This would be my last blog post for 2017 and looks like it will be published a few hours before midnight! So 2018 is almost at hand!
Back in 2016, when Salesforce introduced the Architect Designer exams, a few of us got the chance to take them as BETA exams. I was in Hobart back then and it was a struggle to even take these exams as they could only be taken at a test center and Hobart did not have any at that time.
But Kryterion came through for me and I had to take 3 beta exams on the trot on 3 consecutive days at the University of Tasmania. I passed the first two – “Integration Architecture Designer” and “Development Life cycle and Deployment Designer”. It is still a surreal experience of passing these exams in Hobart.
Read about my struggles and how to pass those exams here.
On the 3rd day, I took the Data Management exam and failed. After the initial highs of passing two brand new exams, I took the 3rd one lightly and combined with my lack of experience in some of the study areas, it was foregone conclusion. I put this exam aside and continued slogging through work. In between, I managed to get some more certifications – The last one being the “Identity and Access Management Designer” in May. Work got too hectic and other stuff came up which consumed some time of mine. This included being a First time speaker at Dreamforce 2017. More about that in my next blog post.
This time I did get some more experience with data loading and working on the sidelines with a large scale data migration. So that helped me to do some informal reading on the topic in my spare time.
But anyways, I finally got some time to formally study for this exam during the past couple of days. I found my way back on the road to the #JourneyToCTA. I took this exam yesterday and passed. As usual, it was a great feeling!
To be honest, I am not a huge fan of this topic. But I have worked quite a bit with data migration now and this is definitely very important information to know for a Salesforce Technical Architect and it is one of the most common requirements in large enterprise projects.
So I highly recommend this certification for anyone who is interested to learn more about managing data with Salesforce.
So here is what I did to study for this exam.
Firstly, I went through the study guide to get an idea about the exam content. The big takeaway obviously is that the passing score is 67%. You have 60 questions and so you need to get about 42 right (to be safe).
Also, as you know the inkling book has now been replaced by these awesome self contained resource guides.
Next, I read this awesome blog post by Gemma Emmett (who also happens to a colleague from Bluewolf). Not only has she listed the topics but she has added some great content about those topics.
I highly recommend working through the trail mix that she has made available.
That definitely gave me ideas to begin my preparation. Next I spoke to other colleagues at work who passed this exam and got some pointers.
I studied for about 8-10 hours over 2 days to cover these topics. I relied quite a bit on my experience with data migrations and so if you have had less experience you should definitely take your time with preparing for the exam.
The following are the important things to know from my experience.
- Salesforce and Large data volumes (So read this and know it fully. It is the most important resource for the exam). This is my 2nd favorite Salesforce whitepaper after the Integration pattern one.
- What are Skinny tables and why they are used? What are their limitations? Can you use skinny tables with 2 objects?
- How does SOQL behave with large data volumes and how can you attempt to speed this up in general?
- SOQL FOR Loops – read about them here.
- Know what indexing means. Standard indexing v/s custom indexing.
- How do nulls affect SOQL and indexing?
- Deterministic v/s Non deterministic formula fields
- This is the best resource for some of the above topics – Print it out and review regularly.
- Know how roles, sharing rules and public group access can affect how data loads are performed.
- Data Skew and Ownership skew
- Backing up and Restoring Salesforce data.
- Bulk API – I had worked quite a bit with the Bulk API and Batch APEX hands on a few years back and some of my code must still in use out there (scary!) but I had to review and refresh a lot of concepts. Its best to understand this fully. Main things to know are:
- It is Asynchronous and works on REST principles.
- What methods do you use after implement the Batchable interface.
- How does the BULK API work starting from the initial query to the actual processing of records. How are failures and timeouts handled? What can be done to fix these issues? What is parallel mode v/s serial mode
- Know about how to defer sharing calculations.
- If you have the time, skim through the BULK API GUIDE.
- Note that SF recently released Bulk API 2.0. I did not encounter any questions related to it in my exam.
- Practice small data loads with the APEX data loader and understand its bulk mode setting.
- Understand the concept of PK chunking and why it is used
- Understand the concept of Record locking. This cheat sheet is very useful.
- Know that when child records are being inserted, its best to group them by the parent ID to avoid potential locking of the parent record.
- This is a very important concept to understand – Parallelism and Throughput. If you have a Computer Science background and took courses related to Computer Architecture then some of that should help in understanding this.
- Master Data Management (MDM): To be honest, I did not study this topic and answered questions based on my general understanding. I got about 85% right in this topic. Basically know the following:
- How does MDM help with data loads and integrations.
- What should an admin keep in mind when using MDM? (system of record, field of record, real time integration patterns etc)
- Know how ETL tools can help with Data management.
- Data.com clean and Salesforce de-duplication features – A few questions came from these topics and all seemed to be straight forward. Trailhead is best for these (I did mine 20 mins before the exam :))
- What are duplicate rules and matching rules? What can you accomplish with them?
- Understand what is Data quality. Again Trailhead for this as well.
- There were few questions about Data Governance and Data Stewardship. I personally felt both are snooze-fest topics. 😕
- I did not study for these but I feel that you should. The main thing is to understand the difference between the two.
- Know what a Governance plan is.
- Who are the key stakeholders/ resources who are part of these activities and their responsibilities.
- Finally, know about how AppExchange apps can help with these activities especially the apps which install reports and dashboards to help with data quality review.
- And for the grand finale, review the build materials in page 16 of the resource guide. This is very important. It is here that I found the topic of reporting snapshots to be useful to understand. So please review the 3 scenarios and their solutions.
Thoughts about the exam in general:
- This is an interesting exam because it deals with data and apart from knowing data management strategies, you also need to be aware of Salesforce integration practices as well as Salesforce security concepts.
- There were 5 extra questions on the exam which supposedly do not make a difference to your score.
- Keep an eye on time. I finished with 20 mins to spare and I only had 20 questions which were marked for review.
- Most questions were straight forward but some questions were pretty descriptive. But keep an eye out for clues which will make it easy to answer.
- I felt that this exam was the easiest in terms of eliminating wrong answers to get to the right one. I personally felt confident especially in questions which need 2 or 3 correct answers to be chosen.
- This might comfort you – Some questions are very short and easy. There were a few times in the exam where I had a stupid grin on my face seeing these. 😀
In closing, I felt this exam was not too hard. A decent understanding of the above topics will help you to pass easily. As usual, if you have any questions please do feel free to comment below or tweet me at Follow @calvin_nr
Also please do subscribe to my blog from the form on your right to stay updated when new posts are made. Thanks in advance!
Good luck and may the Force be with you! 🙂