Salesforce Orientation: Accidental Admins

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Coming into an accidental admin role can be overwhelming for a series of reasons. For one, being an “accidental” anything means that you’re coming into one space, even though you are versed in another. Many accidental admins hail from a more general business role, such as marketing, like I was. Perhaps you were support members on project teams or you might have been nominated to learn the new system because you have an IT background. No matter how you got here, there are some things you may need to consider before jumping into this new, exciting role. 

Defining an Accidental Admin

The day-to-day functions of an admin can vary from organization to organization but a common trend among daily functions is supporting general functionality, including adding new users, setting up reports, changing a page layout, updating fields and more. Most importantly, the day-to-day function that is the same across all organizations is that you will be learning all day long–oftentimes on the fly. 

It’s important to keep in mind the importance of this new role that you are stepping into. Your company put a lot of thought into this transition to Salesforce and you get to be the pilot who is making sure it runs the way they’d like it to. Having a system does nothing unless it is maintained and growing and possibly even refined: that’s where you come in. 

Before you dive in here are the tried and true concepts we think you should know as a new accidental admin:

  1. Know your limits. 
    • Coming into an accidental admin role is fun and exciting! But don’t let your ambition get ahead of you. Know where you feel comfortable, where you want to grow and what you need to learn. Setting that boundary and being able to push back on what may be asked on you is ok. “This is beyond my skillset” is not something to be embarrassed about saying. In fact, knowing what space you can and can’t help in is what is going to help you do your job, and do it well, the most.  

  2. Data, Data, Data. Pay attention to it!
    • Data is one of the most important components to ensure that your Salesforce instance is running smoothly. Make sure that you are taking ownership of that data. Implement a standard for all accounts and own making sure everything is up-to-date. Even more importantly, keep in mind the tried and true “bad data in, bad data out”, so make sure that you come up with a clean-up process to make sure that even your updated accounts are clean and useful for their intended purposes. 

  3. Focus on the Big Picture
    • Whenever you’re asked for something in this role, it’s important to keep in mind the end-goal of the request. Specifically, keep in mind the complexity and scope of the platform. Sometimes, you just don’t know best practices, stepping back, researching and analyzing the situation will allow you to hone in on how to most efficiently solve the issue at hand as it fits into the big picture.

  4. Communicate
    • In this new role, you’re going to be rolling things out all the time. Make sure that while this is happening, you’re also focusing on clear messaging to the people who are going to be affected by these changes. Taking on a new system tends to also take on a lot of confusion. In order to alleviate this, make sure that you are 

For a more technical list, here are some other tips that you should try to work into your standard:

  1. Always use Standard Objects as intended.
  2. Never use Custom Objects to replace Standard Objects.
  3. Consider and use the correct data relationship when creating objects (Master Detail, One-to-Many, Many-to-Many, Lookup).
  4. Use Declarative Features before writing Code. 
  5. Lean on the simple solution before considering a complex approach. 
  6. Always document as you go, so make sure Fields, Objects, Workflows, Reports, etc. have meaningful names and make sure everything has a Description.
  7. Field Labels should always match API Field Names.  Never rename just the Field Label always do it together no matter how painful the cleanup work is. 
  8. Know what fields need to be tracked with Field History Tracking and turn it on. 
  9. Always have a pattern to page layouts so that a user moving between tabs does not have to figure out where things are located on each page.
  10. Make sure Related Lists, Tabs and Search Layouts are up to date to reflect workflow by showing meaning fields and sorting as needed.
  11. Nothing new to production, always use a sandbox and deploy changes.
  12. Always know who, how and when changes are communicated to the users. 

Looking for more resources?

Check out Trailhead to keep your learning going. If you’re anything like me, those badges will be a powerful motivator. To get started, check out this link!

Get to know your local user group! Salesforce communities are all over– Salesforce communities are a great way to share information and collaborate with people nearby. The great part about it? Salesforce communities are a friendly space and people want to share their knowledge with you! If you’re working with a partner, your work impacts perceived quality, so people want you to be as educated as you can be. Use the tools in your toolbox, a lot of the time, it’s people who are more experienced and just as ambitious as you are. 

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