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  • Writer's pictureMichael Kolodner

I’ve Got Admin Permissions–Now What? (Part 1)

Updated: Sep 5, 2022

It seems far less common to be a trained system administrator than to be handed the keys and told to “take ‘er for a spin,” particularly when we’re talking about systems that are built to be user friendly.

And this is doubly true in the nonprofit world, from what I’ve seen. Someone has to be the Google Suite admin, setting up new employees with their email addresses or resetting passwords when the bosses drop their iPhone on concrete. That’s easy enough to learn on the job. Someone has to work with the consultant to build a new Salesforce implementation or to be the liaison on the managed services contract. And isn't easier to just have that person create new users rather than have to always bug the outside contractor? Salesforce is designed to be low-code and easy to customize, so it’s totally possible to pick it up on your own. And when it’s possible to hand it to someone without training, it’s gonna happen.

And that’s OK with me. I love “accidental admins.” I’m an accidental admin myself. But once you’ve been handed those admin duties on Salesforce, what are you going to do about it? How do you learn to do what your colleagues are asking of you? And how might you learn to do even more, to go the extra mile and really give your colleagues what they need instead of just what they know how to ask for?

This is going to be the first in a series of posts about deepening your Salesforce learning and skills and growing your involvement in the Salesforce community. Not that I’m suggesting you have to make Salesforce your main focus or your new career. (Though we’ll welcome you with open arms if you so choose!). But let’s make whatever portion of your time you spend thinking about Salesforce more productive and professionally rewarding.

Step One–and I’m going to assume you’ve heard this before–is to spend some time on Trailhead. It seems hard for me to imagine you’ve found this blog without having heard of Trailhead, but I suppose it’s possible. And even if you’ve heard of it, you might not have really spent time there.

Trailhead is the free and fun way to learn Salesforce. And I really mean it–it’s fun! Trailhead should have been the first place you were directed as a user to learn how to navigate within Salesforce and work within the system. When I train new clients I always give them Trailhead modules to complete as a way of extending the live training we do together.

But now that you’ve got admin rights, Trailhead is also a great place to learn about your new powers (and the responsibilities that come with them.) You can do some book learnin’ where you read or watch videos and take a quick quiz to reinforce the knowledge. But don’t shy away from the hands-on challenges. It’s really fun to spin up your own Trailhead Playgroun (a complete working Salesforce instance connected to your Trailhead account) and build things, try things, and experiment. (I mean, it’s my idea of fun. You may not be such a nerd.)

Maybe you can start small with the Manage Users module if you’ve just been tasked with creating an account for your new colleague. But that’s just a quick bite to learn how to do one thing. You really should get a little more familiar with the back-end of Salesforce, what I like to refer to as “behind the gear,” or the Setup menu you access by clicking on the gear at the top of the page. So if you want to extend your learning beyond the user side, it’s time to jump into the Admin Beginner trail and/or the Administer Nonprofit Success Pack or Education Data Architecture trails.

I’m not going to keep listing modules and trails–Trailhead has a very capable search engine, not to mention a powerful recommendation engine. You can direct your own learning. My point is just to encourage you to jump into Trailhead. That’s all. A very simple Step One.

Final installment: Getting Certified


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