Over the last few months I have spent a fair amount of time working with people looking to get their first Salesforce Certification and one thing I focus heavily on, is the difference between understanding vs memorisation when studying for your exam. In this post, I hope to address the importance of understanding rather than memorisation, and how it helps as you progress in your career and certification journey. By the end of this post, I hope you to see the importance of understanding the different features and concepts, rather than just memorising processes or limitations.
Let's dive in and first discuss why it is important to understand a concept or feature rather than to just memorise the information about it. To understand something is to comprehend it and grasp the meaning of it, whereas memorisation is simply the ability to recall a piece of information when required to do so. When it comes to passing any Salesforce Certification, memorisation doesn't work, this is because a lot of the questions are not simply "What is the maximum number of master-detail relationships an object can have?" where you can recall the answer, but they are more scenario and situation based. They generally give a rough outline of the situation or requirement and then ask you what is the best way to solve it by giving you 4 answers to choose from, and to make things more complicated usually 2 or more of the answers would work, but you need to pick the best one based on the information provided. In order to select the best answer, you must understand the concept or feature that you are being asked about and must be able to identify the positives and negatives of each particular answer and therefore pick the best solution.
Once you pass the exam and you are in a real life scenario (assuming you are not already), then the situation is rarely as clean cut or as easy to solve as the ones in the exam, and you must be able to look and evaluate every possible option to know what the best course of action is. Furthermore, when you start studying towards your next certification, that underlying understanding that you have built provides the perfect foundation on which to layer more complex concepts or features that Salesforce offers. One further point to consider is when you are interviewing for a role. I have never been asked a question about the maximum number of custom fields or workflow rules a object can have, however I have always been given scenarios or problems to solve and then asked to explain my solution, or asked for examples of when I have used a particular Salesforce feature and why I did. Without spending the time to understand the concept or feature, then I wouldn't have been able to answer these questions.
What does it mean to understand a concept or feature? Well, I would suggest that there are 5 key questions that you should be able to answer before you can say you understand.
1. When should it be used? You should be able to clearly explain in what situation you would use the feature.
2. When it should not be used? You should know when it isn't suitable to use the feature.
3. How it works? You should be able to explain how the feature works.
4. What are the advantages and disadvantages? You should be able to explain the advantages and disadvantages of the feature.
5. What are the alternatives? You should be able to identify and alternatives and why you would use them.
Let's work through an example together - Process Builder.
1. A Process Builder should be used to automate processes that require IF/THEN logic and impact related objects. With a Process Builder you can create records, update any related record—not just the record or its parent, invoke a process from another process, launch a flow, send an email, send a custom notification, post to Chatter, submit a record for approval, and more.
2. You shouldn't use a Process Builder if you only require to update a field on the same record, send an outbound message, or you require more complex logic or automation such as updating an unrelated object or creating multiple records.
3. Process Builders work using IF/THEN logic. For example, IF Opportunity is Closed Won, THEN send a email to the Users Manager and create an Order Record.
4. Process Builders are quick and easy to create and allow Admins to create automations that help assist Users with their day-to-day life. They can handle most automation requirements and are easy to manage going forward. However, they cannot perform certain actions such as sending an outbound email and cannot handle overly complex logic or automation requirements. You create Process Builders using IF/THEN statements and specifying what should have if that logic is true.
5. There are alternatives such as Workflow rules which can handle much simpler logic that only requires updating a field on the same record, sending an outbound email or creating a task. If Process Builders are unable to meet the requirements due to complex logic, then a Flow can be created which allows the creation and updating of unrelated records, creating a screen flow to guide users through a process or creating or updating multiple records. For anything more complex than a Flow can handle, there is Apex.
So there we have it, I hope that has helped you and I hope you seek to understand rather than memorise.
Remember, it is better to understand than memorise as it will help you pass certification exams, will help you become more proficient and effective in your current role, and will provide a solid foundation for you to build your knowledge as you look to grow and develop.
Thank you for reading!