Deep Dive Into Superbadges with Julie Workman

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Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’ve got Julie Workman, Technical Credential Developer at Salesforce, who shares the joys of building, growing, and maintaining Superbadges and the potential they have for the community.

Join us as we talk about Superbadges’ important role a credentialing tool to prove to not just future employers but yourself that you have the hands-on experience you need to succeed.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Julie Workman.

A Salesforce nerd at heart.

Everything is super on today’s podcast, and that includes Julie, literally. “As a longtime Salesforce nerd, to work on the Trailhead team is really exciting. I’m responsible for the care and feeding of Superbadges and developing new ones for the admin space,” she says.

In a story that may sound familiar if you’ve spent any time listening to the Salesforce Admin Podcast, Julie started out in Salesforce as an accidental admin. She was on the leadership team of a nonprofit serving families in a severely distressed community, and she needed to see all of their data in one place. Julie was trying to answer the question, “How can we get all of these different spreadsheets to tell us a more cohesive picture about how we’re serving our community and what our outcomes look like?” She couldn’t do that with the tools we had, and that’s when someone recommended she take a look at Salesforce.

Julie started on the platform before Trailhead, so she really appreciates how different things are now and what it does for the community. Things snowballed from that first role and eleven certifications later (plus another that’s been retired), she found herself on Team Trailhead.

Why Superbadges are an assessment tool and what that means.

“Superbadges are not a learning tool,” Julie says, “they’re for assessing.” They’re part of the Salesforce credentialing program, which means they’re on the testing side of Trailhead. This is vital because it gets to the heart of how the Trailhead team assesses and measures how good of a job they’re doing at teaching the material. In short, there’s a method to the madness.

The result of this methodology is that Superbadges are a key part of how you know you’re ready for the next step. “95% percent of the people who complete a Superbadge say they agree that that Superbadge has prepared them for a Salesforce certification credential,” Julie says, and most importantly, “99% agree that completing the Superbadge proved to themselves  that they have mastered the concepts through that hands-on experience.”

Where to get started with Superbadges.

If you’re trying to figure out where to get started with Superbadges, Julie recommends starting with the Admin Super Set. “It’s a grouping of meaningful and relevant Superbadges to help you prepare you to demonstrate your hands-on ability as a Salesforce admin,” she says. If you’re relatively early in your career, you can start with the helpful prework listed under the Super Set to get what you need to take the next steps. If you’re further along, pick out the first Superbadge you want to begin with and dive into the prerequisites in order to unlock it.

“Superbadges are an aspirational goal—they’re not done in one sitting,” Julie says, “they’re really something to put on your professional and development plan, as an admin or aspiring admin, to work towards.” The difference between a Superbadge and a certification is that Superbadges are really hands-on. “They are skill-based, domain-level credentials and they’re very real world,” Julie says. Team Trailhead is constantly talking to hiring managers and the Trailblazer community to get a feel for what stands out, and the bottom line is both certifications and Superbadges are keys to growth. Both go hand in hand to help you stand out in a crowd and show that you have the wide range of skills businesses are looking for.

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Full Show Transcript

Mike Gerholdt: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins podcast where we talk about product, community, and career to help you become an awesome admin. I’m Mike Gerholdt, and today we have a super podcast for you. That’s right. It’s all about SuperBadges and boy, I have to tell you, I learned a ton on this episode. This week we are talking with Julie Workman who is a Technical Credential Developer on Team Trailhead. She works on building, growing and maintaining SuperBadges. Julie has an awesome background and is super passionate about SuperBadges and the potential it has for our community. So let’s get Julia on the podcast. Everything is super on today’s podcast and help me welcome Julie to the podcast. Julie, we’re going to talk about SuperBadges, but first I want to get started. What do you do at Salesforce?

Julie Workman: Hi, thanks. This is great to be here. I am a Technical Credential Developer on the Trailhead team, which is definitely best job ever, fantastic team. As a long time as a Salesforce nerd [inaudible 00:01:26] someone who’s really excited about Salesforce to work on the Trailhead team is really exciting. So, that is what I do. I am responsible for the care and feeding of SuperBadges and developing new ones for the admin space.

Mike Gerholdt: I mean like you walked me right into that joke. So I have to ask, do you not care and feed them after midnight like [crosstalk 00:01:47]?

Julie Workman: Yeah, that’s a really good question. Typically, unless we’ve got a really difficult situation though, no care and feeding after midnight.

Mike Gerholdt: Okay, good. So before you joined Salesforce, you talked about being a Salesforce nerd. What did you do before you took care of our SuperBadges?

Julie Workman: Well, I became an accidental admin in 2013, I was in leadership of a nonprofit serving families in a severely distressed community, and I needed to see all my data in one place. So I began using Salesforce so that I could see our data from multiple advocacy programs in one place. So are the kids who are in our summer camp, are their families… do their parents know about the GED program and do the teenagers know about our mobile health clinic, and how can we get all of these different spreadsheets to tell us a more cohesive picture about how we’re serving our community and what our outcomes look like. And I couldn’t do it with the tools I have. So someone said, “Oh, why don’t you try Salesforce?” WHich made no sense to me at the time until I realized not only are we selling, in a sense where we’re selling these programs, even if they’re free and we’re need those important metrics, but really the program impact and the outcomes were impossible to track with anything else.

Julie Workman: So it was really, really exciting. And I dove in head first and all of this was pre-trail hood. So I definitely appreciate the value Trailhead brings. And from there I just dove head first into all things Salesforce, all things Trailhead and I have really embraced the platform, the community and everything about it. So since then I have been a member of a partner, an SEI partner team as well as leading a technology team for another enterprise nonprofit. And now here we are today, 11 certifications later, 12 if you count one of the retired original developer certs, and several SuperBadges and part of the Trailhead team. Super excited to be here.

Mike Gerholdt: Wow, that’s really neat. So boy, you touched on a lot and I think you should count retired certifications because I do. I had that one as well. And I had a moment in a breakout presentation at Dreamforce where I mentioned pre-trail head and the pop up box of 400 by 400 pixels. And the looks I got from audience was like, if I had that moment where I felt like I was telling people what it was like to go to school and walk uphill both ways in the snow.

Julie Workman: It’s so true. It’s so true. And hopefully we still have some good habits like reading all the release notes, but that was really a very different world.

Mike Gerholdt: IT was. I read release notes once on a drive to Chicago. I was not driving.

Julie Workman: I was going to say, yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: It was also in the release notes were a little shorter. So you mentioned kind of having learning moments and jumping headfirst and SuperBadges are really all about learning. So what was your big first learning moment at Salesforce?

Julie Workman: Well, before we dive in, I got to say actually SuperBadges are not, they’re not learning, they’re not a learning tool.

Mike Gerholdt: Well please educate me.

Julie Workman: They’re assessing. So that is something we hear actually quite a bit is this idea about how we’re going to use SuperBadges to learn, but actually we’re using SuperBadges to assess. SuperBadges are credentials. They’re part of the Salesforce credentialing program and the vast majority of Trailhead is the go to place for gamified, engaging, very fun, free, go at your own pace learning. And so we know that the majority of Trailhead then is for teaching. SuperBadges are for testing. So it’s a really different concept when we switch gears from all of that rich learning content, into assessment content. And that’s actually why SuperBadges are even housed in a slightly different space on Trailhead. They’re under the credentialing tab. So if you are looking for SuperBadges, they live with credentials, so right next door to certifications and so that’s one of the really… that is a learning moment for sure to communicate that.

Julie Workman: But the learning moment for me, when I joined the Trailhead team, it was a wonderful learning moment. I mentioned that my background was in family advocacy and actually my degrees are in psychology and applied psychology. And part of that is tests and measures and assessments and how do we assess, how do we test, how do we teach, how do we know whether learning is taking place? That’s part of my background and my academic background. So when I began to understand more about how the Trailhead team and the credentialing team builds supervisors and certifications, I was absolutely blown away that we’re following this really rigorous and complex credentialing methodology. And so it lends a really, really important structure to what our assessments, what our credentials are.

Julie Workman: So it’s a really a very high bar that Trailhead sets, no surprise there. There is a really high bar that we’re using this credentialing methodology. We’re not just sitting around kind of making stuff up and writing exam questions and sketching out a SuperBadge on the back of a paper napkin. But that it’s really methodological. It’s really a very high bar.

Mike Gerholdt: I mean, I just assumed we were sitting around trying to write the hardest questions possible. When I first took my certification, I was like, “You’re trying to write the hardest question possible.” Somebody had like an Amazon gift card on their desk for this question. That was what was going through my head.

Julie Workman: I think I might’ve thought the same thing when I went for my first consultant certification. I think I probably had the same idea in mind. But rightly so, they’re rigorous and they’re challenging, but they follow a credentialing methodology. So, that’s a real learning moment. Well, it’s a learning moment for me that we have a job task assessment and that we have subject matter experts or [inaudible 00:08:44] engaged throughout the entire process that we’re using these tools like Bloom’s taxonomy and we’re paying attention to what level of cognitive complexity and we have all of this structure and it’s not just willy nilly. It’s really really quite thoughtful.

Mike Gerholdt: It’s willy nilly with some thought behind it. I love that and I love understanding that the SuperBadges are… have that credentialing mindset behind them. So I’m sitting back and I’m listening to this podcast and I’m learning a lot so far except I want to learn Salesforce and you’re telling me SuperBadges are kind of that testing part. Why should I take time to do a SuperBadge then?

Julie Workman: That’s a really good question because they’re not easy and they’re not quick to finish, they’re not done, I don’t think ever in one sitting. They really do take some dedication and really carving them out as a goal, just like your other professional development goals. So it’s definitely something to work towards. And so the reasons, the why we can really look actually at our community and we in a sense ask our community, “Is this meaningful, are SuperBadges meaningful?” And part of the way that we do that is through a popup or a modal that you will see when you finish a SuperBadge and it says, “Tell us your thoughts.” And I was really blown away and really excited to see what our community is telling us about our SuperBadges. And that is 95% of the people who complete a SuperBadge say they agree or strongly agree that that SuperBadge has prepared them for a Salesforce certification credential.

Julie Workman: And 99%, 99% agree that completing the SuperBadge proved to themselves that they have mastered the concepts through that hands on experience. So those are just really hard to argue with those numbers that these SuperBadges have meaning to our trailblazers and they’re meaningful for getting ready for certifications or having them in conjunction with a certification are a great example of that is that we have the CPQ specialist, and now billing specialist and advanced billing specialist. And when you combine all of those, so the Superset, with the building super set which is new, we can talk about, but the billing Superset and the CPQ specialist, when you have those credentials combined, it’s really showing that you are a Salesforce quote to cash solution specialists. Because you have that hands on expertise that you’ve demonstrated with the super badge set and you’ve got your certification through the multiple choice exam that you take in those testing conditions. So there’s a pretty strong value proposition behind completing SuperBadges.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, I mean you’re two things. You’re operating in that dentist level, like recommendation area of nine out of 10 dentists recommended, like you’re at nine 9.5-9.9 if you were to nail that down. So maybe the next SuperBadges on toothpaste. 9 out of ten dentist degree, this SuperBadge that I don’t know. That, and you should say CPQ Salesforce certified specialists, I don’t know. You should put that into a tongue twister or make people stay at five times fast. You have two choices. Take the certification SuperBadge or say this five times fast without messing it up.

Julie Workman: You know, you’ve got my mind spinning, we could have [inaudible 00:12:41], you could get your enabled toothbrush and we could have this SuperBadge [crosstalk 00:12:47]-

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, talk to [inaudible 00:12:48].

Julie Workman: Yeah. I can see it.

Mike Gerholdt: I can quickly get us off topic. So, you start thinking of fun things do as SuperBadges. The first thing I’m thinking is, so if people are in Trailhead and they’re doing badges and they’re learning, I’ve now know the difference, where do I start with SuperBadges or where do I even… I don’t know what I’m doing here. I’m over here brushing my teeth.

Julie Workman: Sure. So one great thing that you can do is identify your SuperBadge as your goal, and then work backwards. So if you were to go to Trailhead and look at which SuperBadge you wanted to complete, for example, I would highly recommend the admin Super set. Super sets are groupings of SuperBadges where we sort of package because there’s so much continental head, we want to make sure that we have really clear paths. So the Ironman Super set is a grouping of meaningful and relevant SuperBadges to help prepare you to demonstrate your hands on ability as a Salesforce Admin. So, if you’re looking at that Admin Super set, you’ll see a couple really cool things about it. One is you can see that it’s designated for the career of Salesforce administrator. It has helpful pre-work, which is really fantastic, if you are just starting out on your admin pass.

Julie Workman: And you aren’t quite yet ready for that SuperBadge, you can start with the helpful pre-work and then beginner. And then you can also see that the Super Set is designed to be preparation for your administrator certification. So this meaningful grouping of SuperBadges with that additional context is a Super Set, which is super new. And you can dive right in. Within each of those SuperBadges, there’s three in the admin Super set. You would identify which one you wanted to start with. Let’s say one of my favorites security specialists. I think you’re familiar with it.

Mike Gerholdt: A little bit.

Julie Workman: Dive right into that SuperBadge and you’ll see that there are actually prerequisites for the supervisor itself. So before you can take the security specialist SuperBadge, you need to have completed data security, identity basics and user authentication modules. And so each SuperBadge will have modules or projects you have to complete to unlock the SuperBadge. And that’s because we want it to be really meaningful for our Trailblazers who are attempting these SuperBadges. Again, they’re an aspirational goal, they’re not done in one setting or sitting, they’re really something to put on your professional development plan as an admin or aspiring admin to work towards. And so it’s a big chunk of time. It’s a commitment and the credential itself is the reward, but also the recognition you receive.

Julie Workman: So we talked a little bit about the admin Super set as being a great place to start and how to start towards that SuperBadge with the helpful pre-work. But if you are coming from a user or a super user perspective, not necessarily from an admin perspective, a really great place to start for a first SuperBadge would be our brand new selling what Salesforce call specialist SuperBadge. That super badge was released just before Dreamforce and is a really great way to see what a super badge is and demonstrate your ability as a sales cloud super user.

Mike Gerholdt: Wow. Start with the goal in mind, I like it. And I also like that it’s not a quick thing because if it was like going to the gym, we’d all go to the gym once on January 1st and be set for the rest of the year. Right?

Julie Workman: I try that.

Mike Gerholdt: I could usually make it a month. But you mentioned a good point of SuperBadges and certifications and I know my team, if you’re on a hangout with me, I’ve got my certifications hanging behind me framed, what’s the difference between a SuperBadge and a certification?

Julie Workman: The difference is that SuperBadges are really hands on. They are those skill-based domain level credentials and they’re very real world. So I mentioned that I had been on a team and SEI partner team, and if you’re a business analyst or you’re on a consulting team, you’re seeing these business scenarios and nobody’s going to tell you how to solve the problem. You have a problem and you have to gather requirements, in the SuperBadges the requirements are given to you, but they’re very real world. They’re saying this is what the sales team needs to see, this is who should be able to see information and who shouldn’t be able to see information. Our managers want to be able to receive this information at a glance. And so the requirements are provided to you in the SuperBadge scenario, but the solutions, the how to, that’s the part you figure out.

Julie Workman: So that’s very different from our certifications. And certifications are those testing center or online testing, multiple choice exams that are really diving into your domain knowledge as an admin or advanced admin. And so we don’t see it as an either or in the marketplace where we’re constantly talking to hiring managers and the Trailblazer community and asking what everybody is seeing, we’re seeing two things. One is our certification growth is really on fire. It is doubling every two years, which is really astounding. But our SuperBadge growth is experiencing a 400 person grow.

Mike Gerholdt: Wow.

Julie Workman: Right? So it’s not going to be an either or, it’s really a both. And so if you are trying to stand out in the crowd where we’ve all heard those amazing metrics about the number of new Salesforce economy jobs, the number that blew me away was 4.2 million new jobs by 2025 those are net new. So how are you going to stand apart in the crowd if you have these great admin skills and there’s maybe now hundreds of other trailblazers who have these wonderful skills as well, how do you stand out in the crowd? And the answer is really certifications and SuperBadges. So, together we call them credentials, they really go hand in hand to show that you have that wide range of skills.

Mike Gerholdt: I never thought of it that way and that’s a great explanation. Wow. And I also… Did you call it domain level expertise for a SuperBadge?

Julie Workman: Yes, exactly.

Mike Gerholdt: That is a really great way to explain it. Right? Versus a sitting down and taking a test.

Julie Workman: Exactly, yeah.

Mike Gerholdt: Okay. You’ve taught me a lot even though it was about SuperBadges. I’ve learned a lot on this episode. I’d love to know what are the parts of the job that you just really nerd out about?

Julie Workman: Well, I love everything about it. I work with the best teams, just really, really brilliant and dedicated team. So what I love is, I mentioned we have that credentialing methodology and so we have a blueprint or roadmap that we follow. I love seeing it come to life because it’s really amazing. In the beginning of our development process we have a job task analysis and that’s basically a set of requirements for what should this SuperBadge assess. And so we start out with this set of requirements and then we build backwards. We build out the scenario which is that fun story that you read that has this business requirements, and we build out the challenges. So, how are we going to check to see if the trailblazer has configured a solution that meets the requirements so to speak.

Julie Workman: So I love seeing that come to life and as we move through the project and start building out the challenges and we engage our community as testers and we really start to get that feedback. And it really is such impressive feedback when we get those. Like we were talking about the number of people who are saying this really shows that I know this domain level, I have this domain level expertise. I’m really can show that I’m a subject matter expert by completing the SuperBadge. So it’s really amazing to see it come to life and actually there’s a way that people can participate as subject matter experts and I can send you that link and if people are interested they can submit a quick form and potentially be a part of a future SuperBadge.

Mike Gerholdt: Oh yeah, absolutely. We’ll include that link in the show notes. That was great. Julie, thank you so much for being on the podcast. We could sit around probably for another half hour and talk even more SuperBadge stuff because I’m glad to know that you don’t feed them after midnight.

Julie Workman: We don’t but they’re wonderful. It’s great to be a part of the Trailhead team and be a part of the SuperBadge team. One last quick note, I’ll send you this one as well. We really want to cheer on our trailblazers who are completing SuperBadges, and so we have a brand new hashtag. It’s SuperBadge success and I’ll send that to you as well. It’s #SuperBadge success and we really want to cheer you on. We want to see the people who are completing those SuperBadges and really be a part of the energy and enthusiasm that people feel when they get these goals accomplished.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, I love it. Hashtag SuperBadge success. Thanks so much Julie for being on the podcast.

Julie Workman: Thank you. It was my pleasure.

Mike Gerholdt: It was super great to have Julie on the podcast. By the way, did anybody keep track of a number of times we said super? If you did, I’d like for you to tweet me that number because I’d be curious. So three things I learned from our discussion with Julie. One SuperBadges are an assessing tool. They’re part of the credentialing program on Trailhead. They take dedication, but 95% of the people that take SuperBadges say it’s preparing them for a credential, and an amazing 99% agree that completing the SuperBadge proved to themselves that they have mastered the concepts through the hands on. Wow, SuperBadges are a great way to get started in Trailhead and get hands on experience. If you aren’t sure where to start looking at a SuperBadge requirement, and then use that as your starting point for your learning journey.

Mike Gerholdt: I like to think of it as starting with the goal in mind. And then last SuperBadges are domain based credentials with business scenarios, and you should share your SuperBadge success using the hashtag #SuperBadgeSuccess. If you want to learn more about all things Salesforce admin, go to admin.salesforce.com to find more resources. You can stay up to date with us on social for all things admins. We are @SalesforceAdmns, no I on Twitter, and of course you can find me on Twitter. I am @MikeGerholdlt. And with that have a fantastic rest of your day and stay tuned for the next episode. We’ll see you in the cloud.

 

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