Nonprofits and educational institutions that are new to Salesforce often struggle to figure out how to fill their new need for a Salesforce administrator. In this post, we’ll describe the most common ways to fill this role and how to make the right choice for your organization.
Don’t Fill Your Salesforce Admin Role At All
OK, this isn’t really a viable option but it’s a path that too many organizations choose, and quickly regret. Salesforce offers tremendous flexibility to adapt to your organization’s unique mission and approach. But that flexibility can create problems without an active, capable Salesforce administrator in a full-time, part-time or virtual capacity.
A good Salesforce admin can help keep your instance clean and accurate, can ensure that it delivers accurate reporting and dashboards to your teams and can even modify the system and add capabilities to make your teams more productive over time. Regardless of your organization’s size, complexity or budget constraints, DO NOT CHOOSE THIS OPTION!
Make Everyone an Admin in Salesforce
This may seem like the opposite of Option 1 above, but it's really the same thing. If most or all of your Salesforce users have admin privileges, your organization is likely ignoring the critical parts of the Salesforce Admin role that have nothing to do with system access.
The most important and valuable part of a Salesforce Admin's role is to help your organization get better at using Salesforce to support your mission. That certainly requires technical Salesforce knowledge, but it's more about applying that knowledge to your organization's unique mission, processes and people to move things forward.
Part-Time, In House Salesforce Administrator
This is the route that most small organization choose. They invest in training for an existing team member and carve out 5-20 hours per week of time for that person to dedicate to the Salesforce admin role.
That range of hours is deliberate. You should dedicate at least 5 hours per week to some level of Salesforce admin work. Any less than that, and it will be difficult to develop any sort of internal expertise. And, you’re likely not going to get the value out of Salesforce that you expect.
On the other hand, if a part-time Salesforce admin is expected to spend more than 20 hours per week as a admin, it will require some more significant shuffling of resources. There’s nothing wrong with a part-time admin who spends 30 hours per week, but you probably won’t be able to get it done with existing resources. This is where organizations often turn to some form of Option 2 and Option 3 combined.
Part-Time, Virtual Salesforce Administrator
A virtual salesforce administrator is an on-call, certified Salesforce expert or team of experts who understand your specific Salesforce instance and can support a wide range of administration tasks as needed.
Most organizations that use virtual Salesforce administration do so as a way to supplement the time and expertise of an existing in-house administrator. For example, you may have a part-time Salesforce admin who was recently certified and who can spend 10-15 hours per week on SF admin work. In this case you might use your admin to manage users, troubleshoot issues and perform routine data maintenance. When you need more complex work done, like adding a new workflow or creating some unique dashboards, you would use the expertise of a virtual administrator.
Full Time Salesforce Administrator
Once you need and can afford more than about 30 hours per week of SF administration, you should really dedicate a full-time person to the role.
How Do You Choose?
There isn’t a perfect template for how to fill your Salesforce Admin role. Every organization is a little bit different in their needs, size, complexity and in the skills and capabilities of their teams. Based on KELL’s experience with over 1,000 Salesforce implementations, we have created a rough sketch of when you might opt for a mix of part-time and virtual administrators and what each could do.
Updated on July 15, 2019. Originally posted on August 8, 2018.