunday). Not only that, it was the first exam that I revised for in my own time. I was starting to take these more seriously as a point of personal development as well as helping my career.

The late nights of revision, Trailhead, learning more about role hierarchy, sharing sets and building random sites in my dev org paid off. I passed.

Salesforce Certified Service Cloud Consultant -Sunday December 24th 2017

Now with three certifications under my belt, I thought I was done for the year. It had been well over a decade since I’d taken that many exams in such a short space of time and  back then I didn’t have a full working week to contend with.

The projects that involved Communities however brought me into the fringes of service desks and case management… Or in Salesforce terms, Service Cloud. And so, I thought to myself, given that we would be without my stepchild this Christmas Eve, what would be more crazy than to take an exam right before Christmas?

I’d finish the year off four times certified and be in a position to REALLY celebrate on Christmas Day.

And what a great day it was, but that’s not all.

Salesforce Certified Sales Cloud Consultant – Saturday December 23rd 2017

During the first year of my computing degree, we studied machine code. In the moment, I was incredibly perplexed why we needed to learn about moving memory blocks around a simulated prehistoric computer. But as time has moved on, I’ve found it a valuable exercise to understand where something has come from, where it is now and what direction it’s heading.

So, with the Service Cloud exam booked for the 24th, I thought I’d do something bold and incredibly stupid. I’d take an exam that would force me to learn about Salesforce’s roots. To this day, I’ve never touched a true “sales” based implementation, yet that’s where the platform came from, it’s the reason it exists. On the same day I booked the Service Cloud exam, I got back on the portal and booked the Sales Cloud test for the same weekend, just one day prior.

I now found myself in the position where I was not just preparing for one exam, but two at damn near the same time.

I’m glad I did it though. It was stressful studying for the two tests (which was all of my own doing), but I came out smelling of roses… Somehow.

And Christmas Day was an even bigger celebration because of it.

What’s Next?

My first five certs were originally going to take me two to three years. I was planning on taking two exams every year and in the end I took that many in one weekend. I’m almost certain I won’t be keeping that pace up, but I do have my sights on at least three for next year:

  • Certified Data Architecture and Management Designer
  • Certified Sharing and Visibility Designer
  • Certified Platform Developer I

By getting these three, I’ll automatically get an additional one called “Certified Application Architect”.

What happens after that? I honestly don’t know. But I’m hoping it’s always going to be up.