It’s official: I’m a Salesforce.com Certified Administrator!

The last time I got a certification for a particular technology was way back in 2001, when I went to NYC to learn about DoubleClick’s advertising management system. It was my first-ever business trip. I took the train up from DC, stayed in a slightly dodgy Manhattan hotel, and met up with some college friends in-between training sessions. The training itself was two days of PowerPoint and occasional hands-on exercises, and involved about a half a day of stuff relevant to the parts of DoubleClick that we used. It was an interesting illustration of the difference between the way a software system was supposed to be used, and the way the end user actually used it.

I’ve seen much the same thing with Salesforce.com. It’s CRM, designed to help people sell products, or handle customer service. But it’s capable of so much more than that; I’ve been using it chiefly as a platform for a business process wholly unrelated to tracking leads and campaigns, dealing with customizations that turn some of the Salesforce.com best practices right on their heads. I’m not going to lie: the exam was tougher than I thought it was going to be, simply because I don’t do “core” SFDC CRM on a day-to-day basis.

I take two things away from the experience. First, expertise in general is contextual. Second, if you’re using a platform or a framework that can do things in multiple ways or be used for broad range of activities, expertise becomes even more specialized. Just as you wouldn’t go to an orthopedic surgeon for an open-heart procedure, you’ve got to be cautious with general certifications.

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