Devendra Dhaka is an experienced Senior Salesforce Specialist who recently secured his Integration Architecture Designer and Development Lifecycle and Deployment Designer certifications. Devendra was given an opportunity to sit the BETA exams, before the certifications were widely available to the Salesforce market.
Devendra now holds 8 Salesforce certifications and Talent Hub spoke with him to understand how the new Domain certification compare to other he has taken, who the certifications are suitable for and how people should prepare before they sit the exams.
How did you get access to the Beta Certs?
Salesforce released a certain number of seats for the Beta certifications and I was fortunate to able to register for them. Beta certifications were free and limited, but now they are available for everyone and cost around $400 USD each.
How do these certs fit in to the new Technical Architect certification structure?
At present the CTA process includes a self-review exam, a MCQ exam and a review board presentation. However over time Salesforce will modify this process and make it more streamlined. You will need to sit a certain number of domain certifications before you can appear for CTA review board. I think there will be around 12 domain certifications to complete.
What was the process for the Integration Architecture and Deployment certifications?
Like most Salesforce’s certifications, these were both multiple choice exams. For the Beta exam, you get more questions than typical Salesforce certifications. I got 110 questions for the Integration Architecture Designer exam and 120 for the Deployment Lifecycle and Deployment Designer exam.
I had 2 hours to complete each exam but it will be 90 minutes for anyone looking to take the certifications now.
Were you aware of the pass mark prior so sitting the test?
There was no clear pass mark that we were informed of prior to sitting the Beta exams. Salesforce analyses the performance from all participants and based on the review, it decides a passing criteria. Typically it’s 70% for most of the Salesforce certifications.
How did you prepare for the certs?
I only had very short notice for these Beta exams. I didn’t get much time to prepare and was dependent on my domain knowledge and existing implementation experience.
Both exams were based on business knowledge and how would you approach complex scenarios. Any Salesforce professional, who has worked in these areas, would be comfortable taking these certs. They don’t go too deep into implementation detail as they are for Architect level Salesforce specialists; you need to be comfortable with your design and approach skills.
For the Integration Architecture exam I had around 2 days preparation and for the Deployment exam I had 5 days preparation.
What specific areas in each certification do you feel people should be comfortable with before they sign up for the certifications?
For the integration certification – It was focused on integrating two different systems and creating a stable communication channel. An Integration consultant should focus on following things
- Knowledge about both systems
- Network outage management
For Development lifecycle and Deployment Specialist: This certification was focused on Project management skills and Deployment strategies. A consultant should have knowledge on the following items:
- Project Methodologies knowledge i.e. Agile etc.
- Understanding of Development lead roles and responsibilities
- Deployment strategies
- Environment Management (Specific to Salesforce sandboxes)
How do they compare to other certs you have achieved (Platform II)?
The Platform II is very specific for advanced Developers, who will be taking requirements from an Architect and then going away to deliver that solution. These two new certifications are very much relevant for Technical and Solution Architects, and will focus on
- Project discovery stage
- Performing feasibility studies
- Solution designing
- Project implementation
What did you find was the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge with all BETA exams is the lack of knowledge about the questions you can expect. I had no idea about the complexity and type of questions to expect when I appeared for the exam. When people sit for existing certs such as Developer, Admin etc. they are able to revise online and read feedback from other people which gives them a major advantage.
What does having these certs mean for you now?
The new certifications validate my experience and give me stronger credentials. It will definitely help me to push for Salesforce CTA in future.
Although certifications should never be the only thing taken into consideration when looking to hire someone.
Do you think the new Domain certifications will make better Architects?
Salesforce is trying to refine the CTA path and create domain specific channels for different role such as Solution Architects, Technical Architects, Deployment Specialists etc. It will also help users to evaluate their knowledge as per the current standards and market needs.
What advice do you have for anyone looking to sit the certs?
Passing a certification, just by going through documents and not having any domain knowledge wont’ be fruitful. Individuals should focus on their knowledge, gain business experience, take initiatives to streamline existing project implementation processes etc.
Any professional with above experiences would easily pass these domain certs.
Who do you think these certs are most suitable for?
The certifications are relevant to anyone operating at Architect level already, to some degree. They are good for people that want to push on in their careers. As I said earlier, it will be useful for consultants to prove their domain knowledge and expertise.
How can Salesforce improve these certifications?
Not just with these ones, but Salesforce should regularly change and update the questions they are asking with all of the certifications. Often a Salesforce specialist who is sitting the exam has been given insights by friends/colleagues into the questions they can expect way before they actually sit the exam.
What certifications are you planning next?
Salesforce CTA MCQ and some additional Domain certs are currently on my list.