What’s the first skill set you hire for when you realize you need a solution to a business challenge? Often, companies will hire/contract software developers to build them tools without first understanding the business problem they’re trying to solve. Or, companies will hire a consultancy specializing in business process to tell them what type of process they need but those consultants won’t actually put (digital) pen to paper and create a working solution. Over the 20 years I’ve spent in technology, I’ve come to value the “Solution Developer” skill set – one of equal parts affability, business acumen and technical know-how – over pure play roles like “Application Developer”, “Business Analyst”, “Project Manager”. This blog post is intended for those wishing to become a Solution Developer or for those companies wishing to understand how a Solution Developer help decrease costs and accelerate time-to-market on usable process/software solutions.
You know about Salesforce.com, otherwise you wouldn’t be on this site. Salesforce has grown from a pure Sales Management/Marketing Tool to one extensible enough to solve any business problem in any business function. But how do you get started? A little less than 4 years ago, Salesforce rolled out “Trailhead” to help Business Users and Administrators learn more about the platform (developer use of the tool would follow when certifications were rolled in). I encouraged everyone I influenced to sign up and begin to gain mastery in certain areas. The trailhead environment has grown substantially since over time and now includes Modules, Projects, Trails and Trailmixes. There are “tracks” that guide you to explore what is relevant for a particular job function (Business User, Admin, Developer, Architect) and skill level (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced). But remember that a Solution Developer is a bit of a hybrid, needing to know about how users employ the system as much as how to build the system they’ll employ. That’s where Trailmixes come in. It is becoming less relevant to go to a class for 2 days and become ‘certified’ than it is to gain mastery of an area over time. The attainment levels in Trailhead currently stop with Ranger (achieved with 100 badges). I like to talk to potential consultants when they have 25 badges. But not just any 25 badges – ones that are relevant for the Solution Developer hybrid skill set. So I set up a trailmix to help those folks get started called “Greener Pastures Core“.
When my children are helping me with a job in the backyard like clearing and breaking down tree limbs downed by heavy winds, they’re often daunted by the magnitude of the job. First they put on their gloves and eye protection (tools) and then they start breaking down the sticks branch-by-branch, chanting the mantra: “The journey of a 1000 miles starts with… a single step”. That step is signing up for Trailhead and getting started down the path. Sign up and come help us help our clients.