Where To Begin

You signed up for Vetforce and Trailhead and now you are not sure what to do next. You are not alone, the list of career options and paths are a lot to take in: developer, admin, marketing, multiple types of consultant and business analysts. The most common question I get is “which one do I choose?” I can say, without hesitation, that you should start the admin trail, regardless of what your ultimate goals might be.

The admin certification is the foundation of of your Salesforce knowledge and career no matter if your eventual goal is to become a Advanced Developer or Certified Technical Architect. The admin certification is also a requirement for any of the consultant level certifications. If you are using Vetforce, I believe the decision is made for you and you must earn the admin certification before the developer path is open to you.

One of the keys to success on the Salesforce platform is how extendable it is without writing code. If you are a developer new to Salesforce this means that non-developers can impact your software. Even if you have a strong background in object oriented programing you will want to understand how a junior admin can break your code with a poorly tested validation rule.

The multileveled Salesforce security model is something else you have to understand to work effectively on the platform. If you are designing or implementing solutions you must understand how to use, roles, profiles, permission sets and public groups.

Salesforce Visual Workflow

Perhaps the most important reason for a developer to understand the declarative (clicks rather than code) side of the platform is determine when not to code. Is the only thing needed a simple field update? No problem -work flow rules or a process builder to the rescue. Do you need to work with arrays and create and delete records? Maybe a flow is an option.

Understanding when a to use a formula field or a roll up summary vs writing a a new class and method will speed your development process, allowing you to get your product to your users or faster and minimize the maintenance costs that come with programmatic solutions. If a user needs to the understand how discounting effects their margin a simple formula field will get you there much faster than coding a new method to do the same thing. Below is an example of this business case implemented in a formula and in code. And remember the programmatic solution still needs a trigger or another class to call it and unit tests. In Salesforce unit tests are a requirement. You can’t deploy code into production without them. No code coverage? No Deployment.

No matter where your career on the Salesforce platform takes you understanding how to be an Awesome Admin is the first step.

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I’m not really interested in a career in Sales…

Or – What the heck is Salesforce anyway?

I know this supposed be a blog about coding but sometimes you need to begin at the beginning. It is my completely untested hypothesis that some vets / career changers never explore opportunities on the Salesforce platform because the name of the company is Salesforce. Sometimes I wish it was called Cloud-A-Tron or something. My wife still doesn’t really understand what I do: “something with computers”.

Salesforce is simply a tech company like IBM, or Google, Apple or Microsoft. Here is what The Street has to say.

Salesforce is a cloud computing service as a software (SaaS) company that specializes in customer relationship management (CRM). Salesforce’s services allow businesses to use cloud technology to better connect with customers, partners and potential customers. The software has become the number one for customer success and helps businesses track customer activity, market to customers and many more services. 

Salesforce impressed investors recently by crushing third quarter estimates, reporting a third quarter revenue of $3.39 billion – up 26% for the year. 

The software company has become very popular in recent years. TheStreet’s founder Jim Cramer even dubs the service as a ‘Cloud King’ and has been very bullish on the stock – seemingly with good reason.

Founded in 1999 by a former Oracle (ORCL – Get Report) executive Marc Benioff, Dave Moellenhoff, Frank Dominguez and Parker Harris, Salesforce is one of the first global companies to successfully employ a cloud-based CRM software. Salesforce has been able to leverage cloud technology and build a variety of applications for businesses to better connect to their customers and help give them key insights into their services through analytics and apps.


Pretty cool, right? At some level all business is sales. But a career in Salesforce is an IT career focussing on cloud computing. Now that we know that you won’t have to go door to door selling Salesforce user licenses we can start talking about how to learn the platform and start a new career.

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The Last Easy Day Was Yesterday.

I am not sure that the world needs one more blog about Salesforce or programing. But I wanted to approach this blog as a tool for people like me: veterans and career changers. As someone who has gone through the challenges of leaving the military after a 20 year career and inventing a second career in my 40s I wanted to create a blog to share what I learned along that way, and just as importantly -continue to learn.

In 2016 I retired from the Army after 21 years of active duty. I knew I wanted to do something completely different but I was not sure what. Becoming a developer never crossed my mind. That was for geniuses and I didn’t know the difference between HTML and Java. (Not kidding)

Like a lot of Salesforce careers mine began by accident and then acquired purpose as I realized that I enjoyed the work and my skills were in demand. It was a confusing path for me. I remember discovering trailhead and deciding “Awesome, I am going to be a developer. Look how much money they get paid!” But I as I dug into the modules and realized that I had no idea what a class or a method was, never mind this ‘Public Static Void ‘ nonsense. But I made it -eventually. And I wanted to share what worked for me along the way and hopefully the next group can find there way from A to B just a little faster than I did. There is no easy button, but you can do it.

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