Image of Vanessa Grant next to text that says "Skills for Success: Business Analysis."

The Importance of Business Analysis as a Salesforce Admin

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When I casually mentioned on Twitter that I was writing an article on the importance of business analysis for Salesforce Admins, the first comment I received was, “This is one of my top three skills I look for when I hire admins.” As a Salesforce professional who believes that business analysis is the foundation for any successful Salesforce project, I hear this comment a lot. Of course, it’s important to have technical admin skills where you can solution and configure, but it’s business analysis that will help you answer the question, “Why am I even doing this?”

Having managed admins for a complex org before pivoting into Salesforce business analysis and consulting, I can attest to how essential it is to build trust between your team, stakeholders, and end users. The more complex the feature or business process is, the more important business analysis becomes to make sure you’re able to deliver the Salesforce solution your business needs.

What is business analysis?

As an admin, business analysis should enter the picture as soon as someone requests something new in your org. When your users or stakeholders want you to “just put a button here that…” or ask “can you a create a field that…” or even “how easy is it to…” is exactly when you should put on your business analyst hat and ask, “Why?”

The goal of business analysis is to create clear business requirements. You need to thoroughly analyze and understand what the business needs and why it needs it even before you start to think about how Salesforce can solve that need. I’ve worked with admins and architects before who would charge in with solutions, saying, “Oh yeah—piece of cake! We can have it done in a week!” But halfway through the build, they would realize they missed a crucial requirement that forced them to scrap all the work they had done and go in a different direction.

Detailed and complete business requirements will ensure that what you build is what your stakeholders need. You, as the Salesforce expert, should decide the best way to configure a solution after you really understand what the business is trying to achieve. No business is trying to achieve a button. Meeting with the appropriate subject matter experts involved in the business process will give you the big picture so you can really get to what the business is after.

By approaching your Salesforce work in this way, you end up not only building trust between you and your stakeholders, who will now feel understood, but also reducing technical debt because you’re not letting everyone dictate the best way to configure the org. Win-win!

Why is business analysis important for Salesforce Admins?

The ability to successfully elicit and document business requirements is what I believe separates basic configuration-and-troubleshooting admins from the ones who are ready to take full responsibility for a Salesforce org. By mastering business analysis, you’ll find yourself better prepared to take on senior admin positions and possibly even consultant, architect, or product owner roles.

Image of Cloudy and three circles. The first circle says Administrators and is connected to a second circle in the middle that says Senior Admin Consultant Solution Architect Product Owner. It’s connected by text that says Increased Business Knowledge. The second circle says Business Analysts and points to the same middle circle and is also connected by text that says Increased Business Knowledge.

After incorporating business analysis in your role, you’ll be able to build more of a partnership with your stakeholders. As someone with a clear understanding of a business and how it operates, you’ll find yourself being regarded as a trusted advisor. As one of my Salesforce business analysis heroes, Ian Gotts at Elements.cloud, said at the last Salesforce Business Analyst Virtual Summit, you’ll be “coaching your end users into what’s possible.”

How can I learn and develop my business analysis skills?

These skills are not exclusive to the Salesforce ecosystem, so thankfully there are a lot of great resources that can help you learn the foundations of good business analysis. There are even a couple of certifications that could benefit you if you decide to pursue a business analyst career outside of Salesforce:

  • I really cannot recommend Richard Cunningham’s Purposeful Architect blog enough. Richard is a formally-trained business analyst who focuses his content on Salesforce business analysis. He’s also an active member of the Salesforce Business Analysts Trailhead Community Group.
  • The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) has memberships for those interested in learning about business analysis more formally. The internationally known Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK) can be downloaded for free and is the gold standard for business analysis best practices. The Certified Business Analysis Professional™ (CBAP) certification is very highly regarded in the IT industry and can be earned through the IIBA too.
  • The Applied Certification in Business Analysis™ (ACBA) is newer but also a great option for those interested in getting certified in business analysis. Even if you’re not interested in certification, Laura Brandenberg’s site, Bridging the Gap, has a wonderful blog with practical advice to teach folks the tenets of solid business analysis.

As far as developing your business analysis skills, here are some ideas:

  • Learn the business you support with your Salesforce org. Ask to listen in on phone calls. Go on a ride-along with your field reps. When you observe how your users actually use your system, you can gain first-hand knowledge of your users’ pain points, deepen your understanding of how the business runs, and help build a backlog of business operation improvements that you can incorporate into your Salesforce org.
  • Sharpen your communication skills by taking a business writing class or joining your local Toastmaster’s Club.

In the Salesforce ecosystem, those with technical and soft skills are often called “unicorns.” While it is challenging to hone skills that may not come naturally to you, it is so worth it. Learning to speak to your stakeholders at all levels, gain their trust, and develop the empathy to put yourself in your end users’ shoes will have a massive impact on the adoption and utility of your Salesforce org.

So polish up those soft skills, admins—your stakeholders need you!

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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