Headshot of Emma Keeling next to text that says "Skills for Success: User Management."

Learn and Develop User Management Skills as a Salesforce Admin


As Salesforce Admins, there are a number of important skills we need to develop in order to be successful in our roles and careers. In my opinion, none of these are as crucial as user management. After all, without users we wouldn’t have anyone working in the system. In this blog, I’ll explain the two sides of user management and offer some helpful tips on how to successfully navigate user management in orgs of all sizes.

For more than six years, I’ve worked across numerous Salesforce orgs, both assisting and leading the user management aspect of administration. I’ve helped management teams better understand how to manage users within Salesforce. I’ve worked on orgs that seem to have an ever increasing number of profiles or that have user accounts which haven’t been used for several months (or, in some cases, years!). I’ve assisted management teams that are surprised they’re being asked for more licenses or that a junior member of the team has access to confidential data in their org. All this experience means I’ve got a lot to share to help you develop your own user management skills. With that, let’s take a deeper dive into user management!

What is user management?

There are two sides to user management in Salesforce. First, there’s the general management of user accounts. That is, setting up accounts with correct licenses, roles, profiles, permission sets, active/frozen status, and so on. Secondly, there’s the user experience aspect of designing an interface that serves the needs of users based on their assigned profile, role, and group.

1. General management of user accounts: Licenses and monitoring

Licenses: As a Salesforce Admin, it’s important to manage your available licenses effectively. One part of this is deactivating users who aren’t using Salesforce (inactive users), thus making licenses available for new user accounts. Since licenses have different restrictions and different price tags, you also need to ensure the right license type is allocated to a user. For example, does the user need a Salesforce license, a Salesforce Platform license, or a Community license? If you’re unsure whether you’re using the best license type, or you have a license type you’re unfamiliar with, I recommend speaking with your Salesforce Account Executive for guidance. Some license types are no longer available to purchase but are still available to use in existing orgs, so it may take some digging to find out how to best use the license.

Monitoring: The ongoing monitoring of users is another key aspect of general user management. I suggest you create a dashboard showing key metrics. Here are three ideas of what you can include:

    • Number of users—This metric can be used to compare against the number of licenses you’ve purchased, allowing you see if there are unused licenses. This information is also available in Setup (under Company Information —> User Licenses section), but I personally like to have this together with my user management info.
    • Users by profile—This metric offers a good way to understand how your profiles are being utilized, and you can also keep an eye on the number of users with System Administrator profiles.
    • Users not logging in—This metric can be used to identify user accounts not being utilized, like the IT manager who insisted on having a Salesforce login but never used it! Having a list of users who aren’t logging in can also be useful to assist with adoption.

2. User experience

The other key aspect of user management is user experience. This means designing a great user experience for assigned profiles, roles, and groups. All users are required to have a profile assigned, whereas roles and public groups are optional. However, if these are being used in your org, you must ensure you assign them correctly. Profiles and/or permission sets determine which objects and fields a user can access, whereas roles determine what records a user can see relative to others in the organization’s hierarchy.

There are several schools of thought as to how to manage profiles and/or permission sets, and that in itself could be a lengthy blog post. However, I’m becoming a great advocate of the approach of using as few profiles as possible for your users, and then using permission sets (and permission set groups) to expand a user’s access. In the Resources section below, you’ll find a video from London’s Calling community event, where #AwesomeAdmin Louise Lockie goes into the most minimal approach. I urge all admins to grab a cup of coffee or tea and settle down for 25 minutes to learn more from Louise on this best practice. To summarize this approach, you just need to create four different profiles:

        1. Users
        2. System Admin
        3. Integration user
        4. Chatter user

You may find you don’t even need the third and fourth options. Depending on your usage, you may have just “One Profile to rule them all,” except for yourself, of course, the Salesforce Admin! From here, you can build out permission sets and put them into permission set groups in order to give users the access they need.

If you’re considering changing your org to have a master profile, then take a look at the free Salesforce Labs app called Permission Helper. This app has a Permission Analyzer that lets you look at an individual permission and understand which profiles and permission sets contain that permission. It also contains a Profile to Permission Set Converter that allows admins to create permission sets from profiles. The generated permission set includes all permissions from the selected profile which can then be assigned to the user(s).

Why is user management important for Salesforce Admins?

User management is a critical skill for Salesforce Admins. You must pay careful attention to security and permissions sets in your org. You should limit data access to the lowest level possible that users need to do their jobs. This strategy is known as the principle of least privilege. Also, remember to have as few users utilizing the System Admin profile as possible. For example, if you have an IT admin who just assists in setting up user accounts, then they don’t need a full System Admin account and can be a Delegated Admin instead. You should also not allow integrations to use a System Admin profile; instead, find out what permissions they actually need and create a permission set.

Once you’ve proven your user management skills, you can replicate the process across different orgs. Due to the relevance and necessity of user management in all orgs, it’s also a great case study example to provide in job interviews. You can discuss the different processes you’d complete to review a new org as well as the steps you’d take for any follow-up items. User management is a great topic that can help you demonstrate—to current and future employers alike—how you’ll manage an org effectively.

How can I learn and develop my user management skills?

Depending where you are in terms of your Salesforce Admin knowledge, here are my three tips on how you can learn more about user management:

  1. Explore Trailhead: I recommend using Trailhead, Salesforce’s free online learning tool, to ensure you have a good grasp of profiles, permission sets, roles, and public groups. I’ve included links below to a few different Trailhead modules.
  2. Learn from other #AwesomeAdmins: Learn how other admins are managing their users. I’ve included links below to helpful blog posts. Also, please take time out of your busy day to watch Louise Lockie’s video, and put together an action plan on how to review your profiles and permission sets.
  3. Create a metrics dashboard: Consider building a dashboard to monitor your users and ensure you manage licenses effectively. Then, use this to discuss with leadership when user accounts should be deemed as “inactive” and therefore be deactivated.

Take these three steps to build your success:

  1. Explore the new Salesforce Admin Skills Kit to learn how to represent your skills when applying for admin jobs or preparing for performance reviews.
  2. Share these skills on social media using #AwesomeAdmin, and tell other admins three skills you’re going to commit to developing this year.
  3. Revisit admin.salesforce.com next Tuesday for the next blog post in this series!


Introducing the Salesforce Admin Enablement Kit.

Introducing the Salesforce Admin Enablement Kit

How many times have you been asked, “So, what exactly does a Salesforce Administrator do?” We get it, sometimes it’s hard to sum up everything you do, your expertise, and the impact you make at an organization in a clear and concise manner. Here’s the tough reality, though — your ability to communicate these important […]

The State of the Salesforce Admin in 2023.

The State of the Salesforce Admin in 2023

The role of the Salesforce Admin is more important than ever. As customers’ expectations continue to grow, more companies look to digital transformation to deliver that highly personalized, responsive, on-brand experience. At the center of delivering a Salesforce Customer 360 view sits the Awesome Admin—building, configuring, and automating solutions to drive productivity, innovation, and efficiency […]

Strategic Slack Channel Management.

Strategic Slack Channel Management for Salesforce Admins

As a Salesforce Admin, a good portion of our daily job is to be a functional leader within your organization. When you think about it, many of the users you support don’t report directly to you, yet they often benefit from your leadership and direction. So, apart from being a direct leader or managing people, […]