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Focus on People: Rob Kaplan

Rob Kaplan is another successful Salesforce learner who is willing to share his experience with the Focus on Force community. He is a Salesforce senior administrator and business analyst, as well as the co-leader of a Salesforce user group. For his latest certification, he studied using the usual resources and combined it with a social activity that exercises other learning styles. Continue reading to find out more about Rob’s learning process.

Can you please introduce yourself and tell us what you do?

My name is Rob Kaplan. I’m a Salesforce senior administrator and business analyst at a manufacturing company located in New Hampshire, USA. My day to day activities include normal admin requests for either reports or configurations, enhancements, process builders, new objects, custom fields. Also, a lot of the business analyst process that would precede a lot of those projects before they even get started. 

How and why did you get
started with Salesforce?

I got started with Salesforce almost 5 years ago. Although, I had used it for many years in my sales career. It was a direct role for me about 5 years ago when I started with a consulting company in the Boston area.

What were your goals
when you were starting?

I thought that I would become someone that’s knowledgeable about Salesforce and begin working for companies that needed administrators. I mean, that is exactly what came to pass. My first certification was the Salesforce Admin certification that a lot of people get.

What was the most challenging part
of learning Salesforce?

Hard to say. I think, at the beginning, the language or vocabulary of Salesforce can seem a little bit daunting but that’s just because you’re not used to it. You haven’t spent any time inside of a system, inside the setup menu.

I would say that within six or seven months of using it in an administrator role, you’ll begin to understand the vocabulary and the patterns that get repeated structurally so pretty soon you’ll start to get familiar. Even when you see something that’s new to you, you’ll say to yourself “I can figure this out” because you have some foundational base. 

What tips and advice do you have for others who are in the process
of preparing and studying for a SalesForce certification?

Everybody has different learning styles. Some people are auditory, they need to hear it to learn it. Other people are very visual, so they need to read it to learn it. Other people are very tactile, they need to touch it to learn it. (That’s why great chefs are tactile learners!) So you have to have, in my opinion, a combination. It can’t be just one, otherwise you might miss something.

If I were giving a suggestion to a learner for another certification exam, I would say you certainly would want to read materials or meet as we did in a boot camp experience. A group of us, in the user group that I’m involved in, decided that we would have our own little boot camp. We met during the summer, once a week. Everybody took a section and presented it. That way, you get the material in a written and oral way.

You might probably want to use some sort of flashcards site so you could get faster with the vocabulary and get a sense of what the questions looks like. I would very importantly add Focus on Force as a practice test-taking platform.

How did Focus on Force study guides and practice exams
help with your preparation?

When we all came up to speed on the knowledge in the boot camp, I felt like I needed to test myself so I went to flashcard sites. I was getting a score, whether I passed or not, but it wasn’t really helping me with learning. Then a colleague in the user group had mentioned to me about Focus on Force, and it was perhaps one of the best recommendations I ever had. I would say that the reason I passed the Platform Application Builder certification exam was due in large measure to the work that I did with Focus on Force.

One of the things that I really like about Focus on Force is the immediate scoring on the practice exams. That’s great feedback! You would get that with a flashcard too, but what you don’t get with flashcards and you do get with Focus on Force is that you see why an answer is right or wrong. The platform repeats the documentation and shows screenshots for certain pages and configurations inside of Salesforce. For me, that’s almost as good as putting your hands on the keyboard and trying it. As a matter of fact, when I was reading a wrong answer and the platform would show that this is the configuration setting you should have, I would quickly run over to a dev board, load that up and go, “Oh, yes, now I see that.” That kind of combination really helped me a lot so thank you for having those features.

What are your future plans?
Do you plan to achieve more Salesforce certifications?

Yes, absolutely! I’m not sure which my next Salesforce certification will be... Perhaps Sales Cloud or Advanced Admin. I’m not sure yet. I have to see what fits with my current role and my current employer, but I’m certainly going to get another certification. When I do, I expect I will use Focus on Force once again.

What Certification are you studying for now?

Focus on Force currently provides practice exams and study guides for sixteen certifications