Preface: This is part of the Technical Architect series.
Most consider Technical Architects to be the highest individual contributor position in Salesforce.
It’s true – architects represent the pinnacle of Salesforce knowledge and they are likely the highest paid people in the room… but what does an architect actually do all day?
I’ve learned a lot about this path as I transitioned from a developer to an architect at Google and failed the Technical Architect Review Board. I thought I’d share some of my learnings!
|Architects are the technical leads of a Salesforce org|
This really goes without saying. What’s less obvious though is that if you have a bad Salesforce org, the architect is really the person to blame – that’s the level of responsibility put on the architect!
Is your Salesforce org too slow? Does the data model meet your reporting needs? How about security? Is the org over-engineered? Is the UI intuitive? Are there a lot of bugs?
An architect’s job is to make sure the right tools and processes are in place to prevent these issues!
|Architects are NOT people managers|
People and technology are two very different things. One person can’t manage both effectively.
In fact, the two positions are somewhat opposites. People choose the architect career path specifically to stay close to the technology and avoid managing people.
But that doesn’t mean architects can avoid people altogether. People skills are a critical skill for an architect – you must be able to influence people without directly managing them!
|Architects design solutions, but they don’t actually build them|
Someone who both designs and implements a solution is a developer. Architects are different because they mostly just focus on the design.
An architect’s design includes diagrams such as:
It might seem strange to have someone focus just on design and not actually on building things. As you may know, the devil is in the details. But in order to scale you must let go!
|Architects work on BIG Salesforce implementations|
Architects are masters of scale. The smaller the Salesforce org, the less it needs an architect.
If you were the CEO of a company and you could only hire one person to build your Salesforce org, you wouldn’t want to hire an architect. An architect’s specialty is designing, not building.
But if your company is massive and you have teams of people implementing Salesforce, an architect is your best friend! They’d make sure everyone is building according to grand design.
Practically speaking, if your org doesn’t have thousands of users, objects with millions of records, or highly sensitive business functions/integrations, you might not need an architect.
|Architects must be good presenters|
A huge part of your job is getting people to buy in to your technical vision.
You must present effectively to people with different backgrounds and objectives. Executives, business stakeholders, and technical teams are all interested in different things.
Presenting is such an important skill for architects that it’s the final test on your CTA journey!
|Architects are great developers|
90% of Certified Technical Architects I’ve met have development backgrounds.
While expert coding skills are not strictly necessary to be an architect, it’s a MASSIVE advantage as it opens up the doors to work on very complex scenarios. And if you’re going to be the technical lead of teams of developers, you should at least be able to speak their language.
You also have to pass developer heavy System Architect certifications such as Platform Developer I!
|Architects are often the red tape in an org|
Imagine a Salesforce org where everyone has System Administrator permissions in production.
Someone may innocently create a new field. Then someone else might want to install that cool new AppExchange app they heard about. Oops! The intern accidentally deleted all your permission sets!
This simply will not scale. The more admins and developers you have, the more controls need to be in place so things don’t accidentally break. It is the architect’s job to enforce these rules!
|Salesforce is just one piece of an architect’s knowledge|
One can’t only know Salesforce and expect to become an architect!
In bigger companies, Salesforce is a small piece of the ecosystem. Architects must know:
|Most architects work at consulting firms or Fortune 500 companies|
Big Salesforce implementations almost always use consulting partners. If not, they likely have big Fortune 500 resources to spend on a big internal Salesforce team. Architect’s are all about big!
Do architect positions exist outside of these two categories? Definitely! There are always smaller shops that have surprisingly interesting Salesforce orgs. It’s just more rare.
Plus, any company can slap an “Architect” title on a job position =)
I hope this gives you a better picture of the Salesforce Technical Architect career!
If it sounds scary to you, that’s normal. It all sounds scary to me too. No one said it’d be easy!
But you can certainly bet it’s all worth it. Mastery is something we all strive for in the things we care about. The money and the fancy title don’t hurt either!
P.S. if you’re still wondering which Salesforce career path is right for you, check this out:
Salesforce Career Personality Quiz!
Great one. Thanks for your efforts in detailing this
Great post David, you are motivation to all of us who are new to Salesforce platform. # ABCC – AnyBody Can Code.. you are making difference in lives of people who are eger to learn and advance.. thank you!!
Hi David, It’s amazing how you are motivating other for this tough journey. Worth reading the post!!!
Thank you, thank you, thank you for this yet the best post which I know you at least spend 3 months to write!!! Seriously, how long did this take you to write this post? I thought your work at Google and have a family, and spend all your time helping different Salesforce communities.
Shocks..This is great then~ I always shied away from Arc thinking it was more of a DEV activity… How do you suggest one picks up skills as an architect?? Trailhead?
Future post. =P
It’s so clearly and precisely presented that I think it’s one of the amazing posts I have read.
Great stuff as always. On first read it looks like it says Platform Developer II
is required for the System Architect certification.
However, it’s a actually I!
Thanks Phil!! Updated from a ! to a . so it’s easier to read. =)
David, I am reading your posts because you have a constant motivation effect in my brain. Instantly. It’s that desire to facing the impossible that I am always wondering if I can conquer it and then when I achieve it … the next question is always… What is coming next? Thanks for another decade of .. inspiration :).
Great post summarizing the Architect Position! As an Architect I’d especially underline the point Nr.2: “Architects are NOT people managers” – but they have to be always in constant communication with managers and business to ensure deliverable business solutions with best technical implementation. Architects should stay up for their technical design, even if customer demands something else, because, if it fails, guess who will be responsible for the consequences? (Hint see Nr.1 :) )