How to be a Salesforce admin boss

To ensure your company's smooth use of Salesforce, observe the following guidelines. They may even thank you for it…
12 March 2018

Succeeding at Salesforce admin is often thankless, but you’ll soon be noticed if you make a mistake! Source: Pexels

W​ith a Salesforce implementation comes the responsibility of system maintenance and administration. While some of the critical requirements of a Salesforce administrator are the same as any other technology administrator, Salesforce management brings its own particular requirements.

Even though Salesforce is a cloud-based system, attitudes to ongoing maintenance should stem from the same mindset as if it were installed in-house. Daily, weekly, monthly and annual health checks and activities are required – the fact that their effects change settings and data held remotely matters little.

Here are just a few pointers for any would-be Salesforce administrator. Whether you’re a seasoned data pro, or newly recruited into a systems management role, we hope there’s something below you find useful.

As the administrator, you are, effectively, a data steward. Data quality is your concern: without data that’s clean and well-maintained, the business cannot function day to day, nor can meaningful business intelligence insights be drawn.

Remember that directions change and correspondingly, directives will alter too. Don’t be too precious about your processes day-to-day as you develop a routine: priorities will change as the business does, and you need to adapt. So, stay malleable.

When in doubt, keep it. Old data, log files, configuration control documents, backups – disk space isn’t quite free, but it’s available at incredibly low cost. Get into the habit of not deleting old data or snapshots, unless it’s a security risk not to do so, even in an encrypted form. Disk space is always cheaper to the enterprise than data loss.

You’re not the boss, your users are in charge. Be responsive to your users’ needs; without them not only would the business fail, but you’d be out of work. Users can be irritating, annoying and downright stupid, but what they don’t know about networking issues or Salesforce minutiae, they more than make up for in their own, particular skillsets.

Keep in the background if you can. If you need to undertake maintenance, do it after hours, or at least, in quiet periods. Unless it’s an emergency, your activities should be seamless and go unnoticed.

The programmer’s first law, “comment your code” should be your inspiration. In your case, make sure you keep a record of what you do. An online document, Excel Sheet, or SalesForce’s own Chatter system all will serve you well. What seems obvious now will be forgotten in six months’ time, especially anything you did in a hurry. And it’s the things you do in a hurry that will most likely need unpicking in months to come…

Don’t remove data from the system unless absolutely necessary. Instead, use Roles to hide data from those who don’t need to see it., and of course, make sure you maintain generations of backups.

As part of your maintenance routines, you’ll come across bad data records. Don’t delete corrupt records! Quarantine them until you’re able to troubleshoot the problem which caused the corruption and fix that – causes can be both technical and process/user action derived.

If you want or need to change data, make a snapshot before you act (including child records and anything you think even only may be affected). And always plan ahead by keeping a roll-back strategy in mind. Act in haste, repent at leisure.

The best way to ensure you have a quiet(er) life is to make sure your users know what they need to know. You can train your staff, but try and avoid long training sessions which end-users will use as an opportunity to daydream and mentally slack off. Instead, be available at well-publicised times to answer specific questions or teach snippets of processes and work methods. When users want to know something, let them have the benefit of your knowledge – it will save you time in the long run.

And finally, make sure you publicize the good stuff. It’s too easy only ever to be noticed when things go wrong (it’s technology; it will go wrong). If there is good news about a happy user or a Salesforce-related “win,” shout about it. It’s not narcissistic; it’s creating balanced opinions about your role.