Image of Gloria Ramchandani next to text that says "Skills for Success: Change Management."

3 Tips for Improving Your Change Management Skills as a Salesforce Admin

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“The only constant in life is change.” No doubt you’ve heard this quote by the Greek philosopher Heraclitus at some point in your life. It also rings true in the world of business and your role as a Salesforce Admin. Let’s discuss the importance of managing changes to business process, technology, and people within Salesforce.

I began my Salesforce journey supporting a large, complex org as a solo admin at a small startup. As I progressed my career in the Salesforce ecosystem, I moved into a Salesforce Consultant role and supported large enterprise customers for many years with a focus on business analysis. My role constantly shifted depending on the client needs and project, meaning I had to be flexible and adaptable in the face of constant change.

My first few projects involved working alongside a developer to make configuration changes in a sandbox and push those changes to the next environment until it reached production. Through this experience, I realized that effective change management is the foundation for success within the Salesforce Platform, and that my role as a Salesforce Admin was critical in helping me develop the skills and expertise to build a successful technology career. You’ll often hear Salesforce Admins talk about “wearing many different hats,” and I, too, found this to be true. Looking back, I was playing the role of a product manager, release manager, business analyst, and consultant—all in one!

When it comes to change management, it’s important to have not only functional and technical skills but also soft skills to be able to articulate the impact of changes to your stakeholders. The human element of change management is a big consideration when planning and implementing change and should always be top of mind for those involved.

What is change management?

Change management describes the various approaches used to prepare, support, and help individuals, teams, and organizations in making change. In the context of Salesforce Administration, change management involves managing the changes related to business processes, people, and technology on the Salesforce Platform. Examples include supporting three Salesforce Releases per year, maintaining the Salesforce deployment schedule, and managing communication related to changes within Salesforce. You may sometimes hear change management referred to as “DevOps.”

Effective change management helps everyone work together to build trust while delivering innovation. It’s especially important when many stakeholders are involved. I still remember my very first large production deployment within Salesforce. I was working with a big project team that included developers, testers, business analysts, project managers, and technical leads. Prior to this project, I had always viewed production deployments as simply moving metadata from one environment to another. Needless to say, after this experience I gained a new appreciation for all the science that goes behind the coordination of the necessary tasks!

There are a lot of moving pieces in the world of business and when working with the Salesforce Platform. Having the skills to effectively manage these pieces is super important—everything from the planning, building, and testing stages, all the way to release. The below diagram shows this continuous cycle, and reflects the notion that change is most definitely inevitable.

Infinity sign diagram showing the cycle of continuous integration, continuous delivery, collaboration, and security, with stages for Plan, Create, Verify, Deploy, Release, and Monitor.

Why is change management important for Salesforce Admins?

Too often we hear change management spoken about simply in terms of changes to processes and technology. But we must not forget the people aspect of change management—ensuring that everyone who is impacted by a change embraces the new direction or learns to use the new system and/or processes. For admins, this can translate into driving adoption and ensuring changes deliver the expected results.

Change management is an essential skill for Salesforce Admins in terms of career success. Effective planning and prioritization is a critical piece of change management and impacts WHAT is being delivered to production and WHY. This has a direct impact to the business and the value add that Salesforce as a platform brings to the organization.

In terms of career growth for Salesforce Admins, having change management skills on your resume is something that many employers seek. You can represent these skills on your resume with references to project management, Agile development, application lifecycle management, and collaboration skills.

How can I learn and develop my change management skills?

Here are my top three tips to help you develop your change management skills:

  1. When planning changes, take the time to fully understand the various business functions you support in your Salesforce Admin role. This will help you better quantify the impact of any changes and take steps to ensure all stakeholders are engaged along the way.
  2. Follow the Salesforce Release calendar and be prepared for the three releases each year. This will help you account for any required changes or maintenance for your org.
  3. Don’t underestimate the human element of change and the unease that many feel when it comes to change. Aim to improve your communication skills, so that you can effectively relay any changes to the appropriate people.

There are many other great ways you can learn the foundations of change management. Personally, I found Andrew Davis’ book, Mastering Salesforce DevOps, to be extremely valuable in helping me improve my skills. The way he explains how to build a powerful and comprehensive DevOps workflow for Salesforce is truly inspiring. Joining the DevOps Institute has also helped me tremendously. This organization focuses on the human side of DevOps and provides opportunities to grow your career and learn about change management.

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!

Resources

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