Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Salesforce Certification Changes


You may have heard about new Salesforce certifications.  If you are curious about what it coming, I will break down the details.  In summary, new certifications are on the way in the Marketing and Developer areas.  Let’s start with the changes in the Developer area first.

Current Developer Certifications

When I first started working with Salesforce, I found the concept of a Developer somewhat confusing.  When working with other technologies, Java, Microsoft.Net, Oracle, etc., a Developer was always someone who programmed by writing code.  While this is true in the Salesforce world, there is also the ability to create something new without programming.  Other platforms do not have the concept of declarative development, so this is unique.  

Looking across other platforms, Administration universally refers to the process of running a system.  It does not refer to creating something new, as declarative development enables.  So declarative development would not fall under Administration. 

From the Salesforce perspective, it makes perfect sense to combine both declarative and programmatic development under the Developer umbrella.  Looking at the current certification tracks, becoming a Certified Developer exam covers the declarative aspect of the platform and does not include any programming. This certainly creates confusion for those outside the Salesforce world, and even some within.

While Advanced Developer does cover the programmatic aspects of the platform, it presents its own challenge.  First, Advanced Developer is not a widely held certification, yet is the only representation of programmatic development skills.  One of the hurdles to certification is the programming exam, which is only offered four times a year for up to 200 participants as the assignment is hand scored by multiple evaluators.  This leads to a significant backlog of candidates and multiple months of wait time. 

Compounding the problem, Salesforce has not even offered the programming assignment since December 2014. (Yes, I am keeping track as I passed the exam in early December and have been waiting ever since.)  All of these factors creates confusion in the marketplace around what is a Developer and the skills they posses. 

New Developer Certifications

With three new certifications, Salesforce is acting to remove all confusion.  First, Salesforce Certified App Builder bridges the gap between an Administrator and a programmer.  It covers designing, building and implementing new custom applications using the declarative aspects of the platform. 

Next, two programmatic certifications cover basic and advanced levels of programming skills.  Salesforce Certified Platform Developer I is meant to show ability to extend the platform through Apex and Visualforce.  Salesforce Certified Platform Developer II is all about going deep with the programming on the platform, including advanced topics.

More details on each can be found at on Salesforce’s site.  App Builder and Developer I are currently going through beta testing and should wrap up around July 10.  Unfortunately the beta program is full for these exams.  Certified Platform Developer II will have beta exams starting at the end of July.  It appears invitations are going to those who currently hold Advanced Developer Certification.  Hopefully, we will hear more details on general availability in August or Dreamforce ‘15 at the latest.

Marking Cloud Certifications

At the end of last year, Salesforce introduced Pardot Consultant certification.  While Pardot has since been moved under Sales Cloud, it still is all about Business to Business Marketing Automation.  Now Salesforce is expanding certifications to the Marketing Cloud.  Two new certification tracks have been announced within the Marketing Cloud, focused on users that build, manage and analyze either Emails or Social within the Marketing Cloud.  While there are overview details on the certification site, the study guides and recommend online trainings have yet to be announced.

Future Certifications Predictions (Safe Harbor)

If I look into my crystal ball, I don’t think this is the end of the new certifications from Salesforce.  Based on my Analytics Cloud Brown Belt Accreditation training in April, there were indications of a future certification in this area.  I would also not be surprised to see a user focused certification within Pardot, just like with the Marketing Cloud. 

Finally, the Certificated Technical Architect track has similar obstacles as the Advanced Developer.  A low number of certified individuals, long wait times for review boards and from what I have heard relatively low pass rates.  If we apply the changes from Advanced Developer to Platform Developer, a Technical Architect certification path with multiple levels and steps along the way would make sense and resonate with the market.

Personally, I look forward to putting my skills to the test with these new certifications once they are available and will be sure to share my test taking experiences.

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