It’s a complicated role. Salesforce Solution Architects (SAs) live in a complex world of acronyms, systems, lifecycles, processes, user stories, relationships, and politics.
Solution Architects need to lead successful implementations of Salesforce and system integrations that leverage on-premise and cloud computing platforms. But that means they:
- Conduct business process review meetings
- Lead the evaluation of functional and technical requirements
- Perform gap analysis between Salesforce functionality and the client’s requirements
- Write comprehensive design specifications, including functional specification, use cases, and user stories
- Create technical documentation like solution design documents and technical design documents
Good Salesforce Architects wade through the noise of this world to decode and resolve confusion around business and technical needs alike. To do this well requires both creativity and problem-solving skills for comprehensive Salesforce solutions, including object and data model structures, integration points and data flows, formulas and workflow automation, along with other custom functionality.
The key skill that unites all Salesforce Architects? Communication.
The best SAs communicate and gain support for their team’s goals across the business. Doing so across the broad ecosystem of systems and processes is a tall order to be sure, so an SA must be prepared with knowledge of systems relevant to the ecosystem in which they operate and be constantly ready to learn.
Here’s what every Salesforce Solution Architect should be able to do:
Provide expert guidance
Knowing Salesforce is a given.
I’m talking about knowing Salesforce inside, outside, backwards, and sideways.
Salesforce Architects have to understand all of the declarative capabilities and code-centric approaches available. They have to develop stories that may challenge preconceived business requirements. This includes details about both the internal workings of the solutions in play and details of what works best “in the field” through experience with similar organizations. The SA approaches each requirement and story with flexibility and a focus on the future, governing their thought process so each configuration is there to collect, manage, manipulate, or transport data. This delivers efficiency and the best experience to the organization’s customer.
Once they have that knowledge, they must gain trust with fellow technologists and business owners. Great SAs provide thorough and thoughtful guidance on technical and business aspects of a solution while building toward an improved future state. Re-imagining your customer journey, for example, takes so many puzzle pieces, from identifying customer expectations to determining real-time communication channels to the technology that powers the customer experience. How should you approach building the solution and then delivering it to the organization?
An SA can’t simply have an opinion – they need to arrive with expert guidance.
Speak an organization’s language
That’s not just lingo. (Don’t get me started on “circling back” or “low-hanging fruit.”)
Salesforce Architects have to know the reality of what makes a particular business successful. When SAs show genuine evidence they understand their processes and culture, that’s when they gain confidence for business leaders and individual contributors.This understanding also informs every technical decision an SA makes.
In a healthcare setting, for example, this means being able to analyze and identify patterns related to call center interactions with patients and how those interactions can be improved with a multi-channel service solution. For example, if the goal of a call center interaction with a patient is for them to book a doctor’s appointment, they can easily see what conversations (and data) correlate with that outcome, and help organizations experiment with other ways to streamline that process, through email, chat, or SMS.
Experience a day in the life
Ok, this may seem like an obvious thing for an SA to have. But “experience” refers not necessarily to years in the role, but to an understanding of each organizational function. It would be impossible for an SA to be an expert in marketing, finance, or support. But they must have a fundamental understanding across every discipline but often be able to go much deeper.
Without this foundation, it’s challenging to jump into a specific area and make an impact. On our team, SAs regularly “drop in” with their expertise to review designs or talk through technical solutions. They’re on the forefront of Salesforce’s new releases, so they can best guide us how to apply them in any real-life situation.
Technical experience is equally important. Leaning on fundamental exposure to application development, integration, and data architecture concepts provides a deeper insight from the SA to potential issues or complexities in a solution.
Offer flexible consistency in the face of change
Yes, I know that’s an oxymoron. But hear me out.
While no crystal ball exists, SAs should be able to foresee technical and business complications that may arise in the future.
Deploying transformational changes to business and technical architecture can be incredibly disruptive. When companies embark on transformational strategies, they forget the countless ways that projects go off track. A great SA will see these before they happen and understand how to compose solutions that create a pathway for change and mitigate risk. When changes are required, the SA ensures they aren’t disruptive ones.
Solution architecture is a critical thread in the tapestry of business transformation. Technology and business continue to shift, flex, wax and wane — SAs should be adept at responding to all of these changes.
SAs wear multiple hats and perform many different roles for an organization. They understand project management, application development, and integration development. They design data architectures and systems. They overcome politics, make friends, and manage stakeholders.
If you’re thinking of becoming a Solution Architect, find what areas interest you the most. Plan out your strengths and weaknesses (we all have them!) and don’t be afraid to be collaborative. After all, Solution Architecture is a team sport.
What makes Silverline different?
Silverline Managed Services takes an innovative approach to the role of Solution Architect. Each one of these capabilities? It’s exactly how our team engages with our clients.
Each role on our team does some aspect of the ideal Solution Architect. From our Client Services Manager, who drives continuous innovation and guides business processes, to the Technical Architects, Integration Specialists, Data Architects, Developers, Administrators, Marketing Architects, and Business Analysts – they’re all, in some ways, Solution Architects.
That way our clients get the best of both. It’s the focus on individual excellence and the composition of Silverline’s capabilities and those of our clients into a cohesive whole that works.
Interested in what our team of Solution Architects can do for you? Take a look at our Managed Services offerings.