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Salesforce Business Analyst Certification Reflections

My meandering career following a degree in government, started as maintenance programmer, then systems programmer, support engineer, test engineer, Salesforce Administrator, and most recently community college math tutor. These occupations share a common process:

  • Customer facing
  • Define problems
  • Devise solutions
  • Map paths to resolution

Back in the stone age, when dinosaurs walked the planet, Waterfall was meaningful, and IBM Mainframes ruled the world, we called this work “Systems Analyst”. Software product development since then has changed significantly. It no longer takes a month of Sundays, two committees, and three layers of management for a CICS/Cobol programmer to change report headings or screen layouts. But some of that work is unchanged: Work with customers, understand problems, research, devise solutions, and map a path to resolution.

When I started reading about the Salesforce Business Analyst certification it was soon apparent this line of work is what many people in IT do and understand, though perhaps in a dated or different fashion. Business analysis the Salesforce way requires understanding new and different processes, methods, research, and vocabulary, commensurate with the way software is now designed, developed, implemented, and supported: quickly, iteratively, and collaboratively.

People who can work with customers, define problems, gather information, devise solutions, and map paths to resolution understand Business Analysis. The challenge with this certification is understanding how to do it the Salesforce way, mastering all the vocabulary, and understanding new processes. Trailhead is the best, and in this case, unfortunately, the only real way to get there.

Salesforce Business Analyst Certification Reflections

As always, with any certification journey, the first stop, and the last stop in this case, is Trailhead. The exam guide gives an overview of exam coverage. The guide cites two Trailmixes mapping out a learning path that, having just taken the exam, cover all exam topics nicely. Links to the two trails are in the exam guide. There are no links to the exam guide here.

New for me, with this exam journey, and in comparison to past certifications, was the complete dearth of white papers, practice tests, books, third party training, and other ‘non-Salesforce’ sources of information. The dearth of white papers is disconcerting. For nearly every other certification I passed, Salesforce has in-depth technical documentation that, albeit sometimes kind of long and dense, goes into great detail about the topic:

While these documents are dense cures for insomnia, early in my Salesforce career I began to see exam questions seemingly originating from these white papers. I have come to rely on them.

For other exams I often found training videos, in Salesforce, on Udemy, or YouTube. Diversified learning resources make for good effective learning and education. I have found good books to help study for past exams, such as

Studying for this exam, I found no useful white papers, no books from third party authors, no instructional videos, and no viable third party training resources. Two trails in Trailhead, footnoted by everyone, except me, are pretty much the only learning resources for this certification.

As always, I write a lot of notes during study. Key terms, concepts, and methods seem to be:

  • Sprint
  • Persona
  • Journey maps
  • Discovery techniques
  • Elicitation
  • Agile
  • Whiteboarding
  • Process map
  • RACI
  • UAT
  • ALM
  • Agile
  • Scrum
  • Kanban
  • UPN
  • User Story
  • Epic
  • Acceptance criteria
  • Who, What, Why; and where and why this is meaningful
  • Waterfall
  • UX research plan
  • Job story
  • Done
  • Ideation
  • Prototype
Salesforce Business Analyst Certification 2 Trailmixes

For Administrators looking to take this exam, I would suggest a careful study of the two mixes in Trailhead. Understand the meaning, use, application, and context of the cited terms. I take a lot of notes and stop studying a day prior. During the final 24 hours prior to exam time, I relax, reflect, read my notes, and think about what I have learned. For me, at least, this seems to work.

The last two exams, Sharing and Visibility, and Einstein, left me feeling a foot shorter by the time I was done. It was many hours of study. They were hard exams. This one, by comparison, was not painful, and may explain why Salesforce bumped the passing score from 62% to 72%, conveniently the day before I took the exam. It was nice, for a change, to have an easy one. I’m just trying to stay ahead of my friends Christine Marshall and Andreea Doroftei, who seem to be collecting certifications at a dizzying and prodigious rate:)

Candidly this is not the toughest certification exam I have taken and I’m not the first to make this observation. Much of this was confirmed to me when I watched Ian Gotts interview four SF professionals who passed this exam the first day it was available on July 11. I expect to see things change. Hoards of people will take the exam, do well, and pass. Salesforce will notice. The exam will become more challenging. It should. I hope to see better content, greater detail, and improved organization in the Trailhead modules. The BA trail mixes lack depth, detail, and meaningful content, especially in comparison to the trail mixes for Sharing and Visibility, Communities, Admin, or Einstein.

I want to better understand, in greater and more meaningful detail, about BA principles and  lifecycle processes such as Agile, ALM, Journey Mapping, UX design, UX research, User Stories, and much more. These are all useful meaningful BA processes. Trailhead scratches the surface. Barely. Everyone is happy to have at least one easy certification exam, and a lot of people are probably getting irritated with me letting the cat out of the bag, but we work in this ecosystem because it is exciting, interesting, challenging, ever-changing; and not because the exams are easy.

Thank you,

Dave Ge

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Dave Ge

Dave Ge

Sailing Instructor, 11x certified Salesforce Administrator, Math Tutor.