Your role and responsibilities on a project as a Salesforce Developer



The number of years that Salesforce has been a leader in sales process automation and customer service engagement has been in double digits for quite some time now. And this fact alone explains why positions surrounding the Salesforce platform – Administrators, QA Engineers, Designers, Developers, Architects, Consultants – are so popular on the job market. 

While all of these positions may seem enticing, there’s a chance that only one of them caught your eye, and that’s the job of a Salesforce developer. To see what it entails and what could be in it for you personally, we’ve compiled this Salesforce Developer guide. But first thing’s first for those not fully familiar with the tech/CRM world, let’s cover some basics to get you up to speed.

Rookie questions to answer first

What is Salesforce exactly?

Salesforce is a popular cloud-based platform that offers companies from all over the world a huge set of tools and apps to manage their work in a more efficient and transparent way. The flagship product of Salesforce is Sales Cloud, which is designed to make the lives of sales reps and sales managers easier. Besides that, Salesforce offers a whole treasury of useful products where you can find solutions focused on supporting other customer-facing departments (Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud), performing specific technical functions (Commerce Cloud), or boosting some industry-specific processes (Health Cloud, Financial Services Cloud).

Why does the Salesforce platform need Developers?

Salesforce products are great but they aren’t set in stone. When a company buys Salesforce licenses and gets access to their instance, while they can use it ‘off the shelf’, they’ll often want to begin by setting it up through configuration and customization activities for a more personalized experience. To align their own Salesforce implementation with their business processes, companies hire Salesforce Administrators and Developers. Naturally, the bigger the company, the more changes they need, and the more development power they require to get everything done.

Where would I work as a Salesforce Developer?

There are, of course, Developers employed by, Inc. who support the platform itself and enhance it by delivering new exciting clouds and features for Salesforce customers to purchase. But as cool as that may be, it’s not what we’ll be talking about in this guide.

What we mean by Salesforce Developers here are the professionals employed by Salesforce customers and Salesforce partners around the world. In both cases, your job is to help a particular company that uses Salesforce to tweak the platform according to their ever-changing business processes. If you work for a Salesforce customer, you will do that directly. If you’re hired by a Salesforce partner, you will do it indirectly by rendering your development services to Salesforce customers who do not want or need to configure and customize their Salesforce solution in-house.

Why is there such a big demand for Salesforce Developers?

The Salesforce customer base is getting bigger and bigger by the minute and so is the Salesforce partner ecosystem. Gartner and Forrester have both repeatedly recognized Salesforce as a leader in multiple domains of their work, which is a testament to how great Salesforce is seen by its customers for many years, and that enthusiasm for the platform doesn’t look like slowing any time soon. That (as well as an extremely healthy Salesforce economy dynamic) is reflected in a research paper by IDC where they established that the Salesforce partner ecosystem will create a staggering 9.3 million new jobs by 2026.

A list of responsibilities and types of projects to expect

The broader scope of your responsibilities will of course change as you ascend the career ladder. First, you’ll most likely have to follow existing best practices within the organization you work for in terms of:

  • Writing, testing, and deploying your code.
  • Investigating bugs.
  • Helping to compile your project’s technical documentation.

As your expertise grows, you’ll get to do more advanced things like meeting with customers or users to establish their business and technical requirements, designing applications, promoting code quality best practices among your team members, contributing to the design of new business processes in your team and choosing tools that your team may use to support those new processes.

Your responsibilities will also vary to some extent while working on different types of projects. Here are some of the most common areas of a Salesforce adventure that you can be a part of:

  • Implementation. Helping companies to implement Salesforce or migrate to Salesforce from other platforms usually requires a wide variety of activities for Salesforce Developers well before go-live. Typically, tasks will involve discovering companies’ Salesforce-related needs, creating demos to showcase Salesforce capabilities to stakeholders, designing features and apps, setting up integrations, migrating data, branding the interface, and much more.
  • Customization. A company may already have a Salesforce solution but they may lack particular functionality, for instance, integrations with new tools they have recently started using, or features to support complex processes that were launched in their company. Any activity that involves changing the solution’s code can be characterized as customization.
  • Configuration. Although it’s Salesforce admins who usually perform codeless changes in Salesforce (aka configurations), from time to time a Salesforce Developer may need to lend a helping hand to their colleague and change the settings of the platform themselves.
  • Application development. Some projects involve making entirely new Salesforce apps that can either be created by Salesforce customers for internal use, or built by Salesforce technology partners and promoted on AppExchange for Salesforce customers to buy ready-made alternatives instead of building them from scratch.
  • Support. An ongoing process of maintaining a fully functioning Salesforce solution makes up a big share of Salesforce projects. As a Developer on this project, your daily workload is likely to consist of fixing bugs and performing customizations as the need arises. Sometimes you may also have to run audits to test the performance and usability of the solution, in order to uncover improvement opportunities.

The skills you need and where to get them

The skills of Salesforce Developers normally fall into two categories – technical and general. Here’s a list of skills that Salesforce pinpoints as essential:

Salesforce platform knowledgeCommunication
Object-oriented programmingProblem solving
Application lifecycle managementProject management
IntegrationsCustomer service
Web servicesWriting
JavaScriptOrganizational skills
Lightning Web Components 

Some jobs also require knowledge of Visualforce and Aura Components as well as HTML, CSS, and XML. Some may even want you to know your way around Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services as well as Flex, ASP, SQL, Java, or C++ but such requirements are a rarity.

If you’re joining the platform at entry level, the list of required skills will of course be less exhaustive. However, there’s still a lot to learn, which is why you may wonder where you could get all this knowledge. The answer is Trailhead – a free learning portal provided by Salesforce where you can find everything you need to jumpstart your Salesforce training.

And when the time comes for you to demonstrate your Salesforce development skills at an interview, it’s always a good idea to research common interview questions for your position and find ways to make your answers stand out.

The perks and quirks of being a Salesforce developer

If you’re eyeing a Salesforce Developer career, then you’ve probably already been tempted by the advantages the role brings. However, it’s certainly worth recapping some of the main attractions:

  • According to Salesforce the average Salesforce Developer salary in the US is about $108,000 per year (although the Mason Frank Careers and Hiring Guide will give you a city-by city guide across the US, as well as locations around the world).
  • The job is popular on the market.
  • Salesforce supports development enthusiasts with a free learning portal called Trailhead.
  • You’ll always work with modern technology. Salesforce has three releases each year with new innovative features and products pouring in every time. Even if you’re working on a project with an older Salesforce solution, it’s bound to modernize at some point, so you’ll get access to the cool stuff anyway.
  • There is a massive community of Salesforce developers and admins with a great sense of unity. So, whenever you face a problem that your team can’t solve on their own, there’s always a forum with fellow trailblazers ready to help.
  • As your career unfolds, you can become a Salesforce architect or a Salesforce consultant with both career extensions paying even better and being even more rewarding.
  • You get to work with both backend and frontend, which makes you a versatile specialist.

So that we stay objective and you are prepared to face the real Salesforce world, let’s take a quick look at the negatives that a Salesforce Developer career may have in store for you, and the ways it can get quirky:

  1. Compared to the variety of projects that a Java developer may have access to (based on the fact that Java is similar to Apex), Salesforce Developers are somewhat limited in their freedom of choice. While Salesforce Developers will always work around one platform—with all its versatility —Java Developers can work on projects ranging from music/video streaming applications like Spotify and Netflix to virtual globe APIs like NASA WorldWind used by software engineers around the world to streamline the creation of 3D globe visualizations and maps.
  2. Since end users of Salesforce products are usually not deeply tech-savvy and lots of Salesforce project teams report to such end user departments, it can sometimes be difficult to find common ground and mutual understanding. However, communication with end users is usually a prerogative of Salesforce consultants, which means that most Developers don’t have to deal with this problem at all, and learning this skill can make you incredibly valuable as your career progresses.
  3. Given that Salesforce is a cloud-based platform, you may face the issue of system limits (say, total heap size should be below 6 or 12 MB in synchronous and asynchronous Apex respectively). However, once you learn the basic rules and best practices of Salesforce development, your code will become efficient and system limits will no longer be a problem.

Now that you know both the good and the bad that come with being a Salesforce Developer, hopefully your mind is loaded with all the knowledge needed to make an informed career choice.

Happy choosing!

About the author


Alex Skomyanov

Alex is Senior technical consultant and delivery manager at iTechArt. With five years of experience in rolling out successful Salesforce projects, he has a deep knowledge in sales and marketing automation, as well as translating complex business requirements into high-performance Salesforce solutions.

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