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Salesforce administrator responsibilities: What needs to be done and when

David Taber | Sept. 29, 2017
What does a Salesforce administrator do all day, week or month? Here's the general rundown.

 

Annual Salesforce admin activities

The main responsibility here is to capture data that will fall "over the horizon" or need to be archived for compliance reasons. These tasks will take three to six days per year.

  • Create an archive of all the system's field history tables (typically spanning no more than 18 months) to ensure that you have an audit trail that goes beyond a year.
  • Archive or purge documents (in all four places where SFDC hides them), emails and tasks to reduce the storage charges in your system and to adhere with your company’s document/email retention policies.
  • Archive Chatter histories for audit, compliance or regulatory reasons.
  • Update system road maps that summarize upgrades and new feature additions that are needed to achieve business goals.
  • Attend DreamForce.

Of course, the time you have to spend on these activities will vary…and you’ll get better at it as time goes on. If all goes well, everything outlined here will occupy no more than 19 work weeks, leaving you plenty of vacation time. Uh-huh.

 

How the chores need to be done

This is where the art comes in, because there are too many ways to blow it over the long term, even though you’ve done the details above according to the schedule.  You have to start with a perspective that might seem a little self-contradictory:

  • You are the steward of data quality and business processes, so you have to be consistent and a bit of an “enforcer.”  But you also have to assume that nearly any policy decision and directive from above is going to change over a year’s time or so.  This is just part of the territory of CRM.
  • You want to be fastidious, but you also need to be quite the pack-rat for old data, metadata, log files, and configuration control documents.  It’s OK:  disk space is free.
  • You’ve got important work to do on a schedule, but users are more important than you are.  Period.  You need to be as responsive and unobtrusive as possible, so users see only the benefits you provide.  Almost invariably, this means doing critical work off-hours.  It’s okay: you can nap during the day.
  • You need to be very detail oriented, but you’re also going to be pulled in several directions.  Consequently, you will forget what you did—and perhaps more importantly, why you did it—after a couple of months.  There is no substitute for memorializing rationales, decisions, and actions in a public document space (a Wiki, a few Google docs, or SFDC’s own Chatter system).  Make sure to keep track of who requested what when, because they will almost certainly not remember it for you.

From these principles spring these practices:

  • If you find a set of bad data records, don't delete them; instead, quarantine them until you're able to troubleshoot the problem and fix their root causes (both technical and user/process issues).
  • Use Roles to hide things that users don’t need to see.  Don’t remove data from the system until you absolutely have to (even so, keep several generations of backup files!)
  • Any time you make a change, have a snapshot of the “before” state of the data—including child records and other things that “couldn’t possibly be affected by my action.”
  • Before taking an action, always know what the roll-back strategy is (note:  for some actions, rolling back can take hours)
  • Keeping users happy means a small amount of hand-holding that doesn’t waste their time.  Avoid big, heavy training sessions like the plague.  Instead, use “office hours” where users can drop by and ask you for just the help they need today.  When there’s good stuff you need to train them on, create 5-10 minute videos that get you virtual face-time and let users consume information at their own pace.

 

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