Editor’s Note: Every other Friday, Internet Creations employees of all levels of Salesforce expertise will share their experiences with Trailhead trails and modules to help you get the most out of your Trailhead time. In this review, Alex Liston, Sales Development Representative at Internet Creations, provides her perspective on the Admin Beginner trail.
Having my very first introduction to Salesforce be the Learn CRM Essentials trail included in Trailhead, I was excited to hop into the Admin Beginner trail to start my #AwesomeAdmin journey into the basics of the platform. I am currently beginning my adventure as a Salesforce end user in a Sales capacity, having spent the last four years interacting with a different CRM platform from both a sales rep and sales operations perspective.
While the Learn CRM Essentials trail was certainly beneficial for learning how to effectively navigate through Salesforce, the basic concepts reviewed were similar to those in other CRM platforms. Previously, I had gathered from chatter (pun intended) around different offices that Salesforce is much more customizable and user-friendly, especially pertaining to admin customizations, than other platforms. I was hoping that the Admin Beginner trail would really give me some insight into the validity of those rumors. (Spoiler alert: It did!)
At first, the Admin Beginner trail was a bit intimidating, as it consists of eight different modules, each with 2-6 units. That said, they seemed to fly by as Salesforce kept the units short and interactive. I had also learned from the previous trail that after each module, save the “Getting Started with…” module, I would be rewarded with a Salesforce certification badge, which would allow me to post directly to my LinkedIn and show off my newly acquired skills right from Trailhead.
The first module, Salesforce Platform Basics, may be a little redundant if you’ve already completed the Learn CRM Essentials trail, but as a result, I completed it much quicker than the suggested time. The module is more of a high-level overview of how Salesforce can be utilized by an entire organization, as opposed to just the Sales/Support departments. It also breaks down the architecture of the platform and explains the common terminology associated with the platform. This module definitely left me feeling more comfortable with the commonly used language (i.e., APIs, Declarative vs. Programmatic, Multitenancy), wondering why nearly every facet of any organization (aka org) wouldn’t use Salesforce, and even wanting to learn to code a bit!
The Data Modeling module was more complicated than the previous, as it is building on what you’ve already learned, and therefore the interactivity of it was extremely beneficial. While I’ll admit at first I was having a little trouble understanding the concepts, actually going in and being able to visualize the process by creating objects, fields, and relationships really helped bring all aspects of the module together. The final unit walks you through the Schema Builder feature, which allows you to do what the rest of the module had shown just in a quicker, drag-and-drop format.
The Data Management module was very quick and to the point. Here, Trailhead shows you where to go and how to import as well as export data. The importing portions provides a file to download that you will then have to import into the Developer Environment, which is a great way to familiarize the end user with the very easy process.
While I could see the UI Customization module being a piece of cake for some, I struggled quite a bit with it. It took me some time to understand where I needed to go in Salesforce to be in the right spot. A video would’ve been especially helpful for the Modifying Page Layouts unit, where it took me about 10 minutes into the challenge to realize I needed to add a “Selection” to the page layout in order to edit (I may have just not picked up on that during the instructions, but a video for sure would’ve helped make this clearer).
The Salesforce1 Mobile Basics module starts off pretty easy, then gets a little more challenging. The first couple provide an overview of the Salesforce1 mobile application. If you’re familiar with most mobile applications (even non-business applications) it’s pretty easy to get a hang of the navigation.
The real fun starts once you get into creating customized compact layouts and actions that users can then use from their mobile applications. The most challenging part was the Global Quick Actions unit, which required a lengthy description in order to offer a comprehensive overview of the process to create global actions. The challenge at the end had you walk through each step of the process for yourself, which really helped bring it all together for me.
The Chatter Basics module starts with an overview of Chatter. It then goes into posting and creating different actions on Chatter and the overall benefits of the feature to an organization. The first unit on getting started should be a breeze for a Trailhead user familiar with most social media sites, especially Facebook, or any experience with Yammer. The next few units dive into specific features for Chatter, including feed tracking, creating and posting actions, and utilizing approval both in Salesforce in general and on Chatter.
The Reports & Dashboards module has by far been my favorite module yet. As the name implies, this module introduces the user to the process for creating reports and dashboards using the Report Builder. As a heads up, previously in my career, I would create reports and dashboards for my colleagues for fun, so much so that eventually it became my full-time job, so I REALLY enjoyed learning how to do this in Salesforce.
The module first walks you through creating a tabular report, then goes into summary, matrix, and joined reports, even having the user create a matrix report. What I was able to ascertain from this module is that basically you can create different variations of pivot tables within the platform itself, which is totally awesome! I absolutely love pivot tables (I’m not even kidding) but I do not love having to export large data files from CRM systems to pivot on my data.
While I cannot lie and say the Admin Beginner trail went smoothly, I will say that I quickly learned more about Salesforce than I ever thought I would know as a Sales professional. I also went through the trail in the provided order of modules and units, which was beneficial as they seemed to build on top of one another. The test Salesforce Developer Environment is definitely a unique and effective way to give new users hands-on experience while ensuring that they don’t mess up a functional Salesforce deployment.
Overall, I cannot imagine a more comprehensive introduction to the Salesforce platform than the Trailhead program. I would 100% recommend anyone new to Salesforce or a Sales professional who has only interfaced as an end user (versus as an admin) check out the Admin Beginner trail.