Planning for Salesforce Administrator Transitions

shutterstock_624845948 (2)In the four years since starting BrightStep, nearly 100% of my clients have turned over their Salesforce administrator. Some of them twice. In fact, two of the project leads at two different clients gave notice in the past two months alone.

Change is inevitable.

But what do we, as leaders of our organizations, do to future-proof the success of our CRM and other technical systems, when realistically the person in that role may only be there 1-2 years? This, compounded by the fact, that often the person coming into the role may be fairly junior and needs training and ramp-up?

4 Steps for Leaders to Future-Proof Salesforce Administrator Transitions

  1. Budget for Regular Formal Salesforce Administrator Training

It’s tempting to wonder whether investing in someone’s formal training (for example a Salesforce Administrator course) is worth it if the person is going to leave in a couple of years. My experience says yes. Often we underestimate learning time – the day it takes a person to find an answer to a question, the multiple days it takes to build a work-around report. Consulting time is far more expensive than quality administrator training.

There’s also the known secret that Salesforce Administrators are in high demand. Count your blessings if you can recruit someone who already has their Salesforce certification, but the reality is you’ll most likely need to identify someone with aptitude, perhaps a career changer with many other strengths, who just needs to learn this new language.

  1. Send Department Heads or Super Users to Events like Dreamforce

Regardless of who’s running the day to day administration of your Salesforce instance, you need a product owner, and you need multiple people invested in the platform who are asking “what’s possible?” and “what’s a different way we could do this?”. Salesforce events – like Dreamforce – are a great way for other leaders and superusers at your company to get invested and to get exposed to the power of the platform – and those events are also seriously fun.

If you’re in the midst of a Salesforce administrator transition right now – it might be just the time to create an interdepartmental working group (or in Salesforce speak – Governance – there’s even a Accelerator with Premier Success for this). Perhaps instead of calling it something scary like the “Technology Group” why not call it something like the “Systems for Scale” group? Because in fact the technology just serves our greater missions for scaling up our programs, products and services, or doing them better with less.

  1. Have your Administrator (and Super Users) conduct Training

Sam Dorman and Chris Zezza and have just released a paper on staffing a CRM team, and the leadership required for success. This paper has helped me think differently on looking at CRM as a Product to own internally, with its own Product Manager. The paper is a great read regardless, but one of the points they make is that training should not be outsourced to a consultant.

I’ll admit – I love giving training! I love thinking about it, planning it, delivering it. But they are right. For long-term organizational success, it’s best for internal team members to give trainings – even, especially, if they struggle a bit at first. They’ll quickly release what they don’t know, what the team needs to know, and get back to them.

Even better if your System Administrator can implement a train the trainer approach – you’ll have super users scattered throughout your organization who will confident in their abilities and their team’s abilities.

  1. Focus on Documenting what is Unique to your Instance

I had a conversation recently with a Salesforce Admin who was leaving his organization. He wanted to finish – “just a few more things” – building out functionality, tying up loose ends. Tying up loose ends is always a good idea, but building things isn’t. I told him the value he could provide right now wasn’t to do anything more, it was to share all the knowledge he had gained at the organization, in a way that was usable for the organization.

In a word: document.

Documenting how to login to Salesforce – not so helpful. There’s mini-videos on that! Same thing for documenting standard functionality – it if’s not there already, chances are that a Trail on Trailhead is forthcoming. Encourage your Salesforce admins, as they work, but especially as they are departing, to document anything unique to your Salesforce organization. Document how you’ve handled your unique business processes, what custom objects you’ve built and why, what third party apps you’ve installed and why. And then? Have them document their recommendations for next steps for the organization to continue to build and utilize their CRM.

Often clients don’t want to pay for documentation – and if I’m honest, I’ve gotten out of the habit of formal documentation. Instead I’ll create a Salesforce Setup & Configuration chatter group (never archive) and quickly document any new functionality I build there, as well as use Vidyard for quick how-videos, for both Salesforce Admins and EndUsers.

My lesson learned is to also spend time documenting the “Why” behind it all – you’d be surprised how that can be murky a couple of years down the line – in a more formal document, using something like Quip or Google Docs, and making sure to post it in the Chatter Feed with a full description or other searchable way (within Salesforce).

Megan Himan has over fifteen years experience in the nonprofit sector and over ten years working on the Salesforce platform. She has a unique combination of deep technical skills paired with an ability to strategically convene groups, coach executives and leadership through transitions, and execute on project deliverables. She is Founder & Principal of BrightStep Partners - solutions with strategy for Salesforce success. In September 2017, she was named a Salesforce MVP.

Posted in Administration, Change Management, Implementation Success, Leadership, Planning, Staff
2 comments on “Planning for Salesforce Administrator Transitions
  1. janeisaac says:

    Great relevant blog post Megan. As a former consultant I typically use Salesforce Libraries for client materials and documentation. Then I go in and log in as the key people and subscribe them to the Library(ies) so they get alerted when a document they’re following is updated or a new document is added to the Library.

    The best adoption I have seen is when the client has a steering committee that is really committed to the project. I also require them to identify who their Senior System Admin will be when I am gone and as the project progresses, I assign tasks to her/him which has the benefit of learning her/him how to do many of the things on their own when I am gone. (and takes some of the simpler tasks, such as creating new fields) off my plate. It empowers them.

    Did you know that K2 Partnering is a Certified Salesforce Training partner and off the EXACT same Admin classes you can get from Salesforce but at half the cost? And all the classes offered in the US are virtual – typically evenings for 2 weeks or daytime for one week.


    On Tue, Jun 26, 2018 at 11:57 AM, BrightStep Partners wrote:

    > Megan Himan posted: ” In the four years since starting BrightStep, nearly > 100% of my clients have turned over their Salesforce administrator. Some of > them twice. In fact, two of the project leads at two different clients gave > notice in the past two months alone. Change is i” >


    • Megan Himan says:

      Thanks for sharing more training resources! I also love documenting within Salesforce – libraries is a great idea. I’ve used them in Communities to post documentation (pdfs and such).


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