#002 - Considering certifications
Welcome to Issue #002 of The Forcing Function - your guide to delivering the right outcomes for your projects and your users.
✍️ Insights: So, when was the last time you earned a new certification? Do you even care about them? Are you trying to figure out if you should do one?
🤔 Made me think: When over-optimisation leads to overall under-optimisation.
👨💻 Worth checking out: Cap Watkins on how to defuse decision making conflict.
🗒️ And on a personal note: Reaching 10 years of contracting.
So, when was the last time you earned a new certification? Do you even care about them? Are you trying to figure out if you should do one?
Yet again I'm sat down at a random desk in a random office and am asking myself the same question I ask year in year out: "why I am putting myself through yet another exam?" 😅
As a contractor who moves from client to client as often as once a year, I could say that it’s because I have to:
Provide a simple shorthand for my skillset that makes it easier for recruiters to find me and put me forward to clients.
Demonstrate my professional credibility quickly with clients - both in interviews and when I'm on the project.
Prove my understanding of specific areas of Salesforce functionality to my team (and to myself too).
And I certainly wouldn’t disagree that being a glutton for punishment was also a valid reason too. 🤪
As you can see from the reasons above, earning a certification still remains - a powerful signalling mechanism from me to my market.
But, there is a caveat.
Not all certifications are created equal and not all certifications are worth doing. For the signal to penetrate the noise, the certification must be well recognised and highly valued.
So, it's a constant check to make sure that I'm not working towards certifications just for the sake of it. Here's 3 questions I use and my answers for how I chose my most recent certification - Salesforce's Certified Business Analyst credential.
How important is the certification to my career journey?
With Salesforce finally recognising the importance of business analysis, and as I continue to specialise my career in Salesforce, this was useful to obtain so that I could be amongst the first to demonstrate my overlap across both subject domains.
What’s the opportunity cost of doing the certification?
From a time perspective: Unexpectedly having to self-isolate, deciding to study for this felt like a better use of time than feeling sorry for myself whilst binge watching Netflix.
From a cost perspective: The $200 exam fee was worth the investment.
How valued is the certification by those who matter?
To stand out amongst Salesforce BAs, the sweet spot is being 5x certified. So getting this certification helps me work towards that number and because it's on business analysis - even better.
As a whole, Salesforce certifications are well recognised and do have credibility as they require you to sit a closed book supervised exam to pass - not simply self-certifying.
Earning each certification is just another waypoint in my career journey - never the final destination. A great mindset that I was taught and one that I encourage you to have as well.
"I maintained my edge by always being a student; you will always have something new to learn."
Jackie Joyner Kersee | Olympian heptathlete
🤔 Made me think
When over-optimisation leads to overall under-optimisation.
If you could only save 5 minute on task that you only did once a year for 5 years, then you've only got 25 minutes to spend optimising it. Any more and you've spent more than optimising than you've saved!
With any software implementation projects, before long you'll hear the mantras of automation and efficiency being intoned from sponsors down to the end users.
And whilst a noble goal, as the saying goes: "everything in moderation".
Typically, only small proportion of tasks need to be optimised. Those which are done very frequently and where there is a substantive amount of efficiency gains.
Otherwise, as unpalatable as it might be to the client, it may not be worth the time/effort/cost to design, build, test, implement, and maintain those productivity changes.
If you were in any doubt, XKCD's illustration is such a great visual of how little time you do have to optimise a routine task before it exceeds the time saved.
🧑💻 Worth checking out
Cap Watkins on how to defuse conflict in decision making.
As business analysts, defusing conflicts is an inevitable part of our role - whether's that between the project team and the stakeholders, between stakeholders, or even within the project team.
Andy: Hold on a second. I'm like a two-out-of-ten on this. How strongly do you feel?
Cap: I'm probably a six-out-of-ten, I replied after a couple moments of consideration.
Andy: Cool, then let's do it your way.
Cap's approach has always reminded me to check if someone is arguing to make a point because they do feel strongly about it. Or, if they are making a point of being argumentative for the sake of it.
🗒️ And on a personal note
Celebrating 10 years of contracting.
A decade ago, on a sunny July, a million questions raced around my head. Mostly centred around: was this the right move?
I had made the major milestone jump to manager at a reputable consultancy. Now I was going to leave them ... and my team ... to go contracting ... on my own.
At the time, leaving the safety and security of my permanent role felt like walking off the cliff - most likely plummeting to my doom ☠️.
Looking back now, the reality was nothing like I had feared.
Clients did hire me, I could still pay my way and my bills, and I wasn't unemployed unless I wanted to be.
So 10 years on, I've worked on some incredible stuff that I never thought I would be part of, learnt so much from some amazing people, and loved living a far more independent life my own terms.
This wouldn't have been possible without my wife who gave me the idea to switch to contracting, encouraged me to do it, and has been a constant source of support as well as my safe habour throughout. Thanks P! 🙇♂️
🖖Until next Thursday ...
If you enjoyed this newsletter, let me know with the ♥️ button or add your thoughts and questions in the comments. I read every message.
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For now, thank you so much for reading this week's issue of The Forcing Function and I hope that you have a great day.
PS: Thanks to P for reading drafts of this.